Dr Philip Gerrans

Dr Philip Gerrans
 Position Professor
 Org Unit Philosophy
 Email philip.gerrans@adelaide.edu.au
 Telephone +61 8 8313 5297
 Location Floor/Room 7 13 ,  Napier ,   North Terrace
  • Biography/ Background

     My undergraduate degree was philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University. During my PhD, under the supervision of Pettit and Frank Jackson at ANU, I became interested in the relationship between philosophy cognitive neuroscience and psychology. I started out working on autism and theory of mind. I then became interested in psychiatry, especially delusions, writing a book, Measure of Madness, about the relationship between fundamental neuroscience and psychology and philosophy. I argued there that recent evidence from cognitive neuroscience supports the idea that delusions are essentially story fragments generated by neural systems which evolved to provide a subjective narrative context for experiences. This view contrasts with a view of delusions as causal explanations of experience. I explored the consequences of that contrast for integrative theories of cognitive function. I have an ongoing collaboration with researchers at the Swiss Centre for Affective Sciences which informs my research into connections between emotional processes and self representation. Depersonalisation disorder and personality disorders are a focus of this research, which links up with much earlier work I did on the Cotard delusion ( in which people say they have disappeared or no longer exist). I think that that project will lead back to developmental psychology, since it seems many disorders have a source in the developmental relationship between emotional regulation and other aspects of cognition. The philosophical approach to the mind I find most congenial is exemplified in the work of people like Jesse Prinz, Kim Sterelny and Dan Sperber.

    I have a number of interdiscipinary interests and collaborations outside the obvious connections with empirical psychology. I have published in Anthropology (in  the journal Anthropological Theory) and Political Theory and the History of Political thought, and most recently, with Christian Barry of the ANU on refugee policy. We proposed a practical solution to the political problems raised by a semi permanent world population of over 20 million refugees. https://www.carnegiecouncil.org/publications/ethics_online/0124 . I hope that Christian and I can continue to develop these ideas in a practical direction. 

    In another life I played semi-professional cricket and Australian rules semi-successfully and semi-successfully obtained a degree in History and Asian Studies. Indeed in 1982 I was the only attendee in classes on Sung Dynasty painting and calligraphy given by the Belgian Sinologist and polymath Pierre Ryckmans. Now I am often only attendee in empty lecture theatres as I soliloquize to an hypothesised online audience. 



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Entry last updated: Saturday, 18 Aug 2018

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