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About Brendan Lalor

Brendan

Some time in 2015

Brendan Lalor

Associate Professor, Philosophy Coordinator

Biography
I became a full time philosopher at Castleton University in Vermont in 2008, after teaching for a decade at the University of Central Oklahoma. My teaching career started over the border, though, in Albany, NY at the College of Saint Rose, where I taught Ancient Philosophy. I specialize in philosophy of mind and cognitive science. But my interests include existentialism, philosophy of emotion, social and political philosophy, ecological philosophy, philosophy of technology, and some philosophy of language.

I enjoy music, hiking, amateur mycology, food, and gardening. My “Navigator Stout” once placed fourth in the American Homebrewers Association stout competition. But now I brew only kombucha. I love being a Castleton professor; and I love living in Vermont.

Education

  • M.A., Ph.D., State University of New York at Albany, 1998
    – Dissertation: Worldly Thoughts: A Theory of Embedded Cognition
  • B.A., College of Saint Rose

me in Ephesus

me in Ephesus in early 2006

Accomplishments

Playing the Ut in Istanbul

Playing the Ut in Istanbul

Research Specialization
My research centers on philosophical issues in cognitive science; it engages both cognitive scientists and philosophers of language and mind. An organizing theme for me has been the embeddedness of cognition — on the one hand, the dependence of mental properties on structures spatially external to the organism (structures of the physical or social environments); on the other, the way the metaphysics of the mental at any point in time depends on factors temporally removed.

I am repeatedly drawn to historical sources outside of cognitive science which seem to me to shed often neglected light on deeper issues contemporary cognitive scientists take up as if for the first time — thinkers such as Kant, Peirce, and existential phenomenologists like Sartre and Merleau-Ponty. Most of these historical philosophical interests are organized around the general phenomenon of representation, especially linguistic and mental representation. Some of my publications (e.g., on Peirce and Hume) are born of this force in my work.

In the papers linked here, in one way or another, I contend that to gain a deep understanding of the mental, we need to conceptualize it as an essentially embedded phenomenon — an emergent property of beings’ temporal, social, and physical interaction with a world. I defend the superiority of this conception of the mental over traditional and other contemporary conceptions. I show that conceiving of the mental this way yields more powerful and promising theoretical and practical insights into what needs explaining.

Philosophy, Site