Volume 12 · Number 2 · Pages 131–138
Building a Science of Experience: Neurophenomenology and Related Disciplines

Camila Valenzuela-Moguillansky, Alejandra Vásquez-Rosati & Alexander Riegler

Download the full text in
PDF (462 kB)

> Citation > Similar > References > 1 Comment


Context: More than 20 years ago Varela initiated a research program to advance in the scientific study of consciousness, neurophenomenology. Problem: Has Varela’s neurophenomenology, the solution to the “hard problem,” been successful? Which issues remain unresolved, and why? Method: This introduction sketches the progress that has been made since then and links it to the contributions to this special issue. Results: Instead of a unified research field, today we find a variety of different interpretations and implementations of neurophenomenology. We argue that neurophenomenology needs to give additional attention to its experiential dimension by addressing first-person methods’ specific challenges and by rethinking the relationship between the frameworks of the firstand third-person approaches.


Valenzuela-Moguillansky C., Vásquez-Rosati A. & Riegler A. (2017) Building a science of experience: Neurophenomenology and related disciplines. Constructivist Foundations 12(2): 131–138. http://constructivist.info/12/2/131

Export article citation data: Plain Text · BibTex · EndNote · Reference Manager (RIS)


Bayne T. (2004) Closing the gap? Some questions for neurophenomenology. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 3(4): 349–364 http://cepa.info/2260
Bitbol M. & Petitmengin C. (2013) A defense of introspection from within. Constructivist Foundations 8(3): 269–279 http://constructivist.info/8/3/269
Bitbol M. & Petitmengin C. (2013) On the possibility and reality of introspection. Kairos 6: 173–198 http://cepa.info/2298
Bitbol M. (2012) Neurophenomenology: An ongoing practice of/in consciousness. Constructivist Foundations 7(3): 165–173 http://constructivist.info/7/3/165
Bockelman P., Reinerman-Jones L. & Gallagher S. (2013) Methodological lessons in neurophenomenology: Review of a baseline study and recommendations for research approaches. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 7: 608. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Brooks R. A. (1991) Intelligence without representation. Artificial Intelligence 47(1–3): 139–160. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Chalmers D. (1995) Facing up to the problem of consciousness. Journal of Consciousness Studies 2(3): 200–219. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Chang H. (2012) Is water H2O? Evidence, realism and pluralism. Springer, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
De Preester H. (2002) Naturalizing Husserlian phenomenology: An introduction. Psychoanalytische Perspectieven 20(4): 633–647. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Dennett D. C. (1984) Cognitive wheels: The frame problem of AI. In: Hookway C. (ed.): Minds, machines, and evolution: Philosophical studies. Cambridge University Press, London: 129–151. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Depraz N. & Desmidt T. (2015) Cardiophénoménologie. Les Cahiers Philosophiques de Strasbourg 38: 47–83. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Depraz N., Varela F. J. & Vermersch P. (2003) On becoming aware: A pragmatics of experiencing. John Benjamins, Philadelphia. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Dreyfus H. L. & Dreyfus S. E. (1988) Making a mind versus modelling the brain: Artificial intelligence back at a branch-point. Artificial Intelligence 117: 309–33. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Dupuy J. P. (2009) On the origins of cognitive science: The mechanization of mind. MIT Press, Cambridge MA. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Gallagher S. & Zahavi D. (2012) The phenomenological mind. Second edition. Routledge, London. Originally published in 2008. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Harnad S. (1990) The symbol grounding problem. Physica D 42: 335–346. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Held R. & Hein A. (1963) Movement-produced stimulation in the development of visually guided behavior. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology 56(5): 872–876. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Kirchhoff M. D. & Hutto D. D. (2016) Never mind the gap: Neurophenomenology, radical enactivism, and the hard problem of consciousness. Constructivist Foundations 11(2): 346–353 http://constructivist.info/11/2/346
Kordeš U. (2016) Going beyond theory: Constructivism and empirical phenomenology. Constructivist Foundations 11(2): 375–385 http://constructivist.info/11/2/375
Le van Quyen M. & Petitmengin C. (2002) Neuronal dynamics and conscious experience: An example of reciprocal causation before epileptic seizures. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 1: 169–180. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Levine J. (1983) Materialism and qualia: The explanatory gap. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 64: 354–61. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Lutz A., Lachaux J. P., Martinerie J. & Varela F. J. (2002) Guiding the study of brain dynamics by using first-person data: Synchrony patterns correlate with ongoing conscious states during a simple visual task. PNAS 99(3): 1586–1591 http://cepa.info/2092
Maturana H. R. & Mpodozis J. (2000) The origin of species by means of natural drift. Revista Chilena de Historia Natural 73: 261–310 http://cepa.info/680
