Phenomenology: From Classical to Contemporary Approaches (abstracts)

PhilosWhitehead‘s Narration of the Crisis

This paper examines Alfred North Whitehead‘s treatment of the ―crisis of the European sciences,‖ in contradistinction to Edmund Husserl‘s analysis. For this task, I rely primarily on Whitehead‘s Science and the Modern World. Whitehead‘s analysis of the crisis of Western science and civilization is in many ways similar to Husserl, focusing as he does on the overextension of the mathematical instruments of scientific analysis.

Yet, Whitehead differs from Husserl in that he attempts to repair and revitalize the scientific conception of reality according to his account of organic event, while Husserl argues instead for the need to ground all knowledge in transcendental subjectivity. While most scholarly attention has focused on Whitehead‘s positive philosophical doctrines, I hope in this paper to suggest the vital relevance of his treatment of the same social problems that motivated the late Husserl.
Author: Ben Schewel (MPhil)

Trust as a Matter of Truth

Many philosophical accounts investigating the issue of trust, despite their differences, tend to convene on one broad claim: that trust acts as the bedrock for so many of our human activities; it stands at the core of interpersonal relationships, of community cohesion, and without trust society and governments would unravel. Though various philosophers have examined trust, attempting to elucidate the nature of this element basic to human life, a comprehensive understanding of the nature and the role of trust remains elusive. Thus, the activity of trust calls for greater philosophical attention.

I approach this debate from a phenomenological perspective, posing the question, is trust a matter of truth? While it was not Robert Sokolowski‘s stated project to elaborate the role of trust, I show that his phenomenology, nonetheless, contains two implicit accounts of trust (‗elementary trust‘ and ‗discursive trust‘). As Sokolowski unfolds the essential relationship between rational thought and language, trust appears in relation to the human inclination towards truth. In this way, Sokolowski provides a unique framework with which to reconsider, via the movement of truth, the origin and role of trust in human life.
Author: Kristyn Brown (MPhil)

An Approach to the Concept of the Manifold in Husserl‘s Transcendental and Formal Logic

The duty of philosophy, under Husserl‘s early logic approach, seems to be the finding of the conditions of possibility for every (formal) component of a system to exist within a coherent whole called science: a concept from mathematics, the Manifold, will be the core issue within a wide effort of grounding science upon the possible formal complete systems in which laws, and relations according to these laws, are revealed. How is then understood this theory of theories? What place does this theory of theories holds within the whole of Husserl‘s philosophy? The proposal is to properly approach the main concepts of the theory to gain critical understanding of its place and function on early phenomenology.
Author: Juan Gabriel Osorio Gil (MA)

Anxiety is Not Without an Object

Anxiety raises serious questions in regards to the phenomenological conception of perceptual awareness: what is the particular mode of ‘givenness‘ proper to the experience in anxiety? Are we right to understand it as a sort of object-less fear? And if so, where does the experience stem from?

The existentialist tradition responds to these problems by means of a deep metaphysical reflection on human freedom; the conclusion drawn by Heidegger and others is that anxiety is the disclosure – not of another ‘mundane object,‘ such as an object of fear –, but the disclosure of the Being of Da-sein. The work of Jacques Lacan offers a novel way of addressing the perplexing philosophical problem of anxiety‘s hazy ‗object-relation.‘

The formula that he puts forward, and which I shall explore in the presentation is: ‘anxiety is not without an object.‘ In order to come to terms with Lacan‘s idea, I will show how he breaks free from two common conceptions regarding the experience of anxiety: the phenomenological understanding of objects as ‘intentional correlates;‘ and the conception of authentic existential subjectivity.

