Transcendental Phenomenology

To my Mother an unfailing source of inspiration

Transcendental Phenomenology An Analytic Account

J. N. Mohanty

Basil Blackwell

Copyright © J . N. Mohanty 1989

First published 1989 Basil Blackwell Ltd 108 Cowley Road, Oxford, OX4 1JF, UK Basil Blackwell Inc. 3 Cambridge Center Cambridge, MA 02142, USA All rights reserved. Except for the quotation of short passages for the purposes of criticism and review, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher. Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

Mohanty, J. N. (Jitendra Nath), 1928Transcendental phenomenology: an analytic account. 1. Phenomenology I. Title

ISBN 0-631-16741-2
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data

Mohanty, Jitendra Nath, 1928Transcendental phenomenology. Bibliography: p. Includes index. 1. Phenomenology. I. Title. B829.5.M634 1989 142'.7 ISBN 0 - 6 3 1 - 1 6 7 4 1 - 2


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Preface 1 Description and Interpretation: Possibilities for Phenomenology 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 The Idea of'Description' Philosophical Description Descriptive and Speculative Philosophy Varieties of Description Some Objections Considered How to Describe 'Essences': The Method of Imaginative Variation 'Psychologism' Revisited Description and Interpretation as Possibilities for Phenomenology


1 1 7 14 19 21 25 39 51 67 67 73 83 93 95

2 The Intentional Content 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Object and Content Perceptual Meaning Content and Context Content and 'Ideality' Levels of Understanding Intentionality: A Path to Transcendental Philosophy


Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 Foundationalist Projects and their Criticisms History, Time and Anti-foundationalism Beyond Kant Interpretation Theory and Relativism Phenomenology and Relativism Notes Some Criticisms Answered Levels of Subjectivity: A Lesson from Hegel A Summary and a Remark

115 115 117 125 127 130 150 154 158 159 161 171

Notes Index


Various lectures and papers presented during the last five years have gone into the making of this book. I am grateful to those who provided me with the occasions to present my ideas. A paper on 'Description and Interpretation' was first read at a conference devoted to that theme, held at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, and later on appeared in Research in Phenomenology. A much more refined version of that paper was presented, in German, at the annual meetings of the Deutsche phänomenologische Gesellschaft held at Trier in June 1987. Elements from both papers go into the making of chapter 1. My inaugural lecture at Temple University was devoted to the problem of psychologism. An invitation from the University of Pittsburgh to present a paper on the role of thought experiment in philosophy led me to think over the method of eidetic variations. Both these papers also go into chapter 1. Chapter 2 is largely written afresh except for appropriating a brief paper on 'Perceptual Meaning' which was read at Rice University and appeared in Topois, and a paper on 'Levels of Understanding Intentionality' that appeared in The Monist. However, the main concept of'Intentional Content' is developed here anew. Chapter 3 was mainly written for this volume. However, it incorporates material from a paper on relativism, which was presented at the annual meeting of the Deutsche phänomenologische Gesellschaft at Trier in 1985 and later appeared in a German version, and an (unpublished) lecture on 'Husserl Today' at the 1988 meeting of the British Society for Phenomenology at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Husserl's death.



The different problems, thought out under different circumstances in order to meet different challenges, all nicely fit together to unfold my developing concern with the Frege—Husserl idea of sense on the one hand and the idea of a transcendental philosophy on the other. I should add that my thoughts on relativism and interpretation were not stimulated merely by philosophical concerns, but arose directly out of my continuing work of translating and interpreting Sanskrit texts and developing the Indian concept of rationality vis-ä-vis Western. On this latter theme, the first part of a two part study was completed simultaneously with this book, and will soon appear from the Oxford University Press. In that volume, too, I reflect on the availability of a Fregean theory of sense and a transcendental philosophy in the Indian tradition, and the idea of a thoroughgoing relativism with regard to the concept of rationality. Since I joined the Temple University, Joseph Margolis has been engaging me in conversations on common philosophical concerns. These conversations stimulated many of the arguments of this book. This is the place to acknowledge that debt of gratitude. Amongst others who have stimulated the development of my thoughts are: Bimal Matilal, Elizabeth Ströker, David Smith, Ron Mclntyre, Robert Sokolowski, and D. P. Chattopadhyaya — with all of whom a bond of common philosophical concern makes special thanks unnecessary. Adele Harrison wordprocessed the manuscript in all its different stages, and well deserves a note of thanks. J. N. Mohanty

Description and Interpretation: Possibilities for Phenomenology

By its original methodological programme, phenomenology was to be a descriptive philosophy which, in its pursuit of scientificity, was to abjure speculative metaphysics and construction of systems and had to return to the Sachen selbst. In one of its meanings, this return to the Sachen selbst required that the philosopher 'gives himself over3 to the matter at hand, to be led wherever such matter forces one to go, and to 'ground' one's statements on the ways the matter presents itself. To characterize the last requirement as that one's assertions should be 'backed' by intuitive evidence may be obfuscating to the same extent as the word 'intuition', so it is perhaps best to avoid that word or its derivatives, but the fact is that phenomenology set out with the explicit goal of being a descriptive, 'morphological' science, and it is time, fifty years after Husserl's passing away, to look back and reassess the significance of that goal as well as of the self-understanding which underlies that goal. In this chapter, I want to begin by attempting precisely to do that.



There does not seem to be complete unanimity about what exactly is meant by 'description', to say nothing of the question


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of the possibility of a purely descriptive philosophy. Philosophers have used the concept of description in many different ways, of which the following are the most important: 1 Positivist philosophers of science (notably Mach) have held the view that the task of science is to describe sensory observations, and not to interpret them. Scientific laws, according to Mach, are abridged descriptions and allow us to make predictions. This predictive power is gained by making our primitive descriptions more comprehensive and by restricting the terms of description to the fewest possible common elements. Mach was assuming a sort of one-to-one correlation among the elements of the phenomenon being described and the descriptive statements. 2 In modern logic and epistemology, Russell has familiarized the contrast between 'names' and 'descriptions'. 1 Descriptive phrases or sentences are about something, and ascribe properties to that which they purport to be about. Names do not ascribe properties, but simply stand for. G. E. Moore held a restricted version of this concept of description, and regarded a description of a thing to consist of an inventory of intrinsic properties (not non-natural value predicates) of the thing.2 3 In latter-day positivistic literature, descriptive statements are regarded as those which have a truth-value, and are contrasted with emotive sentences, imperatives and performatives, which are neither true nor false. 4 Based on their review of the ordinary uses of 'describe', Baier and Toulmin contend that no sentence or passage by itself is a description, but any sentence or passage may be used by a speaker to describe, given suitable conditions.3 Thus, for example, according to Baier and Toulmin, a person may be said to be describing a thing or a person or a situation to another; in other words, if there is no audience, there is no description. A sentence may be a potential description inasmuch as it may be used by someone to describe to an audience. Furthermore, according to Baier and Toulmin, a fact is not described, but stated — though giving a description may involve stating facts. Again, a description is neither true nor false, though it may be adequate or

Description and Interpretation inadequate, misleading or reliable, useful or useless. In the context of these varied, sometimes conflicting, uses of 'description', it is, first of all, important for us to be clear as to the sense in which philosophy is, or may be, descriptive. The sense in which Mach regards scientific explanations to be descriptive approximates this sense inasmuch as he requires a description to stay close to the given data; but his conception of description is inadequate: first, in his requirement or assumption that there be a one-to-one correlation between the elements of a description and the elements of the phenomena; and second, in his preference for narrowing down the basic terms of the description to the fewest possible — in his case, the sensory elements. Description in philosophy needs to stay close to the given, but it needs neither to picture the phenomena described nor to observe the sort of economy which consists in having a minimum set of primitive terms. In Russell's sense, any ascription of a property or properties to a thing is a description, and his sense allows for a description to which nothing corresponds in reality, i.e. one which is a description of nothing (this is not the case with names, which, in order to be names, must name something). This indeed is too wide a sense of description and too narrow a sense of names. Names may be either positing or non-positing, as Husserl convincingly argues in the Logical Investigations? but a description must be a description of something. Let us make it a requirement that a description must be a description of something, and also that not all ascriptions of properties to things are descriptive. Consequently one may have to distinguish between statements (ascribing properties) which are in intention descriptive, and those that are not descriptive at all even if they ascribe properties to their objects. The last kind may include statements such as 'The soul is immortal' and 'The world as a whole has a beginning in time' — statements which by their nature cannot have that intuitive backing which could render them descriptions in actuality. However, statements which are capable of such intuitive backing may not actually have it; in such cases we have to speak of them as being in intention, but not in actuality, descriptive. Thus we



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can say that Moore's inventory of intrinsic properties may or may not constitute a description, depending upon whether the statement ascribing one of those properties to the thing can or cannot be supported by intuition. It is, I believe, rightly pointed out by Baier and Toulmin that sentences ascribing valuational — moral and aesthetic — predicates may be descriptive, and that the modern positivistic manner of classifying them as 'prescriptive' as opposed to 'descriptive' is based on deeply rooted, but easily discernible, epistemological and ontological prejudices. This discussion sought to emphasize the close connection between the notion of description and the notion of intuitive backing. To say that a statement is descriptive is to say that it is adequately backed by intuitive experience, or what is the same, that it is made on the basis of intuitive experience — which is again the same as saying that the meaning intention constituting the sentence is fulfilled more or less adequately in intuition. We thus seem to arrive at the core of truth in the point made by
Baier and Toulmin that a sentence by itself is not descriptive] it is its

use that makes it so. A sentence, seemingly descriptive may, however, have been made by a person blindly. In that case, it is not descriptive. Thus, in the strict sense one can describe only what one intuits. If/? is a descriptive statement, then there must be an intuition whose datum p purports to describe. To say that a subject s intuits an object o is to say that o is given to s. This of course is not to prejudge what modes of intuition or givenness are available. In what has been said, I have not clarified what is meant by a descriptive statement and what the relation is between a true descriptive statement and the fact it describes. However, at this stage I would like to say a few words in connection with the concept of the 'given'.5 There are certain conceptions of the given which I want to set aside for my present purpose, rather dogmatically. It is, for example, supposed that the given must be simple and not further analysable; or, perhaps, that the given must be the content of my immediate experience. We know now

Description and Interpretation — as a result of much phenomenological investigation — that the notions of 'simplicity', 'content' and 'immediacy' are hopelessly ambiguous, and that the given may be complex and structured and may transcend consciousness. Furthermore, one of the prejudices of traditional philosophers has been to look upon contemplation and passive reception as the only sort of attitude in which anything whatsoever could be given. It is thereby forgotten that even our elementary perceptions involve bodily movements, and that things and persons are given not to passive contemplation but to an acting, manipulating, appreciating and evaluating consciousness. Again, many philosophers prefer to restrict the given only to what is indubitable — a conception of the given which derives from the epistemologist's search for certainty. No mode of givenness is a guarantee against the possibility of doubt as to whether what was claimed to be given was really so; but the very possibility of such doubts presupposes cases where a thing is truly given. Connected with these notions of the given is the view that the given must be determinate and self-complete. Both the sense-datum philosophers and the naive realist who believes that physical objects are given tend to regard the given as something determinate and self-complete. Both the psychological atomist and the Gestalt psychologist work with the same assumption, though they differ regarding what those entities are. What is important is that the indeterminate, the complex and the structured may be as much given as the determinate, the simple and the atomic. Furthermore, what is described or sought to be described need not be obvious, lying on the surface. The subject matter of a possible description may in fact be hidden. It may be lying below the surface, and it may require much reflection and analysis in order to uncover it. It follows that the task of describing does not necessarily exclude the exercise of thought, the practice of analysis, the activity of reflection. One may indeed think, analyse and reflect, not in order to construct an intellectual system, but to render explicit phenomena which are, to begin with, hidden and unrecognized. As a part of these preliminary



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remarks, it may be added that, though philosophers are not agreed as to what the activity of describing is or involves positively^ there is considerable agreement regarding what it is not. Thus, for example, a descripdyephilosophy is not deductive. Suzanne Bachelard regards this negative sense as being what Husserl primarily meant to indicate by designating phenomenology as a descriptive science. Thus she writes: 'We believe it possible to affirm that it is this negatively that Husserl primarily meant to indicate by designating phenomenology as a descriptive science; i.e., phenomenology is called descriptive because it is not deductive.' 6 The descriptive philosopher, in so far as he is describing, is also not framing hypotheses; nor is he confirming or discontinuing them. His purported description may not be a good description; it may be laden with preconceptions. But in its intention it is not a hypothesis. Testing a description and testing a hypothesis are very different processes. One of the modes of testing a description or a purported description is to make sure that there are no preconceptions that vitiate it. This test surely does not apply to a hypothesis. One of the tests that apply to hypotheses is successful prediction; this surely does not apply to descriptions. Description in philosophy is also not construction of interpretative frameworks or theoretical models. It is also not what has been called a 'rational reconstruction of experience'. The criteria of intelligibility which a speculative philosopher of any sort employs are systematic coherence, translatability into an ideal language, applicability of a theoretical model, and so on. For the descriptive philosopher, the criterion of intelligibility is not something external to the experience which is sought to be made intelligible, but is made explicit from within the experience; it is, formally speaking, the possibility of a certain area of experience to exhibit essential structures of its own to an enquiring mind which has voluntarily agreed to lay aside all theoretical preconceptions. There is another kind of philosophizing which the descriptive philosopher qua descriptive philosopher does not intend to undertake. This is what Merleau-Ponty calls 'analytic reflection';

Description and Interpretation it is the inquiry into the conditions of the possibility of what is given.7 More of this, however, later in this chapter.




We may now ask: How is a descriptive philosophical statement to be distinguished from a non-philosophical, ordinary descriptive statement? 'This wall before me is white, smooth and hard' may be regarded as a good descriptive, but non-philosophical, statement. So also is the statement, 'The pain I am having now is localized, but is intense and throbbing'. As contrasted with these, consider the following statements, which are both descriptive and philosophical: 1 'All outer perception is perspectivaP. 2 'All conscious states are of something'. Seeking to distinguish between these two groups of statements, we are at once struck by the fact that the non-philosophical statements purport to describe concrete particular events, things, places, situations, items of experience or particular persons at some definite place or time; whereas the philosophical statements purport to describe what, for lack of a better expression, we may call essential relations, patterns, or structures. After saying this, it is necessary to warn against certain likely misgivings. First, no commitment is thereby made with regard to the ontological status of the so-called essences. The characterization is entirely phenomenological and not ontological. What the philosophical statements under consideration purport to describe are facts which hold good of a specific type of case, and which are very different from facts about singular events, things, places, or persons. The scientific law statements, which also purport to hold good of a specific type of case, aj:e neitherdescriptive nor essential nor eidetic. If they are empirical generalizations, they


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are not in their intention universal and necessary truths; a scientific law, however, may be in its intention universal, but as Hempel tells us, 'whether a statement of universal form counts as a law will depend in part upon the scientific theories accepted at the time'. 8 A scientific law thus is embedded in a theory, and a theory seeks to explain a class of phenomena by construing those phenomena 'as manifestations of entities and processes that lie behind or beneath them, as it were'. In any case, scientific laws are not both essential and descriptive. They are 'theoretical' and explanatory — though they may be either probabilistic or universal in form. However, a philosophical descriptive statement claims to be universal in form without being theoretical in nature, i.e. without being embedded in a theory; its purpose is not to explain but to describe what can be or has been brought to givenness. It has been said above that the essential character of philosophical descriptions does not, as such, commit us to any particular ontological theory of essences. But it would seem that it does rule out nominalism, indeed any ontological theory for which only particulars are. Likewise, to say that these eidetic statements are descriptive does entail that there is an essential insight into, or an eidetic or intellectual intuition of, the facts concerned. The idea of philosophical description would indeed seem to stand or fall with that of such intuition. To the distinction just proposed, between philosophical descriptions and non-philosophical descriptions, it is necessary to add another. Not any and every essence would seem to be the subject matter for philosophical description. The essences, 'dog', 'tree' and 'dirt' surely are not. Consider a tree, the one I see here before me as I look out of the window. Its description surely is not a philosophical task. Nor is it a philosophical task to determine what precisely is the essence 'tree'. But this tree is also a physical object, an individual here before me, a Diesda, an object of outer perception, a subject of predications, a substance to which various sensible properties may truly be ascribed, an effect of a multitude of causal conditions belonging to 'nature' or the world as a whole, a possible object of aesthetic enjoyment, etc. It

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is as any one of these and a host of other things that this tree here before me enters into philosophical discourse. The philosopher who adopts a descriptive program may seek to describe the essence of being a physical object, the essence of being a spatio-temporal individual, the essence of outer perception, or any of the other essences involved. In doing any of these, he would of course be, in a very oblique sense, also describing this tree. What I am trying to bring out may be stated thus: individuals as met with in pre-philosophical experience are not directly the subject matter of philosophical description (though the modes of encounter are). The material essences ('tree5, 'dog', 'man') are also not objects of philosophical description — excepting the very general ones, those which may be called categories.9 I am aware of the facts: (a) that it is difficult to draw a strict line of demarcation between material essences and material categories; and (b) that some material essences, like those of values, do constitute the subject matter of philosophical description, e.g. of what Scheler calls a 'material ethics of values'. However, what is worth noticing in the present context is the following: a real or ideal individual (this tree over there; number '2'), by the very sense of its individuality, exists independently of our consciousness of it, of its modes of givenness as well as of any actual or possible mode of linguistically referring to it. In the case of the essences of these individuals, we may of course say that their essences are; but the sense of their being is already quasi-ontological, though still separable, by an act of abstraction, from the correlative linguistic meaning and from the corresponding eidetic intuitions and their possible fulfillment. As we move on from the material essences to the categories, the sense of the being of the latter becomes less and less ontological and exhibits far closer relationship with both language and consciousness. This tree exists, no matter whether it is referred to by the words 'this tree' and no matter whether I or someone else perceives it or not. (This 'no matter whether . . .' belongs to the sense of its existence as a real individual. At the same time, its existence as a real individual implies the possibility of identifiability, etc.) The essence 'tree', on the other


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hand, is, but is also the meaning of the common name 'tree' and is the correlate of an act of idealization exercised upon the appropriate empirical type; however, it nevertheless is, so that it is conceivable that the essence 'tree' is not referred to by any expression or that it belongs really to a Platonic world of subsistent entities needing no act of idealization on the part of us human beings for its subsistence. The categories 'objectivity', 'intentionality', 'identity', 'individuality', 'universality', on the other hand, are essences which are such that only by an act of abstraction of a more violent nature is it possible to regard them as independent of language and consciousness. It is precisely with such entities that philosophical description is concerned. Keeping the above considerations in mind, we may venture the following characterization: philosophical description in the strict sense is concerned with, or describes, facts — let us call these philosophical facts — which are such that they can by their very nature be looked upon from three different points of view. These facts may be regarded as linguistic or meaning structures; or they may be regarded as ontological structures; or again, as structures of subjectivity or consciousness. Let me elucidate with the help of an example, which is but one of the descriptive philosophical statements given above: 'All conscious states are of something'. This statement may be regarded as being about mental states and processes themselves in the material mode of speech; or about the logic of mental concepts, i.e. in the formal mode of speech; or also about how conscious states are given to one who has thern. Another statement which seems to me to be a descriptive philosophical statement is: 'There are universals as well as particulars'. Now this statement makes an ontological assertion that the world consists of two radically different types of entities. It may be

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regarded also in the formal mode of speech as being about language, namely, as the thesis that a language, in order to be a language,must contain both singular and general words and that neither a nominalistic language not a particular-free language is possible. Or again, one may construe the statement as a statement about two radically different modes of consciousness: sense perception and eidetic thought. The point I would like to make then is this: the philosophical facts are such that they not only admit of such alternative formulations but even demand them in the sense that, for a complete integral understanding of their nature, it is necessary to keep this threefold possibility in mind. Linguistic philosophers who hold that philosophical statements are concerned with linguistic meanings and transcendental phenomenologists who reduce such facts to noetic functions with their intentional correlates, are both guilty, not of error, but of one-sideclness. Each of these alternatives supplements the others and makes up forw their inadequacies; together they constitute the total nature of philosophical facts. After having tried to distinguish between ordinary, i.e. nonphilosophical, descriptions and philosophical descriptions, we may now turn to the second question at hand, namely, how is a genuine description in philosophy different from a philosophical statement which only purports to be descriptive but is not really so? Here again I would proceed with an example of each. As an example of a philosophical statement which only pretends to be descriptive without really being so, let me quote the following from Hume's Inquiry. 'All events seem entirely loose and separate. One event follows another; but we never can observe any tie between them. They seem conjoined, never connected.' 10 In contrast to this, the following appears to be a genuinely descriptive philosophical statement: There belongs to every external perception its reference from the 'genuinely perceived' sides of the object of perception to the sides 'also meant' — not yet perceived, but only anticipated and at first, with a non-intuitional emptiness


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(as the sides that are 'coming' now perceptually): a continuous protention, which, with each phase of the perception, has a new sense.11 ^ ^ - c ^ C £'v' Why do I consider the first a pseudo-description but the second a good description (i.e. as approximating the ideal of a good description?). It seems to me that there is one way of exposing the pretensions of a statement to be descriptive or of confirming the genuineness of its claim, and this consists in asking: Does the alleged description conceal any ontological or epistemological presupposition or not? A genuinely philosophical description should not be based on any such presupposition; it should not be founded on any ontology or epistemology just because it alone is able to found one. Thus the Humean statement owes its seeming obviousness to the fact that its presuppositions have an air of deceptiveness about them. For example, the statement quoted above presupposes, among other things, an atomistic psychology and a theory of meaning which has been laid down by Hume in section II of the Inquiry, a theory which for its own part pretends to be descriptive but is in fact a recommendation. In contrast to this, the Husserlian statement exhibits a sustained effort to delineate the actual process of external perception as given to the perceiving consciousness without allowing scientific or any other theoretical preconceptions to interfere. Contrast with it the sense-datum theory of perception, a theory which no doubt purports to be faithful to the given but whose conception of the given is vitiated by scientific, psychological and epistemological preconceptions. It presupposes, for example, the reality of sensations which for its part is based on a psychological atomism, a notion of psycho-physical causality, and the constancy hypothesis, but which is not warranted by the evidence of consciousness.12 I need not emphasize how relevant and, in fact, necessary is the method of phenomenological epoche for the very possibility of genuine description in philosophy. It was Husserl's genius that, he both revitalized the descriptive method for philosophy

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and brought to the forefront the method of epoche, without which one cannot really get down to the job. The preconceptions have' to be placed within brackets, beliefs suspended, before philosophy can begin to confront phenomena as phenomena. This again is not an instantaneous act of suspending belief in the world or of directing one's glance towards the phenomena as phenomena, but involves a strenuous effort at recognizing preconceptions as preconceptions, at unravelling sedimented interpretations, at getting at presuppositions which may pretend to be self-evident truths, and through such processes aiming asymptotically at the prereflective experience. It is no valid objection to say that this ideal can never be reached, and that therefore no description in this sense can ever be possible. For we can only lay down the task to be achieved [and the path to be followed. But to guarantee that any particular philosopher or any statement achieves this task, fulfils the ideal, is not our present purpose. One may at best distinguish between good and bad descriptions, between more or less adequate ones. The situation is not unlike that in the natural sciences. In a Beilage to Vol. II of the Erste Philosophie13, we find a note from Husserl which shows a clear awareness of the problem with which we are faced. There is no other way, he warns us, than beginning with a description based on naive evidence, and then reflecting on it in order to satisfy ourselves regarding the presuppositions which underlie that original description. Laying bare these presuppositions would lead to a new level of description, through which the 'power5 of that first description would icome to light. In the final, ideal description, of course, all naivety jwould be abolished and overcome. It is worth noticing that [Husserl never took for granted that any of his own descriptions fully conformed to this ideal. This is the reason why, I suppose, the task of a descriptive philosopher would be endless. ^ However, the principle of freedom from presupposition is likely to be misunderstood in one respect. Let s be an alleged descriptive statement which, on closer scrutiny, is found to be based on a presupposition/?. In other words, if/?, then s. Now it is not the case that the new implicative statement, if p, then s, being


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presuppositionless, is itself descriptive. Many metaphysical propositions may be seen to rest on episternological, logical and ontological presuppositions. But the proposition that, if these presuppositions are made, such and such metaphysical propositions follow, is not, just because it reflectively brings to light the presupposition, descriptive. In the Logical Investigations, Husserl explains the principle of freedom from presupposition as expressing 'the strict exclusion of all statements not permitting of a comprehensive phenomenological realization'. 14 The statement 'If jo, then / may rest on a purely deductive validation, and may lack intuitive backing. 1.3 DESCRIPTIVE AND SPECULATIVE PHILOSOPHY

I will now take up the question: How are the descriptive and the speculative components of a philosophical system related to each other? It may be possible to find in most philosophical systems some descriptive core which not only furnishes the springboard for speculative flights but itself gets transformed beyond recognition in the course of such flights. Thus, for example, the Platonic two-world theory is surely based on the mutual irreducibility of sense-perception and eidetic thought (of which another transformation is the Kantian two-faculty theory). That Kant's transcendental idealism contains a large descriptive core has been shown by Strawson,15 but had been pointed out by Nicolai Hartmann much earlier.16 One may try to do the same in connection with Whitehead's grand system of metaphysics. My concern now is to detect the various ways in which the descriptive find is or may be used for speculative purposes, that is, the various modes of speculative flight from the descriptive springboard. If we could find all the various ways in which this is or can be done, we would have a complete phenomenology of speculative thinking. But in the absence of an a priori clue, one can be sure of neither the exhaustiveness nor the systematic character of such a list. Kant first reduced all the various speculative moves into one: the move from the conditioned to the unconditioned. But then under the influence of his general archi-

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tectonic, especially of the threefold classification of inference, subdivided it into three. We cannot here undertake such an a priori classification, but would satisfy ourselves with the humbler task of isolating, by empirical survey, a few striking speculative moves, such as the following: Over-generalization. Every descriptive finding pertains to a certain region of phenomena. Speculative philosophers sometimes generalize it to some other regions, far beyond the limits within which it had originary intuitive support. I will give here two examples of how this is, or could possibly be, done. Samuel Alexander held the view that mind enjoys itself and contemplates its object, meaning thereby that every conscious state is of something and at the same time involves immediate awareness that it is of that something. Now this undoubtedly contains a descriptive core which requires more precise formulation. However, Alexander does not rest satisfied with this, but in the true spirit of a speculative philosopher proceeds to generalize it to all regions of being. For this is what he writes: 'we may say that any finite "enjoys" itself and "contemplates" lower finites. Thus each level has its specific "enjoyment" and what it "contemplates" is what from the case can be revealed to it, and so far forth as it can be revealed'.17 A similar extension may be given to Brentano's thesis about intentionality. It may be held that in so far as anything at all — not excluding material bodies and living organisms ~_refers beyond itself, it also possesses mind; in other words, that the element of self-transcendence is precisely its mind. From this it is but a short step to panpsychism.^^vAjL^Jr [ [ In both these examples, the descriptive concepts ('enjoyment', 'contemplation', and 'intentionality') have not only been extended far beyond the legitimate domain of their validity, but the concepts themselves have, in this process, gained an analogical extension of meaning which ends up making the concept a speculative one. Filling in gaps. The speculative metaphysician does not tolerate the existence of gaps among phenomena, and therefore, in the


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interest of the system, proceeds to fill in such gaps. Thus, consider the descriptive thesis regarding the radical distinction between sense-perception and eidetic thought, between the acts and the objects given in them, between sensible particulars and ideal essences, between the temporal flux of consciousness and the non-temporal meaning intended in the acts of consciousness, between act intentionalities and intentionalities other than acts. Not satisfied with such dualisms, philosophers have tried to reduce the one to the other by showing its origin — which involves filling in gaps, reducing the heterogeneity of phenomena to a homogeneity, and denying discontinuity among phenomena. A recent example of such an attempt is to be found in Ludwig Landgrebe's effort to 'supersede' (aufheben) the distinction between facts and essences in the life of transcendental subjectivity.19 Most varieties of monism, ontological or epistemological, exhibit this sort of move. Generic vs analogical concepts. The speculative metaphysician collects descriptive cases, and is too eager to bring them under a generic concept. Thus, starting with the descriptive thesis that there are material bodies, living organisms and minds (constituting the real world), and the ideal entities, he seeks a generic concept of'being' common to all these. A^escnptiyej^M on the other hand, would remain satisfied with a concept of being which is analogical and not generic. In order to make this point clearer, it is necessary to explain briefly the distinction between generic concept and analogical concept as I understand it here. If G is a generic concept with a, b, c and d as its instances, then of course #, b, c and d are different G"s (Plato and Aristotle are different men) in so far as each of them contains a common generic property of manhood. But suppose N to be an analogical concept of which u, v, w and x are instances; then it is not only the case that u, v, w, and x are different A°s, but they are as N different. In other words, they are radically different. Material bodies and minds are not only different real entities, but are as real different. Acts and noema are not only different

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entities, but are as entities different. In such cases the search for generic concepts is futile and the imposition of one a speculative

construction. Let us take another example. Intentional directedness is to be found in mental states and bodily behavior.21 The speculative philosopher would search for the common source of both, or would regard the one as an epiphenomenon of the other. He may regard bodily intentionality as the basic intentionality, and conscious intentionality as its appearance. Or he may regard conscious intentionality as the basic phenomenon and bodily intentionality as its bodily expression. The descriptive philosopher, satisfied with the radical difference evidenced by phenomena, would prefer to treat the concept of intentionality as an analogical concept such that its various types are as intentionalities different and not merely different intentionalities. Privileging of any one mode of description. It has already been emphasized that philosophical facts are such that they demand three alternative and yet mutually complementary modes of description: the linguistic, the ontological and the subjective. Now philosophers, more often than not, largely under the influence of their ontological and epistemological preconceptions, are prone to accord recognition to only one of these modes of description. Examples of these are (a) Platonic hypostatization of abstract entities, (b) the thesis that philosophy is concerned only with the analysis of language, and (c) the idealistic thesis that philosophy is concerned with pure consciousness and its functions. Monistic explanations. Speculative philosophers seek explanations. They ask, Why should a fact be what it is? Or, in a more transcendental vein, they'look for the conditions of the possibility of things being what they are. Thus, accepting the thesis of intentionality they may go on to ask, What makes this selftranscending reference possible? How is it possible that consciousness should be able to refer to what is yet beyond itself? This kind of question may lead, as it often does, to a monistic


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answer. It would seem, for example, that consciousness can refer to what is yet beyond it only if consciousness and object are not as different as they appear to be; in other words, only if there is some kind of deep underlying unity between them. There are various kinds of such monistic answers: objective monism, subjective monism, absolute idealism, or Kant's transcendental idealism. I would like to draw particular attention to the fact that the Kantian notion has come to be closely associated with descriptive philosophy — an association which has always seemed to be both strange and deeply suggestive. Whereas the inquiry into the possibility of a given phenomenon being what it is may lead to speculative constructions, it has seemed to many that a Kantian approach to the problem, in fact a Kantian formulation of the question, need not force us to abandon descriptive philosophy. One finds this confidence not only in Husserl but also in Strawson. Basic to this confidence is, I think, a distinction between surface phenomena and deep-lying phenomena, so that the conditions we look for must be the deep-lying phenomena which have to be brought to the surface. The ultimate criteria of whether the conditions discovered are descriptive or speculative are whether they are accepted as hypotheses and whether they are capable of being given in intuition. All the above features make the descriptive philosopher a tragic philosopher, and the speculative metaphysician a happy one. A genuinely descriptive philosophy is bound to be characterized by a tragic sense, not merely because everywhere phenomena exhibit discontinuities and sometimes radical discontinuities and gaps which he would not fill in, but also because he is haunted by the gulf that separates philosophic reflection and unreflective experience, a gulf which he seeks to bridge not by speculative constructions but by intermediary phenomena, though never quite completely. His is thus a never-ending endeavour, an open system. The speculative metaphysician, on the other hand, closes the system in which every item of experience finds its place, explanation, or rational reconstruction either in an ideal language or with an ideal set of categories. All conflicts are resolved to satisfaction, the tragedy of reflection is once for all eliminated.

