Institut Jean Nicod

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Paris Consciousness/Self-consciousness [PaCS] group


The meetings are on Mondays, 4pm-6pm, at the “salle de réunion”, Institut Jean-Nicod, Pavillon Jardin, ENS 29 rue d’Ulm, 75005.

Contact : Uriah Kriegel



Past sessions

September, 8
Nico Orlandi (University of California - Santa Cruz),
"Vision without Inference"

I present a way of understanding vision inspired by literature in situated cognition, and informed by insights from the history of philosophy. To explain why the world looks as it does, I appeal to the structure of the environment in which we are situated and to our 'attunement to it'. This approach contrasts with models of vision in philosophy and psychology that treat visual processing as an ‘inference’ or a ‘construction’, where representational resources are used to produce visual percepts. One of my main claims is that postulating inferences in vision is both unnecessary and unsupported by the evidence. If we study the environmental contingencies in which vision occurs, and we properly distinguish representational states and features of the visual apparatus, from more generic functional states and features, we obtain an empirically more plausible account.

October, 6
Myrto Mylopoulos (Institut Nicod),
"The Sense of Agency As Cognitive Phenomenology"

In this talk, I will make a case for understanding the sense of agency, i.e., the awareness of oneself as acting, as a form of cognitive phenomenology. To start, I will clarify what it means for the sense of agency to have a phenomenological component, and motivate the claim that there is one. Next, I will argue on the basis of empirical evidence that, at least sometimes, the sense of agency arises from psychological states that are antecedent to bodily movement. I will then describe and evaluate two possible models for the sense of agency given this constraint: the intention-based model, on which intentions themselves are the states in virtue of which one has a sense of agency, and the inferential model, on which it is in virtue of inferences based on intentions that one does. I will argue in favor of the inferential model, which entails that the mental states in virtue of which we are aware of ourselves as acting are inferential first-personal thoughts, and further detail how such a view can account for key aspects of agentive phenomenology, revealing it to be a type of cognitive phenomenology. I will close by highlighting some additional explanatory virtues of this account of the sense of agency.

December 1st, 4pm-6pm
Ben Phillips, (CUNY)
"Contextualism About Object Seeing"

According to the received view, whether a subject, S, counts as seeing a given object, O, is determined solely by which relations hold between S's visual experience and O (e.g. causal ones). I argue that the received view is wrong: whether S can truly be said to see O varies with the interests of those attributing her state of seeing. Having provided a number of supporting cases, I bolster my contextualist account by arguing that ‘sees’ is a gradable verb, and that it can be grouped along with other gradable terms that are widely seen as context-sensitive (e.g. ‘tall’, ‘empty’, ‘flat’). I then examine the consequences that the context-sensitivity of ‘sees’ has for the nature of perceptual experience. Finally, I argue that the notion of seeing deployed in vision science is not immune to this context-sensitivity.

December, 10, 4pm-6pm
John Bengson (University of Wisconsin–Madison)

January, 19, 4pm-6pm
Margherita Arcangeli (IJN),
"Imagination, supposition and emotion"

In the literature the capacity of imagination to elicit emotional responses has led many philosophers to draw a contrast between imagination and another type of mental activity, namely supposition. In this talk I shall focus on what I call “the Emotionality Claim” (EC). According to EC, imagination but not supposition has a privileged link to emotion. In more cognitive jargon, EC states that while imagination is connected to the affect system (i.e., the mechanisms that produce emotional responses), supposition is disconnected from this system. As it stands, EC does not specify the nature of the connection to the affect system. Thus, it is open to several interpretations which yield very different views about the nature of supposition. First, I shall show that the only argument in favour of the strong version of EC reduces imagination to what is actually only a sub-type of imagination, namely that which involves mental imagery – i.e., perception-like or sensory imagination. Second, I shall show that the weak version of EC is quite problematic also for those who identify supposition with belief-like (or cognitive) imagination. Indeed, the weak version of EC is better interpreted in a way which is compatible with supposition being a sui generis form of imagination, neither sensory nor cognitive. The upshot will be that EC should be restricted to specific types of imagination. Finally, I shall consider the idea that, in fact, supposition can be emotionally “hot”, that it is indeed connected to our affect system, as some examples seem to show. In light of these examples I shall put forward a more focused interpretation of EC, which I call “Output_EC”.

February, 23
Pascal Ludwig (Université Paris-Sorbonne),
"Attention and phenomenal knowledge"

March, 6, 11:30 - 1 pm - Co-Colloquium
Thomas McClelland (University of Manchester),
"Do We Perceptually Experience the High-Level Properties of Visual Scenes?"

April, 20, 4pm-6pm
Claire Petitmengin (Institut Mines-Télécom),
"Researching the microdynamics of lived experience"