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


Room: Salle de l'Horloge (Central Building, Jesuit Wing, 2nd mezzanine).

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Mon 24 Apr. 2023

Chair: D. Seron

  • 9:00-10:30 am Uriah Kriegel (Rice University, Houston), What is Inner Awareness?. Abstract
  • According to some views of consciousness, when I experience the taste of mango, I also have an inner awareness of that mango-taste experience. What is this inner awareness? A common way to characterize a mental state is in terms of its content and attitude. This is what I propose to do in this paper. But since more work has been done on the content of inner awareness, here I will focus mainly on the attitude characteristic of inner awareness. The characterization of inner awareness I will propose is intended help address certain difficulties regarding the similarity and dissimilarity between inner awareness and sense perception and the observability of the self.
  • 10:30-11:00 am Coffee break.
  • 11:00 am -12:30 pm Taku Uchiyama (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen), (In)significance of the First-Person Perspective?. Abstract
  • As Perry (1977, 1979) and Lewis (1979) demonstrated conclusively, the first-person reference challenges a classical picture of self-belief. Recently, however, some researchers (Cappelen and Denver 2013; Magidor 2015) cast doubt on this widely accepted view. In a nutshell, their critique can be summarized as follows: 'I' represents just one of many perspectival views that are ultimately all on an equal footing. Hence, the first-person reference does not call for any specific philosophical treatment. Of course, as a context-dependent term, 'I' is characterized by its character as a non-constant function. Presumably, this semantic feature reflects the contextually limited nature of the first-person perspective. Nevertheless, this aspect alone does not make it especially significant. In other words, every perspective is equally significant in the sense that none of them is interchangeable with the other. Thus, there is no such thing as a first-person phenomenon but only an illusion. This ambitious claim questions the entire discussion about the first-person reference in the philosophy of language. Moreover, if that claim is correct, the whole talk about the so-called 'I'-thought in the philosophy of mind would also become questionable. While much more groundwork needs to be laid, the claim seems right in the following point: nobody has convincingly shown that the first-person perspective has any special functions that it is claimed to have. This might come as a surprise. An objection like the one illustrated above was well-known to philosophers concerned with the first-person (Nagel 1986; Bermúdez 1998). They identified it as a semantically motivated, deflationary view and addressed it. However, has anyone ever successfully presented a strong counterargument? As far as I know, nobody has, and it is understandable. Such an attempt cannot succeed, given the truism that 'I' is a linguistic item for common use, just like other terms. To bring out this point, consider what one must show to refute the deflationary view. One must show that one's self-reference by means of  'I' is not merely one instance of fist-personal use of 'I' that anyone can conduct. In other words, it must be something absolutely unique, not only relatively. But how can one argue for this absolute uniqueness? Such an argument cannot be generalized. If it could be applied to anyone else, one's first-person reference would not be unique in the absolute sense. Strictly speaking, it is not correct even to talk about “one's first-person reference”. But if we instead discuss “my first-person reference”, it can only be taken to mean the first-person reference that each of us achieves using 'I' unless you are a solipsist. Thus, how much consistent and ingenious an argument we might develop, the absolute uniqueness of the first-person can never be captured so far as 'I' is understood as a common-use item. What if “I” were understood otherwise? Here, I take recourse to Frege's idea of the so-called hybrid proper name, according to which indexical names are mixtum compositum consisting of a verbal and non-verbal component (Frege 1918/1967; Künne 1992). In the case of 'I', its non-verbal component is the speaker herself. As a result, my 'I' as a whole is a different name from yours. Generally, when one self-refers using 'I', one is deploying a unique name that no one else can. In a sense, such a name resembles a proper name, which only the speaker herself can use. Accordingly, my first-person reference is a singular reference to the person I am and cannot be generalized to anyone else. On the other hand, 'I' under consideration still self-refers because it contains a linguistic component that marks it as a means of first-person reference. Thus, the challenge posed by the deflationary view can be met. The first-person perspective proves to be significant.
  • 12:30-2:00 pm Lunch break.