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Let me now draw attention to the great variety of descriptive work in philosophy. First, it is useful to bear in mind that to be a good description,^ a statement need not^ fact being described as a photograph represents the original or as Wittgenstein used to take a sentence to picture a fact. To describe is not to picture. Here again Wittgenstein warns us well enough: 'Thinking of a description as a word-picture of the facts has something misleading about it . . . \ 2 2 Husserl, who laid so much emphasis on the descriptive method in philosophy, did not quite discuss the problem of the logical relation in which a descriptive statement stands to the fact being described. However, he did explicitly reject the picture theory of meaning as also the correspondence theory of truth. 23 For him I should think, a sentence is truly descriptive if the meaning intention expressed in it is fulfilled in appropriate intuition, where the intention and fulfilling experience coincide. To restrict oneself to a descriptive method of philosophizing means, for him, to restrict oneself to making assertions which are supported by appropriate intuitive validation. Now obviously, description in philosophy may be of various kinds. It may be a direct description, as, for example, Breootä"nbT intentionality thesis seems to be. It may be description by negation, which is an attempt to focus on the distinctive peculiarity of ä region of phenomena through a series of negations rather than through some positive characterization. In other words, one may seek to describe an X by saying that X is not p, X is not y, etc. Such descriptions, in order to be useful in uniquely identifying, must make use of the premise, e.g. that p, q, r, exhaust all characters save one within the given universe of discourse. One may also describe a thing by arranging phenomena with which one is better acquainted or whose descriptions are already at hand in such a manner that they all form a series which points toward the thing to be described as its limit. Whitehead's method of extensive abstraction may be regarded as description in this sense.24 It may be that when he is seeking to define a point in


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terms of extensive connections, he is giving a description in terms of elements which are themselves phenomena. I am less sure of the descriptive character of classification. Nicolai Hartmann, for example, builds up a phenomenological ontology by classifying beings into several regions: the real, the ideal and the hybrid. 25 It is necessary to be aware that, in this kind of descriptive venture, there may be unrecognized presuppositions. The most perplexing is the claim of Heidegger's method of hermeneutic description. Heidegger calls it 'Auslegung*. He writes: 'the methodological significance of phenomenological description is interpretation'. 26 This is indeed a most puzzling statement, in view of the fact that one would ordinarily regard interpretation as being opposed to description. Harald Delius has questioned the validity of this Heideggerian method as a phenomenological method, and I endorse his conclusions in principle, when Delius writes: Interpretation may, if the alleged conditions should really obtain, (i.e., where relations between phenomena and their, also given, interpretants are themselves given) be the result of a phenomenological research — to make it the aim of such analysis however would be to negate its basic principle; and to decide beforehand that all phenomenological description is to be interpretation is to destroy the only means by which the correctness of such a decision could have been tested: phenomenology as purely descriptive analysis.27 This is indeed fair. However, in order for it to be adequate, I should like to add the following remarks. In so far as the method suggested by Heidegger does not confine itself to what is prima facie given, to what is obvious, but tries to uncover what is hidden and implicit, the methodological program still conforms to the descriptive ideal. In the second place, some of these deep phenomena are themselves interpretations or meanings conferred by man in the course of his historical existence, on himself and on his world; and it may be that

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human existence is meaning-conferring and interpreting. If that is so, then its interpretations, in so far as they are uncovered, are themselves phenomena and are amenable to description. Such a description would be vertical, not horizontal; it would be analogous to what depth psychology is in relation to surface psychology. In so far as, therefore, Auslegung is nothing but uncovering of the sedimented meanings and interpretations, it is an integral part of the phenomenological method. What is important is to remember that in such cases philosophy itself cannot interpret; it can only unfold (enthüllen), it cannot change the interpretations. Ricoeur finds in the method of Auslegung a. method which is 'midway between a philosophy of construction and a philosophy of description'. 28 I find here nothing but description. That description uncovers interpretations which are immanent to the phenomenon being described does not alter the fact that what is being done is description. There is, according to Ricoeur, at least one subject matter with regard to which it is most true to say that phenomenology is hermeneutics. And this is in connection with the T am', for the 'I am', the Ego, is 'a question, not given', because the nature of 'I am' is forgotten.29 If what he means is that the nature of the ego is one of those things which is most laden with interpretations, man's self-interpretations, which have to be uncovered and separated, thus permitting an exhibition of the original phenomenon of the egological life, then I agree. But I do not see why the method which all this requires is anything other than phenomenological description with its components of reduction and epoche. 1.5 SOME OBJECTIONS CONSIDERED

Finally, I would like to consider very briefly some typical objections to the conception of a descriptive philosophy. First, there is the epistemological point that there is in fact nothing that is given, so that there is nothing that one could describe. There is also a moderate version of the thesis, according to which,


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although human knowledge and experience are based on the given, the given qua given cannot be described. Much of the force of these two theses derives from constructing the notion of the given in such a manner that nothing could be identified as the given. If the given is construed as the absolutely simple, the bare sensation, the ineffable moment of living experience, the unconceptualized bare particular, the absolutely immanent inner psychic state, then the thesis that the given, qua given, cannot be described would follow analytically. But these conceptions of the given are not only based on epistemological presuppositions; but also, upon questioning, they betray a certain 'prescriptive' character. In other words, the thesis, for example, that only the simple, the not further analysable, is given is not itself a descriptive philosophical statement. That pure descxiption^jiot possible is defended on the following grounds, among others: 1 It is held that description involves the use of language, and language by its very nature involves interpretation. One way of elaborating this contention would be thus: each language, by its inner structure, semantic and syntactical requirements, as well as by its underlying 'metaphysics' (I have in mind such a thesis as that of Benjamin Lee Whorf) imposes, without the user's knowing it, a certain limitation, a certain point of view, a perspective, which makes it impossible for any person to establish a direct linkage with the immediacy of experience; and yet without such a linkage, pure description is not possible. 2 It is also argued, in a rather Kantian spirit, that all description involves conceptualization of the data, and all conceptualization is, to some degree, interpretation. It involves interpretation in at least two very different, though not entirely disconnected, senses: first, conceptualization means idealization; and second, concepts form a systematic framework, however implicitly, so that any conceptualization presupposes an implicit or explicit system of concepts. 3 It is often pointed out, by phenomenologists, that all experience — including thinking and reflection — is perspectival, contextual and historically situated. The perceiver, the ex-

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periencer, the knower and the philosopher are not timeless, suprahistorical, transcendental consciousnesses but concrete, context-bound, historically conditioned persons. The attitude of description therefore does not suit them. All intention is also interpretation; all description has to be hermeneutics. 4 A particularly strong version of the argument stated immediately above may restrict itself to the human sciences, where, as it has recently been well argued, there is no brute data identification, the data themselves being subjective meanings constituted by self-interpretations by persons and communities. The human sciences therefore must be hermeneutic and cannot be descriptive.30 I would like to respond briefly to these arguments. First, it may be pointed out that every language is no doubt convention-laden, but not necessarily theory-laden. It is only a certain view of language which opposes the given to its linguistic expression, and assigns to the latter the function of interpreting, conceptualizing and idealizing the former. However, a more truly phenomenological approach to language and experience may support the view that language itself serves as a condition of the givenness of things in the precise manner in which they are given, so that in perceptual judgements, for example, as Husserl rightly emphasized, there is a sort of phenomenal identity of the expression and the experience.31 Secondly, by defending the conception of a descriptive philosophy, we are not necessarily obliged to defend a positivistic conception of knowledge according to which knowledge consists in bare reception of data. There is no doubt that idealizations are involved in predicative thinking, to say nothing of higherorder reflections, scientific theory-building, etc. But the conception of a phenomenological philosophy requires that the phenomenologist himself, qua phenomenologist, refrain from idealizing, for it is precisely the process of idealization involved in thinking and in cognitive processes (as well as the noematic products of such idealizations, i.e. the ideal noemata) that he may have to describe. Likewise, it may be, and indeed seems very much to be, the


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case that all perception, experience, thinking and reflection are perspectival in character. It is far from the truth that the perceiver qua perceiver, the experiencer qua experiencer, the scientist qua scientist, is a transcendental ego, a timeless supra-historical consciousness. However, the descriptioin of this very essential structure of perspectivity, historicity, and contextuality of the empirical subject requires that the descriptive philosopher, qua descriptive philosopher, be neither an experiencer, perceiver, historical agent, nor scientist but a transcendentally purified meditating philosopher. Thus all philosophical descriptions are to be from the point of view of the transcendental ego; if this 'point of view' itself imposes a perspectivity, a methodological presupposition, then that may be so indeed. The descriptive philosopher, as occupying the position of a transcendental ego, is not the same as an omniscient constituting consciousness. For the descriptive philosopher, all truths are not transparent; he does not intuit all that he has to describe, nor are all his descriptions supported by the same degree of intuitive backing. However, he refrains from interpreting inasmuch as he wants to catch hold of the process of interpretation and idealization that is involved in human cognitive enterprise. This would indicate the way I would like the point about the hermeneutic character of the human sciences to be dealt with. There is no doubt in my mind that, in a very important sense, the human sciences are to be hermeneutic in character; but phenomenology is not a human science, not one of the Geisteswissenschaften. In its effort to lay the foundation for and to clarify the basic concepts and activities of any science, natural or human, phenomenology has to describe, bring to intuitive clarity, the processes involved in their concept and theory formation. This activity is descriptive, and not itself interpretive, as the activities of those sciences surely are.

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If the phenomenologist sets out to describe the essence or essential structure of a certain domain of objects (or of a region of experience), he needs a suitable method to guide him in his investigation. Since ghenomenologY *s n ° t a n empirical scierice9( its method could not be the familiar experimental method of the natural sciences. But philosophers have often used thought experiments, as contrasted with real experiments. At the beginning of the Critique of Pure Reason?2 Kant asks us to remove from a given case of knowledge all that is due to understanding and its concepts — till we are left with nothing but an empirical intuition. Then he wants us to separate from this empirical intuition all that belongs to sensation, so that nothing remains but pure intuitions of space and time. These two then are due neither to thought nor to sensation. This 'separating' and 'removing' are not real separation and real removing, but rather thought operations. Another example of such a Gedankenexperiment is Kant's second Satz in the metaphysical exposition of space: 'We can never represent to ourselves the absence of space, though we can quite well think it as empty of objects.'33 t Phenomenology sought to describe the essences or essential structures of regions of phenomena by employing such a method which is often called the method of imaginative variation. The domain whose essential structure is to be described may be | material nature, works of art, moral experience or, as was more importantly the case, conscious experience itself. In any case, ; application of the method requires the following steps: % 1 Start with an actual or imagined instance of the sort under consideration. This arbitrarily chosen example will serve as the model.


Description and Interpretation

2 an infinitely open multiplicity of variants upon it, which are to be produced in imagination voluntarily and arbitrarily. 3 As 2 proceeds, a unity, an invariant structure shows itself as that but for which the example arbitrarily chosen as example (of the sort of thing under consideration) would not be thinkable as an example of its kind. Note that the entire process takes place within the sphere of imagination^Although the particular case we start with may well fee an actually existing and perceived thing of the sort, the process does not take off as long as we do not, by a change of attitude, mentally 'transform' it into ajn^r^lyjggssible exemplar of that type. Let me dwell upon this a little longer before passing on to the subsequent stages of the process. 1 A thought experiment properly so-called is not to be mistaken for a mental reproduction, reiteration or anticipation of what is in fact a proper physical experiment. If instead of, or prior to, actually performing a physical experiment, an experimenter rehearses in his mind the steps of that experiment, he is not doing a thought experiment. He is thinking about, imagining or remembering — as the case may be — that physical experiment. A genuine thought experiment — if our talk about thought experiments is to be significant — must be a process which cannot be reiterated physically. Kant's procedure satisfies this requirement. We cannot really separate out the elements contributed by intellect (on his theory) from a concrete case of empirical / cognition. We can only do so in thought. Likewise with HusserPs methodof imaginative yanatipn^ If I start with an actually heard musical tone, with a view to ascertaining what must belong to musical tones essentially, I cannot really alter that tone to an imagined one — as the method requires me to do to begin with. But, by a change of attitude, I can focus only on its content, think away its actual existence here and now, and regard it as a possible musical tone. Or, to put it in another way, every real existent can first be regarded as an actualized possibility, and may then be considered merely as a possible and not as to its actuality. Such a change of attitude does nothing real to the real

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existent. But it does, for my thought,, 'transform it5 into one pure possibility amongst other possibilities. Richard Zaner, in a striking locution, calls it ^n^^^o(j^o§s^2}\l}3,g'34 There is an aspect to this act which needs to be emphasized. The exemplar is taken as any arbitrary case. The choice of the exemplar must be accompanied by the consciousness of its being chosen arbitrarily. Any other could also have been chosen. They are all of 'equivalent substitutional value'. 2 So far with regard to step 1. The next step consists in imagining variants of this exemplar, again arbitrarily and without regard to the real existence or non-existence of such variants. If Kant's method in the text cited was one of imaginative eli-/ mination, HusserPs is one of variation. We may just not know} 'what to eliminate. We may, however, imagine instances in which certain features of the exemplar are present in different degrees, intensities, with a different spread, or perhaps are altogether absent. If we are out to determine the essence of human beings, we may imagine not only familiar variations in height, weight, colour of the hair, eyes and skin, but also — sheerly arbitrarily — such variants (ä la Strawson) as one (human) person having three different bodies rather than one unique one as his own. Here also each variant is characterized by the feature 'arbitrarily chosen'; or rather its imagination is a free operation. Since this process could be continued ad libitum, this arbitrariness of the variants considered makes it reasonable to stop the process at any point, and take stock of the invariant structure that has emerged along the way. 3 The third and final step has two aspects which it would be helpful to state separately. (a) It appears as though in many cases the series of variants would, by itself, bring into focus a common core of features, properties, structure with regard to which the variants, arbitrarily fabricated, will achieve a congruence. Represented schematically, the situation would look like figure 1.1. If the circle with unbroken line is the original exemplar and the


Description and Interpretation

Figure 1.1 broken-line circles variants upon it, the shaded area at the centre is the common core with regard to which they exhibit a congruence: it is the set of features constituting the eidos of the class under consideration. (b) The eidos may also be regarded as that which acts as the restraint upon the arbitrary variations. The variations, arbitrarily and freely undertaken, begin to exhibit a restraint, a necessity to which any variant is subject, if we are to continue to regard it as an exemplar of the sort under consideration. All those variations which are compatible with being still such exemplars show the congruence as in (a) above; all those variations which are not so compatible show that the requirements of the eidos have been overstepped. Supposing we are seeking to determine the eidos 0. In each case of a variant imagined, we ask Ts this a 0?' till we reach a point where the negative answer is compelling. In that case, the eidos is in view by that very transgression.

II Now that we have all the features of the method in its rudiments,

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we may consider some obvious problems about it. Some of them have been pointed out in the secondary literature, but some not. In trying to respond to these we may gain a better understanding of the underlying assumptions of the enterprise, and of its nature even as a method. First of all, one wonders if there is as much difference between this method and the familiar inductive method as is supposed to be the case.35 One can support this concern by pointing (a) to the fallibility and corrigibility of the result, (b) to the misleading nature of the requirement of 'arbitrariness', and (c) to a lack of significance of the question whether the examples surveyed are real or fictitious. As to (a), it is undeniable that Husserl did make unnecessarily strong claims on behalf of the method, e.g. that it yields an apodictic insight into an essence. But one has to concede that here too, as in the case of method of any sort, one must distinguish between what the method is contrived to give kowledge of and whether, in any given case, this cognitive goal is successfully reached. No method is foolproof and no cognitive claim is incorrigible. The essence is a transcendent reality^ transcendent in the sense of being otKer than the mental rjrocess which aims at it. Tnere is no a priori guarrantee that every ] cognitive claim, made by pursuing this or any other method, will hit the target with unerring certainty. Various things may go wrong. One may start with a case that is not the right exemplar. One may give up the possibilities, of permissible variation too early, one's power of imagining variants may come to its limits too quickly. (Just ask, how many of us thought of the possibility, to which Strawson draws our attention, that my mental life may in fact be dependent, in three different manners, on three different bodies?) Or, even after rightly reaching such limits, one may still go wrong in focusing upon what features constitute the constraints on possible variations. No method can guarrantee a priori that subjective defects of the investigator or unobserved objective impediments do not vitiate the result. By intention^ however, — and this is the point of the phenomenologists' exaggerated claims — in case an essence has been discovered, such discovery must be apodictic. Conceding this defeasibility, however, should not lead us to


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(say that there is no difference between the method of imaginative variations and induction. Induction is based upon examples which are actually existent cases. Imaginative variation, from the very beginning, is geared to what is possible. Each case, whether the initial paradigm or an arbitrary variant upon it, is a possibility. The concern is with the domain of possibilities, not with what is or is not actual. Turning now to (b), the objection may be formulated thus. A key feature of the method at each stage of its unfolding lies in arbitrariness. The mathematical analogy here is not to be missed. There is no doubt that this analogy was present in HusserPs mind. He writes: In his investigative thinking the geometer operates on the figure or model incomparably more in phantasy than in perception, and even more so does the 'pure' geometer, i.e., the one who dispenses with algebraic methods. In phantasy, to be sure, he must make an effort to attain clear intuitions from which he is exempted by the sketch or model. But in actually sketching and constructing a model he is restricted; in phantasy he has incomparably more freedom reshaping at will the figures feigned, and in running through continuously modified possible shapings, thus in generating an immense number of new formations; a freedom opens up to him for the very first time an access to the expanses of essential possibilities with their infinite horizons of eidetic cognitions. For that reason the sketches normally come after the phantasy-constructions and the eidetically pure thinking done on the basis of the latter and serve chiefly to fix certain stages in the previously performed process, thereby making it easier to present it again. Even where one 'ponders' while looking at the figure, the processes of thinking which follow are, with respect to their sensuous substratum, processes of phantasy the results of which fix the new lines in the figure. In its most universal features, the situation is no different for the phenomenologist who deals with reduced mental processes and their eidetically necessary

Description and Interpretation correlates. There are also infinitely many eidetic phenomenological formations. He too can use the resource of originary givenness only to a limited extent. To be sure, in the mode of originary givenness he has at his free disposal all the chief types of perceptions and presentations as perceivable exemplifications for a phenomenology of perception, phantasy, memory etc. In so far as tfre most universal essences are concerned, in the sphere of originariness he has at his command in the same way examples of judgings, deemings likely, feelings, and willings. However, of course he does not have examples for all possible particular formations any more than the geometer has sketches or models at his disposal for the infinitely many kinds of solids. Here, in any case, the freedom of eidetic research also necessarily demands operating in phantasy.' 36


Is the analogy with pure geometry perfectly sound? Is the idea of 'arbitrariness' as securely productive of universality in philosophy, as it is in mathematics? Without entering into large problems indicated by these questionings, I will formulate only two of my anxieties. First, consider mathematical induction: in case whenever any arbitrary number n has a property p, its successor also has that property, every number has the property/?. Although a logical proof of the principle is beyond my ability, this much seems to me clear: the relation of 'successor' is constitutive of the domain of natural numbers. There is nothing like this — no generating relation to begin with — in the domain of things other than numbers: no relation by which from any arbitrary n (a human being, perceived or imagined) one could (in imagination) construct other humans. Note that in the case of arithmetic, such a rule is already available. In the case of our search for essences (of humans, if you like), we are after such a rule. From any arbitrary exemplar, with totally arbitrary phantasy variations (as long as the variants are to be called humans), the philosopher hopes to be able to isolate a rule of,construction. For the essence is such a rule, as Kant most clearly saw: 'Der Begriff vom Hunde
bedeutet eine Regel, nach welcher meine Einbildungskraft die Gestalt eines


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gewissen vierfüssigen Tieres allgemein verzeichnen kann, ohne auf irgendeine einzige besondere Gestalt, die mir die Erfahrung darbietet . . . , eingeschränkt

zu sein.'37 The point I am trying to make is, then, this: with regard to natural numbers, arbitrary choice of n is followed by construction according to a rule in accordance with a function generating n'; in the case of imaginative variation, imagination creatively, with a full consciousness of freedom, invents variants, while thinking looks for a secret rule underlying such creativity. What about geometry which is what the Husserl text quoted is chiefly concerned with? The geometrician's free variation upon an arbitrary curve or figure, by the very nature of the subject matter, has to be spatial, so that there is already a defining restriction acknowledged to begin with. In the case of our philosophical search for essences, we still do not know — supposedly in our primitive innocence — whether, for example, having a body at all, or if having a body with two hands and two legs, is essential for being a human. In other words, we do not start with any definitional restriction upon the domain of variants. We are presumed to be starting with and proceeding in complete freedom until it dawns upon us that our free operations were indeed free within a prescribed, though hitherto unrecognized, limit. The point of these remarks has been to emphasize that the use of the mathematical notion of 'arbitrary' indeed may be misleading. The philosophical method carries a greater burden when it promises that free imaginative fabrication will eventually lead to discovering an essence. Seeing this point may help us, as I will insist later in this chapter, to appreciate what the method is in fact geared to achieve as contrasted with the claims, often exaggerated, made on its behalf. For me, then, the method is not induction, even if the result is corrigible. There are, however, two other criticisms that have frequently been levelled against the method. Both are very pertinent. Thinking on them, we may be able to see our way towards a correct appreciation of what is going on. The first of these is that the method — if it is to work — must involve a vicious circularity. The second is that it involves commitment to psychologism of a sort.

Description and Interpretation


First, about the alleged circularity: the method requires that at some point in my imaginatively fabricating variants, I must be able to say "this is not any longer a 0'. The feature, then, whose elimination or variation beyond a certain range makes me say so, must be (within that range) essentially connected with one of 0's essential features. But how can I say cthis is not any longer 0' unless I have already an acquaintance with what something must be like in order to be counted as a 0 or what something must lack in order to be ruled out from being a 0. For someone who has no idea of what a 0 is (excepting the exemplar chosen by stipulation), it is not clear whether such a deviant variant is or is not to be counted as a 0. The point of the objection, then, is that a successful application of the method for the purpose of discovering an essence presupposes a familiarity with that essence — even if such familiarity is vague and pre-reflective. The method then is not a method of discovery, but one of clarification of what we already are familiar with. As far as I am able to see into the matter, I think that this is an irrefutable objection, and its lesson, as just stated, is important. The method of imaginative variation is not a method of discovery, unless the sense of 'discovery' is considerably weakened. We do not proceed from ignorance to knowledge. We rather proceed from a nascent, unclarified acquaintance to an explicit, clarified, well-defined formulation. But what is it that we were familiar with and now clarify and raise to explicit consciousness? Is it an essence? Or, is it a meaning? My contention is: it is better to construe the method of imaginative variation as a method of clarifying the sense rather than as one of discovering an essence. To the difference between these two construals I will return after briefly dealing with the charge of psychologism. The charge of psychologism, simply stated, amounts to this: the method assumes that what is possible must be imaginable, and what is unimaginable must be impossible. It is obvious that what was not imaginable at one time is pretty well imaginable now, and it is not unreasonable to hope that many things, unimaginable now, will be imaginable sometime in the future. This suggests that the predicate 'imaginable' should always be


Description and Interpretation

'imaginable by . . . at time . . .'. The predicates 'possible' and 'impossible' do not seem to call for such modifiers. To these and such criticisms, I will offer three answers. In the first place, 'unimaginable' in the above argument means either simply impracticable or outside the reaches of practicability or 'unimaginable with respect to its practicability' or just 'regarded as implausible'. In any case, imaginability (or its opposite) is construed in relation to the real circumstances obtaining or perceived to be obtaining. What we are concerned with in the method of imaginative variation, is imaginability apart from the question of realizability under perceived real conditions, i.e. imaginability per se, as a pure possibility, in any possible world as the contemporary locution goes. So, we can say that the ancients could very well imagine the earth's being a sphere, they just could not imagine it to be the case, or how it could be the case. Even if this be granted, it may be replied, what guarantee is there that all purely possible variants can be imagined by any and every investigator. To this, I will retort (and this is my second answer): true, but that only shows that what an investigator regards as essence by too hastily delimiting the range of possible variations, is just not the true essence. When, however, other variants are found to be imaginable, the earlier result would need to be revised — revised precisely on the ground of imaginability or its opposite. As I said earlier in this paper, a method does not guarantee indefeasibility. No scientific method assures that its application is a guarantee of the incorrigibility of its result. Finally, I would even argue that, in the long run, there is a viable concept of possibility whose elaboration requires appeal to the subjective, epistemic acts through which it, i.e. this concept, is constituted. No one is saying — not the phenomenologist — that either 'logical possibility' or 'physical possibility' should be explicated in psychological terms. If that was the implication, psychologism would have been an unanswerable charge. What is called 'essential' or 'eidetic' possibility is explicated in terms of imaginability. The essence may be regarded in two different ways: metaphysically, as the hidden reality behind the appear-

Description and Interpretation


ances (the essence of water = H 2 O), or phenomenologically, as the law of possible appearances. It is essence in the latter sense, the eidos, which is determined by imaginability. I cannot for my present purposes (of this chapter) develop this notion of essential possibility. But it may be necessary to emphasize that even this eidetic possibility is not being reduced to imaginability. Rather, imaginability and its limits are being used to find out what is eidetically possible or riot. This exemplifies the more general phenomenological principle that subjective acts intend objectivities, that there is an essential correlation between types of objectivities and types of subjective acts through which those objectivities are disclosed.

Ill The following are a few concluding remarks. 1 For a thought experiment to be a genuine thought experiment, it must not be mental rehearsal or mental anticipation of a possible physical experiment. 2 Nor is a genuine thought experiment a chain of reasoning of the familiar, even of the counterfactual sort: 'What if A were the case? Of course, B. What if B? Of course, C. And so on.' 3 A genuine thought experiment has to be an imaginative reconstruction of experience, of imaginative 'transformation' of realities into fictional possibilities, in order to test hypotheses. 4 With regard to this last point, I would like to add the following remark. I have earlier referred to Strawson's imaginative variants. In contemporary philosophy, especially with the increasing interest in the idea of possible worlds, there is an enormous use of the idea of pure possibilities in determining relevant essences or invariants across possible worlds. One, for example, asks: what variations in the properties of (actual) Socrates are compatible with the person remaining Socrates? Imagine our Socrates as not being short and snubnosed. Shall we still call him Socrates? There is no doubt that this sort of questioning is precisely what Husserl suggested we do in order to


Description and Interpretation

arrive at the essence of an individual. He also used a similar questioning to determine if the relation between two essences A and B is simply contingent coexistence or a necessary unity. In any case, search for essences has to proceed via possible worlds. There is, however, a difference in emphasis in the use the phenomenologists make of the method and the use the contemporary analytical philosophers make. For the analytical philosophers the possible is what is conceivable, what is conceivable is what is compatible with, 'compatibility' being defined purely logically. For the phenomenologist, the relevant sense of 'possible5 is not 'conceivable' (in the logical sense), not merely emptily, symbolically thinkable, but also imaginable, i.e. capable of being presented in an intuitive manner. This restriction makes many of the possibilities, taken seriously by many philosophers, seem rather weird. Recall the fanciful possibilities that come up in discussions of personal identity. They are fanciful, but are they
all imaginable?

5 I would like to distinguish — as I hinted at earlier — between construing the method as one of discovery of essences and construing it as one of clarification of meanings. I prefer the latter construal in view of the charge of circularity. Couldn't one say that although one has a prereflective understanding of what 'man' or 'work of art' means, this understanding receives a more precise delimitation and intuitive filling through the above described procedure of imaginative variation — so that the concept can be fixed and the boundaries of its application circumscribed? But couldn't one also say — as Levin does — that there is, prior to the methodical investigation, 'a vague . . . shadow knowledge of the essence, a rough-and-ready empirical typicality', an 'as yet transcendentally unclarified typicality, the merest intimation of the authentic essence'?38 Out of this empirical typicality, the genuine essence is constituted by the eidetic variation. Since both the construals are possible, there must be an intimate relation, in spite of the distinction, between the phenomenological concepts of essence and meaning. But this is a large problem outside the scope of the present chapter.

Description and Interpretation


6 From what I have said about the method of imaginative variation, it should be apparent that an essence (or essential relationship) is discovered at the very moment the series of variants encounters a resistance. But we have also seen that the resistance, the impossibility of further variations along the same lines, is determined by the prior understanding of the sense, or by the prior implicit grasp of what the essence could be. If one keeps these two sides of the situation in mind, one may be able to understand why Husserl wanted to use both the realistic locution of'discovery' and the anti-realistic locution of'constitution'. The implication is that the very same process which claims to 'discover' the essence, is also the process by which that essence is brought into being. The essence is fixed by the very same decision which prohibits any further variant along that line. If further inquiry shows the legitimacy of admitting still more radical variants, we shall locate the essence elsewhere, constitute it anew, revise our prior claim to discovery and replace it by a new claim. 7 There is a possible objection that the emphasis on imagination, as opposed to thinking, leads to a solipsism that cuts the researcher (the imaginer) from the community of enquirers. To this, and other related objections, I will reply by insisting on four points. In the first place, to imagine a thing (such as a multiply bodied person) is not to entertain an image (a la Sartre); it is rather to have the thing intuitively present even when it is in reality absent. One imagines the thing, and in articulating it describes the thing being imagined rather than the image (if there is any such) in the mind. Secondly, if in the case of perceptible things, such as physical objects, it might appear that imagining variations is really having appropriate sensory images (contrary to what has just been said), that is not so in the case of abstract entities such as numbers, moral values, legal rights and logical relations. Even with regard to these, there is an important distinction between empty talk and talk that is backed by intuitive 'filling' or evidence. In other words, certain descriptions 'make sense' — in a sense that is more than being merely consistent and permissible (by the syntax and semantics of the


Description and Interpretation

language). In the case of numbers, for example, imaginative variation amounts to, not imagining variations (in the restricted sense of sensory, inner representation), but constructing variations (in the sense of 'construction' appropriate to the domain under consideration.) Thirdly, one would still want to rule out lots of purely fictional use of merely empty descriptions. (Recall such stories as a person A, at a certain stage of his biography, becoming two persons A' and A", both continuous with A, and claiming to be A.) Finally, since there is no appeal to the privacy of the investigator's inner life, what is or is not imaginable may, indeed must, be decided upon by a community of investigators. 8 Finally, I want to make a few remarks regarding the objection that the phenomenological essence (discovered by the method under consideration) is completely cut off from the scientific essence. By 'possibilizing' things, it deprives them of their relations (including causal interactions) to other things, it lets this essence stand isolated from the worldly context. However plausible such a consequence may appear to be, closer examination would show that it does not follow from the phenomenological method. Let us suppose we are seeking to ascertain the essence of a material object. Running through possible variations, one would find out only that a material object not only needs to be extended but also needs to causally interact with its surrounding world. Thus it would seem — and Husserl recognized this — that to be causally efficacious belongs to the essential constitution of material objects.39 It may likewise belong to the essence of persons — ascertainable by a similar method of variation — that a person must enter into a relational (social, moral, legal) structure. While there is no gazing at an isolated thing with its isolated essence, it must, however, be added that the phenomenological essence (for the determination of which the method under consideration is suitable) is not the scientific essence. In the phenomenological sense, the essence of water is not H 2 O. The phenomenological essence is the invariant law of phenomena, not a hidden structure behind the phenomenal appearances.

Description and Interpretation




The commitment of phenomenology to a sort of essentialism was strongly motivated by its opposition to psychologism. In suggesting that phenomenology soften its essentialism and opt for meaning-clarification, i.e. by seeking to replace the centrality of the concept of essence by that of the concept of sense in phenomenology, one comes close to reviving the spectre of psychologism. In fact, what phenomenology admittedly does is describe the structure of intentionality, of acts in which senses or meanings are intended along with those senses themselves. But does not this concern with mental acts threaten to turn the clock back from all the gains of anti-psychologism? Since psychologism has been an issue ever since the beginnings of phenomenology, it is in order that I make a few remarks on this issue. First of all, it is important to note, in passing, that the word 'psychologism' has been used in the brief history of just about a century, pejoratively, and not descriptively. Like many such words, — 'capitalism' in socialist countries and 'socialism' in western democracies — labelling a philosopher's idea as involving psychologism has been taken as tantamount to saying why it should be rejected. Brentano, in exasperation, complains that 'psychologism' is 'a recently fashionable term, at the sound of which many an ingenuous philosopher, like many orthodox Catholics at 'Modernism', makes the sign of the cross, as though the devil himself lurked in the word'. 40 If this is the case, then let us not be swayed by the pejorative connotation the word has acquired, and let us make an effort to understand and save 4he phenomenon on which psychologistic doctrines are based Without falling prey to some of their ruinous excesses. There is also something odd about the complaint of psychologism. The very same people who sought to demolish psychologism have themselves been accused of it. Thus Kant is the first to have sought to avoid psychologism (indeed, the introduction of this word by J. E. Erdmann was to highlight the contrast with


Description and Interpretation

"criticism')41 and yet, not long after Erdmann, Windelband insisted that Kant's criticism was in fact dependent on his psychological theories. As is well known, Husserl the critic par excellence of psychologism suffered the same fate. Not even Frege escaped this fate: his insistence on the assertion sign has been read as introducing psychologistic elements into logic — not to speak of Philip Kitchers' recent attempt to find a psychological account of knowledge in Frege.42 Less known perhaps is Carnap's case: he attacked psychologism, and is then attacked by Popper as being psychologistic.43 What, in view of this cross fire, is the prospect that we can ever be free from psychologistic elements in our thinking? What after all is psychologism? And why should it be so easily taken for granted that psychologism does indeed need to be got rid of? I will not pretend to add more clarification to a theme to which Frege and Husserl devoted so much of their energy. But no less a thinker than Frege seems to have been confused. In his review of Husserl's Philosophie der Arithmetik^ Frege accused the psychologistic logician of reducing everything to subjective ideas. Now, note that reducing everything to subjective ideas amounts to what is known as subjective idealism, and that is not eo ipso psychologism. The following may suffice to show that psychologism does not necessarily amount to subjective idealism. A psychologistic philosopher may believe, consistently, that there are indeed mind-independent, objective realities. He may even further hold that we do have knowledge of some of these objective realities. What he must hold is that such knowledge is made possible not only through the structure of the reality that is known but also through the structure of the mind that knows. In so far as knowledge is made possible by the structure of the mind, we cannot sufficiently explicate the foundations of knowledge save by explicating the way the human mind works. It is not, then, surprising that Kant, whose theory of knowledge, as transcendental philosophy, wanted to set itself off from all psychologism, remained none the less under the constant threat of psychologism, for the line that divides a transcendental foundation from a psychologistic foundation is so thin that its transgression may go unnoticed.

