Sunday, November 20, 2016

Workshop in Prague, November 22-23

This will be my first visit to Czech republic.
As you can see, the workshop title is enough provocative: "End of Phenomenology and Speculative Realism" This is surely named after Tom Sparrow's book "The End of Phenomenology: Metaphysics and the New Realism" and he is the main lecturer of the event. Though I am not committed to the "End of Phenomenology" claim, it would be a nice opportunity to consider the possibility that is still left for phenomenology as a contemporary thought. Now I'm preparing my comments on his new book "Plastic Bodies: Rebuilding Sensation After Phenomenology." The problem of sensation is really a topic worth reconsidering.


Saturday, September 10, 2016

Galilei on mathematics

Looking at this picture Husserl would say,
"Galileo, the discoverer -- or, in order to do justice to his precursors, the consummating discoverer -- of physics, or physical nature, is at once a discovering and a concealing genius." (Husserl, Crisis, §9h)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Symposium in ICP 2016

On July 27, we will have a symposium on Self in the 31st International Congress of Psychology (ICP 2016 Yokohama).

As you can see in the abstracts below, this symposium will be a rare opportunity to bridge phenomenologists (Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Ferrarello and me), experimental psychologists (Dr. Asai and Dr. Miyazaki), and researchers in neuro-cognitive science (Dr. Shimada and Mr. Ismail M Arif F B). The main focus is on the notion of minimal self and the experimental researches. I look forward to the discussion in the venue.

[Contributed Symposium]
In search of the self: Embodiment and interaction
Wednesday, July 27, 12:50 – 14:20 Conference Center 4F 413

[Organizer] Shogo Tanaka (Tokai University)
Since the publication of the classic work by William James, psychologists have investigated the concept of the self from diverse perspectives. Recent studies based on the neurocognitive approach have suggested that the minimal sense of self is embodied and experienced through both the sense of agency and the sense of ownership. Research has also indicated that psychopathologies such as schizophrenia can be explained as a disturbance of the minimal self. However, since the presence of another person is seemingly essential for the sense of the self, we plan to expand the discussion in this symposium from embodiment to embodied interactions. How do embodied interactions with others affect the sense of the self? Are such interactions necessary to foster the self in a developmental sense? Is the self and the other essentially interlaced? On this occasion, we plan to address these questions from neurocognitive, developmental, pathological and phenomenological perspectives.

Sotaro Shimada (Meiji University)
[Title] The senses of ownership and agency for a robot hand controlled under delayed visual feedback
[Abstract] The rubber hand illusion (RHI) is an illusion of the self-ownership of a rubber hand that is touched synchronously with one’s own hand. Here we investigated a similar self-ownership illusion of a robot hand that is moved synchronously with the subject’s hand movement, which is referred to as the ‘robot’ hand illusion (RoHI). We systematically introduced the delay in the robot hand movement and found that the participants felt significantly greater RoHI effects with temporal discrepancies of less than 200 ms compared with longer temporal discrepancies, both in terms of the senses of ownership and agency. Interestingly, participants still felt a significant, but weaker, sense of agency with temporal discrepancies of 300–500 ms, but not the sense of ownership. We discuss self-recognition models that can account for the relationship between the senses of ownership and agency based on our results.

Tomohisa Asai (NTT Communication Science Laboratories)
[Title] Between self and other in sensorimotor system
The sense of agency refers to the subjective experience of controlling one’s own action. This sense is sometimes regarded as a postdictive illusion of causality. However, agency has an important function in theory. When we move our own body, we implicitly attribute that movement to ourselves and utilize that sensory information in order to correct “our own” movement. The current study examined this intrinsic relationship between self-other sensory attribution and feedback control in motor control. The current study, where the participants were asked to trace a sine wave target using a pen tablet device, examined the effect of “self or other” visual feedback on the subjective agency rating as well as on the motor performance. The result indicates that the subjective ratings and motor performance highly depend on the self-other morphing ratio of the visual feedback, suggesting the sense of agency as the coordinator within the sensorimotor dynamics.

