The "Consciousness, Emotions, and Values" Einstein Group has gathered researchers from different disciplinary backgrounds to address a diverse range of topics related to those core themes in the Philosophy of Mind and is funded by the Einstein Foundation Berlin.
The core group is situated at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain and consists at the moment of Joerg Fingerhut (Postdoc, Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin), Jesse Prinz (Einstein Visiting Fellow, CUNY), and a team of research assistants.
In addition to this, a web of associated resarchers and twelve European based fellows (6 empirical sciences, 6 philosophy) has been assembled. They are associated fellows of the Einstein Group that will meet on regular basis and that work at the interface of philosophy, psychology and neuroscience.
All members of the Einstein Group investigate conscious experience, emotions, or values. Some study these topics independently, but all are also interested in their interrelations. Here we describe some of the diverse but interlinked research themes that are currently being explored by group members.
Aesthetics and our relations to artworks have not been in the center of discussion in Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Science, but are gaining more and more interest in recent years. Questions include: How should we conceive of the experience of beauty and the sublime? How do feelings such as wonder or confusion contribute to the assessment of art? And, what is the nature of aesthetic experience? Thus, emotion, value, and experience are once again brought into contact. Several members of the group are actively investigating topics in empirically informed aesthetics. Projects include aesthetic emotions, embodied responses to artworks, factors that drive appreciation, and expectations while watching films.
Morality and Sentiments
Some group members are conducing research on moral judgments: What features of an action make people judge it morally permissible? And how do they make their actions cohere with their moral convictions? One recent perspective in answering such questions is that moral judgments centrally involve emotions. Emotions, in turn, have been analyzed in terms of bodily experience. Thus, emotions, values, and experience come together here. Group members are pushing moral psychology into new directions. For example, there are projects concerning the nature of conscience, moral hypocrisy, and links between morality, identity, and group affiliation.
Embodied and Embellished Perception
A third research theme concerns perception. Traditionally, perception has been studies as a collection of faculties (the traditional senses) that operate in a modular way: cut off from other aspects of the mind. New lines of research are exploring ways in which perception can be influenced by information processing that lies outside the senses, including emotion, embodiment, and thought. For example, aesthetic preferences might cause us to have emotional and embodied responses to artworks, and these responses may then have an impact on what we are perceiving by, for example, shifting the allocation of attention. Here, emotion, values, and experience interact once more. Members of the group are conducting projects that explore various forms of impure perception and cognition: how sound interacts with bodily experience, how emotions alter object recognition, how embodiment informs the perception of art.
The Einstein Group organizes two workshops (internal to the Berlin School of Mind and Brain community) and one international conference a year. Smaller events like Einstein Lectures complement those activities. Our aim ist to make all public events available for everybody (see our media site for an overview of recorded events).
For scholarly exchange at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain we organize regular Einstein Colloquia with Postdocs and PhD-Masters students to discuss relevant papers and ideas that address questions related to empirically oriented Philosophy of Mind as well as regarding art and aesthetics.
Please contact us if you have questions or wish to participate (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Einstein Group Jesse Prinz: “Consciousness, Emotions, Values”
Office/Sitz: Luisenstraße 56, Haus 1, 10117 Berlin (North Wing, 2nd Floor, Room 317)
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Berlin School of Mind and Brain
Unter den Linden 6