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Psychologism, then, is not an ontological thesis. It is an epistemological thesis, which traces back all epistemological questions to some aspects of psychology. It need not have to hold, however, that everything is nothing but mental representations. Once we have thus separated the ontological question, we can certainly go on to ask: what is it that the psychologistic thinker holds which makes his position both interesting and disturbing? There is a trivial assertion to the effect that knowing is a mental experience, that all knowledge whatsoever is merely a mental performance and accomplishment; from which it appears to follow that only a science of mind — psychology, to be sure — can provide the foundation of knowledge. (One may likewise argue that since all knowledge is expressed in language, a study of language should also have that foundational status!) I do not intend to make this last remark only as an aside. My ulterior motive is to emphasize that when these two trivialities supplement each other, a more interesting thesis is likely to emerge. But more of that later. The psychologistic consequence is taken to follow from a trivial assertion because of a certain equivocation in the use of the word 'psychological'. 'Psychological' may mean the mental as such, or it may mean the mental as thematized in the science of psychology, or it may apply — as when one speaks of psychological laws — to the propositions stating laws or lawlike connections within the psychological discourse. To claim then that because all knowledge is a mental performance or accomplishment the foundations of knowledge must be explicated in psychological terms may mean: either that all knowledge must ultimately rest upon the mental as such, i.e. (a) as lived experience, or (b) that all knowledge must ultimately be analysable into those components, such as ideas or presentations, which-empiricist psychology took mental life to consist in, or (c) finally that we must look at the laws of mental life for the source of the laws of our more developed logical and epistemic performances. Dilthey's psychologism was of the first sort, Mill's of the third sort; whereas the psychologism Frege and Husserl were criticizing was either or both of the second and third sorts. There is obviously a reason why the second and the third sorts are put together: the sorts of psycho-


Description and Interpretation

logical laws one takes into account depend upon the sorts of elements into which mental life is decomposed and whose lawlike connections the psychology under consideration is formulating. Of the Diltheyan sort of foundationalism, I will only say this much: while it may be true that any act of knowing or thinking must be a lived experience on the part of the knower or the thinker, that lived experience, by itself, has no explanatory value in so far as the knowledge or the thought is concerned. The inner lived experience is, if that theory be true, only a necessary accompaniment of, for example, an act of judging, but it does not give us any insight into the structure of judgement or into the necessary and sufficient conditions of its possibility. Such a psychologism is harmless, it gives necessary but not sufficient conditions of our cognitive concepts. If we did not have this inner lived experience of what we are doing (judging, etc.), we might not have had the appropriate concepts (of judging, e.g.), but simple inner experience does not by itself enable us to have the right concepts. Thus
when Lipps says 'nur das Erleben cann der Quell sein, aus welchem der

Logiker schöpft'^5 the point is just a harmless triviality, if true. Let us now consider the second sense of 'psychological'. The mental as thematized in empirical, introspectionist, associationist psychology becomes a private, discrete, event connected with other such events by the laws of association. It is in this sense that Frege and Husserl found psychologism totally unacceptable for obvious reasons. How can the necessary truths of logic, they asked, be founded upon the more or less probable, empirical generalizations of such psychologies? But while they were right in calling into question psychologism in this sense, it is not obvious that the only remaining option is an epistemological theory for which thinking is a grasping of thoughts and knowing a grasping of whatever is known. I shall make myself clearer. The issue is not that of Platonism, which is an ontological question: are there abstract entities? The issue is epistemological: are the fundamental principles of knowledge, or of thought, grounded, in some sense, in the nature of the human mind? I agree with the Frege—Husserl critique that psychology — in the sense of the British empiricist, associationis-

Description and Interpretation


tic psychology — cannot play this foundational role. It is no use to return to the immediacy of Diltheyan lived experience (or, the Brentanian inner perception). The opponent of psychologism would want to strip the mental of all contents. If the mental is reduced to the mere 'grasping', the bare act with no content, if all alleged content is expelled out into the world and the mental left to be the bare Sartrean nothingness, psychologism cannot even find a foothold from which to get off the ground. Psychologism knew only one sort of content within the mental: this is what Locke, Berkeley and Hume, the British empiricists, called sensations, impressions or ideas, Frege called them Vorstellungen. These contents and the laws that weld them together are not the sorts of things that could provide the basis for higher-order cognitive achievements. Rightly, therefore, the anti-psychologists rejected any such attempt, but many of them left the psychologistic concept of the mental precisely as it was. This is where the crux of the matter lies. What, in fact, the anti-psychologistic thinkers did is a poor compromise. The received picture of mental life as consisting of incurably private particulars was not itself challenged. That picture was left unchanged; however, it was argued that it had no role to play in thinking and other cognitive achievements. Let us call these latter the noetic acts. The noetic acts were construed as bare grasping, hare recognition — having no contents of their own and no structure. What is grasped, asserted, recognized falls on the other side of our acts, in fact belongs to the world — a real or irreal entity, a concrete physical object or an abstract entity such as a number, for example. Being bare acts with no content or structure of their own, little can be said or done about them. This compromise left the logician to do his work, and the empirical psychologist his. They are assigned different domains, neatly marked off from each other; but it provided, in my view, a poor philosophy of mind and a poor philosophy of logic. My goal is to bring them closer, to ground philosophy of logic and epistemology in a philosophy of mind — without having to court the ruinous consequences of psychologism.


Description and Interpretation II

This goal can be sought to be achieved in a number of ways, some of which are as follows: 1 Make the rules that mental operations follow important, but the acts and operations themselves dispensable. The rules would have a logical structure, the acts with their subjectivity and privacy would be irrelevant for foundational purposes. This move is easily derivable from the Kantian. This is in fact what the Marburg neo-Kantians, notably Cassirer, did. 2 The preceding move has also a strange similarity with the cognitivist reading of Husserl that Hubert Dreyfus gives. If the Husserlian noema is a set of rules and determines what the object must have to be by way of conforming to these rules, we get rid of the subjectivistic consequences of psychologism, and are able to make a rapprochement with a different sort of psychology, namely, with a 'computational theory of mind'. 46 3 Keep the mental act, but give it a structure. This can be done by assigning a content (not merely an object) to an act, and by making sure that the content is not a subjective, private particular but rather a structure that numerically different acts, performed by different individuals, may share and so is somewhat universal-like. This is done by Husserl in his thesis about the act as having meaning, a Sinn, or the thesis of noesis-noema correlation.47 4 Finally, raise a psychological conception of the mental to a transcendental level — a strategy adopted by transcendental philosophers from Kant to Husserl. There are certainly other possibilities, and I have not tried to be exhaustive. For my present purpose, I shall argue that a good philosophy of mind needs to combine the above four principles — the truths in each of them, that is to say; and, given the resulting enriched picture of mental life, the fundamental insight of an enlightened psychologism can be preserved and reconciled with the undoubtedly valid point of the anti-psychological thinkers. First, some brief comments on each of the four:

Description and Interpretation


1 Cassirer insisted that the essential content of the Kantian philosophy is not the relation of the world to the ego, but rather its relation to cthe legality {Gesetzlichkeit) and the logical structure of experience'.48 His argument rests on the consideration that the concrete ego, the T', is the subject as much of true knowledge as of error. But since the Kantian philosophy is concerned with the conditions of the possibility of truth, we have to be satisfied with a theoretically normative autonomy of the logical principles which need no further philosophical grounding. Now, the principles of the Kantian Grundgesetze which underlie physics^ are, for one thing, reached by a process of'transcendental argument' starting from the fact of Newtonian physics and its concepts of space, time, etc. If you start with a differnt physical theory, you would reach a set of Grundgesetze different from the Kantian. Thus the validity of the set of principles chosen as foundational is relative to the already taken-for-granted validity of a theory. So far so good. But there is a different level of questioning: namely, how are these principles themselves constituted? By what sort of mental operation? As meaning-structures, how are they possible? Recall the Humean question regarding the principle of causality! (Correlatively, how do we understand such principles? Through what sort of mental operations — such as counting, imagining, phantasizing possibilities, etc?) 2 If mental life, in its cognitive operations, consists in entertaining Fregean Sinne, and if a Sinn consists in a set of rules prescribed for whatever is to be the referent, one may — as Dreyfus suggests — appropriate a Frege—Husserl theory into a computational theory of mind. According to Dreyfus, Husserl thought of the noemata or Sinne as meaningful complex formal structures, since even without the digital computer to supply a model for his intuitions, he thought of the noema as a 'strict rule for possible synthesis3.49 And if a computational theory is a mathematical theory about how the mind operates, to ground knowledge on such a theory, even if psychologistic, would hardly generate the consequence which Frege and Husserl drew from psychologism. But there is a deceptive gain: we are to explain, how logical thinking and cognition are possible. We answer by


Description and Interpretation

inserting these abilities into the most basic stratum of mind: the mind is like a computing machine. Our conceptual gain is very little. The psychological theory that is used, itself presupposes formal logic and mathematics, and so cannot provide for their foundation — not to speak of the narrowly syntactical idea of computation that the theory has to work with. This last point incidentally shows the untenability of Dreyfus's interpretation of the Husserlian noema; for Husserl the rules are also semantic as
well as syntactical,,50

3 The third way out appeals to the thesis of intentionality — not the simple Brentano thesis that an act is directed towards an object, but the enriched Brentano—Husserl thesis to the effect that every act has its correlative Sinn, so that we have always a concrete meaningful act — a £m?z-structure. Every act is performed by someone, at a point of time or enduring through a temporal stretch, has a certain act — quality (i.e. is either a believing or a doubting or an imagining or a remembering, etc.) and has a content (or Sinn) which is the structure shareable by other acts performed by other individuals. Given such a conception of mental or noetic acts, there can be a perfectly good eidetic psychology which would discover universally valid laws by which acts of a certain quality and having certain structure and temporal location would intentionally imply acts of some other sorts. Besides, one can simply abstract the Sinne from their embeddedness in acts, and relate them to other Sinne by familiar logical relations. Such an eidetic psychology — as Brentano well saw — can provide foundations for logic and cognition in a certain sense — without entailing psychologism in a perjorative sense. One way of doing this is as follows: Even if we leave out of consideration as irrelevant the historical, factual nature of research or any reference to the psychological/biographical antecedents, there still remains another sort of psychical locution which is involved in an essential manner in theoretical inquiry. One may say, for example, 'Supposing A, is it an open question whether B holds good or not? Is B a valid consequence or supposition?'

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Or: 'If one is certain that A, one cannot have any more doubt that B.' Or: 'We do not know if B, but from the already developed theory we have "reason" to believe that most probably B.3 These locutions concern the context of justification, and eventually refer to certain sorts of relations between appropriate mental acts having specified contents.51 Long before Brentano, the Indian logicians developed a theory of inference as a theory of eidetic, rule-governed, psychology of inferential cognition. Take the following time-worn instance. One sees smoke on a distant mountain. This leads one to remember the rule (previously learnt) 'Wherever there is smoke, there is fire', which one recollects as having been instantiated in cases such as the familiar stove in the kitchen. It is now recognized that this column of smoke is a mark of fire in accordance with the rule just remembered. At this point, if there is no hindrance, the person would infer: 'There is a fire on the mountain'. What we have in this rough account is a sequence of psychological events: a perception, a remembrance, a recognition, leading finally to an inferential cognition. These events belong to one and the same person, and are individuated both by ownership and temporal position. How can any such temporal sequence yield a logical rule? We can do that by (a) replacing the particular cognizer by a variable and universally quantifying over it; (b) by retaining the appropriate relations of succession, but doing away with the actual temporal positions; (c) by identifying the cognitions involved by their contents and relative temporal positions; and (d) by requiring that all cognitions figuring in the rule must have one and the same knower. Then we get a rule such as the following: For any knower S, if S has a perceptual cognition Fx, and remembers the rule 'Wherever F, there G\ as instantiated in the uncontroversial case 0, and then perceives in x the same F as before but this time as figuring in the remembered rule, then S will have an inferential cognition of the form 'Gx' provided there is no relevant hindrance. This is a rough account of how such an eidetic psychology of


Description and Interpretation

cognition would proceed.52 4 Now as to the last, i.e. the transcendental, turn. I shall try to present its nature in several steps. First, let us bear in mind the fact that we do not have a concept of the mental that is not an interpretation of it in the light of a theory: this is true as much of the view that it is an inner, cognitive, computational structure as also of the view that the mental is the bodily of a certain sort. When the mental is taken for granted as being the psychological, one is interpreting it with a familiar psychological theory. One and the same mental act may be conceived as a private particular, as a psychological experience occurring within the interiority of an ego, or under any other description. It is not beside the point that Frege regarded psychologism — as Hans Sluga has shown — as an ally of naturalism. 53 The next step would consist in suspending these, or any such, interpretive frameworks. Now that we recognize that what passed for an ontologically self-evident thesis is in fact an interpretation, let us set them aside and salvage what is an indispensable phenomenal constraint which these interpretations had, in any case, to reckon with. These are, to my mind, the intentionality of the mental life: its directedness towards the world, its having a content or a structure, which is but the way the world is presented to it; its Sinn which is but the world's 'mode of presentation'. Couldn't the act's Sinn be a causal consequence of the world's acting upon the mind? If this were so, the 'transcendental' move would be stopped. But such a naturalism is not any longer open, now that we have set it aside as another of those interpretive frameworks. It is important, for my purpose, to emphasize that that was not an arbitrary decision. A naturalistic psychology simply cannot deliver the goods. The point has been well formulated by Fodor:54 a naturalistic psychology requires lawlike relations between an organism and an object in its environment when one is thinking about the other, but for this one needs a description of the object such that the causal connection obtains in virtue of its satisfying that description. But such a description is not available until all the other sciences are complete. So let us

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begin with whatever description of the object the thinker has in mind — the Sinn or the noema. There is no access to the object per se save by means of such a Sinn. Once, then, the naturalistic framework is 'put under brackets', one can still go on to talk the mentalistic language, but no longer in the sense of psychological theories. The mental acts are now taken precisely as they are experienced/performed, with their /SzVz/z-structure, and as thus referring to their objects. One then begins to see that the act with its Sinn and the object as so described, i.e. under such and such description, are but necessary correlates. Keeping this move in mind, we can take a look at such mentalistic assertions as these:
Cantor: 'Unter einer "Mannigfaltigkeit" oder "Menge" verstehe ich nämlich allgemein jedes Viele, welches sich als Eines denken läst\55 O r even Hubert: 'Die Grundidee meiner Beweistheorie ist nichts anderes als die Tätigkeit unseres Verstandes zu beschreiben, ein Protokoll über die Regeln aufzunehmen, nach denen unser Denken tatsächlich verfährt*6

Or Brouwer: 'This neo-intuitionism considers the intuition of two-oneness (the fundamental phenomenon of the human intellect) as the basal intuition of mathematics which creates not only the numbers one and two, but also all finite ordinal numbers5.57 Or, following Brouwer, Hey ting: 'Mathematical objects are by their very nature dependent on human thought. Their existence is guaranteed only insofar as they can be determined by thought.' 58 We find in these a mentalistic locution that intends to be 'transcendental', rather than psychologistic. Or, perhaps, like the Kantian locution of synthesis, it belongs to 'transcendental psychology', an Ersatz psychology, and so involves a sort of 'psychologism' that does not rob our cognitive accomplishments of their objectivity and inter-subjectivity. What, in effect, I am proposing is briefly: what psychologism and anti-psychologism have in common is a certain conception of psychological discourse. It is an interpretation of the mental as a merely private particular which makes psychologism and so


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also its opponent's stance possible in the first place. What we need to do is recognize this as an interpretation. A genuine overcoming of psychologism requires not rejection of this, or of any other interpretive framework, but first of all recognizing that an interpretive framework should not be construed as an ontology. The framework or frameworks need to be subjected to the famed epoche, and their origins — historical and genetic — sought for. The positive view that has guided this discussion, not defended within it, is that the logical and the mental cannot be radically sundered completely from each other — that our thoughts and theories are products of our acts of thinking, that in the long run all meaningfulness must lie in our being able to perform such actions. To delineate then the constitution of the logical, we need to look at the noetic operations that go into it. Such a constructivism, if psychologistic, should rather be called a sort of transcendental psychologism. The radical anti-psychologistic thinker is wrong in reifying thoughts into things, the psychologistic thinker erred in reducing thoughts into subjective ideas. Each saw one side of the truth: the noetic act and the objective Sinn are but two sides of a structure, separable only by abstraction. Why is it that in spite of these precautions 'psychologism' is a trap into which one always tends to fall? By 'refuting' psychologism — as by refuting 'relativism' — one cannot altogether escape it. It is only by seeing through it, by following it as far as possible, by appropriating the truth in it, that we can hope to overcome it. But the line that separates the eidetic from the particular, the transcendental from the empirical, is so thin, 'the illusion of psychologism' will persist. Aren't such things as concepts, propositions, thoughts, and theories produced by the mind, in the mind and not out in the world. All depends upon how one construes 'production', 'being in', and 'minds'. I have suggested some constructions, but nothing guarantees that a transcendental philosopher will not fall into the trap. Basically, as Seebohm has recently insisted, it is due to the paradox of subjectivity which is both in the world and of the world or as Foucault has put it, is 'an empirico-transcendental doublet'. 59 There are not two different sets of mental acts: one empirical, the other transcendental.

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One and the same act is both, depending upon how one looks at it, and what function one assigns to it.



In section 1.5, I have given a sketch of the idea of a descriptive philosophy. Phenomenology as a descriptive philosophy was, to start with, essentialist and anti-psychologistic. In suggesting that the program of description of essences and essential structures should be replaced by the program of describing and clarifying meanings and the intentional acts in which those meanings are intended, I ran the risk of courting psychologism. Sections 1.6 and 1.7 were accordingly devoted to taking a new look at the method of isolating essences and to the issue about psychologism respectively. Section 1.6 defended the method of imaginative variation as a method of meaning clarification (instead of being one for discovery of essences). As a consequence of reinterpreta» tion of this method, the inner relation between the concepts of 'essence' and 'sense' came to light. The attendant risk of psychologism was examined in section 1.7, and a sort of description of consciousness, i.e. of intentional acts was found to be possible, which nevertheless is not psychologistic: this possibility lies in 'overcoming' a 'psychologistic' understanding of mental life and in construing mind as a domain of 'transcendental' structures by virtue of which objects acquire the meanings they have. It was argued that the mental was often mistakenly identified with the private, the psychological and the pure (cartesian) inner. Rejecting psychologism is not eo ipso excluding the mental from a constitutive role. The thesis of intentionality, taken together with the insights of the long tradition of German idealism from Kant through Hegel, leads to the conception of the mental as a transcendental field of constitution of all objective sense. I am now in a position to return to the main theme of this chapter, i.e. to argue for a close relation between 'description'


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and 'interpretation' in a truly phenomenological philosophy. Like essentialism and psychologism, hermeneutics too is a possibility that shows up from within phenomenology, and like those two this one also needs to be appropriated and overcome. To this task, I shall now turn. But here I shall proceed by setting up a dialectical encounter between descriptive and hermeneutic phenomenologies.

I We all know that in the course of the history of the phenomenological movement, two kinds of phenomenology have come to compete with each other: descriptive phenomenology and hermeneutic phenomenology. The former chooses a perceptual model to understand all human experience, the latter the textual model. For the former, the things to be described are given — be they sensuous particulars or essences, be they meanings as ideal unities or the noetic acts. Even if all putative descriptions are not true, and even if all true descriptions are not apodictically so, there is a certain finality about a description that would make the progress of such philosophizing cumulative in its epistemic accomplishment. For the other, the textual model, nothing is given; recalling a neo-Kantian dictum, one could add: the text qua text is an interpretive task, an Aufgabe, and its interpretation involves a community of interpreters, rules of interpretation and a history of interpretation. Epistemically, this history is not a cumulative accomplishment of ever new acquisitions, but a process of ever new understanding based upon the already constituted interpretive tradition, in which there is not only no finality as a matter of fact but no finality to aim at in principle: no the meaning to be eventually grasped by an ideal interpreter. The very idea of 'grasping' a sense is rejected along with the idea of the meaning of a text. Making this paradigm actual yields hermeneutic phenomenology. An initial resolution of the conflict between the two competing models would proceed by apportioning to each a different domain

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appropriate for its method: to the descriptive phenomenology the domain of 'nature' along with its correlative modes of experience, perception and science, to the hermeneutic phenomenology, 'culture' and its correlative modes of human existence. This initial resolution won't do, for the claims on both sides would know no limits. Nature, it may be said, is a text whose interpretation is historical: neither perception nor physics simply reads off the book of nature. Both are incurably hermeneutic. But, on the other side, this claim to universality of hermeneutics, the claim that human existence itself, in its relation to itself as well as to the world, is interpretive, is, if true, a piece of successful description and this description itself is not an interpretation. Thus, from within each, a tension as well as an inter-involvement between the two approaches shows itself unmistakably. Let us recall two texts: Heidegger's well-known statement to the effect that the methodological sense of phenomenological description is Auslegung, and Hegel's recognition, in his Phenomenology, that while consciousness is hermeneutic and dialectical, the phenomenologist simply watches the path spirit traverses.60 If the initial compromise fails, a rapprochement may now be sought on a higher level. From within descriptive phenomenology, one comes to recognize a common structure — in perception, in understanding language, and in knowing the other mind. In each case there is something presented on the basis of which an appresentation is built up: the noetic, meaning-giving act informs hyletic data, an interpretive act is founded upon a perceptual hearing of the utterance, an ascription of mental states to the other's body on the basis of the presentation of the other's bodily behaviour. This presentation —appresentation structure unites description and interpretation, and may well serve as the paradigm for our reflection on the relationship we are concerned with. But, given this structure, where do we go from here? We again encounter a parting of ways. One may either move the case of perception to the centre, i.e. take its presentation— appresentation structure as the central model and construe the other two cases — understanding of language and knowledge of other minds — on that model. Or, one may take the other two


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cases as paradigmatic and treat the case of perception on those models. What we have, in these two possibilities, are two different ways of construing the presentation—appresentation correlation. Let us take a closer look at these two construals. In the case of perception, the not-presented side of the object that is turned away from me can be presented. In the case of the other mind, the appfesented (i.e. the other's mental states) cannot be presented. In the case of understanding language, the appresented (i.e. interpreted) meaning is also grasped and so, in a sense, presented. In perception, as presentations lead to further presentations, one moves in space. Temporal succession is also involved, to be sure, also temporal anticipation of what is yet to come, but spatiality is the central dimension in which the presented appearances are organized to constitute a perceptual object. In understanding a text, on the other hand, the succession of interpretations unfolds in history; spatiality recedes to the background. In perceiving another person, temporality collapses to the present, but in so far as the other responds and addresses, the temporal openness is kept available, never completely frozen to pure spatiality. It should be added, however, that while textual apprehension is usually built upon history, that is not logically necessaary. An interpreter unaware of history of interpretations may intrude into and upset, unbeknownst to him, the course of that history. Thus, if descriptive phenomenology is forced to recognize interpretation within its work, so does interpretive phenomenology have to recognize, from within its discourse, (a) that interpretation is interpretation of a given text that is not simply a history of interpretations, and that necessarily has to play the role of a constraint and a measure on all attempts to interpret, and (b) that the movement of thought is not always from the putative given to interpreting it, but also from interpretative constructs back to what confirms or disconfirms them. Can one deny (a) and hold that interpretation is always interpretation of earlier interpretations? But even this reply, which as such makes little sense, can be construed to mean that what has been interpreted

Description and Interpretation


as 0 is given as 0, and is now interpreted as £/, so that earlier interpretations go into present givenness. We can in that case again rehabilitate the talk of interpretations as being of the given. The thesis of intermingling of the given and interpretation does not mean that, at any level of discourse, we cannot distinguish between the two, or that we cannot have a distinction between perceptual sense and conceptual sense. What I am driving at is this: although there is an interpretive, appresentational structure in perception, this structure should not be assimilated into the type of interpretative structure that we find in our dealings with a text. Although in both cases there is a sense involved — in fact, a sense giving as well, in perception the sense is already given, and not actively instituted by me.

II In the foregoing pages I have been pressing for a recognition of the intermingling of description and interpretation. But this thesis of intermingling needs to be made more precise. There are descriptions of all sorts, just as there is no one sort of interpretation. I have already distinguished between philosophical and non-philosophical description, and will soon distinguish between phenomenological and non-phenomenological interpretation. These are large questions which demand careful and detailed investigations. Here I can only introduce a few salient distinctions — just enough to serve my present limited purpose. With regard to phenomenological description: it has been said that in phenomenology one does not describe particular things, events, situations, persons or actions, but essences of such entities, and the investigation into essences begins not with actual things qua actualities but only qua possibilities. I leave aside for the present the interesting question whether all essences, or essences of all sorts of things, are of philosophical significance. Surely formal essences are, inasmuch as they are forms of anything


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whatsoever and belong to a formal ontology. Amongst material essences, natural kinds, for example, are not philosophically interesting, but the essence 'natural kind3 is, and the essence of man seems to be of central philosophical interest. Essences of modes of experience such as 'knowledge' or 'moral3 and 'aesthetic3 experiences, or of society, the political and of law are philosophical topics worthy of serious investigation. While it is not possible here even to make a beginning with the question which essences are and which are not of philosophical significance, let me recall that phenomenology as a description of essential structures soon gave way, as though by an internal necessity, to a concern with meanings. For phenomenology was not merely aiming at being a descriptive philosophy, it also aimed at being presuppositionless. In at least three ways, one can bring out the implicit presuppositions of an essentialistic phenomenology. In the first place, the division of the world into the various regions such as matter, organic life, mind and spirit, as also of our experience into such large areas as aesthetic, moral and cognitive experiences, presupposes already historically developed sciences and modes of self-understanding. Even if one discounts such an historicist perspective, one cannot avoid the other pertinent objection against essentialism: namely, that essences are not de re, but de dicto. To recall Quine's famed example, if rationality belongs to the essence of a person (while being biped does not) when regarded as a mathematician, it is being biped (and not rationality) that belongs to the essence of the same person when regarded as a bicyclist. What the example shows is that we can only speak of the essence of an individual under a certain description, and not per se. At most, what are de re are the formal essences such as being an individual, being a property or being a relation. Finally, the method of eidetic variation, construed as a means for discovering essences, has aroused the suspicion of circularity inasmuch as the investigator must already know the essence in order to be able to draw the line beyond which further variations would not be permitted. These considerations make it incumbent upon the phenomenologist, still motivated by the ideal of a descriptive but pre-

Description and Interpretation


suppositionless philosophy, to move from his initial essentialism to a concern with meanings — a movement that is analogous to Quine's 'semantic ascent'. No more confident that things have their essences, the phenomenologist is still secure in his belief that things may be given, referred to, thought of as such and such: those very de dicto descriptions which threatened to shatter the initial confidence in de re essences now themselves become the focus of investigation. These meanings certainly are proper objects of description, and in focusing upon them we do not make any presupposition that is likely to vitiate our claims to philosophical radicalness. The historicist point now is perfectly harmless, for meanings may very well be regarded as 'conferred', or 'taken back' in the course of history, and so do not need that absolute ontological grounding that essences surely need. The method of eidetic variation may now be construed, not as a method for discovering essences but rather as a process by which meanings, already grasped, are to be clarified: the movement not from ignorance to knowledge of essences but rather from vague and merely symbolic understanding to clarified, intuitively filled, understanding. So much for the subject matter of description. In no case, I should repeat, should description be taken to be a sort of picturelike representation. Negatively, the work of descripton is to be distinguished from deductive argumentation, framing of explanatory hypotheses or construction of interpretive — theoretical models. One may very well describe theoretical constructs or acts of constructing such entities, but the construct itself is not a description of anything. I should also reiterate that a sentence, by its mere form, cannot show if it is description or not. One can utter a sentence that is by intention descriptive, but entirely emptily. To be descriptive, the utterance of the sentence must be backed up by intuitive evidence of the form 'This is indeed so'. To be, in addition, phenomenologically descriptive, (a) it must be about an essence or essential structure or about a meaning or meaning structure; (b) it must be self-consciously free from unacknowledged presuppositions, and (c) consequently must relativize that essence or meaning to the intentional act which


Description and Interpretation

constitutes it, and so (d) must be about a correlation structure.

Ill How are we to distinguish interpretations that are phenomenological from those that are not? Consider two modes of interpretation of human action: one psycho-analytic and the other, for want of a better expression, let me call 'metaphysical'. The psycho-analytic interpretation replaces the motives known to and recognized by the agent by 'deeper' motives lying unrecognized in the deep recesses of the actor's psyche. For what I call 'metaphysical' interpretation, let me recall a chain of thinking from Hegel's Phenomenology. At this point,61 Hegel shows how the initial self-certainty of ethical consciousness (which claims to be knowing what it does) is destroyed by (a) the conflict between human law and divine law and (b) the conflict between knowledge and ignorance. In Hegel's terminology, human law is the explicit law of the society; the divine law is the hidden law of the family. The case of Antigone typifies the conflict betwen the two. On the other hand, the case of Oedipus shows how, in Hegel's words, 'a hidden power shunning the light of day waylays the ethical self-consciousness, a power which bursts forth only after the deed is done, and seizes the doer in the act'. 62 Thus, in every deed, a conscious certainty (of one's intentions, principles and goals) is bound up with what is alien and external. But this external reality is also due to the deed itself: 'the act is itself this diremption . . . establishing over against this an alien external reality. That such a reality exists is due to the deed itself, and is the outcome of it'. 63 One then ascribes the act to the actor's destiny. One's own action turns back upon the agent as an alien, inscrutable destiny. The difference between these two modes of interpretation of an action lies not merely in that the psycho-analytic interpretation replaces one motive by another while the other replaces the intended by an unintended consequence — while both appeal to ignorance on the part of the agent. The decisive difference rather is that the psycho-analytic ascription of a new motive, howsoever

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departing from the actor's original self-ascription, is intended to evoke the agent's recognition in the long run. In the other case, the agent blames his destiny, but does not appropriate the new meaning of his action into his own self-consciousness. As Hegel clearly saw, the agent ascribes the unexpected first to an alien power. Hegel knows — but the agent does not unless he becomes a wise man — that the alien power is but the action itself. Descriptive phenomenology cannot see through this 'cunning'. 'Wisdom' is metaphysical knowledge, not phenomenological reflection. The psycho-analyst brings the patient himself to see that he in fact — contrary to his original self-understanding — had been motivated, e.g. by a secret hatred for his father. Hence the new meaning is made his own, the old one is abandoned. This kind of self-appropriation on the part of the agent is not possible in the other case. We thus are able to formulate a criterion for distinguishing interpretations which can become a basis for description, and so may be regarded as phenomenological from those that cannot play that role. Consequently, the thesis of intermingling between description and interpretation must be understood to hold good between truly phenomenological description and truly phenomenological interpretation. It is interpretation of this kind — and not any and every interpretation which is called by Husserl Auslegung. I think when Heidegger writes that the methodological significance of phenomenological description is Auslegung, he has in mind only interpretation in the phenomenological sense as just determined. It is in fact Husserl's intentional explication, which consists in 'laying out or setting forth' the implicit components of intentional life, the components that are 'horizontally' pre-delineated within explicit intentionality.64 Such Auslegung is, as Ricoeur emphasizes, 'mid-way between a philosophy of construction and a philosophy of description'. 65 It is midway first because it is an interpretation that can be confirmed in the further unfolding of one's experience and a description which, like the psycho-analytic, unravels deeper implications and meanings by raising them to explicit self-consciousness. Another way of expressing the distinction between interpreta-


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tion that is phenomenological and interpretation that is metaphysical, is to say that the former is same-level whereas the latter is other-level interpretation. Explicating what is 'on the horizon', making explicit implicit meanings, even psycho-analytic ascription of deeper, hitherto unrecognized motives are moving on the same level in an important sense — one is still ascribing desires, beliefs, love and hatred and their like. But the metaphysician appeals to such agencies as destiny, 'karma', 'providence3 — which is moving to a different level of discourse, not recognizable and identifiable by an agent within his own self-consciousness. It is like positing a theoretical entity as opposed to observational entities. Would then this new level of discourse in terms of metaphysical entities provide an absolutely opaque limit to the phenomenological discourse? In a sense 'yes', in another sense 'no'. To overcome this opacity by reduction to descriptively ascribable properties (meanings and intentions) won't do, for the same reasons as have thwarted reduction of theoretical entities, e.g. in physics. The strategy which I will take is to admit such theoretical entities as irreducible, but, by a sort of 'semantic ascent' to 'transform' them into the corresponding senses or noemata available as such to appropriate modes of consciousness or thinking — and thus rendered available for descriptive phenomenology. By this strategy, the entities under consideration would enter the domain proper to descriptive phenomenology in the guise of 'thought of destiny\ 'anxiety about karma\ i.e. as entertained meanings — not as metaphysical powers. The moral, I think, is that if interpretive acts appear to undercut the possibility of description, descriptive phenomenology, at every step, can recover its lost ground at a higher level by thematizing that interpretive act together with its correlative noematic structure. There is also a deeper moral. Both sorts of phenomenology — descriptive as well as interpretive — can be either naive or selfcritical. When they are naive, they perceive each other as opposed. When they are self-critical, they recognize each other as complementary, and, in fact, as mutually inseparable.

