CFP – Interactions: Phenomenology, Gestalt Psychology, and Embodied Cognitive Science

Interactions: Phenomenology, Gestalt Psychology, and Embodied Cognitive Science
University of Edinburgh, 3 December 2016



This conference aims to explore the relationship between Gestalt Psychology and Phenomenology, with a particular focus on the way interactions between these two traditions may inform contemporary trends in Embodied and Embedded Cognitive Science.

In the early 20th century, gestalt psychology—partly inspired by the phenomenological philosophy of Husserl—discovered a number of empirical phenomena that seemed to indicate that experience is structured, and that this structure cannot be reduced to any simple function of the properties of its atomic components. Phenomenologists such as Merleau-Ponty and Aron Gurwitsch, partly inspired by these results, developed a non-reductive metaphysics of experience.  These intertwined research programs have a renewed importance for 21st century cognitive science.  A number of recent approaches in both neuroscience and philosophy of mind (for instance, dynamical, embodied, and enactive approaches) draw on both gestalt results and phenomenological insights.  Nevertheless, this work seldom engages in detail with the methodological underpinnings of these traditions, nor the metaphysical commitments that might come from working within them.  This conference aims to address this lacuna, with a special emphasis on the importance of structural analysis for understanding experience, and its implications for a non-reductive metaphysics of mind.

This conference is part of the project Gestalt Structure and Phenomenology, a subproject of the Cambridge New Directions in the Study of Mind Project, supported by the John Templeton Foundation.

Keynote Speaker: 

Dr. Komarine Romdenh-Romluc (University of Sheffield)

Paper proposals are invited in the form of extended abstracts (500–750 words), and should be emailed directly to the conference organizer.  Complete papers may also be submitted, but are not required.

Submissions should make a contribution to understanding the relationship between two or more of the following topics: Gestalt psychology; Phenomenology; Contemporary trends in embodied cognitive science; Non-reductive metaphysics of cognitive processes.

Limited funds will be available to offset the travel and accommodation costs of those presenting papers at the workshop. Early career researchers and postgraduate students are particularly encouraged to submit.

Submission deadline is 7 November.

Send all abstracts and inquiries to Alistair Isaac at


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