Witten/Herdecke University
  •  1303
    Pure Awareness Experience
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 1-23. forthcoming.
    I am aware of the red and orange autumn leaves. Am I aware of my awareness of the leaves? Not so according to many philosophers. By contrast, many meditative traditions report an experience of awareness itself. I argue that such a pure awareness experience must have a non-sensory phenomenal character. I use Douglas Harding’s first-person experiments for assisting in recognizing pure awareness. In particular, I investigate the gap where one cannot see one’s head. This is not a mere gap because I …Read more
  •  623
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 24 (11-12): 142-166. 2017.
    Hume famously denied that he could experience the self. Most subsequent philosophers have concurred with this finding. I argue that if the subject is to function as a bearer of experience it must (1) lack sensory qualities in itself to be compatible with bearing sensory qualities and (2) be single so that it can unify experience. I use Douglas Harding’s first-person experiments to investigate the visual gap where one cannot see one’s own head. I argue that this open space conforms to the above c…Read more
  •  494
    First-Person Experiments: A Characterisation and Defence
    Review of Philosophy and Psychology 9. 2018.
    While first-person methods are essential for a science of consciousness, it is controversial what form these methods should take and whether any such methods are reliable. I propose that first-person experiments are a reliable method for investigating conscious experience. I outline the history of these methods and describe their characteristics. In particular, a first-person experiment is an intervention on a subject's experience in which independent variables are manipulated, extraneous variab…Read more
  •  486
    Absolute Present, Zen and Schrödinger’s One Mind
    with Peter Bruza
    In J. De Barros & Carlos Montemayor (eds.), Quanta and Mind: Essays on the Connection between Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness, Springer Verlag. pp. 189-200. 2019.
    Erwin Schrödinger holds a prominent place in the history of science primarily due to his crucial role in the development of quantum physics. What is perhaps lesser known are his insights into subject-object duality, consciousness and mind. He documented himself that these were influenced by the Upanishads, a collection of ancient Hindu spiritual texts. Central to his thoughts in this area is that Mind is only One and there is no separation between subject and object. This chapter aims to bridge …Read more
  •  288
    A probabilistic framework for analysing the compositionality of conceptual combinations
    with Peter Bruza, Kirsty Kitto, and Laurianne Sitbon
    Journal of Mathematical Psychology 67 26-38. 2015.
    Conceptual combination performs a fundamental role in creating the broad range of compound phrases utilised in everyday language. This article provides a novel probabilistic framework for assessing whether the semantics of conceptual combinations are compositional, and so can be considered as a function of the semantics of the constituent concepts, or not. While the systematicity and productivity of language provide a strong argument in favor of assuming compositionality, this very assumption is…Read more
  •  240
    Dimensions of Reliability in Phenomenal Judgment
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 23 (3-4): 101-127. 2016.
    Eric Schwitzgebel (2011) argues that phenomenal judgments are in general less reliable than perceptual judgments. This paper distinguishes two versions of this unreliability thesis. The process unreliability thesis says that unreliability in phenomenal judgments is due to faulty domain-specific mechanisms involved in producing these judgments, whereas the statistical unreliability thesis says that it is simply a matter of higher numbers of errors. Against the process unreliability thesis, I argu…Read more
  •  171
    Quantum Theory Beyond the Physical: Information in Context
    with Kirsty Kitto, Laurianne Sitbon, and Peter Bruza
    Axiomathes 21 (2): 331-345. 2011.
    Measures and theories of information abound, but there are few formalised methods for treating the contextuality that can manifest in different information systems. Quantum theory provides one possible formalism for treating information in context. This paper introduces a quantum inspired model of the human mental lexicon. This model is currently being experimentally investigated and we present a preliminary set of pilot data suggesting that concept combinations can indeed behave non-separably
  •  132
    Quantum-like non-separability of concept combinations, emergent associates and abduction
    with P. Bruza, K. Kitto, L. Sitbon, and D. Song
    Logic Journal of the IGPL 20 (2): 445-457. 2012.
    Consider the concept combination ‘pet human’. In word association experiments, human subjects produce the associate ‘slave’ in relation to this combination. The striking aspect of this associate is that it is not produced as an associate of ‘pet’, or ‘human’ in isolation. In other words, the associate ‘slave’ seems to be emergent. Such emergent associations sometimes have a creative character and cognitive science is largely silent about how we produce them. Departing from a dimensional model of…Read more
  •  115
    Experiments in Visual Perspective: Size Experience
    Argumenta 5 (5): 263-278. 2020.
    Phenomenal objectivism explains perceptual phenomenal character by reducing it to an awareness of mind-independent objects, properties, and relations. A challenge for this view is that there is a sense in which a distant tree looks smaller than a closer tree even when they are the same objective size (perceptual size variation). The dual content view is a popular objectivist account in which such experiences are explained by my objective spatial relation to the tree, in particular visual angle (…Read more
  •  99
    In this paper, I investigate the phenomenology of awakening in Chinese Zen Buddhism. In this tradition, to awaken is to ‘see your true nature’. In particular, the two aspects of awakening are: (1) seeing that the nature of one’s self or mind is empty or void and (2) an erasing of the usual (though merely apparent) boundary between subject and object. In the early Zen tradition, there are many references to awakening as chopping off your head, not having eyes, nose and tongue, and seeing your ‘Or…Read more
  •  98
    In this paper, I argue for a version of panpsychist idealism on first-person experiential grounds. As things always appear in my field of consciousness, there is prima facie empirical support for idealism. Furthermore, by assuming that all things correspond to a conscious perspective or perspectives (i.e., panpsychism), realism about the world is arguably safeguarded without the need to appeal to God (as per Berkeley’s idealism). Panpsychist idealism also has a phenomenological advantage over tr…Read more
  •  50
    First-Person Investigations of Consciousness
    Dissertation, The Australian National University. 2016.
    This dissertation defends the reliability of first-person methods for studying consciousness, and applies first-person experiments to two philosophical problems: the experience of size and of the self. In chapter 1, I discuss the motivations for taking a first-person approach to consciousness, the background assumptions of the dissertation and some methodological preliminaries. In chapter 2, I address the claim that phenomenal judgements are far less reliable than perceptual judgements (…Read more