preface: this post is provisional and part of ongoing effort to clarify what phenomenology means for me. it is important to note that my own phenomenological practice is a bit of a bastardization of the tradition handed down to us through academia. all this and more will become clear as i work through what will be a general statement on the topic.
Phenomenology does not explain it describes. Explanatory knowledge is secondary to a more basic awareness situated in the diffuse agency of the lived-body. At its best, phenomenology in the widest possible sense is an exploration of the total field of our experience: it is a practice or injunction and method of attending to what is ‘given’ to us and opened up by the body through a suspension of biases and categorical judgments (epoché) – and only later a ‘tradition’ or school of thought.
“Phenomenology provides us with an account of what needs to be explained, but is not in and of itself an explanation.” – Levi R. Bryant [source]Phenomenological investigation is descriptive in that it affording much needed primary perceptual distinctions, and not explanatory which requires secondary associations and semantic assembly. therfore, some kind of phenomenology is the beginning of naturalism but never its endgame.
“Part of Husserl’s ambition is to provide an adequate phenomenological description of consciousness. He is not concerned with finding room for consciousness within an already well established materialistic or naturalistic framework. In fact, the very attempt to do the latter, thereby assuming that consciousness is merely yet another object in the world, might very well prevent one from disclosing let alone clarifying some of the most interesting aspects of consciousness, including the true epistemic and ontological significance of the first-person perspective. For Husserl, the problem of consciousness should not be addressed on the background of an unquestioned objectivism, but in connection with overarching transcendental considerations. Frequently, the assumption has been that a better understanding of the physical world will allow us to understand consciousness better and rarely, that a better understanding of consciousness might allow for a better understanding of what it means for something to be real” (Zahavi 2004: 5-6)As Husserl writes in an early lecture course (1906–7):
“If consciousness ceases to be a human or some other empirical consciousness, then the word loses all psychological meaning, and ultimately one is led back to something absolute that is neither physical nor psychical being in a natural scientific sense. However, in the phenomenological perspective this is the case throughout the field of givenness. It is precisely the apparently so obvious thought, that everything given is either physical or psychical that must be abandoned” (Husserl 1984, 242).I believe that a basic phenomenology is where philosophical thought begins not where it ends. Phenomenology assists us in engaging ground zero of perception: where self and world meet. But where philosophy or theory migrates or ends up is to be determined in relation to and in the context of specific projects and goals.
[[ to be expanded at a later date ]]