Term Paper: Husserl, Language &amp Consciousness: Reconciliation

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[. . .] Phenomenology has lent itself particularly well to applications in psychology, psychiatry, and in the behavioral sciences generally. Furthermore, phenomenology has found its way into logic and mathematics, literary criticism, law and jurisprudence, and other disciplines. (Koestenbaum, 1967)

Koestenbaum states that in order that Husserl's view be made intelligible "one must grant a number of important but suppressed premises. Attacks, actual and possible ones from non-phenomenological sources are usually directed at these suppressed premises. No serious attempt it made here to defend these premises but pointing out their existence facilitate she elucidation of Husserl's doctrines." (1967)

Koestenbaum states that the first premise must be "…that there are two current philosophical methodologies: philosophy is either the description and analysis of language, or correlatively that of experience. The possibility and justification of these matters are rarely studies in isolation. Much contemporary philosophy is being carried on without a clear understanding of this difference. In general, phenomenology -- which is entrenched at present in the continent of Europe and from which ensued the burgeoning of existentialism -- pursues an experience-oriented methodology; whereas positivism, naturalism, and the philosophies of analysis -- more typical of England and America -- follow language-oriented methods" (Koestenbaum, 1967)

In order that one understand Husserl it is necessary that first one "grant that this distinction is actual and legitimate." (Koestenbaum, 1967) The second premise is consequent to the first. It establishes the logical and ontological primacy of experience over language. The phenomenological method is the descriptive analysis of experience. The necessary presupposition, therefore, is that language embodies experiences, i.e., that the structure of language is parallel to and representative of experience." (Koestenbaum, 1967)

I. Language Oriented Method

The language oriented method contains a function of philosophy that serves to demonstrate that the relation between "…philosophic problems -- or "puzzles," as these are often called -- and both the grammar and function of language. The assumption inherent in the semantic approach is that at least some, and perhaps all, philosophical problems are the logical consequences of quasi-grammatical errors or of ambiguities in the use of language." (Koestenbaum, 1967)

Koestenbuam states that Husserl must be understood "…to assume that language reflects the structure of experience, or, if it does not, that we can examine experience independently of language. It follows that the analysis of experiences, with all their subtleties, is the presuppositionless beginning of philosophy." It is important that one not restrict their efforts to the "simple, the clear and the distinct." (Koestenbaum, 1967) Instead the analysandum is stated to be comprised by "obscure, fuzzy and cloudy clusters of experience." (Koestenbaum, 1967) Koestenbaum states that the fact that the experiences under analysis are "often vague" does not "diminish their certainty." (1967)

II. Importance of Experiences and Clusters of Experience

According to Koestenbaum it is not possible to "deny the existence nor the importance of these experiences." (1967) Art is reported to explore experiences "that are as vague as they are certain and important. Metaphors and numerous other devices thus needed to effect communication and expression in art. Therefore, the fourth premise is stated to be that "certain vague experiences must and can be analyzed because they are both certain and important." (Koestenbaum, 1967) Koestenbaum reports a tendency in non-phenomenological approaches "has been to ignore any experience that cannot be placed into sharp focus by terming these meaningless or relegating these to the status of 'mere' emotive ejaculations." (1967) Koestenbuam writes that since philosophy "begins in media res, it is sound logic and necessary in practice to analyze some terms and their corresponding experiences without prior definitions." (1967)

Koestenbaum states that the "paradox of definition" is such that must be "invoked in Husserl's discussion of the ego, the 'I', consciousness, world, other minds, etc. . Regardless of the complexities of the problem suggested here, its satisfactory solution must be assumed in order to make sense of Husserl's view -- as well as of almost any other philosophical position. Husserl frequently uses the term "transcendental." The penultimate premise, therefore, is that transcendental terms are non-contradictory and thus meaningful. The notion of transcendental terms springs from scholastic philosophy, and later assumed particular importance in the philosophy of Kant. In general, a term is used in a transcendental sense if it applies or refers to all of experienced being. If we make the additional distinction between "experienced being" and "unexperienced being," then the term "transcendent" refers to characteristics of unexperienced being, whereas the term "transcendental" designates properties pervasive in experienced being alone. However, in Husserl's later, idealistically oriented writings, this ontological bifurcation of being is questioned, and even rejected. In that case, a transcendental term designates a ubiquitous property of being per se, unqualified and absolute." (Koestenbaum, 1967)

