Visiting Fulbright Scholar
I am currently a Visiting PhD Student at University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Sleep and Consciousness, funded by a Fulbright Fellowship. I expect to defend my PhD thesis at the University of Bucharest, Romania, in the beginning of 2022. I graduated from UB with a bachelor (2013-2016) and master (2016-2018) degree in Philosophy, and at the moment I am enrolled in their PhD Program (2018-2021).
Research Interests: consciousness, philosophy of mind, Integrated Information Theory, Kant, transcendentalism, transcendental idealism.
My research revolves around the cluster of problems associated with consciousness. I employ a multifaceted approach, focusing on their core philosophical underpinnings, while trying to give them a mathematical expression and do justice to the vast amount of experimental data that should guide and constrain any theory. In particular, my work is largely situated within the framework of Integrated Information Theory (IIT), which I aim to connect to Kant’s transcendental philosophy. Unearthing such kinship will lead to a revival of the transcendental perspective, which in my opinion is fundamental for the study of consciousness. According to the ‘transcendental standpoint’, experience bounds knowledge—all forms of knowing and cognized objects therein must agree with the fundamental structure of consciousness. Experience holds primacy over everything: the invariant forms of consciousness, as essential properties descriptive of all possible experiences, act as possibility conditions of all that can be a conscious content, including cognition. One cannot but start by taking phenomenology seriously, not only for explaining consciousness per se, but also for securing the possibility of all human cognition (as a general theory of knowledge). The ultimate ground of this is that all knowledge is from within consciousness, and it can never proceed as completely abstracting from it—this has important consequences for the meaning of objectivity. As I see it, IIT is committed to this cardinal idea of an experiential intransgressible limit. The theory’s phenomenology-first methodology, as well as its epistemological foundations, i.e., axioms, postulates, and central identity, are reflective of this perspective. In effect, when it comes to understanding consciousness itself, I think there can be no other way to proceed.
In my PhD thesis I aim to flesh out these ideas by exploring: (i) whether IIT’s foundations incorporate a transcendental deduction as descriptive of the transition from the axioms to the postulates; (ii) whether the central identity between an experience and a maximally irreducible cause-effect structure is a constitutive a priori first principle; and (iii) the relation between Kant’s transcendental idealism and IIT’s own form of idealism. In the last part of the thesis, I want to contrast and assess the differences between IIT and Predictive Processing theories of consciousness, inspired by the Free Energy Principle (FEP). Even though, at the moment, I think the FEP framework employs some transcendental ideas in a specific sense, it fails to capture what is essential for consciousness: its intrinsicality. As I see it, the ground of this shortcoming is FEP’s notion of purely extrinsic information.
Fulbright Student Scholarship at University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA (Jan-Oct 2021), supervised by prof. Giulio Tononi
“Lucian Blaga” Scholarship at University of Turku, Finland (Oct 2019-Feb 2020), supervised by prof. Antti Revonsuo
Erasmus Scholarship at University of Lyon III, France (Jan-June 2016)
Chis-Ciure, R. (under review). Transcendental Consciousness: Integrated Information Theory and Constitutive A Priori Fist Principles, Synthese.
Ellia, F., Chis-Ciure, R. (under review). Consciousness and Complexity: Neurobiological Naturalism and Integrated Information Theory, Synthese.
Chis-Ciure, R., Ellia, F. (2021). Facing up to the Hard Problem as an Integrated Information Theorist, Foundations of Science, https:// doi.org/10.1007/s10699-020-09724-7