Description and Interpretation


After these general remarks, I would like to illustrate them by taking up a particular case, i.e. theory of action. Let me begin by distinguishing between four different perspectives from which an action can be described, and a theory of action constructed. First, there is the psychological account: a story, in some perspicuous manner, of how beliefs, desires and wants ensue in an action. Such a theory also explains an action by referring to the actor's mental states. As we know well, such an account faces at least two serious problems: first, the epistemological problem about access to these mental events belonging to the actor's mental life; secondly, the scientific — methodological question, if such an account in terms of the agent's mental life can come up with respectable lawlike generalizations. If the project succeeds, and to the extent it does, the theory of action would be a part of psychology which while explaining an action, would also, in that very process, ^describe the action. But this would be a reflective account with a view to a possible scientific status. A strictly phenomenological account — this is the second perspective — has to be from the point of view of the actor but not as reflected upon by him ('I intend to . . .', 'I desire . . . ' ) , but as pre-reflectively experienced by the actor at the moment of acting. This description would be of the lived experience of acting, of acting, in the words of Ricoeur, 'not as a spectacle, but truly as a tangled practical complex'.66 A lived experience of acting is not a reflective thought about acting, but rather a project in the world carried out through the body. Acting has as its sense or noematic correlate what is to be done, the task. Its intentionality is directed towards the future, towards something-to-be-done, what we can call a 'practical meaning' containing the marker for a future temporal dimension. There is also implicit in it a reference to the actor himself: it is to be done by 'me', the project is 'my' project. In choosing this project, I open a possibility in the world. Reflection makes this implicit reference to the ego explicit, as I retrospectively impute an intention to myself.


Description and Interpretation

Pausing with this rudimentary sketch, let us note two important differences between the psychological and the phenomenological accounts. The psychological account is in terms of the inner mental states and outer behaviour. The phenomenological account in terms of intentionality, practical meanings and projects does not make use of the inner—outer distinction. An intentional project is a way of being engaged with the world, as little happens out there in nature it is conceived as res extensa as in the inner world of res cogitans. In fact, the notion of intentionality breaks that distinction more effectively than does the postulation of psycho-physical laws connecting the outer and the inner. It should also be noted that the sense of an intentional act is not a private mental state, but can, in principle, be captured in an objective description of the way the intentional object is presented or projected in the act under consideration. Given this theory of meaning, to talk of the 'subjective meaning' of an action for an actor is misleading — for the actor's own understanding, prereflective or reflective, of what he is doing can be articulated by the actor in a language. The actor's meaning is no more or no less subjective than the theoretical meaning imputed within a theory. In both cases the epistemological question as to how that meaning is to be determined by an outside observer remains equally open. It is by pressing this last question that one may forge a passage from the purely phenomenological to a hermeneutic theory of action. Can we possibly — i.e. in principle — ever know the intended meaning of the actor? This initially epistemological impasse may very soon be transformed into an ontological thesis: if such meanings be useless for theory, then why admit that there is any such? Even if the agent's meaning is expressed by him in a language, Quine's thesis of the indeterminacy of translation rules out the possibility of identifying what his sentences mean. We can only interpret him, and if the supposed intended meaning is of no use why not say that the actor also interprets himself (as much as an author interprets his own text). As a consequence, we all — whether actors or onlookers or theory-builders — are implicated in an inescapable web of interpretations.

Description and Interpretation


Besides these three perspectives: the psychological, the phenomenological and the hermeneutic, I must briefly mention a possible metaphysical perspective. A passage from Hegel's Phenomenology has been briefly discussed earlier. I wish to recall a point from Hannah Arendt's Human Condition: Although each action aims at a purpose, Arendt insists, 'the existing web of innumerable conflicting wills and intentions' make it unlikely that it ever achieves its purpose. The eventual outcome of one's actions is never known to the agent himself. As Arendt puts it, it is as though can invisible hand behind the scenes' determines the outcome, as though man is a plaything of a god. The unforeseeable causal chain that an action triggers and the tragedy of being responsible for consequences one did not anticipate, and the hope that with death one's life-story will be complete and thereby one's essential being 'constituted' for the first time — these make an action appear in a new light.67 With regard to these four perspectives, the practising social scientist may have a different attitude from what a transcendental 'phenomenologist' may or ought to have. The social scientist, depending on his methodology, may choose any of these perspectives. In fact, I believe, he may combine them all. He may use the belief-desire-intention story as a step towards explaining an action by 'redescribing' it. But equally well — and perhaps with greater justification — he may want, in terms of the concepts of intentionality and intended practical meaning, to get a grip on the actor's fundamental project by way of understanding how his world is presented to him and what tasks and possibilities move him to act within that world as he experiences it. The prime task would be to grasp his world view, without which one may be ascribing to the actor beliefs, desires and intentions in terms of our world (e.g. ascribing to him the rationality of the western economic man in terms of maximization of utility.) But this can be done by interpreting his behaviour, including linguistic behaviour, in its total contextual setting. Even the metaphysical perspective is relevant for the social scientist. As the pursuit of causal explanations (why did he intend the way he did?) and causal evaluations (how has the action under consideration been


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effective?) lead in both directions endlessly beyond our familiar limited horizons, we come to encounter the large unknowns: the unforeseen consequences, the inexplicable circumstances, the actor's failure to grasp the full implications of his own intentions, the sheer bad luck and the great tragedies of existence. Let it be noted that transcendental phenomenology is not a Geisteswissenschaft. The issue whether the methodology of the Geisteswissenschaften is to be phenomenological or hermeneu tic (or something else) is an issue that touches the task of transcendental phenomenology only marginally. The possibility of describing/ interpreting one and the same thing (the same action) from various perspectives leads to the transcendental phenomenologist's concern with these various meanings that are ascribed to the same action. Even if the first-level ascriptions of meanings were interpretive descriptions, these meanings as ascribed may themselves become the focus of enquiry and description at the second-level reflection. Each of those meanings would reappear at this second level within quotation works, as it were, in order to be themes for a new level of description. However, this second-level discourse about meanings within quotation marks, as it were, should not be construed as that of a neutral third person observer like an historian of ideas, who 'describes' the various modes of understanding a theme. In that case, this discourse would not be phenomenological. To be phenomenological, the meanings ascribed to the other from the various perspectives must be capable of being ascribed by the actor to himself. As so self-ascribed, or selfascribable do the meanings, qua meanings, become the focus of the transcendental phenomenologist. Consequently, to return to the theory of action, the actor's understanding of what he is doing cannot be simply cancelled. It can be supplemented, amplified, systematically reinterpreted in a manner such that were the actor around he would still recognize the new interpretations as plausible and give his own consent to them. If the original meaning is totally rejected, it must be by the actor himself as coming to recognize the new meaning. I believe this reinforces and highlights the enormously complex

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and complicated manner in which description and interpretation are intertwined within phenomenology.

The Intentional Content

In the preceding chapter, I have brought to the forefront the concept of meaning by which to define the proper subject matter of a phenomenological — be it descriptive or interpretive — philosophy. Meanings, in this sense, are contents of intentional acts, of perceptions, beliefs and thoughts, and, I should add, of actions, rituals and social practices. In this chapter, I want to explain the idea of content that is being used, and to give my views regarding some issues surrounding this notion. In the literature on phenomenology, one uses the technical term 'noema'. When I speak in this chapter, of 'intentional content', I want it to mean the same as 'noema'. By the content of an intentional act, or of consciousness (if one means by 'consciousness' intentional acts), I do not mean the object towards which the intentional act is directed. Thus if I am thinking of the planet Venus, that planet is the object of my thinking — that is what I am thinking about. But if I ask myself, as what am I thinking of that planet, I am trying to ascertain the intentional content of my thinking. To use a familiar locution, under what description am I thinking ofthat planet? Another locution will do, if only we avoid some misleading features of that locution: when I am thinking of that planet, how is it represented in my thought? This view about 'intentional content' may be initially understood as carrying over a familiar Fregean idea of'sense' to the domain of intentional acts. In that case, one


The Intentional Content

may say that the intentional content is the thought one has when one is thinking of something. While this is helpful as far as it goes, the language of 'thought' appears to be strained when one moves from thinking and believing, or their modalities, to perceiving (seeing, hearing, etc.), for it is not as natural to say that when I see an airplane I have a thought 'that is an airplane5, and yet one has an intentional content, one may be seeing that thing as an airplane or, if one lacks the concept of airplane one may be seeing it as a big bird (in which case one has a different intentional content). The language of'thought 3 is helpful in that whatever may be the intentional content can be expressed in language, and when so expressed, those words (or that sentence) would express a Fregean sense (a thought or its components). However, the Fregean picture and the idea of intentional content, as explained above, suggest a sort of separation between 'intentional content' and 'object' which many philosophers have found both unintelligible and objectionable. According to the way I have introduced the idea of 'intentional content', when I am thinking of an object 0, I am not thinking of the content of my intentional act, but in my thinking of 0, an intentional content C is involved. By saying that C is involved in my thinking of 0, I am saying not merely that my act of thinking has C (in a sense that is still to be explicated), but also that it is by virtue of having C (in that sense) that my intentional act is of, or about, 0. Although C is not the object, but rather the intentional content of my act, I can turn my reflective glance at (7, and thereby make C the object of this new reflective act. Now this Fregean understanding of C implies two further theses: first, that I can think of the same object 0, such that the intentional content of my act of thinking is not C but C1 (this thesis corresponds to the Fregean thesis that different senses may refer to the same thing); and, secondly, that even when the object of my thinking does not exist (i.e. the Fregean Bedeutung fails), the act still would have its own intentional content (i.e. the sense). The intentional content is then intrinsic to the act, and not dependent upon the real existence of the object. This assigns to C an intermediate status as between the intentional act and its putative object. This

The Intentional Content


'intermediate status' needs further explication, and is connected with the sense in which an act has its content. One may be dissatisfied with this conception of content on the ground that it too sharply sunders C from 0. The separation may be sought to be overcome in two very different ways. One move, strongly realistic, would be to insist that C is the same as 0, only it is 0 as thought of, or as intended in the act under consideration. The logic of 'qua\ it is possible to argue, is such that the mere thing 0 and the thing 0 qua C are not two different things but rather one and the same where 0 is the thing itself and C is 0 under a certain description. This move may be further strengthened by arguing that where 0 is not existent, i.e. c 5 0 is empty, there is in fact no C to begin with, so that the second of the two theses ascribed to the Fregean reading of C fails. One need not, be it noted, entirely reject the Fregean association, for one may suitably interpret Frege, as Evans and McDowell do, 1 and hold that, even according to Frege, since the sense contains the mode of presentation, in the absence of the referent nothing is presented and so there is no mode of presentation, consequently, no C in the absence of 0. Press this line of argument further, and one transforms the Fregean interpretation of C, by a strange reversal of destiny as it were, to a Russellian one, and ends up by making Husserl2 (and Frege) subscribe to the view that 0 is really a component of C, that when, for example, I think of Mt Everest as the highest mountain in the world, Mt Everest, that mountain itself, is a component of my thought. This last turn, first made plausible in the case of demonstrative thoughts, or rather of thoughts expressed by sentences containing a demonstrative element, may subsequently be extended to all thoughts, either by way of locating a demonstrative element, explicit or covert, in all thoughts or without doing so. The case for locating a demonstrative element in the content is strongest in perceptual experiences.3 But it must be emphasized that this by itself does not unavoidably lead to the Russellian thesis, for one can recognize a variety of (Fregean) C that is demonstrative, and then in the case of perceptual C take such a demonstrative sense (and not the 0 being demonstrated) to be


The Intentional Content

the needed (demonstrative) component of C. The Russellian thesis requires — besides the demonstrative component of the sentence expressing the thought — also an argument to the effect that a demonstrative word has no sense as distinguished from its referent, that its referent is precisely its only meaning. In this chapter I do not intend to take up questions regarding the correct exegesis.of Frege and of Husserl. 4 What I want to comment upon from a phenomenological perspective, is this view that the thing out there which I am thinking of is a component of my thought especially in the case of demonstrative thinking. First of all, there is the intuitive implausibihty that my thought, a content of my consciousness, should have as one of its components a thing out there in the world. Frege expressed this implausibility by remarking that when I think that Mont Blanc is 4000 metres high, the mountain Mont Blanc could not be a component of my thought. 5 This intuitive implausibility can be sought to be removed or perhaps rendered less troublesome, by construing 'content of thought' — as 'object of thought' — in which case the thesis that the object is a component of thought is trivial. The issue is whether it is plausible to hold both that intentional acts have their contents which are other than their objects and that the object is a component of the content. One may want to hold both these theses by insisting that the distinction between object and content is nothing but the distinction between objector se and the very same object as meant, intended or thought of. This latter distinction, though important, need not entail, it may then be argued, that ontologically there are two different things — one outside the mind and the other within. There is but one thing, the object. While this way of drawing the distinction can take care of one of the considerations which have often led to the stronger distinction between content and object — namely, that the same object can be thought of, intended, referred to in various ways — it cannot, it would seem, provide an account of another important consideration — namely, that even when the object does not exist, it may still be thought of, intended, referred to. If one may believe in ghosts (or in false propositions), see pink rats, be anxious about a future eventuality

The Intentional Content


which never comes to pass, the contents in such cases could not possibly be the thing out there as thought of, for ex hypothesis there are no ghosts, no pink rats, the apprehended eventuality did not come to pass. In these cases, one would want to say, the acts have their contents nevertheless, the contents purport to represent objects out there which, however, do not exist. But their non-existence, which may very well be discovered later on, should not affect the content status of the respective contents. One may still remember what one thought, what one saw, what one was so apprehensive about. I have already mentioned three considerations that have weighed heavily in the minds of those who draw a strong contentobject distinction. First, it is intuitively implausible that the thing out there (Mont Blanc, for example) could be a constituent of my thought. Secondly, the same object can be represented, thought of, intended, referred to in many different ways. Third, one can think of, intend, and refer to objects that do not exist. Gareth Evans wants to deemphasize these as important considerations in leading up to a strong content—object distinction, and considers the metaphors underlying them dispensable.6 I do not think so. Nor do I agree that the distinction has nothing to do with the issue of empty terms. The issue is no doubt cognitive even in this last context: how is thinking about one non-existent object different from thinking about another, when both have the same reference in the sense of being about the null class? But I do agree with Evans (and Dummett) that the issue is about understanding: what is it that one grasps when one understands a sentence or a component word? In order for the strong contentobject distinction to be established, it is necessary that understanding the sense of a name does not require us to know the object it names, just as understanding a sentence does not require us to know its truth-value. Here I think Evans's attempts to show that these requirements do hold good tread upon a confusion between thinking and knowing. Whereas Dummett rightly insists that it could not be a requirement for understanding a sentence that one knows its truth-value, Evans, equally rightly, insists that 'someone who understands a complete sentence will be thinking of


The Intentional Content

its truth-value in a particular way'.1 Not only thinking ö/the evening star is thinking of the planet Venus in some way, even understanding the name 'the evening star' in some way, I am willing to concede, involves thinking of that planet. Likewise, I am willing to concede, understanding the sentence 'Mont Blanc is 4000 metres high', in some sense, involves thinking of it 'as having the truthvalue of the thought that Mt. Blanc is 4000 meters high, as one would if one thought that the sentence is true if and only if Mt. Blanc is 4000 meters high'. 8 But this by no way means that I need to know the truth-value of the sentence. One may still want to argue that there should be the assurance that the sentence that we can be said to understand has a determinate truth-value, and so has a referent. Where this is not so, i.e. where a sentence contains empty terms and so has no truth-value and so no referent, we just cannot assign to it any sense and so cannot be said to grasp a thought expressed by it when we say we understand it. What we grasp — if we grasp anything at all — in these cases is an apparent thought. It is true that a sentence containing an empty term, once the
putative term is discovered to be empty, cannot function in the same

way as an ordinary atomic sentence. But as long as it is not discovered to be one containing an empty term, the sentence is understood to be one about the world, and so expressing a genuine thought. After it is recognized to be deviant, you cannot simply say it does not any longer — it also did not then — express any thought. Why not? What is wrong in saying that it only seemed to express a thought as long as it seemed to say something about the world, and now that the latter pretension is exposed the former suffers the same fate? But this, as an argument to prove that a theory of sense presupposes a theory of reference, only begs the issue; it assumes what it wants to establish — namely, that because the reference fails there is no sense. If I am to describe my experience of understanding, I would rather say, I then understood the sentence as I do now, I know now, however — which I did not then — that it contains an empty term that lacks reference. What sense brings with it — it is idle to speculate which is prior — is intended reference. If there is indeed a referent, that is over and above having sense.

The Intentional Content




The Fregean picture is helpful to begin with. But it is important to note, as a next step, that it does not give us full access to a viable notion of content. Two steps are needed to form a reasonably complete account: first of all, to emphasize the connection between the theory of sense and the theory of intentional acts, both of which Frege had in view but between which he did not forge a strong theoretical tie; secondly, to abandon the narrow identification of 'content' with 'thought' while still adhering to the theory of'sense'. The first step is taken by making the idea of sense of linguistic entity (word or sentence) a special case of, or rather derivative of, the idea of sense of intentional experiences. This is done by emphasizing that words/sentences derive their sense from the intentions of speakers. But if a sense contains the mode of presentation of the referent, and if the referent is presented in some mode or other in the experience having that thing for its object, these experiences may be said to have their senses or intentional contents. This would then be true not only of perceptual experiences and actional experience (experiences of acting), but also of emotional and volitional experiences (anger, fear, anxiety, resolution, decision) as well as of aesthetic and religious experiences: in each of these, their objects (which may be things, situations, persons, events, the world around) are presented in some way or other. And yet in all these cases the senses cannot be, without seriously misleading implications, called

In chapter 1, the idea of meaning of action has been briefly used and expounded. In this chapter, I will illustrate this larger notion of sense by developing a special case: perceptual sense or content (or, in the language of phenomenology, perceptual noema). How is it that we not only perceive a hammer but also perceive it as one with which to drive a nail into the wall? We not only perceive a tree but also perceive it as one which bears flowers and fruits, we not only hear noises emitted by a person but hear him speak, we not only perceive the other as a body in motion, but see him waving, walking or running as the case may be. In


The Intentional Content

brief, we not only perceive a thing but also perceive it as such and such. Any theory of perception, therefore, which insists that we perceive only meanings or meaning-structures, as much as any theory which entails that we perceive things but no meanings, must be wrong. We do perceive things, but perceive them as having some meaning or other for us. 9 How can we correctly articulate the situation, allocate its proper role to each aspect, and give a sound description of each? One familiar answer, I believe, needs to be rejected at the outset. This answer consists of three parts: (a) The thing out there produced in me, the percipient, sensations; (b) I, my mind, understanding or thinking, 'brings' these sensations 'under' concepts that have been learned; (c) consequently, perception is, in reality, a perceptual judgement which is about the thing out there, but which predicates of that thing determinations deriving from the concept 'under' which the sensations are 'brought'. On this theory we perceive a thing inasmuch as the thing causes the sensations, and we perceive the thing as such and such inasmuch as we bring those sensations 'under' the appropriate concept or concepts. This Kantian answer needs to be rejected on three grounds: (a) 'being about' is not the same as 'being caused by'; (b) the sensations are theoretical constructs rather than given data; (c) all perception is not perceptual judgement. A thing's looking as 0 need not be assimilated to the perceiver's judging that the thing is 0. Can we say something more about this 'looking as 0'? There is another possible answer from within the phenomenological school which, for the same reason as above, has to be rejected. This answer may be regarded as based on the interpretation of the Husserlian noema as an abstract entity such as the Fregean Sinn.10 It will not serve my present purpose to examine this large, and enormously attractive, interpretive stance. What concerns me is only the relevance of this interpretive stance to the case of 'perceptual noema'. Extending the idea of intentionality to perception, and understanding intentionality as the act—noema—object structure, one may want to say that a perception, as an intentional experience, has its noematic content

The Intentional Content


through which it is of whatever happens to be its object. One may then interpret the perceptual noema as much as noema in general as but an abstract entity (the Fregean 'Sinn* extended beyond its original semantic domain to all intentional acts). How can we understand this thesis that the perceptual noema is an abstract Fregean Sinn? The best way to understand it is to begin by construing all perceiving as perceiving that . . ., so that my perceiving this yellow pad on which I am writing is really perceiving that this pad on which I am writing is yellow. The perceptual sense or noema, then, is the same as the meaning of the sentential clause following 'that', which — in Fregean and Husserlian semantics — is an irreal entity, a proposition or a thought. How does this entity serve as the medium of reference to this object in front of me? To this question one may want to give any or both of two answers: for one thing, the sense contains a set of descriptive predicates F, G, //, which are together true of the thing I am seeing and a demonstrative 'this—here—now'; for another, the perceptual experience has, besides the thought component, a sensory-hyletic component which is caused, or occasioned, by the thing I am perceiving. One may combine these two answers by claiming that the indexical component is occasioned by the causal relation, while the descriptive predicates are true of the thing. Both together give to the sense the role that it plays in mediating perceptual reference. This answer, as I have formulated it, is not, in my view, acceptable for the following reasons. First, I find no reason to agree that all perceiving is perceiving that. On the contrary, linguistic usage and report of one's perceptual consciousness support that one perceives a thing, an event or a person. My perceiving the yonder red bird is not reducible to perceiving that the yonder bird is red (why not to perceiving that the yonder object is a red bird, or that the yonder red object is a bird!) Secondly, if the content/meaning of my perceiving the (yonder) red bird is the same as the meaning of the sentence 'The yonder bird is red', i.e. the proposition or thought expressed by it, then


The Intentional Content

one would be identifying the content of thought and the content of perception. This consequence, not absurd in itself, I find counterintuitive. I want a theory of perceptual meaning that does not end up assimilating it to conceptual meaning. One reason that has tended to promote such assimilations is the perhaps undeniable fact that unless one is capable of thinking of red birds, one cannot visually perceive one such. Even if one accepts this, with suitable emendations, it by no means follows that the content of perceptual consciousness is identical with the content of that thought which one must be capable of entertaining if one were to be able to have that perception. It would not do to urge, to set my anxiety to rest, that what distinguishes perceiving a red bird and the thought that the (yonder) bird is red are the presence of the demonstrative element and the sensuous hyle (causally) occasioned by the object. This is not satisfying, for the demonstrative may be present in the conceptual thought (as when one understands the meaning of a sentence such as 'This bird over there is red' but does not, perhaps is not in a position to, perceptually verify it); it may not be causally occasioned by the object (as when one uses 'that' in a hallucinatory situation); and, finally, because the sensuous component should not be a mere extrinsic 'coating' to the thought, but must somehow be inseparable from the perceptual meaning. If the perceptual meaning is not the abstract meaning, is it the concrete percept? The percept theory, as Roderick Firth expounds it,11 rejects the distinction between the datum and its interpretation, and holds that the content of consciousness during perception is an object-percept: not the physical object out there, but a new object which can be isolated by what Firth calls 'perceptual reduction'. What we 'really see' is 'a red patch of a round, somewhat bulgy shape', 'an appearance', maybe a Gestalt. Is this the perceptual meaning? One may understand Husserl's talk of 'the perceived precisely as it is perceived' in this sense of a percept or an appearance. Clearly, this percept, even when understood G^to/^-theoretically, cannot be the perceptual meaning, it cannot be that as which we perceive the thing whose appearance or percept it is. The 'perceptual reduction', which is the same as the phenomenological—psychological reduction, may yield what

The Intentional Content


is the content of perceptual consciousness in the sense of a 'real' presence within its immanence, but it does not yield that which claims to be out there. For perceptual consciousness, something is bodily given out there (leibhaft gegeben). We are trying to articulate precisely how, the precise manner of its presentation. It is not given as a percept. The idea of a percept, however phenomenologically purified, cannot yield the perceptual meaning, also because it is a concrete particular and, like any other particular, is a brute fact which is just what it is and cannot contain, implicitly, what it is not. And yet a thing is perceived as containing references to (a) what is not in the percept, and (b) what is other than the thing. As is well known in phenomenology of perception, presentation of a side that is turned towards me, as I perceive a thing, points to the side that is turned away from me. The given aspect points to aspects that are not given. Such descriptions are of phenomena which could not characterize a percept qua percept. (This is why the Gurwitschean perceptual noema, so much like an appearance, is yet not quite one, containing as it does references to other such noemata.12) Moreover, the thing is perceived as containing references to what fall physically outside of it. The hammer is perceived as one with which to drive a nail, for example. Such a system of references constitutes its significance and finds for it a place in the perceiver's world. Perceptual meaning must then be sought in a place that is midway between the abstract conceptual thought and the concrete G^taft-theoretical percept. It needs to have a generality that is not the generality of a conceptual sense. It also needs to have a concreteness that is not the concreteness of a look. How can we articulate this middle status? There are several ideas in the literature from which I draw my suggestion. Firstly, there is the Kantian distinction between a concept and its schema10. The schema, as is well known, is universal without being abstract and discursive, and concrete without being a particular. Are the component senses of the total perceptual meaning such schemata, rather than abstract concepts?13 Secondly, let me recall Rudolf Arnheim's concept of visual


The Intentional Content

thinking.14 This concept may be misconstrued so as to obliterate the distinction between seeing and thinking and to make the perceptual content a Fregean thought; or, it may be misconstrued — as by Arnheim himself — as suggesting that concepts are but perceptual shapes. But the really valuable point made by Arnheim is that perceiving shape is grasping of generic structural features. Perception consists not in abstracting common elements from many particular instances — but in seeing the particulars as deformations of an underlying structure. As Hans Jonas puts it: 'Sensing of qualities and forms, abstractive indeed, occupies a middle ground in the scale from densest concreteness to rarest abstractness'. 15 Thirdly, there is Gibson's concept of 'affordance5: the affordance of events are the invariant properties which imply 'the meaningful dimensions of interaction an organism might have with its world'. 16 If the physical property of a thing is rigidity, its affordance structure is walk-uponable. If the physical structure is to be brittle, the affordance structure is breakability. To Husserl, we owe two concepts which are helpful for the present purpose. Husserl seems to have worked his way towards a concept of concrete noema which not only changes with some changes in the hyletic data, but which also includes the temporal position and horizon of the perceived object, thereby locating the perceived thing not in space alone but also in the experiential time. The other idea of Husserl is to be found in the Crisis: it is the distinction between the vague concepts of everyday life and the precise, idealized concepts of logical scientific thinking. The distinction pertains not merely to spatial shapes but also to qualitative concepts, such as colour and sound concepts. With these ideas in mind, let me return to a standard mode of articulating the structure of the perceptual noema. The noematic core, on this account, has two parts: a set of predicates (F, G, //, . . . ) , and an X which is the 'bearer' of those predicates. In perceiving a hammer as a hammer, one perceives an X, something which is of such and such size, shape, capable of such and such use, a tool, and so on and so forth. This account, with which I am basically in agreement, has three problems: one concerns the

The Intentional Content


so-called 'X, the other the 'predicates' and the third concerns the predication itself. Firstly, as to the 'X5: since any way the X can be further determined passes over to the predicate place, the X itself remains like a bare particular, a merely determinable, which, as such, is the same in all perceptual noemata and therefore a universal. One may even complain that the X in all perceptual noemata is the same, and that it designates the mere function of being £the bearer' of predicates. One would want to be able to articulate the fact that the bearer in each case is indeed different. (Compare the problem in Kant-interpretation: did Kant hold that there is one transcendental object or many?) Secondly, as to the predicates F, G, //, . . . These are, to be sure, predicate-senses. But predicate-senses such as 'rectangular', 'yellow', 'water' can function as well within the noemata of conceptual thinking. Shall we say that these senses are the same as those which occur within appropriate perceptual noemata? We are back with the anxiety expressed earlier, whether perceptual noemata (or their component senses) are abstract, conceptual senses. Since I have maintained that they are not, the standard mode of articulation of the perceptual noema should, to that extent, be altered. Thirdly, as to the predication: the pattern 'the X which is . . .' is taken over from the standard logical form c(iX) (X is F)\ The point at issue is not whether this form correctly captures the form of the perceptual statement 'That is a red bird', but rather whether the form of any perceptual statement can be used to articulate the noema of a perception which is not a statement at all, or of a perception which is not a perception that, but, instead, a perception of. What is perceived, precisely as it is being perceived, must contain attributions, but not necessarily predication. One may want to deal with the first problem, namely, that regarding the 'X\ by adding a demonstrative to the X, the noematic core then would be 'this X which is F, G, H, . . .'. But, in view of the third problem, I would prefer to do away with this entire strategy, and rather hold that what I perceive is this


The Intentional Content

yellow pad and not something which is yellow and a pad: the noematic core, then would be 'this yellow pad'. Against this suggestion, two objections may be raised: one concerning the basic philosophical issue, and the other from the point of view of Husserl exegesis. The first objection would be that, whereas the standard representation of the noema as 'the X which is F, G, //, ... .' clearly separates the purely referential part, namely 'theX', from the descriptive-interpretive part 'which is F, G, H, . . . ' , my representation of it as 'the F, G, / / ' does not separate these two parts and either refers or interprets or does both as a whole. Since the fundamental point of view this effort embodies is to articulate the meaning that 'overlays', as it were, the perceptual object, and that also, in some sense, determines reference, i.e. the perceptual consciousness's being of this object rather than that, the standard representation comes closer, it would appear, to satisfying these expectations by clearly delineating a purely referential element and meaning components that function as how the object is perceived. My representation fails this test — does it not? — by not clearly showing these two components. My reply would consist in turning this seeming disadvantage into a merit. It is of course true that phenomenology is committed to a distinction between object and meaning, and that noema is the meaning through which reference to the object takes place. Perceptual noema 'represents' exactly how the object is given in perception. In perception the object is not given as a bare something to which meanings are attributed, but rather as a meaningful thing. The way the perceptual object is given hides, rather than showing, the object—meaning distinction. The perceptual noema, so it seems to me, must reflect this naivety, and not that reflective distinction. It is true that a further noematic reflection would show that the object could have been perceived differently, from a different perspective. But, for this perception, this is the object, and so must the perceptual noema testify without the least hesitation. The Rusellian translation (of 'the present King of France' to 'the one and the only person who . . .') is generated by a scepticism that is out of place in the perceptual situation where the object is leibhaft gegeben.

The Intentional Content


Since this chapter is an exercise in phenomenology, Husserl exegesis becomes strangely relevant, for we are in a sense seeking either to understand or to apply some of his fundamental insights. Three exegetical questions come to my mind. Firstly, is the object of perception, for Husserl, always a real existent out there: what about Lady Macbeth's dagger? In the second place, does not Husserl himself write that the noematic core, the Sinn, is a Satz ~ suggesting that all intentional acts, including perception, are propositional? And, then, how can we reconcile my construction of the perceptual noema with the Husserlian thesis that under certain circumstances, i.e. when a perception confirms a prior signitive intention, there occurs a synthesis of identification between the two noemata: that of the prior signitive intention and that of the confirmatory perception? It does seem that there can be a synthesis of identification only if the perceptual noema, like the other one, is propositional in structure. Let me briefly touch upon these three questions. Even in the case of hallucination, the ostensible object is 'bodily given'. Bodily givenness does not amount to being a real entity. It is a phenomenological and not an ontological concept. It is true to take up the second exegetical question — that Husserl characterizes the noematic core as Satz. But 'Satz' here means 'that which is posited', and so need not be construed as a predicative positing. The third question is the most difficult of the three. For my present purpose the following remarks may suffice. First of all, all perception is not confirmation or disconfirmation of a prior signitive intention. Therefore it would be unfair to expect a theory of perception to be a theory of evidence for prior hypothesis, or a theory of fulfilment of prior empty intention. However, perception can play this role, and, when it does so, its intentional essence, i.e. its 'fulfilling sense' achieves an identity with the sense of the signitive intention. Now it should be obvious that the fulfilling sense and the signitive sense could not be the same, for, were they the same, the mere empty symbolic thought could be its own fulfilment, and the fulfilling sense could not add anything to it, there could be no 'synthesis of identification'. The identity is a synthesis of differents: of


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thought and intuition, or rather of their respective senses. The thought 'that thing is F, G, / / / a n d the perceptual sense 'an F, G, H thing over there3 enter into such a synthesis by virtue of which the former, i.e. the thought, is fulfilled, confirmed or verified by appropriate evidence. This is not to say that a perception that . . . cannot also play the same role. But even in such cases, if what I have said earlier is correct, it is not identical predicate-senses that function on both sides. The perceptual predicate-senses are rather like schemata which correspond to the conceptual predicate—senses. If a conceptual predicate-sense be 'rectangular' the perceptual predicate-sense would be the concept of a visual shape rather than of the geometrical concept, and yet the one 'fulfils' the other. Using then the subscript p, we transform a conceptual predicate sense to its corresponding perceptual sense, '//' corresponds to '//p ? . The perceptual meaning will consist of such senses in an attributive concatenation. Its form would be: 'this Fp, Gp, // p ' rather than the standard one 'this X, which is F, G, //'. (Is the sense of 'this' to be carried over without the subscript p, or shall we say that since the sense of 'this' is always perceptual, there is only one sense that belongs to it — the one conveyed by 'this', and so the use of the subscript may just be avoided without giving rise to misunderstanding? I really am not sure which way to go on this point: Are there two different senses of 'this'?) 17 The subscript p has to be so understood that the component sense to which it is affixed is thereby inserted into the life-world of the percipient. There is no distinction between object and meaning within life-world. One encounters, perceives, deals with things, persons, events and situations. These are meaningful objects, interlaced and held together by references to each other (in different degrees of intimacy, closeness and relevance) and to the projects and purposes of the percipient. A thing is never perceived by itself. It is always perceived in a place, with other things, and as bearing references to other things not present in the perceptual field. These references are what constitute perceptual meaning, the how of its presentation.

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There are various views as to how a meaningful object gets constituted for perception. As long as one simply describes how things are perceived, one is doing static-descriptive phenomenology. When one asks how is it that things acquire the significance for perception that they do, one is about to do what is known as genetic phenomenology. If genetic phenomenology is to be not merely an account of genesis, but also a phenomenological account, that account has to be non-causal. It is to be an account of how a new interpretive stance comes into being, and how it is transmitted in general; the story has to be in terms of sedimentation of meanings constituting a tradition and inheritance of a tradition. But should one be looking for how an uninterpreted datum, the bare particular, acquires the meanings that it has for us, there is no phenomenological answer. Going beyond and under my life-world I can reach only a more primitive life-world. In this sense there is no going beyond perceptual meaning, one can only discover another perceptual meaning at the base of the one we have to begin with.



