Junior Professor of Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Systems

Bldg. A2 3, Room 0.04

T: +49 681 302 2841
F: +49 681 302 4745

Office hours: by appointment

E-Mail: lena(dot)kaestner(at)uni-saarland(dot)de

Philosophy of mind is a core branch of analytical philosophy. It investigates the nature of mind as well as that of mental states and processes, their causes and effects, and their relationship to physical states and processes. Central questions in the philosophy of the mind are: What distinguishes mental processes such as thinking, willing, faith, perception, feeling, etc.? What distinguishes such mental processes from physical ones? Is the mental fundamentally different from the physical or are they ultimately identical? What is the role of mental states and processes in the physical world? And what role does the physical play for mental processes?


There are a number of overlaps between philosophy of mind and other parts of analytic philosophy. For example, questions about the relationship between body and mind also fall into the realm of metaphysics, exploring of the role of language for thought links philosophy of mind to philosophy of language, questions about how to investigate the mind and mental capacities constitute a link to philosophy of science, and debates about free will also concern ethics and moral philosophy.


Philosophy of cognitive systems is a research area at the intersection of philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and empirical research from various empirical disciplines within cognitive science such as computer science, neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, and artificial intelligence. It is primarily concerned with questions about cognition and cognitive abilities, processes or phenomena. Paradigmatic examples of cognition include, e.g., learning and memory, language processing, attention, problem solving and decision-making.  Philosophy of cognitive systems asks, for instance, what is distinctive of cognition and cognitive systems. It also investigates whether there is a difference between cognitive and mental processes and if so what it consists in. Other important questions within Philosophy of cognitive systems include: How can cognitive processes be distinguished from non-cognitive ones? What is the best way to describe the architecture of cognitive systems? And under what conditions are we justified in ascribing cognitive abilities to artificial systems, such as robots?

In addition to questions about the nature of cognition and cognitive phenomena, Philosophy of cognitive systems investigates how cognitive phenomena are an/or should be explained and how the mechanisms implementing cognition can be discovered. What makes for a good explanation of a cognitive ability or phenomenon? What types of experiments contribute to the discovery of the physiological base of cognition? What is the role of the biological brain? And how can we explain or predict a cognitive system’s or agent’s actions and decisions?