Whatever may be the precise form of phenomenal character, we wouldask how that character distributes over mental life. What is phenomenalin different types of mental activity? Here arise issues of cognitivephenomenology. Is phenomenality restricted to the “feel” of sensoryexperience? Or is phenomenality present also in cognitive experiences ofthinking such-and-such, or of perception bearing conceptual as well assensory content, or also in volitional or conative bodily action? Theseissues are explored in Bayne and Montague (eds.) (2011), CognitivePhenomenology.
Phenomenology came into its own with Husserl, much as epistemologycame into its own with Descartes, and ontology or metaphysics came intoits own with Aristotle on the heels of Plato. Yet phenomenology hasbeen practiced, with or without the name, for many centuries. WhenHindu and Buddhist philosophers reflected on states of consciousnessachieved in a variety of meditative states, they were practicingphenomenology. When Descartes, Hume, and Kant characterized states ofperception, thought, and imagination, they were practicingphenomenology. When Brentano classified varieties of mental phenomena(defined by the directedness of consciousness), he was practicingphenomenology. When William James appraised kinds of mental activity inthe stream of consciousness (including their embodiment and theirdependence on habit), he too was practicing phenomenology. And whenrecent analytic philosophers of mind have addressed issues ofconsciousness and intentionality, they have often been practicingphenomenology. Still, the discipline of phenomenology, its rootstracing back through the centuries, came to full flower in Husserl.
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The ontological distinction among the form, appearance, and substrateof an activity of consciousness is detailed in D. W. Smith, Mind World(2004), in the essay “Three Facets of Consciousness”.
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Social cognition is at the heart of children’s ability to get along with other people and to see things from their point of view. The basis of this crucial ability lies in the development of theory of mind.3,4 “Theory of mind” refers to our understanding of people as mental beings, each with his or her own mental states – such as thoughts, wants, motives and feelings. We use theory of mind to explain our own behaviour to others, by telling them what we think and want, and we interpret other people’s talk and behaviour by considering their thoughts and wants.
Phenomenology (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
René Descartes, in his epoch-making Meditations on FirstPhilosophy (1641), had argued that minds and bodies are two distinctkinds of being or substance with two distinct kinds of attributes ormodes: bodies are characterized by spatiotemporal physical properties,while minds are characterized by properties of thinking (includingseeing, feeling, etc.). Centuries later, phenomenology would find, withBrentano and Husserl, that mental acts are characterized byconsciousness and intentionality, while natural science would find thatphysical systems are characterized by mass and force, ultimately bygravitational, electromagnetic, and quantum fields. Where do we findconsciousness and intentionality in thequantum-electromagnetic-gravitational field that, by hypothesis, orderseverything in the natural world in which we humans and our minds exist?That is the mind-body problem today. In short, phenomenology by anyother name lies at the heart of the contemporary mind-body problem.
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The development of theory of mind from birth to 5 years of age is now well described in the research literature4,5 – or at least, we can describe how infants and children behave in experimental situations as well as in natural settings. There are problems, however, in interpretation of the findings. Some researchers claim that even babies are aware of other people’s thoughts and wants while others think that this understanding does not develop until the toddler or preschool years. This contradiction can be resolved by taking a developmental view of theory of mind – that is, early-developing intuitive awareness later becomes more reflective and explicit.5 Moreover, children’s developing language abilities play an important role in this transition.6