History as a Science and the System of the Sciences: Phenomenological Investigations
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In this book, Michael Madary examines visual experience, drawing on both phenomenological and empirical methods of investigation. He finds that these two approaches—careful, philosophical description of experience and the science of vision—independently converge on the same result: Visual perception is an ongoing process of anticipation and fulfillment. Madary first makes the case for the descriptive premise, arguing that the phenomenology of vision is best described as on ongoing process of anticipation and fulfillment.
He discusses visual experience as being perspectival, temporal, and indeterminate; considers the possibility of surprise when appearances do not change as we expect; and considers the content of visual anticipation. Madary then makes the case for the empirical premise, showing that there are strong empirical reasons to model vision using the general form of anticipation and fulfillment. He presents a range of evidence from perceptual psychology and neuroscience, and reinterprets evidence for the two-visual-systems hypothesis.
Finally, he considers the relationship between visual perception and social cognition. An appendix discusses Husserlian phenomenology as it relates to the argument of the book. Madary argues that the fact that there is a convergence of historically distinct methodologies itself is an argument that supports his findings. With Visual Phenomenology , he creates an exchange between the humanities and the sciences that takes both methods of investigation seriously.
This book is a pleasure to read. The sharply focused narrative is packed with engaging discussions of a wide range of topics relating to visual perception. Defending the idea that visual perception is an ongoing process of anticipation and fulfillment, Madary draws from both phenomenological studies and vision science to provide new, important insights into how we see the world and others. His analysis is rich with the empirical and experiential facts. In contrast to many works on vision, this book is bright and clear and eminently readable.
Visual Phenomenology is a highly original, rigorously argued, and well-researched work. It is widely taken for granted in phenomenological circles that perception essentially involves both anticipation and fulfillment. The fact that the world appears to the mind means that the world bears objective sense for a subject. Thus, the very gist of the phenomenological account of subjectivity is that the issue of constitution of both consciousness and the reality of the objective world is constitutively — though not causally — interwoven.
It is not the real object, external to consciousness, that is constituted through the intentional act; nor is the intentional object constituted through inner mental representations cut off the external world. What then is constituted in living through the intentional experience of the real object is the intentional object.
The Confluence of Perceiving and Thinking in Consciousness Phenomenology
It has to be noted that Husserl does not ontologically dissociate the real object from the intentional one. The distinction between the two entities is based on an epistemological distinction, resulting from the bracketing of all judgments about ontological status of the realm external to consciousness. The point I wish to highlight in the present context is the following: In every instance of intentional consciousness, one must markedly distinguish between two correlative epistemic aspects. One aspect bears on the objective reference entertained by every mental state, i. At this point, it is about time to return to the question posed above regarding the object of the project of naturalizing consciousness.
Considering what has been said so far, we can identify the genuine object of naturalization as the perspectivity manifest in the intransitive, performative aspect of every conscious experience.
What is important to see here is that the subjective aspect of the experiential mode of being conscious cannot in principle be captured from the third-person description of a natural scientific account. It is true, that every consciously performed intentional act retrospectively and self-reflectively can be turned into a full-fledged intentional object by a succeding meta-representation.
This is the case when somebody reflects on his or her past jealousy or on the simple perceptual experience of having just seen red tomatos. But what are thus objectified are solely the referential properties or representational contents of the experience, not the specific subjective aspects of actually undergoing the experience. It is precisely this phenomenologically fine-grained distinction which constitutes the epistemological foundation upon which rests the distinction between first-person and third-person perspectives.
By analysing the intentional dimension of consciousness, phenomenology concerns itself with the relation between the experiential dimension of subjectivity and scientific obejctivity. Ultimately, transcendental phenomenology is concerned with the relation between the experientially immediate, subjective character of evidence of the first-person perspective and the empirically verifiable character of those objects of experience describable from the third-person perspective. A determinative account of the mind that reduces it to sheer causal dependencies or natural relations is unconceivable.
To the mind, there is no plain analogy within the descriptive framework of the natural sciences. Subjects cannot be exhaustively taken up with being nature, for otherwise, there would be nothing that would bestow nature with its very sense. Transcendental phenomenology investigates the primordial fact that it is the subjective performance of an intentional experience that constitutes the sense of appearance for both worldly objects and the place that the subject of experience occupies among these objects.
Following Husserl, we can conclude that the attempt to reduce this space of sense to the space of matters of fact misses the very point of human experience and cognition. So, the lesson to be drawn from the phenomenological account of consciousness in view of the project of naturalizing the mind is this: If naturalizing means to provide an explanatory framework of the intentional relation between the mind and the world that is capable of being integrated into the realist ontology of the natural sciences, then the naturalization of consciousness must fail in principle.
For the analysis of intentionality, the hallmark of a phenomenology of consciousness, marks the bounds of sense between the epistemic properties of how reality appears to the mind and the ontological properties of what this very reality is made of. Baker, Lynn R. Bennett, M. Oxford: Blackwell. Metzinger Ed. Bruzina, R.
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Versuch einer Kritik der logischen Vernunft. Den Haag: Nijhoff. Husserl, Edmund : Einleitung in die Logik und Erkenntnistheorie. Kripke, Saul A. Munitz Ed.
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Cambridge : Cambridge UP Martin, Wayne M. W: Smith. Thomasson, Eds. Oxford: Oxford UP. McIntyre, R. Tuedio: Perspectives on Mind. Zur Geschichte der Philosophie des Geistes. Petitot, J. Issues in Contemporary Phenomenology and Cognitive Science. Stanford: Stanford UP. Ist die Erste-Person-Perspektive naturalisierbar? In: Journal of Consciousness Studies 11 2.
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Philosophical Essays. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Smith, David W. Thomasson, Amie L. Varela, F. A methodological remedy for the hard problem. Stjernfelt Eds. Furthermore, I would like to thank the IWM for offering a Junior Visiting Fellowship and the Editors of this volume for their helpful comments on earlier versions. Chalmers offers a thorough critical survey of the specific types of reductive and non-reductive argumentation within the naturalism debate.
Nagel , 7. Every conscious act, according to Husserl, is referred to an object, and another way of saying this is that every act is by nature intentional. Consciousness is not a self-enclosed island, but essentially involves reference to an object. It is always consciousness of something. By such assertions, Husserl excludes the concept of consciousness that is locked within itself and knows only its immanent elements or states.
How intentionality achieves this, how objectivity becomes present to consciousness, is precisely the problem of constitution. Husserl , I refer to the contributions in the canonic volume ed. For a critical discussion of this project, see: Overgaard ; Zahavi a; Bruzina Zahavi b offers a critical evaluation of the metaphysical presuppositions of this debate from the perspective of Husserlian transcendental phenomenology.
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This article may not be reprinted or redistributed for commercial use without prior written permission from the author. Preferred citation: Szanto, Thomas. A Phenomenological Take on Naturalizing the Mind. In: History and Judgement, eds. MacLachlan and I. Search for:. Fellowship Programs Open Calls. Audio Files.
Introduction The problem of how to conceptualize the subjective aspects of human experience has been one of the centrepieces of any philosophical theory of the mind ever since Descartes.