The idea of 'intentional content' as it has been presented in this chapter has been, it might seem, taken out of its proper context. The context of an experience (along with its content) is threefold: (a) the physical—causal context of the world; (b) the psychological—genetic context of an individual's mental life; and (c) the social context which provides the genesis of the conceptual framework within which the contents find articulation and, maybe, their logical structure. The physical context provides the sensory stuff without which the intentional content would be empty, i.e. lack specificity. The psychological—genetic context provides the background of learning, habit and memory, which makes every intentional content a recreation of what already has been learnt and lends it the special point of view of one's unique biography. The social context lends the content its conceptual


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aspect, the aspect that is expressed in language and that is a shared inheritance of the community's accomplishments. What I am arguing for, in this chapter, is the thesis that although in reality these three contexts determine the intentional contents of my experiences, such determinations may be, by reflection, internalized and appropriated as the inner and outer horizontal structures of those experiences, and so a methodological individualism for the descriptive study of those contents is perfectly satisfactory. Over and above this, I will claim that it is this individualistic and individually theory of content that will be presupposed by any theory of context. First, as to the physical context: as long as the content is being construed as an internal state of an organism, product, in some sense, of the environment the theory of content would presuppose an account of the physical context. But any such theory about the organism—environment relation has itself to be understood as a complex thought structure, and so as a possible content of thinking about the content—world relationship — and therefore as a second level content. A causal story, of whatever sort, of how the content is generated has to be a way of representing the content and its relation to the world. There is no reason why one should deny outright the validity or appropriateness, or even theoretical need for such a story. What kind of causal story one wants would depend upon what scientific theory one chooses to embed one's story in: it may be a story in terms of physics or of biology or of neurophysiology or of cognitive psychology — or of some ideal, perfect, all-comprehensive science. The point, I think, that is often forgotten, is that those who want a causal theory of content believe in a scientific realism with regard to both theories and theoretical entities. But the question about the nature of content precisely rests upon the dubiousness of scientific realism regarding theories: theories are contents of appropriate modes of thinking, they are ways of thinking about whatever is their subject matter. A causal story, then, is not relating content to world, but one content to some other contents — or perhaps, more fittingly, it is relating a content to the world through the media of a complex system of contents. What follows, then, is not that any

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such story is to be ruled out ab initio (philosophy cannot legislate what stories appropriate sciences should or should not tell) but that any such story already presupposes an account of content — the phenomenological — that is more primitive and original. If the physical context, to put the matter in another way, can only enter into phenomenological discourse about contents as belonging to the external horizon of a content — note that external horizon is also horizon — only its discovery lies in the direction of going beyond the given content to other contents anticipated through your, the investigator's mode of thinking articulated in a theory — what about the social context which, unlike the physical, can only be described in intentional language and therefore, while admissible into my basic intentionalist stance, appears to resist the individualism I seem to be advocating? There are two sorts of questions in reply to which one is likely to, perhaps must have to, bring in the social context: one of these concerns how an individual learns the way of thinking which characterizes his experience, the other concerns the linguistic articulation of his thought. But I want to separate these two, as raising external questions, from the question regarding the internal texture of the content. Can it be said that the social context is 'constitutive of content, not external to it'? 18 In thus deciding that the question of articulation, and such questions about the possibility or not of private language, are not germane to the issue, I am of course assuming that not only a Fregean sense but also a phenomenological intentional content is not itself a linguistic entity, although I wish to emphasize what has been called the thesis of expressibility,19 the thesis namely that every phenomenological content can be expressed in language. I will comment on this thesis a little later. For the present, the point to insist upon is that while a subject's way of thinking (perceiving and acting) may have been socially determined, i.e. the social context provides a clue to understanding why a subject's intentional content is what it is, it, no more than the physical context, does not enable us to ascertain what the content is. One may argue that even if we ascertain what the content is, it is by taking into account either only the physical context or the social context


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or both that we can hope for an explanation of that content. To this there are two replies: in the first place, if your theory's concept of explanation requires the appropriate causal story, then, of course, appeal to the context is the way of explaining, but that is only a trivial consequence of your theory. The fact is, there is no one concept of explanation. My claim is that there is a possible explanatory enterprise which would proceed by way of relating contents amongst themselves and aim at exhibiting how they cohere or do not, and how by virtue of their mutual relations of coherence they make possible a theory of the world they are purportedly about. The contents would then play the role of building blocks out of which our theory of the world is made. This large claim will be illustrated in chapter 3 of this book. There is, however, another possible reply to the argument that only by appealing to the physical context or to the social context or to both, that one is in a position to explain a given content: this reply is that what the contextual story explains is the fact that a subject has a certain content, but not the nature of that content nor the relation ofthat content to its alleged object. It is the empirical contingency that this fact is, that is amenable to that sort of explanation, not the essential structure of the content. The contextualist — in the present case, the advocate of the essential role of the social context in content formation — will be dissatisfied with the above argument. He may argue that it is precisely a content's ability to refer to the thing it does refer to, that cannot be accounted for by the individualistic—solipsistic theory and requires appeal to the role of the social (and causal) context. This difficulty is sought to be highlighted by the famed case of the Doppelgänger of Ralph, who has the same solipsistic meaning in his head as Ralph has, but who may be thinking of quite a different object — in one case, of water (= H 2 O), in the other case, of XYZ. If meaning determines reference, then meaning could not be something 'in the head', for in the present case although the same putative meaning is 'in their heads', the two — Ralph and his Doppelgänger — use the same meaning to refer to two quite different things. Discussion of this sort of case suggests that two things need to be taken into account in the

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theory of meaning: how the physical environment determines what is 'in our heads', and how the social environment (what the experts say) determines its reference. The result is the need for recognizing, in the words of Pettit and McDowell, that one's meaning (in the case of natural-kind words), though intuitively a state of mind, is 'world-involving'.20 It is necessary to briefly reflect on this celebrated genre in order to bring out the specific nature of the phenomenological concern with 'content'. The intentional content may be, depending upon the nature of the experience of a subject, either a perceptual content (how precisely something is perceived) or a theoretical thought content (how something is thought to be, maybe from within a theory). The perceptual contents of Ralph and his Doppelgänger are the same: they both perceive the stuff as colourless, liquid, etc. The point of the case seems to be that the identity of the perceptual intentional content does not assure identity of the referent: the theoretical thought content 'H 2 O' is true of the stuff in one case, not in the other. To which of the two combinations of perceptual content and theoretical thought content, the word 'water' — in the English language — is attached is, of course, a matter of convention (and expertise): the linguistic meaning of the word 'water' is determined by the social context, but not — in the same sense — the intentional contents of perceptual experience of a stuff and the thought contents of scientific thinking about that stuff. The point of this response is that phenomenology is not concerned with the meanings (in one's head) of words of a language, it is concerned rather with the intentional contents of various sorts of intentional experiences (perceptual or not). There are two other associated points that need to be taken note of: first, that 'meaning' in the phenomenological sense is not to be confused with 'essence'; secondly, that the thesis that an intentional content determines the referent should be taken with some qualifications. The concept of essence is an ontological concept. An essence, by its very definition, must truly belong to all members of the class (of whose members it is the essence). Meaning in the phenomenological sense, i.e. as intentional con-


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tent, is how a thing is taken to be, how it is presented, perceived or thought, it does not as such provide a guarantee as to how the thing truly is. In this sense, it is wrongheaded to ask, what is the meaning of 'Aristotle', although one may legitimately ask, what is the essence of Aristotle. However, one can ask how Aristotle was or is presented to someone whether his or our contemporary — and so what 'Aristotle5 means to him. In other words, intentional content pertains to an act and to the subject whose act's content it is — although in different ways. Such a content may turn out to be true or may turn out to be false. The idea that the sense of 'Aristotle' is a property of Aristotle is indeed misleading. At most, one can say, attaching a sense to 'Aristotle' implies ascribing a property to Aristotle, although such ascription may be false. If this distinction between 'intentional content' and 'essence' is justified, one cannot simply say that the sense determines the reference in the sense that one who apprehends the sense eo ipso knows, or is assured of a path by following which he can know who the referent is in case there is one. If there is no referent, the putative path will of course fail, in a rather trivial sense, to lead up to it. But if the referent does indeed exist, can the sense still fail to lead up to it? In view of what has been said by me about intentional content this may fail to be true of the object even in case there is one. Can we then say that the sense understood as intentional content does after all determine the referent? Clearly, ontologically it does not. A subject may represent a thing as having a property which it does not in reality possess. If for an intentional content to determine reference is to guarantee its own truth, it does not do so. It does, however, determine the mode of presentation of what is intended to be the referent. Neither of the two possibilities — the intended does not exist at all, or not the intended thing, even if existent, but something else unbeknownest to the subject satisfies the mode of reference, i.e. has the property being ascribed — is excluded by the fact that such an intentional content obtains. A study of consciousness and its intentional contents provides no direct route to ontology. However, since any ascription of

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features must be via an intentional content, no ontology can overstep the limits of a theory of intentional contents. It should also be noted that what I have denied is that intentional contents are linguistic meanings or Fregean senses — which, in any case, does not entail that the latter cannot be construed as intentional contents. On the contrary, I want precisely to say that Fregean senses — be they linguistic meanings or not — are intentional contents of a certain sort, contents of a certain mode of consciousness that may be called 'understanding' of a linguistic expression. Mention has been made, earlier in this section, of the thesis of expressibility — the thesis namely that the intentional content of an experience can be linguistically expressed. While I want to maintain this thesis, we must be able to formulate it precisely. For this purpose, several aspects of the overall situation of articulating an experience need to be isolated and clearly held in view. First of all, the locution of 'expressing' is ambiguous as between (a) naming, (b) describing and (c) some other, not quite clear, sense. In sense (a), nothing in fact is inexpressible. One can, in principle, assign a name to the most elusive of experiences and by using that name refer to it. (Such a name need not belong to anyone's private language. It can be a name such as 'the experience of Smith at time f. Hence the issue of private language is not germane.) If 'describing' means giving some structure of the experience, some experiences are most probably ineffable, i.e. cannot be expressed in sense (b). But descriptions in a more liberal sense of an account, which may help an auditor to refer to the experience described and distinguish it from other experiences, are not thereby ruled out: in this liberalized sense, naming may also amount to describing. In an important sense, every experience is ineffable, but in a no less important sense every experience can be linguistically referred to by means of a name or a descriptive phrase. Frege was right that a psychological state is not communicable. My feeling of despair is not communicable in the sense that no one else can have or experience identically the same feeling, it is not sharable. But this is not to say either that there is no sense in which a feeling is


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shared (think of sharing another's suffering as in sympathy21) or that one, even a person other than the experience^ cannot linguistically refer to it by a name or a description. (Contrast a physical object with a psychological state in this regard. We can ask: is a physical object 'communicable', 'shamble'? Can two persons have the same body? Can a physical state be expressed? It surely can be referred to.) Let me now turn to sense (c), a not quite clear sense of'expressing': in this sense, senses and thoughts alone are expressible, not subjective experiences. But what precisely is this sense? I should distinguish between 'expressing' and 'indicating' or 'announcing' 22 . If a person says 'I am in pain', his utterance expresses his thought that he is in pain (this is not to gloss over the complications arising in connection with the sense of an indexical), but 'anounces' or 'indicates' the pain-experience of the speaker. In sense (c), the pain-experience itself is not expressed, but a thought, a sense referring to that experience, is, while the experience is thereby 'announced'. 23 What is expressed then is a sense. If the Fregean sense is understood, as in this chapter, as an intentional content, then it is such contents that are expressed in sense (c). To say this, however, is not to say that the utterance is about that content. While an experience is being indicated or announced and a sense expressed, the object/about/which is the referent of the subject-term ('I') and the intentional object of the total predicative sentence is the fact that . . . I need not enter into all the complications raised by the last statement, but part of the situation, the part which is in my view relevant for my present purpose, is as follows: Michael Dummett has argued that in uttering a sentence or a name, what is being talked about is the referent, but the mode of reference, the sense is thereby shown but not talked about. 24 My third sense of 'expressing', the sense in which it is senses that are expressed, is precisely this showing. In making a reference, the sense is shown but the subjective experience of thinking is indicated or announced. ISow, of course, the sense which is being shown may itself be referred to as by a name of the form 'the sense of . . .', but in doing so a new sense will be shown.25

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The foregoing discussion situates us in a position from where it is possible to avoid two extreme views regarding a subject's grip on the intentional contents of his own experiences, i.e. on the modes of givenness to him of such objects as are objects of his experiences — in general, on what those objects mean to him, or to put it differently (misleadingly but in conformity with a standard philosophical usage) on his meanings. One extreme view is the thesis of transparency, which is the thesis that a subject knows his meanings, that he has a full and infallible grip on them (which is wrongly construed by some critics to imply that the subject is looking at them with an inner eye as it were). The other extreme view is that sense and intentional contents are theoretical entities posited for explanatory purposes. They may, on this view, none the less be real, only the subject has no immediate access to them, no privileged access in any case — so that what the content of one's experience is may be more securely hypothesized by experimental data about the subject's responses to experimental situations. According to the view that I am here developing, the intentional content is neither something I am mentally seeing as and when I focus my consciousness on whatever is its object, nor an opaque explanatory entity hidden from my awareness. It is rather that of which I am non-positionally aware, i.e. aware without objectifying it. I am focusing upon the object, but non-objectifyingly aware of what the object means to me — an awareness that is not an apodictic grip. It is because the subject has such an awareness of his own mental contents that he can either accept or reject the investigators' hypothesis about his (the subject's) mental contents or, in another situation, reject his own earlier self-ascription and replace that with a new self-ascription. Thus, to the principle of expressibility as stated
above, I shall add the principle of phenomenological accessibility.

The most embarrassing problem for the sort of individualism I am defending may be stated in some such manner: from where does an experience derive its content? The most obvious answer in terms of causality has been ruled out, and one does not want to say that experiences — preceptions, beliefs, thoughts, emotions — are, as it were, born with their innate contents. If it


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were so, that indeed would be a miracle; still more implausible would be the (undeniable) fact that such (innate) contents would refer to and, sometimes, be true of the real, inter-subjectively available world out there. I propose to deal with this problem through a series of remarks which are intended to throw light on the precise nature of the thesis that this chapter is defending, and thereby on how such a thesis can deal with the question at hand. In the first place, an experience is individuated as much by its owner and by the time of its occurrence as by its content. If an experience is intrinsically experience-of-O-qua-C, C's contenthood as much as O's objecthood, both intrinsically belong to it. It is not as though an experience is first there, contentless and objectless, and then receives their imprint from outside. That is a misleading picture. What then needs to be taken account of is why this subject has this experience, not why this experience has the content it has. There are philosophies which begin with a presumed knowledge of the world, i.e. of things in it, and using that knowledge seek to give an account of why subjects have the experiences they have. In their account, the subjects are also inner-worldly things (organisms) with which the other things (environment) interact. But there are philosophies which find the access to such an account blocked — in case the account is advanced not merely as a scientific story, but also as a philosophical account claiming to render experience itself intelligible. The access is blocked because the putative knowledge of things in the world as well as of the subject conceived as an organism is not achieved independent of experiencings and their contents. So what these philosophies propose is to begin with experiencings, their contents and their object, and then to found ontology upon such a theory of experience which may well be called phenomenology. Within phenomenology, then, the question how, from what source experience derives its contents, cannot be asked. To say this is not to say that experiencings with their contents are uncaused, it is to say that both affirming and denying their causal ancestry are ruled out by the nature of the philosophical project of providing any poss-

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ible ontology with a grounding. In this regard, Hume, Kant and Husserl subscribe to a common project. Neither Humean impressions nor Kant's sensible representations nor Husserl's intentional acts can be proper subject matter for a causal determination (or its lack). The pressure for a (causal) source of experiencings along with their contents is most in the case of perception and least in the case of beliefs, thinkings and theorizings. Strictly phenomenologically, experiencings can be characterized by passivity (or receptivity ä la Kant) at one end, and activity (spontaneity ä la Kant) at the other, and admixtures of both in different degrees in between. Where the experiencing is characterized by passivity and receptivity (as with our elementary sensory intake), a certain felt causality belongs to the very content of the experiencing: the bang of noise is heard as impinging on one's auditory sensibility. It would be a mistake, however, to construe this felt causality to be the same as the external causal process.26 Likewise, in our beliefs and theoretical thinking, there is an element of passivity inasmuch as we do not ourselves originate all those interpretive contents that constitute our thoughts, we take them over, as already constituted, from the tradition within which we happen to be thinking. Again, it would be a mistake to construe inheritance from a tradition as a causal determination.



The idea of the privacy of the mental has so much been a part of recent philosophical discussion, that the project of grounding philosophy on a theory of intentional contents would unavoidably raise the spectre of psychologism and even solipsism. In chapter 1, I have stressed that it is premature to regard the mental as such to be private. What I meant is that it is only under a certain, widely prevalent, interpretation that the mental is a private particular. That this is an interpretation is seldom recognized, and is more often mistaken to be a self-evident truth


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about the mental. Likewise, earlier in this chapter, I have subjected the connected thesis, that the mental is incommunicable, to a critical examination. The positive thesis underlying these criticisms is that an experiencing, qua intentional, i.e. as having a content of its own, is not a merely private particular but rather a particular occurrence that has, intrinsic to it, a structure, which has been called here content, that is a sort of universal in the sense that many numerically distinct particular experiencings may share the same structure. It is this last feature which has been called in phenomenological literature the ideality of the content. The content and the act whose content it is are not of the same ontological type. Consciousness precisely is, on this theory, the correlation between these two.27 Psychologism which reduces consciousness to the particular occurrent, and logicism which reduces thinking to thought, both err by denying one member of the correlation. Before I proceed to unravel further consequences of this conception of consciousness — consequences which open a path to a transcendental philosophy, I should briefly touch upon one difficulty that arises out of the foregoing exposition of the idea of intentional content together with the thesis of ideality. It makes sense to say — even if it may not be agreed upon — that the contents that can be called thoughts, being closest to the Fregean Sinne, are 'ideal' (in the appropriate sense). But, on my account, perceptual contents can only be misleadingly called 'thoughts'. Can we say of them as well that they are 'ideal'? It should be recalled that in my account of the perceptual meaning. I have steered clear of two extreme views: regarding it as a Fregean Sinn on the one hand, and regarding it as a sensuous particular (an appearance, a percept) on the other. For this purpose the Kantian idea of 'schema' as a 'rule of construction' proved helpful. What is disconcerting in the case of perception is the way sensuous stuff such as sensations — what phenomenologists call sensory Fülle or chyle'28 — stand out with an imperious claim to be recognized as content. I would therefore distinguish between real content and intentional content: the former as a real constituent, possibly to be understood as a real part, of the perceptual ex-

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perience, the latter as the how of its object's mode of givenness. Within variations of the former, the latter may stand out as invariant in so far as the object is being perceived as the same while sensuous contents change. This invariance holds good, i.e. may obtain, not only across one subject's perceptual experiences across time, but also, possibly, across indefinitely many subjects. The schema may possibly characterize perceptual recognition of the same object by different perceivers. It then deserves to be called 'ideal', in spite of its not being of the same level of conceptuality as a thought or any of the components of a thought. Call it incipient thought if you like, or a prefiguration of thought as Merleau-Ponty would have it. Phenomenologically the difference is important.

2.5 LEVELS OF UNDERSTANDING INTENTIONALITY: A PATH TO TRANSCENDENTAL PHILOSOPHY Franz Brentano's thesis, that the mental is characterized by a peculiar directedness towards an object or by intentionality, has been recognized, in contemporary philosophy, by a large body of philosophers of widely differing persuasions. Those who have come to terms with this phenomenon have found a place for it within their larger philosophical positions: this affects the way they understand the nature and role of intentionality. I will distinguish four types of theories of intentionality — each of which is characterized by a certain understanding of its nature and function, an understanding which derives from the overall philosophical framework within which the phenomenon of intentionality is situated. These are the naturalistic-causal, the descriptive-psychological, the existential, and the transcendentalconstitutive theories. I review them in that order, as representing four levels of our understanding of intentionality. For all four, Brentano's thesis remains the 'neutral' and indispensable starting point.


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If one is impressed by the irreducible uniqueness of mental life, and yet happens to be a naturalist, or even a physicalist, one would want to carve out a niche within the heart of one's naturalism in order to find a place secure enough for the intentional. It does not matter if you are a metaphysician or not. If you are not, you would still want to find within the larger framework of physicalistic, truth-functionally regimented language, a secure place for intensional discourse. Yet how is this niche, this sanctuary, to be related to the larger structure — the oasis to the surrounding desert? I will consider three representative opinions — those of Wilfrid Sellars, Fred Dretske and John Searle. Sellars's view is, in the first place, that our concepts about intentionality of thoughts are derived from concepts about meaningful speech.29 This way of putting the matter betrays an effort not to reduce thought itself to language. But, in effect, Sellars's position nevertheless is that while, in order of knowing, language is prior to thought, in order of being, what is fundamental is the animal representational system. A representational state is defined as 'a state of an organism' which is 'the manifestation of a system of dispositions and propensities by virtue of which the organism constructs maps of itself in its environment," and locates itself and its behaviour on the map'. 30 Such representational systems can be brought about by natural selection and then transmitted genetically.31 Furthermore, in every representational system — animal or human — the symbols constituting the system stand for objects which are represented, and there is, besides, a counterpart character 0* (or a counterpart relation R*) correlative to the character 0 (or the relation R) in terms of which that object (or those objects) is being represented.32 This structural similarity, though necessary, is not, however, sufficient for making the system into a map in which the animal locates itself and its object. The organism must be a perceiving-remembering-wanting-acting creature, with a strategy for finding the appropriate sorts of

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objects, so that the representational system is so structured, i.e. is such a complex system of representational systems, that these latter together constitute a strategy for finding the appropriate object. With this, Sellars succeeds in incorporating intentionality into a biologically and behaviouristically conceived concept of an animal representational system which, in the order of being, is first — even if our overt speech acts are first in the order of our knowledge. Turning now to Dretske, we see that, whereas Sellars finds the ontological basis of (human) intentionality in the animal representational system, Dretske extends the notion of intentionality beyond even the biological, to a much larger area of nature, namely, to a large number of purely physical systems.33 For Dretske, 'intentionality, rather than being a "mark of the mental", is a pervasive feature of all reality — mental and physical'. He can say this, just because he understands intentionality in terms of the idea of information. There is a flow of information from one point to another on his account, if there is a set of conditional probabilities relating events at the two ends. There must be a lawful dependence, statistical or deterministic, between events at those points. Dretske then shows that a nomic relation between two properties F and G is an intensional relationship. If F is lawfully related to G, and G is extensionally equivalent to H, F is not necessarily related in a lawful way to H. Therefore statements describing the lawful relations between properties and magnitudes are not extensional. Thus any physical system whose internal states are lawfully dependent in some statistically significant way is an intentional system. In this sense, a thermometer and a galvanometer have intentional states. However, a thermometer or a galvanometer does not know things. Cognitive states are a variety of intentional states. The intentional states of thermometers and galvanometers have their contents. The reason they nevertheless do not know whatever information they carry is that they carry too much information, without distinguishing between informations that are cognitively different. Thus the thermometer can only carry the information that the mercury has risen that high along with the information


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that the temperature has increased so much. It cannot distinguish between the two informational contents, and so cannot carry the one information without carrying the other information. In Dretske's words, the instrument is 'insensitive to such cognitive differences'.34 It is not intentional enough. In order for an intentional state to be sensitive to such cognitive differences, and therefore to be able to know in the strict sense, the intentional state must have a content which consists not only of the information it carries but also of the manner in which that information is represented.35 An organism with cognitive powers must have an informational capacity 'that is at least as rich in its representational powers as the language we use to express what is known'.36 Thus cognitive states possess a higher degree of intentionality than the thermometer does, or a rat does. All three, however, can have intentional states having their own contents. There are interesting differences between Sellars's idea of a representational system and Dretske's idea of an intentional state. Dretske's account is free from that behaviourism which attaches to Sellars's: the content of the intentional state is not simply extrapolated from the verbal or non-verbal behaviour, as Sellars would have it. The content, in Dretske's view, really belongs to the state, and the cognitive intentional state is really an internal state. But, after all, it is an intentional state built out of systems (physical and biological) that are intentional to a lesser degree. Thus we have higherorder intentionalities built upon lower-order ones, but at some point down the road — one may suppose — the lower-order ones must be built out of purely extensionally describable building blocks. One may want to pursue this last line of thinking and arrive, instead, at a position which so totally extends the category of intentionality over all nature that there would be indeed nothing that does not exhibit some intentionality or other. We can then say, with Whitehead, that every actual entity intends ('prehends') every other — not to speak of higher-order organisms and minds. I do not want to go in that direction. I suspect — let this much be said at present — that such limitless generalizations tend to obliterate those limits within which a concept such as inten-

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tionality could have any significance. The grand metaphysics which then looms on the horizon can be courted only at the cost of paying a fairly heavy conceptual price. For the present, I wish to raise the following questions in connection with the Sellars—Dretske type of theory. First, a naturalistic theory of intentionality requires that we have an account of representation or representing content which by itself is free from the notion of intentionality. There are obviously only three ways such an account can be given: either in terms of resemblance, or in terms of causality, or in terms — as with Dretske — of the idea of information. None of these, however, will do. 'Resemblance' will not do, for if A resembles B, B also resembles A, which implies that if a content C represents an object 0 by virtue of resemblance, 0 also will be representing C. The resemblance account also cannot explain how the representing content 'this man' will represent only this man and no other, for the content also resembles all other men, at least many others. The causal theory claims to be able to account for the last sort of cases; also, being an asymmetrical relation, the causal relation does not, if C is caused by 0, make 0 a representation of C as well. However, there are other difficulties that beset the causal account of representation. If a representation C must, to be a representation of 0, be caused by 0, under what conditions can it be a misrepresentation of 0? How is false belief possible, in that case?37 Furthermore, since there are a large number of causes that together produce the putative C, it is not clear why, within the limits of the causal theory, one should be allowed to say that C represents 0, and not any of the other causes. Dretske's information theory reduces the content to the information carried, and the information is a function of a nomic relation between events at the two ends. The thermometer carries information as much about the rise of mercury as about the increase in temperature. In that case, there is no reason why C will be a representation of 0, and not 0 of C. However, as Frege said, there is no route from the object to the sense. Any theory of representation which places the object and the content on the same level will fail to account for intentionality, for misrepresen-


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tation as well as for the representing function of the content. Sellar's is a resemblance theory. If the objectivity a R b is being represented by the rat, then in the rat's representing system there must be, on this theory, a symbol 0* which stands for a, b* which stands for b, and a relation R*, a counterpart relation to R. However, as in all talk of resemblance, resemblance cannot simply be read off. As Husserl pointed out in his Logical Investigations,38 the Bildbewusstsein is a special intentional, interpretive consciousness. A picture is not simply, in itself, a picture of a given thing, it has to be taken to be so. On Sellar's view: a (is) before b and a b have the same syntactical form, namely 6a9 and '#' in a counterpart relation. We may ask, when would V and '£' not be in a counterpart relation? Consider a b b a One can always detect a relation in these two cases which can be regarded as the counterpart of'before'. We can construe, that is, any content as a picture of any object — given suitable rules of interpretation. How, then, is misrepresentation possible? Dretske's argument — apart from the already mentioned difficulties — suffers from a serious deficiency. He takes a nomic relation between F and G to be intentional on the grounds that one may know something to be F without knowing that it is G. In a thermometer, the rise of mercury is nomically connected with the rise of temperature: this leads to the conclusion that the thermometer is an intentional state, and yet a thermometer does not know that it is F, without knowing that it is G. In fact, one may even question why an intentional state should be so defined.

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We know, of course, that in the intentional context substitution by identity does not go through, but we did not expect substitution by nomic correlation to go through in any case. Whereas Sellars and Dretske want to embed intentionality in biological or physical intentional states, Fodor, as is well known, regards the mental act, the prepositional attitude, to be related to a mental representation, which belongs to a 'mental lexicon' with its own syntax and semantics. But how do these mental representations refer? What relates them to the world? What is the meaning of a mental representation? Are all mental representations linguistic, i.e. discursive, or are there imagistic ones? How does the mental lexicon relate to the many different languages speakers may be using? If the mental representations themselves have to be interpreted in order for us to be able to assign to them a structure and a content, then the mental act is not merely related to a representation but must also contain an 'interpretation function'.39 One may, for example, ask,40 in what sense is it the case that the internal states of a digital computer are representational. Is it not the programmer who provides the essential link between the states of the machine and states in the world? Furthermore, one cannot assign one unique structure to a thing, apart from the interpretation by a human subject. Are not the structural equivalences (between the representation and world) our own making? Finally, can a representation be a representation not merely of, but also for and to, a system, unless the system has a subjective point of view?41

These reflections lead us from cognitive psychology to the phenomenologically descriptive, psychological understanding of intentionality by John Searle. Searle begins by taking intentionality as directedness,42 but proceeds to further determine this directedness as one of'representing': 'intentional states represent objects and states of affairs in the same sense of "represent" that speech acts represent objects and states of affairs'.43 Every inten-


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tional state is analysable into a 'representative content' and a psychological mode in which one has that content. Searle emphasizes that his use of 'representation3 is different both from its use in traditional philosophy and from its use in cognitive psychology.44 First of all, there is nothing of ontological significance in his use. The representative content, we are told, when it is propositional, determines a set of conditions of satisfaction of the intentional state: it determines under what conditions a belief would be true, or a desire satisfied. It is not clear what his view is regarding contents which are not propositional. Nor is it clear if he identifies contents with conditions of satisfaction, or regards the content as a representation of the conditions of satisfaction. Even if the process —product ambiguity — as between the requirement and the thing required — is kept in mind, one would want to know if an intentional act represents to itself its own conditions. In the former case, besides representing the object or state of affairs, the act must also represent the conditions that would satisfy its intention. It is the latter which Searle most likely means. His use of 'content' is not also that of cognitive psychology or AI theories, for he rightly finds the idea of a formal syntactic structure of menal representations unclear. The contents for him are essentially semantic and not syntactical.45 All this is very nicely in consonance with classical phenomenological psychology. Every intentional act, according to the latter, has an act-quality (which is Searle's psychological mode) and an act-matter (which is Searle's content). 46 The act-matter determines both the reference and the mode of reference. However, there are two features of Searle's theory to which I want to draw attention: one allies him with naturalism, the other with a sort of Heideggerean holism — both poise him, so it may seem, against Husserlian phenomenology. In the first place, while affirming, with a great deal of emphasis, that 'there really are such things as intrinsic mental phenomena' 47 which are as real as any other biological phenomena, he yet holds that intentional mental states are both caused by the operations of the brain and realized in the structure of the brain. 48 The causal laws by which the brain can produce intentionality will, Searle hopes, be quite different from

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the 'strict5 laws in current science, they will be as different from those we now employ '(as) the principles of quantum mechanics are from the principles of Newtonian mechanics'. From all this it follows that, for Searle, intentionality is a natural phenomenon. This allies him with Sellars and Dretske. In the second place, Searle holds not merely that intentional states are in general parts of networks of intentional states, but also that they always figure against a background of non-representational, pre-intentional, mental capacities (which primarily include knowing-hows). That intentional states belong to a network of intentionalities is part of Husserl's maturer thesis about intentional implications. But that intentionality rests upon a background of non-representational, non-cognitive skills and abilities characterizing one's being-in-the-world, is possibly Heideggerean in origin. Let me recall that Dreyfus has drawn attention to this alliance between Searle's 'holism' and Heideggerean 'being-in-the-world' (as also, less convincingly, between the cognitive psychologist's methodological solipsism and the Husserlian's egology)49

This brings me to the third level of understanding intentionality which, as contrasted with the first, i.e. the naturalistic, may be called the existential-phenomenological. In order to be able to bring out its distinctive features, let me briefly refer to a tension in Searle's theory of intentionality. On the one hand, intentionality is taken by him to be naturalistically caused, while at the same time the very idea of causation is being intentionalized.50 Naturalizing intentionality and intentionalizing causality go together in his thinking. But the result is neither naturalism nor intentionalism. We rather seem to be driven towards recognizing a third category hovering before us. I will spell it out in a moment. The other aspect of the tension is the way intentionality is grounded in what he calls the non-representational background of life-world. If we unify these two aspects — without letting


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them be in tension — we begin to get a glimpse of the second picture of intentionality as an existential phenomenon. Let me briefly return to the question of causality. Searle includes causation within the representative content of the experience of objects (especially of perception and of action). It belongs, for example, to the content of perception that it is being caused by the object out. there, to the content of action that I am performing it. This is intentional causation. If we recognize this aspect of the sense of perception and action as intentional acts, then we have at hand the beautiful idea of the intermingling of intentionality and causality, for which I find no clearer and better expression than the following passage from Bernhard Waidenfels: What we have from the beginning, according to Waldenfels, is £ a givenness of the efficacious and an efficacy of the given'. To suffer from a bodily injury, he writes, signifies neither that I do something (I hit something) nor that something happens in the world (something hits something else), but rather that something happens to me (I hit myself upon something). What happens to me I can neither objectify, without remainder, to a factual effect, nor can I ascribe to myself as a free action.51 The consequence of this intermingling is that intentionality is neither raised above the causal order, nor caused by it (in the naturalistic sense), but rather inseparable from causality at every point of its life. An opaque weight of corporeality attaches to its being inextricably. Its being and the sense of its being are ambiguous: it neither is pure interiority nor is reducible to pure exteriority. It is being-in-the-world — not, to be sure, as a thing is in the world, but as both constituted by, and constituting, its world. As constituted, it is not fully transparent to itself; as constituting, it is not purely opaque either. It is both at once and therefore ambiguous if judged in terms ofthat cartesian-sounding opposition. Turning now to the notion of the 'background', if intentionality

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is rooted in nature, it is also made possible by a background of non-representational skills and practices. Not only are all mental states not representational, but, what is more, the intentionality of many representational states (such as intending to board a train) presupposes physical skills, knowing how to do various things, which are not representational states. The two very different kinds of grounding can be explicated thus: a belief as an experience, as an event, is caused by the natural order, but the content of the belief presupposes the background. But this only shows that the separation between the two sorts of grounding is artificial. The nature which causes my intentionality as an event and the non-representational life-world from which it derives its content must form a unity: that unity between nature and culture is the world that is meant to be captured by the concept of being-in-the-world. What this picture, then, grounds intentionality on, is not the non-intentional causal order, but a non-representational but intentional-cum-causal being-in-the-world. Let us call the latter the 'existential intentionality'. Existential intentionality is not representative, nor is it merely cognitive. It is cognitive-affectivevolitional in one. Its subject is not the bare point of a pure ego, but a concrete, corporeal, historical and mundane entity whose unity is prior to the cartesian distinction between the inner and the outer. Merleau-Ponty calls it the body-subject; and this original intentionality is 'operative intentionality' which as much flows from the subject to the world (as the subject's project) as from the world to the subject (as the world's beckoning).

