Université de Liège Département de philosophie

Centre de recherches phénoménologiques

3rd NfPR Conference - Inner Awareness: Past and Present

University of Liège, Nov. 30 to Dec. 2, 2021

» Access & maps

» Poster [n/a]

» Conference website

» NfPR website


Famously, Brentano argued that consciousness constitutively requires some (special) form of self-consciousness—let us call it “inner awareness.” How to account for inner awareness has been a matter of huge debate, not only among early phenomenologists (Brentano, Stumpf, Husserl, Scheler, Hildebrand, etc.) and early analytic philosophers (G.E. Moore, the early Russell, C.D. Broad, etc.), but also among contemporary philosophers of mind. Indeed, a very lively discussion is currently going on about the very existence of inner awareness, its nature, and its epistemic value. In recent analytic philosophy of mind, meta-representationalist approaches that construe inner awareness as a representation relation of some sort have been dominant. But they are not without difficulties and are far from being the only option available.

The primary goal of this conference is to explore alternatives to meta-representationalism. We welcome contributions that connect past and present conceptions of inner awareness, as well as new and original accounts of inner awareness.


Here are some of the issues we would like to cover:

  1. Existence: Many extant arguments for IA have been challenged in recent literature. How can we effectively defend the idea that inner awareness is real and that it is a fundamental aspect of conscious experience?
  2. Distinctiveness: Since the inception of the phenomenological research program, inner awareness has often been described as a distinctive kind of awareness, one that is importantly and perhaps even fundamentally different from “outer” awareness. Is it so? If inner awareness is distinctive, how and in what respects is it so?
  3. Nature: How to account for the nature of inner awareness? Meta-representationalist theories have been deeply dug into. Alternative theories may be equally or even more promising, and at least worth exploring. Among these are acquaintance accounts and non-standard versions of representationalism, as well as other kinds of account which might have been held by early phenomenologists and analytic philosophers. We also encourage contributions that explore new or underrepresented proposals.
  4. Naturalization: One of the primary motivations for meta-representationalism about inner awareness is its potential for naturalization. Can alternative accounts compete with meta-representationalism in this respect? For example, are there any prospects for naturalizing acquaintance?
  5. Epistemic value: It has been maintained that inner awareness is crucial to explain the first-person privileged access and self-knowledge more generally. But is that true? What is the relation between inner awareness and reflective knowledge of our own conscious states? And how should we construe inner awareness to have it play the epistemic role it is supposed to play? For example, is a representationalist construal of inner awareness required or satisfying?

Confirmed speakers

Commentators: Frank Hofmann (Luxembourg) and Gianfranco Soldati (Fribourg).


Attendance & registration

We aim for an in-person event. However, given the still ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, we might be forced to move the conference partly or totally online. Participants will be informed in due time.

Attendance is free but pre-registration is required. To register, please, send an email with the heading 'Pre-registration IA conference' to innerawareness2021@gmail.com by November 23. In the email, please, specify: your current affiliation, position, and whether you are interested in attending the conference in person or online. Unfortunately, due to limited seating capacity and the ongoing COVID restrictions, we might not be able to accept every request of in-person attendance and might be forced to propose online attendance instead.

Venue: University of Liège • Place du 20-Août, 7 • 4000 Liège (Belgium)


Updated info will be regularly posted here and on the conference website. Stay tuned!

Any Questions? All inquiries should be addressed to: innerawareness2021@gmail.com

Facebook page

This conference is one of the events organized within the framework of the FNRS/FNS research project The Phenomenology of Mental States.

With the support of:

Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS) Network for Phenomenological Research Université de Liège Unité de recherche Traverses