Soldati works on phenomenology, mind and knowledge.
Among other things he is interested in problems related to self-knowledge and in the philosophical analysis of experience.
Forschung und Publikationen
Prospects of a deflationary theory of self-knowledge
Soldati, G. (Studia Philosophica, 2013) | Buch
Bedeutung und psychischer Gehalt: Eine Untersuchung zur sprachanalytischen Kritik von Husserls früher Phänomenologie
Soldati (Leiden, Niederlande: Brill | mentis, 1994), ISBN: 978-3-89785-023-1 | Buch
European Review of Philosophy, 1: Philosophy of Mind
Gianfranco Soldati, Hrsg. Gianfranco Soldati (Center for the Study of Language and Inf, 1994) | Buch
Wittgenstein: Literat und Philosoph
Frank, M. and Soldati, G. (Neske, 1989), ISBN: 9783788503192 | Buch
L’experience des etats mentaux
Beginn 01.10.2018 Ende 31.07.2023 Finanzierung SNF Projektblatt öffnen The project aims at elaborating on and assessing a "phenomenological" model of self-consciousness, strictly understood as the subject's experiencing of its own occurrent mental states before any reflection or introspection. Our final goal is to test the descriptive power of this model and to assess it's relevance as an alternative to competing, representational theories in philosophy of mind. Implementation of the project is conditioned by three intermediate objectives: (1) to create a presumption for the pre- reflective experience of one's own mental states and against so-called "transparency of experience" thesis, (2) to construct and assess a non- representational or "adverbial" interpretation of Inner Perception theories in the phenomenological-descriptive tradition, and (3) to describe the modes and modalities according to which the subject experiences its own mental states, namely, in a way that is self-evident or blind, explicit or implicit, clear or obscure, distinct or confuse, veridical or "illusory".
Perceiving, Imagining, and Judging. Themes from the Philosophy of Fabian Dorsch
Beginn 01.05.2018 Ende 31.07.2018 Finanzierung SNF Projektblatt öffnen By the time of his untimely death in February 2017, Fabian Dorsch was SNF professor at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Fribourg. He was a prolific and respected researcher, author of an influential body of work in several hot topics in contemporary philosophy such as the nature of perceptual experiences, imagination, reasons, and aesthetic judgments and experiences. The objective of the workshop "Perceiving, Imagining, and Judging. Themes from the Philosophy of Fabian Dorsch" is to bring together a body of international experts to assess the legacy of this body of work.
Perception, Rationality and Self-Knowledge
Beginn 01.05.2017 Ende 30.06.2022 Finanzierung SNF Projektblatt öffnen Perceptual experience of an object is often said to settle questions as to what the object is like in a peculiarly immediate and authoritative way. Articulations of this idea can be found across otherwise disparate traditions in 20th century philosophy. According to Husserl, ‘the ultimate legitimating source of all rational assertions’ is provided by ‘self-giving intuitions’ in which the presence to consciousness of an object renders facts regarding the object ‘self-evident’. (quoted in Smith 2003: 47) Again, Austin writes that when I see a pig, ‘there is no longer any question of collecting evidence [as to the presence of a pig]; its coming into view doesn’t provide me with more evidence that it’s a pig, I can now just see that it is, the question is settled.’ (1962: 115) The question of how the intuitive contrast between ‘evidence-based’ and ‘experience-based’ knowledge is to be articulated is an issue of fundamental importance for epistemology and the philosophy of mind. A general thesis informing the proposed project is that properly understanding the contrast requires understanding the nature of the self-knowledge available to reflective perceivers. Note that Austin’s confidence that his question is settled (in a way that obviates the need for evidence) finds expression in a claim to self-knowledge: ‘I can see that it is a pig.’ A natural thought here is that it can hardly be a coincidence that Austin is aware of the way his question is settled. That thought in turn raises immediate questions regarding the content and the nature of the reflective awareness we ordinarily have of what we currently perceive, and regarding the relationship between such awareness and the explanation of ‘first-order’ perceptual knowledge. By putting these questions centre stage, the project aims to broaden the terms of current work on the epistemic role of perceptual experience. There is a strong tendency, in contemporary epistemology, to treat ‘perceptual knowledge’ and ‘self-knowledge’ as labels for different and largely unconnected sets of philosophical problems. The two topics are supposedly distinguished not just by the subject matter of the knowledge under consideration (knowledge of ‘the world around us’ vs knowledge of ‘our own current mental states’) but also by the distinctive philosophical questions to which the two kinds of knowledge give rise (roughly: how to understand ‘perceptual warrant’ vs how to understand ‘first-person authority’). Both through the work of its core members and through international conferences and at least one edited collection, the project will seek to promote a less compartmentalized approach, highlighting substantive, mutually illuminating connections between the two areas. The project aims to make progress on these matters through a sustained critical dialogue between three competing approaches, to be developed by the three subprojects. This dialectical structure may be unusual, but we are confident that it will prove extremely fruitful. The relation between the three approaches is characterized by substantial common ground combined with a number of specific disagreements. The close mutual questioning afforded by the project will not only provide invaluable support for each sub-project but simultaneously help to understand the sources of some major controversies in contemporary epistemology. Very briefly, the three approaches are as follows: Subproject A (Roessler) investigates the prospects for what it calls a non-reductive analysis of the explanatory connection between perceptual experience and knowledge, an analysis that takes the connection to be basic rather than analyzable in terms of some underlying link between perceptual experience and belief. Subproject B (Soldati) pursues a ‘disjunctivist’ account of perceptual warrant, according to which perceptual knowledge is to be explained in terms of reasons for belief that are provided by veridical perceptual experience (not by illusions or hallucinations). Subproject C (Giananti, with the supervision of Roessler and Soldati) explores an account of perceptual knowledge that is closely informed by work in the phenomenological tradition. A central idea is that awareness constitutively involves a basic form of self-awareness, and that it is in terms of this constitutive link that we should account both for the sense in which perceptual knowledge is intelligible to reflective perceivers.
Intentionality and Consciousness: From Austro-German to Contemporary Philosophy of Mind
Beginn 01.11.2016 Ende 31.01.2017 Finanzierung SNF Projektblatt öffnen Our two days conference (25-26.11.2016) will target both the historical and systematic aspects of the questions of the relation between intentionality and consciousness, a central theme both of contemporary and Austro-German philosophy of mind. In particular, we aim at exploring the Austro-German historical roots of inseparatism, i.e., the claim that intentionality and consciousness don't constitute separate phenomena, as displayed paradigmatically in the works of Franz Brentano and Edmund Husserl, and to assess the relevance of the historical discussion for the contemporary debate over the recent renewed interest about inseparatism. The conference is affiliated to the ‘Brentano Research Network’, which has been launched by Guillaume Fréchette in Salzburg in 2015 and that aims at organizing one meeting each year in a different country in Europe or abroad. It is organized collaboratively by the Prof. Gianfranco Soldati (Fribourg), the Prof. Laurent Cesalli (Geneva), and the Dr. Guillaume Fréchette (Salzburg). It will take place at the University of Fribourg and will feature nine speakers from different European universities. Invited speakers: Johannes Brandl, University of Salzburg; Fabian Dorsch, University of Fribourg; Patrik Engisch, University of Fribourg; Janette Friedrich, University of Geneva; Marta Jorba, University of Girona; Edgar Morscher, University of Salzburg; Alessandro Salice, University of Copenhagen; Joel Smith, University of Manchester; Peter Varga, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
First-Person Thought in Contemporary Philosophy: Immunity, Self-Knowledge, and Intentional Action
