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Evidence in Neurophenomenology

Sykes, John J. (2021) Evidence in Neurophenomenology. Masters thesis, University of Essex.


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Since Varela (1996) first introduced the term ‘neurophenomenology’, the assimilation of neuroscientific and phenomenological forms of evidence has become increasingly prominent in the cognitive sciences. Over the past quarter-century, neurophenomenological approaches have facilitated several notable successes and have been increasingly utilised to tackle a myriad of theoretical and methodological problems. However, an oft-voiced and persisting concern pertains to the prospective incongruity of combining objective, third-person forms of evidence with first-person, so-called ‘subjective’ forms of evidence. According to some critics (Ryle 1949; Dennett 1991; Hardcastle 1996), the inclusion of phenomenological and therefore subjective, biased, and anecdotal first-person accounts of experience and cognition are of little utility or compatibility with a ‘hard science’ such as neuroscience. Furthermore, the kind of research initiatives that are labelled as ‘neurophenomenological’ are surprisingly heterogenous and, on examination, the logic governing each methodological approach is not necessarily interchangeable. Thus far, little scholarly attention has been paid to disaggregating and defining the diverse standards of evidence and validation operative in neurophenomenological research programmes, and how they might differently overcome the problem of integrating ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ forms of evidence. To address this lacuna in the current scholarship, I propose the existence of three identifiable sub-categories of neurophenomenological research: 1. Interpretative Neurophenomenology; 2. Experimental Neurophenomenology; 3. Constitutive Neurophenomenology. After articulating the defining characteristics of each neurophenomenological approach, I examine how each confronts the problem of establishing and validating its claims. I achieve this by evaluating three exemplary instances of past neurophenomenological research. Thereafter, I analyse the kinds of theoretical implications that can be extracted from each case example and how this information might help to provide a roadmap for future research in the cognitive sciences.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Phenomenology Neurophenomenology Epistemology Philosophy of Science
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Philosophy and Art History, School of
Depositing User: John Sykes
Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2021 12:33
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2021 12:33

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