‘Trust me, i´m an illusionist.’ a critical response to Keith Frankish’s illusionism and its place in contemporary philosophy of mind

Stenner, Paul (2022). ‘Trust me, i´m an illusionist.’ a critical response to Keith Frankish’s illusionism and its place in contemporary philosophy of mind. Human Affairs, 32(3) pp. 311–320.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/humaff-2022-0024

URL: https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/hum...


This article is a commentary which offers a critical account of Keith Frankish’s article on illusionism published in this same volume of Human Affairs. Frankish is inspired by a paradoxical but prominent tradition within philosophy of mind that treats so-called 'qualia' as brain-created illusions. The critique is based upon a process theoretical understanding of subjectivity. Frankish's account continues a reductive tradition of physicalism grounded in Galileo's reduction of secondary qualities to 'mere names'.

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  • Item ORO ID
  • 84413
  • Item Type
  • Journal Item
  • ISSN
  • 1210-3055
  • Extra Information
    At the end of last winter our associate editor of Human Affairs James Tartaglia suggested we publish the transcript of an interview with Keith Frankish conducted by Katarína Sklutová, a doctoral student of philosophy at Comenius University, Bratislava. As the Journal does not publish this genre, one would have expected the response to be ‘no’. The main subject of the interview — Frankish’s radical standpoint on consciousness, which attributes an illusionist role to this central concept in psychology — set my psychology brain whirring. I felt compelled to do some homework and looked at some of Frankish’s substantial writing on the issue. The more I tried to understand it, the more I had to disagree, and the more I felt the need for a deep discussion on his principles. Aware of the weaknesses in my philosophical background, rather than trying to formulate my reservations, I started to think of scholars with a deep knowledge of psychology and a good grounding in philosophy... The first to come to mind was Paul Stenner, a leading thinker in critical psychology and (co)author of some authoritative and direction-setting writing in current psychology (e.g. the books Psychology without Foundations, Liminality and Experience). His qualified opinion on the interview with Keith Frankish seemed to justify making an exception to the Human Affairs publishing policy. Keith agreed with this dramaturgical endeavour and so I wrote to Paul — worried that he would reject the idea given his workload. Surprisingly, I soon received a positive response. Paul Stenner obviously felt, as I did, that Frankish’s ideas presented a challenge and hence there was a need to defend psychology. This interaction quickly developed into a full-blown dialogue, with Keith Frankish writing a defence upon reading Paul’s thoughts and Paul in turn proving willing to comment. The result is a collection of four separate contributions constituting one dialogic whole. It is a good number of well-informed, strong articles written amid great motivation and excitement, which we are now offering to our readership. We do hope our readers will find them just as enriching and fun to read as we did at the Journal over the months spent preparing this discussion for publication. And, of course, we wish to express our deep gratitude to both authors for their enthusiasm and willingness to participate.Bratislava, May 2022 Gabriel Bianchi,
  • Keywords
  • Illusionism; philosophy of mind; psychology; qualia; subjectivity; materialism
  • Academic Unit or School
  • Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Psychology and Counselling > Psychology
    Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Psychology and Counselling
    Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
  • Research Group
  • Open Psychology Research Centre
  • Copyright Holders
  • © 2022 The Author
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  • Paul Stenner