Editor’s Introduction

Evan Thompson
Empathy and Consciousness  full text  (Acrobat pdf format: technical note)

Beyond Theory of Mind

Vittorio Gallese
The 'Shared Manifold' Hypothesis: From Mirror Neurons to Empathy  abstract
Jonathan Cole
Empathy Needs a Face   abstract
Iso Kern and Eduard Marbach
Understanding the Representational Mind: A Prerequisite for Intersubjectivity  abstract
Shaun Gallagher
The Practice of Mind: Theory, Simulation or Interaction?   abstract
Victoria McGeer
Psycho-Practice, Psycho-Theory, and the Contrastive Case of Autism: How Practices of Mind Become Second Nature   abstract

Dimensions of Intersubjective Experience

J. Allan Cheyne
The Ominous Numinous: Sensed Presence and ‘Other’ Hallucinations  abstract
Dan Zahavi
Beyond Empathy: Phenomenological Approaches to Intersubjectivity  abstract
Natalie Depraz
The Husserlian Theory of Intersubjectivity as Alterology: Emergent Theories and Wisdom Traditions in the Light of Genetic Phenomenology  abstract
Anthony Steinbock
Interpersonal Attention Through Exemplarity   abstract

Ethics and the Co-Emergence of Self and Other

Yoko Arisaka
The Ontological Co-Emergence of ‘Self and Other’ in Japanese Philosophy  abstract
B. Alan Wallace
Intersubjectivity in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism   abstract
Annabella Pitkin
Scandalous Ethics: Infinite Presence with Suffering   abstract

Intersubjectivity and Illness Experience

S. Kay Toombs
The Role of Empathy in Clinical Practice   abstract
Francisco J. Varela
Intimate Distances: Fragments for a Phenomenology of Organ Transplantation  abstract

Interspecies Subjectivity

Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, William M. Fields and J. Taglialatila
Language, Speech, Tools and Writing: A Cultural Imperative  abstract
Barbara Smuts
Encounters with Animal Minds   full text


The ontological co-emergence of 'self and other' in Japanese philosophy

Yoko Arisaka, Philosophy Department, University of San Francisco, 2130 Fulton St., San Francisco, CA 94117, USA

Journal of Consciousness Studies, 8, No. 5-7, 2001, pp. 197-208

The coupling of 'self and other' as well as the issues regarding intersubjectivity have been central topics in modern Japanese philosophy. The dominant views are critical of the Cartesian formulation (pure, disembodied subjectivity), but the Japanese philosophers drew their conclusions also based on their own insights into Japanese culture and language. In this paper I would like to explore this theme in two of the leading modern Japanese philosophers - Kitaro Nishida (1870-1945) and Tetsuro Watsuji (1889-1960). I do not make a causal claim that Japanese culture or language was responsible for these thinkers' philosophy, although without a doubt they were strong influences. The point rather is to show an interesting convergence of concerns regarding the fundamental nature of the relation between the self and others across different cultures and intellectual traditions, and to clarify further the ontological structure of the self-other relation. After the examination, the thesis I would like to defend here is the following: Intersubjectivity is indeed a condition, rather than an accident, of the structure of lived experiences as such (not 'consciousness') but this relation also requires at the same time the recognition that the Other must remain a true negation-in-relation to the self. Let me first turn to Watsuji, although chronologically he was 20 years junior and was a student of Nishida, since Watsuji's phenomenology deals more directly with the topic of intersubjectivity. I will then turn to Nishida's broader ontological considerations.

The ominous numinous. Sensed presence and 'other' hallucinations

J. Allan Cheyne, Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue, Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1, Canada

Journal of Consciousness Studies, 8, No. 5-7, 2001, pp. 133-50

A 'sensed presence' often accompanies hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations associated with sleep paralysis. Qualitative descriptions of the sensed presence during sleep paralysis are consistent with the experience of a monitoring, stalking predator. It is argued that the sensed presence during sleep paralysis arises because of REM-related endogenous activation of a hypervigilant and biased attentive state, the normal function of which is to resolve ambiguities inherent in biologically relevant threat cues. Given the lack of disambiguating environmental cues, however, the feeling of presence persists as a protracted experience that is both numinous and ominous. This experience, in turn, shapes the elaboration and integration of the concurrent hallucinations that often take on supernatural and daemonic qualities. The sense of presence considered here is an 'other' that is radically different from, and hence more than a mere projection of, the self. Such a numinous sense of otherness may constitute a primordial core consciousness of the animate and sentient in the world around us.

Empathy needs a face

Jonathan Cole, Clinical Neurophysiology, Poole Hospital, Poole, BH15 2JB, UK

Journal of Consciousness Studies, 8, No. 5-7, 2001, pp. 51-68

The importance of the face is best understood, it is suggested, from the effects of visible facial difference in people. Their experience reflects the ways in which the face may be necessary for the interpersonal relatedness underlying such 'sharing' mind states as empathy. It is proposed that the face evolved as a result of several evolutionary pressures but that it is well placed to assume the role of an embodied representation of the increasingly refined inner states of mind that developed as primates became more social, and required more complex social intelligence.

The consequences of various forms of facial disfigurement on interpersonal relatedness and intersubjectivity are then discussed. These narratives reveal the importance of the face in the development of the self-esteem that seems a prerequisite of being able to initiate, and enter, relationships between people. Such experiences are beyond normal experience and, as such, require an extended understanding of the other: to understand facial difference requires empathy. But, in addition, it is also suggested that empathy itself is supported by, and requires, the embodied expression and communication of emotion that the face provides.

The Husserlian theory of intersubjectivity as alterology. emergent theories and wisdom traditions in the light of genetic phenomenology

Natalie Depraz, College International de Philosophie, University of Sorbonne, Paris, France

Journal of Consciousness Studies, 8, No. 5-7, 2001, pp. 169-78

In this paper, I have a twofold aim: First I wish to show to what extent the Husserlian Theory of Intersubjectivity can be relevant for contemporary empirical research and for ancestral wisdom traditions, both in their experiences and in their conceptual tools; and secondly I intend to rely on some empirical results and experiential mystical/practical reports in order to bring about some more refined phenomenological descriptions first provided by Husserl. The first aim will be the main concern here, while the second will only be broached by way of initial steps towards further development.

I will proceed in two stages: in the first place I will give some evidence for Husserl's relevance by giving an account of his original conceptions of (a) egoic subjectivity, (b) genetic phenomenology, and (c) lived empathy. In the second place, my purpose is to indicate how much Husserl's view on infants/children, animals/ beasts, mad people/the insane and aliens/foreigners/strangers may be of some interest for scientific empirical conceptions and for practical paths of spiritual self-development. In so doing, I hope to be able (1) to confirm the accuracy of Husserl's own intuitions and analysis, and (2) to suggest some refinements in the way Husserl described such experiences.

Throughout this paper I will focus on two main Husserlian discoveries: (1) subjectivity is from the very start intersubjectivity; (2) infants, animals, the insane and aliens are subjects in a full sense, precisely because they are from the very beginning always already intersubjective subjects; besides, they are limit-subjectivities, who compel me in a kind of feedback to enlarge and to deepen my own subjectivity.

The practice of mind. theory, simulation or primary interaction?

Shaun Gallagher, Department of Philosophy, Canisius College, Buffalo, NY 14208, USA

Journal of Consciousness Studies, 8, No. 5-7, 2001, pp. 83-108

Theory of mind explanations of how we know other minds are limited in several ways. First, they construe intersubjective relations too narrowly in terms of the specialized cognitive abilities of explaining and predicting another person's mental states and behaviours. Second, they sometimes draw conclusions about second-person interaction from experiments designed to test third-person observation of another's behaviour. As a result, the larger claims that are sometimes made for theory of mind, namely that theory of mind is our primary and pervasive means for understanding other persons, go beyond both the phenomenological and the scientific evidence. I argue that the interpretation of 'primary intersubjectivity' as merely precursory to theory of mind is inadequate. Rather, primary intersubjectivity, understood as a set of embodied practices and capabilities, is not only primary in a developmental sense, but is the primary way we continue to understand others in second-person interactions.

