Staff – University of Copenhagen

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Adrian Alsmith

Adrian Alsmith

Associate Professor

Current research

I lead the 'Finding Perspective' project, which is an international and interdisciplinary research project on the relation between bodily experience and perspectival experience, funded by the Volkswagen Foundation. (For some articles, see here and here and here).

More generally, I am interested in the description and explanation of mental phenomena and the nature of the individuals to which those phenomena are attributed. My research concerning these general themes follows various interrelated tracks. One track concerns the relationship between self-attributive thoughts and bodily self-consciousness, particularly in explaining the patterning of data in experimental research that aims to study the sense of body ownership. (See here and here). Another track, concerns the relationship between the body and the self, especially the ways in which our understanding of this relationship has been informed by conceptual and empirical advances in recent years. I edited a volume on the topic for the MIT Press, with Frédérique de Vignemont (CNRS), titled The Subject's Matter. (See also here and here). A third track concerns the embodiment of cognitive and mental states, in particular the relationship between representations of the body and the particular body represented. (See here and here and here and the special issue here).

Funding/Awards

In 2014, I received a grant as part of an international research network funded by the Volkswagen Foundation's European Platform for Life Sciences, Mind Sciences and the Humanities

In 2012, I received an Individual Post-doctoral Grant from the humanities division of the Danish Council for Independent Research. I also received a “Sapere Aude” Young Elite Researcher Stipend from the council and a one-year teaching fellowship from the department (I teach MA students on the Philosophy and Cognition and Communication programmes).

In 2011, I received a generous dissertation prize for interdisciplinary doctoral research from the Barbara Wengeler Foundation (10,000 EUR).

Education

I have a BA in Philosophy & Psychology from the University of Warwick and an MSc in Philosophy from Edinburgh.

In 2011, I defended my PhD thesis at the “Johannes Gutenberg” University of Mainz, supervised by Thomas Metzinger. It was titled, “The structuring body: A critical study in the description and explanation of perceptual experience”. You can find it here. It is very long (as is the convention in Germany), but there is an abstract. Do email me if you would like an extensively bookmarked PDF.

My doctoral research was funded by the Marie Curie Research Training Network, DISCOS (2007 – 2011). My travels through the network took me to Paris and New York, amongst other places, and brought me to Copenhagen.

VW Foundation Project (from March 2014)

Finding Perspective

Perspective is a basic structural feature of spatial perception: we perceive the world not only with our bodies, but also from our bodies. The FINDING PERSPECTIVE project is built around two central hypotheses about the relation between perspectival experience and bodily experience: (1) that perspectival experience is embodied insofar as bodily experience and perspectival experience are mutually influential; and (2) that both bodily and perspectival experiential phenomena are richly differentiated, such that different forms of each structure one another in a variety of ways. Testing these hypotheses will enable FINDING PERSPECTIVE to systematically investigate the structure of embodied perspectival experience with an unprecedented level of precision. Using an unparalleled range of methods to investigate embodied perspectival experience, ranging from state of the art virtual reality technologies, psychophysics, brain imaging, to phenomenological and conceptual analysis, we will provide the first comprehensive theory of embodied perspectival experience. FINDING PERSPECTIVE thus promises to provide new insights into the nature of spatial perception, embodied action, and the relation between self, body, and (the natural and virtual) world.

See the project website here

Teaching

At KU I have various taught courses in the Philosophy MA and Cognition & Communication MA. These include: Philosophical Research Methods, Introduction to Phenomenology and Philosophy of Mind, Central Topics in Phenomenology and Philosophy of Mind, Introduction to Cognitive Science and Embodied and Embedded Cognitive Science. I have also supervised MA theses on related topics.

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