Glossary of Phenomenological Pragmatism

This is a glossary of terms for my research program in pragmatic phenomenology / phenomenological pragmatism.    My project is a contemporary derivation of John Dewey's work as read through Thomas Alexander, Jim Garrison, James Gouinlock, Victor Kestenbaum, and others.  The glossary will be helpful for those interested in peering into the depths of Deweys thought, which is often omitted by contemporary commentaries, and into my own development of it.

For everyone who is curious, I can provide far, far more citations, reference, etc. with little trouble.  The "MW" and such citations are to Dewey's collected works using the standard critical edition notation.  A warning: the technical terms in this glossary reference each other, and thus the glossary must be read as a whole.  Terms that are entirely my own and not Dewey's are marked.


The Reflex Arc Concept Mechanic

A habit is an enduring pattern of activity or “memory” in a very general sense. Its primary denotations include the cosmic, biological, behavioral, and conscious. In its cosmic denotation, which owes the most to C.S. Peirce, “the very meaning of habit is limitation to a certain average range of fluctuation” (EW 4:163). In the biological sense, a “habit” is the definite form of underlying indefinite biological impulses that integrates them into unified activity (cf MW 14). An “impulse” provides the drive, while “habit” provides the organization, and thus a habituated impulse is a “will to its own power” (MW 14:98). Behaviorally, “habit” refers to self-similar patterns of thought or conduct, and this denotation is best understood sociologically or social psychologically. In its conscious denotation, “habit” refers to a complex of processes, but principally to how a felt quality is associated to a recollected meaning, and the persistence and availability of that meaning.
(See Human Nature and Conduct)

A habit is the capacity of the human organism to reconstruct (actively mediate) its environment. Habits are processes of integration by which the body incorporates or embodies an environment as situation. 
(See Horizons of Feeling)

Character is the total interpenetration of habit.
(See Dewey's 1932 Ethics)

Habitual Body / Body of Habits
(Hills-Alexander and Kestenbaum derivative)
Habits as a whole are the organismic basis for the totality of ways that an individual may act upon the environment. Since habitual activity in interpretive, it is also the totality of modes of interpreting the environment. This is a phenomenological version of Dewey’s “character.”

There is no faculty of the will, choice, or reason. Choice is a release of energy due to sufficient reintegration of disrupted habit (MW 14:134). Choice implicates "character," not conscious choice or cognition.
(See Human Nature and Conduct)

Reasonableness is the effective immanent organization of desire per "emotional sensitiveness" (MW 14:137-138).  The organization is a "quality of effective relationships among desires" (MW 14:135).  Reasonableness is habituated from the environment; the individual is reasonable only if the environment is so (cf Dewey's The Public and Its Problems).

Agency is the immanent determination of the object of desire (or so-ordered activity).  Agency is primarily attributed to the situation and secondarily to the human being.  Agency within the scope of conscious experience implies a unity and integrity of character such that choice is conscious rather than autonomous.
(see also Gouinlock, Dewey's Philosophy of Value, 282-286)

Desire is the organic ordered and telic activity of the human organism, or motivated purposiveness.  It is a process from which characteristic events emerge, e.g.,  paradigmatic case is "conscious desire."  "Desire" is a synonymous for the human process of valuation.
        event--"felt emotion"/"conscious desire"/"desire"        
(see also Gouinlock, Dewey's Philosophy of Value and Dewey's Theory of Valuation)

Conscious Desire
Conscious desire occurs when ongoing activity meets environmental/habitual resistence; conscious desire emerges as an affective response to signal a problematic situation.  "Conscious desire" connotes a  telos while "affect" and "felt emotion" do not.

(Hills-Alexander derivative)
Potentiality (dunamis) includes a 1) capacity, 2) activity or kinesis, and 3) realization to actuality or entelechy that I simply call a telos.

Feeling is a realization of a potentiality by definition (LW 1:204, 227).
(See Dewey, Experience and Nature)

(Hills--derivative of Dewey and Alexander)
Feeling as a process is a an activity, and as an event, felt quality, is a concrete realization. Feeling is the prereflective sensitivity to the structure of a situation that presents tacit environmental involvement as felt quality. This definition of feeling temporalizes and historicizes the definition of "potentiality."
(see also Alexander, Horizons of Feeling; Rosenthal, Speculative Pragmatism)

Felt Quality
(quality in its phenomenological denotation)
Felt quality is a distinct event in which the relatively passive sensitivity of feeling meets sufficient resistance to become felt quality.  Felt quality is also a First of a Second in Peircean terminology (cf Dewey's article on Peirce).  The particular quality is determined by the characteristic differentiae of the disrupted habitual coordination (cf Dewey's "Emotion," Garrison's "Emotion," or Hills' Immanent Transcendence).
(see also Dewey, "Qualitative Thought"; Experience and Nature)

(conscious experience)
Feeling comprises the lowest level of conscious awareness, as consciousness is "on the psycho-physical level … the totality of actualized immediate qualitative differences, or 'feelings’" (LW 1:229).

Conscious experience
(Hills-Dewey derivative)
Conscious experience is the phenomenal or qualitative representation of underlying biological and environmental processes.  The quality is a combination of biological endowment and habituation, whereas the latter includes symbolic systems such as culture. Conscious experience or “consciousness” is an event and activity, not a substantive, and is low-level mind.

