In his book Hallucinations, Oliver Sack leads us on a fascinating and informative journey through different kinds of misapprehensions of reality. Hallucinations are, Sacks tells us, “defined as percepts arising in the absence of any external reality—seeing things or hearing things that are not there” (Sacks 2012). He also refers to William James’ definition from Principles of Psychology which in the same straightforward manner reads: “An hallucination is a strictly sensational form of consciousness, as good and true a sensation as if there were a real object there. The object happens to be not there, that is all“ (1890, 116).
Kristian Moltke Martiny, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at CFS, just starting his research project
The main question of my PhD dissertation was: how do we help persons living with the brain damage, cerebral palsy (CP)? This question is as complex and difficult to answer as any healthcare question. I argued that we need to ‘open up’ how we do (cognitive) science in order to understand what it means for persons to live with CP and then figure out how we should help them. Based on this method of open-minded cognitive science I used phenomenological interview to co-generate data on the neurophysiological, psychological and social aspects of living with CP.
What is the meaning of being in general? This was the question of being that Heidegger addressed in Being and Time. It was neither a question of beings (question of the “ontic sciences”) nor was it a question regarding the various meanings of their being (question of regional ontology). Rather, it was a question that addressed the unity of the meaning of being in general. In the framework of Being and Time, such question of “fundamental ontology”, as Heidegger called it, was to be sought in the existential analytic of Dasein. Heidegger’s reason for taking Dasein’s being as the necessary starting point of the inquiry into the meaning of being was that Dasein has a pre-ontological understanding of its own being and the being of other entities. Hence, in order to clarify the meaning of being in general, we must explicate or uncover the understanding of being that we are always already in possession of. Consequently, the project in Being and Time takes the form of an interpretation (Auslegung) of Dasein’s being.
Now, amidst the apparent hermeneutical nature of Heidegger’s approach, though less evident, we can also identify a transcendental motif insofar as Dasein’s understanding of being serves as the condition of possibility for the meaning of being in general. Yet this way of phrasing it may raise some eyebrows if for no other reason than that Heidegger simply does not characterize his project in those terms and generally avoids using the language of transcendental philosophy in Being and Time. Nevertheless, let us merely recall that Heidegger later came to explicitly disavow the idea of the transcendental and in doing so, he also had in mind his own project in Being and Time. In fact, many commentators have argued that Heidegger does indeed engage in some kind of a transcendental project in the years surrounding Being and Time (e.g. J. Caputo, S. Crowell, D. Dahlstrom, J. Malpas). And a prominent work highlighting the transcendental aspect of Heidegger’s thought came out in 2007 under the title, Transcendental Heidegger (co-edited by S. Crowell and J. Malpas).
Systematic philosophical inquiries into the nature of curiosity are very few, which is surprising since curiosity as a phenomenon is considered to have great cultural value within areas of education, creativity and innovation. The aim of nurturing curiosity is directly written into many science curricula.
The embodied affective dimension of collective intentionality
In recent philosophical debates, the peculiar aspects of collective intentionality or we-consciousness are regarded as foundations of human society.
These discussions of collective intentionality, however, have been largely dominated by accounts of planning and acting, of explicitly intending to do something together. According to such accounts, we-consciousness is mainly a matter of the cognitive and conative structures of the mind.
Only more recently, the interest in the structures of collective affective intentionality has grown. But is affective sharing only a special case of a more general form of we-consciousness or is it, as one of the central hypotheses underlying my project would suggest, something original in its own right?
A certain estrangement from the communal world has always been considered an integral part of disorders belonging to the schizophrenia spectrum. Bleuler who coined the very term “schizophrenia” famously listed autism as one of its fundamental features and described how these patients tended to withdraw from intersubjectivity and encase themselves with their inner life. Such difficulties maneuvering the social realm have transpired through the various descriptions given by the canonical authors of psychopathology since then. It is an integral part of key clinical concepts ranging from Minkowski’s “loss of vital contact with reality” over Blankenburg’s “loss of natural self evidence” to Rümke’s “Praecox Gefühl” and today it is reflected in the diagnostic manuals. Thus the DSM 5 lists impoverished personal relations as a possible criterion B for making the schizophrenia diagnosis and it includes a lack of close friends or confidants and excessive social anxiety as diagnostic criteria for schizotypal personality disorder.
Pride, Shame and Group Identification
What perfect timing for Alessandro Salice (University College Cork) to come back to the Center as a visiting researcher! It is with great pride and joy that both of us announce the publication of our most recent article on “Pride, Shame and Group Identification” in Frontiers in Psychology. This article is part of an exciting Research Topic on “Affectivity Beyond the Skin,” edited by Joel Krueger, Giovanna Colombetti and Tom Roberts. As a teaser, you can find the abstract below. You can read and download the full paper at the Frontiers website here.
For the past three months, it has been my great pleasure and honor to be a visiting researcher at the Center for Subjectivity Research. During my time in Copenhagen, I have advanced work on my dissertation, Pointing the Way to Speech: The Sources of Linguistic Intentionality.
There is a puzzle concerning the intentionality of language. The statement “it’s a warm, clear day in Copenhagen” is in some sense directed towards the sunny state of affairs it conveys. Yet the graphic or acoustic string of linguistic symbols is by no means intrinsically intentional. It would not count as being directed towards its state of affairs if it weren’t for the social conventions that sustain its use and some underlying, intrinsic intentionality or intentionalities through which language users direct themselves to the correlated state of affairs. The puzzle, then, is to understand how the secondary intentionality of a linguistic utterance can be derived from the primary intentionality that underwrites it.
A great deal of a human life normally happens in contact with other people, and as part of living together we often talk about ‘sharing’ a variety of experiences and attitudes with others. For example, we talk about ‘sharing’ emotions, beliefs, and intentions with other people. On occasions, sharing an intention to do something together, say to go to the movies, is a basis for going to the movies together. If two friends end up going accidentally to the movies at the same place and time, we wouldn’t normally say that they went to the movies together – at least not in the same sense in which we would say that if they had shared an intention to do so, and coordinated their actions in such a way that meeting at the movies results from a mutual agreement. While perhaps intuitively plausible, the idea that (some) mental phenomena could be shared in a robust (non metaphorical) way is likely to raise some eyebrows. What could sharing possibly mean in the context of mentality?
Nearly everyone has experienced the awe of standing at the edge of a massive environment, like a mountain-scape – the experience is strikingly different when stuck in a cramped space, like an aeroplane seat, in which the spatial limits are all too apparent. But do you actually feel smaller when you are looking at something huge? And, conversely, do you actually feel bigger than you really are when you can see you don’t have much personal space?