This conference seeks to advance the field of a first-person science of consciousness, focusing not only on theoretical frameworks and methods of conducting introspective research, but also on the actual application of such methods and the evaluation of their results. The conference will bring together leading researchers, young scholars, and students in order to open up a future in which first-person research moves from the fringes of the scientific exploration of the human mind to its center.
It is organised by Prof. Ulrich Weger, PhD, PD Dr. Christian Tewes, Prof. Dr. Johannes Wagemann, and Dr. Terje Sparby. Local co-organizers: PD Dr. Friedrich Edelhäuser and Dr. Anna-Lena Lumma.
The idea of directing attention toward one's own mental acts and their contents exemplifies the ancient philosophical principal of "know thyself" in the context of modern times. For philosophers like Brentano or Husserl, the observation of often unnoticed pre-reflexive mental phenomena opened up a field for investigating the structure and dynamics of the mind "from within". Corresponding theories and methods were suggested to provide a direct access to the most fundamental aspects of reality – the self, the structure of consciousness, the basic categories of reality, and their logical and ontological foundations.
The various attempts in the early 1900s at establishing a systematic form of introspection in psychology – for instance, in the work of Wundt and Titchener – are regarded as having failed. And though the work of Brentano and Husserl has been influential, actual introspective or phenomenological studies are rare today and typically met with scepticism. Similarly, methods such as phenomenological psychology and micro-phenomenology exist within a niche and are not yet widely regarded as reliable first-person approaches. Hence, a first-person science of consciousness is currently not part of the established forms of systematic, scientific procedure. This is striking, given the fact that first-person observation is implicitly involved in all forms of psychological research; every psychologist makes direct or indirect use of introspection, for instance, when operationalising psychological phenomena for further research. One can also argue that precise sense-based observation is inherently introspective, in that it involves mental faculties such as attention and memory.
Furthermore, we take for granted that science benefits from developing ever more precise instruments for investigating natural phenomena. Why should we not develop ever more precise methods for studying consciousness and the introspective activity that underlies scientific conduct? Until we have good methods for gathering accurate, reliable and rich descriptions of mental events and processes, psychology and related disciplines will arguably lack a strong foundation.
Call for Papers and Posters
We invite you to participate in this conference and to submit articles or posters for presentation during the conference. While this conference is focused on philosophical and psychological issues, it is open to scientific contributions from different disciplines as well. For registration and submissions, please follow the registration page. The registration is open to anyone and not restricted to academic scholars. Talks can be up to 30 minutes long, leaving 15 minutes for questions and transfer to the next talks. The conference will take place over the course of three days and the talks are spread out during the different days while one day includes session for poster presentatinos. For an overview, see the programme page.
Please also watch our Call for Papers at the journal New Ideas in Psychology which accompanies the conference.
For further questions regarding submissions please contact Terje Sparby.