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RTG 2386

Extrospection. External access to higher cognitive processes
Spokesperson Prof. Dr. Michael Pauen
Coordinator Dr. Dirk Mende
Contact Details +49 30 2093 89750

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
RTG 2386 “Extrospection”
c/o Berlin School of Mind and Brain
10099 Berlin

Research Programme

Conscious processes like states of emotion, perception, belief formation, and mind-reading are of essential importance in philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, and psychiatry. It is quite controversial, though, to what extent these processes can be captured adequately by means of extrospection. The reason for this controversy is that extrospective methods are restricted to indirect external evidence. Introspection, by contrast, has long been treated as privileged, given its direct first-person access to these processes.

The present project aims at a comprehensive epistemological, historical and empirical assessment of extrospection. As a working hypothesis, we assume that there is an epistemic symmetry between extrospection and introspection: What can be known by way of first-person methods can be known by way of third-person methods as well, at least in principle. While we do not deny the obvious insufficiencies of current extrospective methods, we hypothesise that they can be overcome by future scientific, methodological, and technological developments.

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