The 'shared manifold' hypothesis. From mirror neurons to empathy

Vittorio Gallese, Istituto di Fisiologia Umana, Universita di Parma, Via Volturno 39, I-43100 Parma, Italy

Journal of Consciousness Studies, 8, No. 5-7, 2001, pp. 33-50

My initial scope will be limited: starting from a neurobiological standpoint, I will analyse how actions are possibly represented and understood. The main aim of my arguments will be to show that, far from being exclusively dependent upon mentalistic/linguistic abilities, the capacity for understanding others as intentional agents is deeply grounded in the relational nature of action. Action is relational, and the relation holds both between the agent and the object target of the action (see Gallese, 2000b), as between the agent of the action and his/her observer (see below). Agency constitutes a key issue for the understanding of intersubjectivity and for explaining how individuals can interpret their social world. This account of intersubjectivity, founded on the empirical findings of neuroscientific investigation, will be discussed and put in relation with a classical tenet of phenomenology: empathy. I will provide an 'enlarged' account of empathy that will be defined by means of a new conceptual tool: the shared manifold of intersubjectivity.

Understanding the representational mind. A prerequisite for intersubjectivity proper

Iso Kern, Institute of Philosophy, University of Bern, Laenggasstra. 49A, CH-3000 Bern 9, Switzerland
Eduard Marbach, Institute of Philosophy, University of Bern, Laenggasstra. 49A, CH-3000 Bern 9, Switzerland

Journal of Consciousness Studies, 8, No. 5-7, 2001, pp. 69-82

This paper argues that, from the perspective of phenomenological philosophy, the study of intersubjectivity is closely tied to questions of the representational mind. It focuses on developmental studies of children's understanding of the human mind, setting out some of the main findings and theoretical explanations. It then takes up Husserl's idea of looking at persons in the 'personal attitude'. Understanding motivational connections among a person's subjective experiences is an essential feature of this attitude. Proposing a unified theoretical interpretation of children's representational achievements, the paper suggests that understanding motivational connections among one's representations requires an ability for reflection that children apply in progressively more refined ways to themselves and others.

Psycho-practice, psycho-theory and the contrastive case of autism. How practices of mind become second-nature

Victoria McGeer, Department of Philosophy, New York University, 503 Main Building, 100 Washington Square East, New York, NY 10003, USA

Journal of Consciousness Studies, 8, No. 5-7, 2001, pp. 109-32

In philosophy, the last thirty years or so has seen a split between 'simulation theorists' and 'theory-theorists', with a number of variations on each side. In general, simulation theorists favour the idea that our knowledge of others is based on using ourselves as a working model of what complex psychological creatures are like. Theory-theorists claim that our knowledge of complex psychological creatures, including ourselves, is theoretical in character and so more like our knowledge of the world in general.

The body of this paper is divided into three parts. In Part I, I introduce the 'contrastive case' of autism. Autism is a developmental disorder that has recently become the focus of sustained philosophical and psychological attention because of the selective way in which it affects individuals' social capacities. Theory-theorists argue that autistic children's unique profile of assets and deficits is most fruitfully explained by their inability to develop and deploy a theory of mind. After considering the strengths of this hypothesis, I claim theory-theorists face two unresolved difficulties: (1) explaining why high-functioning autistics who develop some theory of mind capacities still fail to engage in normal psychological knowing; and (2) explaining why autistics are generally as unknowable to us in the privileged sense of normal psychological knowing as we are to them. In Part II, I provide the theoretical framework for addressing these challenges by developing an account of normal psychological knowing as psycho-practical expertise. In Part III, I return to the problem of autism, showing how this psycho-practical approach to normal psychological knowing may further suggest how to encompass various aspects of the disorder that tend to be ignored under the prevailing theory-theory approach.

Scandalous ethics. Infinite presence with suffering

Annabella Pitkin, Barnard College, Columbia University, 3009 Broadway, New York, NY 10027, USA

Journal of Consciousness Studies, 8, No. 5-7, 2001, pp. 231-46

I want to argue here that certain Buddhist and Jewish thinkers say scandalous things on purpose. More scandalously still, I suggest that these statements are infused with deeply transformative ethical power, intended specifically as a way of relating to the dreadful fact of suffering. As scandals, these special responses to suffering intentionally rupture normal semantic patterns and sequences of thought, often through statements or actions which appear paradoxical. These scandalous statements are, in fact, always communicative in function, structure, and intent, but they are designed to create a kind of 'cognitive dissonance'. The thinkers I consider here say scandalous things in order to cause a breaking-open in the consciousness of the hearer and practitioner, which produces compassion, transformation, and liberation. Counter-intuitively, this rupture highlights intersubjectivity and language.

In thus talking about scandal and about ethical responses to suffering, this essay brings into dialogue ideas from two very different source traditions (admittedly a project which is fraught with some methodological risks). I engage Mahayana Buddhist ideas (of the Prasangika-Madhyamika variety) in conversation with the modern Jewish philosopher of ethics, Emmanuel Levinas.

Language, speech, tools and writing. A cultural imperative

Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, William M. Fields and Jared P. Taglialatela, Georgia State University, Language Research Center, 3401 Panthersville Road, Decatur, GA 30034, USA

Journal of Consciousness Studies, 8, No. 5-7, 2001, pp. 273-92

Culture can be said to be about the business of 'self-replication'. From the moment of conception, it impresses its patterns and rhythms on the developing, infinitely plastic neuronal substrate of the fetal organism. It shapes this substrate to become preferentially sensitive to its patterns and thus to seek to replicate them as an adult. This process of neural shaping continues throughout life as the capacity of the brain to reorganize itself according to the uses to which it addresses itself never ceases. The extraordinary capacity of culture to extract different abilities from the biological form is clearly manifest in the lexical, vocal, tool manufacture, and writing capabilities emerging in bonobos raised in a Pan/Homo culture. These findings render moot old questions regarding the innate limits of the ape brain. They raise instead far more productive questions about the form and function of the perpetual dance that is constantly taking place between plastic neuronal systems and their external culturally devised ways of being.

Encounters with animal minds     full text

Barbara Smuts, Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, 525 East University, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1109, USA

Journal of Consciousness Studies, 8, No. 5-7, 2001, pp. 293-309

In this article I draw on personal experience to explore the kinds of relationships that can develop between human and nonhuman animals. The first part of the article describes my encounters with wild baboons, whom I studied in East Africa over the course of many years. The baboons treated me as a social being, and to gain their trust I had to learn the troop's social conventions and behave in accordance with them. This process gave me a feeling for what it means to be a baboon. Over time, I developed a sense of belonging to their community, and my subjective identity seemed to merge with theirs. This experience expanded my sense of the possible in interspecies relations. The second part of the article describes a mutual exploration of such possibilities in my relationship with my dog, Safi. I describe how Safi and I co-create systems of communication and emotional expression that permit deep 'intersubjectivity', despite our very different biological natures. In my relationships with baboons, dogs, and other animals, I have encountered the presence in another of something resembling a human 'self'. I emphasize the importance of recognizing and honoring this presence in other animals as well as in humans.

Interpersonal attention through exemplarity

Anthony J. Steinbock, Department of Philosophy, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL 62901-4505, USA

Journal of Consciousness Studies, 8, No. 5-7, 2001, pp. 179-96

In this article, I discuss the constellation of issues that concern the interpersonal nexus of attention. I do so by (1) drawing a distinction between presentation and revelation as modes of givenness, (2) characterizing the emotional life as peculiar to person, and describing person as essentially interpersonal, (3) articulating the phenomenon of exemplarity (a) in distinction to leadership, (b) in terms of its efficacy, (c) with respect to the types of exemplars, and (d) with a view to how they are related to one another. I conclude by (4) delineating the distinctions between perceptual and epistemic attention and interpersonal attention, and rooting the former in the latter.

