Institut Jean Nicod

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Roberto Casati (Milan, Italy, 1961): I am a tenured senior researcher with the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). I am based in Paris, France. I studied with Andrea Bonomi and Giovanni Piana in Milan, Italy, where I got my PhD (on Events) in 1992. I also hold a PhD from the University of Geneva, Switzerland (on Secondary Qualities, 1991), under the direction of Kevin Mulligan. I have worked on various research projects on philosophy of perception, in particular under the direction of Barry Smith, and have taught at several universities, among which the State University of New York at Buffalo. Most recently I have been visiting professor at the Università IUAV, Venice, at the University of Turin, and at Columbia University. I am the recipient of various prizes and of grants from several institutions, including CNRS, MENRT, and the European Commission. I was responsible, for Institut Nicod, of the Enactive Network of Excellence (IST-2002-002114).

I have published on journals such as Analysis, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Studia Leibnitiana, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Perception, Trends in Cognitive Science, Journal of Visual Language and Computing, Dialectica, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Philosophical Studies, Philosophical Psychology, Behavioral and Brain Sciences. This somewhat nonstandard spread reflects my interdisciplinary interest as a philosopher of the cognitive sciences, focussed on the psychological status of commonsense notions (such as that of object, event, colors, sounds, and holes and shadows) and the proper methodology for studying these notions. Having received a parallel education as a graphic designer, I am also interested in issues in the cognitive study of art and in public representations.

I have a long-standing collaboration with Achille Varzi of Columbia University; we have co-authored 18 papers, co-edited 3 volumes, and written together Holes and Other Superficialities (1994), and Parts and Places (1999), both published with MIT Press, as well as two books for the general public (containing stories for grown ups and children, respectively): Unsurmountable Simplicities, translated in 8 languages, and The Planet of Disappearing Things. I have also collaborated with Jérôme Dokic of EHESS on La philosophie du son, Chambon 1994, of which we recently posted an English version, and am working with Vittorio Girotto (IUAV, Venice) on a project on counterintuitive solutions.

A detailed CV with annotated references can be found here: Roberto Casati CV.

Main research results

I mostly worked in three areas: analytical metaphysics (objects, events, spaces), the study of shadow related perceptual phenomena, and the study of cognitive artefacts. Main research results are :

In general philosophy:

The conceptual negotiation account of philosophy; a set of methodological caveats on the cognitive study of art; the conversational theory of artworks.

In analytical metaphysics:

The event theory of sounds (with J. Dokic), the immaterial theory of spatial regions (with A. Varzi), an extended study of the relationships between part/whole structures and topological structure (with A. Varzi), the theory of future shrinking in the metaphysics of time (with G. Torrengo),

In the study of shadow related phenomena:

The architecture of the shadow cognition system via the study of systematic double dissociations in shadow depictions (accurate shadows that appear wrong, wrong shadows that appear quite correct), the discovery or prediction of a number of illusions related to shadow perception (copycat illusion, Lippi illusion, double shadow illusion, shadow capture, shadow of shadow, shadow occlusion), and a general account of the way shadows are dealt with in artistic representation and geometrical reasoning in astronomy (a book on the subject has been translated in eight languages)

In the study of cognitive artefacts:

The first and so far unique formal semantics for maps, the demonstration of the topic-sensitive nature of spatial reasoning and formalization (with A. Varzi), the proof of necessity of maximality on top of uniform connectedness in descriptions of entry untis for perception, syntax and semantics for standard music notation (in progress), a theory of micro-credits in scientific publications; a theory of cognitive advantages of representational artefacts.