( Mon Eve 5-31-2010)
(Minor changes in punctuation mine)
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Phenomenology is a branch of philosophy which tries to reverse the pernicious influence of preconceived notions and return the mind to a blank slate before addressing typical philosophical problems. Dermot Moran wrote an Introduction to Phenomenology which was published in the year 2000. Moran remarks on the opening page #1 that "... phenomenology, as a new way of doing philosophy, was first formally announced by Edmund Husserl in the Introduction to the Second Volume of the First Edition of his Logical Investigations, 1901. ... Discussing the need for a wide-ranging theory of knowledge, he speaks of 'the phenomenology of the experiences of thinking and knowing' ". Moran goes on to quote an opening paragraph from Husserl from the later 1913 edition which showcased the growth of the young field.
On page 2 Moran gives several insightful passages to the effect that Husserl saw himself as a radical founder of a new branch of philosophy, and apparently the consensus of philosophy historians still agrees with him today. Moran takes care however to describe some powerful precursor influences by the less known Franz Brentano, who provided the direct inspirational influence to Edmund Husserl.
Paraphrasing Moran's remarks on page 3, Edmund Husserl in his later years felt he was a "leader without followers" as his students branched off into their own directions. Among the most important direct successor was Martin Heidegger. "After the publication of Heidegger's Being and Time (1927), phenomenology came to be understood almost exclusively in terms of the combined contribution of both Husserl and Heidegger". This was the form that was the inspiration for the third generation in Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, and Derrida.
Moran remarks on page 3 that "Because of this very diversity, phenomenology, despite its pervasive influence in European philosophy, is, bothy as a method and a general movement, now little understood outside a narrow circle of specialists, eclipsed on the European Mainland and in North America by various subsequent movements, including structuralism, post-structuralism, deconstruction, and more recently, concerns with multi-culturalism and postmodernism generally, as well as analytic philosophy." Also on page 3, he has "portrayed phenomenology as a thoroughlyu modernist outlook which has its beginnings in the efforts of Franz Brentano (1838-1917) to supply a philosophical foundation for the newly emerged science of psychology as the domain of ... self evidence." Moran adds some notes from page 4 that there were some other precursor influences here and there, but the main strand of the movement was "begun and elaborated by Husserl and then radically transformed by Heidegger".
"What is Phenomenology"?
- Radical way of Philosophy ; Practice rather than System
- Describe Phenomena as it appears to the experiencer
- Discard outdated stray connotions that most people have built up
Franz Brentano's Precursor efforts
In his lectures on Descriptive Psychology (1889) "Brentano employed the phrase ... 'descriptive phenomenology' to differentiate this science from 'genetic' or physiological psychology." (Page8)
To be sure we are seeing the new rise of Physiological Psychology, but once the neuro-biological features have been handled, the mind's impression of the conceptual world must then be addressed. Douglas Hofstadter did some important work here, proposing that once past the low level of electro-chemical firings, the mind operates on its own level.
From Moran's page 9: "Right from the outset, Husserl laid great stress on phenomenology's 'principle of presuppositionlessness' ... the claim to have discarded philosophical theorizing in favor of careful description of phenomena themselves, to be attentive only to what is 'given' in intuition ... the clarion cry of phenomenology, 'back to the things themselves' ... (was) first announced in Husserl's Logical Investigations".
Page 10: "(It was well known that when you 'see' that 2+2 = 4, you have a clear intuition.) Husserl thought, however, that similar intuitive fulfilments occurred in many types of experience, and were not just restricted to the truths of mathematics. When you see a blackbird in the tree outside your window under normal conditions, you also have an intuition which is fulfilled by the certainty of the bodily presence of the blackbird presenting itself to me. ... This concept of 'originary presentive intuition' is at the core of Husserl's philosophy. "
Page 11: " ' Givenness' sums up the view that all experience is experience 'to someone', according to a particular manner of experiencing. There is a 'dative' element in the experience, a 'to whom' (nature) of experience."