Nearly 20 years ago, Francisco Varela launched a research program called neurophenomenology (Varela 1996). This project aimed to develop a science of consciousness that includes, as active and explicit components, methodologies that account for the, so far neglected, subjective aspect of experience. Thus neurophenomenology proposed to incorporate an experiential approach into scientific research, based on techniques that allow the first-person exploration and account of experience, such as phenomenology and meditation practices. In addition, this program also proposed a conceptual shift from representationalism to an “enactive” view, passing from the vision of a pre-existing world that is independent from the observer, understanding cognition as the computation of symbols that represent the outside world, to a vision that places the subject as an active agent that participates in the emergence of his world, which adheres to the co-dependency and co-determinations of subject-object.
Since its release, this research program has undergone the typical reactions to any vanguard and innovative proposal: it has been contested (e.g., Bayne 2004; Kirchhoff & Hutto 2016), defended (e.g., Bitbol 2012; Petitmengin et al. 2013; Bitbol & Petitmengin 2013), and it has matured. But mostly neurophenomenology has developed, through specific and concrete investigations, as a consolidated and valid research program in the context of cognitive science and neuroscience (e.g., Desmidt et al. 2014; Lutz et al. 2002; Valenzuela-Moguillansky et al. 2013; Petitmengin et al. 2006).
In the development of this research program some new questions have arisen:
A first type of question is methodological: Given that the working hypothesis of this research program is that phenomenology and cognitive science relate to each other through reciprocal constraints:
Q1. How can one deal with the different technical requirements and different criteria of validity of these two approaches?
A second type of question is about the ontology of consciousness: Given that, according to neurophenomenology, the phenomenal aspect of consciousness is irreducible to its physical aspect:
Q2. What is sought, after all, with the integration of the first- and third-person approaches?
Q3. Is it an explanation of the phenomenon of consciousness? Is it a more complete description of it?
Q4. Or is it an explanation of the relationship between the physical and the phenomenal descriptions?
Finally, a third type of question is epistemological. As recently pointed by Sebastjan Vörös (2014), the introduction of phenomenology into cognitive science should not be merely a quantitative addition to and extension of a pre-determined framework of natural science, but it should involve a qualitative transformation of our fundamental understanding of nature and science. So far we have seen the first person approach demonstrating a rigorous method that allows it to be part of scientific endeavor.
Q5. However, has scientific endeavor been transformed by the phenomenological stance, as Varela expected?
Thus the aim of this special issue is to reflect and discuss, from different approaches and disciplines, the current state, problematic, and possibilities of neurophenomenology. More particularly, this special issue is an invitation to:
For your convenience, a Word template with the Author’s Guidelines is available at http://submit.constructivist.info/template.doc Please use this template for your article submission.
Submission of the full paper (in English) is due 1 August 2016. It is followed by a (constructive) double-blind review that all submitted papers must undergo. In the case of conditional acceptance, time will be allocated for the revisions requested. The special issue will be published in the March 2017 issue of Constructivist Foundations.
Paper submissions and all further inquiries should be sent to the editors at np/at/constructivist.info
|1 March 2017:||Deadline for OPCs|
|15 March 2017:||Publication date|
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Bayne T. (2004) Closing the gap? Some questions for neurophenomenology. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 3: 349–364. http://cepa.info/2260
Bitbol M. (2012) Neurophenomenology, an ongoing practice of/in consciousness. Constructivist Foundations 7(3): 165–173. http://constructivist.info/7/3/165
Bitbol M. & Petitmengin C. (2013) A defense of introspection from within. Constructivist Foundations 8(3): 269–279. http://constructivist.info/8/3/269
Desmidt T., Lemoine M., Belzung C. & Depraz N. (2014) The temporal dynamic of emotional emergence. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 13: 557–578.
Kirchhoff M. D & Hutto D. D. (2016) Never mind the gap: Neurophenomenology, radical enactivism and the hard problem of consciousness. Constructivist Foundations 11(2): in press.
Lutz A., Lachaux J. P., Martinerie J. & Varela F. J. (2002) Guiding the study of brain dynamics by using first person data: Synchrony patterns correlate with ongoing conscious states during a simple visual task. PNAS 99: 1586–1591.
Petitmengin C., Navarro V. & Baulac M. (2006) Seizure anticipation: Are neuro-phenomenological approaches able to detect preictal symptoms? Epilepsy and Behavior 9: 298–306.
Petitmengin C., Remillieux A., Cahour B. & Carter-Thomas S. (2013) A gap in Nisbett and Wilson's findings? A first-person access to our cognitive processes. Consciousness and Cognition 22: 654–669.
Valenzuela-Moguillansky C., O’Regan J. K. & Petitmengin C. (2013) Exploring the subjective experience of the “rubber hand” illusion. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 7: 659. http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fnhum.2013.00659
Varela F. (1996) Neurophenomenology: A methodological remedy for the hard problem. Journal of Consciousness Studies 3: 330–349. http://cepa.info/1893
Vörös S. (2014) The uroboros of consciousness: Between the naturalisation of phenomenology and the phenomenologisation of nature. Constructivist Foundations 10(1): 96–104. http://cepa.info/1173