E dot Fischer at uea dot ac dot uk
Tel: +44 (0)1603 59 3416
My most long-standing ambition is the development of methods to understand and resolve philosophical problems in ways that make reasoned agreement as attainable in philosophy as it is in the sciences. This immodest ambition led to down-to-earth interests. To develop methods to solve them, one needs to understand the problems. So I became interested in nature and genesis of philosophical problems: What structure do such problems have, and how do they come to be raised? After work on problems about linguistic understanding, I became hooked on a series of related problems from metaphysics , epistemology, and the philosophy of mind: the problems which are supposedly solved or actually raised by philosophical doctrines about perception, 'outer' and 'inner'. These include problems about 'secondary qualities', 'immediate perception', self-knowledge, scepticism and mind-body problems. Trying to understand how they came to be raised, I became interested in the classical empiricists (Galileo to Berkeley) who bequeathed them on us. Their study gradually revealed that these problems are raised by lines of thought with characteristic defects: unwarranted leaps of thought, biased interpretations, etc. These 'cognitive distortions' are systematically related and part-and-parcel of widely entrenched habits of thought of which we are hardly ever aware. This finding reinforced my interest in the work of philosophers who pioneered different ways of 'exposing concealed motives' and systematic 'urges to misunderstand': Austin, Wittgenstein, and the 'therapeutic' strand of 20th century analytic philosophy. To understand the phenomenon and these potentially pertinent responses to it, I have adapted concepts from cognitive and clinical psychology and cognitive linguistics. I have thus arrived at the project of a 'cognitive epistemology of philosophy': the study of the cognitive processes that drive philosophical reflection. Such study can enable us to overcome bad but worrying problems by coming to understand what goes systematically wrong in raising and addressing them.
I pursue these interests through two related projects (in tandem since 2000).
1. Cognitive Distortions in Philosophical Reflection proceeds from case-studies on influential thinkers who shaped modern philosophical thought about perception and the mind: Galileo, Boyle Locke, Berkeley, and the 20th century empiricist A. J. Ayer. I analyse the phenomenon of adherence to philosophical pictures: unintentional analogical reasoning which systematically invokes false analogies to primitive models built into language. I reconstruct how adherence to such pictures and related phenomena (such as belief bias) led thinkers to formulate intellectual myths and espouse philosopphical delusions, and how these gave rise to bad problems and shaped unwarrented theories. A significant part of philosophy is a struggle with philosophical pictures and the delusions they engender.
2. Philosophy as Therapy explores the consequences of this finding for philosophical method. The finding vindicates the practice of philosophy as a therapy that liberates thinkers from groundless worries engendered by philosophical delusions. I develop and explore methods for this therapeutic job. To do so, I adapt concepts from cognitive and clinical psychology. With their help, I analyse the consequences of the previous findings as well as extant models of therapeutic philosophy due to Austin and Wittgenstein. We thus obtain a set of methods for dealing with problems formulated in the grip of philosophical pictures.
The results of these two projects are brought together in the volume Philosophical Delusion and its Therapy (Routledge, 2010).
How to Practice Philosophy as Therapy: Philosophical Therapy and Therapeutic Philosophy, forthcoming in: Metaphilosophy 42 (3), April 2011
Diseases of the Understanding and the Need for Philosophical Therapy, forthcoming in: Philosophical Investigations
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Fischer, Eugen (2011) How to Practice Philosophy as Therapy: Philosophical Therapy and Therapeutic Philosophy. Metaphilosophy, 42 (1-2). pp. 49-82.
Fischer, Eugen (2011) Diseases of the Understanding and the Need for Philosophical Therapy. Philosophical Investigations, 34 (1). pp. 22-54.
Fischer, Eugen (2009) Philosophical Pictures and Secondary Qualities. Synthese, 171 (1). pp. 77-110.
Fischer, Eugen (2009) Philosophical Pictures and the Birth of 'the Mind'. Language and World, Pre-proceedings of the 32nd International Wittgenstein Symposium, 17.
Fischer, Eugen (2008) Wittgenstein's Non-Cognitivism - Explained and Vindicated. Synthese, 162 (1). pp. 53-84.
Fischer, Eugen (2006) Philosophical Pictures. Synthese, 148 (2). pp. 469-501.
Fischer, Eugen (2005) Austin on Sense-Data: Ordinary Language Analysis as 'Therapy'. Grazer Philosophische Studien, 70. pp. 67-99.
