research

 
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boredom

i have been defending the value of boredom and developing an account of boredom that holds that due to its affective, volitional, and cognitive aspects, boredom motivates the pursuit of a new goal when the current goal ceases to be satisfactory, attractive, or meaningful to the agent.

boredom, i argue, helps to restore the perception that one’s activities are meaningful or significant, and acts as a regulatory state that keeps one in line with one’s projects.

a popular presentation of my position on boredom can be found in an article for aeon magazine. i presented on the benefits of boredom at a talk for creative mornings/louisville in december, 2015— a media coverage of my presentation is found here. for my academic work on boredom, go here (published) and here (drafts).

my account of boredom has attracted worldwide media attention. i was interviewed on radio new zealand and newstalk (ireland), and for articles for the following magazines: Nature, Wired, u.s. news & world report, U.S. Catholic, Women's Health, and University Affairs. my account of boredom has also been featured in articles for bbc, fast company (here and here), business insider, psychology today, live scienceopen culture, the federalistthe tribune (india)dezeen, curatorvps.netperuthisweek, and others.

the good life

related to my work on boredom, i am writing a book that explores the nature and value of boredom, frustration, and anticipation (propelled toward the good life [Oxford university press, 2019]). I argue that the good life is one that requires the presence of both positive and negative experiences and show how in order to live a good life we need to cultivate the ability to respond to and learn from our negative experiences. Boredom and frustration, I argue, are indications that we find ourselves stuck in unpleasant and unfulfilling situations. they can also act as motivating forces that can get us out of such traps and help us achieve our goals.

 

consciousness + physicalism

Consciousness and Physicalism: A Defense of a Research Program (2018) explores the nature of consciousness and its place in the world, offering a revisionist account of what it means to say that consciousness is nothing over and above the physical. By synthesizing work in the philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and philosophy of science and forging a dialogue with contemporary research in the empirical sciences of the mind, the book advances and defends a novel formulation of physicalism. Although physicalism has been traditionally understood to be a metaphysical thesis, the book argues that there is an alternative and indeed preferable understanding of physicalism that both renders physicalism a scientifically informed explanatory project and allows us to make important progress in addressing the ontological problem of consciousness. Physicalism, it is argued, is best viewed not as a thesis (metaphysical or otherwise) but as an interdisciplinary research program that aims to compositionally explain all natural phenomena that are central to our understanding of our place in nature.

 

 

Furthermore, in a series of articles, i developed an account of the nature of phenomenal concepts (i.e., the concepts that we deploy when we introspectively examine our phenomenal experiences) and use this account to respond to epistemic arguments against physicalism – that is, arguments that purport to infer an ontological gap between consciousness and physical processes from an epistemic gap between phenomenal truths and physical truths. although i no longer accept that one can offer a satisfactory response to epistemic arguments against physicalism by appealing to features of our phenomenal concepts, i still think that an understanding of the nature of these concepts is important for our understanding of the character of introspection, the type of knowledge that we can have with respect to phenomenal consciousness, and for accounting for the fact that consciousness appears to be other than physical despite what our best biological sciences tell us.

 

phenomenology + other interests

coming to terms with the nature of mentality requires more than an examination of the mind’s ontological status. it also requires an investigation into what the mind does and how it does it.

for that reason, i also confront issues pertaining to the nature of the mind by drawing upon the phenomenological tradition. i am especially interested in what phenomenology can teach us about the nature of emotions and imagination. i've rewritten extensively on sartre and heidegger's respective accounts of affectivity.

i've also argued that one can see the impossible!

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