The phenomenology of action: a conceptual framework

Cognition. 2008 Apr;107(1):179-217. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2007.09.003. Epub 2007 Oct 24.


After a long period of neglect, the phenomenology of action has recently regained its place in the agenda of philosophers and scientists alike. The recent explosion of interest in the topic highlights its complexity. The purpose of this paper is to propose a conceptual framework allowing for a more precise characterization of the many facets of the phenomenology of agency, of how they are related and of their possible sources. The key assumption guiding this attempt is that the processes through which the phenomenology of action is generated and the processes involved in the specification and control of action are strongly interconnected. I argue in favor of a three-tiered dynamic model of intention, link it to an expanded version of the internal model theory of action control and specification, and use this theoretical framework to guide an analysis of the contents, possible sources and temporal course of complementary aspects of the phenomenology of action.

MeSH terms

  • Awareness
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Psychological Theory
  • Psychomotor Performance*