Chair: A. Giustina

  • 2:00-3:30 pm Jenny Hung (The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology), What am I? Haecceitism and the Subject of Experience. Abstract
  • Many have heard of Max Black's (1962) famous argument: it is logically possible that a universe would have contained only two exactly similar spheres of the same size, shape, and chemical compositions, being two miles from the other sphere, with the history of the two spheres being the same. For Black, the two spheres are not numerically identical since they are at distinct places, but they have the same properties. Therefore, the principle of identity of indiscernibles is wrong, and the spheres have haecceities. Briefly, if a thing has a haecceity, then it does not satisfy the principle of the identity of indiscernibles. The principle of identity of indiscernibles states that two things are numerically identical if they have the same properties. Recently, a group of philosophers points out that we can detect haecceitistic differences by discerning qualitatively indistinguishable facts from a first-person perspective. Adams (1979) propose that we are clear about haecceitistic differences if we study those possibilities “from the point of view of a person (1979, p. 22).” Briefly speaking, he invites us to consider two qualitatively indiscernible globes that have always existed, Castor and Pollux, in a possible world w1. Starting from time t, Castor ceases to exist, and Pollux goes on forever. From a first-person perspective (or from the inside), the point of view of the “I” from which a subject perceives oneself and the world, is a matter of whether I continue to exist or not. The situation where I cease to exist is clearly discernable from one where I continue to exist. Swinburne (1995) thinks that animate things such as humans have haecceities because “there is a possible world in which there is a human with all the same properties as myself who is not me (p. 396).” If so, my existence is not determined by the qualitative properties I have. I have a haecceity. Similarly, for Cowling (2021, p. 17), when imagined from the inside, we detect haecceitistic differences by virtue of being able to discern qualitatively indistinguishable facts. I propose a haecceitistic metaphysical framework that explains this phenomenon. My view states that we are conscious subjects of experience that have haecceities, and unconscious beings do not have haecceities. My theory provides a metaphysical structure of reality isomorphic to what we can imagine and what we cannot, thus can serve as a metaphysical support for the metaphysical possibility of ideally positively conceivable scenarios. Imagine having a brain-splitting operation; it seems that your waking up and discovering that you are one of them makes a lot of sense. Another example: Paula and Elyse are monozygotic twins. Nevertheless, it could have been that the fertilized ovum did not split. Who would that be? When Paula thinks about it, it makes perfect sense for her to say that the child could have been her. Various religious traditions developed by serious thinkers over centuries tell us that conscious beings can undergo rebirth, whereas unconscious things cannot. Is it possible to have a simple and naturalistic metaphysical view and ontology of the self, such that it explains our intuitions about the above imaginative scenarios? I believe that there is such a view. It is the view that I am going to delineate in this paper: the subject view, according to which we are subjects of experience that have haecceities and unconscious things do not have haecceities. My theory has several advantages. First, it explains why we can detect haecceitistic differences by discerning qualitatively indistinguishable facts from a first-person perspective but not from a third-person one; second, the subject view is isomorphic to our ability to imagine scenarios of role switching and rebirth, thus supports and explains the scope of our imagination; third, it is compatible with various non-reductive theories of the mind while presupposing mental realism, thus may attract thinkers who take seriously the possibility of rebirth and role switching but are aversive to substance dualism and inclined to a naturalistically oriented ontology.
  • 3:30-4:00 am Coffee break.
  • 4:00-5:30 pm Valentina Martinis (Central European University, Vienna), The cognitive point of view. Abstract
  • In this paper, I explore the idea that cognitive conscious mental states are given to each subject in a distinctive way. This way is unique for each subject at a time and has distinctive phenomenal features. I like to put this thesis in terms of the notion of point of view. Thus, my thesis is that cognitive conscious mental states are viewpointed. The thesis develops a suggestion by Nagel that facts about what it is like to be a subject “appear to be facts that embody a particular point of view” (1974, p. 441). In this sense, there seems to be an essential link between a state's what-it's-likeness and viewpointedness. I focus on the cognitive case for two reasons. First, the idea that conscious perceptual states have a point of view is widely accepted (see, e.g., Hoerl, 2018). Second, if the notion of point of view is essentially connected to a state's what-it's-likeness, it can help us make sense of the way conscious cognitive states are phenomenal (as suggested by, among others, Strawson, 1994; Siewert, 1998; Horgan and Tienson, 2002; Pitt, 2004).  I defend the claim that conscious cognitive states are viewpointed as follows. First, I introduce a generic notion of point of view (from now on, PoV). I shall argue that PoVs have an irreducible relational character in that in occupying a PoV, a subject gains partial access to some content (Vázquez Campos & Liz Gutiérrez, 2015). Second, I clarify the sense in which conscious cognitive states might be viewpointed through comparison with conscious perceptual states. We will see that conscious perceptual states are viewpointed in two senses. (i) A spatial sense, in which any subject occupying a given location L with respect to a given arrangement of objects will occupy the same PoV. (ii) A phenomenal sense, in which two subjects that occupy the same location L with respect to the same spatial arrangement of objects will not thereby occupy the same PoV; in other words, two subjects occupying a given location L with respect to the same spatial arrangement of objects might be aware of said objects in different ways. I will argue that conscious cognitive states are not viewpointed in sense (i) but can be viewpointed in a sense similar to (ii). Third, I shall ulteriorly refine the notion of cognitive PoV. Sense (ii), in fact, is compatible with the thesis that the contents of thought are Fregean modes of presentation, such as Hesperus or Phosphorus. But Fregean modes of presentation are abstract, objective, and intersubjective entities, and thus cannot capture the intuition that conscious cognitive states are given to each subject in a distinctive, unique, and unrepeatable way. A more suitable notion of thought content to this aim would be one close to Husserl's real content – unique and unrepeatable for each subject at a time (see esp. his 1989; see also Crane, 2014 as well as Mendelovici's 2018 notion of immediate content). Finally, I will suggest four ways in which the cognitive PoV determines some phenomenal features unique to each thought. These are the fact that every occurrent thought (i) presents its object under an aspect (Aspectuality), (ii) in a way determined by the kind of psychological act it belongs to (Quality), (iii) is embedded in a net of potential further presentations of the same object by the same act or further acts (Horizonality; see Jorba, 2016, 2020), and (iv) is uniquely identified by a set of indexical properties (such as being thought by me, in English, at time t and location l, and so on).

Tue 25 Apr.

Chair: A. Giustina

  • 9:00-10:30 Marta Jorba (Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelone), Subjective and objective in the study of inner speech.
  • 10:30-11:00 am Coffee break.
  • 11:00 am -12:30 pm Kati Farkas (Central European University, Vienne), Privileged access to standing mental states.
  • 12:30-2:00 pm Lunch break.

Chair: J. Bugnon

  • 2:00-3:30 pm Juan F. Alvarez (Centre for Philosophy of Memory, Université Grenoble Alpes), Between sensory and cognitive phenomenology: The ambiguity of intentionalism and metacognitivism about memory phenomenology. Abstract
  • There is a debate about the right way to account for memory phenomenology. Intentionalism and metacognitivism are prominent accounts that conceive of different features of memory as responsible for its phenomenology. This paper takes a step backward in the memory phenomenology debate, by showing that both accounts are ambiguous about the nature of phenomenology. The paper also discusses ways to resolve the ambiguity, emphasizing that both intentionalism and metacognitivism need to make theoretical decisions related to the cognitive phenomenology debate. A multiplicity of feelings has been invoked in accounts of memory phenomenology. While it is unclear which feelings are at issue in memory and how these feelings should be understood, intentionalism and metacognitivism have focused on the “feeling of pastness” (Russell 1921), reasoning that it captures an important phenomenal aspect of remembering, namely that rememberers feel like they were re-experiencing past episodes (Tulving 2002). Intentionalism argues that the content of memories is responsible for the feeling of pastness (Fernández 2006, 2019). In contrast, metacognitivism argues that metacognitive processes are responsible for such a feeling (Perrin et al. 2020; Perrin and Sant'Anna forthcoming). §1 presents the memory phenomenology debate, intentionalism, and metacognitivism.  The cognitive phenomenology debate is a broader debate about the existence of a distinctive phenomenology of cognition (Bayne and Montague 2011). One side of the debate supports the view that cognitive states have a distinctive phenomenology that is irreducible to the sensory elements of cognitive states (Pitt 2004; Strawson 1994). Let's call this the “cognitive view”. The other side supports the view that there is no such thing as cognitive phenomenology and that the phenomenal character of cognitive states (if any) is reducible to sensory states (Carruthers and Veillet 2011; Tye and Wright 2011). Let's call this the “sensory view”. §2 spells out both the cognitive view and the sensory view of the cognitive phenomenology debate. There are no discussions on the interactions between the memory phenomenology and cognitive phenomenology debates. While endorsing the cognitive or sensory view can have consequences for accounts of memory phenomenology, intentionalists and metacognitivists have remained silent on the cognitive phenomenology debate. If one endorses the cognitive view or the sensory view, an account of memory phenomenology will focus either on the cognitive aspect(s) or the sensory aspect(s) of memory responsible for its phenomenal flavor. Crucially, both intentionalism and metacognitivism are compatible with cognitive and sensory views. On the one hand, one can conceive of intentionalism and metacognitivism as endorsing the cognitive view because both consider cognitive aspects of memory as responsible for its phenomenology. The former focuses on mnemic content and the latter on metacognition. Intentionalism and metacognitivism can, on the other hand, endorse the sensory view. Intentionalists can argue that memory phenomenology is reducible to some sensory feature of mnemic content, such as mental imagery. Metacognitivists in turn can argue that memory phenomenology is reducible to some sensorimotor feature involved in the relevant metacognitive process, such as fluency. Since it is possible to construct intentionalist and metacognitive accounts of memory phenomenology grounded on both the cognitive and sensory views, intentionalism and metacognitivism are ambiguous between these views. §3 elaborates on the ambiguity of these accounts. The ambiguity in question is problematic. The cognitive and sensory views have consequences for accounts of phenomenology. The sensory view understands phenomenology as a fundamentally sensory phenomenon the account of which must reflect this fact. The cognitive view understands phenomenology as a phenomenon that can be either cognitive or sensory and the account of a given kind of phenomenology should take into account its specific nature. If an account of memory phenomenology is ambiguous about the cognitive or sensory nature of memory phenomenology, then the account in question is, at best, incomplete or constructed on shaky grounds at worst. One way to resolve the ambiguity available for both intentionalists and metacognitivists is to take a stand in the cognitive phenomenology debate. That is, intentionalists and metacognitivists can argue for cognitive or sensory views and then construct accounts of memory phenomenology that respect the principles of their preferred view. §4 explores ways to disambiguate these accounts by engaging them in the cognitive phenomenology debate.
  • 3:30-4:00 am Coffee break.
  • 4:00-5:30 pm Íngrid Vendrell-Ferran (Philipps Universität Marburg), What is self-esteem?.

Wed 26 Apr.

Chair: U. Kriegel

  • 9:00-10:30 am Gwen Bradford (Rice University, Houston), Consciousness and the Irreplaceable Value of Persons.
  • 10:30-11:00 am Coffee break.
  • 11:00 am -12:30 pm Maik Niemeck (Philipps-Universität Marburg), On the Nature and Conditions of First-Person Concern. Abstract
  • According to a widely shared view, first-person thought is an essential and unique element of the human mind. The original cases presented in support for this assumption typically emphasize its crucial role for action. (Castañeda 1966; Chisholm 1981, Lewis 1979 and Perry 1979) For this reason, many philosophers conclude that actions (or their explanations) require (or need to appeal to) appropriate first-person thoughts. (Babb 2016; Bermudèz 2017, 2018; García-Carpintero 2016; Prosser 2015; Owens 2011; Torre 2016, 2017; Valente 2017)  In this talk, I will side with this traditional view and claim that beliefs grasped in the first-person motivate oneself in peculiar ways to act based on them and that this is the feature which sets them apart from other kinds of beliefs. However, even if this might be true, there seems to be one crucial question which is rarely addressed in current debates: Why do first-person thoughts have this motivational force for their bearer? Regular beliefs are not the kind of states which are usually considered to cause motivational pressure, since they are taken to be mental entities that only tell us something about the world (or possible worlds) but not how we should deal with it (them). First-person thought seems to be different in this regard. When I learn that a state of affairs involves me, I immediately become (at least to some minimal extent) concerned about this state of affairs. It grabs my attention and I feel pressured to interact with it.  To explore this motivational feature of first-person thinking will be the central task of this talk. For this reason, I will discuss a novel idea proposed by Textor (2018) according to which the first person is a thick concept that contains in addition to a descriptive component an evaluative one. The central assumption is that first-person thought is not solely special for the reason that it plays a unique cognitive role but because it designates an object which evokes affectual attractiveness and is of distinctive concern for the first-person thinker. I will term the concern accompanying first-person thought “first-person concern” and define it as a concern attitude which is existence-dependent on, co-occurring with, and directed at the doxastic objects of first-person thought. Then, I will outline how this underappreciated proposal might help to defeat a position known as De Se Skepticism (Cappelen & Dever 2013; Devitt 2013; Magidor 2015; Millikan 1990) and confront it with an apparent challenge relating to this debate, which I call the problem of generalization. The problem of generalization is based on the observation that there are many things we are quite concerned about. If we grasp non-first-personal thoughts about those things, then these thoughts surely are about things we care about. Hence, one might wonder if this concern involved in first-person thinking is actually unique and could be utilized to defeat De Se Skepticism. To address the problem of generalization, I argue against the idea that first-person concern is unconditional (Guillot & O'Brien 2022; Textor 2018), but try to justify an almost equally strong modal claim, namely that every concern attitude is conditioned by first-person concern. I will also briefly explain how this proposal relates to a position known as psychological egoism, i.e. the view that a person's fundamental conative and affective states are based on self-interest. In the final part, I focus on the nature of this motivational component involved in first-person thinking and maintain that the best way to understand it might be to conceptualize it as a peculiar emotional attitude (Berninger 2016; Deonna & Teroni 2015; Teroni 2016) with a neutral valence and explain why the notion of concern appears to be appropriate to denote it. To this end, I compare the idea of first-person concern with related concepts that have featured prominently in philosophical debates, such as self-respect and self-love.
  • 12:30-2:00 pm Lunch break.

