Cracow Cognitive Science Colloquium
Prof. José Luis Bermúdez (Texas A&M University)
Tuesday, 15 December 2015, 4:45 p.m., Room 13
Institute of Philosophy, Jagiellonian University, Grodzka st. 52
Experiments on bodily illusions raise important questions about what it is to experience one's body as one's own. Although we have a sense of ownership that extends to individual body-parts and also to the body as a whole, this sense of ownership is not clearly defined. This paper explores three hypotheses
1) Judgments of ownership are based on the experienced location of sensation
2) Judgments of ownership are based on the experience of agency
3) Judgments of ownership are based on the experienced spatiality of the body
Hypotheses (1) and (2) give an important part of the overall picture, but I argue that neither is fully explanatory on its own. Hypothesis (3) identifies a phenomenon that is more fundamental, since both experiencing agency and experiencing sensations take place relative to experiencing the distinctive space of the body. In developing hypothesis (3) the paper starts from two large-scale features of the phenomenology of bodily awareness – Boundedness and Connectedness. According to Boundedness, bodily events are experienced within a circumscribed body-shaped volume whose boundaries define the limits of the self, while according to Connectedness, the spatial location of a bodily event is experienced relative to the disposition of the body as a whole. The overarching thesis is that the space of the body is experienced relative to a model of the body as a hierarchy of generalized cones linked by mechanical joints. The sense of ownership of our bodies and body- parts emerges because we experience them in this distinctive way that differs fundamentally from how we experience extra-bodily events, even those in peripersonal space.
José Luis Bermúdez is Professor of Philosophy and Associate Provost for Strategic Planning at Texas A&M University, where he was previously the sixth Dean of the College of Liberal Arts. Before joining Texas A&M in 2010 he served as Professor of Philosophy, Director of the Center for Programs in Arts and Sciences, and Director of the Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology Program at Washington University in St. Louis.
Born in Bogotá, Colombia, Bermúdez earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in philosophy from King's College, Cambridge University. He began his academic career at the University of Cambridge before joining the faculty at the University of Stirling in Scotland, where he served as department chair. In the classroom, Dr. Bermúdez has offered courses in a wide range of areas, including philosophy of mind, the history of philosophy, and mathematical logic.
Dr. Bermúdez has more than 100 publications, including five single-author books and six edited volumes. His research interests are interdisciplinary in nature at the intersection of philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience. His first book, The Paradox of Self-Consciousness (MIT Press, 1998) analyzed the nature of self-awareness. Thinking without Words (Oxford UP, 2003) offered a model for thinking about the cognitive achievements and abilities of prelinguistic infants an nonlinguistiuc humans. His most recent monograph, Decision Theory and Rationality (Oxford UP, 2009), explores tensions in how the concept of rationality is defined and formalized in different academic disciplines. The second edition of his textbook Cognitive Science: An Introduction to the Science of the Mind was published by Cambridge University Press in March 2014. He remains an active researcher and is the editor of the New Problems in Philosophy book series, published by Routledge. Current projects include papers in the philosophy of mind and language and the theory of rationality.
Published by: Anna Tomaszewska