Sean Smith

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B.A. (University of Toronto)


My philosophical interests are centered on the nature of consciousness. My research draws from contemporary philosophy of mind and cognitive science, transcendental philosophy (specifically Kant and Phenomenology) and early Indian Buddhist philosophy. The project that I am working on right now focuses on the ways in which affect and attention structure conscious experience. I am trying to find productive ways to articulate an appropriate cognitive context for understanding the presence of consciousness in the world without falling into the extremes of eliminativism/reductionism or over-intellectualization. I think this is best done by bringing precise phenomenological analyses into conversation with the relevant empirical literature in affective neuroscience and cognitive psychology. If successful, I think that this project has the potential of providing two powerful explanatory upshots. One is that we can provide consciousness with an explanatory role, we can start to explain what consciousness does and what it is for. The other is that we can start to talk more precisely about how consciousness ought to be. My hope is that these results will lead my research towards my other philosophical interests which include evolution, moral psychology, democratic theory and the question of human flourishing. When I am not doing philosophy, I spend most of my time with my amazing wife and son. Hobbies include, playing drums in various bands, dancing and practicing and teaching meditation.