Einstein Visiting Fellows  

Jesse Prinz

Einstein Visiting Fellow 2015–2017

Jesse Prinz is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). He is one of the most important philosophers of mind in the world, having made a name for himself in the field of empirically informed philosophy, both with numerous articles in leading international magazines and with a large number of well-regarded book publications that have caused a sensation. “Empirically informed philosophy” is one of the most significant developments of recent years and of great importance for our understanding of the area where philosophy and empirical sciences intersect.

Jesse Prinz’s New York website

The Einstein group’s website in Berlin

“Consciousness”, “Emotion” and “Values”

The purpose of this project is to promote research and collaborations on three linked topics: consciousness, emotions, and values. Key questions include: How does consciousness relate to the brain? How do emotions inform decision-making? How do we form moral and aesthetic values? There are also interconnections between these topics. For example: Are emotions always conscious? How are values influenced by emotions? Are there distinctively aesthetic experiences? How are consciousness, emotions, and values linked to identity?

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 will include the Einstein Visiting Fellow (Jesse Prinz, based in New York), a postdoctoral fellow 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 will be a publicly advertised conference on one of the core themes, as well as smaller workshops and talks. Emphasis will be placed on interdisciplinarity. The project members will be philosophers who engage neuroscience and psychology or researchers working in empirical fields with a philosophical orientation. Collaborative experimental work will also be supported.

The planned research topic sequence is as follows:

2015: Consciousness

Questions may include:
How does consciousness relate to the brain?
How does consciousness relate to other mental capacities such as memory and attention?
How is consciousness related to embodiment and action?
What information can enter consciousness and what can’t?
What accounts for the subjectivity of consciousness?
How does consciousness relate to the self?
Why do reductive theories of consciousness seem to leave the nature of consciousness unexplained?
How do people understand the concept of consciousness?

2016: Emotion

Questions may include:
What are emotions?
Do emotions depend on cognitive processes such as judgment or appraisal?
How are emotions related to bodily states?
How are emotions related to action tendencies?
How do emotions motivate?
Are all emotions alike?
Are emotions evolved or socially constructed?
How do emotions contribute to decision-making?
What and how do emotions represent?
Can emotions be assessed for their rationality?

2017: Values

Questions may include:
What are values?
How do they relate to emotion and reason?
How are they realized in the brain?
How are they embedded in social interactions?
How do they evolve, develop, and change?
Do they vary across cultures?
Are there objective standards by which they can be improved?
What, specifically, is the nature of moral values?
What are aesthetic values?
How do these relate to each other?
How do such values influence domains that are sometimes regarded as value-free, such as perception, categorization, and scientific theory construction?

This page last updated on: 15 February 2016