Minding Nature: Gallagher and the Relevance of Phenomenology to Cognitive Science



Clavel Vázquez MJ & Wheeler M (2018) Minding Nature: Gallagher and the Relevance of Phenomenology to Cognitive Science. Australasian Philosophical Review, 2 (2), pp. 145-158.

In his paper ‘Rethinking Nature: Phenomenology and a Non-Reductionist Cognitive Science’, Shaun Gallagher sets out to overcome resistance to the idea that phenomenology is relevant to cognitive science. He argues that the relevance in question may be secured if we rethink the concept of nature. This transformed concept of nature, which is to be distinguished from the classic scientific conception of nature in that it embraces irreducible subjectivity, is, according to Gallagher, already at work in some contemporary enactive phenomenological approaches to cognitive science. Following a brief summary of the main points of Gallagher’s argument, we argue that this rethinking of nature is not necessary to secure the aim in question. We articulate two alternative ways of achieving the relevance of phenomenology to cognitive science. The first, which turns on a minimal notion of naturalism, leaves the classic scientific conception of nature intact. The second, which turns on a practice-based analysis of collaboration between phenomenology and cognitive science, leaves it open which concept of nature one should adopt. As we show, each of the proposals on the table (Gallagher’s own and our two alternatives) comes at a cost. Which of the three proposals is the more attractive will depend on which cost one wants to pay.

cognitive science; naturalism; nature; phenomenology; reductionism

Australasian Philosophical Review: Volume 2, Issue 2

Publication date31/12/2018
Publication date online05/05/2019
Date accepted by journal15/09/2017
PublisherTaylor and Francis

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Professor Michael Wheeler

Professor Michael Wheeler

Professor, Philosophy