CfP: ‘Inner Awareness: Past and Present’ – Network for Phenomenological Research

BSP News Item Thumbnail

Call for papers for the 3rd Conference of the Network for Phenomenological Research, on November 30 & December 1-2, 2021.

Call for papers
3rd Conference of the Network for Phenomenological Research
Inner Awareness: Past and Present
Nov 30 & Dec 1-2, 2021
University of Liège, Liège, Belgium

Famously, Brentano argued that consciousness constitutively requires some (special) form of self-consciousness—let us call it ‘inner awareness.’ How to account for inner awareness has been a matter of huge debate, not only among early phenomenologists (Brentano, Stumpf, Husserl, Scheler, Hildebrand, etc.) and early analytic philosophers (G.E. Moore, the early Russell, C.D. Broad, etc.), but also among contemporary philosophers of mind. Indeed, a very lively discussion is currently going on about the very existence of inner awareness, its nature, and its epistemic value. In recent analytic philosophy of mind, meta-representationalist approaches that construe inner awareness as a representation relation of some sort have been dominant. But they are not without difficulties and are far from being the only option available.
The primary goal of this conference is to explore alternatives to meta-representationalism. The organisers welcome contributions that connect past and present conceptions of inner awareness, as well as new and original accounts of inner awareness (guidelines for abstract submission below). Some of the issues the organisers would like to cover:

  1. Existence: Many extant arguments for inner awareness have been challenged in recent literature. How can we effectively defend the idea that inner awareness is real and that it is a fundamental aspect of conscious experience?
  2. Distinctiveness: Since the inception of the phenomenological research program, inner awareness has often been described as a distinctive kind of awareness, one that is importantly and perhaps even fundamentally different from ‘outer’ awareness. Is it so? If inner awareness is distinctive, how and in what respects is it so?
  3. Nature: How to account for the nature of inner awareness? Meta-representationalist theories have been deeply dug into. Alternative theories may be equally or even more promising, and at least worth exploring. Among these are acquaintance accounts and non-standard versions of representationalism, as well as other kinds of account which might have been held by early phenomenologists and analytic philosophers. We also encourage contributions that explore new or underrepresented proposals.
  4. Naturalization: One of the primary motivations for meta-representationalism about inner awareness is its potential for naturalization. Can alternative accounts compete with meta-representationalism in this respect? For example, are there any prospects for naturalizing acquaintance?
  5. Epistemic value: It has been maintained that inner awareness is crucial to explain the first-person privileged access and self-knowledge more generally. But is that true? What is the relation between inner awareness and reflective knowledge of our own conscious states? And how should we construe inner awareness to have it play the epistemic role it is supposed to play? For example, is a representationalist construal of inner awareness required or satisfying?

The organisers aim for an in-person event. However, given the still ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, it may be necessary to move the conference partly or totally online. Participants will be informed in due time.

Guillaume Fréchette (Salzburg)
Uriah Kriegel (Rice)
Kristina Musholt (Leipzig)
Donnchadh O’Conaill (Fribourg)

Some free slots are available for contributed papers suitable for 45-minute presentation (followed by 45 minutes for Q&A). We welcome the submission of abstracts between 500 and 1000 words (references excluded), in PDF format, and prepared for blind review. Please, prepare also a title page, to be submitted as a separate file (PDF), indicating the title of your paper, your name, affiliation, and email address. To submit abstracts and title pages, send an email to [email protected] with the heading ‘Inner Awareness Conference.’

The deadline for the submission is June 15, 2021. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by September 1, 2021. Accepted speakers should confirm their presence by September 10, 2021.

The organisers might be able to cover part of the expenses for PhD students or early career researchers without a permanent position whose abstracts have been accepted but who do not have sufficient financial support from their home institutions. To further discuss this point, please send the organisers an email at the indicated address.

All inquiries should be addressed to: [email protected]. Updated info can be found on the conference website:

Submission deadline: June 15, 2021.
Notification of acceptance: September 1, 2021.
Confirmation of participation: September 10, 2021.

Davide Bordini
Arnaud Dewalque
Anna Giustina
Denis Seron

This conference is one of the events organized within the broader framework of the research project ‘The Phenomenology of Mental States’.