Beginn 01.04.2015 Ende 30.09.2018 Finanzierung SNF Projektblatt öffnen First-person thought has been a major topic in contemporary philosophy. The main question is how to characterize the kinds of thought a subject has about herself as herself. Typically, these kinds of thought are expressed in language by use of the first-person pronoun such as in the sentences 'I want a cup of tea' or 'I see a tree over there'. This project aims to work out and defend a novel property theory of first-person thought based on a systematic review of the two most dominating contemporary theories. As a working hypothesis, it is proposed that first-person thought is an attitude best characterised as self-ascription of an indexed structured set of properties. The framework for the assessment of opposing theories and development of our own theory will be a collection of desirable features which have been identified as essential in the recent literature and need to be accommodated by a sound theory of first-person thought. The project will answer three research questions: (1) What are the desirable features of first-person thought? (2) Can these features be accounted for by the most promising current theories? (3) How can these features be accommodated in an enhanced version of the property theory? Accordingly, the project will be split into three parts. The first part of the project will identify the desirable features of first-person thought by illustrating the role they have played in the debate between propositional theories of first-person thought (mainly Perry, 1977, 1979; Kaplan 1989b,a) and property theories of first-person thought (mainly Lewis, 1979; Chisholm, 1976, 1981; Feit, 2008, 2010). We will show that these different approaches share at least five features which are held to be essential for first-person thought. However, they differ in highlighting these features. In the second part we will review two very prominent and promising approaches to the topic. On the one hand, Récanati (2007, 2010, 2012b, 2013a) proposes a Neo-Fregean theory which makes extensive use of the notion of a self-file which is a non-descriptive mode of presentation of the subject. On the other hand, Peacocke (2008, 2010, 2014) argues for a descriptivist Neo-Fregean theory which uses the notion of a first-person concept to account for the features. We will exhibit how these current theories relate to our established framework of evaluation and work out the exact way they can accommodate the desired features. We will argue that neither theory can fully account for all of them in a coherent way. Working out these shortcomings will be a major part of the project. In the third part, we will be developing and discussing the hypothesised enhanced property theory. The main idea is to use the Lewisian framework of the de se and expand it in such a way as to be able to account for all the features of first-person thought. We will show how this novel theory relates to its competitors and how it can respond to objections and challenges springing from the motivations underlying these competing theories. In this way, we can achieve a better understanding of first-person thought.
Beginn 01.01.2014 Ende 31.12.2015 Finanzierung SNF Projektblatt öffnen
Is there a distinctive phenomenology of normative judgment? In the case of colour judgment, e.g. when you judge pomegranates are red, there is a distinctive visual phenomenology associated with your understanding of ‘red’. Is there a similar phenomenological aspect in the case of your understanding of ‘ought’, e.g. when you judge that you ought not eat meat, or you ought to renew your driver’s licence? If so, what role does this phenomenology play in an account of normative judgment?This project will focus on one particular phenomenological feature - the appearance of bindingness - that has recently attracted attention in the metaethical literature on normative judgment. The main goals of this project are: (i) to assess whether this phenomenology can help demarcate normative from non-normative judgment; and (ii) to tackle a central objection to the idea that phenomenal experiences play an essential role in an account of normative judgment: not all normative judgments are accompanied by the relevant phenomenology.The project will make an important contribution to debates about the nature of normative judgment. It helps address a long-standing neglect of phenomenal aspects of normative thinking. The project brings theoretical tools developed in thinking about the role of phenomenology in perception to bear on a new domain, opening up new avenues for research and potential collaboration between two very active areas of contemporary philosophical research, perceptual belief and practical reasoning.
