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 science, open culture, the federalist, the tribune (india), dezeen, curator, vps.net, peruthisweek, 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. 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.
in a series of articles and a forthcoming book, i develop 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.
consciousness, i hold, is physical even if truths about our conscious lives are not epistemically (or a priori) entailed by physical truths. in fact, i show that what accounts for the epistemic gap between phenomenal truths and physical truths is not consciousness’ exceptional (i.e., non-physical) nature, but instead the peculiar character of the way in which we conceptualize and ultimately think about consciousness.
the debate surrounding the veracity of physicalism (and consequently, the ontological status of consciousness) is not the only debate that concerns physicalism. a related and equally important debate concerns the very nature and character of physicalism. precisely what is the thesis of physicalism? how should it be defined? what are the commitments of physicalism?
in my research, i seek to provide answers to these questions. i argue for a theory-based definition of physicalism—one that defines physical properties in terms of the properties that are postulated by current physics. i reject the contention that physicalism is committed to the view that all truths can be a priori entailed by physical truths. and contrary to received wisdom, i argue that physicalism should be understood first and foremost as an explanatory project.
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 also argued that one can see the impossible!