From here, I shall demonstrate how Lacan conceives of anxiety in relation to our experience, not as free human subjects, but as subjects of desire. I will show how the object‘ at work in anxiety concerns our identity as subjects for the desire of the Other. This is not an identity that we choose or which we can assume in existential authenticity – it is an identity which escapes us and troubles us, an identity which seizes us with a frightful sense of certainty.
Author: Brian Robertson (PhD)

From Pathos to Pathology: Jean-Paul Sartre‘s Imaginative Consciousness and its Implications for Michel Henry‘s Pure Immanence

It is the purpose of this paper to contribute to an ongoing debate concerning the relationship between the works of Jean-Paul Sartre and Michel Henry, and to offer a new reading that challenges the status quo. It is claimed here that any attempt to make allies of Sartre and Henry, or indeed to go so far as to maintain that Sartre is always already Henryan, is fundamentally mistaken, and that a right-minded and suitably thorough investigation will reveal not only significant differences, but also the prospect of a strong critique of Henry from a Sartrean perspective.

Ultimately, this paper will unearth a critique of Henry from Sartre, whereby the former‘s account of subjectivity – entirely immanent to itself, individualized by way of its self-feeling, with no appeal to or need of anything outside itself – becomes pure imaginary; a pathological reaction to exteriority rather than the ground of it. From a Sartrean perspective, Henry‘s subject is imaginative, thus derived, and this compromises his entire ontological project (a project that seeks to ground intentional analyses by articulating an originary revelation, the immanence of subjective life).

More than this, by questioning such an influential recent articulation of the phenomenological enterprise, this paper engages critically with the very course of contemporary phenomenology, and makes a problem of the effort (common to ‗second generation‘ phenomenologists, including Jean-Luc Marion) to think an absolute and originary mode of receptivity; that is to say, one that is wholly unconditioned and absolved of any horizontality, visibility, and worldliness.
Author: Ian Coleman (PhD)

The Pre-Subjective Origin of Fascination: Grounding Roger Caillois‘ ‘Diagonal Science‘ in Merleau-Ponty‘s Phenomenology of Ego-Constitution

In his essay, Méduse et Compagnie, Roger Caillois develops a proposal for what he calls ‘Diagonal science‘: he suggests that human artwork, superstition, and folklore ought to be understood, not as radically unique human contributions, but rather, in a continuum of a type of animal behavior that he broadly designates by the term mimetism.‘ Caillois‘ hypothesis is, however, a contentious one in the history of philosophy.

His justification thereof is, moreover, far from satisfactory; he presents his position as merely one of the possible ways of interpreting the apparent similarities between animal and human mimetic behavior, which might otherwise simply be understood as anthropomorphic projections onto an indifferent reality.

If Caillois‘ proposal were found to be sound, however, it could shed light on how and why it is the case that human subjects are endlessly fascinated by certain, seemingly primitive‘ themes such as disguise, invisibility, and the ‘evil eye.‘ In this paper, I will attempt to ground diagonal science in Merleau-Ponty‘s Les relations avec autrui chez l’enfant.

I will focus on the latter‘s discussion, no doubt inspired by Freud‘s Civilization and Its Discontents and Beyond the Pleasure Principle, of pre-egoic lived-unity as the primordial ground for subject-constitution. I suggest that this harmony can serve as a possible, non-anthropomorphic basis for Caillois‘ hypothesis about the continuity between animal and human behavior. It, moreover, establishes a mechanism for explaining ‗primitive‘ fascinations as the correlates of failures to adequately differentiate between self and other in the process of subject-constitution.
Author: Erica Harris (PhD)

Figure and Phenomena: Deleuze‘s Anti-Gestaltist Perceptions

Deleuze is often considered an anti-phenomenologist. Yet, he generated an original theory of phenomena. So rather than determining whether Deleuze was a phenomenologist or an anti-phenomenologist, we might instead wonder what it would be like to do phenomenology in a Deleuzean style. We will contrast it with Merleau-Ponty‘s conceptions, particularly his Gestaltist formulations and examples.

For Merleau-Ponty, phenomenal parts integrate, because every part in our focus has all the rest on its phenomenal horizon, including the background surrounding a figure. But for Deleuze, our phenomena are not the parts of our perception, neither figure nor ground, but rather the shocks of difference between them. Is a Deleuzean phenomenology possible? And would it better account for the phenomenality of phenomena?
Author: Corry Shores (PhD)

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