Experience of Space and time
Imagination, Emotion and Value
Beginn 01.01.2011 Ende 31.05.2014 Finanzierung SNF Projektblatt öffnen The aim of our project is to explore significant connections between the imagination, emotion, and experiences and judgements of value. The focus will be on moral and aesthetic values, but we intend the scope of our investigation to have implications for values in general, including how we ‘apprehend’ them, their metaphysical status, and the norms governing our judgements about them. Our working hypothesis is that experiences and judgements of moral and aesthetic value are intimately connected with certain capacities and uses of imagination and with our emotions. We wish to investigate just what this connection(s) consists in, without simultaneously attempting to develop a fully-fledged theory either of the imagination or of the emotions. Instead, we shall rely in various places on a number of philosophical accounts of the imagination currently available, as well as relevant work in empirical psychology and neuroscience, and we shall focus on certain prominent ‘perceptual theories’ of emotion, as outlined in the detailed descriptions of the sub-projects below. Nonetheless, our work will have important bearings on how we think of imagination and emotion, particularly with respect to the connections between them and the norms governing their operation in certain spheres of value judgement. The project is divided into four sub-projects intended to explore certain areas in depth whilst also drawing on each other to ensure the investigation of significant connections between a wide array of different issues. A distinctive feature of our project is that it contains an historical dimension, namely the examination of the role of the imagination and emotions in Hume and Kant’s ethics and aesthetics respectively. This is driven by the belief that such an investigation can inform, and enrich, contemporary debates on these issues, for the theories of Hume and Kant have been amongst the most influential in shaping contemporary debates on aesthetic and moral value, on emotion and on the imagination. In particular, the ways in which both Hume and Kant introduce imagination and emotion into moral and aesthetic evaluations can be interpreted as including certain ‘expressivist’ elements that bear importantly on the themes pursued in the non-historical, systematic subprojects on moral and aesthetic value. Moreover, Hume and especially Kant are not always easy to interpret, and a good understanding of the systematic issues can help to delineate and classify the different readings, to assess their value as philosophical theories and perhaps also to assess which are the most adequate / charitable readings of Hume and Kant. The first sub-project consists of two parts: first, the elaboration of a Humean account of the nature of the imagination, the analysis of which will encompass both its epistemic and its ethical dimensions. The second sub-project, informed by a close reading of Kant as well as of the Kantian literature, investigates how the realm of the empirical can deal with the ways in which transcendental norms that govern human life can be instantiated. The third sub-project, drawing on the work of the first two sub-projects, examines the role of imagination in emotional experience generally, and more specifically in relation to moral judgement and practical reasoning. The final sub-project, drawing on all three previous sub-projects, focuses on aesthetic value, with the aim of showing that the imagination plays a central role in aesthetic judgement and experience that explains the nature of aesthetic emotions, the value of aesthetic experience, the normative nature of aesthetic judgement, and that links aesthetic value closely to moral and cognitive value. All of the issues explored in each subject lie at the heart of value theory, have significant implications for the metaphysics and epistemology of values, and for other areas in the philosophy of mind and perception, as well as ethics and aesthetics.
Mind & Reality
Knowledge and Perception: Phenomenological Solutions
Beginn 01.09.2010 Ende 30.09.2013 Finanzierung SNF Projektblatt öffnen The aim of this project is to deal with the question of how perception contributes to our knowledge. In doing this, we shall consider both the contemporary debate about knowledge, perception and concepts, and the phenomenological (Husserlian) account of these very same questions. The basic idea is that a certain influential attempt to account for perceptual justification, one which is proposed for example by McDowell (1994) and Brewer (1999), is in stalemate because of an inadequate conception of perceptual experiences, substantially influenced by the Kantian tradition. In trying to criticize that kind of account, we will make at least two claims: first, that some Husserlian insights about the nature of perceptual experience and receptivity might provide us with a suitable framework to make progress in this field; secondly, that even if perceptual content were to be classified as “nonconceptual”, it could still play a justificatory role. More precisely, it seems that some phenomenological notions could turn out to be particularly useful for us: the notion of “fulfilment”, which is (more or less) the phenomenological counterpart of the traditional notion of justification, and the idea of “categorial intuition”, which concerns the possibility of being acquainted with states of affairs (not just objects) in perception. In what follows we will first present the traditional conception of knowledge as true and justified belief, along with the supposed role of perception in this account. Secondly, we will discuss the idea, paradigmatically presented in McDowell (1994), that perception can play a role in our knowledge only as long as it involves conceptual content, and we will show why this is highly problematic. Therefore, we will not just survey the current state of the research, but we will also take a position on which is the best way to approach the problems we want to deal with. Finally, we will try to incorporate in the debate the Husserlian conception of perception, and we will claim that an accurate phenomenological description of experience suggests a framework within which perception can be a source of knowledge.
