A Balanced Science of Consciousness: Francisco Varela’s Neurophenomenology

Bitbol Michel
Language of the article : French
DOI: 10.3406/intel.2006.1340
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Francisco Varela’s neurophenomenological research program is still ahead of us. It therefore needs some further philosophical reflections in order to become fully understood, and to avoid mixing it up with other views. Neurophenomenology shares so many features with the mind-brain identity theory that it has some­times been mistaken for it, and that it also shares some of its explanatory virtues. But it also parts company with the identity theory on a crucial point, so that it is immune of several defects of the latter conception. The major difference is that it deflects theoretical issues onto a methodological plane; it does not state a mind-brain identity, but rather tries to institute a close relationship between the two corresponding methods of investigation. Besides, some sentences of Varela were strongly suggestive of idealism. But once again, this is wrong. Varela does not hold the ontological primacy of lived experience. He only advocates the importance for science of taking into account in its practice all the aspects of experience, be they subjective or objective. A final parallel with evolutionary biology and quantum physics shows that neurophenomenology has reached a high level of epistemological universality.

Pour citer cet article :

Bitbol Michel (2006/1). A Balanced Science of Consciousness: Francisco Varela’s Neurophenomenology. In Brassac Christian (Eds), Internalism / Externalism, Intellectica, 43, (pp.135-157), DOI: 10.3406/intel.2006.1340.