Maturana H. R. & Varela F. J. (1973) De máquinas y seres vivos: Una teoría sobre la organización biológica. Editorial Universitaria, Santiago. English translation: (1980) Autopoiesis: The organization of the living. In: Autopoiesis and cognition: The realization of the living. Reidel, Boston: 73–134 http://cepa.info/541
Maturana H. R. (1970) Biology of cognition. BCL Report 9.0. University of Illinois, Urbana. Reprinted in: Maturana H. R. & Varela F. J. (1980) Autopoiesis and cognition: The realization of the living. Kluwer, Dordrecht: 5–58 http://cepa.info/535
Maturana H. R. (1974) Cognitive strategies. In: Foerster H. von (ed.) Cybernetics of cybernetics. BCL Report 73–38. University of Illinois, Urbana: 457–469 http://cepa.info/542
Newell A. & Simon H. A. (1976) Computer science as empirical inquiry: Symbols and search. Communications of the ACM 19(3): 113–126. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Peschl M. F. & Riegler A. (1999) Does representation need reality? Rethinking epistemological issues in the light of recent developments and concepts in cognitive science. In: Riegler A., Peschl M. F. & Stein A. von (eds.) Understanding representation in the cognitive sciences. Kluwer Academic /Plenum Press, New York: 9–17. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Petitmengin C. & Lachaux J.-P. (2013) Microcognitive science: Bridging experiential and neuronal microdynamics. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 7: 617 http://cepa.info/934
Petitmengin C. (2003) L’expérience intuitive. Editions L’Harmattan, Paris. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Petitmengin C. (2006) Describing one’s subjective experience in the second person: An interview method for the science of consciousness. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 5(3–4): 229–269 http://cepa.info/2376
Petitmengin C., Baulac M. & Navarro V. (2006) Seizure anticipation: Are neurophenomenological approaches able to detect preictal symptoms? Epilepsy & Behavior 9(2): 298–306. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Petitmengin C., Navarro V. & Le Van Quyen M. (2007) Anticipating seizure: Pre-reflective experience at the center of neuro-phenomenology. Consciousness and Cognition 16(3): 746–764. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Petitmengin C., Remillieux A., Cahour C. & Carter-Thomas S. (2013) A gap in Nisbett and Wilson’s findings? A first-person access to our cognitive processes. Consciousness and Cognition 22: 654–669 http://cepa.info/931
Price D. D. & Aydede M. (2005) The experimental use of introspection in the scientific study of pain and its integration with third-person methodologies: The experiential-phenomenological approach. In: Aydede M. (ed.) Pain: New essays on its nature and the methodology of its study. MIT Press, Cambridge MA: 243–273. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Riegler A. (2002) When is a cognitive system embodied? Cognitive Systems Research 3: 339–348. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Szilasi W. (1973) Introducción a la fenomenología de Husserl. Amorrortu editors, Buenos Aires. Originally published in German as: (1959) Einführung in die Phänomenologie Edmund Husserls. Max Niemeyer Verlag, Tübingen. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Varela F. J. & Thompson E. (1990) Color vision: A case study for the foundations of cognitive science. Revue de Synthèse 111(1): 129–138 http://cepa.info/1951
Varela F. J. (1992) Whence the origin of perception? A cartography of current ideas. In: Varela F. J. & Dupuy J. P. (eds.) Understanding origins: Contemporary ideas on the origin of life, mind and society. Kluwer, Boston: 235–263 http://cepa.info/2074
Varela F. J. (1996) Neurophenomenology: A methodological remedy for the hard problem. Journal of Consciousness Studies 3(4): 330–350 http://cepa.info/1893
Varela F., Thompson E., Rosch E. (1991) The embodied mind: Cognitive science and human experience. MIT Press, Cambridge MA. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Vörös S. (2014) The uroboros of consciousness: Between the naturalisation of phenomenology and the phenomenologisation of nature. Constructivist Foundations 10(1): 96–104 http://constructivist.info/10/1/096
Vörös S., Froese T. & Riegler A. (2016) Epistemological odyssey: Introduction to special issue on the diversity of enactivism and neurophenomenology. Constructivist Foundations 11(2): 189–204 http://constructivist.info/11/2/189
Vermersch P. (1994) L’entretien d’explicitation. ESF, Paris. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar

Comments: 1

To stay informed about comments to this publication and post comments yourself, please log in first.

Comment by Michael Zeldich · 22 Mar 2017
I am sorry for the disturbing question, but study of consciousness should be started from answer on the question about existence of such phenomena.
The second problem is in believes that our experience is consisting information about real world objects and events.
That is required an answer on the simple question: “How information about the real world is delivered to a brain?”
I know that obtaining correct answers on these questions will lead to creation of artificial subjective systems and would like to give the danger warning: “No one should create of an artificial subjective system capable to have its own egoistic interests. There will be no place for human race, if that precautionary measure will be not obeyed”.