San Raffaele School of Philosophy 2021 - SRSP

San Raffaele School of Philosophy 2021 - SRSP

Call for Papers

What is the intrinsic nature of mental phenomena? What makes it the case that mental events, states, and properties are mental? How tight is the relation between language and what counts as mental?  According to Franz Brentano (1874), who famously revived the debate over the mark of the mental in the late 19th century, intentionality is the necessary and sufficient condition for something to be a mental phenomenon. This criterion, which has been by and large embraced by philosophers of mind over the past century, has recently come under criticism and a number of alternative candidates have been proposed. Being conscious and having a phenomenal character have prominently been listed as possible marks of the mental (e.g. Block 1995, Loar 2003, Strawson 2004, Farkas 2008, Kriegel 2011, Montague 2016).

The 2021 San Raffaele School of Philosophy “Mind, Language, and the First-Person Perspective” will explore the nature and tenability of such emerging views, as well as of other potential alternatives to Brentano’s criterion. The boundaries of the mark of the mental will also be approached from the perspective of classic phenomenology (Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Reinach, Scheler, Stein), by addressing the issue of the qualitative varieties of intentionality. The School will finally zoom in on the connection between language and the phenomena and processes we regard as mental. Focus will be particularly laid on the role that our cognitive perspectives (or perspectival thoughts, Camp 2013, 2017) play in the interpretation of pejorative language (e.g. slurs), moral and aesthetical language (e.g. ‘thick’ terms), and other linguistic expressions that seem to encode or otherwise convey a first-person positioning.

Submissions must be prepared for double-blind review. Manuscripts – in .doc format – should not contain any identifying information and they cannot exceed 4000 words (references included). Manuscripts must be written in English. Moreover, they must contain:

  • an abstract of no more than 150 words;
  • the indication of the section to which the author(s) wants to contribute;
  • 4/5 keywords.

For stylistic details, see:

Submissions should be sent via the Phenomenology and Mind website by June 6, 2021.

Authors should register here and then log in to submit their paper. Please, make sure to submit your paper to the session “Mind, Language, and the First-Person Perspective”.


The School will feature four sections, each of which will be dedicated to a specific strand of debate over mind, language, and the first-person perspective.

A (non-exhaustive) list of possible questions to investigate is:

Section 1. Intentionality, consciousness, and the mark of the mental

  • Intentionality as the mark of the mental: What are the main challenges of the Intentionalist research project?
  • Are directedness and aspectuality sufficient criteria for intentionality?
  • Can so-called phenomenal intentionality be characterized as the mark of the mental?
  • What are the pros and cons of the thesis of consciousness as the mark of the mental? 
  • Does the scope of consciousness and phenomenality coincide?
  • How do intentionality and consciousness relate to each other?
  • Which picture of the mind would result from the rejection of the mark thesis? Would such a picture be preferable to the one that takes the mind to be a unitary field of homogeneous phenomena?

Section 2. Mental content, phenomenology, and the first-person perspective

  • Are external tracking relations necessary for content?
  • Does phenomenology ground mental content? 
  • Do naturalistic externalist views of intentionality succeed in accounting for the “psychological involvement” of mental content?
  • Are the two main research projects concerning the theory of intentionality incompatible?
  • Do intentional content and phenomenal content coincide?
  • What would be the advantages in incorporating a first-person methodology in the study of mental content?
  • Is linguistic content derived from either phenomenal or non-phenomenal mental content? 

Section 3. The boundaries of the mark of the mental: qualitative varieties of intentionality

  • Is intentionality reducible to directedness? Should positionality, as conceived by classic phenomenology, be taken into account for a plausible theory of intentionality? 
  • Should the different modalities of intentional experience be considered in the debate about the mark of the mental?
  • If being conscious can be conceived as the mark of the mental, how can we account for pre-reflective experiences?
  • Can we adequately account for the first-person perspective without considering it as embodied and embedded?
  • Does the lived body shape intentionality and the first-person perspective?
  • How can we account for those intentional experiences that seem to imply both a first-person perspective and a second-person one, such as empathy and social cognition?
  • What can the classical phenomenological tradition teach the current analytic philosophy of mind about the issue of the relationship between intentionality and consciousness?

Section 4. Perspectival thought and perspectival language

  • What cognitive mechanisms influence the way we evaluate and respond to the things we ordinarily run across?
  • How and to what extent does the structure of our thought determine what we notice about a subject?
  • What sorts of linguistic expressions convey a first-person perspective? Can their workings be explained within a unitary theoretical framework?
  • What, if anything, do slurring utterances reveal about the speaker’s social, psychological, and/or affective relation to the group the slur targets?
  • Does finding a racist or sexist joke funny mean buying into a racist or sexist perspective?
  • How does moral language relate to a first-person perspective?
  • Does evaluative language (e.g. thin and thick terms) contribute to the creation of a shared perspective or does it express a private point of view?

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