The life of a Ph.D. student (and academic workers in general) is not only about reading, writing and talking philosophy. There are other obligations as well – for example to go abroad to internationalize, to establish new contacts and get to know new and relevant research environments. For a couple months I have been in the process of planning a stay at UC, Berkeley in the fall semester 2016, which I am looking very much forward to. But I have been surprised about the amount of time it takes to plan and realize such a stay.
Proponents of speculative realism have recently subjected phenomenology to severe criticism. It has been accused of being a form of Zombie philosophy, of never really having existed, of never having amounted to anything at all. The main thinkers of the (non-existing) tradition have been criticized for their inconsistencies, for never explaining what precisely they are doing, for failing to deliver what they always promised, but never provided: a wholehearted endorsement of metaphysical realism. By contrast, speculative realism has been praised as the only position able to yield real metaphysical realism.
Most philosophers know how to philosophize – after all, they do it, and would not be philosophers if they didn’t. But philosophers typically do not say very much about how philosophy is to be done. Perhaps philosophical methodology – that is, explicit reflection on the methods of philosophizing – strikes most of us as being a less juicy topic than, say, consciousness or euthanasia.
Some philosophers, indeed, think we shouldn’t be concerned with methodology at all. According to Gilbert Ryle, ‘preoccupation with questions about methods tends to distract us from prosecuting the methods themselves. We run, as a rule, worse, not better, if we think a lot about our feet’ (Ryle 2009: 331).
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.