Michiko Miyazaki (Otsuma Women’s University)
[Title] The experience of controlling a virtual character affects choice of the character among 8-month-olds
[Abstract] When you control an on-screen character in a video game, you perceive yourself to be one with the character. The subjective experience of controlling external objects is called “extended self-agency,” and how this sense develops in infancy is especially important for elucidating the ontogenesis of self-consciousness. However, this evaluation is extremely difficult, because infants during their first year cannot explain their feelings or easily control objects with their hands. To overcome these problems, we developed gaze-contingent paradigms for estimating infants’ spontaneous object control (Miyazaki et al. 2014) and explored the related indices. We prepared two kinds of characters: one controllable by an infant’s gaze and one uncontrollable. We presented infants with both characters in turn and examined whether controlling the character affected the choice of that character among 5- and 8-month-olds. Results demonstrated that the 8-month-olds preferred the uncontrollable character, suggesting infants explicitly discriminate the controllable from the uncontrollable character.

Marc Applebaum (Saybrook University) and Susi Ferrarello (University of San Francisco)
[Title] The Constitution of Selfhood as Ethical: A Phenomenological Perspective
[Abstract] Edmund Husserl’s phenomenological philosophy offers a complex and useful account of the arising of consciousness and subjectivity, and insists upon the embeddedness of self-hood in embodied self-other relations. For Husserl, the self is not an object that can be considered in strict isolation; rather, what we call “self” can be regarded as the evidence of a dynamic and multilayered process in which an “I” emerges that, in grasping itself as an “I" in lived-contexts that are intrinsically intersubjective, is always already in dialogue with others, and finds itself through its embodied relations with alter egos. Not surprisingly, phenomenology's psychological implications have been a central focus of the tradition since its founding We will discuss the interplay of passive and active intentionality and self-other relations in the ongoing constitution of the ego, and its ethical dimension.

Monday, October 26, 2015

new article on Theory & Psychology

Finally, my new article on intercorporeality was published. It is an attempt to bridge Merleau-Ponty's notion of intercorporeality and the current theory of social cognition in psychology and cognitive science.

Tanaka, S. (2015). Intercorporeality as a theory of social cognition. Theory & Psychology, 25(4) 455-472.

International Symposium in Denmark

For all those who may be interested in, here is the detailed information of the symposium that we will organize in Denmark next month. If you have any further question, feel free to ask me by email (shg.tanaka <a>

International symposium: "Civilization Dialogue between Europe and Japan"

Tokai University European Center
Vedbaek Strandvej 476, 2950 Vedbaek, Denmark

[November 13th, Friday] 
14:30-14:40 Welcome & Introduction
14:40-17:30 International Symposium: “Civilization Dialogue between Europe and Japan”
     Peter Grønnegård (Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science)
     Yoichi Hirano (Tokai University)
        “A note on the possibility of a Civilization Dialogue: From a Trans-Disciplinary
          Humanities perspective”
     Nobutaka Kutsuzawa (Tokai University)
        “The Takenouchi mission and Western culture: The introduction of the telegraph”
     Peter Pantzer (University of Bonn)
        “European perceptions of Japan”
18:00-20:00 Dinner
[November 14th, Saturday] 
09:00-10:10 Keynote Lecture
     Luca Tateo (Aalborg University)
        “Some ideas on civilization from the cultural psychology’s viewpoint”
10:10-10:30 Coffee
10:30-12:30 Paper Session
     Nana Miyata (Austrian Academy of Sciences)
        “European views on Japan in the 17th century: The European perceptions of
          Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the writings of Erasmus Francisci (1627-1694) and
          Eberhard Werner Happel (1647-1690)”
     Toru Hattori (Tokai University)
        “An essay on the tourist gaze: Study on tourism from a trans-disciplinary viewpoint”
     Yuki Takatori (Tokai University)
        “Legitimacy of English domination and its relationship with linguistic and cultural diversity”
     Ayano Hidaka (Tokai University)
        “On Goethe’s criticism to Newton’s color theory”
     Chiaki Genji (Tokai University)
        “The influence of Nihon-Shikki (Japanese lacquer ware) imported to Europe”
12:30-13:30 Lunch
13:30-15:30 Workshop: “East-West Dialogue through the Body”
     Shogo Tanaka (Tokai University)
        “Reconsidering the self in Japanese culture from an embodied perspective”
     Denis Francesconi (University of Verona)
        “Embodiment in education: The case of meditative practices in Western society”
     Tomoko Nakamura (Tokai University)
        “The beauty of harmony: The case of Albrecht Dürer’s theory of human proportion”