Chair: B. Leclercq

  • 2:00-3:30 pm Bruno Cortesi (University School for Advanced Studies IUSS Pavia), Varieties of Introspective Knowledge by Acquaintance. Avec Jacopo Pallagrosi. Abstract
  • This paper will be concerned with the role acquaintance plays in contemporary theories of introspection. Traditionally, the relation of acquaintance has been conceived in analytic epistemology and philosophy of mind as being only causally relevant for our phenomenal beliefs. According to this mainstream causal account, acquaintance is only epistemically relevant inasmuch as it causes, or enables, or justifies a peculiar kind of propositional knowledge, i.e., knowledge by acquaintance. However, in recent years a novel account of the role of acquaintance in our introspective knowledge has been offered.  According to this novel constitutive approach, acquaintance is, in itself, a sui generis—i.e., non-propositional—kind of knowledge. On a causal account, the preposition 'by' in the expression 'knowledge by acquaintance' expresses a causal link between the relation of acquaintance and the new piece of propositional knowledge the subject achieves. By contrast, on a constitutive view, introspective knowledge by acquaintance is essentially constituted by the relation of acquaintance, rather than being merely caused by it. As we will suggest, a stalemate between David Chalmers' account of direct phenomenal concepts - as a prototypical example of a causal view - and Anna Giustina's account of a primitive, non-conceptual kind of introspection - as a prototypical example of a constitutive view - is looming in the current debate between the two families of theories. However, throughout the essay, we will point to some possible ways for a constitutive theorist to break the stalemate. Direct phenomenal concepts are defined as concepts that are wholly based on the attention to a quality and whose content is partially constituted by the quality itself. A causal account endorsing what we call the automatic formation constraint - according to which being attentively acquainted with the quality of an experience automatically leads to the formation of a direct phenomenal concept - promises to offer an account that stands in continuity with mainstream views in analytic epistemology of why and how our phenomenal beliefs can be strongly justified. However, it can do so only at the price of adopting a rather idiosyncratic theory of how some of our phenomenal concepts—direct phenomenal concepts themselves—are acquired and deployed. By dropping the automatic formation constraint, though, a causal approach would end up seeing its explanatory power reduced. In fact, without that constraint such an account would not be able to explain situations in which subjects differ in the amount of information they have at their disposal prior to the formation of the relevant direct phenomenal concept. Moreover, as we will argue, the formation of a direct phenomenal concept requires that the subject pays full attention to the quality she is acquainted with. By contrast, a constitutive account can vindicate the idea whereby a certain amount of information about the phenomenology of one's own presently conscious states can be conveyed also in cases in which the subject is only peripherally aware of the relevant quality. As far as a constitutive account is not committed to any ad hoc notion, it really seems that an inference to the best explanation for cases of epistemic asymmetry would favor such an account. We close the paper by emphasizing the fact that introspective acquaintance can play many of the philosophical roles that are traditionally attributed to knowledge. Furthermore, we point out that a constitutive theorist might benefit from further evidence for the existence of non-conceptual knowledge.
  • 3:30-4:00 am Coffee break.
  • 4:00-5:30 pm Bertille DeVlieger (Université de Lille), Emotional self-knowledge and its prudential value. Abstract
  • Emotional self-knowledge is a form of self-knowledge which holds great interest for ordinary individuals. This form of self-knowledge is not easily obtained, it is fallible and corrigible. It is not obtained by any obligation but rather because we think it is crucial to obtain. Following Cassam (Cassam 2017), it can be described as substantial self-knowledge as opposed to a more trivial form of self-knowledge (e.g. knowing that I am wearing overalls or that my shoes make noise).  But what is it about the nature of emotional self-knowledge that makes it essential to the conduct of our lives? In other words, what kind of value do we place on having self-knowledge such as emotional knowledge? In this talk it is a matter of demonstrating that emotional self-knowledge holds a prudential value. The concept of prudential value is closely related to well-being (Campbell 2013). This value of emotional knowledge lies in the aspiration of individuals to well-being and is therefore intrinsically linked to what is good for them. The concept of well-being is evaluative as it refers to what benefits an individual, what is in their best interest and what makes their life go as well as possible (Haybron 2008). First, I will consider the benefits of emotional self-knowledge. For example, emotional knowledge - as a substantive kind of knowledge - may reveal our preferences, what we value, our character traits, a part of oneself. It can give the possibility to better understand oneself and avoid self-estrangement or self-alienation. It offers the mean to better communicate our needs, feelings, and states of mind and avoid the feeling of being misunderstood. Secondly, I will consider an objection according to which a better understanding of our own emotions may involve some potential risks. In fact, it could allow us to become aware of our weaknesses, our limits or what we lack. Knowing our emotions may uncover the darkest parts of ourselves and generates anxiety, rumination of negative thoughts or self-disgust/ self-hatred. As such, emotional self-knowledge can be destructive. Finally, I will demonstrate that although not sufficient and likely to cause negative emotional states, knowledge of subjective experiences such as emotional experiences greatly contributes to our well-being. Indeed, it gives the possibility of control over our emotions, over their effects, expressions and, in some cases, over their consequences. It also gives a sense of dignity because it enables to regulate or predict certain emotions and not be entirely subjected to them, their effects or expressions. Emotional self-knowledge holds a prudential value because it offers individuals a substantial knowledge (i.e., a kind of knowledge that particularly matters to them) and the means to intervene on their quality of life.