Emotional Feelings and the Sense of Self
Beginn 01.01.2010 Ende 31.01.2013 Finanzierung SNF Projektblatt öffnen State of Research Recent research investigating the ‘feeling’ character of emotions (especially Goldie 2000, 2004, 2009; Prinz 2004; Scherer 2009 & 2008) has failed to carry out a systematic description and categorisation of the typical experiential (i.e. phenomenal) content of emotional feelings. As a result, important features of emotional feelings have been neglected which can help explain not only traditional questions surrounding the relation between emotional feelings and cognition, the body and the self but also illuminate the discussion about the representational status of emotional feelings. Current Proposal The proposed interdisciplinary study asserts that a systematic phenomenological analysis will show that emotional feelings present to conscious experience, most of all, a sense of self, namely the sense of being a ‘situated, embodied and motivated agent’. Secondarily and strongly related to this particular sense of self, emotional feelings also involve felt basic representations of spatial, temporal and causal features of the particular objects of emotions (incl. objects, events and states of affairs). By comparison, it is suggested that localised bodily sensations form only a minor component in emotional feelings. Furthermore, the current research proposes that emotional feelings depend for their typical content crucially also on imagination (for imagination, see, e.g., P L Harris 1989 & 2000), namely inter alia the simulation (e.g., Gordon 1986; Goldman 1993; Nichols & Stich 2003) of spatial, temporal and causal probabilities, as regards the particular object of an emotion, and spatial, temporal and causal possibilities, as concerns available ways of acting. Along with existing interdisciplinary research, it will be claimed that imagination and simulation are closely connected to the availability of a body schema and a body image (Shaun Gallagher, 2005). Finally, the current study will describe in outline how the sense of self in emotional feelings can be traced back to the stepwise formation of different perceptual capacities at successive stages in evolutionary history. Interdisciplinary Outlook The outlook of the proposed research is decidedly interdisciplinary both in its theoretical and practical orientation: in theoretical terms, the study will combine the special expertise in phenomenological research at Fribourg University (Gianfranco Soldati, Martine Nida-Rümelin) with up-to-date scientific findings produced at the Swiss Centre for Affective Sciences, Geneva, the worldwide leading research institute on appraisal theory of emotion, under the leadership of Klaus Scherer; in practical terms, successive parts of the project will be presented regularly both at Fribourg University research seminars and conferences and at NCCR seminars and ‘iClub’ meetings at the Swiss Centre for Affective Sciences, Geneva. More generally, the study is part of an attempt at strengthening the interdisciplinary collaboration between the Fribourg philosophy department and the Swiss Centre for Affective Sciences, , Geneva, drawing in as well the Lausanne University philosophy of science research group, under the leadership of Michael Esfeld. In addition, planning is currently at an early stage (please see enclosed message board announcement) regarding the establishing of a Fribourg-based regional ‘society for the philosophy of psychology and neuroscience’ which will cover two streams: (a) the methodology and metaphysics of psychology / neuroscience; and (b) collaborative interdisciplinary work, initially on emotions (the phenomenology of emotions; bodily representations in emotions; appraisal in emotions).
