Institut Jean Nicod

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Born in 1982, I am a PhD student at the Jean Nicod Institute, working on a thesis entitled “Externalism and Phenomenal Experience”, supervised by Pierre Jacob. A former student of the International Selection of École Normale Supérieure, Paris (2004-2007), I hold a B.A. in Philosophy obtained in June 2004 at the University of Bucharest (Honors, Rank 1), with a dissertation entitled “The Mental Representational Medium. Meta-Theoretical Aspects”, supervised by Mircea Dumitru, an M.Sc. in Cognitive Science obtained in September 2005 at EHESS Paris (Honors, Rank 3), with a thesis entitled "Compositionality, the Language of Thought, and the Dynamic Map of Thought", supervised by Elisabeth Pacherie, as well as an M.A. in Philosophy obtained in June 2006 at the Université de Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV) (Honors, Rank 1), with a dissertation entitled "The Phenomenal Character of Thought", supervised by Daniel Andler.

During the Spring Semester 2006/07 I was a visiting scholar/student at the Department of Philosophy of New York University, having Ned Block as my supervisor.

In my B.A. dissertation I explored two types of philosophical theories of thinking accounting for a series of explananda such as the productivity and systematicity of thought: language of thought and quasi-pictorial theories, while delineating the meta-theoretical options available for a proponent of such theories: exclusivism, compatibilism, and inclusivism. I then offered a constructive account of an inclusivist theory considering that the fundamental medium of thought has the characteristics of a dynamic map. In my Cognitive Science M.Sc. thesis I further developed the dynamic map theory, especially in relation to the compositionality desideratum for a theory of thought. I distinguished between static and dynamic maps and argued that, while static maps are not compositional per se, dynamic maps exhibit a form of compositionality. In my M.A. dissertation I offered a critical analysis of theories considering thought has phenomenal character (just like perceptual experiences), while developing a personal constructive account of the putative individuative and distinctive phenomenal character of thought in terms of mastery of conceptual structure (coded in dynamic maps) and arguing it is constitutive for a thought’s representational properties.

In my PhD thesis I work on externalist theories of phenomenal experience (such as the dynamic externalism of Hurley and Noë or the representationism of Dretske, Lycan, and Tye) in relation to the scientific project of searching for the neural correlate of consciousness (work by, inter alia, Christof Koch, Stanislas Dehaene, and Ned Block). My sympathies are internalist, and I intend to argue in favor of a view according to which intentional vehicle externalism (of the sort put forward by Andy Clark and David Chalmers, albeit a weaker one) is the sole plausible form of externalism. I want to give a lot of thought to evaluate the cogency of the conditional according to which if thoughts have phenomenal character, just like perceptual experiences (albeit of a conceptual ability sort), then they are internalistically individuated, Putnam and Burge-externalism notwithstanding. 

Topics of interest: the problem of consciousness, varieties of externalism, cognitive and perceptual experience, the map theory of thought, the phenomenal concept strategy, imagination, mental simulation, representationism, introspection, functional reduction

Selected conference presentations:

2007, July Annual Meeting of the European Society for Philosophy and Psychology, University of Geneva, Switzerland, talk: "What It Is Like to Think" 

2006, September Exploring the Boundaries of Experience and Self, 10th Annual Conference of the Consciousness and Experiential Section of the British Psychological Society, St. Anne’s College, Oxford University, United Kingdom, talk: “Externalism and the Neural Correlates of Consciousness” (in absentia)

2006, July Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association, University of Southampton, United Kingdom, talk: “The Extended Mind Hypothesis and Phenomenal Consciousness” (in absentia)

2005, August The Fifth European Congress for Analytic Philosophy, University of Lisbon, Faculty of Letters, Portugal, talk: “Compositionality, Mentalese, and the Dynamic Map of Thought”

2005, June The Ninth Annual Meeting of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, Caltech, Pasadena, California, U.S.A, talk: “The Quale of a Thought”