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.

Søren Overgaard

Irene McMullin

  • Murdoch, Iris. “Chapter 3: The Sovereignty of Good over other Concepts” in The Sovereignty of Good. London: Ark Paperbacks, 1985.
    Available online here.

  • Callard, Agnes. “Chapter 1: Decision Theory and Transformative Choice” in Aspiration: The Agency of Becoming, pp. 39-67 Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.
    Available online here (the pagination for chapter 1 in the online version is pp. 24-40).
  • McMullin, Irene. “Rational Ideals and the Unity of Practical Agency: Kant’s Postulates of Practical Reason and their Heideggerian Reconceptualization.” in Transcending Reason: Heidegger on Rationality. M. Burch & I. McMullin, eds. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2020, pp. 187-210. Final page proofs provided.
    Available online here.



Deborah Perron Tollefsen


Matthew Ratcliffe


Dan Zahavi

  • Eilan, N.: “Other I’s, communication, and the second person” Inquiry online first: https://doi.org/10.1080/0020174X.2020.1788987

  • Zahavi, D.: “Second-person engagement, self-alienation, and group-identification.” Topoi 38/1: 251-260.

Discussion Questions

Søren Overgaard (Monday)

On the Theory of Negative Judgment:

  • According to Reinach, what sorts of things do we perceive?
  • Why does Reinach think we do not see states of affairs?
  • What is Reinach’s take on the cognitive accessing of something as something?

Affording Us the World:

  • What does Travis think we perceive?
  • What are Travis’ views on seeing-that and seeing-as, and how do they relate to Reinach’s views?  


Irene McMullin (Tuesday)

Chapter 3: The Sovereignty of Good over other Concepts:

  • Should we agree with Murdoch/Plato that an orientation towards the Good is a necessary condition for the possibility of coherent experience as such?
  • What is the relationship between specific goods and ‘the Good’?
  • What role does metaphor play in her thinking? Is the concept of ‘symbol’ more helpful for capturing the idea of concrete experiences that point beyond themselves toward deeper meaning but without leaving the particular behind? “Much of our experience is poor and thin, but some of it is rich and pregnant in the way described; and there is a use of the word 'symbolic' which covers just this sense of structure and extended meaning being given in immediate experience” (Murdoch, Iris. “Nostalgia for the Particular” in Existentialists and Mystics, pp. 83-101, p. 99. New York: Penguin Books, 1997).

Chapter 1: Decision Theory and Transformative Choice:

  • Is some kind of learning always required in order to experience something as valuable?
  • What does Callard mean by “original contact” with a value?
  • In what sense should we understand Callard’s claims that “One’s present condition is, as it were, a simulacrum of the condition one hopes someday to be in” (p. 27) and “I think the aspirant makes pictures of himself in order to resemble the picture” (p. 85). Does this amount to a form of ‘make believe’ that undermines her defense of the rationality of the proleptic process? See the discussion of Velleman on this point in reading text 3.

Rational Ideals and the Unity of Practical Agency:

  • To what extent can the ideal unity or coherence of meaningful experience as such (in terms of which specific things are meaningful) be cashed out in exemplary experiences?
  • Is it helpful to compare the work of setting up/recognizing such exemplary experiences as manifestations of deeper unity to the work of creating art?


Deborah Perron Tollefsen (Wednesday)

Organizations as True Believers:

  • What does Tollefsen mean by “our practice of making sense of others?”
  • Is interpretativism just a form of fictionalism? Do groups really have beliefs?
  • According to Tollefsen (via Dennett), what are beliefs?

Participant Reactive Attitudes and Collective Responsibility:

  • How is Strawson’s approach to questions of freedom and determinism different from other approaches?
  • How does Tollefsen use Strawson to argue that certain types of groups are moral agents and can be held morally responsible.
  • Tollefsen limits her conclusion to certain types of groups. Which types and why?

From Extended Mind to Collective Mind:

  • Tollefsen take a different approach in this article. Instead of interpretivism, she starts with the thesis of extended mind.  Is this approach more compelling than interpretativism? Does it make collective minds more plausible?
  • How does she adapt Clark and Chalmer’s thought experiment and what does she attempt to establish by it?
  • That a person’s mind extends into the environment and perhaps to other human beings is not yet to establish a collective or group mind. What more is needed?


Matthew Ratcliffe (Thursday)

Grief and the Unity of Emotion:

  • What is grief?
  • How should we individuate emotions?
  • What are the relationships between emotion and narrative?

On the Appropriateness of Grief to Its Object:

  • When life-changing events and situations appear "unreal", what does this sense of unreality consist of?
  • How do emotions relate to their objects?
  • What is it for something to "sink in" over time?

Towards a Phenomenology of Grief:

  • How does a sense of possibility contribute to interpersonal experience?
  • How does interpersonal experience contribute to a sense of possibility?
  • In what ways can those who have died still appear present to us?


Dan Zahavi (Friday)

Other I’s, communication, and the second person:

  • What does Eilan mean by social acts?
  • Why is mutual address important?
  • What is the relation between the mutual interdependency claim and the I-you claim?

Second-person engagement, self-alienation, and group-identification:

  • What is Heidegger critical of empathy and the I-thou relation?
  • Why does reciprocal empathy not yet amount to an I-thou relation according to Husserl?
  • To what extent is it possible to reconcile the Heideggerian and the Husserlian account?