The "Consciousness, Emotions, and Values" Einstein Group existed from 2015 until the end of 2019 and 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 (Senior 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.
workpackage leader: Joerg
Aesthetics and our relations to cultural artifacts and 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
workpackage leader: Jesse Prinz
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, we aim to theoretically account the cultural and aesthetic influences on our emotions and values. There are also projects concerning the nature of conscience, moral hypocrisy, and links between morality, identity, and group affiliation.
Embodied and Embellished Perception
workpackage leader: Joerg Fingerhut
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, thought, but also the external environment and artifacts we interact with (such architecture, film, virtual reality). 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 purpose of this project is to promote research and collaborations on three linked topics: emotion, values, and experience, along with their interconnections. Key questions include: How do emotions contribute to decision-making? How do we form moral and aesthetic values? And, how does experience related to embodiment? The project is also concerned with the interrelations between the core topics. For example: How are values informed by emotions? How do values influence perceptual experience? And, are there distinctive kinds of evaluative experiences, such as those we have when responding to art?
These and other core questions will be explored by a group of experts who exchange ideas, collaborate, and participate in the rich intellectual life at Humboldt-Universität’s Berlin School of Mind and Brain. The project members include the group leader in Berlin (Joerg Fingerhut, the Einstein Visiting Fellow (Jesse Prinz, based in New York), a postdoctoral guest researchers, and stipend-funded researcher(s) (based in Berlin), and a group of rotating international members, who join the group for meetings and conferences. The researchers for these positions will be chosen for their expertise in the project themes, as well as their ability to speak across disciplinary boundaries.
Each year there are publicly advertised conferences relating to the core themes, as well as smaller workshops and talks. Emphasis is placed on interdisciplinarity. The project members include philosophers who engage in neuroscience and psychology and researchers working in empirical fields with a philosophical orientation. Collaborative experimental work is also being supported.
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 “Consciousness, Emotions, Values” / Einstein Visiting Fellow Jesse Prinz
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