CFP: July Conference

The World in Us:
Gestalt Structure, Phenomenology, and Embodied Cognition
University of Edinburgh, 7-9 July 2017


In the early 20th century, two influential and interrelated movements shaped philosophical and scientific thinking about the mind. Gestalt Psychologists such as Ehrenfels, Koffka, and Köhler argued that our perceptual experience is structured in ways that cannot be reduced to, or explained in terms of, a mere aggregation of simple component sensations. They aimed to construct a systematic science of the mind centered on identifying and taxonomising these structural properties, and extending this methodology beyond the perceptual domain. Simultaneously, Phenomenologists such as Husserl, Gurwitsch, and Merleau-Ponty aimed to articulate systematic philosophies starting from the careful examination and description of lived experience, often focusing on the same phenomena and structures as Gestalt Psychologists.

Gestalt Psychology and Phenomenology share several key theoretical commitments: the phenomenal character of experience constitutes evidence; complex cognitive phenomena may be explained through structural analysis; and the mental constitutes a distinct realm for both philosophical and scientific study, not reducible to the merely physical. These same commitments have emerged again in recent “Multi-E” approaches to cognitive science, that emphasize the embodied and environmentally structured nature of cognition.

This conference aims to explore the relationship between these movements, with a particular focus on how the historical dialectic between Gestalt Psychology and Phenomenology may inform contemporary trends in Embodied and Embedded Cognitive Science.

This conference is part of the project Gestalt Structure and Phenomenology, a subproject of the Cambridge New Directions in the Study of Mind Project, supported by the John Templeton Foundation.  Additional support has been provided by the EIDYN Centre and the Scots Philosophical Association.

Keynote Speakers:  

Gary Hatfield
Uljana Feest
Tony Chemero
Liliana Albertazzi


Paper proposals are invited in the form of extended abstracts (750–1000 words), and should be emailed directly to the conference organizer. Complete papers may also be submitted, but are not required. Postdoctoral fellows and advanced graduate students are particularly encouraged to submit.

Submissions should make a contribution to understanding the relationship between two or more of the following topics: Gestalt psychology; Phenomenology; Contemporary trends in embodied cognitive science; Non-reductive metaphysics of cognitive processes.

Send all abstracts and inquiries to Dave Ward at dave.ward[at]

Deadline: 29 May

Notification of Acceptance: 3 June

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