Thu 27 Apr.

Chair: A. Dewalque

  • 9:00-10:30 am Adam Pautz (Brown University, Providence), The Epistemic Significance of Consciousness: A New Problem for Physicalism.
  • 10:30-11:00 am Coffee break.
  • 11:00 am -12:30 pm Zixuan Liu (Husserl-Archive in Cologne), Epiphenomenalism: A Husserlian Version and Solution. Abstract
  • Perhaps counterintuitively, epiphenomenalism is an influential view in current psychology, represented by Libet's experiment of readiness potential, Wegner's distinction between action-production and consciousness of action, and the unconscious information in guiding actions, like the dorsal visual channel and body schema. Surprisingly, one can find an argument for epiphenomenalism in Husserl, which is based on event causation. I propose agent causation as a solution to this issue. To ensure that this solution is Husserlian, a phenomenological reduction with respect to action is needed. To do justice to epiphenomenalism, one should bracket our daily assumptions about agency and the causal efficacy of phenomenal consciousness. Hence, phenomenality is defined as responsible for intelligibility, with no implication of intervention in what it makes intelligible. And the agent is not assumed to be identical to other notions of self. Rather, I propose various kinds of 'someone' that are more primitive than a unified self. Then one should overcome epiphenomenalism in the right way. This is done in two steps. First, I explain how agent causation is possible based on two ideas from Husserl: the unity between an agent and its action is closer than that between two events or substances in the same space and time; the will is a possible mode of every event which makes it into an action. The agent is occurrent and immersed in the mode of action, but is neither a part of the action's Sosein nor another event or substance.
    Then I explain why phenomenality is causally efficacious in action: so long as an action is to be intelligible as an action and an agent as an agent, the action must be performed on the basis of its reasons' intelligibility. Since phenomenality is responsible for intelligibility, it plays a causal role in the action. This kind of causation is not event causation, but a factor of agent causation.
    The Husserlian solution is not only valuable for Husserl's system, but also for replies to other forms of epiphenomenalism. The causal efficacy of phenomenality is invisible to Libet because he assumes event causation to be the relevant kind of causation and he fails to do justice to the first-personal perspective, which is crucial for agent causation and phenomenality. Wegner is right to the extent that the consciousness of the concurrent action does not necessarily have an influence on it, but the consciousness of its reason, which can be concurrent with the action, and which includes the consciousness of the action's previous phases, is causally efficacious. The unconscious information in guiding action shows that not all causally efficacious factors in action are conscious, but at least some are: the aim and the previous phases of the action.
  • 12:30-2:00 pm Lunch break.

