Experience and Reason (2011)

Habilitation Thesis.

Lausanne: Rero DOC, 2011, 408 pp.

Final Draft | Published Version

 

Abstract

This collection brings together a selection of my recently published articles. What unites them is their common concern with one of the central ambitions of philosophy, namely to get clearer about our first-personal perspective onto the world and our minds. Three aspects of that perspective are of particular importance: consciousness, intentionality, and rationality. The collected essays address metaphysical and epistemological questions both concerning the nature of each of these aspects and concerning the various connections among them. More generally, given that intentionality and rationality are both normative phenomena, the main theme of the articles is the relationship between consciousness and normativity and the centrality of this relationship to our first-personal perspective.

This focus culminates in the defense of two specifi c views, experiential rationalism and experiential intentionalism. The first is, very roughly, the view that how our mental episodes are given in consciousness reflects their rational role in our mental lives: it is part of what our mental episodes subjectively are like that we phenomenally experience them as providing and/or responding to certain kinds of reasons. The central claim of the second view, on the other hand, is that the intentionality of our mental episodes is essentially linked to consciousness and involves a token-reflexive element: they intentionally present not only the world, but also themselves as being a certain way.

Some of the essays also deal with the contrast between our first- and our third-personal perspectives and the – to some extent related – division of labour between philosophy and the empirical sciences. Both perspectives have their limitations and sometimes conflict with each other, raising the question of what the consequences are for accounts of our fi rst-personal knowledge and its internal or external objects.