Phil/Psych 446

Seminar in Cognitive Science

Week 9: First Person

Identity theory

Mental states are supposed to be brain states.

But what is a brain state?

Activation vector?

Spiking/connectivity/chemical vector.

Is first-person experience reducible to third-person science?

A-team: Yes. B-team. No.

Reducible = find underlying mechanistic explanation.

Movements in Twentieth Century Philosophy

Analytic: (Frege) Russell, Wittgenstein, Kripke

Phenomenology: Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty

Naturalistic (Peirce) Dewey, Quine, Fodor, Goldman, Churchlands


Current practice



Better than resting?

Meditation affects the brain: Davidson.

Buddhism: a way to live?

New Techniques for Measuring Brains

Cortical current density reconstruction

Magnetic resonance spectroscopy

Discussion Questions

1. Can there be a first person science?

2. Can first-person experience be explained mechanistically?

3. What can the method of phenomenology add to our understanding of consciousness?

4. Does meditation illuminate the nature of consciousness?

5. Does Buddhism provide insights about the meaning of life? Is enlightenment appealing?

Phil/Psych 446

Computational Epistemology Laboratory.

Paul Thagard

This page updated Nov. 2, 2007