Chair: D. Seron

  • 2:00-3:30 pm Bruno Leclercq (univ. de Liège / Creph), When the penny drops. Is grasping subjective?. Abstract
  • Charles Siewert (2014, Forthcoming) et Uriah Kriegel (2022) accordent tous deux une importante valeur épistémique à la subjectivité dans le phénomène de compréhension; il y a dans le fait de saisir (grasp) un contenu une dimension phénoménale indispensable à fonder une véritable compréhension. S'inspirant de David Bourget, Uriah Kriegel fournit l'exemple du bénéfice qu'apporte la représentation visuelle (réelle ou imaginée) d'un ballon de basket à côté d'un pépin de pomme pour saisir pleinement le rapport de proportion de volume entre Soleil et Terre jusqu'alors seulement compris théoriquement comme étant d'environ 1.300.000 fois supérieur. En sens inverse, Ludwig Wittgenstein (1953) a notoirement contesté que la dimension phénoménale de la compréhension en constitue, d'une part, une condition suffisante et, d'autre part, une condition nécessaire; pour lui, la compréhension est essentiellement une disposition comportementale. Au regard de la grande complexité de divers phénomènes à "comprendre" (significations linguistiques, notions et théories scientifiques, etc.), on peut en effet douter que leur compréhension puisse essentiellement reposer dans quelques images mentales ou quelques schèmes subjectivement conscients permettant de "se représenter" ce qu'il y a à comprendre. Une littérature importante questionne le rôle des images physiques ou mentales dans la compréhension, notamment en mathématiques (voir notamment Allwein & Barwise 1996; Mancosu et al. 2005). Bien au contraire, il est possible que la recherche d'images ou autres représentations mentales schématiques constituent un obstacle à la véritable compréhension, laquelle est en fait essentiellement théorique. Quant au sentiment de compréhension, il est sans doute erroné de le concevoir comme un phénomène subjectif conditionnant l'accès à ces bonnes dispositions comportementales qui seraient les signes extérieurs de la compréhension; il est possible au contraire que le sentiment de compréhension résulte bien plutôt de la familiarisation progressive avec les dispositions comportementales adéquates. [Allwein, G. & Barwise, J. (eds.) (1996) Logical Reasoning with Diagrams, Oxford University Press. Kriegel, U. (2022) ‘‘Phenomenal Grounds of Epistemic Value’’ Philosophy Compass 17 (12). Mancosu, P. et al. (eds.) (2005), Visualization, Explanation and Reasoning Styles in Mathematics, Berlin: Springer. Siewert, C. (2014) ‘‘Speaking up for consciousness’’ In Uriah Kriegel (ed.) Current controversies in philosophy of mind, London:Routledge, 199-221. Siewert, C. (Forthcoming) The value of consciousness, CP1, § 8-12, 75-78. Wittgenstein, L. (1953) Philosophical Investigations, translated by GEM Anscombe. Oxford: Blackwell.]
  • 3:30-4:00 am Coffee break.
  • 4:00-5:30 pm Laura Oppi (University of Padua), The problem of subjective distinguishability or indistinguishability between hallucinations and perceptions. Abstract
  • In the contemporary debate of philosophy of mind involving the conjunctivist and disjunctivist positions, hallucinations and perceptions are often referred to as subjectively distinguishable or indistinguishable. But what does "subjectively" mean here? In what situation is it possible to distinguish or not subjectively? There are many ways in which it can be declined. We can say that the subject is not able to understand through introspection alone if he is perceiving or hallucinating something, since he can also have difficulties in reflecting on the content of what he is experiencing. But are hallucinations and perceptions distinguishable by the subject who undergoes them? Or is it possible to say that the subject can in principle not distinguish hallucinations and perceptions? The typical case of hallucinations considered in philosophy is that of "perfect hallucinations", namely mental experiments that consider the possibility of a subject being able to see something although there is no object. The “perfect hallucination” cannot be introspectively distinguished from veridical perceptions and should have exactly the same phenomenal properties as veridical perceptions. This experiment comes in different ways: we can consider twin subjects, a single subject in two possible worlds, the brain-in-a-vat hypothesis or the case of the Evil Genius. What usually follows is that a veridical perceptual experience and an experience caused by stimulating the brain in the way it would be stimulated if it were subjected to a perception could be experiences of the same mental type with respect to what they represent and what-it's-like for the subject that undergoes them. In the scenario opened by mental experiments we must not only consider whether it is actually possible to recreate an exact overall stimulation of the real world, but also what changes between the real and hallucinated world. While there is always a reference to subjective indistinguishability, it doesn't seem that these experiments can really help clear things up. Indeed, it would almost seem to become more problematic to provide meaning for the two experiences as “subjectively indistinguishable” because the subject would not have the possibility to discern between the two. When introducing the element of the "first person" experience, it is not only necessary to understand if these experiences can have the same subjective character, but also what is left of the objective character within a perceptive or pseudo-perceptive experience. Moreover, if we were to endorse a strong form of internalism, we would consider them as potentially indistinguishable. If subjective perception does not change with respect to a sensory stimulus as a result of a veridical perception or hallucination, then we should understand if there is for the subject a distinction in the quality of the experience itself. For one thing is to see things that are not there, and another is to start from a minimum amount of sensory stimulus and process it through, for example, a chain of imagination and thought. This can be well integrated with the Husserlian perspective whereby, when we perceive something, we always exceed the sensory stimulus: while considering a part of the object through sensory stimuli, we always refer to the object in its entirety. This ability to constitute the object in its entirety starting from one of its parts can come into play even if there is different or minimal sensory material. Furthermore, in a husserlian perspective, we should also consider that the perceptual experience is dynamic and has always a spatial and temporal dimension of protections and retentions. With respect to the subject and the problem of knowledge, deepening the problem of subjective distinguishability or indistinguishability between hallucination and perception could also be useful in order to deal with the objectivity and the content of perception. Although the Husserlian position seems to support the subjectivist positions of Nagel, Siewert or Strawson, keeping in mind the subjective contribution to perception, we can also better understand how the Husserlian perspective gives us the possibility to avoid an internalist subjectivism. On the one hand, it considers the difference between sense data, perception, and perceptive content, so we could say that the excess over sensation is provided by subjectivity, but on the other hand, for the subject himself, there remains a distinction between objective and subjective experiences.

Fri 28 Apr.