Fischer, Eugen (2004) Dream Scepticism: From an Illusory Solution to the Outline of a Dissolution (in German: Traumskepsis: Von der Illusion einer Lösung zum Ansatz einer Auflösung). Philosophy and/as Science. Selected Papers Contributed to the 5th International Congress of the Society for Analytic Philosophy. pp. 182-92.
Fischer, Eugen (2004) Imaginary Experiences: Wittgenstein's Analysis of a Philosophical 'Urge' (in German: Eingebildete Empfindungen: Wittgensteins Analyse eines philosophischen 'Triebes'). Experience and Analysis. Pre-proceedings of the 27th International Wittgenstein Symposium, 12.
Fischer, Eugen (2003) Bogus Mystery about Linguistic Competence. Synthese, 135 (1). pp. 49-75.
Fischer, Eugen (2002) A Puzzle about Colour Discrimination. Argument and Analysis. Selected Papers Contributed to the 4th International Congress of the Society for Analytic Philosophy.
Fischer, Eugen (2001) Discrimination: A Challenge to First-Person Authority? Philosophical Investigations, 24 (4). pp. 330-46.
Fischer, Eugen (2001) Unfair to Physiology. Acta Analytica, 16 (26). pp. 135-55.
Fischer, Eugen (2001) Bogus Finitude. Forschungsberichte des Instituts für Phonetik und Sprachliche Kommunikation München, 37. pp. 111-26.
Fischer, Eugen (2000) Plato's Inquiry into the Forms of Virtue: A Case-Study on Nature and Point of Non-Descriptive Metaphysics (in German: Platos Untersuchung der Formen der Tugend: Eine Fallstudie zur Frage: Was ist und was soll nicht-deskriptive Metaphysik?). Philosophisches Jahrbuch, 107 (1). pp. 95-115.
Fischer, Eugen (1997) On the Very Idea of a Theory of Meaning for a Natural Language. Synthese, 111 (1). pp. 1-16.
Fischer, Eugen (1997) Dissolving Problems of Linguistic Creativity. Philosophical Investigations, 20 (4). pp. 290-314.
Fischer, Eugen (2012) Philosophy as Therapy: Wittgenstein and Beyond. In: Contexts, Values, Disagreement. Ontos, Frankfurt, pp. 475-492.
Fischer, Eugen (2009) Therapie als philosophisches Projekt. In: Wittgenstein-Philosophie als Arbiet and Einem selbst. Munich: Fink.
Fischer, Eugen (2006) Therapy Instead of Theory. The Big Typescript as Key to Wittgenstein's Later Conception of Philosophy. In: Wittgensteins 'große Maschinenschrift'. Lang, pp. 31-59.
Fischer, Eugen (2004) A Cognitive Self Therapy - Philosophical Investigations. In: Wittgenstein at Work Method in the Philosophical Investigations. Routledge, pp. 86-126. ISBN 0415316057
Fischer, Eugen and Ammereller, Erich (2004) Aims and Method in the "Investigations". In: Wittgenstein at Work Method in the Philosophical Investigations. Routledge, p. 256. ISBN 0415316057
Fischer, Eugen (2003) Philosophy of Mind: Scientific World-View vs. Human Self-Conception. In: Die Fragen der Philosophie. Beck, pp. 7-14. ISBN 3406494854
Fischer, Eugen (2003) What is Philosophy? In: Die Fragen der Philosophie. Beck, pp. 7-14. ISBN 3406494854
Fischer, Eugen (2010) Philosophical Delusion and Its Therapy: Outline of a Philosophical Revolution. Routledge, London, p. 208. ISBN 9780415331791
Ammereller, Erich and Fischer, Eugen (2004) Wittgenstein at Work. Method in the "Philosophical Investigations". Routledge, London, p. 256. ISBN 0415316057
Fischer, Eugen and Vossenkuhl, Wilhelm (2003) The Questions of Philosophy. An Introduction to Areas and Periods (in German: Die Fragen der Philosophie. Eine Einführung in Disziplinen und Epochen). C.H.Beck, Munich. ISBN 3406494854
Fischer, Eugen (2000) Linguistic Creativity. Philosophical Studies Series, 81 . Kluwer, Dordrecht and Boston. ISBN 0792361245
Director of the Postgraduate Taught Programmes for the School of Philosophy.
President of the UEA Philosophical Society.
Organiser of the School's Faculty Forum, where faculty members discuss their work in progress.
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