Even if it once was, the study of the mind in all its complexities is no longer the sole concern of the humanities. Increasingly, the mind and its workings are coming under scrutiny from ever more sophisticated psychological disciplines, such as the cognitive sciences and the neurosciences. Yet despite the fact that the sciences of the mind are blooming, foundational questions about the nature of the mind remain under intense discussion. Moreover, different answers to philosophical questions regarding the nature of the mind have repercussions on how it can become a subject of scientific investigation.
The research axis “Mind and Science” is focused both on theoretical/philosophical questions concerning what the mind is (in its various aspects and with its various capacities), and on methodological questions regarding how the mind is and could and should be studied empirically.
The mental from a theoretical-philosophical perspective
Thus, the research axis raises issues both about the “mental” as an overarching category and about particular mental aspects or faculties. In this vein, such questions are investigated as whether minds are primarily individual and internal to the brain or body, or on the contrary have an ineliminable social aspect. In addressing the mind’s capacities, there is a focus on perception, imagination and reasoning. It is examined how these faculties differ and interrelate in humans, as well as how they distinguish humans from other organisms. Cognition is considered both in forms in which it is found in animals, as well as in forms tied to the use of language. Finally, the relation between those different manifestations is investigated.
The mental from a methodological perspective
Besides being concerned with questions about what the mind is, the research axis “Mind and Science” also deals with the issue of the mind as an object of scientific study. How is and can the mind be studied? Do certain ways of studying the mind have intrinsic merits or limits? Do all mental phenomena call for the same approach, or should different phenomena or different aspects be approached in ways and with methods which are specific to each?
The pursuit of these questions has formed the main share of the research agenda of the Centre for Philosophical Psychology of the University of Antwerp, where over the years considerable expertise with clear international impact has been developed in dealing with core questions in distinctive ways. The research axis transcends the Centre for Philosophical Psychology, however, for example in the connections its members’ research has with research on imagination in the Centre for European Philosophy and on the Extended Mind in the Centre for Manuscript Genetics. The research axis will profit from the recently formed Cognition and Neuroscience Group of Antwerp (CONGA), consisting of members of the Centre for Philosophical Psychology, the Computational and Psycholinguistics Research Centre, the Bio-Imaging Lab and the Translational Neurosciences Lab.
The research axis is also embedded in three different and high profile ongoing international cooperations and networks:
- Scientific Research Network on Logical and Methodological Analysis of Scientific Reasoning Processes
- Organisation of Phenomenological Organisations
- Interdisciplinary European Network for Sensory Research.