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- Phenomenological Psychology?
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But logical structure is expressed in language, either ordinary language or symbolic languages like those of predicate logic or mathematics or computer systems. It remains an important issue of debate where and whether language shapes specific forms of experience thought, perception, emotion and their content or meaning.
So there is an important if disputed relation between phenomenology and logico-linguistic theory, especially philosophical logic and philosophy of language as opposed to mathematical logic per se. Consider ontology. Phenomenology studies among other things the nature of consciousness, which is a central issue in metaphysics or ontology, and one that leads into the traditional mind-body problem. Husserlian methodology would bracket the question of the existence of the surrounding world, thereby separating phenomenology from the ontology of the world.
Now consider ethics. Phenomenology might play a role in ethics by offering analyses of the structure of will, valuing, happiness, and care for others in empathy and sympathy. Historically, though, ethics has been on the horizon of phenomenology. Husserl largely avoided ethics in his major works, though he featured the role of practical concerns in the structure of the life-world or of Geist spirit, or culture, as in Zeitgeist , and he once delivered a course of lectures giving ethics like logic a basic place in philosophy, indicating the importance of the phenomenology of sympathy in grounding ethics.
Beauvoir sketched an existentialist ethics, and Sartre left unpublished notebooks on ethics. However, an explicitly phenomenological approach to ethics emerged in the works of Emannuel Levinas, a Lithuanian phenomenologist who heard Husserl and Heidegger in Freiburg before moving to Paris. Allied with ethics are political and social philosophy. Sartre and Merleau-Ponty were politically engaged in s Paris, and their existential philosophies phenomenologically based suggest a political theory based in individual freedom. Sartre later sought an explicit blend of existentialism with Marxism.
Still, political theory has remained on the borders of phenomenology.
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Social theory, however, has been closer to phenomenology as such. Husserl analyzed the phenomenological structure of the life-world and Geist generally, including our role in social activity. Heidegger stressed social practice, which he found more primordial than individual consciousness. Alfred Schutz developed a phenomenology of the social world. Sartre continued the phenomenological appraisal of the meaning of the other, the fundamental social formation.
Moving outward from phenomenological issues, Michel Foucault studied the genesis and meaning of social institutions, from prisons to insane asylums. Classical phenomenology, then, ties into certain areas of epistemology, logic, and ontology, and leads into parts of ethical, social, and political theory. It ought to be obvious that phenomenology has a lot to say in the area called philosophy of mind. Yet the traditions of phenomenology and analytic philosophy of mind have not been closely joined, despite overlapping areas of interest.
So it is appropriate to close this survey of phenomenology by addressing philosophy of mind, one of the most vigorously debated areas in recent philosophy. The tradition of analytic philosophy began, early in the 20th century, with analyses of language, notably in the works of Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, and Ludwig Wittgenstein.
Then in The Concept of Mind Gilbert Ryle developed a series of analyses of language about different mental states, including sensation, belief, and will. Though Ryle is commonly deemed a philosopher of ordinary language, Ryle himself said The Concept of Mind could be called phenomenology. In effect, Ryle analyzed our phenomenological understanding of mental states as reflected in ordinary language about the mind. Centuries later, phenomenology would find, with Brentano and Husserl, that mental acts are characterized by consciousness and intentionality, while natural science would find that physical systems are characterized by mass and force, ultimately by gravitational, electromagnetic, and quantum fields.
Where do we find consciousness and intentionality in the quantum-electromagnetic-gravitational field that, by hypothesis, orders everything in the natural world in which we humans and our minds exist? That is the mind-body problem today. In short, phenomenology by any other name lies at the heart of the contemporary mind-body problem. After Ryle, philosophers sought a more explicit and generally naturalistic ontology of mind.
In the s materialism was argued anew, urging that mental states are identical with states of the central nervous system. A stronger materialism holds, instead, that each type of mental state is identical with a type of brain state. But materialism does not fit comfortably with phenomenology. For it is not obvious how conscious mental states as we experience them—sensations, thoughts, emotions—can simply be the complex neural states that somehow subserve or implement them. If mental states and neural states are simply identical, in token or in type, where in our scientific theory of mind does the phenomenology occur—is it not simply replaced by neuroscience?
And yet experience is part of what is to be explained by neuroscience. In the late s and s the computer model of mind set in, and functionalism became the dominant model of mind. On this model, mind is not what the brain consists in electrochemical transactions in neurons in vast complexes. Instead, mind is what brains do: their function of mediating between information coming into the organism and behavior proceeding from the organism. Thus, a mental state is a functional state of the brain or of the human or animal organism.
Since the s the cognitive sciences—from experimental studies of cognition to neuroscience—have tended toward a mix of materialism and functionalism. Gradually, however, philosophers found that phenomenological aspects of the mind pose problems for the functionalist paradigm too. Many philosophers pressed the case that sensory qualia—what it is like to feel pain, to see red, etc.
Consciousness has properties of its own. And yet, we know, it is closely tied to the brain. And, at some level of description, neural activities implement computation.
In the s John Searle argued in Intentionality and further in The Rediscovery of the Mind that intentionality and consciousness are essential properties of mental states. Searle also argued that computers simulate but do not have mental states characterized by intentionality. As Searle argued, a computer system has a syntax processing symbols of certain shapes but has no semantics the symbols lack meaning: we interpret the symbols.
However, there is an important difference in background theory. For Searle explicitly assumes the basic worldview of natural science, holding that consciousness is part of nature. But Husserl explicitly brackets that assumption, and later phenomenologists—including Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty—seem to seek a certain sanctuary for phenomenology beyond the natural sciences. And yet phenomenology itself should be largely neutral about further theories of how experience arises, notably from brain activity.
