The course is designed to familiarize participants with the increasingly influential, though still controversial thesis that thinking is a kind of experience, and that conceptual mental content is constituted by a proprietary, sui generis kind of non-sensory phenomenology. In addition to the familiar sensory kinds of experience – visual, auditory, olfactory, etc., there is, according to this view, a cognitive kind of phenomenology. Just as there is “something it’s like” to have visual, auditory, etc. experiences, there is something it’s like to think. And just as differences in visual, auditory, etc. phenomenology distinguish states of those proprietary kinds one from the other, differences cognitive phenomenology distinguish thoughts one from the other.
Topics to be covered in the course include: arguments for the existence of cognitive phenomenology; skepticism about cognitive phenomenology; the significance of cognitive phenomenology; the integration of cognitive experience with sensory experience; the relation of thought experience to the experience of belief, desire, hope, etc.; the temporality of thought; the epistemic role of consciousness; the epistemic and rational roles of cognitive experience; the problem of unconscious thought; mainstream externalism about mental content; singular thought; the “Phenomenal Intentionality” research program; and the relation of current work in analytic phenomenology to traditional, Husserlian Phenomenology.
The course will meet on 8 days. The sessions will begin with a brief summary by the instructor of the topic to be discussed, followed by Q&A/general discussion. The bulk of each session will be devoted to the latter. Participants are expected to have read the relevant background materials provided by instructors in advance of each session. The course is open to MA and PhD students, recent graduates, lecturers, and tenure-track (and tenured) faculty. A solid background in philosophy is required.