Tokai University, Institute of Civilization Research
Tokai University European Center

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

International symposium in Denmark

Tokai University Institute of Civilization Research, where I am one of the members, is going to hold a two-day academic event in November 13-14. The venue is Tokai University European Center, in Vedbaek, Denmark (30kilometer north of Copenhagen).

As you can see in the proposal, this event has a very unique character that focuses on the difference of civilization between Europe and Japan (including cultural difference), and tries to promote dialogue. 

We have several slots available for individual papers on Saturday, 14th. If you are interested in presenting your idea, please send me an email (shg.tanaka [a] by September 15th. I will communicate the further details. 

International symposium
Civilization Dialogue between Europe and Japan: 
--Responsibilities of academic research in an era of the ‘clash of civilizations’--

Currently, globalisation has been rapidly advancing worldwide. As many have noted, the 20th century was a ‘century of war’ as seen in the two World Wars and the Cold War. The world in the 21st century is concerned about the ‘clash of civilisations’, where the state of international order reflects a multi-polarization of world politics along with the progress of post-colonialization. Despite this tendency, it is impossible without cooperation among the international community to find solutions to issues such as climate change caused by global warming, which poses a threat even to human existence.
     The present world lies in between two conflicting forces. On the one hand, escaping the West-centred civilisation, lifestyles formed in diverse natural environments in different world regions have been increasingly reconstructed as have the individual civilisations based on them. On the other hand, cooperation beyond the nation and community has become crucial for the resolution of global environmental problems, which are the results of extensive exploitation of natural resources through science-based technologies developed in modern civilization. To pursue ‘sustainable development’, it might be essential not only to resolve actual policy challenges but also to pool accumulated knowledge from different civilisations of the world and to create a dialogue between them for mutual understanding and cooperation.
     Since its establishment in 1959, Tokai University Institute of Civilization Research has been promoting studies on various civilisations that humans have formed in different regions. The study of civilisation itself does not form a single discipline. Given that various human activities such as the modes of production, lifestyle, rituals and social practices, collectively form a civilisation, the overview of a specific civilisation cannot be obtained without an integration of findings from each field. The Institute of Civilization Research has been working on a comprehensive study of contemporary civilisations under a project called ‘Trans-Disciplinary Humanities’ as its key focus from this year.
     In light of the above, we have decided to host a conference on ‘Civilization Dialogue’ between Europe and Japan. The foundation of contemporary civilisation is arguably underpinned by values formed in modern Europe, which is especially symbolised by scientific knowledge and its application in industrial technology. Japanese society has proactively accepted not only science and technology but also the western social system and associated values since the beginning of modernisation in the Meiji era. However, modernisation of Japanese society is not necessarily equivalent to westernisation. Traditional values have remained in various aspects. This symposium aims to compare and re-examine views of people, society and nature underlying the civilisations of Europe and Japan. This is an attempt to find an academic response to two conflicting forces that the globalising society is dealing with currently.
     It is a great pleasure and of significance for Tokai University to host such an academic symposium in Denmark. Having witnessed the Danish national revival achieved through the education in the 19th and 20th centuries, the founder of Tokai University determined to establish a new educational institution in Japan. Tokai University was founded on the basis of the spirit and system of Danish education, which also led to Tokai University European Center being established in Denmark. Tokai University will celebrate the 75th anniversary of its foundation in 2017. The Institute of Civilization Research would like to take this research conference as the first step towards further development of civilisation studies and the 100th anniversary to come.

Yoichi Hirano (Vice-Chancellor, Tokai University)
Nobukata Kutsuzawa (Executive Director, Tokai University Institute of Civilization Research)
Shogo Tanaka (Tokai University Institute of Civilization Research)

Tokai University, Institute of Civilization Research
Tokai University, European Center

Tokai University, European Center
Vedbaek Strandvej 476, 2950 Vedbaek, Denmark

<November 13th, Friday>
14:00-14:30   Welcome & Introduction
14:30-17:30   Symposium: “Civilization Dialogue between Europe and Japan” (TBA)
18:00-20:00   Dinner
<November 14th, Saturday>
09:30:10:30   Keynote Address (TBA)
10:30-12:00   Paper Session (1)
12:00-13:00   Lunch
13:00-14:30   Paper Session (2)
14:30-14:40   Closing

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Kyoto Conference 2015

In a month, we will hold a conference on the notion of "Extended Mind" in Kyoto. Here you can find English version of the program following the link below:

Kyoto Conference 2015 "Beyond the Extended Mind: Different Bodies, Dolls, Female Soul and Eastern Spirit"
  • Date: June 20-21, 2015
  • Place: Kyoto Unviersity, Yoshida-South Campus, Academic Center Bldg.
  • Keynote speaker: Tetsuya Kono, Shaun Gallagher
The main purpose of this conference is to put the notion of extended mind onto the context of postcolonial thought, and to present new concepts of mind and self. Post-colonialism has criticized colonialist, imperialist, ethnocentric, androcentric, misogynistic and even anthropocentric aspects of modern philosophy. The philosophy and the sciences of mind, which has kept a distance from post-colonialism, cannot be an exception any longer, since the modern notion of mind has implicitly modeled on the "mind" of Western, adult, male, middle class people. It is the time to deconstruct it.

We titled this conference as "Beyond the Extended Mind: Different Bodies, Dolls, Female Soul and Eastern Spiri." The papers collected for the conference will treat:
- bodies with "different abilities", not bodies with "disabilities",
- "dolls", not "robots" i.e. slave laborer machines,
- female "soul", not "mind",
- Eastern "spirit", but not separated from body.
All papers do not only criticize past conceptions, but also propose alternative models of mind and/or self.

See you in Kyoto.

Monday, April 27, 2015

A page on intercorporeality

A few days ago, I added an independent page on intercorporeality. It is a minimum summary of the notion, including a quote from Merleau-Pnty's text.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Yoshida's new HP

Yesterday, I received a new year's message from Akihiro Yoshida. He opened his own homepage, where you can read many of his papers in English. Yoshida is very well known as one of the pioneers in phenomenological psychology, in Japan. Now he is in his eighties but still active in research and publication. Rcent works include the Japanese translation of "The Descriptive Phenomenological Method in Psychology" by Amedeo Giorgi.

Here I forward his message partially -- "On the New Year’s Day, my HomePage is open. Would you please visit and enjoy the HomePage when you have time? The HomePage Address is: "

Enjoy his papers!

Friday, December 26, 2014

New article on Academic Quarter

Here's my new article, very soon to be published on akademisk kvarter (Academic Quarter). It is titled "Creation between two minded-bodies: Intercorporeality and social cognition."

"akademisk kvarter"

I would like to thank Finn Thorbjørn Hansen and Steen Halling for their editorial work.

Monday, July 7, 2014

International Merleau-Ponty Circle 2014

Again, the time flies... More than a month has passed since I sighed over my busy situation last time…

Well, anyway, today I announce that will participate in the 39th annual conference of the International Merleau-Ponty Circle, which is going to be held in the University of Geneva. My proposal for paper presentation was accepted.

Here I post the English abstract of my paper. I heard that they would print only the French version of it in the conference material, since my original paper was written in English.

Social understanding as a creation: Intercorporeality and Aida

The purpose of this paper is to push forward the so-called interaction theory (IT) in current cognitive science with the aid of two notions: one is Merleau-Ponty’s intercorporeality (intercorporéité) and the other is Kimura’s aida (entre). What these two phenomenologists have in common is that both conceived that our subjectivity is basically action-oriented rather than static and epistemological, and that both tackled the problem of intersubjectivity from this perspective. Briefly sketching the field of social cognition, the central issue has long been the theory of mind (ToM), which is generally defined as “the ability to imagine or make deductions about the mental states of other individuals” (American Psychological Association, 2009). In addition, within the theory itself, there has been ongoing debate between proponents of the theory-theory (TT) and those supporting the simulation theory (ST), regarding the nature of our ability to understand the other mind (cf., Davies & Stone, 1995). The TT claims that we practice our understanding of another’s mind and behavior by referring to common sense kinds of theories, that is, folk psychology (e.g., Astington, 1993; Gopnik, 2009). In contrast, the ST claims that we come to understand another’s mind by self-simulating his/her situation and projecting the result (e.g., Goldman, 2006). The former takes an observational, third-person point of view, whereas the latter takes an introspective, first-person point of view (Fuchs, 2013).
     Different from both theories, the phenomenological approach reframes the question by going back to the basic experiences in the lifeworld, where we directly perceive the other person through interactions, before running an inference or simulation (Gallagher & Zahavi, 2008). In general, we directly perceive intentions in the other’s actions or emotional states in his/her facial expressions (Gallagher, 2008) and we practice embodied interactions based on this understanding in the majority of ordinary intersubjective situations (Gallagher, 2004). For example, if a friend in front of you points a finger in a certain direction, then you will look for the object in that direction. Even during such a minute, non-verbal, but embodied interaction, there are several moments of implicit social understanding (e.g., you know that your friend found something, you know that your friend wants to bring it to your attention, etc.). Thus, insights from phenomenology have brought a second-person perspective based on embodied interactions into the ToM debate, and have formed the IT (e.g., Fuchs, 2013; Fuchs & De Jaegher, 2009; Gallagher, 2004, 2008).
     In this paper, first I revisit the notion of intercorporeality (Merleau-Ponty, 1951/1964, 1960/1964) and argue how it opens up the possibility of social understanding without representing another person’s mental states. The self’s body and that of the other are intertwined through perception and action in an intersubjectively meaningful way. Second, in line with and extending this view, I introduce the notion of aida (Kimura, 1988/2000), which means “in-between” (entre) of two persons. In the process of interpersonal coordination, aida often gains an autonomy with its own rhythm and emotional tone similar to music, through which the self and the other synchronize with each other. On the basis of this notion, it is possible to describe that our practice of social understanding is a process of creation through embodied interactions.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

new article on ENCYCLOPAIDEIA

Time flies...  More than two months have passed since I updated this blog last time. And today as well, I barely manage to update just for an announcement...

Recently, my new article was published in ENCLOPAIDEIA, the Journal of Phenomenology and Education ( As the editors ran a special feature on embodiment and pedagogy in no.37, I also joined as one of the contributors. I would like to give thanks to Prof. Tarozzi and other editors for the invitation.

Here I paste the top page of my article ("The Notion of Embodied Knowledge and its Range"), where you can read the abstract. The journal is available online at Bononia University Press.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Colloquium on Autism

Perhaps it is too late to announce here... but this Wednesday we will hold an extended colloquium on autism in the University of Heidelberg. It is titled;

"New Ethical Issues on Autism"

It is not oriented to phenomenology but (neuro)ethical issues. In recent years, oxytocin injections are gaining attention as a possible therapy for Autism. Relevant research results suggest that the administration of oxytocin is effective to decrease repetitive behaviors and increase socially engaging behaviors in ASD. However, serious ethical concerns are raised around this new therapy.

No doubt that it will be a very nice opportunity to share discussions on therapy, medical treatment, early intervention, diagnosis and related ethical issues of autism!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Hypersensitivity in autism

It is often said that people with autism suffer for sensory problems called “hypersensitivity”: the sensory awareness is too acute, and the taste, smell, touch, hearing, vision, etc. becomes heightened and often overwhelming, or sometimes fascinating. Have a look at this page, for example:

In the books by Donna Williams or Temple Grandin who reported their own experience of autism, we can find vivid descriptions of hypersensitivity.

“When left alone, I would often space out and become hypnotized. I could sit for hours on the beach watching sand dribbling through my fingers. I’d study each individual grain of sand as it flowed between my fingers. Each grain was different, and I was like a scientist studying the grains under a microscope. As I scrutinized their shapes and contours, I went into a trance which cut me off from the sights and sounds around me.”[Grandin, T. (2006). Thinking in pictures. New York: Bloomsbury, p. 34]

“I learned eventually to lose myself in anything I desired – the patterns on the wallpaper or the carpet, the sound of something over and over again, the repetitive hollow sound I’d get from tapping my chin. Even people become no problem. Their words became a mumbling jumble, their voices a pattern of sounds. I could look through them until I wasn’t there, and then, later, felt that I had lost myself in them.”[Williams, D. (1992). Nobody nowhere. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, p. 11]

It seems that the unity of sensations in object perception is dismantled and one specific sensation becomes heightened (tactile sensation of the sand, visual pattern of the wallpaper, sound pattern of the voice, etc.). In line with this, it also seems that the object perception loses its ordinary meaning. Sands are just “shapes and contours” to look at, the wallpaper is mere visual “patterns”, and human voices are no more than “a pattern of sounds”.

Hypersensitivity is very curious because it happens as if the perception is dissociated into “pure sensation”, which is not supposed to exist in phenomenology of perception. We always already perceive something as “something” (i.e., a certain object), and nothing appears as mere sense data such as color-data, tone-date, pressure, warmth and so on (e.g., Merleau-Ponty, 1945).

However, one specific sensation of the object becomes heightened in hypersensitivity, and the perceived object seems to lose its meaning as “something”. Furthermore, the perceiving subject is somehow “hypnotized” or “lost” in sensation. There is no ordinary distinction between the perceiving subject and the perceived object. As the title of Williams’ book indicates, there is nobody who perceives, neither the perceived object. Only the undifferentiated sensation seems to be left in the middle of nowhere.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Demonstration by Heider and Simmel

This visual demonstration was used in Heider and Simmel's classic experiment. (Video from youtube by Michael Smith-Welch. Thanks.)
[Heider, F., & Simmel, M. (1944). An experimental study of apparent behaviour. American Journal of Psychology, 13.]

According to them, most of the observers attribute some sort of "human-like agency" to the geometrical figures and imagine a story about the circle and the little triangle "being in love". And the big and "bad" triangle tries to "steal away" the circle.

Why do we naturally attribute such an agency or a sort of intentionality to these figures? Because their movements are similar to those of humans? Or, because of the whole pattern of stories? We can project a certain story onto the relation between three geometrical figures, which is accordance with human social behaviors?

Neither would be true. (1) We naturally find the intentionality to the animals' movements that are not similar to humans. (2) We also naturally see the intentionality to the infants who still cannot behave in a social way.

Then, how do you explain?

I found that Shaun Gallagher tried to give an account to this experiment, from the "interactionist" point of view;
I perceive the movement as something with which I could interact to some end. One could easily picture a larger scale virtual reality where I, as a human subject, am in the scene with the geometrical figures, and where I could intervene, play the game in a meaningful way, so to speak, for example, to prevent one figure from 'chasing' another. This possibility for intervention on my part is what I see in their movement as meaningful, and what constitutes the basis for my attribution of intentionality.
[Gallagher, S. (2012). Phenomenology. Palgrave-macmillan, p. 79]