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Scholarly Interest Report
         
Charles Siewert
Professor
Robert Alan and Kathryn Dunlevie Hayes Chair in Humanities and Professor of Philosophy
 
e-mail:siewert@rice.edu
 
  • B.A. Philosophy (1983) Reed College, Portland, OR
  • Ph.D. Philosophy (1994) University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
 
Primary Department
   Department of Philosophy
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Websites
 charlessiewert.com
 
Research Areas
 Philosophy of Mind, Phenomenology, Ancient Philosophy
 

Siewert Research Statement

 

In The Significance of Consciousness (Princeton University Press, 1998) I defend a role for self-critical first-person reflection in philosophical inquiry, and rely on this in arguing for an interpretation of the notion of phenomenal consciousness. I make the case that phenomenal consciousness so understood is inseparable from the intentionality of sense experience and thought, though it is not to be reductively explained as a form of mental representation. And I argue that it has a deep intrinsic value that makes especially compelling the need to do it theoretical justice. 


 I have continued to work on these and related ideas, publishing articles on issues such as: the nature of “first-person warrant” for judgments about experience; the relation between self-knowledge and rationality; the “grand illusion hypothesis” and the richness (or poverty) of visual experience; the “transparency” of consciousness and the feasibility of attending to one’s own experience; perceptual constancy, sensory attention and the notion of sensorimotor intentionality; and the legitimacy of a phenomenological approach to understanding the mind.


I am planning a book that draws together and extends this work, provisionally entitled Respecting Appearances. In it I would also like it to tackle questions about: the distinction between the senses and the intellect; what’s right and what’s wrong in the notion of “inner perception” as a source of self-knowledge; and the value and perils of self-consciousness in its various forms.


 My work on Plato has focused most on a reconstruction of the Republic argument for the tripartite division of the soul and the view of human motivation implicit in it. I have published one paper on the division between reason and appetite, and am writing a second explaining the case for recognizing the third part, “spirit.” My hope is that this and other work in Ancient Philosophy will integrate more fully with my general interest in consciousness, by contributing to a view of how desire is variously manifest in experience, and how self-knowledge and psychological unity are both to be regarded as achievements, not as givens.


 

 
Teaching Areas
 Philosophy of Mind, Phenomenology, Ancient Philosophy, Modern Philosophy, Introduction to Philosophy
 
Selected Publications
 Articles
 

“Embodied Consciousness and the Explanatory Gap,” in a symposium on Evan Thompson’s Mind in Life, Journal of Consciousness Studies, 18, No. 5–6, 2011.

 
 

“Socratic Introspection and the Abundance of Experience,” Journal of Consciousness Studies: Describing Inner Experience: a Symposium Debating Descriptive Experience Sampling (DES), Vol. 18, No. 1, January 2011.


 
 Book chapters
 

“Speaking Up for Consciousness,” in Current Controversies in Philosophy of Mind, edited by Uriah Kriegel, Routledge Press, 2013.

 
 

“Phenomenological Approaches,” forthcoming in The Oxford Handbook of Perception, edited by Mohan Matthen, Oxford University Press

 
 

 “Intellectualism, Experience, and Motor Understanding,” in Mind, Reason, and Being-in-the-World: the McDowell/Dreyfus Debate, edited by Joseph Schear, Routledge Press, 2013.

 
 

“On the Phenomenology of Introspection,” in Introspection and Consciousness, edited by Declan Smithies and Daniel Stoljar, Oxford University Press, 2012.

 
 

“Respecting Appearances,” in The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Phenomenology, edited by Dan Zahavi, Oxford University Press, 2013.

 
 

“Phenomenality and Self-Consciousness,” in Phenomenal Intentionality, edited by Uriah Kriegel, Oxford University Press, 2013.

 
 

“Phenomenological Approaches,” forthcoming in The Oxford Handbook of Perception, edited by Mohan Matthen, Oxford University Press.

 
 

"Phenomenal Thought,”  in Cognitive Phenomenology, edited by Tim Bayne and Michelle Montague, Oxford University Press, 2011

 
 

 “Philosophy of Mind,” in The Routledge Companion to Phenomenology, edited by Søren Overgaard and Sebastian Luft, Routledge Press, 2011.

 
 

“Saving Appearances: a Dilemma for Physicalists,” in The Waning of Materialism: New Essays, edited by George Bealer and Robert Koons, Oxford University Press, 2010.

 
 Book reviews
 

Review of Christopher Hill’s Consciousness, Philosophical Review 122 (2), April 2013.

 
Presentations
 Invited Papers
 

Author Meets Critics Session on Uriah Kriegel’s Sources of Intentionality, Eastern APA Division meeting, Atlanta, December 30, 2012.

 
 

 “A Phenomenological Conception of Consciousness.” Presented at Rice University, Conference on Consciousness, Phenomenality and Intentionality, October 27, 2011.

 
 Invited Talks
 

“On Getting a Good Look: Normativity and Visual Experience,” presented at “Normativity in Perception” conference, Montreal, August 22, 2013

 
 

“Phenomenality and Self-Consciousness,” for invited symposium “Buddhism and Philosophy of Mind,” Central APA Division meeting, New Orleans, February 23, 2013.

 
 

“The Phenomenal Thought Controversy,” invited presentation for symposium on “The Phenomenology of Thought,” meeting of the Canadian Philosophical Association, June 2, 2013

 
 

“Warrant for Introspective and Perceptual Beliefs: the Role of Phenomenal Character,” for invited symposium “The Epistemic Significance of Consciousness,” Pacific APA Division meeting, San Francisco, March 29, 2013

 
 

Author Meets Critics Session on Uriah Kriegel’s Sources of Intentionality, Eastern APA Division meeting, Atlanta, December 30, 2012

 
 

"Phenomenality and Self-Consciousness," NEH Summer Seminar on “Investigating Consciousness.” Charleston, SC, May 2012.

 
 

“How to Understand ‘What It’s Like,’” NEH Summer Seminar on “Investigating Consciousness.” Charleston, SC, May 2012.

 
 

“Phenomenality and Introspection,” Copenhagen Summer School in Phenomenology and Philosophy of Mind. Copenhagen, August 8, 2012.

 
 

Introspection, Inner Sense and Attention presented at the Tucson Conference,“Toward a Science of Consciousness,” April 14, 2010

 
 Keynote Speaker
 

“Speaking Up for Consciousness,” Keynote address, meeting of the Canadian Philosophical Association, June 3, 2013

 
 Lectures
 

“What is Consciousness? Why is it Important?” for Glasscock School of Continuing Studies at Rice University, October 16, 2012.

 
 Other
 

Comments on Kevin Connolly’s “Concept Acquisition and Perceptual Phenomenology,” presented at the Pacific Division Meeting of the APA. April 21, 2011

 
 Workshops
 

 “On the Phenomenology of Introspection,” presented the University of Luxembourg, Workshop in Introspection, June 2011.

 
 

“Phenomenal Introspection,” presented at University of Fribourg Workshop on The Normative Significance of Consciousness, December 11, 2011.

 
Supervised Theses & Dissertations
 Christopher Lay, Ph.D. It's Time to Account for Consciousness. (2010) (Thesis Committee Member)

 Chad Kidd, Ph.D. Seeing Particulars: a Representational Model. (2011) (Thesis Committee Member)

 Samantha Matherne, Ph.D. Art in Perception: Making Perception Aesthetic Again. (2012) (Thesis Committee Member)