Empathy and consciousness

Evan Thompson, Department of Philosophy, York University, 4700 Keele Street, North York, Ontario M3J 1P3, Canada

Journal of Consciousness Studies, 8, No. 5-7, 2001, pp. 1-32

This article makes five main points. (1) Individual human consciousness is formed in the dynamic interrelation of self and other, and therefore is inherently intersubjective. (2) The concrete encounter of self and other fundamentally involves empathy, understood as a unique and irreducible kind of intentionality. (3) Empathy is the precondition (the condition of possibility) of the science of consciousness. (4) Human empathy is inherently developmental: open to it are pathways to non-egocentric or self-transcendent modes of intersubjectivity. (5) Real progress in the understanding of intersubjectivity requires integrating the methods and findings of cognitive science, phenomenology, and contemplative and meditative psychologies of human transformation.

The role of empathy in clinical practice

S. Kay Toombs, Department of Philosophy, Baylor University, PO Box 97274, Waco, TX 76798-7274, USA

Journal of Consciousness Studies, 8, No. 5-7, 2001, pp. 247-58

In this essay I discuss Edith Stein's (1989) analysis of empathy and note its application in the field of clinical medicine. In identifying empathy as the basic mode of cognition in which one grasps the experiences of others, Stein notes, 'I grasp the Other as a living body and not merely as a physical body'. The living body is given in terms of five distinctive characteristics - characteristics that disclose important facets of the illness experience. Empathy plays an important role in clinical practice in aiding physicians to grasp the content of first-person reports of bodily disorder, and to comprehend the meaning of illness-as-lived. I suggest that an important task for medical education should be that of developing students' capacity for empathic understanding and I note several ways in which this task might be accomplished.

Intimate distances. Fragments for a phenomenology of organ transplantation

Francisco J. Varela, CNRS, Paris, France)

Journal of Consciousness Studies, 8, No. 5-7, 2001, pp. 259-71

In this (posthumously published) article, the author uses his recent experience of organ transplantation as the basis for reflection on phenomenological notions of lived experience, temporality, selfhood and medical ethics.

Intersubjectivity in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism

B. Alan Wallace, Department of Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-3130, USA

Journal of Consciousness Studies, 8, No. 5-7, 2001, pp. 209-30

This essay focuses on the theme of intersubjectivity, which is central to the entire Indo-Tibetan Buddhist tradition. It addresses the following five themes pertaining to Buddhist concepts of intersubjectivity: (1) the Buddhist practice of the cultivation of meditative quiescence challenges the hypothesis that individual human consciousness emerges solely from the dynamic interrelation of self and other; (2) the central Buddhist insight practice of the four applications of mindfulness is a means for gaining insight into the nature of oneself, others and the relation between oneself and the rest of the world, which provides a basis for cultivating a deep sense of empathy; (3) the Buddhist cultivation of the four immeasurables is expressly designed to arouse a rich sense of empathy with others; (4) the meditative practice of dream yoga, which illuminates the dream-like nature of waking reality is shown to have deep implications regarding the nature of intersubjectivity; (5) the theory and practice of Dzogchen, the 'great perfection' system of meditation, challenges the assertion of the existence of an inherently real, localized, ego-centred mind, as well as the dichotomy of objective space as opposed to perceptual space.

Beyond empathy. Phenomenological approaches to intersubjectivity

Dan Zahavi, Danish Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities, Vimmelskaftet 41A, 2, DK-1161 Copenhagen K, Denmark

Journal of Consciousness Studies, 8, No. 5-7, 2001, pp. 151-67

Drawing on the work of Scheler, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Husserl and Sartre, this article presents an overview of some of the diverse approaches to intersubjectivity that can be found in the phenomenological tradition. Starting with a brief description of Scheler's criticism of the argument from analogy, the article continues by showing that the phenomenological analyses of intersubjectivity involve much more than a 'solution' to the 'traditional' problem of other minds. Intersubjectivity doesn't merely concern concrete face-to-face encounters between individuals. It is also something that is at play in simple perception, in tool-use, in emotions, drives and different types of self-awareness. Ultimately, the phenomenologists would argue that a treatment of intersubjectivity requires a simultaneous analysis of the relationship between subjectivity and world. It is not possible simply to insert intersubjectivity somewhere within an already established ontology; rather, the three regions 'self', 'others', and 'world' belong together; they reciprocally illuminate one another, and can only be understood in their interconnection.

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