tell me I’m not a phenomenologist!

Briankle was in a rare mood last night – he inquired about my oh-so-close-to-psychological thoughts. Well, he asked me to “say something” at a moment when I was thinking about my own theoretical problem – of trying to enact a consciousness premised upon an epistemology that accepts the principles of relativity and quantum mechanics. (btw – I’m not very good at it.)

I think the psychological is a contamination of my language that contradicts my intellectual bent. It’s gotten me into trouble numerous times, however, and I’ve simply got to get more clear. I think timing has been unfortunately anti-synergistic (if such is possible?) because my general depression (yeah, its still here, as if you couldn’t tell, sigh) comes through more “loudly”, I think, than whatever I say. At least this has been operational, recently, more often than not. I have had glimpses and moments of life beyond the pale … is that too extreme a metaphor to use? It has truly and totally sucked, that’s for dang sure. 🙁
At any rate, reading about Husserl’s Logical Investigations in Moran’s Introduction to Phenomenology, Moran quotes Husserl:
Phenomenological study is “…a turning of intuition back towards the logical lived experiences which take place in us whenever we think but which we do not see just then, which we do not have in our noticing view whenever we carry out thought activity in a naturally original manner (p. 93).”
Now, here’s where intersubjectivity enters. My hesitation when Briankle asked me if it wasn’t too simplistic to say that I was just interested in empathy, in understanding the other, was because it is only a third, or maybe even a quarter of the “object” I wish to examine. Yes, my desire to know another, to put myself in their shoes and perceive through their worldview can be extrapolated as a strand out of a rope of intention which equally and simultaneously must include their desire to know me, my shoes, my perception/worldview. Before I complete the equation, let’s ponder: am I prescriptive or descriptive here?
Perhaps prescriptive, since my desire to be known belongs to me as much as my desire to know others, and others may not wish to know me at all, or not at this level. (Would we call this intimate? Private? Public? (overlap with another debate.)
Yet, there is a reflection in the absence or rejection of desire just as much as in the presence of desire. And here is where I see description as the actual aim because it encompasses all forms and – I need to make the case – can do so without disrespect. Again, it seems I’m not too skilled at this yet (shall we hope there is hope for improvement, smile), and I might need help with the double negative. I often think of “honoring” as the act of recognition that perceives the other as “other” and just leaves be, but it seems too culturally-laden to serve as a theoretical term.
In other words, a choice not to engage me (I’m being particular for immediate social and interpersonal reasons as well as theoretical reasons) carries no intrinsic value. Because I’ve communicated my desire – Briankle’s basic conception of communication, as I understood it from his explanation tonight, being that what is communicated most effectively in each and every act of communication is the wish to communicate; and the subsequent “demand” this puts on “the receiver” (to put it in linear giver-receiver terms) – does not mean there is a moral obligation on anyone to respond.
If I/we respond psychologically, I’d suggest that this is the combined result of our interaction and, as such, is “the effect” of the communicative interaction (no one will dispute that silence is also communication). The challenge, in my mind, is to continue to work (via experimentation, I’m afraid) to reduce the psychological so that we can get at the phenomenological. Uh oh, does this bring me back ’round to prescription? You see how much trouble I’m in . . . . !
Back to the equation. If my “acts of meaning-intention:your acts of meaning-confirmation” are a third or quarter of the equation, and your “acts of meaning-intention:my acts of meaning:confirmation” are the constitutive parts of a whole, then the “sum” or “product” or “effect” (obviously no clarity here, yet, or even a pretense at one!) is “the answer” – yet these three “things” are braided together in such a way that one cannot appear without the other.
Any reduction then will be one-sided unless and until subjectivities mutually engage the act(s) of reduction together. I suppose my desire for this experience provokes prescription…I am not clear if this can be avoided! Or, at least, not within the limits of my present vocabulary.

2 thoughts on “tell me I’m not a phenomenologist!”

  1. Thanks Mike! It’s looking awfully good. 🙂
    (It does make me wonder what other terms you think might apply…”as good a term as any”…!)

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