Affective dynamics and aesthetic emotions
Intentionality as the Mark of the Mental - Metaphysical Perspectives on Contemporary Philosophy of Mind
Beginn 01.10.2009 Ende 30.09.2013 Finanzierung SNF Projektblatt öffnen This "Sinergia" project investigates intentionality, the central phenomenon studied in the philosophy of mind, from a metaphysical perspective. The three subprojects, each involving a postdoc and a PhD student and led by senior investigators with a large experience in the field, focus on the notion of content, analysing it from three different, alternative, but complementary perspectives. The first subproject investigates the perspectival character of contents, seeking to give a metaphysical analysis of essentially tensed, located and egocentric contents in terms of tensed, located and egocentric facts in the world. Subproject B assesses the prospects of the thesis that the intentionality of the mental is entirely accounted for in terms of conceptual content, usually taken to be the hallmark of propositional thought. The third subproject reconceives the intentionality of emotional episodes, in terms of their formal objects and their valence, questioning the analogy with perception. Together, the three projects thus illustrate the three main approaches to content, trying to capture the relevant phenomena in terms of their worldly, propositional or formal-objectual correlates. To these three takes on content correspond three different ways of individuating mental phenomena, in terms of their genesis, their constitution and their adequacy conditions respectively. More particularly, the research aims of the three subprojects are the following: * subproject A, "Perspectival Thoughts and Facts": what is it for a fact to be perspectival? defense and elaboration of an A-theory of tensed, located and egocentric facts (1st year), criticism of two-dimensional semantics, the dominant approach to perspectivality of thought and language (2nd year), development of a unified framework accounting for perspectivality of content (3rd year) * subproject B, "Intentionality, Perspectivality, and the Conceptual": a comprehensive and critical investigation into the notion of phenomenal character, and a defense of the Quining of qualia (1st year), a study of and proposal for a first-order theory of an intentional account of consciousness and examination of implications, e.g. for naturalisation (2nd year), a fully elaborated proposal to extend conceptual content to all mental states (3rd year) * subproject C, "Emotions, Intentionality, and Perspectives": a typology and assessment of the central theories on hedonic valence (1st year), an elaboration of two new approaches to valence: as an hedonic mode of presentation or as an hedonic value (2nd year), confrontation of those two views in order to arrived at a fully elaborated version of them (3rd year)
NCCR Affective Sciences: Emotion in Individual Behavior and Social Processes (phase II)
Mind, Normativity, Self and Properties
Beginn 01.10.2007 Ende 30.11.2010 Finanzierung SNF Projektblatt öffnen For the first time in Switzerland and especially in 'Suisse Romande' there is an important critical mass of senior and junior researchers sharing their basic philosophical methodology (in spite of their disagreements on specific philosophical issues). As a consequence, fruitful philosophical debate can take place and serious exchange and collaboration can be achieved on a regular and scientific basis. Indeed, all participants to the Doctoral Program (see 2.6 below) share a common methodology which we may label 'the analytic approach' that distinguishes itself by its commitment to clarity, and rigor of argumentation. A common methodology guarantees the shareability of progress report (useful and serious feedback from researchers to each other at all levels about the progress of their work) and research results, as well as important and regular interconnections between the different research areas of the research modules : in different areas, the same or similar patterns of argumentation can be found. One first central topic in the school concerns the mind. On way of prospective research in the philosophy of mind concerns the nature of the self, its boundaries, its determination within the structure of the world and its relation to the body (see the Research Module Boundaries of the self); another perspective on the mind is given by the study of the first-person perspective on phenomenal concepts and how those concepts depend in their application and in their nature on the fact that they are essentially applied in the first person; a further perspective on the mind concerns the way the mind is integrated into the natural world and more specifically into its causal structure; and a final perspective concerns the normative dimensions of mental activities such as judging and acting (see the RM Norms of Mind and Knowledge). Clarification of these different issues requires conceptual means which belong to the typical domain of metaphysics, as for instance the question needs to be clarified as to what normative and phenomenal properties are.
Analytic Phenomenology: Experience, Imagination and Normativity
Beginn 01.10.2004 Ende 30.09.2008 Finanzierung SNF Projektblatt öffnen The present research project concentrates on three classical themes from the phenomenological tradition: experience, imagination and normativity. It addresses the chosen topics in a systematic rather than purely historical way. In doing so it contemplates results obtained both within recent analytical philosophy and phenomenology.
ESPP 01 Congress: European Society for Psychology and Philosophy. Annual Meeting.
Beginn 01.08.2001 Ende 31.10.2001 Finanzierung SNF Projektblatt öffnen ESPP 01 Congress: European Society for Psychology and Philosophy. Annual Meeting.
Epistemologische und metaphysische Grundlagen der Subjektivität.