About me

Phil bikingWhen I was nine years old it struck me that while the scary robots in the Saturday morning cartoons behaved according to the commands given them by remote control, nobody was remotely-controlling the robot-controllers. I’ve been thinking about the metaphysics of the mind most days since then.

These days I think a lot about the relationship between consciousness and intentionality (i.e. the aboutness or directedness of mental states). For several decades now, most philosophers of mind have been of the opinion that a theory of intentionality can be worked out in isolation from a theory of consciousness—and that that’s good news, since a theory of consciousness is rather hard to come by. I argue that this way of thinking is badly confused: intentionality is essentially an aspect of consciousness.

Doing metaphysics of mind doesn’t prevent me from interacting with empirical approaches to the study of the mind; nor does it prevent me from exploring broader questions in metaphysics. (I’ve found that cognitive scientists and metaphysicians tend not to get along, at least when doing philosophy, which is rather a shame.) I also spend a lot of time thinking about philosophical problems in subdisciplines that closely border philosophy of mind, problems such as self-knowledge, semantic meaning, personal identity, and agency.

I find that most traditional philosophical questions are interesting and important, and that a familiarity with their historical treatment is indispensible for understanding them. When the history involves a tiff between Aristotelian thought and something else—as it so often does—I usually find myself siding with Aristotle.

I’m pretty good at making philosophical questions comprehensible to those who are new to them, and there’s very little I’d rather be doing.