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Title: Meditation, enactivism and introspective training
Author: Roberts, Michael David
Awarding Body: University of Birmingham
Current Institution: University of Birmingham
Date of Award: 2019
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This PhD thesis concerns introspective approaches to the study of the mind. Across three standalone papers, I examine the significance of introspective data and advise on appropriate kinds of training for the production of such data. An overview document first introduces major themes, methods and arguments of the thesis. Paper 1 then begins the argumentative work, interrogating the constraining function of introspection in cognitive science. Here, I evaluate "enactivist" claims about the significance of introspection, clarifying central enactivist suggestions to draw out the broader importance of introspection in science and philosophy. Paper 2 then examines the proposed employment of Buddhist meditation practices in the production of rigorous introspective data. I defend such proposals against concerns that meditators yield ungeneralizable data, given the transformative character of these attention-training techniques. I argue that some meditation-trained transformations are actually epistemically-beneficial, undermining popular associations between transformation and "distortion". Paper 3 then reviews difficulties involved in integrating meditative training into research. I emphasise the importance of specific contextual supports to meditation as critical ingredients of introspective proficiency, showing how difficulties replicating these threaten to limit the scope of meditation's scientific benefits. I layout methodological responses to this that can maximise meditation's positive impact going forwards.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: AHRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: B Philosophy (General) ; BF Psychology ; BL Religion