Job vacancy in the Department of Philosophy II at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany

Research Group of Prof. Dr. A. Newen

Postdoc Position (for 2 years) or PhD-position (for 3 years)

Start: 1st of October 2023 (at latest 1st of February 2024)

Deadline of application: 25th of July 2023.

Title of the Collaborative Project: “Constructing Scenarios of the Past: The Interdependence of Episodic Memory and the Self-Model”

Thematic Framework for the Position: Philosophy of Self-Consciousness/Self-Understanding and/or Philosophy of Memory/Functional Role of Episodic Memory

At the Institute of Philosophy II of the Ruhr-University in Bochum a position for a PhD student (65 % TVL) or a postdoc position (100% TVL) is offered in the area of philosophy of mind and cognition in the research group of Prof. Albert Newen. The position is available for a period of two years in the case of a postdoc and three years in the case of a PhD-candidate. The project will be situated in Bochum and developed in a close collaboration with researchers from other RUB departments in neuroscience, psychology and computational modelling. The candidates should be interested in working out a project within the thematic framework of the position determined by the research project described now:

Project Description

The leading questions of this philosophical project are: How is the self-model constituted by episodic memory recall and how is episodic memory recall shaped by the self-model? One general idea is that the self-model is constituted by memory processes. If we had no memories (including short-term memories), then there would be no content in the self-model. In the other direction, the self-model constrains episodic memory recall by demanding coherence with prior background beliefs in the self-model. How can we adequately account for the double role of the self-model, as being constituted by the memory systems and as constraining episodic recall? Furthermore: there is an open debate about the functional roles of episodic memory: how many are there, how they are interconnected and which role do they play in the self-memory dynamics? We propose to search for an answer within our general framework of a generative view of memory, namely that the recall of an autobiographical episode is based on triggering relevant memory traces which are used to construct a scenario by enrichment or modification through semantic information. One main challenge of this project is the adequate description of the whole Self-Memory System by also accounting for the functional roles of episodic memory. This theoretical project is realized in close collaboration with an additional empirical fMRI project (guided by Prof. Nikolai Axmacher in the same Research Group) in which we aim to measure the neural correlates of the influence of the self-model on episodic recall. Thus, an interdisciplinary perspective is essential for the project. Depending on the background and level (PhD or postdoc) the project can be jointly shaped and constrained.

Requirements for PhD applicants: The applicants for a PhD-position are expected to have an excellent M.A. (or Staatsexamen degree) in Philosophy. Their area of expertise should be in Philosophy of Mind, either including philosophy of self or philosophy of memory, and they should be familiar with at least one of the following areas: Cognitive Psychology, Artificial Intelligence or Cognitive Neuroscience.

Requirements for postdoc applicants: Candidates should have an outstanding PhD in philosophy and, in the ideal case, an additional degree in psychology, cognitive science, linguistics, psychiatry or neurosciences. Some substantial expertise in at least one of these areas will be expected. Furthermore, the candidate is expected to have proven expertise in the field of theories of self-consciousness or self understanding or concerning theories of episodic memory or in philosophy of psychiatry with some knowledge in philosophy of self or philosophy of memory.

Application documents: Please send your application to

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