PHILOSOPHY of Action
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Philosophy of Action
Genki Uemura (Okayama)
It is with great pleasure that I introduce our readers to Dr Genki Uemura’s views on action theory. Dr Uemura is senior assistant professor at Okayama University. He works mainly on Husserl and his followers, phenomenology, action explanation and motives, and collective actions. He is also involved in running the Setouchi Philosophy Forum. Enjoy!
1. How did you first become interested in Philosophy of Action?
I encountered philosophy of action for the first time, if I remember it correctly, in my final undergraduate year. Out of curiosity, I read the Japanese translation of Davidson’s “The Logical Form of Action Sentences”. I don't think that I could follow Davidson’s argument in detail, but I was strongly impressed by the elegance of his solution to the problem of inferences involving adverbial modifications. At that time, however, I would have never thought that I will write something on actions. I was studying classical phenomenology, Husserl in particular. I’m still in this field. In fact, it was by working on Husserl’s manuscripts on actions that I started engaging with some topics in philosophy of action.
2. What are you working on at the moment?
Recently I gave a talk on the representational structure of actions as processes. It draws on some insights from the aforementioned manuscripts of Husserl. I will keep on working on it and make it into a full paper. It’s written in Japanese, but I hope to write on this topic in English too. I’m also working on an account of collective actions by the classical phenomenologist Gerda Walther. She has a nice idea to explain actions performed by masses of people.
3. What is your 5-15 sentence account of what an action is?
An action is an upshot of a voluntary, creative process that may be called “acting”. The action and the process of acting hang together in a complex manner, which I have no idea yet how to explain in a few sentences. I take this idea from Husserl.
4. In your view, what were the three most important recent developments in philosophy of action?
Renewed and/or fresh interest in 1) actions as process, 2) anti-psychologism about reasons for actions, and 3) the phenomenology of agency. Thanks to the emergence of the first two in current debates, I could find the relevance of classical phenomenology of action for contemporary philosophy of action. I’m not sure whether it is really appropriate to say that the last one, phenomenology of agency is a recent development in philosophy of action. One may take it as a topic in recent philosophy of mind. Anyway, the booming of this topic has also been helpful for my research on classical phenomenology.
5. What direction would you like to see the field go in?
It would be great if phenomenology of agency would be integrated with the major topics in philosophy of action. But, I would be most excited if this field goes in a direction that I have never thought about.
2018 September 1
Many thanks to Dr Uemura!
See you all next weekend with a new interview.