My primary research interests revolve around interpersonal relations, as mediated by the body, and in more recent work by, language. I approach these questions in a deliberately interdisciplinary fashion, and seek a mutually illuminating and constraining conversation between reflective and empirical approaches. Such an open-ended conversation helps to both enrich theory with new empirical developments and make science more reflective. I work out of the tradition of phenomenology, especially Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Sartre, Beauvoir, and Levinas, as well as the dialogic tradition in philosophy, notably Buber, speech-act theory, notably J. L. Austin, deconstruction, especially Derrida, and most recently, the philosophy of language by Ferdinand de Saussure.
As a recipient of the Humboldt fellowship for advanced researchers, I spent the last two academic years researching and writing my second book at the U. of Heidelberg, Germany. The book makes a contribution to philosohy of language, with a particular emphasis on Ferdinand de Saussure's general linguistics. While Saussure's linguistics played a key role in the developments of many areas of contemporary philosophy, including phenomenology (Merleau-Ponty), it was received almost exclusively as a foundation of structuralism, a movement opposed in subject matter and method to phenomenology. This view is problematic for a number of reasons. The Course in General Linguistics (1916) attributed to Saussure was ghost written after his death by Bally and Sechahaye, who projected a proto-structuralist orientation onto more ambiguous and philosophically nuanced source materials. Unsurprisignly, the book was largely received as a proto-structuralist program. Saussure's recently discovered autographed writings convey a vision of linguistics that is philosophically complex and largely congruent with the ambitions of phenomenology, both in the subject matter and method. The book seeks to challenge the received structuralist view of Saussure's linguistics, and to make a case for a Saussurean philosophy of language with a distinct phenomenological orientation; this reinterpretation complicates the perceived divide between structuralism and phenomenology, and returns language into phenomenological research.
In my book Between You and I: Dialogical Phenomenology (Ohio UP, 2009), I developed a sustained argument for the primacy of interpersonal connectedness in the I-you mode. I drew on the disciplines of sociolinguistics, especially Benveniste, developmental psychology, and the dialogic tradition in philosophy, especially Buber, Rosenzweig, and Rosenstock-Huessy, to put pressure on an attachment to subjective consciousness in classical phenomenology, and the resulting difficulties in thematizing social relations. Sociolinguistic, developmental and dialogic perspectives highlight the phenomenological importance of the addressee, the inseparability of I and You, and the nature of the alternation between them. Taken together, these contributions make a strong case for the primacy of I-You connectedness and foreground the dialogic dimension of both prediscursive and discursive experience. Between You and I suggests that phenomenology is best practiced in a dialogical engagement with other disciplines. It also spells out some implications of a dialogic approach for feminism and politics.
In my earlier work, I engaged the phenomenological approaches of Sartre and Merleau-Ponty in a constructive dialogue with psychological studies of social development, notably relative to the so-called mirror stage, and mimicry of facial gestures in infancy. I also pursued the problem of the imagination and memory in Sartre’s phenomenology, and traced the complex, philosophical and empirical, heritage of his theory.
Between You and I: Dialogical Phenomenology. Ohio UP, 2009 (240 pp.).
2009. Dialogue at the Limit of Phenomenology. CHIASMI International, 11.
2009. Merleau-Ponty and Sartre in Response to Cognitive Studies of Intersubjectivity. Philosophy Compass, 4:2, 312-328.
2008. Feeling Good Vibrations in Dialogical Relations. Continental Philosophy Review, 41:2, 217-236.
2008. You and I, Here and Now. Spatial and Social Connectedness in Deixis. International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 16:4, 399-418.
2007. Seeing Faces. Sartre and Imitation Studies. Sartre Studies International, 13:2, 27-46.
2006. Mutual Gaze and Social Cognition. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 5:1, 17-30.
2005. Defining Imagination. Sartre between Husserl and Janet. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 4:2, 133-153.
2004. Merleau-Ponty in Dialogue with the Cognitive Sciences in Light of Recent Imitation Research. Philosophy Today, 47:5, 89-99.
2004. Anonymity and Sociality. The Convergence of Psychological and Philosophical Currents in Merleau-Ponty's Ontological Theory of Intersubjectivity. CHIASMI International, 5, 295-309.
2003. Facial Embodiment in 'Invisible' Imitation. Theoria et Historia Scientiarum: International Journal for Interdisciplinary Studies, 7:1, 139-162.
2002. Memory and Subjectivity: Sartre in Dialogue with Husserl. Sartre Studies International, 8:2, 94-111.
2002. Reversibility and Intersubjectivity in Merleau-Ponty's Ontology. Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, 33:2, 155-166.
2001. Pictorial Representation or Subjective Scenario? Sartre on Imagination. Sartre Studies International, 7:2, 87-111.
Book Chapters (selection)
2010. Mutual Gaze and Intersubjectivity. Handbook of Phenomenology and Cognitive Science. D. Schmicking and S. Gallagher (eds). Springer, 269-282.
2008. Merleau-Ponty and Psychoanalysis. Merleau-Ponty – Key Concepts. R. Diprose and J. Reynolds (eds). Acumen Press, 57-69.
2007. Persons, Pronouns, and Perspectives. Linguistic and Developmental Contributions to Dialogical Phenomenology. Folk Psychology Reassessed. M. Ratcliffe and J. Hutto (eds). Springer, 79-99.
2006. From the Body Proper to Flesh: Merleau-Ponty on Intersubjectivity. Feminist Interpretations of Merleau-Ponty. PennStateUniversity Press. D. Olkowski and G. Weiss (eds), 91-106.
2004. The Body, the Mirror and the Other in Merleau-Ponty and Sartre. Ipseity and Alterity: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Intersubjectivity. Presses Universitaires de Rouen. S. Gallagher and S. Watson (eds), 175-186.
2004. Worlds Apart? Sartre's and Merleau-Ponty's Transition from Transcendental to Ontological Perspective on the Nature of the World. Does the World Exist? A. T. Tymieniecka (ed). Analecta Husserliana, 79, 239-258.
Member of the Board of Advisors: Association for Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences
Book Review Editor: Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences.
Co-director: Society for Interdisciplinary Feminist Phenomenology.
My teaching interests lie in the area of phenomenology, philosophy of mind and philosophical psychology, including the philosophy of psychoanalysis, feminist philosophy, the dialogic tradition in philosophy, deconstruction, modern philosophy and metaphysics.
I have taught author courses on Merleau-Ponty, Sartre, Levinas, Freud, Derrida, and Berkeley.
Courses offered at the University of Oregon:
Philosophy of Mind
History of Modern Philosophy
Philosophy of Dialogue
The Dialogic Tradition
PHIL 471H Honors Thesis Workshop
PHIL 615 Continental Philosophy: Structuralism and Post-structuralism
PHIL 311 History of Modern Philosophy
PHIL 415 Continental Philosophy: Key Problems
PHIL 607 Pro-seminar Continental