I have lived most of my life in Israel - in the northern city of Haifa.
I have been interested in the sciences since I can remember myself - since my parents sent me to learn about dinosaurs in San Francisco (where we were on a three year sabbatical).
My first introduction to philosophy came a few years later, when I read Nietzsche for the first time. I was in junior high at the time and had already read Camus' 'The Stranger', so 'Beyond Good and Evil' struck a particularly resonating chord. Existential philosophy became my most central passion for the few years that followed. It is tremendously easy to experience that infamous Angst when you're a teenager, and doubly so when you're a teenager living in Israel.
I delved deeper and deeper into philosophy moving away from the existentialists and other continental philosophers and found a new interest in philosophy of mind, in particular, consciousness. I thought I would combine my lifelong passion for the sciences with this new (at the time) emerging field of consciousness studies.
I decided I'd need some more basic training in science. Since I loved chemistry most of all, I did my B.A. in chemistry at the Technion (The Israeli Institute of Technology, in Haifa). Retrospectively, it would've been perhaps more challenging and interesting for me to do physics. Though organic chemistry was a piece of cake for me, I found myself gravitating more and more toward physical and quantum chemistry. The level of abstractness and the beauty of the mathematics of quantum mechanics drew me in. Though I could have continued on with my education in quantum chemistry, I did not at any point lose touch with philosophy. In the end, what lured me to the quantum world was that same curiosity with abstraction, with conceptual freedom, I would say, which drove me into philosophy.
I decided that, having become somewhat of a scientist (at least for a little while), I could now allow myself to explore some of my deeper passions. I decided I'd apply for a Ph.D. in philosophy.
Israel, as it happens, is not the best place in the world to pursue philosophy. That was the case at the time, and I believe that it still is the case - at least if what you're looking for is training in contemporary analytic philosophy, with a bent towards the sciences. I wanted to do philosophy, yes. But, I wanted to do so not from an aloof standpoint, disconnected from the world. I wanted to do philosophy of consciousness, while taking advantage of my grounding in science. The perfect school, I thought, was the one I eventually went to, and the one in which I am currently pursuing my graduate degree - the PNP (philosophy-neuroscience-psychology) program at the philosophy department of Washington University in St. Louis.
Many things have happened since. I studied lots more philosophy, quite a bit of cognitive psychology, and some neuroscience as well. But most importantly, I think, my appreciation of the field of philosophy grew exponentially.
Though I came to work on consciousness in particular, I found myself interested in a host of other issues in philosophy - language, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics (well... not really. Metaethics, to be precise - a subcategory of metaphysics), and much much more.
Finally, after pursuing many different avenues, I now find myself working on consciousness again (in a way). I work in particular on perception and the epistemic role it plays in guiding our appropriate world directed behaviors and thoughts. My central concern in the dissertation is that we tend to think about perception as either a completely causal intermediary between the world and our actions/thoughts about it, where the phenomenology is in effect an epistemically inert overlay, or think about it as a fully conceptualized state, already imbued with knowledge. Neither of these ways of thinking about perception works. Perception is nonconceptual, yet it is also imbued with a kind of knowledge that gives structure to our experiences and allows us to engage the world appropriately.
We will see how it goes. I've been writing the dissertation for a couple of years now, and it is on the way to being done. Hopefully, I have an interesting contribution to make on the nature of perception and its relations to thought and action.
Where is the cogsci in all of this? Good question. I have too much to say in answer to this question. I definitely cannot say it here.
Philosophy, but also politics (Middle-East, and global). Also, other social sciences - e.g., psychology, sociology, and anthropology.
I am passionate about justice, common-sense, and humanity.
Education. Education. Education!!!
More to come.
Anything, if you like. I enjoy talking about all the things I have mentioned I am passionate above, but also many more, as the 'passion box' is too small to contain it all.
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