Publication 6195

Wheeler M. (2016) The rest is science: What does phenomenology tell us about cognition. In: Reynolds J. & Sebold R. (eds.) Phenomenology and science. Palgrave Macmillan, New York: 87–101. Fulltext at
Let me put up my hand straight away: I am a naturalist about cognition. What does this mean? First things first: I take ‘cognition’ to be a catch-all term encompassing the various states and processes that we typically identify as psychological phenomena (the states and processes of memory, perception, reasoning, etc.). The guiding thought of naturalism is that philosophy should be continuous with empirical science. So the naturalist about cognition (that’s me) thinks that the philosophical understanding of cognition (of the states and processes of memory, perception, reasoning, etc.) should be continuous with cognitive science. I take the naturalist notion of continuity with empirical science to be determined by the following principle of conflict resolution (Wheeler 2013): if and when there is a genuine clash between philosophy and some eminently well-supported (by the data) empirical science, then that is a good reason for the philosopher to at least revisit her claims, with a view to withdrawal or revision. The envisaged clash, on its own anyway, puts no such pressure upon the scientist. So where phenomenology (as a branch of philosophy) and well-supported cognitive science conflict, it is the phenomenologist, and not the cognitive scientist, who should revisit her claims.

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