Open Mind

Thomas Metzinger and Jennifer Windt

Open Mind

An Open Access Collection of Research on Mind, Brain, and Consciousness

The Open Mind project is an unusual and innovative way to celebrate the more than 10 years of existence of the Mind Group at Mainz University. Instead of organizing a one-off event, such as a confer­ence, we edited a collection of articles that document state-of-the-art research on mind and brain, consciousness and the self. The collection is freely available online at www.open-mind.net to anyone interested and will be published as a 1,700-page book by MIT Press later this year. The contributions were written by about 90 junior and senior members of the Mind Group, including internationally renowned researchers working in various areas of philosophy, psychology, and the neurosciences.

Founded in 2003, the Mind Group provides young philosophers with a platform helping them establish contacts in the international research community and participating in the latest developments in contemporary philosophy of mind. An ever-changing group of advanced undergraduate students, doctoral candidates, and young researchers from different countries meets twice a year at Frankfurt, Germany, with leading experts in the field. The meetings usually take place at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies.

Aside from introducing junior members to leading academics, the Mind Group also fosters encounters between scholars working in the fields of analytic philosophy of mind or ethics and researchers con­ducting empirical research in cognitive neuroscience. In this way, the meetings contribute to the formation of a larger network that pursues new, pioneering theories and cultivates innovative forms of interdisciplinarity.

One result of this productive cooperation is the Open Mind open access collection — a trailblazing project in many ways. The collection consists of 39 original articles, each of which is followed by a commentary and a reply. Each text was carefully reviewed anonym­ously by eminent academics and researchers as well as by our junior members, who actively participated in all stages of the entire project, acquired new academic skills, and gained first-hand familiarity with the processes of electronic publishing and the necessary measures of quality control.

For all those interested, but especially for researchers and students, the Open Mind collection provides valuable access to the latest work in the fields of philosophy, cognitive science, and neuroscience. The topics covered range from the foundations of conscious thought pro­cesses to perception, consciousness, and ethics. Strict standards were set in terms of the originality and the forward-looking, innovative quality of the contributions.

The collection makes a substantial contribution that will have a major and sustained impact on the international debate on mind and brain. But it also creates an electronic resource available to students and researchers in countries such as India, China, or Brazil for years to come. In this sense, the project is a long-term donation of intellectual property.

Open Mind stands for our continuous search for a renewed form of academic philosophy that is concerned with intellectual rigour, takes the results of empirical research seriously, and at the same time remains sensitive to ethical and social issues. In this process, the academic discipline of philosophy will have to open up in a number of ways. This does not only imply a genuine and sincere openness to novel forms of publication, but also to other disciplines, new methods of gaining insight and making progress, and new forms of inter­disciplinary collaboration. Along this way, science and philosophy themselves will be subject to fundamental changes.

The project received financial support from the Barbara Wengeler Foundation, the Volkswagen Foundation, and the Gutenberg Research College at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz.