Publication 1067

Strle T. (2013) Why should we study experience more systematically: Neurophenomenology and modern cognitive science. Interdisciplinary Description of Complex Systems 11(4): 376–390. Fulltext at https://cepa.info/1067
In the article I will defend the view that cognitive science needs to use firstand second-person methods more systematically, as part of everyday research practice, if it wants to understand the human mind in its full scope. The neurophenomenological programme proposed by Varela as a remedy for the hard problem of consciousness (i.e., the problem of experience) does not solve it on the ontological level. Nevertheless, it represents a good starting point for how to tackle the phenomenon of experience in a more systematic, methodologically sound way. On the other hand, Varela’s criterion of phenomenological reduction as a necessary condition for systematic investigation of experience is too strong. Regardless of that and some other problems that research of experience faces (e.g., the problem of training, the question of what kind of participants we want to study), it is becoming clear that investigating experience seriously – from the firstand the second-person perspectives – is a necessary step cognitive science must take. This holds especially when researching phenomena that involve consciousness and/or where differentiation between conscious and unconscious processing is crucial. Furthermore, gathering experiential data is essential for interpreting experimental results gained purely by quantitative methods – especially when we are implicitly or explicitly referring to experience in our conclusions and interpretations. To support these claims some examples from the broader area of decision making will be given (the effect of deliberation-without-attention, the cognitive reflection test). Relevance: It argues against the possibility of epistemological reduction and for researching cognition from both the firstand the third-person perspectives in a balanced way to achieve better understanding of the human mind.

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