IV Before moving on to the fourth, i.e. the transcendental, understanding of intentionality, I need to say why the phenomenological-existential concept of intentionality needs to be surpassed by the transcendental. I have already said why a purely naturalistic account is unsatisfactory. Nevertheless, a few more remarks about the relation between intentionality and causality may be


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in order. The idea of 'representation' is important in the naturalistic theories, because it is just this pictorial, or imagistic, idea of representation that lends itself, relatively easily, to a physicalistic interpretation. Push the idea of content as meaning — rather than as picture or image — to the forefront in our theory, and physicalism finds itself incapable of accommodating it. The particular occurrent act-token (or even the act-type) could be meaningfully identified with a physical event, but the same cannot be said of the noesis-noema structure. Conceptually, it makes no sense even to say that this correlation to an irreal entity has its counterpart in a correlation of the physical event and another such pictorial or imagistic structure. The noema is not a representation, not a substitute for the object, not 'in the mind' to be acted upon or to be mentally processed.52 There are indeed many other reasons why intentionality as noesis-noema structure cannot be inserted into the causal order, all of which I need not rehearse on this occasion.53 But let us now see what happens to that 'givenness of the efficacious and efficacy of the given' that Waldenfels does, and Searle would, recognize as the intrusion of the causal order into the intentional. The merit of this last thesis lies in its phenomenological, as opposed to the naturalistic-scientific, nature: what it insists upon is that at least certain experiences themselves — perceptual and actional, at any rate — display a causal component in their structure. They have correctly identified a phenomenon, but immediately proceeded to misinterpret it. The phenomenon they have identified is the phenomenon of passivity, of being-affected-by-the-given that undoubtedly characterizes a whole class of intentional experiences, the most striking being the case of perception. Perception of an external physical object in particular is also an experience of being-affectedby. But there is nothing in this phenomenon that carries the report of a real causality, of the story even in rudiments that physics and physiology tell us. What characterizes the experiences under consideration is rather felt causality. It is quite a different case when that causality itself is thematized, i.e. made the object of the experience. In this latter case, a real causality is

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the object of experience just as a real external object is the object of normal, outer perception. Waldenfels's example of a sharp instrument hitting my body and causing injury is of this type (falls into this case). In that case, the object is real causality. It would be wrong to interpret the experience as though the object of the experience, qua its object, is also experienced as its cause. While the object, i.e. real causal event, is experienced as external and real, the experience itself is felt to be caused, the latter being a case of what I call felt causality. Searle proceeds to elaborate precisely this distinction, without recognizing that it would take away the naturalistic interpretation he wishes to confer on his finding. The Humeans, he writes, 'sought causation in the wrong place. They sought causation as the object of our experiences, whereas in its most primitive form it is part of the content of experiences of perceiving and acting.5 The experience of causation is part of cthe conditions of satisfaction that are internal to the experience'. Now if'the conditions of satisfaction' or internal representation is Searle's reconstruction of the Husserlian noema, then the causation he is talking about belongs not to nature but to the noematic sense of the experiences concerned. Searle calls it 'intentional causation'. The 'intentional causation', according to him, is a 'logical' or 'internal' relation, just because one component of 'the conditions of satisfaction' of the intentional experience requires that it be the cause or effect of another component. The noema legislates, predelineates, how it is to be satisfied. All this shows clearly that what Searle has in mind is far from being outer, real and natural causality. If intentional causality is thus appropriated into the content of the act, and natural causality ruled out as inappropriate (as belonging to a different level of discourse), what happens to that background, that non-representational life-world in which the intentional content is after all grounded? To the Dasein's beingin-the-world? It is true that the intentional content of a cognitive intentional state is determined in part by the intentional contents of some other cognitive states (beliefs, etc.) but in part also by non-cognitive practices, skills, expectations and abilities (also by sedimented interpretations constituting one's tradition), which


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one takes for granted in everyday life. Thus, for me to be able to intend to walk from one place to another presupposes not only beliefs such as that the ground under me will not cave in, that material objects are impenetrable, etc., but also skills to execute proper bodily movements necessary for walking. Such skills are not intentional, they do not have representational contents, they are not cases of knowing-that, but rather cases of knowing-how. There are several things wrong in thus limiting the role of intentionality. First, as Mclntyre has pointed out, 54 'even if I do not know how to walk and so do not have the skills requisite for satisfying my intention to walk across the room, I can form that intention if I believe that I have the requisite skill and that belief would belong to my network'. The point of this argument is that even if as a matter of fact there is such a background for our intentional states, the background qua background is not necessary. It can be appropriated into the network. Such appropriation may be a never-ending process, but in principle there is no reason why it is not conceivable that an intentional being performs his intentional acts with a full reflective consciousness of all those presuppositions, including his ability to form those movements. That, in fact, is the implication of the possibility of transcendental reduction.55 The skills and abilities under consideration have to be the skills and abilities of the person who is the subject of intentional acts, but it is not necessary that he does have a body. What is needed is that he is able to ascribe to himself abilities such as to move himself around which is nothing but possessing the (practical) 'I can' sort of kinaesthetic consciousness. What I am saying is compatible with — and perhaps is even implied in — the point Aquila makes in the same connection: what Searle shows is that a set of non-intentional capacities, etc. must be recognized as constituting the matter (in the Kantian sense) of a psychological state that has the 'form' of intentionality, and so need not be construed as external to the intentional act.56 These criticisms make, I believe, a provisionally strong case for the 'transcendental' interpretation of intentionality. They are intended to show that a strong internalist theory of intentionality

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is a viable one, that intentionality is not derivable from any of the other non-intentional concepts, such as causality. The network of intentional acts form one self-enclosed mental life through whose internal contents and their concatenations the world derives its various constituting senses. Carried to its utmost possibilities, it yields the result that the world owes its sense to intentional acts. Intentionality, then, is not mere directedness to world, but interpretive of the world. It not only has its own content, it confers meaning on its object, so that its object is presented as having that meaning for it. As constitutive of the sense or senses of the world, intentionality is transcendental. As must be apparent, such a conception is a generalization of the Kantian thesis that understanding makes nature possible. There are three objections against the plausibility of such a thesis, which I wish to briefly comment upon. One is that the theory makes what is out there dependent upon what is in the mind, and thus reverses the original realistic intuition underlying the thesis of intentionality. Secondly, it leaves no room for a direct, de re intentionality. Thirdly, by grounding the sense of the world in the mind, it, like all transcendental philosophies, leaves no room for the variety of discourses that are possible about the world, so that the foundationalism entails a monolithic, nonrelativistic picture of the world. The first and the second objections go together; the third is based on a very different philosophical intuition. First, then, as to the realistic intuition, there is no doubt such a realistic intuition did in fact underlie the thesis of Brentano. Subsequent development of that idea has shown that, while something important in that intuition needs to be preserved, that realism won't do. There are three aspects of the situation of intentional reference: there is the being-about that characterizes it at the level of pre-reflective naivity. Then there is the graspingof-a-sense in reflective thought. But, ineluctably underlying these, is the 'cunning of intentionality': the interpretive function, the Sinngebung, which conceals itself under the surface phenomenon of'grasping'. On various occasions, I have used the metaphor of complementarity — between the particle and wave theories of


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light — to describe the relation between 'grasping3 and 'Sinngebung'. This also illuminates the complementarity between phenomenology and hermeneutics. Direct de re intentionality — not in terms of a causal theory whose fundamental flaws have been pointed out earlier in this essay, but in terms of a sui generis cognitive relationship as forcefully suggested by Barry Smith,57 such as in veridical acts of perception needs to be construed, within a transcendental framework, differently from a purely ontological relation. If, in principle, mental acts may have properties not transparent to their subjects, we are left also with the possibility that the naivety with which the perceiver construes his act in terms of a naturalistic ontology may only be the surface phenomenon of a deep interpretive constitutive structure. There is no doubt something importantly wrong in construing all acts on the pattern of nonveridical acts or even of veridical acts which are descriptive: in both cases, the intentionality of an act is explicable in terms of its being as if directed towards some object or other, and so, in the long run, in terms of the concept of noema. But it is equally misleading to have a sort of intentionality whose understanding makes us fall back upon 'what may be recognized from the outside, by suitably qualified observers'. 58 For transcendental phenomenology, the truth must lie in between these extremes of a surface description by the subject of his acts and a third-person observer's account. For this, we need a theory of perceptual meaning — not assimilable into a theory of conceptual, or propositional, noema; a theory of intuitive acts in which the object is presented with the sense of being self-given; and a theory of perceptual interpretation. I will not develop such a theory here, but shall only note that we do not have in veridical perceptual acts a group of acts which force upon us the necessity for a naively realistic ontology. In fact, a transcendental theory of intentionality finds Putnam's 'Skolemization of absolutely everything'59 a most congenial move to the effect that it is absolutely impossible to fix a determinate reference for any term at all, except by our interpretations (not by any mysterious mental powers). As Putnam puts it, 'the

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world doesn't pick models or interpret languages'. 60 We do. We constitute our worlds and ourselves. It is easy to show that, in that case, the third objection stated earlier expresses an anxiety which is uncalled for. A transcendental theory of constituting intentionality would encompass ontological relativism and is not a plea for a monolithic picture of the world. I will return to this last point in chapter 3.

V I have distinguished between four levels of understanding of intentionality: the descriptive-psychological, the naturalisticcausal, the existential and the transcendental-constitutive. In doing this, I have traversed a path that represents a progressive deepening of our comprehension of intentionality. However, it is not a simple linear progression such that the succeeding one leaves behind the preceding ones. The naturalistic-causal understanding thinks it can do justice to the descriptive-psychological. It claims to supersede the latter by appropriating it into a causal context. What I have questioned is the tenability of these two claims taken together. The existential understanding seeks to preserve the truth of both of the foregoing theses — but claims to supersede both by freeing the Brentano thesis from its mentalism and the causal theory from its physicalism. The transcendental constitutive interpretation preserves the truth of this last 'overcoming' of cartesian dualism, for the constitutive intentionality is neither mental nor physical — both these being constituted, and so mundane, orders. The path is 'dialectical5 in the sense in which — as in Hegel's Phenomenology — the succeeding 'shape' both negates and preserves the truth of the preceding. Another way of describing this 'dialectical' path is as follows. One begins, as with Brentano, with a descriptive thesis. This Brentano thesis is then given a 'naturalistic-causal', or 'information-theoretic' and/or 'biological' grounding. The inability of such a 'grounding' to preserve the phenomenon of intentionality leads to a more purified, denaturalized, mentalistic thesis. But


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one also realizes that the mental contents must be grounded in the natural and cultural orders, which provides the transition from the mentalistic to an existential understanding of intentionality. We face here a typical dialectical situation. The mentalistic thesis has a representationalistic idea of intentional content (at worst, an image theory, capable of being appropriated into a physicalistic version). The existentialist thesis rejects the idea of 'representation' in favour of a non-representational idea of Dasein's being-in-the-world. This opposition between a mentalistic representation theory and an existential non-representational theory is to be overcome in the theory of intentionality as a transcendental-constitutive function according to which (a) the intentional content is not an internal representation but a publicly sharable meaning, and (b) the world in which Dasein finds itself is the result of prior constitutive accomplishments of an intentionally implicated community of egos. I should like to add that with this progressive deepening of our understanding of the nature and function of intentionality, the relevant philosophical problem also continues to get transformed. Thus, the problem to which the original Brentano thesis was a response was: how are mental phenomena to be distinguished from the physical phenomena (which incidentally is very different from the contemporary question: how is the mental different from the physical)? This Brentano question gets transformed, in Husserl, into the question: how does a mental, or rather any intentional, act refer to whatever is its intentional object? Or, making both the act and its object specific particulars, one may want to ask: how does that object become the object of this mental act? The answer roughly is, as in much of cognitive psychology, 'through a representational content of the act, a mental representation ofthat object'. But this way of asking the question appears to be circular, for that object must then be identifiable as that object or as satisfying any other description, before one could ask the question, how does it become the object of this act? In other words, one cannot start with an object which is available only through some intentional act or other. The proper question, then, would seem to be: how does an intentional act refer to

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whatever happens to be its object? In asking it this way, one is starting with the conscious experience under consideration, but then finds that having such and such object as its intentional object is internal to that experience. One then comes to recognize the structure act—noema as the irreducible point to begin with. The lesson is something that Frege clearly saw: there is no route from object to sense. We have unavoidably to traverse the path from sense to object — as also from sense to the sense-giving, i.e. interpretive and constitutive function of intentionality.

Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy


Transcendental philosophy is foundationalist, and foundationalisms have in our times fallen into disrepute. Reasons for this fall from grace of foundationalistic thinking are many and varied — just as there are many and varied forms of philosophies that purport to go back to the foundations of human knowledge, experience and existence. In this chapter, I will examine some of them — the ones that are frequently advanced in contemporary writings — and hope to be able to make out the case that these reasons do not suffice to rule foundationalistic thinking of all sorts out of existence, and especially that a phenomenological transcendental philosophy is immune to those criticisms. To cut a long and intricate story short, foundationalist philosophies may be of the following general kinds. If empiricistic, they may ground knowledge on basic observation sentences which ar construed as incorrigible; if aprioristic, they may look for, at the basis and as the presupposition of the growing and contingent knowledge, a set of fundamental essential structures recoverable as eidetic truths. If of semantic orientation, foundationalism may aim at retrieving context-independent and invariant meanings


Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy

which would then provide the basic fund of analytic and synthetic a priori truths which empirical research and its resultant body of cognitions would presuppose. Finally, as transcendental philosophy, foundationalism would look for that ultimate foundation in nothing short of the a priori structure of the reason, consciousness, experience or subjectivity. There are subtle connections and lack of connections between these four alternatives. For example, the theory of essence and the theory of meaning, on many constructions — not on my own, as argued in chapter 1 — are two sides of the same coin. The standard anti-foundationalist responses to these four projects, in that order, have been: that observation sentences, even of the most basic level available, are theory-laden so that there is no rock-bottom level of sentences that are purely descriptive of given data; that there are no de re essences, all ascription of essences being de dicto, relative to a description, and even these are subject to change with history of our knowledge as well as with the changing context of culture; that meanings vary with theory-change and with change of context; and, finally, that consciousness, experience or subjectivity is temporal and historical and so has no invariant structures to which a transcendental philosophy can appeal, and that the contents of consciousness are occasioned by the world and so presuppose both social and physical contexts. These responses, as well as variations on them, centre around the themes of temporality and historicity, contextualism and relativism. They also opt for the ubiquitousness of interpretation, as against the claim of any descriptive project, to have its own inner sanctuary which the vagaries of interpretation do not contaminate. In chapter 1 I have examined the issues between 'description' and 'interpretation' and have insisted upon their interpenetration in rather complicated ways. This complicated mterpenetration does not permit its use against foundationalisms of all sorts, for it does not entail a denial of the descriptive project. On the contrary, as I have argued, description, at every stage, yields truths that are not sublated as one ascends to the next higher

Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy stage. Phenomenological reduction assures this by recovering the meaning-content instituted by interpretation as a meaning-content relative to that level of discourse: this is not affected by new interpretive stances. In chapter 2, I have dealt with the idea of context — physical and social — and have argued that contexts may be recovered as the horizontal features of intentional contents, so that a methodological individualism with regard to contents may be so formulated as to be immune from criticisms based on the phenomena of contextuality. In this chapter, then, I will first briefly deal with the themes of 'time' and 'history' in so far as they have been used to support arguments against foundationalism, and then develop an account of how to 'overcome' relativism from a phenomenological point of view.




The anti-foundationalist argument from 'history' would run somewhat as follows: Human knowledge and experience — including ontological claims about essences of things as well as semantic claims about what words mean — are all subject to inexorable historical change. This fact of historical change not only goes against all claims to eternity, but also entails that our cognitions and theories, meanings and interpretations are not ideal entities, but conditioned by the contingent facts of historical existence. The world changes, so also do our conceptions of the world, so do our modes of self-understanding. Every philosophical interpretation, including the foundationalistic, is a product of its own historical milieu — however loosely one may want to use 'is a product of. This universal historicity contradicts all claims to apodictic, atemporal insight into allegedly foundational structures. One confronts a bottomless pit of foundationless historicity. Now, this familiar argument should be correctly understood, for it may cut both ways — that is to say, historicism may prove


Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy

to be an ally of foundationalism, indeed of transcendental philosophy. Historicism began in the nineteenth century, with Herder and Hegel, by conceiving of history as a manifestation of universal spirit {Geist). Even in its 'materialist' form, as in Marx, it remained tied to an essentialism (with regard to man's speciesnature) and a scientificity that looked for rigorous laws of historical development. Anti-foundationalism needs to abjure essences as well as rigorous laws of history, it needs to be able to say that the scientificity that holds up the ideal of Newtonian physics, for example, derives from a historical accomplishment, and could not claim unlimited sway over all time and all fields of enquiry. Essences need to be historicized, as much as the norm of scientificity itself. Recent researches in the history of science have seemed to many to be moving in this direction. However, the foundationalist may want to retort: what after all is this 'history' whose ubiquitousness is supposed to yield such radical consequences for thought? Is not the idea of'history' itself a high-level construction? First of all, there are historic — not merely histories of countries, regions, provinces, counties, towns, villages, families and individual lives, but also histories of literature, music, science, etc. Make combinations of these two kinds of histories, and you get further differentiations which we need not have to pursue. The point that I want to highlight is that not only the idea of History (with a capital 'H'), but even such low-level concepts as emerge from filling in the blanks in 'history of . . .', require a great deal of abstraction, selection and collection of facts not, prima facie, belonging together. For example, history of music will have to contain histories of European, Indian and Chinese music (Each one of these subhistories may likewise involve the same processes). One consequence of looking at the matter in this way is that an idea of history comes to be perceived as constituted by the historian's fundamental project. The ontological and epistemological burden that such an idea could carry has then to be remarkably light. Consider an example from a well-known work: Richard Rorty's Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. The author of this book wants

Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy to set aside the traditional philosophy / a s an attempt to escape history — an attempt to find non-historical conditions of any possible historical development'.1 The positive moral of the book, he goes on to tell us, is 'historicist'. It puts the three notions of 'mind', 'knowledge' and 'philosophy' in the historical perspective, i.e. shows that each of these has an historical origin. But what Rorty does in order to 'deconstruct' such powerful notions as 'the Glassy Essence' of man is to show how, historically, they are rooted in other concepts, such as the idea that we have the ability to apprehend abstract universals. Now, the story, as it is told, draws upon a selected domain of history of philosophy, i.e. history of Western philosophy. Even if that sequence and that order of dependence which Rorty unfolds is true, it certainly is not true when one enlarges the domain of enquiry to include, for example, Indian philosophy — where the concept of the 'inner' as distinguished from the 'outer' is found to be conceptually, as well as historically, independent of some of the other concepts which, for Rorty, are its historical presuppositions, namely the theory of abstract universals, the Aristotelian epistemology and the cartesian body-mind dualism.2 One finds history useful for deconstruction, and finds in history a suitable tale to tell in support of that philosophical motive, only by suitably restricting the domain of 'history' (and suitably selecting one's relevant facts). The only way this sort of fundamental objection can be set aside is by insisting that in totally different cultures (with their own histories), one should not look for the same concepts. Relativism thus provides a safe haven to historicism, and yet historicism is brought in to bolster up relativism. The anti-foundationalist may concede my point, and may, in fact, insist that any account of historicism which ties together various disjointed epochs (disjointed in time and space) into one history, and then proceeds to establish lawlike generalizations across the entire domain of history — actual and possible — would be, despite its historicism, yielding to foundationalism. What is needed is to free 'historicism' from the temptation in favour of monism and making lawlike generalizations. In other words, an anti-foundationalist, if he is to use the ides of history



Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy

in his own support, must emphasize the radical contingency of history, even when history is restricted to one's favoured region. In more recent thought, this needed contingency has been sought to be assured by the emphasis on 'discontinuity'. First, introduced by Gaston Bachelard into philosophy of science with a view to ward off an idealistic philosophy, it has been effectively used by Foucault in his work on the history of ideas and institutions. Discontinuities and 'ruptures' prevent looking for a common norm, a common set of rules (of discourse and of practice), a common overarching conceptual framework, and so a common foundation (e.g. in a reflecting subjectivity which claims to comprehend them all). Whereas traditional history denied or annulled discontinuities by taking recourse to an all-encompassing unity (such as the Hegelian Geist), this 'total history' presupposed, as Foucault tells us, that all the events, even of a well defined spatiotemporal region, are subject to 'a system of homogenous relations', that 'one and the same form of historicity operates upon all economic structures, social institutions and customs, mental attitudes, technological practice, political behavior, and subjects them all to the same type of transformation', and that history itself may be described in terms of internally cohesive great unities.3 As against this total history, the thesis of discontinuity emphasizes discontinuities, ruptures, threshholds, limits and transformations, and rejects the ideas of 'tradition', 'influence', 'development' and 'evolution', and 'spirit'. Instead of the use of the idea of 'synthesis', one uses the more methodologically rigorous idea of 'dispersed events'. 4 It is not my purpose to examine this historiography in details. My earlier criticism of the historicist agreed implicitly with some of the moves of the new historian of ideas. But one cannot but raise the following problems: 1 Demarcating an epoch (or a discourse) as a discontinuous unity, and so separated from what went before and what comes after by an epistemological rupture, is to unify an entire group of disparate events under one common description, and so must involve an arbitrary selection of events in so far as they can be brought under that description. One could have chosen a dif-

Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy


ferent guiding description, and demarcated as a discontinuous totality an area that very well intersects or overlaps two neighbouring discontinuous totalities of the first plan. One can, in this manner, think of several discontinuous series, with the ruptures falling at different places, (see figure 3.1). Is there eventually any non-arbitrary way of coming up with such a series? Can there be, even in principle, a justification of the series that Foucault gives? Since no a priori justification is called for, one has to appeal to empirical evidence, but the very idea of what is to count as empirical evidence is, on this theory, determined by the rules of discourse obtaining within a discourse. 2 Since, for each discourse, there is no preexistent theme (such as 'madness') which it takes up, and since, on the contrary, it is rather 'the interplay of rules that makes possible the appearance of objects during a given period of time', 5 there is indeed a doctrine of transcendental constitution of the large themes or 'objects' — to be sure, not constitution by a transcendental subjectivity, but by 'discourse'. To insist that what appears is a series, interspersed by gaps, interplays of differences, distances, substitutions and transformations, is not to assuage that anxiety, for it is no less the case, in Husserlian transcendental phenomenology, that a constituted objectivity is a series of different perspectives collected together under a presumptive unity. 3 The decisive difference between transcendental phenomenological constitution and constitution by discontinuous systems of discourse may lie elsewhere: in the grand monism of an overarching reflective grasp which the former presupposes and the pluralism of many discontinuous systems of discourse of the latter. But that is only seemingly so, for the historian of ideas —


Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy

even when he rejects continuity in favour of discontinuity — surveys the entire series; his work is based on a grasp that comprehends several 'breaks' or 'ruptures'. His history provides a totality within which discontinuities and contingencies erupt. He claims to be able to comprehend them all — even if he has no explanation of why the contingencies arise. It is not very different in perception. Perception presents things that are discontinuous. Each one is a contingency, yet perceptual consciousness places them against an overall background — the horizon of the world which yet lets each contingency stand by itself. The point I am making is that historical contingency no more provides a resistance to foundationalist philosophy than does perceptual contingency. Historic are constructions. They are constituted by the historian's interest, project, methodology and overall goal. The grand history — the one history of mankind — is a still higherlevel construction, be it a 'total history' or a fractured one. The foundationalist may then hope to be able to comprehend how histories or History arise — not historically, but conceptually. In other words, it is a legitimate enquiry to look for the methodological and purposive activities (and categories) that go into the constitution of a history. The histories then cannot provide a strong ground for anti-foundationist arguments. The foundationalist may proceed to argue, in positive defence of his own point of view, that history as a science, or as laid out in books on history, presupposes at least two fundamental features of human existence and consciousness: temporality and historicity. Under a certain construction, the distinction between the two disappears. 'Temporality', on this view (deriving from Husserl), is not being in time, but rather being caught up in a stream of its own flowing in which every 'now' carries around it a horizon of past and future, i.e. of retention of what has just been and protention of what is just about to be — such that as a 'now' recedes into the past together with its entire horizon, new 'now's emerge, not as discrete points but, by virtue of internal referrings back and forth, constituting a continuous flow. Temporality in this sense is not a feature of physical events, of

Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy


sciences as enquiries or as bodies of knowledge, or of institutions such as the British Parliament. Let me call these latter — lumping together physical time and historical time — objective time as distinguished from the subjective, lived temporality of one's inner consciousness. (From the present, i.e. phenomenological, perspective, Kant was right in locating original time in the 'inner sense' as an inner self-intuition, but wrong in construing this inner time as being the same as the outer, physical time.) While this subjective time has a cartesian ring, its correlate, i.e. the historicity of human existence, does not arouse that suspicion. But historicity of human existence, in its original nature — as distinguished from the derived historical features of human cultural products and social institutions — is as little a matter of public, 'outer' observation as is the inner, lived temporality of consciousness. The two are better construed as two sides of the same coin: to arrive at either we need to put all conceptions and experiences of objective time under brackets (to use a Husserlian locution) and be able to reflect on time as lived within, or as a feature of, my being-in-the-world (the 'world' construed, not as the external world of things and events, but as that world-horizon which is a structural feature of our consciousness and existence). As characterized by this historicity, existence is carrying the burden of the past (in the form of tradition) and moving ahead towards the ultimate end (i.e. death). Faced with the spectre of foundationalism in thus identifying temporality/historicity as essential features of consciousness/ existence, the anti-foundationalist introduces a curiously obfuscating use of the pair of concepts: continuity—discontinuity, presence—absence. Since time, even the inner phenomenological time, on Husserl's account, is constituted by the now with the retention and protention surrounding it, there is — now it is argued — no pure undifferentiated immediacy, no total selfpresence of consciousness to itself. But rather within the texture of the 'living present', the now, there is the 'interplay' of presence and absence, of continuity and discontinuity — so that temporality cannot provide an absolute foundation even for one's own inner subjective life — not to speak of history and the world-


Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy

experience. To answer this, one needs to examine anew what precisely is the nature of a transcendental-phenomenological foundationalism. For this last purpose, one needs to make a distinction — not often kept in view — between two kinds of foundationalist moves. One may want to regard a specific body of true propositions as providing the foundation for all other sciences (natural or human). These true propositions may either constitute a science such as psychology or sociology, or may simply be an indefinite number of contingent protocol sentences (as in logical empiricism). Alternatively, one may not be willing to grant the foundational status to any specific science or any set of true propositions, but rather to a structure of experience. It is this last sort of foundationalism that is being defended in this chapter. Even with regard to this alternative, several versions are possible, and I consider some of them not as viable as others. As regards the view that foundationalism amounts to making one of the many sciences the foundation of knowledge, this gives rise to well-known theories such as psychologism, physicalism, sociologism or even historicism. The choice between these is never compelling, and, besides, none of the sciences itself is a completed body of truths. A consequence is to appeal to the picture or conception of ideal science in each case. Since in order to arrive at such a picture one already confers upon one's favoured science the extraordinary explanatory power that is needed, the claims made on its behalf simply beg the issue. It is quite another thing to claim a truth such as the cartesian 'cogito ergo sum! to be the axiomatic starting point for a deductively developed body of science. Where it goes wrong, on my view, is, first, the extreme claim that my consciousness is transparent to me in all its implications, the claim that is to say that the testimony of my consciousness regarding its contents is incorrigible; and, furthermore, that human knowledge, even in its basic principles, can be deductively deduced from such a first principle. The temporality and historicity of knowledge are simply ignored. It is the picture of 'foundation' that the cartesian cogito has

Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy encouraged that is implicitly presupposed and so becomes the target of attack by the anti-foundationalist arguments. As against this, I want to propose a version of foundationalism that is sensitive to the contingency, historicity and temporality of human knowledge.




