“A presupposition of the empirical and philosophical ‘problem of other minds’ is what’s come to be termed the ‘unobservability thesis’—the thesis that the other’s mind is fundamentally unobservable. In contradiction to this, at times throughout Husserl’s corpus he seems to suggest that in Einfühlung (empathy) we can observe the other’s mind directly and immediately. In my work I’ve tried to unravel precisely what Husserl might have meant behind this rather enigmatic claim, and if it is justified. One can also wonder, if it is the case that we can actually and literally see the others mind reliably, what flow on effects does this have for psychological science?
For the 7th year in a row, CFS organized a week long summer school on phenomenology in mid-August. Keynote presentations were given by Giovanna Colombetti, John Drummond, Shaun Gallagher, Søren Overgaard and Dan Zahavi, who each were responsible for one day of the program. The event was well attended with 100 PhD students and young researchers from around 30 different countries.
Very often, affective sharing is regarded as a special feature of a more general form of collective intentionality which is already in place. For instance, it has been argued in the literature that sharing feeling is based on sharing a concern. In contrast to this view, I wish to address the question to what extent affective sharing may also embody a primitive form of we-consciousness of its own.
You can hear more about this issue in a few weeks’ time at Collective Intentionality X (The Hague, August 30 – September 2, 2016). There I am going to present some of my ideas under the topic ‘Spontaneous Affective Sharing.’
Last month, an article on mysticism and schizophrenia by Josef Parnas and myself was published in Consciousness & Cognition. The article had been long in the making and we were happy to finally see it in print.
As we put it in the abstract, mysticism and schizophrenia are different categories of human existence and experience. Nonetheless, they exhibit important phenomenological affinities, which, however, remain largely unaddressed. In this study, we explore structural analogies between key features of mysticism and major clinical-phenomenological aspects of the schizophrenia spectrum disorders—i.e. attitudes, the nature of experience, and the ‘other’, mystical or psychotic reality. Not only do these features gravitate around the issue of the basic dimensions of consciousness, they crucially seem to implicate and presuppose a specific alteration of the very structure of consciousness. This finding has bearings for the understanding of consciousness and its psychopathological distortions.
Beginning of June I came to the CFS, in order to work with other phenomenologists. My stay here was also part of my sabbatical at the Free University Berlin, and my plan was to concentrate on my monograph on the “Sense of Appropriateness”, that I had begun to work on already four years ago, but which was always interrupted by my usual teaching, grading, and administrative workload. I thought a time, away from my office desk in Berlin, would give me the necessary focus to delve into this project.
Week after week, we are bombarded with news about nationalist elections (e.g., Austria, Denmark, Hungary, Poland), total political insulation and outright racist rhetoric in electorate campaigns (Brexit, Trump, etc.), destroyed Roma camps and deported immigrants (Italy, France, Slovakia, etc.), not to mention homophobic, political, ethnic or religiously inspired terrorism (Orlando, Istanbul, Middle East, etc.).
Jean Paul Sartre considered phenomenology as that kind of philosophy that had ‘restored to things their horror and charm.’ This is supposed to mean that things in the world are indeed significant to us – but also that such significance is not simply projected onto them by our minds or our brains. Rather, significance is something we are to find in the things themselves. Of course, this does not preclude that all the background knowledge, attitudes and projects we have actually play an important role. For instance, my strict adherence to certain preconceptions may result in my inability to get any other aspects out of a given state of affairs, though those aspects nevertheless exist. In this case, I may give reality hardly any chance to surprise me. This is precisely what Sartre’s overall philosophical project opposes.
Together with Joona Taipale (University of Jyväskylä), I have co-edited a forthcoming volume that gathers eighteen contributions authored by some of the most prominent scholars in contemporary phenomenology. The volume, entitled “Phenomenology: 5 Questions”, is part of the 5 Questions Series, published by Automatic Press/VIP.
The contributors to the volume are: Renaud Barbaras, Rudolf Bernet, John B. Brough, David Carr, Steven Crowell, Françoise Dastur, Nicolas De Warren, John Drummond, Günter Figal, Shaun Gallagher, Miguel García-Baró, Sara Heinämaa, Nam-In Lee, Dermot Moran, Tetsuya Sakakibara, Anthony J. Steinbock, Bernhard Waldenfels, and Dan Zahavi.
THE BODY AND THE SELF, REVISITED
DECEMBER 10 – 11, 2015
Organised by Adrian Alsmith.
This workshop celebrated the vicennial anniversary of Bermudez et al.’s landmark 1995 publication The Body and the Self (MIT, Bradford Books). Each presentation was a draft of a contribution to a forthcoming MIT Press collection, edited by Adrian Alsmith and Frédérique de Vignemont. The study of bodily experience and bodily self-awareness has blossomed considerably in the last two decades. The aim of the new collection – tentatively titled, The Body and the Self, Revisited – is to revisit the themes of The Body and the Self in light of new experimental evidence and advances in philosophical, neuroscientific and psychological theory.