Institut Jean Nicod

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Since 2014, Uriah Kriegel has worked on two main projects. The first concerned the structure of the sphere of conscious phenomena that go beyond perceptual consciousness and involve more neglected modes of conscious experience, such as cognitive, agentive, emotional, and moral consciousness. This project culminated in a 2015 Oxford University Press monograph entitled The Varieties of Consciousness. The second project concerned the philosophy of Franz Brentano, and the manner in which it casts the philosophy of consciousness as the basis for a complete system of metaphysics and value theory. This project culminated in a 2018 Oxford University Press monograph entitled Brentano’s Philosophical System : Mind, Being, Value

Kriegel’s current research is split between metaphysics and philosophy of mind. In metaphysics, he is interested, at one level, in the question of which ontological categories are fundamental, and at another level, in the question of how fundamentality is to be understood. His main hypotheses regarding these two questions can be described as follows : he is trying to defend a version of nominalist ontology in which the only fundamental ontological category is that of concrete individual objects ; and to argue that fundamentality is ultimately to be determined by establishing which ontological theory provides a most comprehensive unification of our picture of reality. In the philosophy of mind, Kriegel’s current research focuses on the question "What is the value of consciousness ?" He is interested, at one level, in how to interpret this seemingly intractable and all-encompassing question so it submits to rigorous and precise theoretical treatment ; and at another level, at what can be said about the value of consciousness once the question has been rendered thus tractable. The main hypotheses in this area may be summarized as follows. With regard to the interpretation of the basic question of the value consciousness, this question is usefully factorized into 6 sub-questions by introducing two cross-cutting distinctions (the first between epistemic, ethical, and aesthetic value, the second between intrinsic and instrumental value). With regard to potential answers to the 6 emerging sub-questions, Kriegel wishes to defend two central ideas : that consciousness is a necessary component of a phenomenon that carries intrinsic epistemic value, namely, direct grasp ; and that consciousness is the ground of the most basic intrinsic ethical value, the dignity of conscious creatures in virtue of which they must be treated not as means to one’s own ends but as ends in themselves.