University of Liège Philosophy Department

Center for Phenomenological Research

17th Creph Annual Seminar 2023: The Significance of Subjectivity

University of Liège, 24-28 April 2023

The topic of the seminar is the significance of subjectivity in various aspects of human life, including knowledge, moral conduct, aesthetic experience, and the pursuit of happiness.

The significance of subjectivity and consciousness is a central issue in current philosophy of mind. Although there is no agreement in the literature on what it means to be the subject of conscious states, subjectivity is usually associated with distinctive features such as "seeing the world from a certain point of view", having an "inside" or "first person" experience, feeling "what it is like" to have this experience, having "private" or "privileged" access to your own mental states, or being acquainted with them. However, these features have been subject to diametrically opposed interpretations.

On the one hand, some philosophers tend to minimize the importance of subjectivity. Ryle’s claim that mental states are identifiable without reference to subjective experiences (The Concept of Mind, 1949) had great influence on philosophy of mind. Anti-subjectivism - the view that we can do without any reference to subjective experience - has also become prominent in epistemology, ethics, and aesthetics, based in an ideal of objectivity or public observability directly inspired by the natural sciences.

On the other hand, critical voices have raised concerns about anti-subjectivism, defending the legitimacy of the subjective point of view (Th. Nagel, The View From Nowhere, 1986), the centrality of consciousness in our conception of the mind (G. Strawson, Mental Reality, 1994) or simply its importance for human life (Ch. Siewert, The Significance of Consciousness, 1998). Based on the intuition that no one would choose to live a life devoid of subjective experiences, some authors have argued that subjective experiences have an epistemic, moral, aesthetic, or prudential intrinsic value.

The seminar’s aim is to contribute to this debate. Questions covered include:

The 2023 annual seminar is organized within the framework of the Creph research project The Value of Subjectivity.

Attendance at the seminar is free and without prior registration.


(*) invited

Practical details

The seminar will take place from April 24 to 28, 2023, at the University of Liège (Belgium).

Registration is not required for attendance. At the participant's request, the Philosophy Department will issue a certificate which can be used for doctoral certification (ECTS).

Presentations will be 50 minutes, with an additional 40 minutes for questions and discussion. The languages of the seminar are English and French.

CFP speakers are expected to cover their own travel and accommodation costs. Information on accommodation is available.