OVERGAARD; GALLAGHER; RAMSOY. 2008) An integration of Fisrt-Person Methodologies in Cognitive Science

OVERGAARD, Morten. GALLAGHER, Shaun. RAMSOY, Thomas Zoëga. An integration of Fisrt-Person Methodologies in Cognitive Science. Journal of Consciousness Studies, v.15, n.5, pp.100-120, 2008.
  • A number of recent publications have argued that a scientific approach to consciousness needs a rigorous approach to first-person data collection. (abstract)
  • The epistemological distinction between a first and third person perspective is based on the idea that we have different kinds of access to information. From a first-person perspective, objects appear in a certain way, with a certain experienced quality, to a given subject. Such observations are relative to the subject and may be influenced by personal history, so that one person cannot share another person’s subjective point of view, and cannot from the outside ‘measure’ what this other person  is experiencing. The third person perspective is generally taken to mean an ‘objective’ perspective where information can be shared by individuals, or  where any individual can make in principle identical observations (e.g., using mathematical measurements, counting, using an apparatus for scientific measurements, etc.). p.103
  • Neurophenomenology, as proposed by Varela (1996), is inspired to equal degrees by the modern cognitive science and by classical transcendental phenomenology in the tradition of Husserl. Neurophenomenology follows Husserl in the understanding of phenomenology as a methodologically guided reflective examination of experience. p.104
  • By clearing away our ordinary opinions, our everyday attitudes about things, and even our scientific theories about how things work, the aim is to get at the world as it is experienced, and in particular to describe how things appear in that experience. p.105
  • For the study of consciousness itself, it is vital for the neurophenomenological task that subjects gain intimacy with their experiences. In normal, straightforward activity, subjects do not usually pay attention to the way that objects appear in focus or on the periphery of their perceptual field, for example. There is not normally an explicit awareness of how events are immediately anticipated, or of how they linger in our awareness. As a part of the phenomenological method of reduction, some set of these aspects of the field of one’s experience becomes more vividly present. The training aims to accomplish this intimacy without interfering with the normal aspects of experience, which are present in experience but not usually attended to. p.105
  • Descriptives – On the basis of this methodical reflection, one then constructs a description of one’s ongoing experience. This phenomenological description is not developed in a private language of the mind, but in terms that make the experience available to others, who may themselves have undergone a similar experience. intersubjective communication of these descriptions can lead to clarifications that are intersubjectively validated. p.106

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