Koestenbaum states that Husserl has demonstrated that "descriptive research can modify, and in fact has modified, theoretical views in epistemology and metaphysics." (1967) In addition, Husserl, "addresses himself, through the phenomenological epoch…to this task of description" which is reported to be the "prerequisite and matrix for all philosophic problems." (Koestenbaum, 1967) It is reported that the "familiar difference between, on the one hand, watching and enjoying a movie, and, on the other, later analyzing its aesthetic, technical and sociological aspects and implications may serve to illustrate the distinction between a natural or straightforward experience and that same experience bracketed." (Koenstenbaum, 1967) Koenstenbaum relates the following:

"When I watch and the film I am "one with it"; I am engaged and involved. When, later, I analyze it, I distance myself from the straightforward experience of the film; I observe the film independently of my emotional involvement and identification with it. Criticism depends on the successful exercise of this latter attitude. When I bracket the reality of the film's contents by detaching myself from it, I consider the film as a film and not as a real state of affairs in which I participate. While engaged, I think of the events in the film as real: I view these as happening to me or around me. When distanced, I see the film for what it really is: an illusion. Film criticism invariably involves bracketing. Bracketing our natural involvement with the film is not only necessary for the critical appraisal of the film, but it also enables us to analyze something that is closer to us than the object of apprehension: our personal mode of perceiving and reacting to the film. We can focus on the act and mode of perceiving as well as on the film itself. The examination of the act of perceiving -- as will be discussed later -- discloses an intimate relation between the act (the cogito) and the object (the cogitatum). The act synthesizes the object. The object, in other words, is said to be an intention: the object is meant and intended by the act. The act of apprehension constructs, fashions, constitutes the object. The precise nature of this process -- central to epistemology -- is discussed in Husserl's theory of intentionality. Eventually, through what Husserl calls successive "reductions," the focus can retreat even further from the objects (cogitata), behind the acts (cogitations), and rest on the ego itself (ego). When the ultimate locus of apprehension and subjectivity has been reached, we understand and experience the true source of knowledge and constitution: the transcendental Ego." (Koenstenbaum, 1967)

The Fifth Logical Investigation which is subtitled "International Experiences and their Contents" is the attempt of Husserl to "sort out ambiguities in Bretano's descriptive psychological analysis of our conscious acts, their contents and objects. Husserl begins by specifying what he means by consciousness, bracketing discussion of the relation of conscious acts to an ego, and focusing exclusively on the intentional character of conscious experiences design from Bretano's characterization of intentionality as misleading and inadequate, trapped inside the old Cartesian dualism of subject and object and with all the problems inherent in that representationalist account of what Brentano called 'presentation' and goes on to address what he calls 'cardinal problems of phenomenology' namely the doctrine of judgment…" (Koenstenbaum, 1967)

It is stated that Husserl "is especially critical of the unresolved ambiguities in Bretano's foundational concept of presentation and carefully differentiates between the many sense of the term stressing however that logic must decide which meaning of presentation is most appropriate for its own needs. Logic does not follow linguistic usage as logical definition is a kind of artifice." (Koenstenbaum, 1967)

III. Older Logical Tradition Used in New Global Distinction

Husserl is stated to "draw on the older logical tradition in offering a "new global distinction between the matter and the quality of intentional acts. Acts of different quality may have the same matter. Not all of our experiences are intention in the sense of presenting something to our attention. According to Husserl, sensations in themselves are not intentional, they are not the object which we intend, rather they accompany the intention act and fill it out. Sensations belong to the matter (and are grasped as such only in… [END OF PREVIEW]

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