2 - Extrospection and consciousness in early modern philosophy 

2 - Extrospection and consciousness in early modern philosophy

PI: Prof. Dr. Dominik PERLER

Contact: perlerD@philosophie.hu-berlin.de

Website: https://www.philosophie.hu-berlin.de/de/lehrbereiche/theorie/mitarbeiter/perler/perler0

Modern debates on consciousness started with Descartes, Locke and other seventeenth-century authors. But how did these philosophers conceive of consciousness? How did they classify different types of consciousness? And how did they explain the relationship between consciousness, which makes an internal access to mental states possible, and extrospection, which amounts to an external access? The dissertation project should deal with these and related questions. It should focus on one or several early modern philosophers and examine their theories of mind. Four clusters of problems should be at the center of the project:

(1) Conceptual problems: Early modern authors used the concept “consciousness” in different ways. The project should disentangle these uses and make clear what kind of mental phenomenon each use was meant to refer to. Moreover, it should pay attention to the concepts used for describing the phenomenon of extrospection.

(2) Cognitive problems: Early modern authors spelled out consciousness and extrospection by referring to specific cognitive processes. The project should examine the way they characterized these processes.

(3) Metaphysical problems: Early modern authors ascribed both consciousness and extrospection to various subjects (human beings, animals, God). The project should look at the metaphysical account they gave of these subjects and of their mental states.

(4) Systematic problems: The project should show to what extent early modern theories solved some deep problems concerning consciousness and extrospection, creating at the same time new ones. Furthermore, it should point out the relevance these theories still have for discussions today.

The dissertation project should deal with some of these problems on the basis of a serious study of early modern texts.

Requirements for research topic 2

(1) Excellent knowledge of the relevant primary sources,
(2) Good acquaintance with the methods of history of philosophy in the analytic tradition,
(3) Familiarity with current debates on consciousness and extrospection,
(4) A strong interest in interdisciplinary collaboration, especially with empirical scientists,
(5) Willingness to fully participate in the research, education and training program of the RTG,
(6) Proficiency in English,
(7) Master's degree in a relevant field.

The application requirements and procedures below apply to doctoral applications in April 2020 only!!!

Applications for research topic 2

(1) A proposal for a doctoral project in research topic 2: "Extrospection and consciousness in early modern philosophy" (max. 5 pages in Arial 11, single spaced, plus max. 3 pages references),
(2) A meaningful letter of motivation (max. 2 pages),
(3) Full academic CV,
(4) Copies/scans of Bachelor's and Master's certificates,
(5) Transcript of records for Master's degree.

Please send the above in one PDF file of no more than 7 MB.

Please name the file as follows: YourName_RTG_Topic2

Application address


Deadline for applicants

currently no research positions advertised

Two letters of reference

Referees should send their letters of reference directly to: Dr. Dirk Mende, Fax +49 30 2093-89751 or mb-extrospection@hu-berlin.de

Guidelines for referees for Topic 2 - please send them to your referees:

Deadline for referees:



This page last updated on: 10 January 2022