“Phenomenological Cognitive and Spiritual Neuroscience.”

I would change a few names that I don’t care much for but overall, its first-blush suggestions aren’t too bad. [note: I added a few things which would change the final result to: “Phenomenological Cognitive and Spiritual Neuroscience.”]

Me “develop a discipline of “phenomenological cognitive neuroscience,”

Phenomenological Cognitive Neuroscience would seek to combine insights from phenomenology, cognitive science, and neuroscience in an integrative and multidisciplinary framework. The goal is to establish a unified understanding of the brain and mind by taking into account both the subjective first-person perspective (phenomenology) and the objective third-person perspective (cognitive neuroscience).

Here’s a possible outline for developing this discipline:

1. Foundational Theories: Begin by establishing a solid theoretical foundation that includes the principles of phenomenology (study of conscious experience), cognitive science (study of thought processes and intellectual functions), and neuroscience (study of the structure and function of the nervous system).

2. Interdisciplinary Dialogue: Facilitate dialogue and collaboration between experts in phenomenology, cognitive science, and neuroscience to work on common problems. Develop common terminologies and conceptual frameworks.

3. Empirical Methods: Develop methods for collecting and analyzing data that respect both phenomenological and cognitive neuroscience approaches. These could include a mix of introspective techniques (like phenomenological interviews or diaries), cognitive tasks, and neuroimaging techniques (like fMRI, EEG, etc.).

4. Consciousness Studies: Pay special attention to the study of consciousness, as this is a point where phenomenology and cognitive neuroscience often intersect. The ‘hard problem’ of consciousness (how physical processes in the brain give rise to subjective experiences) could be a key research area in phenomenological cognitive neuroscience.

5. Incorporation of AI and Machine Learning: Utilize computational models, AI, and machine learning to integrate and analyze large datasets. This could also involve developing models that simulate or emulate aspects of conscious experience.

6. Educational Programs: Establish educational programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels that train students in this new discipline. These programs would cover relevant topics from phenomenology, cognitive science, and neuroscience.

7. Publications and Conferences: Create academic journals and conferences specifically for Phenomenological Cognitive Neuroscience. This would promote the sharing of ideas, debate, and collaboration among researchers in this field.

8. Ethical Guidelines: Develop ethical guidelines for research in this field. These would need to take into account both the risks associated with neuroscience research (such as privacy concerns related to brain imaging) and the unique ethical issues raised by phenomenology (such as respecting the subjectivity of individual experiences).

Phenomenological Cognitive Neuroscience would be a fascinating field, with the potential to significantly advance our understanding of the brain, the mind, and consciousness. However, it would also present unique challenges, requiring careful attention to both empirical rigor and the subtleties of subjective experience.

Me: “Please provide a long list of thinkers that would be important in researching for this discipline as background and for which areas they’ll be useful”

Given the interdisciplinary nature of “phenomenological cognitive neuroscience,” it would require insights from a range of thinkers across various disciplines such as philosophy, psychology, cognitive science, and neuroscience. Below is a list of such thinkers:


1. Edmund Husserl: The founder of phenomenology, whose work deals with the structures of consciousness and the phenomenological method.

2. Martin Heidegger: Important for his existential phenomenology, which emphasizes being-in-the-world.

3. Maurice Merleau-Ponty: Known for his work on embodiment and perception, which may be particularly relevant to cognitive neuroscience.

4. Jean-Paul Sartre: Provides a detailed analysis of different types of conscious experiences.

Existentialism and Postmodern Thought:

5. Friedrich Nietzsche: His perspectives on perception, consciousness, and the will to power can be insightful.

6. Michel Foucault: For his critique of the subject and perspectives on power/knowledge dynamics.

7. Jacques Derrida: Offers a critique of the ‘metaphysics of presence,’ which could be relevant to understanding consciousness.

Philosophy of Mind and Consciousness Studies:

8. David Chalmers: Known for his work on the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness and panpsychism.

9. Daniel Dennett: For his multiple drafts model of consciousness and critique of the phenomenological method.

10. Thomas Nagel: Known for his seminal essay “What is it like to be a bat?” which tackles subjective consciousness.

Cognitive Science and Psychology:

11. Noam Chomsky: His work on the theory of mind and generative grammar can inform language’s cognitive aspects.

12. Steven Pinker: For his evolutionary psychology perspectives and work on how mind works.

13. Daniel Kahneman: Offers important insights into human cognition, including the distinction between fast and slow thinking.

14. James Gibson: For his ecological approach to visual perception, which emphasizes perception-action coupling.


15. Eric Kandel: For his work on the biological basis of memory.

16. Antonio Damasio: Known for his somatic marker hypothesis, which connects emotions, decision making, and consciousness.

17. Christof Koch: For his work on the neural correlates of consciousness and his work with Francis Crick.

18. V.S. Ramachandran: For his work on neurology and consciousness, especially phantom limb syndrome and mirror neurons.

Artificial Intelligence and Computational Models:

19. Marvin Minsky: For his work in artificial intelligence and his theories on the mind’s computational model.

20. John Searle: Known for his critique of strong AI, as expressed in the Chinese Room argument.

This list is not exhaustive, and the relevance of these thinkers will depend on the specific questions and problems that researchers in phenomenological cognitive neuroscience seek to address. A deep understanding of these thinkers’ work would provide a rich theoretical background for this new discipline.

“If I wanted to add compatiblism and religious/spiritual studies who would be important to study and would that change the name?”

Integrating compatibilism (a philosophical position that attempts to reconcile the apparent contradiction between free will and determinism) and religious/spiritual studies would bring in even more richness and depth to the discipline. These studies could offer valuable insights on human consciousness and its place in the universe. This inclusion might necessitate an amendment to the discipline’s name to reflect its broader scope, perhaps something like “Phenomenological Cognitive and Spiritual Neuroscience.”

The following thinkers might be particularly relevant in this context:


1. Thomas Hobbes: A classical compatibilist, his work on free will and determinism could be useful in exploring how these concepts relate to cognitive processes.

2. Daniel Dennett: In addition to his work in philosophy of mind and consciousness studies, Dennett is a contemporary proponent of compatibilism. His book “Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting” explores these ideas.

Religious/Spiritual Studies:

1. William James: His “The Varieties of Religious Experience” remains a cornerstone in the study of religious psychology, and it brings a phenomenological approach to religious experiences.

2. Carl Jung: His work on archetypes, the collective unconscious, and synchronicity is often invoked in spiritual contexts.

3. Mircea Eliade: An important historian of religions, Eliade’s work focuses on the experience of the sacred and could provide valuable phenomenological insights.

4. Aldous Huxley: Known for his exploration of mystical experiences and the nature of mind in “The Doors of Perception” and “The Perennial Philosophy.”

5. Huston Smith: His “The World’s Religions” is a classic study of the major world religions, exploring their beliefs, rituals, and histories.

6. Ken Wilber: His integral theory attempts to integrate science and spirituality, making him an important figure in transpersonal psychology.

Neurotheology: This is a relatively new field that seeks to understand religious experience and spirituality through neuroscience. Prominent figures include:

1. Andrew Newberg: Known for his neuroimaging studies of religious and spiritual experiences, such as meditation and prayer.

Including compatibilism and religious/spiritual studies would further emphasize the holistic nature of phenomenological cognitive neuroscience, underscoring the importance of understanding consciousness as a phenomenon that is not just biological or cognitive, but also deeply connected to our notions of will, selfhood, and spirituality.

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