  • 9:00-10:30 am Stéphanie Krokida (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne), The Ego from Husserl to Zahavi and back. Abstract
  • Dan Zahavi is widely regarded as one of the most prominent phenomenologists of our time with his contributions on both the history of Husserlian phenomenology and subjectivity being seminal. He has introduced his theory of the minimal self in his 1999 book entitled "Self-awareness and alterity" and has not yet ceased to refine it. Zahavi calls for a theory o f consciousness that necessarily contains self - consciousness and explicitly and thoroughly denying all no-self theories. His account is that of a pre-reflexive self-consciousness characterised, first and foremost, by the characters of mine-ness and for-me-ness. In broad strokes, the position of Zahavi affirms the real existence of the self, but denies any att empt to attribute any cartesian, substance-like traits to it. Not only isn't the self a cut-off entity, but -and this is where for-me-ness comes in- the self can only be in and through experience and relates to the how of said experience(s). It is the character of a lived state being given to me, being what it is for me and as such despite the constant flux of the experiential content from mom ent to moment, the self as this presentational quality, remains stable through time and provides us with a self- same, albeit minimal, subject.
    Recently, Zahavi's minimal self has fallen prey to criticism directed towards its formality and thinness. Zahavi himself has not given in the pressure and instead holds his ground advising for a truly "thin" and "thinner" conception of the minimal self. At the same time, and even though he acknowledges that other forms of self - such as the narrative self- are legitimate, he has not made any explicit efforts to create bridges between these different conceptions of the self. Examining Zahavi's own theory we can see that he seems to have moved to a thinner conception over the years. My particular point of interest has to do with the place of the Ego in his theory of self -consciousness. Specifically, in "Self- awareness and Alterity" Zahavi is very clear on the fact that the (minimal) self is ego-centric, a position he has not swayed from in the following years. Nevertheless, it seems as though his conceptualisation of the Ego has. Indeed he has reached a state where the Ego seems to have lost its vigour - and perhaps even its meaning - to the point where he himself has argued that his theory can be seen as both ego - centric and non ego-centric.
    This will be my point of departure for the present talk as, I shall argue, we can find a much more robust definition and conceptualisation of the self and the Ego in the philosophy of Zahavi's main influence, Husserl himself. In both the Cartesian Meditations as well as in Ideen, we can find a transcendental Ego that is anything but sterile and formal and instead incorporates many elements of the empirical Ego, such Husserl's key-concept of habit and habitual behaviour. Husserl's account might not be perfect, but he seems to b e able to integrate multiple aspects of the self more readily in one model, namely the transcendental Ego -which seems to be more fundamental than the self instead of the other way around as is the case in Zahavi's account. I shall argue, therefore, that go ing back to the start, that is to Husserl, we can draw elements not to criticize but rather to enrich Zahavi's account and take a decisive step towards a theory of subjectivity less plagued by the fragmentation of different selves.
  • 10:30-11:00 am Coffee break.
  • 11:00 am -12:30 pm Wojciech Starzynski (Institut de philosophie et de sociologie, Académie polonaise des sciences), Le sujet humain selon Ingarden: Structure ontologique et maximalisme existentiel. Abstract
  • Malgré l'orientation résolument ontologique de la phénoménologie de Roman Ingarden (1893-1970), à partir des années 1930 il a attaché une grande importance au problème de la subjectivité, que je voudrais aborder sous l'aspect structurelle et ensuite maximaliste. On peut affirmer que l'ontologie, en tant que science des modes possibles d'existence des objets individuels, a une fonction d'orientation et de soutien pour la recherche égologique concrète. Ainsi, en invoquant l'ego sum ego existo, Ingarden indique une expérience primordiale qui semble concevoir la réalité de l'ego de manière beaucoup plus large que comme d'une seule cogitatio, ou d'un flux de conscience. Plus encore, le jugement existentiel prononcé en première personne serait une constatation de l'existence d'une certaine entité particulière et privilégiée que l'on peut appeler un sujet dans deux sens connexes : être sujet de propriétés, être sujet permanent dans le temps. Ingarden fonde d'abord son analyse ontologico-phénoménologique sur l'expérience subjective de sa propre identité, qui, malgré la situation de confrontation au changement continuel du flux de conscience, y résiste. On peut parler ici de rester un et même dans le temps, non seulement de manière abstraite ou postulative, mais grâce à une nature constitutive de l'identité spécifique et unique de chaque individu, qui, en la vivant, est constamment reconnue et ainsi soutenue. Ingarden s'appuie ici sur l'expérience d'une conviction de la constance spécifique de l'individu (propre ou différent de moi), auquel est attribué un ensemble de caractéristiques clés résistant au changement temporel. Dans cette optique, Ingarden définit l'ego comme une réalité d'ordre supérieur comprenant trois moments constitutifs: (a) le phénomène de la conscience et des vécus conscients, dont il faut distinguer (b) les "états, processus, ainsi que les propriétés psychiques et physiques", assumant leur caractère indirectement conscient ; les deux seront régis par (c) "une certaine qualification fixe, déterminant la totalité de moi en tant qu'être humain, complètement unique et spécifique". Cette "nature constitutive" sera la base de l'expérience d'être soi-même qui se caractérise positivement par la "capacité toujours répétée de me reconnaître d'hier [...] en me sentant le même qu'hier". L'attestation négative d'une telle identité concrètement vécue sera le phénomène d'une conscience dédoublée, qui supposerait une possibilité de sa propre désintégration. En fin de compte, cependant, Ingarden reliera le sentiment subjectif de sa propre existence à son emplacement dans le monde et à la possibilité d'agir. Ainsi, Ingarden identifiera la spécificité essentielle de l'ego comme ne possédant pas simplement telle ou telle caractéristique, mais comme "agissant de manière réelle", ce qui conduit à des considérations que l'on peut qualifier de existentialistes.
    En caractérisant la méthode de recherche égologique existentielle d'Ingarden, il est important de souligner sa conviction qu'il est possible de concrétiser phénoménologiquement les thèses ontologiques, qui, en conséquence de ces procédures, acquièrent une nouvelle signification. Partant de la thèse cartésienne, Ingarden non seulement se distingue de la conception husserlienne de l'ego transcendantal, mais il se distancie également de la tentation de formaliser et d'homogénéiser le temps dans les versions kantienne et heideggérienne. La philosophie bergsonienne du temps en tant que catégorie dérivée par rapport à l'activité humaine, devient à son tour une inspiration positive. Ainsi Ingarden parlera de l'expérience supratemporel des moments de durée qui doivent être associés chaque fois à un acte libre accompli, défini finalement de manière plus générale comme une dédication volontaire de soi à la "production du bien, de la beauté et de la vérité". Une telle désignation signifie toutefois avant tout que l'expérience subjective n'a pas le caractère d'un égoïsme narcissique, mais qu'elle est l'accomplissement libérateur de son essence. On peut considérer aussi que la solution proposée par Ingarden est une conséquence de l'expérience de la contingence ou de la finitude de l'ego, où, cependant, par l'attitude adéquate, c'est-à-dire authentique, du sujet, la restriction aux dimensions du présent ne détruit pas du tout - du moins dans une certaine mesure - son existence. On peut parler ici d'une héroïsation de l'ego de Ingarden, tout à fait typique de la philosophie existentielle de l'époque, dont la connaissance existentielle se développe à partir d'un effort de volonté et de confrontation à des moments clés de l'épreuve. Ingarden propose cependant une certaine voie vers le soi profond, qui, bien que le plus souvent cognitivement inaccessible, ne tombe pas au rang d'un noumène kantien. Bien qu'il ne se révèle radicalement que dans les moments clés de l'épreuve existentielle, il reste néanmoins accessible à la sphère subjective de l'expérience auto-affective du "plaisir et du bonheur de désirer et de s'efforcer de la réaliser". Dans ce contexte, la vie de l'ego apparaît à Ingarden, d'une part, comme un processus continu d'accumulation de ressources existentielles et, d'autre part, comme un moment d'"épreuve" dans lequel la puissance accumulée est libérée, brisant ainsi les liens de la structure temporelle, la dépassant en accomplissant des actes libres dans des domaines idéaux privilégiés comme ceux de l'éthique, de l'esthétique ou de la théorie scientifique.
  • 12:30-2:00 pm Lunch break.

