Lund mini-symposium on the concept of phenomenality: What is what-it-is-likeness like?

January 16, 2013
Department of Philosophy, Lund University

Kungshuset, Room: 104
Lundagård, 222 22
Lund
Sweden

Keynote speakers:

Jan Almäng
University of Gothenburg
Tim Bayne
University of Oxford
Ingvar Johansson
Umeå University

Organisers:

Asger Kirkeby-Hinrup
Lund University
Oscar Ralsmark
Lund University

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Time: 1 pm - 6 pm

Most philosophers agree that there are some kinds of mental states, such as ordinary perceptual states, which obviously have "phenomenality" - that is, a subjective quality in the sense that there is "something it is like" to instantiate them - while also agreeing that there are some other kinds of mental states, such as subpersonal computational states, which obviously do not have phenomenality. However, there are also some kinds of mental states, such as occurrent thoughts, with respect to which it is controversial among philosophers whether or not they have phenomenality.
 
Some participants in this dispute express the worry that the debate may be solely semantic rather than substantial. Perhaps, they suggest, the problem is that partakers who disagree, disagree about how to apply the technical term "phenomenality" rather than about the fundamental features of mental reality. Needless to say, others are convinced that the debate indeed reflects vastly diverging conceptions of that reality. What seems to be desired in order to make progress, then, is an informative unpacking of the concept of phenomenality. But is this possible to achieve? Is it possible to give a closer characterisation of phenomenality which doesn’t just move around in the circle of broadly synonymous concepts but actually tells us something about what what-it-is-likeness is like? 
 
This question forms the backdrop of this mini-symposium. We have chosen to approach it indirectly, however, by giving three internationally distinguished philosophers coming from three distinct backgrounds - Almäng: Husserlian phenomenology, Bayne: analytic philosophy of mind, Johansson: ontology - their take on phenomenality and mental reality. Each will give a talk on the subject and the talks will then be followed by a moderated discussion. We expect this strategy to facilitate a rewarding discussion of precisely what we pack into the concept of phenomenality.
 
Attendance is free, no registration beforehand is needed, and everyone interested is welcome to attend.  
 
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