Preparatory material for the Summer School

Here you will find a number of resources that we and our keynote lecturers have provided to prepare you for the Summer School. Even if you are familiar with phenomenology in your own studies, the below materials should be helpful to orient you to the specific topics that will be covered during the sessions.

We have also added the discussion questions, submitted by our keynotes, that we will be using for the afternoon discussion groups each day. Find them at the bottom of this page.

We have prepared a video presentation that will introduce you to basic ideas in phenomenology. We especially encourage those of you who are not already familiar with phenomenology to see the video.

Readings recommended by our keynotes

We also encourage you to take a look at the following readings before arriving in Copenhagen. The readings were identified as relevant for understanding the lectures and will be part of the group discussions. We thus strongly recommend that you read them as preparation for attending the Summer School.

Note: You will need an academia.edu account (free of charge) to access some of the readings.

Dan Zahavi

Anita Avramides

  • Anita Avramides, ‘Disjunctivism and Other Minds’, in New Issues in Epistemological Disjunctivism, eds. Casey Doyle, Josephy Milburn & Duncan Pritchard. Routledge, 2019.

  • Anita Avramides, ‘Knowing Others as Persons’, in a special issue of Inquiry (2020).

Both papers are available at: https://oxford.academia.edu/AnitaAvramides under the title ‘Disjunctivism submission’.


Sebastian Luft

Samantha Matherne

  • Sean Kelly, “What Do We See When We Do?,” Philosophical Topics, Vol. 27, No. 2, The Intersection of Analytic and Continental Philosophy (FALL 1999), pp. 107-128.
    Accessible via https://philpapers.org/rec/KELWDW-2 (scroll down for link to full text: people.fas.harvard.edu)

  • Samantha Matherne, "Merleau-Ponty on Style as the Key to Perceptual Presence and Constancy.” Journal of the History of Philosophy 55(4) (2017), pp. 693-727.
    Accessible on Philpapers (https://philpapers.org/rec/MATMOS-5)

Søren Overgaard

Discussion Questions

Dan Zahavi (Monday)

Hazel Markus and Shinobu Kitayama, Culture and Self:

  • What is the main differences between the independent and the interdependent conception of self?
  • Are Markus and Kitayama discussing cultural ideologies or psychological structures (or both)?
  • To what extent does the empirical material presented by Markus and Kitayama support their conclusion? 

Dan Zahavi, We in Me or Me in We?:

  • Why is it necessary to include a discussion of the we in an analysis of collective intentionality?
  • What are the arguments in favour of prioritizing the we over the I?
  • Does a we require plurality? If yes, what constraints do that impose on the notion of self? 


Anita Avramides (Tuesday)

These are questions you might like to consider. None of them is easy, and none of them can be given straightforward answers. It would be good if you thought about them and brought your thoughts to our discussion.

Knowing Others as Persons:

  • Consider the ways in which knowledge of others is/is not like knowledge in other domains.
  • What exactly is telepathy? Is it any kind of possibility for knowing the mind of another?
  • Consider what is involved in saying that ‘we know others as persons’. How do you understand this?

Disjunctivism and Other Minds:

  • Why have philosophers tended to reject the idea that we know the mind of another through perception?
  • Is disjunctivism plausible? Is it necessary to adopt disjunctivism in order to hold that we know the mind of another through perception?
  • Do you think that the ‘problem of other minds’ should be blamed on Descartes? If so, why? If not, why not?


Sebastian Luft (Wednesday)

Avant-propos to participants: As you’ll see from the questions below, they are clusters centered around themes and problems. They are not meant to be answered one by one, but intended to get you to start thinking about these issues and formulate your own thoughts and questions with respect to them.

Luft, “Do We-Experiences Require an Intentional Object? On the Nature of Reflective Communities”:
[Note that in the PDF of the text in the book, the publisher forgot to print the first opening paragraph. I have copied and pasted it into a field on the Academia site.]

  • What is a social act? How can we characterize it? How can we experience it? Who or what is the “we”?
  • What is the content of a social act? How can a community intend it?
  • What does it mean that a community issues acts of reflection? What is their content? Why would a community engage in such acts? Can every community do this?
  • In general, what can it mean to expand the domain of phenomenological investigation beyond the first person singular into the first person plural register? 

Caminada, “Joining the Background: Habitual Sentiments Behind We-Intentionality”:

  • What kind of “concrete background” can a community and its collective intentionality be said to have (according to Walther)? How is such a background habitually formed? What is the role of others here?
  • How do we-experiences arise and how are they carried out before the us-background? Can you find examples? Does Caminada’s example of everybody getting off the train at the right time (p. 208) work?
  • What can it mean to act “in the name of” the community? What would be an example of such an act “in the name of”?
  • In general, what does Walther’s account of we-experiences on the part of the community teach us about subjectivity?


Samantha Matherne (Thursday)

Sean Kelly, “What Do We See When We Do?”:

  • According to Kelly, what do both the empiricist and cognitivist accounts fail to recognize about perceptual experience? And what is it about the empiricist or cognitivist approach, as opposed to the phenomenological approach, that makes them liable to fail to recognize the relevant aspect of perceptual experience?
  • According to Kelly, how does Merleau-Ponty understand an ‘optimal’ or ‘privileged’ perceptual context? What makes one context more optimal/privileged than another? What sort of standard or norm is operative here?
  • According to Kelly, how does Merleau-Ponty account for our perception of constants, like size or color? How does this account differ from the account offered by the empiricist and cognitivist?

Samantha Matherne, “Merleau-Ponty on Style as the Key to Perceptual Presence and Constancy”:

  • According to Matherne, what do Kelly and Noë draw from Merleau-Ponty in defending their respective normative and enactive accounts of perceptual presence and constancy? Why is Schellenberg worried that neither Kelly, nor Noë’s views do justice to the perceptual phenomena at issue?
  • According to Matherne, what sort of notion of ‘style’ does Merleau-Ponty operate with? How does this notion of style relate to other notions of style?
  • According to Matherne, how does drawing on the notion of style and style-recognition help us understand Merleau-Ponty’s account of perceptual presence and constancy?


Søren Overgaard (Friday)

Travis, Charles (2004). ‘The silence of the senses’:

  • What does Travis mean when he writes that the senses are ’silent’?
  • What are his arguments against the orthodox view that perceptual experiences have representational content?
  • According to Travis, what does perception do? 

Nanay, Bence (2010). ‘Perception and imagination: amodal perception as mental imagery’:

  • Nanay argues that amodally completed parts of objects are not represented perceptually. What is his argument?
  • What is Nanay’s argument against the proposal that amodally completed parts are represented by means of non-perceptual beliefs?
  • What is Nanay’s argument for the alternative view that amodally completed parts are represented by means of imagery?