Virtualism and the Mind: Rethinking Presence, Representation and the Self

April 23, 2018

A workshop organised by the Lisbon Mind and Reasoning Group.

23rd April -11:00 to 17:00 

Av. de Berna, I&D Building, ID 0.06

In the early 21st century metaphors of virtual reality, are used by a number of influential philosophers of mind and cognitive scientists to explain various aspects of mental phenomena. Philosophers who developed (very different) ideas about mind, making use of metaphors or concepts of virtuality or virtual reality include Alva Noë (2004), Thomas Metzinger (2004), Andy Clark (2008), Evan Thompson (2007) and Antti Revonsuo (2006). Strikingly, the use of the virtuality metaphor cuts across one of the most pronounced divisions in contemporary philosophy of cognitive science, namely the division between representationalism and enactivism. 

While the use of concepts and metaphors of virtual reality or virtuality are persistent themes in contemporary philosophy of mind and in cognitive science, the implications of this usage have seldom been worked out in detail. Indeed, without further constraint, metaphors and concepts of virtuality can easily imply quite contradictory accounts of mind and cognition (Clowes & Chrisley, 2012). This workshop aims to investigate and explore some of the ways concepts of virtuality and virtual reality can be used and deployed in explanation in the cognitive sciences and mind.

This first of a series of workshops to be held in Lisbon on the 23rd of April aims to explore the working out of the virtuality metaphor including, investigating such themes as:

·  The Nature of and Disturbances of Presence (in e.g. DPD & Schizophrenia) and/or Minimal Self.

·  Relations between the notion of presence in interaction studies and in psychopathology.

·  Embodied / Interaction Models of Mental Representation: Sparse Representation, Virtual Representation, Predictive Processing and Representation

·  Virtual / Interactive / Minimal Sense(s) of Self and ways of understanding them in terms of embodiment.

·  Social and embodied presence.

·  The use of the virtuality metaphor to bridge the gap between representational and enactive approaches to mind.

Invited Speaker: Anna Ciaunica

Other speakers include Dina Mendonça, Klaus Gartner & Robert Clowes,

Tentative schedule
Workshop opening 11.00 - 11.10
Introducing the Virtual Approach to Mind. 11.10 - 11.50. (Robert Clowes)
On Being Emotionally Engaged. 11.50 - 12.30. (Dina Mendonça).
Lunch 12.30 - 14-30 
Minds and Selves: What is Virtual? 14.30 - 15.10 (Klaus Gaertner)
Virtual Self-Awareness. 15.10 - 16.30 (Anna Ciaunica)


Clark, A. (2008). Supersizing the Mind: Oxford University Press.
Clowes, R. W. (2015a). The Reality of the Virtual Self as Interface to the Social World. In J. Fonseca & J. Gonçalves (Eds.), Philosophical Perspectives on Self (pp. 221-276). Lisbon: Peter Lang.
Clowes, R. W., & Chrisley, R. (2012). Virtualist Representation. International Journal of Machine Consciousness, 04(02), 503-522.
Metzinger, T. (2004). Being No One: The Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity. Cambridge, MA: Bradford Book.
Noë, A. (2004). Action in perception. Cambridge, MA: Bradford Books, MIT Press.
Revonsuo, A. (2006). Inner Presence: Consciousness as a Biological Phenomenon: MIT Press.
Thompson, E. (2007). Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind: Belknap 

The workshop is organised by the Lisbon Mind and Reasoning Group. All welcome.

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