Monday, April 11, 2005

More phenomenology


This is fairly interpretive - I'm not sure if I'm reporting canon here, or just my spin on it.

Husserl intended phenomenology to be a sound basis for science - that is to say he thought it could be used as a primitive grounding for all logical truth, that phenomenological claims were in keeping with scientific ones, and ultimately that something like the scientific method would be used in concert with an understanding of the phenomenal nature of experience to say more accurately what was true about the world.

He also looked for a general method of "coming up with" new scientific ideas. His "eidetic reduction" was all about trying to take experience and finding the proper facts without having to wait for inspiration to give us a theory about what might or might not be true. It is not clear to me whether he believed that reduction *was* that general method, or whether reduction was a special method by which we could test a theory, but wanted a general method for creating theories.

In either case, the basics of phenomenology seem to me to be true. Phenomenal experience is all that we are really aware of. Before our ideas of objectivity, we have phenomenal experience. This experience is made possible by transcendental consciousness - that is to say *our* consciousness, which functions before we understand what it is, and has essence beyond possibility of complete understanding.

This can be contrasted with immanent consciousness (as I presume it is called), which is our experience of our own consciousness, and our conceptions about what it is, and how it works.

The traditional analytic philosopher holds that before consciousness exists reality. From reality, consciousness arises. And because we can know all about reality, consciousness is really no mystery. Sufficient understanding of science could one day completely describe minds, according to the Analyst. Husserl's contention is that we have jumped away from the true starting point of consciousness. Before our conceptions of reality, we have transcendent consciousness, and our understanding of objective reality comes only later.

He also *seems* to claim that we can never have full objective knowledge, or that external reality has a transcendental aspect which can never be made immanent. I am not certain if this follows inevitably from the theory, or whether this is an act of faith.

More later.



Blogger Atra-Hasis said...

Husserl's reduction (which is slightly different from the epoche) isn't the method of phenomenology, it's just the first step. It ensures that one has made the move to the transcendental realm. One in the transcendental realm one must make use of imaginative variation to gain access to the eidetic elements in conscious experience. I'm hesitant to say more, since Husserl often changed his position on what exactly the method entailed. He also presented three ways to the transcendental reduction (not just the Cartesian way).

4/12/2005 10:57:00 PM  

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