Chair: B. Leclercq

  • 2:00-3:30 pm Adnen Jdey (Univ. catholique de Louvain), Subjective ou objective? La psychophysique des couleurs chez le premier Maldiney (1949-1951). Abstract
  • Au croisement de la phénoménologie de la perception et de l'histoire de l'art, le premier Maldiney amorça, dans ses leçons inédites dispensées à Gand entre 1949-1951, une réflexion à la fois théorique et expérimentale sur le problème des couleurs en peinture, revisitée à la lumière des théories de la vision et des couleurs des XIXe et XXe siècles, essentiellement celles de Hering, Fechner, Purkinje, et Katz. Bien que rapidement avortée avec sa lecture d'E. Straus à partir de 1952, l'intérêt de cette première phénoménologie des couleurs chez Maldiney réside dans la voie médiane qu'elle propose en alternative aux traitements exclusifs – naturaliste et empiriste – de l'expérience des couleurs. En étudiant les critères de distinction du subjectif et de l'objectif dans ce type de perception, Maldiney soutint qu'il n'y a pas lieu de séparer de manière tranchée les deux pôles de cette tension, sans pour autant cautionner la thèse du parallélisme entre l'ancrage psychologique des sensations colorées et l'objectivité de leur stimulus. C'est à examiner les arguments et les limites de cette réflexion ambivalente que nous voudrions nous attacher dans cette intervention.
  • 3:30-4:00 am Coffee break.
  • 4:00-5:30 pm Jean Philippe Arias Zapata (CNRS, ICAR (UMR 5191) / ENS de Lyon), De l'expérience subjective à l'épistémologie en première personne: Une lecture expérientielle du cogito. Abstract
  • Cette communication sera une exploration du rôle-clé du cogito pour l'épistémologie en première personne telle que considérée par Natalie Depraz, Francisco Varela et Pierre Vermersch (2011). De cette manière, nous nous intéresserons à la valeur gnoséologique des expériences subjectives. En effet, l'épistémologie en première personne est l'épistémologie nécessaire à la réalisation d'une science empirique des expériences vécues (Erlebnisse), ou micro-phénoménologie (Petitmengin et al., 2015). Elle considère notamment la valeur gnoséologique intrinsèque des expériences vécues comme fondement épistémologique principal – sous certaines conditions méthodologiques préalables (Vermersch, 2012). Or, « il y a avec l'expérience la rencontre entre un sujet et une réalité qui l'excède » (Depraz, 2011, p. 248 ; nous soulignons). Pour l'épistémologie en première personne, toute expérience vécue a une instance subjective qui la vit, ou, réciproquement, l'expérience subjective est ce là, maintenant d'une subjectivité concrète. Expériences vécues et expériences subjectives y sont donc considérées comme synonymes. De ce point de vue, il est équivalent de dire que l'expérience subjective a une valeur gnoséologique intrinsèque, ou qu'expérience vécue et subjectivité concrète ont une valeur gnoséologique intrinsèque en étant indubitablement ensemble. Nous pouvons interpréter cette proposition comme le parallèle empirique du cogito phénoménologique (Husserl, 1950/2014). Pourtant, nous souhaitons proposer l'hypothèse que, malgré l'héritage husserlien explicité, Depraz et collaborateurs (2011) opèrent un renversement paradigmatique qu'il s'agit de fonder dans une nouvelle lecture – expérientielle cette fois-ci – du cogito. Pour soutenir cette hypothèse, nous proposerons des pistes pour réinterroger la relation entre expérience vécue et subjectivité qui semble « évidente » pour l'épistémologie en première personne. D'une part, nous confronterons micro-phénoménologie et phénoménologie des Ideen I (Husserl, 1913/1950) pour asseoir le rôle de l'expérience subjective dans l'épistémologie en première personne. Nous comparerons leurs méthodes de travail respectives pour constater comment l'expérience vécue est un fondement de l'épistémologie en première personne. Puis, à partir du travail de Depraz (2014), nous verrons en quoi les interprétations phénoménologique et micro-phénoménologique de la subjectivité sont différentes, et ainsi l'originalité de l'approche de la subjectivité par l'épistémologie en première personne. Le rôle de l'expérience subjective ayant été déployé et la subjectivité étant maintenant relue comme « instance singulière expérientielle » (ibid., p. 126), nous pourrons d'autre part explorer une lecture expérientielle du « je suis, j'existe » cartésien (Descartes, 1641/2009, p. 93). Il s'agira de sortir du cadre de l'épistémologie en première personne pour distinguer plusieurs interprétations du cogito à partir des réflexions respectives de Husserl (1950/2014) et de Merleau-Ponty (1945) à ce sujet en nous appuyant sur des travaux contemporains tel que ceux de Paul Ricœur (1990), de Pascal Dupond (2004), d'Elodie Boublib (2014) et de Paula Lorelle (2021). Cela nous permettra finalement de revenir à l'expérience subjective en signalant en quoi le cogito expérientiel révèle sa valeur gnoséologique intrinsèque et ainsi en quoi l'épistémologie en première personne porte en puissance une lecture expérientielle du cogito.