Saturday, July 2, 2011

Against Misconstruals of Phenomenology


Many analytic philosophers treat experience as a medium through which to achieve knowledge of the world, where truth lies as the referent of our propositions.  None of this matches a phenomenological view, wherein experience cannot be treated as a medium.  We never go beyond experience to validate our references, because to do so would imply going beyond all sensibility whatsoever.  All the validations and experiments are still experiences, both de facto and de jure.  Classical phenomenologists, particularly Husserl, were concerned that there was no science of the phenomenon, roughly named "experience," despite its being the basis for all knowledge.  However, since experience is what is ultimately immediate to us, no account can include anything that is not present in experience.  The counter-claim to many analytics is that they replace both actual experience and a rigorous descriptive science of experience with a theory of experience, where the latter is accorded truth.  But this makes experience a concept rather than a living experience, and we might as well be living in Berkeley's world of floating ideas.  Dewey called this the "philosopher's fallacy."

For simplicity, I have simplified some terms, e.g., Husserl would more likely describe his work as a science of consciousness rather than "experience."

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