The Dynamic Phenomenology of Occurrent Thinking

Fergus Anderson


In this paper I argue that there is something missing from the account of occurrent thinking as typically presented in the cognitive phenomenology debate. The missing element is what I call the “dynamic” phenomenology of thought. Cognitive states are not just static states, they are also dynamic states that unfold in time. My main thesis is that this is an important aspect of the phenomenology of thought that has a significant bearing on the question of what it is like to think. The evidence I offer in support of this claim is drawn from descriptions of two instances of occurrent thinking. Using the descriptions as a reference point, I propose that thinking experiences possess a three stage dynamic structure that begins with a “productive” stage, progresses to a “receptive” stage and ends in a “reflective” stage. I offer a tentative analysis of this structure and I briefly consider some of the implications and objections.


cognitive phenomenology; phenomenology; mental agency; introspection

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