Shaun Gallagher – What Can Phenomenology Tell us about Social Cognition?

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Event Date: 7 September 2012
Manchester Metropolitan University,
All Saints Building, All Saints,
Manchester, M15 6BH

The Society for European Philosophy (SEP) and the Forum for European Philosophy (FEP) 2012 Conference

in association with The London Graduate School

Shaun   Gallagher (Lillian and Morrie Moss Chair of Excellence in Philosophy at the University of Memphis, Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science at the University of Hertfordshire in England, Honorary Professor of Philosophy at the University of Copenhagen, Affiliated Research Faculty Member at the Institute of Simulation and Training at the University of Central Florida) – What Can Phenomenology Tell us about Social Cognition?

In several recent papers the relevance of phenomenology, understood as a philosophical method (in the tradition Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty and others), has been challenged specifically within the context of studies of social cognition.  For example, Pierre Jacob (2011) suggests that since processes that explain social cognition are not available at the experiential level, phenomenology misses the mark.  Spaulding (2010, 131) from a theory of mind perspective suggests that phenomenology is simply irrelevant. This is not the minority opinion in philosophy of mind. Most, although not all, theorists in philosophy of mind, psychology, and neuroscience would locate the essential processes of social cognition at the subpersonal level and dismiss phenomenology as likely misleading. In an attempt to respond to these dismissals of phenomenology, I address several questions. First, are all aspects that are relevant to an explanation of social cognition in fact sub-personal? Second, how should such sub-personal processes be cashed out on the experiential level, assuming that we do experience something as we interact with others?  Third, what role does folk psychology play in an explanation of social cognition?  And finally, is phenomenology limited to introspection?





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