Re: Phenomenology

From: Robert Owen (
Date: Fri Feb 11 2000 - 18:44:31 MST

Joe E Dees wrote:

> Excerpted from Gurwitsch, Piaget and Recursive Equilibration, by
> Joe Dees
> >
> The phenomenology of perception (wherein all perception is an
> intending of its perceptual object), was built upon the foundations
> laid by not only Franz Brentano (PSYCHOLOGY FROM AN
> CONSCIOUSNESS), but by his more famous student Edmund
> Husserl ... - (Dees: how we constitute perceptual objects)

You discuss this below -- my short answer, by anchoring a
reversible succession of percepts in the category "substance";
Kant answers Hume with respect to a "necessary" succession
by means of the a priori relation "causality".

> [Dees] Let me try to mediate between the two.
> Given that the visual field organizes phenomena, and precisely
> phenomena in focus, it is nevertheless necessary to learn to focus
> our lenses, to co-ordinate the two lines of sight, to correlate
> focusing with binocularity (which are not innately linked, for we can
> separate them), and to synthesize vision with our other perceptual
> modes.

It's interesting, Joe, that it seems best simply to accept an equivoca-
tion in our term "intentionality" -- [1] consciousness is always OF some-
thing, and [2] attention is vectored; that is, we "intend" to be aware
of what we are aware of.

> Husserl's contributions, of course, are many. The most
> seminal of these, however, did not originate with Husserl himself,
> but with his teacher, Franz Brentano. These include the
> characterization of perception as (1) intentional, and (2) pre-
> reflectively self-aware (1874: 153-189).

(2) is, for me, the sticking point. I think this is so, but I've never
been able to derive it. What do you think, Joe?

> We may distinguish
> between these two types of horizons by calling the first the world
> horizon and members of the second type field horizons. The world
> horizon contains all field horizons, and is reflectively approachable
> but not apprehensible in its totality.

The notion of a "cognitive horizon" is very, very subtle. Both Jaspers
and Heidigger struggled with it. There is the idea that between the
figure and the ground there is a discontinuity -- an emptiness, that
is a horizon that points toward the "transrational" meaning of the
immediate configuration. This is readily apparent in optical illusions
of the alternating figure-ground type. When the ordinary perceptual
background suddenly presents itself as, pari passu, a foreground, one
is tempted to compare this with an event horizon which cannot radiate
an image of its contents. In any event, a perceptual field always
seems contained, and not merely by the geometry of the lens and
retina, a metaperceptual context which, could we only perceive it,
would totally interpret what we are looking at.

I'd like to comment on your entire outstanding post, but the rules
require self-restraint.

Best wishes,


Robert M. Owen
The Orion Institute
57 W. Morgan Street
Brevard, NC 28712-3659 USA

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