Should one, following Kant, focus upon a given body of knowledge such as Newtonian physics and enquire into the constituting acts and categories which make it possible; one is inevitably led to recognize — again, not unlike Kant — a highly delimited constituting domain. Recall the Kantian table of categories as a model. There is no reason why one may not, as a transcendental philosopher, reject this Kantian starting point and begin with the more contemporary picture of the world in terms of quantum mechanics along with the non-euclidean geometries. In any case, one would be starting with commitment to a historically accomplished body of knowledge as a privileged representation of the world. As contrasted with this, there is a more fundamental concern, overlooked but in a certain sense presupposed by the Kantian enterprise.6 This is the route from the theories back to the perceived and lived world which underlies all such theories as their foundation and ground — not ground for validation, but what Husserl calls ''Sinnesfundament\ the foundation of sense — and from which they take off. One may then raise the transcendental question with regard to this perceived and lived world: how is such a world constituted? The question about the possibility of this world — the life-world, the perceived world — was never raised by Kant who began at a much higher level of intellectual accomplishment, namely, mathematical physics — so that even when he appears to be giving a theory of perception, perception, for him, is continuous with physics.7 That is why Kant's theory of perception is a theory of perceptual judgement which, on the one hand, rests on the formal-logical theory of judgement,


Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy

and, on the other, merges into his theory of physics. Hence the distinction between two kinds of transcendental philosophy — one kind, closer to the Kantian sort, construes the constituting domain as a structure that is best grasped through the formal-logical principles. The other kind, exemplified in the phenomenological project, construes the founding domain as experiential subjectivity which is the source of all evidence. The former provides the principles which determine knowledge and also serve as critical norms. The latter grounds knowledge in experiential evidence — admitting evidences of different hierarchical order, not all, to be sure, reducible to the sensory givenness. What transcendental philosophy needs is to combine a minimally structured set of principles (which organize knowledge into loosely-knit systems) with an evidence-generating experiential subjectivity, as well as a critically operative normative element. On the account that is proposed here, there is no 'privileged representation of the world' (as Newtonian physics was for Kant). There are alternate theories, let us recognize, each making claims to be true. Under such circumstances, let us put these truthclaims under brackets, by which I mean: instead of participating in any of these claims, let us take a stance from where we can regard them as claims, i.e. as theories — which is to say, as meaning-structures, as intentional contents. Then only, one may ask: how are these theories qua theories constituted, by what sorts of intentional acts (e.g. of constructions in mathematical theory)? One may also return to the pre-theoretical, perceived world as the basis of theoretical praxis and look for the pretheoretical acts — perceptual, actional, and emotional — which characterize that world. Let me add that it has been wrongly assumed that transcendental philosophy looks for an apodictic foundation (such as the cartesian cogito.) If we consider the Kantian foundationalism closely, it should dawn upon us that the Kantian foundational, constituting subjectivity cannot be characterized as an apodictic, i.e. necessary, ground of experience. The reason for this is simple, although it has been often missed by critics: 'necessity3 is one of the categories of the understanding which, on the Kantian thesis,

Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy has its origin in the nature of the human reason. That nature, then, cannot itself be said to be 'necessary'. On the contrary, it is not logically necessary that the human mind has the structure Kant says it has. The opposite of the Kantian thesis is conceivable. It would be, if true, rather a contingent fact that the human sensibility and the human understanding have precisely the forms that Kant says they have. Their necessity is at most a transcendental necessity — which is grounded in the concept of the possibility of our experience's being what it is. The alleged apodictic foundation is not there, even if the Kantian foundationalism is conceded. 3.4 INTERPRETATION THEORY AND RELATIVISM


One path that leads from the classical Husserlian foundationalism to the anti-foundationalism and relativism of much of contemporary hermeneutics consists in replacing the concern with meanings (of experiences, things or texts) by a concern with interpretation. There is something innocuous about this move, for in an important sense meanings are correlates of interpretations: to assign a meaning is to interpret that to which one happens to be assigning the meaning. However, the standpoint of 'meaning' carries the idea of absolutism, as though whatever bears a meaning — an utterance, an experience, a thing — has its meaning, so that one can speak of the meaning that we need to identify. This claim to be able to reach the ultimate understanding is thrown into disarray as soon as one presses the claim that there is no privileged meaning, that there are never-ending possibilities of interpretation (a position that may or may not be combined with historicism and/or subjectivism). The idea of many possible interpretations renders the idea of the meaning of a text, thing or experience either pointless or utterly useless. The critique does not stop at this point, it affects, equally radically, the idea of an absolute meaning-constituting subjectivity as well, and opens the doors for an unmitigated relativism. I have already commented, in chapter 1, on the idea of inter-


Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy

pretation and its relation to a phenomenological philosophy. Before reflecting later in this chapter on the topic of relativism, I want to make a few remarks on this excessively liberal theory of interpretation. By 'liberal theory of interpretation5, I mean any theory, based on open-ended possibilities of interpretation, which denies any unique interpretation which could claim to have conferred the right meaning. As contrasted with this, conservatism is committed to the idea of the meaning. It is worth noting, at the beginning, that much modern liberal interpretation theory fails to keep two different levels of discourse apart: discourse about first-level interpretive activity, and discourse about a higher-level theory of such interpretation. The interpreter of a text is conservative in the sense stipulated above: he claims to have assigned a meaning that, in his view, of all competing meanings, fits best. As an interpreter, he cannot keep the door open for other equally fitting interpretations. He is committed to the idea of 'the meaning' which he claims to have laid bare. The liberal who believes in other, equally valid, interpretations does not do justice to how the interpreter of a text understands his own project. One would be a poor interpreter if he said 'This is what I take the text to mean, but it may have other meanings as well.' As an interpreter, he must have weighed competing possibilities, and made his choice. A theory of interpretation cannot simply be insensitive to this aspect of the activity of interpretation. Call it naivity if you like, but this naivity needs to be accounted for. The liberal theory simply overlooks it. Here is the original justification of the idea of 'the meaning': an interpreter cannot simply say T interpret the text to mean this, but this is not the meaning of the text'. That would be incoherent. Saving naivity is a task of a good phenomenological theory. Let me compare this aspect of interpretation with a similar predicament in perception theory. Phenomenological theories of perception have, as is well known, emphasized the perspectival character of all couter' perception. You never perceive a material object save from a certain perspective, there is no direct access to the thing. As perceptions of one and the same thing unfold, one moves from perspective to perspective — this is a never-ending

Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy


process. A liberal theory of perception — conceived analogously to the liberal version of interpretation theory — may hold that there is, as a matter of fact, no 'the thing' to be perceived, there are only perspectives. But here again phenomenology needs to be able to keep together both the naivity of perceptual consciousness, which grasps the thing out there in its bodily givenness as it were quite unaware of its perspectival constraint, and the reflective discovery of the incurably perspectival character of perception. The pre-reflective perceiver does not say CI do not see the thing, but I see only an aspect, a side, from my perspective'. That would be incoherent, and would make the perspectival theory itself untenable. On the contrary, when one sees a thing, one sees the thing from a perspective (while this 'from a perspective' remains anonymous and unrecognized). Physical context (as well as psychological and social contexts) may determine what I see of the thing and how I see it, but I do not see the thing as so determined. The same holds good in the case of interpretation. An interpreter's project may indeed be culturally, historically or even psychologically determined, but those determinations do not function as contents of his interpretation, he simply assigns a meaning to the text and claims it to be the meaning of the text. An interpreter of a text would be a poorer interpreter if he said CI can only interpret from my own historical situation, and so I do'. It is therefore not qua interpreter that one comes to subscribe to a liberal theory of interpretation. Such a theory must be possible only from a different vantage point — a vantage point which surveys the history of interpretation, reflectively lays bare the changing historical perspectives, and anticipates many such possible perspectives. It is the same sort of vantage point which permits one to characterize perception as perspectival. Oddly enough, paradoxical though it may sound, the perspectival theory of perception is possible only from a position which is nonperspectival. Perceptual consciousness, in order to be what it is, needs to be from a perspective, but needs also to be unaware of its own perspectival nature. To be able to reflectively lay bare this perspectival nature of all perception is to aim at determining the essence of perception. This essentialistic standpoint — the


Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy

standpoint of the 'transcendental ego' — is what yields the perspectival feature of perception. I am here claiming that the liberal theory of interpretation, contrary to its own self-understanding, presupposes such an essentialistic standpoint. From what other position could the theorist hypothesize this endlessly open-ended possibility of an ever new interpretive stance? All this points to the following thesis: relativism presupposes an absolutistic standpoint. Not unlike the naive perceiver and the naive interpreter, one who lives within his own culture or his own world does not consider himself to be inhabiting one amongst many possible worlds. As a matter of fact, he regards himself to be in the only world that is for him there. In this respect, Davidson's conclusion, after his critique of alternative conceptual frameworks, exactly captures this naivity.8 Who then is a relativist? Where should one position oneself so as to be able to have any number of possible worlds, radically incommensurable with each other, laid out before one's gaze? As before, the conclusion is inevitable: from the reflective stance of a transcendental ego, from the stance of one who is not subject to relativism but is able to objectify and reflect upon the relativistic situation — consequently, from the standpoint of one who is already positioned to 'overcome' relativism.





In the early years of the phenomenological movement, it appeared as though relativism had been, once for all, overcome. Husserl's elaborate and widely ramified critique of psychologism9 was also taken to be, by implication, a critique of all relativism, and a defence not merely of the idea of pure logic, but also of the possibility of arriving at essential, and so non-relative, truths about all sorts of things: religion, law, art and society, to mention only some.

Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy


Such is, however, the fate of phenomenology that relativistic implications appear to disrupt its essentialism from within. This occurs in various ways, some of which I will begin by recalling.10 First of all, the purely descriptive, non-reductionist, approach to phenomena inevitably led to a pluralism which refused to be rounded off within, or for the sake of, a system. Consider, for example, space: purely descriptively, you have sacred space and profane space,11 space as experienced in a familiar setting, and space that is threatening and strange (in an unfamiliar setting), space as experienced in walking or in dancing, in listening to music or in looking at a painting. 12 How are you to bring these data under a common 'essence?' All those ethnological data which seemingly promote relativism would find their places within such a descriptive phenomenology. The very idea of one objective world, of one moral theory, even of one life-wo rid would be threatened by such descriptive phenomenology. Secondly, as essentialism, in phenomenology, imperceptibly yielded to meaning-constitution, and as the given data for descriptive research were found to have been preconstituted by meaning-conferring and so, interpretive acts, the possibility of very different, often radically different, interpretations of the same data, and so of the constitution of incommensurable objectivities, came to the fore. The transition to the relativism of alternate conceptual frameworks did not require a long step. In fact, all that was needed was another premise: namely, that every interpretive act presupposes, and is already embedded in, a global interpretive framework (a step Husserl perhaps never could take). Thirdly, as phenomenology, in its attempt to be radical, reached the seemingly ultimate ground of the life-world that is prior to, and also the point of departure for, all theoretical constituting acts, it also found itself confronted with the same spectre of relativism which it had faced early during the purely descriptive program. For, if life-world is truly to be life-world and not a theoretical posit, then one must recognize that there is not one life-world, but in fact there are many life-worlds. Here, again, ethnology finds itself useful for phenomenology. A primitive tribal


Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy

community of New Guinea certainly does not have the same lifeworld as the present-day New Yorker. Whose life-world was Schutz describing? I believe that a sound philosophy, phenomenological or not, must be able to overcome relativism. But I also believe that the early phenomenologists' optimism that relativism had been disposed of was too hasty. If relativism is to be overcome, one cannot just begin by 'refuting it', one must be able to 'go through' it as far as one can, and then go beyond it. In other words, the journey has to be long and understanding, and the overcoming has to be from within relativism. In this paper I will briefly follow such a path, in its barest outline, and towards the end indicate its bearing on moral philosophy.


'Alternate Conceptual Frameworks'/'Radically Different Worlds': Some Attempts at Refutations

If Husserl rejected relativism as incoherent, Donald Davidson claims to demonstrate that the talk of alternate conceptual frameworks (which, as I pointed out, emerges from within descriptive as well as constitutive phenomenology) is unintelligible.13 But Davidson's aim is to show not merely that the idea of a conceptual scheme alternative to ours makes no sense, but also to prove the far more radical thesis that the very talk of a conceptual framework is unintelligible. As a consequence, he insists, the very distinction between conceptual scheme and uninterpreted data must also be given up. To give up that distinction would amount to giving up all transcendental arguments, and so all foundationalist transcendental philosophies — to give up, in other words, the project of legitimizing the application of a conceptual framework, the quaestio juris of the Kantian philosophy. I will not, at present, comment upon the claim that Davidson has given a transcendental argument to prove the impossibility of all transcendental arguments. My immediate concern is to what extent he succeeds in showing the impossibility of a radical relativism of conceptual frameworks or of their correlative worlds.

Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy


Davidson's argument runs somewhat like this; To speak of alternate conceptual schemes is to speak of radically different schemes in the sense that they must have to be mutually untranslatable. If there are alternate conceptual schemes, they must be embodied in languages, which are not translatable to ours. But, it is this claim which Davidson finds unacceptable, especially because any such conceptual scheme could be true without making any sense to us. For Davidson, a theory of meaning is indeed reducible to a theory of truth, so that the notion of truth cannot be divorced from that of translation (if the Tarskian convention T embodies our best intuitions about 'truth'). It therefore could make no sense to speak of a conceptual scheme as being true but untranslatable. Now, of course, we are not obliged to accept Davidson's premise that the Tarskian convention T does indeed embody our best intuition about truth, or his other assumption that a theory of meaning is reducible to a theory of truth (which is consequent upon denying the Frege—Husserl semantics to which I am committed). Nevertheless, we have to take into account Davidson's point that an alternate conceptual scheme or talk about a radically different world, being untranslatable to our home language, would make no sense. In order to bring out the nature of this argument and assess its value, I will compare it with an argument by Husserl which seemingly is to the same effect, i.e. a denial of radically different worlds. The argument occurs in Husserl's writings at various places. I will recall three such places. First, in §48 of the Ideas, I, Husserl writes: what is perceivable by one Ego must in principle be conceivable by every Ego. And though as a matter of fact it is not true that everyone stands or can stand in a relation of empathy of inward understanding of every other one, . . . yet in point
of principle there exist essential possibilities for the setting up of

an understanding . . . If there are worlds or real things at all, the empirical motivations which constitute them must be able to reach into my experience, and that of every single Ego. 14


Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy

In §60 of the Cartesian Meditations, Husserl asks: 'Is it conceivable

(to me, . . .) that two or more separate pluralities of monads i.e., pluralities not in communion, coexist, each of which accordingly constitutes a world of its own, so that together they constitute two worlds . . . ?' To this question he then answers: 'Manifestly, instead of being a conceivability, that is a pure absurdity . . . the two worlds are then necessarily mere "surrounding worlds" . . . and mere aspects of a single objective world, which is common to them. For indeed, the two intersubjectivities are not absolutely isolated. As imagined by me, each of them is in necessary communion with me . . . as the constitutive primal monad relative to them.' 'Actually therefore', Husserl concludes, 'there can exist only a single community of monads.' 15 Finally, in a fragment dating from 1921, now included in the second Intersubjectivity volume,16 Husserl discusses the same issue in greater detail. He sets out to prove that if there are several subjects, they must necessarily be able to be in a possible communicative state (Kommerzium), and therefore constitute a common world. By the common world, he means one spatiotemporal world in which the subjects as corporeal beings apprehend each other as 'other' subjects. Apprehension of the other subject's body (Leib), which is necessary for apprehending the other as a subject, requires being in the same spatio-temporal system. Furthermore, if there is to be a plurality of subjects, this plurality must be, in principle, experienceable as a plurality. Every experience or presentation of such a plurality points to a possible subject. Such a subject must be in an Einfuhhlungszusammenhang, i.e. belong to an interconnection of empathetic understanding, with the others. Therefore, such a subject and the others, i.e. the plurality of subjects we hypothesized, must belong to one common world. These arguments are in part intended to prove that there must be one space and time, i.e. one spatio-temporal world for all subjects, although each subject may have its own Mit-Welt. For, otherwise (a) these subjects would not apprehend each other as subjects; (b) the plurality of subjects that is hypothesized will not be apprehended as a plurality by any possible subject, and so

Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy


the hypothesization would be meaningless; and (c) the positing of a world that is for only one subject will be meaningless for another unless the latter can experience the world as his. The argument can be generalized to prove the unity of the world in a sense that goes beyond the thesis of one space and one time. Compare Husserl's arguments with Davidson's. Davidson's argument insists on translatability, for the ideas of translatability, meanirigfulness and truth cannot be separated. If there is to be another conceptual framework, or talk of another world, any such must be translatable to mine, our home language; if it is, then it is not an alternative conceptual scheme, not a description of another radically different world. Husserl's argument insists on 'Vor"stellbarkeif. The other subject must be presentable along with his body, to any of the others, to me, to start with. The other's world (regarded initially as being radically different) must be experienceable by me. And the plurality of subjects (each ex hypothesis with its own world) must be presentable to someone as a plurality. Otherwise, each of these locutions (that there is another subject, another world, a plurality of subjects) would make no sense to me, but so also to any of the others. Both Davidson and Husserl are making a similar demand upon the relativist. The talk of alternate schemes or worlds can make sense only if such a scheme is translatable to ours, i.e. home language, the talk of a world would make sense only if it is experienceable by me or by us (who already share a common world). It might appear that the idea of translatability is free from that subjectivism which attaches to the idea of experienceability, but the fault of subjectivism is mitigated to the point of being totally harmless when what is required is experienceability by any subject whatsoever. Likewise, the requirement of translatability to our home language may appear to be chauvinistic, but this is removed by requiring that all alternate schemes should be mutually translatable. What is dissatisfying with this way of overcoming relativism — Davidson's or Husserl's — is that it again takes a short cut. It is impatient with relativism, even as an initial truth. In fact, one suspects whether the 'refutation' does not beg the issue. What I,


Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy

on the other hand, want to begin with is a recognition of the fact that a certain cultural pluralism (and an associated thesis of pluralism of worlds) is one of the desiderata of modern ways of thinking. An unadulterated monistic conception of the world — be it the conception of the world of antiquity, or of modern science — has simply no future. Richard Rorty has complained that transcendental philosophies have sought to legitimize a favoured representation of the world.17 We just cannot start today with any such favoured representation, in the same way as Kant started from the world of which Euclidean geometry and Newtonian physics held good. If we are to find a way out of relativism, it can only be after the phenomenon of relativism has been granted its initial recognition. But where can we go from there? What path lies open for us?


Another Husserlian Path

Two suggestions of Husserlian thinking have been mentioned by me and then set aside. One was to insist on essence of 'world', even if there are many worlds. This essence, which is to be a 'formal essence' after all, is given by a formal ontology. What was threatened at the level of contents is thereby gained only at the level of form. The other was to tie the significance of any locution about alternative worlds to experienceability by me, and, in the long run, by any and every ego. This delivers a common intersubjective world at the level of contents, but not unlike Davidson's appears to beg the issue, and is no less impatient with the phenomenon of relativism than the first, the eidetic move. The same Husserlian thinking provides us with another, and to my mind, more promising lead; this is the famed principle of noesis-noema correlation. In order to bring out how this can help us here, let me recall a distinction that Davidson draws in the paper referred to earlier. The talk of many different worlds, Davidson points out, 18 is ambiguous as between (a) talking about the many possible worlds from the same point of view, and

Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy (b) talking about them as though they are but the same world seen from many different points of view. "Strawson's many imagined worlds are seen (or heard) — anyway described — from the same point of view, Kuhn's one world is seen from different points of view.' Davidson has no quarrel with the former sort of concept, and so with the Leibnizian talk of many possible worlds. Nor does Husserl have anything against such locution. 'Naturally Leibniz is right', Husserl writes, 'that infinitely many monads and groups of monads are conceivable, that it does not follow that all these possibilities are compossible; and, again, when he says that infinitely many worlds might have been "created", but not two or more at once, since they are incompossible'.19 What Davidson wants to rule out is the possibility of describing the same world from radically different points of view, where these points of view are mutually incommensurable, and their descriptions mutually untranslatable. In fact, what he ends up by proving — what was the ruling intention all along — is that there is no point of view on the world, no conceptual scheme by which it is interpreted. There can only be different languages in which to describe the world and these languages are mutually translatable. Obviously, Husserl's rejection of relativism, in the sense of the thesis that there are mutually incommensurable worlds, can amount neither to the thesis that we cannot speak of many possible worlds, any two of which are jointly incompossible, nor to the thesis that we cannot describe the same world from many different ponts of view. The notion of point of view, of interpretive framework, is not ruled out by Husserl. What he is rejecting is the actuality (not possibility) of may incommensurable worlds. So although it appeared a little while ago as though both Husserl and Davidson were attacking the same thesis, it indeed now seems that Husserl does in fact envisage that the same world must be describable from many different points of view. What he was rejecting is the thesis that each of these descriptions is a world. It is rather a world-noema. The different world-noemata can nevertheless be of one and the same world, and therefore



Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy

must be, in the long run, commensurable. I do not think anyone would want to deny that there are different points of view from which one and the same thing can be perceived, thought of, talked about. But to say that there are radically different points of view such that the descriptions they generate are totally incommensurable, is quite another thing, and I deny this. Between the view that there are such incommensurable worlds (or, untranslatable languages, totally unintelligible conceptual schemes) and the view that all talk of possible non-actual worlds involves nothing more than 'redistribution of truth-values5 over sentences in our present languages 'in various systematic ways', there must be an intermediate position which I want to adopt. In order to formulate such a position, I will proceed through several steps. First, I will indicate how the principle of noesis-noema correlation applies to the problem at hand. Second, I will distinguish between two levels of discourse: internal and external. I will in effect insist upon the relevance of the idea of transcendental ego to this issue. Finally, I will make a distinction between 'person' and 'subject'. A world as a noema Let us view each world as a noematic structure. To each such structure, there would correspond an entire nexus of interpretive acts on the part of the community for which such a world obtains. We may then speak of a noesisnoema correlation which is itself non-relativistic. If the essentialism was a short cut and also too formalistic a step, and the tying of all meaningfulness to experienceability by any ego too liberal (inasmuch as it permits every one to be an insider to every world), the present manner of isolating invariant noesis-noema correlation structure overcomes relativism by taking seriously the phenomena on which relativism is founded. The next step would be this: just as the identity of an object is constituted by the system of noemata through which 'one and the same' object is presented, so also in the case under consideration the one world — not in the sense of the totality of all worlds, but in the sense of that whose versions they all are — may be looked upon as that regulative concept which not only orders the various

Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy


quasi-incommensurable worlds, but also delineates the path that shall lead us out of a possibly hopeless chaos towards communication and understanding. On the intermediate position I am seeking to formulate, each world-noema is different from any other, it embodies a unique point of view, but it also 'overlaps' and 'intersects' some other world-noemata — thus making transition from one to the other theoretically possible. (Although W\ and W$ would appear to be utterly distinct, their distinction is mediated by W2 with which both 'overlap'.) Translatability is a deceptive concept, in any case. If you can adhere to a very strict concept of translatability, no 'radical translation' between any two languages is possible. And yet, with a less strict concept, we do translate. Every language can say — as Gadamer has stated — what is said in any other, but in its own way. This 'way' alone is what is untranslatable. Internal and external discourse To get clear about the situation, let us distinguish between two levels of discourse: the internal and the external. At the internal level there are 'radically' different worlds, conceptual frameworks, languages, such that for the person who naively lives within his own, the others are 'bare others', at most 'interesting', but still 'do not make sense'. Translatability and intelligibility are at most ideals, but never meant to work out. Translation, understanding and communication take place within a common, shared world. At this level, there is a home language and a home 'life-world'. However, if I am to be able to speak of alternative conceptual schemes, I must be able to translate the others into mine, or mine into the others. Languages (and schemes) must be mutually translatable. But when I assert this, I am not taking the 'internal' standpoint, but rather the 'external' standpoint, from which any language is as good as any other, none is mine. All possible worlds are then spread out before my gaze, none is more my own than any other. I am then a transcendental ego. The transcendental ego's is no standpoint: all possible standpoints are arraigned before his look, The transcendental ego has no home language.


Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy

Thus the empirical person living in his world, speaking his language, using his conceptual scheme, sharing in his tradition, is subject to a point of view of his own, of his community. But he does not, in his pre-reflective naivity, know that he sees the world from a standpoint. He lives in, perceives, knows the world, the only world that is there for him. That, however, he is subject to a perspective, a standpoint, a conceptual framework, is brought out by reflection (and the reflection may be occasioned by a great variety of circumstances). But to be able to survey all possible points of view, conceptual frameworks, languages objectively — as making sense to each other, therefore, as commensurable and mutually translatable — one needs to take up a stance, which is none other than that of a transcendental ego. The thesis of relativity of worlds is an initial response of reflection. But this thesis of relativity has to be limited by the thesis of the common horizon within which these standpoints are after all possible. The one world is not the common content to which the different world-noemata provide different conceptual schemes. The many worlds are then neither obtained by 'redistribution of truth-values' for sentences in the home language, nor are they different conceptualizations of one and the same preexistent world. They are noemata of one world, but the one world is also being constituted through them — always under the threat of being broken down.


'The World of Physics'

It is not my intention to identify this concept of one world of which the many worlds are noemata with the world of physics or the Kantian Nature. There is no doubt though that the world of physics does indeed lay claim to this status. For me it is but another such noematic structure. The expression 'world of physics' is ambiguous. For one thing, it means the world of scientific entities. In another sense, it means the world of experienceable things and events determined and governed by laws of physics, and for whose explanation the scientific entities are

Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy posited as theoretical constructs. Nature, as Kant understood it, is the world of physics in the second sense. Kant, as is well known, regarded Nature in this sense as constructed out of simple, atomic, discrete sense impressions. I basically agree with the Kantian point of view. However, since I reject the Humean— Kantian conception of'impression', I regard the Kantian Nature as constructed rather out of the many pre-scientific worlds in which we, with our pre-scientific interests, find ourselves. Any such world is a sedimented structure of meanings inherited from the past. I will not in this chapter develop the broad stages of the process by which the scientific-objective world emerges, with its imperious claim to be the world-in-itself, out of the pre-scientific worlds. It claims to be the world as it is in itself, when all human subjectivity is removed from the scene. Paradoxically, however, science itself gives rise to a new tradition, and, like all traditions, this one also is constituted by sedimentation of meaning structures. What is important for my present concern is that the world of physics, in my view, is a higher-order noematic structure, founded upon pre-scientific noemata, claiming to supersede their validity claims, but with no more than its own validity claim. The appeal to science then with a view to overcome relativism is futile.



Two Clarifications

In my attempt to find a way out of relativism, I make use of two strategies. One of them is the idea of overlapping of noemata. The other is that of translatability. In this section, I will briefly clarify these two as I want them to be understood. 1 The basic idea of overlapping of noemata is HussePs, but my present use of it was first suggested to me by Michael Dummett's use of the principle of'conservative extension' with a view to make communication possible between classical and intuitionistic logics. Let W and W* be two world-noemata such that they are furthest removed from each other in the sense that any communication between them seems impossible. In such a case,


Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy
W\ w*

Figure 3.2 what I postulate is that there will always be a series of Ws such that (a) every succeeding member of the series overlaps the preceding member and (b) the first member of the series will overlap M^and the final member will overlap W* (see figure 3.2). Nothing in this guarantees that there is only one such series. There may be in fact many different ways of linking W and W*. But in any case, the result would be the same: there would be, in principle, a way of establishing communication between W and W*. In conceiving of such a series of overlapping noemata, I am of course assuming that each W is not a fully holistic system; if it were so it would just be impossible for it to share part of its contents with another W. 2 By insisting that any language is translatable to any other, I may be taken to be begging the issue. However, that would be the case only if we take 'translatability5 in a static sense. In this static sense, we ascribe translatability, or the lack of it, to two languages Z and Z* when each is regarded as a completed totality. We freeze the growing process that a language is, and want to find out if one such frozen system is translatable or not to another such. It is in this sense that I take Davidson to be insisting on translatability. My use of it, however, is different. I take it that as Z is translated into Z*, or vice versa, in this process both Z and Z* undergo transformation. They both end up enriched. Translation, in this sense, changes both the languages. One cannot arrest Z* at its present stage of growth, and demand Z to be translated into it, or vice versa. Like interpersonal communication, translation enriches both. In this sense, then, mutual translatability is a regulative ideal that we can hardly dispense with: languages have to grow towards its realization.

Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy 3.5.6 The 'Transcendental Ego', Impersonality and Objectivity


Since I have characterized the point of view of the transcendental ego as that of an outsider, a few words need to be added to avoid misunderstanding on this score. It has been wrongly held by many that the point of view of transcendental ego yields a fully objective, and objectively determinate, world, such as the world of physics. However, it is not without significance that, in Husserl's thinking, the idea of transcendental ego and the idea of noesis-noema correlation are closely interlinked. From the stance of the transcendental ego, all are not objects, but rather all objects are meaning-structures. What we have then is not one impersonal description of the world in which personal or communal interpretations do not figure at all. What we have is rather an array of noesis-noema correlations, an array of worlds and morals, each having its own validity claim and its origin in interpreting and evaluating acts. Thus the transcendental ego is anti-monistic, it respects pluralism and is tolerant of diversities. In this sense, transcendental thinking, instead of being committed to a favoured representation of the world, shall respect limitless diversities of interpretations. The overcoming of relativism that phenomenology should espouse cannot consist in that violent act by which one validity claim imperiously supersedes all others, but shall rather consist in that gentle and tolerant view which recognizes that unity is always in the process of being achieved by communication and is just too fragile to be sustained by any violence. The world-initself is rather a regulative idea that guides communication and translation. To elevate any world, scientific or religious, to the status of absolute, is to fall into the trap of relativistic arguments: the 'other' would remain unconvinced and communication and internal criticism would be stopped.


The Person and the Subject

In an earlier work, I distinguished between the person and the


Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy

subject as a means of capturing the distinction between action and thought, between the practical and the theoretical.20 In this, my thinking was guided by Josef König's Göttingen lectures oa the theoretical and the practical sentences (now being edited for publication by Günther Patzig) and motivated by the (eclectic?) goal of finding place for both the Heideggerean Dasein and Husserlian transcendental ego. Nearly 20 years later, reflecting on the Indian and Western conceptions of the self, it dawned on me that the Kantian—Husserlian conception of transcendental subjectivity was in a large measure, that of transcendental person, one who did things, a principle of active constitution of things; whereas the Sämkhya—Vedänta conception of dtman was truly a pure subjectivity, whose essence consists not in doing anything, but in letting itself and its other be manifested as they are in themselves.21 However, it should be added that the Husserlian idea of the transcendental ego, as developed in the Cartesian Meditations, is multilayered:22 the transcendental ego is (a) the identical pole of subjective processes; (b) the substrate of habitualities (whereby, we are told, it shows a 'personal character'); and (c) the monad taken in full concreteness, i.e. as the totality of all his intentional life. If by a person we mean a concrete, corporeal entity who calls himself an CF, a bodily psychic unity, which is in the world as a concernful, caring, willing and acting being, then Husserl's transcendental ego is a transcendental person. It is only in its reflective dimension, i.e. as affecting the radical epoche upon its own intentional life, that the ego can be said to be the pure transcendental subject, for whom the world is an object. I will not develop or defend this distinction any more than is needed for my present purpose. My immediate thesis is that the relativity of worlds (as well as of morals) is to a community of persons, whereas for the pure transcendental subject this relativity is appropriated into a set of universal, invariant structures.


Two related distinctions

I can, within the limits of this chapter, best explain the full impact of this thesis by relating it to three different, though

Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy


allied, concerns in moral philosophy. First is the distinction between Sittlichkeit and Moralität as formulated by Hegel in the course of his critique of Kantian ethics. The second is Habermas's critique of Gadamer. The third is a distinction between personal and impersonal points of view made and used with great skill by Tom Nagel. As I understand it, the point of Hegel's concept of Sittlichkeit is that the abstract morality of subjective will is to be sharply distinguished from cthe laws and institutions existing in and for themselves',23 the institutions which, as the foundations of public freedom, constitute the 'firm basis of the state'. 24 This given world ('vorhandene Weif) of laws and institutions is sittlich in so far as the individual finds in it the actuality of his action and the goals that move him. Thus the purely inner Kantian freedom is contrasted with the habits and customs, political and social institutions, of which, as an ethical substance, the Greek polis was, for Hegel, the determining instance. This distinction between the 'ethical substance' and reflective inner morality partly corresponds to my distinction between person and subject in philosophy of morals. The person essentially belongs to a community of persons, and his moral life lives, develops and is sustained by the institutions and practices, rules and norms, shared by the community. It is here that we, as descriptive philosophers, encounter pluralism in morals and are tempted toward a relativistic theory. At the same time, some individuals at least from within the community, possibly most individuals, at some time or other, (a) either find some component ofthat ethical substance dissatisfying to their own criticalmoral thinking, or (b) experience the importance of cultivating a purely inner attitude of freedom, as contrasted with which the social institutions and norms pale into insignificance, or (c) both. I wish to maintain that it is through such critical, reflective acts that one overcomes moral relativism and confirms the belief in moral absolutism as a regulative ideal, to say the least. I do not in the least wish to suggest that one can become a mere transcendental ego, and lead a moral life that totally dispenses with the ethical norms of some community or other. The human situation is much less precisely definable than that. We


Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy

all have to belong to some 'ethical substance' or other in so far as we are persons; we all have to be critics of our own ethical being, of our own norms and institutions, from within (not as outsiders) in so far as we are also transcendental egos. It should be clear from the foregoing that in my view Habermas was fully justified in objecting to the way Gadamer's thesis threatens to legitimize all 'prejudices'.25 As a person, situated in time and history, I belong to a tradition which has already defined for me the parameters of my ethical life. We at once encounter the spectre of alternate traditions and ethical pluralism, and as a consequence, relativism. The prejudices, prejudgements, sedimented and anonymous interpretations that constitute my tradition also provide the medium, almost indispensable medium, of my moral life and moral growth. But, for that reason, to say that I can at most try to 'understand' it, but can never be a critic, goes against my moral intuitions. In order to be a critic of my tradition, I need, in some measure, to transcend it — while still, as a person belonging to it. I play the dual role of a person and a transcendental ego. To be a critic of my tradition, I need to find 'an archimedean point' outside of it — Gadamer insists in his response. My own being as a transcendental ego precisely provides the archimedean point.


Unity and Diversity of Morals

The diversity of morals concerns each tradition's own Sittlichkeit. The unity consists in the possibility on the part of each member of that tradition to rise above an unreflective immersion in that ethical substance, and to critically reflect on its internal coherence from an external point of view. If a person could not possibly take such an external point of view, there would be for him nothing but the Sittlichkeit to conform to — whether by coercion or willingly. I am for my present purpose rejecting another, much easier and shorter, account of the unity of morals in the midst of diversity. Nicolai Hartmann, who was a value realist, explained the seeming changes and diversity of values at different times

Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy and amongst different peoples by changes and differences in consciousness of value rather than of values themselves. On this theory, human consciousness is sometimes, under certain circumstances, sensitive to certain values, at other times, under other circumstances, sensitive to other values. This theory would be satisfactory if one is a value realist and, if only one condition is satisfied: namely, if the difference between the Sittlichkeit"ofone community and that of another consisted only in the different values, and different ranking of values, that underlie them. Unfortunately, sometimes what is so frustrating about a community's morals is the presence of what are positive disvalues. I want to locate the unity of morals in the possibility on the part of any member of a community to critically reflect on one's own Sittlichkeit, eventually in the ability to take up the stance of a transcendental ego. This may not result in an agreed 'material ethic of values', but it does entail the possibility of raising just those sorts of questions, and thereby developing those sorts of standards of moral judgement, which shall constitute a moral theory that would encompass all mankind. I am not myself going to suggest what such a theory shall consist in. What concerns me is the very possibility of such a theory.



Moral Engagement and Moral Criticism

In effect, I want to distinguish between moral engagement and moral criticism. A member of the community who fully participates in its Sittlichkeit is, as a person, committed to it. He lives and breathes within this substance, nourishes it and derives his nourishment from it. Within that life of commitment he can grow by subordinating his personal interest to the larger interest of the community as that community perceives it. But he can also from within, while belonging to the Sittlichkeit, play the role of its critic. In so far as he does so, he is a subject rather than a person. Since these two roles are essentially open to man as a moral being, indeed necessary, one can dispense with one only at great cost of his total being. There are two ways a tradition including its Sittlichkeit may be


Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy

changed, or sought to be changed: from outside or from inside. From outside, when a new, totally foreign ideology, leads to the attempt at change; from within, when the criticism originates form within that tradition. Socrates and Gandhi provide two of the brightest examples of the latter sort of attempt. Socrates' case is well known, so I will briefly state the case for Gandhi. The Hindu Sittlichkeit at the time Gandhi emerged into public life was characterized, as it had been for centuries, by a degenerate version of the caste system with the institution of untouchability. Gandhi spent his life changing it from within. Himself committed to that tradition in general, he re-interpreted the talk of 'varna* so as to make it acceptable to his moral sensibility, pointed out the internal incoherence of caste and untouchability with other essentials of the tradition, and while preserving his own selfimage as an orthodox Hindu, nevertheless contributed towards the transformation of the Hindu Sittlichkeit into a more coherent ethical substance. This possibility of transcendence from within is what holds out the prospect of moral unity. This is not to maintain, however, that, ideally, mankind as a whole will or ought to be able to possess one common Sittlichkeit, i.e. one common ethical substance. As far as I can see into the complex issues involved, the unity will have to be at the level of principles, norms and criteria, but any application of such principles to concrete situations will give different results in different traditions, just because those situations will be perceived differently and those principles, in so far as their concretizations are concerned, will be interpreted differently.26 The common moral principles will have to be concretized differently in different traditions. From this point of view, I begin to see an unexpected aspect of truth in the so-called formalism of Kantian ethics.