(linguistic and/or cognitive consciousness, reflective experience)
"Mind" is the "actualized apprehensions of meanings, that is, ideas," and therefore "consciousness" is not identical to "mind," since the latter is discursive and beyond the scope of the present analysis (LW 1:229). 

(Hills--Dewey derivative)
Mind is the explicit representation and interpretation of the semiotic system of conscious experience. It implies attention, cognition, and nascent reflection. Mind differs from conscious experience per se in that mind is explicitly linguistic, which is to say that in mind one may alter the semiotic system by which a given quality is associated with past experience so as to alter its meaning. That is, we may change perspectives, languages, or symbolic notations and thereby reinterpret conscious experience and its meaning. Mind or reflective experience is an event and activity, and not  substantive.

Emotion is a modification of feeling that is a focusing, affective response to disruptively tensive relationships.  As a distinct event, it is paradigmatically an assertive, affective summons to  reconstructed, focal experience.  Phenomenologically, it is in a foreground/background relationship with feeling.
        event--"felt emotion"
(see also Alexander, Horizons of Feeling; Rosenthal, Speculative Pragmatism; Kestenbaum, Phenomenological Sense of John Dewey)

Felt Emotion
(affect, desire, felt difficulty, etc)
Felt emotion is an event in which the activity of emotion registers in focal attention as felt.
Has a genus-species relationship with felt tension (species).


A process is a dynamic, inter-connected series of events. Temporal succession is non-linear and non-deterministic, thus "series" should not be understood in its mathematical sense.



Triadic Model of Consciousness
Conscious experience occurs through a continual triadic event of activity, resistance, and presentation.  In short, resistance to ongoing activity constitutes conscious presentation of the environment.  Resistance and thereby presentation occur through a dynamic transaction of the organism and the environment, the whole of which is a situation.  Resistance is first felt and becomes sense, object, and thought depending on the situational conditions. 

Existential environmental condition that resists ongoing habitual activity.
(See also Dewey, Logic)

The feeling of resistance.  Tension is existential, while tension is qualitative.
(See also Dewey, Logic)

Consciously experiencing a quality/phenomenon.

Associative Structure
The anticipatory pre-objective "horizon" of the habitual body.  It is given in feeling and founds the imaginative horizon.
        phenomenological (at the level of the body)
(see also Dewey, "Qualitative Thought" and Kestenbaum, Phenomenological Sense)




Probability Structure

Emergent Telos

1.  extension of activity
2.  temporally complex event
3.  projected possibilities of action
extends activity into the possible
(Alexander, “Pragmatic Imagination,” “Moral Imagination,” Horizons of Feeling)

(Hills-Alexander derivative)
Imagination is the activity of giving meaning to conscious experience.  This is primarily the activity of habitual projection in conscious experience.  Imagination projects an imaginative horizon that includes the momentary comprehensive meaning of an immediate object or situation.
“the persistent operation of a prior object which has been incorporated in effective habit” (MW 14:40). 
(Hills, “Limited Horizons,” Immanent Transcendence)

(Hills-Alexander derivative)
(imaginative horizon)
The imaginative horizon is the anticipatory limit (horizon) of conscious experience.  is the complete, momentary habitual possibilities for action given momentary possibilities of (mediated) stimuli.
from “Limited Horizons,”
“Since the meaning of an object is the range of anticipated consequences of its enaction, the horizon includes the momentary comprehensive meaning of an immediate object.”
(see also Alexander, Horizons of Feeling and various articles)

An object is a localized field of foiled anticipation that has recoiled as (consciousness of) some disruptively tensive region of experience.  It's qualitative character is given per past habituations (experiences), present situation (e.g., perception)/context, anticipation (future).  An object need not be attended to.
        process--"objection," or "objective experience"
"An object, in other terms, is a series of qualities treated as potentialities of specific existential consequences." (Deledalle, Histoire de la philosophie americaine, 158)
(see also MW 14, Kestenbaum, Phenomenological Sense; Rosenthal, Specualtive Pragmatism)

Immediate Object
An object that is immediately experienced in primary experience.
(cf Dewey's "The Postulate of Immediate Empiricism," The Evolutionary Method in Ethics I&II)


An idea is an attentively apprehended possibility for action thematized as meaningful.  An attentively apprehended object becomes an idea.  The process of converting an object into an idea is idealization.

A reflectively-apprehended end-in-view that guides activity.

(see also Dewey, 1932 Ethics)

Ideal Object
An ideal object taken as a sign to unify underlying disrupted habit.  Its quality is the phenomenal presentation of relatively unified habit that cannot be phenomenally present.  That is, an ideal object is a phenomenal sign for the physiological, with which it necessarily shares a real relation.  The ideal object is presentative, not representative.
 (see also Dewey, "Desire and Intelligence," in Human Nature and Conduct and Hills, Immanent Transcendence)

The process by which disrupted habit becomes an idea, i.e., becomes reflectively (attentively and cognitively) apprehended.  This is also the process of a feeling-emotive unification of disrupted habit according to a theme (an ideal object as end-in-view).
(see also Hills, Immanent Transcendence)

Pragmatic Phenomenology / Phenomenological Pragmatism
The study of the logic of conscious phenomena.  Pragmatic phenomenology is the study how habit informs experience, e.g., how the pre-objective phase informs the objective phase of experience.  This phenomenology, per Dewey's theory of continuity that implicates process metaphysics, connects conscious phenomena to the prior phases of the organic process that are not experienced as phenomena, not given, and therefore illegitimate in Husserlian phenomenology.