Since the late s, and especially the late s, a variety of writers working in philosophy of mind have focused on the fundamental character of consciousness, ultimately a phenomenological issue. Does consciousness always and essentially involve self-consciousness, or consciousness-of-consciousness, as Brentano, Husserl, and Sartre held in varying detail? If so, then every act of consciousness either includes or is adjoined by a consciousness-of-that-consciousness. Does that self-consciousness take the form of an internal self-monitoring? If so, is that monitoring of a higher order, where each act of consciousness is joined by a further mental act monitoring the base act?
Or is such monitoring of the same order as the base act, a proper part of the act without which the act would not be conscious? A variety of models of this self-consciousness have been developed, some explicitly drawing on or adapting views in Brentano, Husserl, and Sartre. The philosophy of mind may be factored into the following disciplines or ranges of theory relevant to mind:. Phenomenology offers descriptive analyses of mental phenomena, while neuroscience and wider biology and ultimately physics offers models of explanation of what causes or gives rise to mental phenomena.
Cultural theory offers analyses of social activities and their impact on experience, including ways language shapes our thought, emotion, and motivation. And ontology frames all these results within a basic scheme of the structure of the world, including our own minds. The ontological distinction among the form, appearance, and substrate of an activity of consciousness is detailed in D. Meanwhile, from an epistemological standpoint, all these ranges of theory about mind begin with how we observe and reason about and seek to explain phenomena we encounter in the world.
And that is where phenomenology begins. Moreover, how we understand each piece of theory, including theory about mind, is central to the theory of intentionality, as it were, the semantics of thought and experience in general. And that is the heart of phenomenology. Phenomenological issues, by any other name, have played a prominent role in very recent philosophy of mind. Amplifying the theme of the previous section, we note two such issues: the form of inner awareness that ostensibly makes a mental activity conscious, and the phenomenal character of conscious cognitive mental activity in thought, and perception, and action.
This subjective phenomenal character of consciousness is held to be constitutive or definitive of consciousness. What is the form of that phenomenal character we find in consciousness? A prominent line of analysis holds that the phenomenal character of a mental activity consists in a certain form of awareness of that activity, an awareness that by definition renders it conscious.
Since the s a variety of models of that awareness have been developed. As noted above, there are models that define this awareness as a higher-order monitoring, either an inner perception of the activity a form of inner sense per Kant or inner consciousness per Brentano , or an inner thought about the activity. A further model analyzes such awareness as an integral part of the experience, a form of self-representation within the experience. Again, see Kriegel and Williford eds.
A somewhat different model comes arguably closer to the form of self-consciousness sought by Brentano, Husserl, and Sartre. That form of awareness is held to be a constitutive element of the experience that renders it conscious. This reflexive awareness is not, then, part of a separable higher-order monitoring, but rather built into consciousness per se.
On the modal model, this awareness is part of the way the experience unfolds: subjectively, phenomenally, consciously.
This model is elaborated in D. Whatever may be the precise form of phenomenal character, we would ask how that character distributes over mental life. What is phenomenal in different types of mental activity? Here arise issues of cognitive phenomenology. Or is phenomenality present also in cognitive experiences of thinking such-and-such, or of perception bearing conceptual as well as sensory content, or also in volitional or conative bodily action?
These issues are explored in Bayne and Montague eds. A restrictive view holds that only sensory experience has a proper phenomenal character, a what-it-is-like. Seeing a color, hearing a tone, smelling an odor, feeling a pain—these types of conscious experience have a phenomenal character, but no others do, on this view. A somewhat more expansive view would hold that perceptual experience has a distinctive phenomenal character even where sensation is informed by concepts.
How phenomenology can help us learn from the experiences of others | SpringerLink
Now, a much more expansive view would hold that every conscious experience has a distinctive phenomenal character. Classical phenomenologists like Husserl and Merleau-Ponty surely assumed an expansive view of phenomenal consciousness. Even Heidegger, while de-emphasizing consciousness the Cartesian sin! Since intentionality is a crucial property of consciousness, according to Brentano, Husserl, et al. But it is not only intentional perception and thought that have their distinctive phenomenal characters.
In Bayne and Montague eds. But now a problems remains. Intentionality essentially involves meaning, so the question arises how meaning appears in phenomenal character. Importantly, the content of a conscious experience typically carries a horizon of background meaning, meaning that is largely implicit rather than explicit in experience.
But then a wide range of content carried by an experience would not have a consciously felt phenomenal character. So it may well be argued. Here is a line of phenomenological theory for another day. What is Phenomenology? The Discipline of Phenomenology 3. From Phenomena to Phenomenology 4. The History and Varieties of Phenomenology 5. Phenomenology and Ontology, Epistemology, Logic, Ethics 6. Phenomenology and Philosophy of Mind 7. The Discipline of Phenomenology The discipline of phenomenology is defined by its domain of study, its methods, and its main results.
To begin an elementary exercise in phenomenology, consider some typical experiences one might have in everyday life, characterized in the first person: I see that fishing boat off the coast as dusk descends over the Pacific. I hear that helicopter whirring overhead as it approaches the hospital.
Phenomenology Explained: From Experience to Insight
I am thinking that phenomenology differs from psychology. I wish that warm rain from Mexico were falling like last week. I imagine a fearsome creature like that in my nightmare. I intend to finish my writing by noon. I walk carefully around the broken glass on the sidewalk. I stroke a backhand cross-court with that certain underspin.
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