The Personal and the Impersonal Standpoints

My distinction between the personal point of view and the point of view of the subject (or what I call the transcendental ego) is

Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy different from Nagel's similar-sounding distinction.27 Nagel distinguishes between two standpoints, towards the world and one's self. One is the conception of oneself as an I, the other as some one. 'The essence of personal judgement, beliefs, attitudes, etc.' Nagel writes, 'is that they view the world from a vantage point within it, and their subject or author is the locus of that vantage point. The impersonal standpoint, on the other hand, provides a view of the world without giving one's location in it.' Nagel continues: CA complete impersonal description of the world will include a description of the person who is "I" in the personal description, and will include in impersonal terms everything that can be said about that individual in the first person.' 28 From the impersonal standpoint, one is just a person amongst others; others are regarded as persons in fully the same sense in which one is a person to oneself. Consequently, the impersonal standpoint allows for timelessness and objectivity (in metaphysics) and altruism (in moral philosophy), while the personal standpoint leads to solipsism (in theoretical philosophy) and egoism (in moral philosophy). What is so interesting about Nagel's work is that he connects this distinction in self-understanding to the two ethical theories: egoism and altruism. Altruism depends, in his view, on a full recognition of the reality of other persons, just as egoism is based on subjective reasons, deriving from a personal standpoint. My present interest is to clarify my distinction between the person and the subject by contrasting it with Nagel's. There is a seeming affinity, for on Nagel's distinction, too, the personal standpoint would yield relativism (subjective relativism) and the impersonal standpoint would yield some sort of absolutism. However, the two distinctions are otherwise very different. My conception of the personal standpoint includes recognition of other persons, not necessarily as having equal worth, but certainly as members of a community which shares values, customs and institutions. So the personal standpoint, as I understand it, is not solipsistic, but the standpoint is limited to the community's Sittlichkeit. If this Sittlichkeit permits, a person may be altruistic within the limits of his community, and subject to the constraints



Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy

imposed by the community's best moral sense. From such a standpoint, the idea of morals which goes beyond one's community, supersedes it, and legislates for all men, makes no sense. Similarly, my standpoint of the subject or the transcendental ego assures impersonality such that personal reasons (and reasons for groups of persons) fade into insignificance, yet this impersonality is not the same as that of a standpoint from which the world is described completely objectively and for which I could be



What then is the prospect of overcoming relativism? What I have described is a condition of the possibility of such an overcoming — I have neither refuted relativism nor maintained, if relativism is untenable what the world in itself is, or the morals in themselves are. The 'world in itself presents a regulative idea that guides communication and translation, self criticism and moral judgement. In so far as these latter are phenomena, relativism cannot be the final truth about things. At the same time, to elevate any world or any Sittlichkeit to the status of absolute, is to fall into the trap of relativistic arguments.

3.6 3.6.1

NOTES 'Constitution'

In these chapters, I have often spoken of 'constitution' and 'constituting'. One of the general theses underlying the various other points made is that objectivities of different orders (individual things, abstract objects such as thoughts as well as theories) are constituted by appropriate intentional acts and their contents. This is a generalized version of the restricted Kantian thesis that understanding makes nature possible. How can we understand this talk of 'constitution'

Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy


First, as to how it should not be understood. One of the ways it should not be understood is as though the above thesis is to the effect that consciousness creates, produces or brings into being the objects. No one cautioned us more accurately against this construal than Kant. Transcendental philosophy cannot be maintaining this thesis of production or creation, for the simple reason — apart from considerations plaguing any idealism of that magnitude — that the language of 'production', 'creation' or 'bringing into being' pertains to, has its valid application within and makes sense only in the context of the mundane, i.e. the constituted world, so that it would be a category mistake to apply it to the constituting, transcendental domain, or even to use it to understand the relation between the transcendental and the mundane. How, then, can we understand 'constitution'? In my view, there are two ways of understanding it — both correct; and the two, in their unity, succeed in bringing home the full force of this key concept. For one thing, constitution is constitution of sense, not of thing. A causal story is required of the thing 'table' — a story of how it comes into being in terms, for example, of who made it. But the sense 'table' belongs to a cultural context, and is conferred by appropriate intentional acts that are directed towards that thing-type in certain specifiable manners. The distinction between a thing and all those senses that one attaches to it is where phenomenology begins, it concerns itself with the latter, i.e. senses, and not with things. However, transcendental philosophy, by its inner logic, moves towards obliterating that distinction, for not only are such predicates as 'table', 'furniture', 'material object' senses (meanings or interpretations) which one attaches to the thing (not arbitrarily, but in accordance with specifiable, and ordered, patterns of experiences), the same is true also of such high-level 'categorial' predicates as 'thing' and 'reality'. There would nevertheless be a difference between that thing and the sense 'thing' (between any being or entity and the meaning of its being) — which is none other than Heidegger's 'ontological difference', a vanishing difference (for it is not a difference between two things, nor between two thing-types) but none the


Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy

less a categorial difference, which it is the task of philosophy to reflect upon and to articulate. For another, the idea of phenomenological constitution has to do with 'bringing something (this something being that whose constitution is under consideration) into original givenness'. In other words, to look for the constitution of a thing A is to look for those sorts of intentional experiences (as concatenated in specifiable manners), by virtue of whom A comes to be given qua A. Thus material objects come to be presented qua material objects through ordinary perceptual experiences unfolding coherently in time as one, the perceiver, moves in space (this, to be sure, is not the whole story, it is only the beginning of one which has to take into account the causal efficacy of the thing as well). In that case, one may say material objects are constituted in outer perception — thereby summing up a general eidetic structure revealed by that story. Why then the adjective 'original' in the phrase 'bringing something into original givenness'? Of course, material objects may be presented in thought, and quasi-intuitively given through memory and imagination — but all these modes of givenness are derivative, they refer back (by a chain of intentional implication) to perceptual encounter, which is 'originary' with regard to material objects. To say that positive natural numbers are constituted by counting is to say that while these numbers may be presented, thought of and subject to mathematical operations, purely symbolically, i.e. as signified by the corresponding numerals, they are 'originally' given as what they are through counting30 and appropriate construction procedures. The connection between these two senses of constitution — i.e. between constitution of sense and mode of originary givenness — is forced by the idea that a sense is a mode of givenness.


'Transcendental Ego'

I have also, in these chapters, often referred to the 'standpoint of

Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy the transcendental ego'. In section 3.5.6 I have provided some clarification of how it should not be understood in the context of my discussion of relativism. But how is it to be understood positively? Again, as regards most deep philosophical concepts, one can only approximate towards saying what it is about by a series of negations, by saying how it should not be construed to be. Most important of all, the transcendental ego should not be construed either as an overarching ego, a super-ego which comprehends and exceeds the many empirical egos (you and I, amongst them), or as a higher self which each of us possesses but which is numerically distinct from the empirical ego that each one of us is, or a universal structure, the eidos 'Egoity', the Bewusstsein überhaupt* which is the same in each one of us. The empirical ego and the transcendental ego are, on my construal, one and the same — the same entity considered from two different standpoints. I am the empirical ego that I am — when considered as a part of nature, whether as a lump of matter or as a living organism, as a body with a soul within it, or as homo sapiens, or considered under any of the many other anthropological, sociological, theological or metaphysical descriptions. But these are interpretations of myself— interpretations which, although I did not historically originate, I can 'constitute' within my reflective thought. In so far as I do so, i.e. in so far as I am the (reflective) source of all those interpretations with which I understand myself and my world, I, this very same ego that was identified as an empirical ego, is a transcendental ego. As a transcendental ego, I am not a part of nature, not a product of causal laws and causal configurations — but one who confers on nature whatever sense it has for me. The very same experiences which, construed as belonging to nature, are empirical events subject to the causal or other laws of nature, are understood in their essential structure, intentional acts which, by virtue of their intentional contents, confer sense on their objects and so are transcendental. This is the sense of that 'wonderful parallelism' between the empirical and the transcendental to which Husserl often referred.



Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy

Thus there are as many transcendental egos as there are empirical egos which does not preclude us from speaking of a common eidetic structure 'Transcendental Ego überhaupt' they all possess. For this chapter, the concept of'transcendental ego' represents a reflective stance which I can take — a stance which is the condition of the possibility, not only of objectifying and critiquing my own culture (my own world), but also of placing it alongside and beside many other possibilities (possible cultures, possible worlds), of contemplating them — these other relativistic structures along with mine — as equal possibilities. My claim has been that this stance is the condition of the possibility of both formulating relativism as a thesis, and , at the same time, contains the path for overcoming that thesis.

3.7.1 Constitution

The idea of constitution has been, as is only natural, subject to several pertinent criticisms — three of which I will answer here. (I have dealt with those arising out of the contextualist standpoint in chapter 2.) One of these three — resonances of which are to be found in Sartre — argues that if consciousness did constitute the world, the world would be thoroughly transparent, amounting on the part of the reflecting ego to near omniscience. This need not, however, follow, and that it should be taken to be a consequence only shows that one is likely to miss the important distinction between empirical (and a priori) knowledge of all the facts composing the world and philosophical understanding of the meanings that we ascribe to them in terms of the constitution of those meanings. To understand the constitution of the sense 'material object' is not to know all that is there to be known about material objects. If this anxiety is baseless, more to the point is the argument, again originating perhaps with Sartre but

Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy


reformulated by Derrida, that since, as Husserl emphasized, constitution always involves an infinite process (constitution of 'material object', for example, involves reference to perceptions of infinite number of observers from infinite number of perspectives), an 'immer weiter', what it amounts to is a ceaseless postponement, deferral. Constitution, then, is something that never is to be. It claims to be an accomplishment, and yet it is being endlessly deferred. This incoherence is then used to 'deconstruct' the notion from within, as it were. This second argument is more to the point, but it wrongly locates a 'deferral' where there is none. First of all, philosophical 'laying bare' of constitution begins with what is already constituted. A meaning has already been instituted. We need to understand what lies anonymously in this institution. And we discover an infinity. Reflective consciousness finds there a path to be traversed indeed, as though, the sense itself were a path. Furthermore, the relation that is asserted in the above account of the constitution of the sense 'material object' is one that obtains between any perceiver, any perspective and the 'appearances' that are presented to a perceiver from a perspective. These are eidetic relations, and do not depend upon the existence of actual infinities. The essential structure that can be grasped by reflection would be adequate for the purpose at hand. The third criticism has been implicitly answered earlier in this chapter, but, owing to its wide circulation, may need more focused attention. The argument is straightforward: it must be absurd to claim that 'my' transcendental ego — or the transcendental ego that is me — constituted the world, absurd because I did not begin all this. Of course, I did not create the world, but did I even initiate the interpretations that the world has for me? Clearly not. I find myself in a world that is already structured in a certain way, this structuring is not my deed. How could anyone in his senses deny this? Without having to deny this 'fact', I would still argue that the 'fact' does not contradict the thesis of constitution. Although clearly enough I did not originate the interpretations which I 'inherit' and which structure the world into which I am


Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy

born, (a) I could have initiated those interpretations if someone else did (i.e. if Galileo initiated the mathematization of nature, so could I, in principle); and (b) that I could do so is not a matter of arrogating myself to that dignity, but can be reflectively confirmed by traversing the path, within my thinking, which Galileo, for example, must have followed in initiating the revolution.31 What the claim (b) amounts to is not that I can relive the mental life of Galileo, but that whatever might have been the course of Galileo's personal, psychological biography, anyone who could think of mathematization of nature must have conformed to a certain eidetically necessary thought pattern which I can 'relive' in my own consciousness. In that case, I would be 'awakening' to full consciousness the main stadia of constitution ofthat revolutionary new interpretation which Galileo instituted — a constitution process that lies hidden, anonymously, behind the constituted. Thus it is true both that as an empirical ego I find myself in a world that is already constituted, and that as a transcendental ego I — each transcendental ego — is the constitutive source of the world.


Transcendental Ego'

The thesis of 'transcendental ego' itself is not immune to some radical objections. Three such are already on the horizon. First, contrary to the claim of phenomenology, the 'transcendental ego' would seem to be a highly metaphysical idea derived, historically, from the philosophical tradition (and locution) of German idealism. Secondly, the ego is not a timeless transcendental principle (as the Kantian 'Transcendental Unity of Apperception' would seem to be) but rather a concrete entity having both a psychological and historical genesis and development. Finally — and this is the most radical criticism — the very concepts of 'consciousness', 'ego' and 'subjectivity' are far from being descriptive concepts but are rather interpretive, and as interpretive define a basic stance of modern Western thought [a la Heidegger). I will give brief responses to these three criticisms in that

Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy


order. There is no doubt that the designation 'Transcendental ego' derives from German idealism, and so creates the suspicion of being a historically instituted interpretation. But, in its intention, it stands for that field of experience in which all interpretations have their source, and so which in one sense lies behind and beyond history. Again, it is true that the life of an ego is a developing process — psychologically as well as historically: this indeed is a consequence of the thesis of parallelism between the empirical and the transcendental. This feature of its life — of my life — is not incompatible with the claim, made in this chapter, that it, / myself, can, in my reflective thinking, relive the process of constitution of already instituted meanings: this is because of essential structures pervading my experiencings which, in their developing process, are not arbitrary and capricious but exhibit ordered structures. Finally, as to the large claim that the concepts of 'consciousness', 'ego5 and 'subjectivity' represent some basic interpretive frameworks of modern Western thought possibly since Descartes: I find nothing to support this claim excepting a (Heideggerean) reading of the history of (Western) thought (and a rhetoric about the putative 'destiny' of Being). As a reading of history of human thought, it is just false. As a historicist thesis, it suffers from the fallacy of restricted scope discussed earlier in this chapter, as well as from an illicit inference from the fact (if fact that is ) that the concept of consciousness appears at a certain historical epoch to the conclusion that it does not represent any supra-historical phenomenon. The fact is, whatever may be the metaphysical interpretations of 'consciousness', 'ego' and 'subjectivity', these concepts have each an undeniable descriptive core — evidenced by one's own self-experience, selfawareness and self-ascription of mental states. No large, holistic, philosophy can dislodge that testimony from its authoritative status. What I am challenging is the historicist's claim that certain phenomena, certain concepts and certain problems are simply 'no more' around — as a consequence of his favoured historiography. This is too much, one should be entitled to say — given the fragmentary reading of 'history' on which one founds the global claim.


Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy

3.7.3 The Primacy of Subjectivity There is a final criticism I will take heed of in this chapter: the thesis of the primacy of subjectivity that is defended here, it may be argued, cannot avoid the charge of psychölogism. More specifically, the argument may continue, it cannot avoid the difficulties associated with the privacy of the mental. As against such objections, I would like to point out that both of these criticisms, as also most attempts to avoid the said difficulties, presuppose a concept of subjectivity that I wish to reject, and I want to propose, in its place, a much richer, and experientially more viable, notion. This I will do in the next and the concluding sections of this chapter.

3.8 LEVELS OF SUBJECTIVITY: A LESSON FROM HEGEL It has been uncritically assumed, as if it were a self-evident truth, that the mental or the subjective is eo ipso the psychological and is characterized by an incurable privacy. It is also instructive that most discussions of the concept of the mental, in analytic philosophical tradition, focus, sometimes exclusively, on such experiences as pains, toothaches and sensations. Contrast with it what the 'continental' philosophers regard as typically mental or
as Geist: if we take a look at Hegel's Phenomenology of the Mind, the

typical forms of the Geist are thoughts and theories, actions and practices, beliefs and rites, social and political institutions, religious life as much as artistic creation, culminating of course in philosophical thinking. They all either are, or embody, noetic acts in Husserl's sense (and not hyletic 'stuff, as aches and pains and sensations are). Common to them are these features: they are either themselves intentional states or acts or they are 'founded upon' such states or acts; they embody a certain understanding of the world as much as a certain understanding of

Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy


'spirit' — in effect, a certain 'correlation' structure, correlation between 'noesis' and 'noema' or, better still, between self-understanding and world-understanding; they are caught up in history, but they also transcend history inasmuch as each exemplifies a timeless, logical structure; they can all be 'expressed5 in language, i.e. made to say what they mean (Hegel sees the limit of this possibility in pure sensuous immediacy). Taking our lesson from Hegel, and without pausing for the present purpose to comment on the Hegelian text, we may say that the mental is not as such the private or the inner or even the psychological — although each of these is a possible interpretation of the mental. The mental, one could say, is construed as the private, the inner or the merely psychological within a cartesian framework. The spectre of 'psychologism' then arises, not alone, in grounding all cognitive claims in subjectivity, but, along with that, in construing the subjective as what belongs to the inner, private, life of 'cartesian' ego. A transcendental philosophy, which construes the subjective as that in which all such interpretations have their source and ground, cannot understand the subjective as the psychological or even as the inner. These latter are 'mundane' concepts. Equally 'mundane' — as their negations — are the 'naturalistic'-objective concepts of the mind to be found in behaviouristic psychologies: they too are interpretations carried out within suitable conceptual frameworks. Transcendental subjectivity must then be that which is so interpreted, the 'original' nature of the Geist. At the same time, we should not forget that all interpretations of the Geist are selfinterpretations. Spirit, shall we then say, construes itself as mundane? The 'psychological' is one of the many possible selfinterpretations of the transcendental. In this sense there are levels of subjectivity. 3.9 A SUMMARY AND A REMARK

1 In the light of these remarks, I would like to conclude that the distinctive features of a phenomenological transcendental


Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy

philosophy are: (a) an open-ended concept of the constituted; (b) an enriched concept of the constituting, transcendental subjectivity which is not merely a source of logical principles but is also the concrete ongoing experiencing-of-the-world, capable of reflecting on its own anonymous operations; (c) a notion of constitution which encompasses both active and passive constitution (of theories and things); (d) a notion of criticism that is, in the long run, dependent on the idea of evidence rather than on the application of logical principles: and (e) a certain neutrality as between metaphysical realism and metaphysical idealism. 2 I cannot at the end help expressing a sentiment: it is deeply distressing to note how much of concern one finds today amongst those who are philosophers about the 'end' of philosophy. People who talk endlessly about metaphilosophical questions including about if philosophy is not breathing its last, do little philosophizing themselves. The sensitivity to philosophical problems and receptivity to modalities of experiences are being condemned as belonging to that modernism which, we are told, has now been transcended. Whence does contemporary 'culture' derive this legislative authority to rule out of existence the problems of reason? 'From history', we shall be told. But which history, and whose history is it, to which, we are asked, in a spirit of illusory radicalness, to hand over the dissolution of problems that one does not have the courage to think through?


Chapter I 1 2

Description and Interpretation: Possibilities for Phenomenology

3 4 5 6

7 8 9


Cp. B. Russell, Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy 2nd edn (London: George Allen & Urwin, 1920), ch. XVI. G. E. Moore held this view in Principia Ethica (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1920). Also see his 'A Reply to my Critics' in The Philosophy o/G. E. Moore, ed. P. A. Schilpp (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1942), esp. pp. 590—1. K. Baier and S. Toulmin, 'On describing', Mind, LXI (1952), pp. 13-38. E. Husserl, Logical Investigations, tr. J. N. Findlay (New York: Humanities Press, 1970), vol. II, pp. 624-7. For more on this, see J. N. Mohanty, Phenomenology and Ontology (The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1970), chs. I and II. S. Bachelard, A Study of HusserVs Formal and Transcendental Logic, tr. L. Embree (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1968), p. xlvi. M. Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, tr. C. Smith (London Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1962), Preface, esp. p. ix. C. G. Hempel, Philosophy of Natural Sciences (Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, 1966), p. 57. For the distinction between essences and categories, see E. Husserl, Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy, First Book, tr. F. Kersten (The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1982). ch. 1; and Nicolai Hartmann, Der Aufbau der realen Welt 2 Aufl. (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1949), esp. pp. 44—7. Also see H. Wagner, 'Apriorität und Idealität', Philosophisches Jahrbuch, 57 (1947), esp. pp. 444-5. D. Hume, Inquiries concerning the Human Understanding and concerning


Notes the Principles of Morals, ed. L. A. Selby Brigge (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963), p. 74. E. Husserl, Cartesian Meditations, tr. D. Cairns (The Hague: M. Nijhoff, I960), pp. 44. Cp. Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, ch. 1. E. Husserl, Erste Philosophie, Zweiter Teil, Husserliana, Bd. VIII, ed. R. Boehm, (The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1959), p. 477. Husserl, Logical Investigations, vol. II, p. 263. P. F. Strawson, The Bounds of Sense: An Essay on Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (London: Methuen, 1966). N. Hartmann, 'Diesseits von Idealismus und Realismus', KantStudien, 29 (1924). S. Alexander, Space, Time and Deity (New York: Dover, 1966), vol II, p. 104. C. Hartshorne suggested to me, in private conversation, such an extension of the domain of intentionality. L. Landgrebe has suggested this in his various papers. Compare, for example, his The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl. Six Essays, ed. with an Introduction by D. Welton (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1981). For this idea of'radical difference', I am indebted to the Göttingen lectures (1952-3) of Josef König. Cp. M. Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception. L. Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (Oxford: Blackwell, 1953) p. 99. Cp. Husserl, Logical Investigations, vol. II, pp. 494—5, pp. 765ff. A. N. Whitehead, Process and Reality (New York: The Social Science Book Store, 1929), pp. 454-508. Cp. N. Hartmann, Zur Grundlegung der Ontotogie (Messenheim am Glan: Verlag Anton Hain, 1948). M. Heidegger, Sein und Zeit (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 1953), p. 37. H. Delius, 'Descriptive interpretation', Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, XIII (1952-3), pp. 305-23. P. Ricoeur, Husserl, An Analysis of his Phenomenology, tr. ed. G. Ballard and L. E. Embree (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1967), p. 140. P. Ricoeur, 'The critique of subjectivity', in Heidegger and the Quest for Truth, ed. J. Sallis (Chicago: Quadrangle Press, 1968), pp. 7 0 - 1 .

11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28


Notes 30 31 32 33 34 35


36 37

38 39 40 41

42 43




Cp. C. Taylor, Explanation of Behavior (New York: Humanities Press, 1964). Cp. Husserl, Logical Investigations, vol. II, p. 688. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, A 22 = B 36. Ibid, A 24 = B 38/9. R. M. Zaner, 'Examples and possibles', Research in Phenomenology, III (1973), pp. 29-43. Cp. D. M. Levin, 'Induction and Husserl's theory of eidetic variation', Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 29 (1968), pp. 1 — 15 Also cp. Levin's book Reason and Evidence in Husserl's Phenomenology (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1970). Husserl, Ideas, p.v 159. 'The concept "dog" signifies a rule according to which my imagination can delineate the figure of a four-footed animal in a general manner, without limitation to any single determinate figure such as experience . . . actually presents.' (English translation by N. K. Smith). Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, A 141. Levin, Reason and Evidence, pp. 184, 192—3. Cp. E. Husserl, Ideas, Zweites Buch, Husserliana, BD IV, ed. M. Biemel (The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1952), esp. §§ 15-18. F. Brentano, Psychologie von empirischen Standpunkt, vol. 2 (Philosophische Bibliothek, Hamburg: Felix Meiner, 1874), p. 179. J. E. Erdmann, Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie, 2 volumes (Berlin: W. Herz, 1870), vol I, p. 636. Also cp. Carl Stumpf, 'Psychologie und Erkenntnistheorie', Abhandlungen der Akademie der Wissenschaften, Bd. XIX, Abtheilung II, p. 468. P. Kitcher, 'Frege's epistemology', Philosophical Review, LXXXXVIII (1979), pp. 235-62. R. Carnap, Logical Foundations of Probability 2nd edn (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971), pp. 39-47; K. Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery (New York: Basic Book, 1959), p. 95. G. Frege, 'Rezension von E. Husserl, Philosophie der Arithmetic3, Zeitschrft für Philosophie und Philosophische Kritik, 103 (1984), pp. 313-332. 'Only experience can be the source from which the logician creates', Th. Lipps, 'Zur "Psychologie" und "Philosophie"', in Psychologische Untersuchungen, Bd II, Heft 1 (Leipzig: Verlag von W. Engelmann, 1912, pp. 1-29, esp. p. 11. H. L. Dreyfus (ed.), Husserl, Intentionality and Cognitive Science (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, Bradford Books, 1984), esp.


Notes Editor's Introduction. Cp. esp. A. Gurwitsch, Studies in Phenomenology and Psychology (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1966), pp. 131—4. E. Cassirer, Das Erkenntnisproblem in der Philosophie und Wissenschaft der neueren Zeit, Bd 2, 2nd edn (Berlin: Bruno Cassirer, 1922), p. 662. Hubert L. Dreyfus quotes this from Husserl on p. 11 to his Introduction to Husserl, Intentionality and Cognitive Science (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1982). Cp. L. Langsdorf s review of Husserl, Intentionality and Cognitive Science, Husserl Studies, 2 (1985), pp. 303-11. E. Husserl, Einteitung in die Logik und Erkenntnistheorie, ed. U. Meile, Husserliana, Bd XXIV (The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1984), esp. eh. 4. For more on this, see J. N. Mohanty 'Psychologism in Indian logical theory', in Analytic Philosophy in Comparative Perspective, eds B. K. Matilal and J. L. Shaw (Dordrecht: Reidel, 1985), pp. 203-11. H. Sluga, Gottlob Frege (London: Kegan Paul, 1980). Cp., for example, J. Fodor, 'Methodological solipsism considered as a research strategy in cognitive psychology' (reprinted in Husserl, Intentionality and Cognitive Science). G. Cantor, Grundlagen einer allgemeinen Mannigfaltigkeitslehre (Leipzig: Teubner, 1883), p. 204. D. Hubert, Die Grandlagen der Mathematic (1928). Excerpts in O. Becker, Grundlagen der Mathematic in geschichtlicher Entwicklung (Freiburg/München: Verlag Karl Alber, 1954), p. 383. L. E. J. Brower, Tntuitionism and formalism', in Philosophy of Mathematics, Selected Readings, 2nd edn, eds P. Benacerraf and H. Putnam (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), esp. p. 80. A. Hey ting, 'The intuitionist foundations of mathematics', in Philosophy of Mathematics, eds Benacerraf and Putnam, esp. p. 53. M. Foucault, The Order of Things. An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (New York: Vintage Books, 1973), p. 318. G. Hegel, Phenomenology of the Mind, tr. J. B. Baillie, 2nd edn (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1966), see esp. p. 804: 'true knowledge lies rather in the seeming inactivity which merely watches how what is distinguished is self moved by its very nature and returns again into its own unity'. Hegel, Phenomenology of the Mind, ch. VI, section entitled 'Ethical action. Knowledge, human and divine, guilt and destiny'.

47 48


50 51 52

53 54

55 56


58 59 60


Notes 62 63 64


Ibid., p. 490. Ibid., p. 488. Cp. J. Gaputo, 'Husserl, Heidegger and the question of a hermeneu tic phenomenology', in A Companion to Martin Heidegger's Being and Time, ed. J. J. Kockelmans (Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1986), pp. 1.04-26, esp. pp. 107-15. 65 P. Ricoeur, Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences, tr. J. B. Thompson (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1981), p. 126. 66 P. Ricoeur, 'The unity of the voluntary arid the involuntary as a limiting idea', in Readings in Existential Phenomenology, eds N. Lawrence and D. O'Connor (Englewood Cliffs, Prentice-Hall, 1967), pp. 93-112, esp. p. 96. 67 H. Arendt, The Human Condition (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1958), §§25-7, pp. 181-98. The Intentional Content

Chapter 2 1 2

3 4


G. Evans, The Varieties of Reference, ed. J. McDowell (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982), esp. ch. 1. Sokolowski has recently defended such an interpretation of the Husserlian 'noema'. Cp. R. Sokolowski, 'Intentional analysis and the noema', Dialectica, 38 (1984), pp: 114-29. D. Smith, I. Miller and I, myself, have defended such a position on various occasions. Cp. M. Dummett's critique of the Evans—McDowell interpretation of Frege in Interpretation of Frege}s Philosophy (London: Duckworth, 1981), pp. 129-38. As regards Husserl, the point to be noted is this: the places where Husserl talks about a component of the noema being the object (e.g. in Ideas, I, p. 336: 'there belongs to its noema an "objectivity" — in inverted commas — . . .'; also in p. 131), he uses 'object' within quotation marks. There is an important difference, in Husserl's writings, between object and 'object' — a difference that is glossed over by the realistic interpreters of Husserl. Interestingly enough, the same texts can be given a transcendental-phenomenological reading, more in consonance with his general intentions. G. Frege, Posthumous Writings, ed. H. Hermes, F. Kambartel and F. Kaulbach, tr. P. Long and R. White (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), p. 192.



6 Evans, Varieties of Reference, p. 15. 7 Ibid., p. 17 ('thinking' italicized by me). 8 Ibid., p. 17 (quoted with suitable changes). 9 Cf. H. Wallach, 'Some considerations concerning the relation between perception and cognition', in Perception and Personality: A Symposium, eds J. S. Bruner and D. Krach (New York: Greenwood Press, 1968), pp. 6—13, esp. p. 6. 10 Cf. D. Follesdal, 'Husserl's notion of noema', Journal of Philosophy, 66 (1969), pp. 680-7. 11 R. Firth, 'Sense-data and the percept theory', Mind, LVIII (1949), LIX (1950), reprinted in Perceiving, Sensing and Knowing, ed. R. J. Swartz (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1965), pp. 204-70. 12 Cp. A. Gurwitsch, 'We interpret the perceptual noema, considered in a static analysis, as a Gestalt-contexture, whose constituents are what is given in direct sense-experience, on the one hand, and, on the other perceptual noemata merely referred to' 'The phenomenology of perception: perceptual implications', in Perception. Selected Readings in Science and Phenomenology, ed. P. Tibbits (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1969), pp. 248-60, esp. pp. 254f. 13 U. Neisser recognizes the importance of the idea of 'schema' in perception and insists that the schema is not a percept. Cp. his 'Perceiving, anticipating, imagining' in Perception and Cognition. Issues in the Foundations of Psychology, ed. C. Wade Savage, Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, vol. IX, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1978), pp. 89—105. 14 R. Arnheim, Visual Thinking (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969). 15 H. Jonas, 'Sight and thought: a review of Visual Thinking, in Philosophical Essays (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1974), pp. 224-36. 16 R. Shaw, M. Mclntyre and W. Mace, 'The role of symmetry in event perception', in Perception. Essays in Honor ofJ.J. Gibson, eds R. S. McLeod and H. L. Pick (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1974), pp. 276-310, esp. p. 281. 17 Cp. J. König, 'Über einen neuen ontologischen Beweis des Satzes von der Notwendigkeit alles Geschehens', Archiv für Philosophie, 2, (1948), pp. 5—43, reprinted in J. König, Vorträge und Aufsätze, ed. G. Patzig, (Freiburg/München: Alber Verlag, 1978), pp. 62-121). The distinction between the two senses of 'this' — called 'theor-



18 19 20 21 22 23

24 25

26 27 28 29

30 31 32 33

etical' and 'practical' — was further developed by König in his Göttingen logic lectures ('Theoretical and practical sentences') of 1953. P. Pettit and J. McDowell (eds), Subject, Thought, and Context (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), Introduction, p. 7. D. Smith and R. Mclntyre, Husserl and Intentionality (Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1982), pp. 182-7. Pettit and McDowell, loc. cit., p. 4. M. Scheler, The Nature of Sympathy, tr. P. Heath (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970). For Husserl's ideas of 'Kundgebung' and 'anzeigen', see Logical Investigations, Inv. I. There is still another sense, sense (iv) in which groaning or such pain-behaviour expresses pain — in this sense the two, the pain experience and the pain behaviour together, form one natural unity. M. Dummett, Frege: Philosophy of Language (New York: Harper & Row, 1973), p. 227. This surplus over what is being referred to, a surplus that eludes reference but is shown, is formulated in the Nyäya thesis that the linguistically articulated component of a cognition always points to an unexpressed component. In my present way of speaking, the qualifier embodying the mode of presentation is shown, but not articulated. But this idea of surplus should not be taken to imply an ineffability thesis. What is now shown may be subsequently talked about, but in this latter case, a new sense will be shown. Not all is expressed, but all is expressible. J. Searle, Intentionality: An Essay in the Philosophy of Mind (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983) ch. 4. Cp. A. Gurwitsch, Studies in Phenomenology and Psychology (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1966), esp. pp. 156—8. Husserl, Ideas, I, §85. Cp. The correspondence between Sellars and Chisholm on intentionality, reprinted in A. Marras (ed.), Intentionality, Mind and Language (Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1972). W. Sellars, 'Mental events' (pre-print), para. 56. Ibid., para. 57. Ibid., para. 4 6 - 9 . F. Dretske, 'The intentionality of cognitive states', in Mid-West Studies in Philosophy, V (1980), eds Peter French and Theodor E. Uehling, pp. 281-94, esp. p. 285.

168 34 35 36 37 38 39

Notes Ibid., p. 289. Ibid., p. 290. Ibid., p. 291. For these criticism, see J. Fodor, 'Semantics: Wisconsin style' (preprint). Husserl, Logical Investigations (Inv. V, Appendix to §§ 11 and 20), vol. II, pp. 593-96. Cp. Z. Pylyshyn, 'Imagery and artificial intelligence', in Reading in Philosophy of Psychology, vol. 2, ed. N. Block (London: Methuen, 1981), pp. 170-94. Cp. J. Heil, 'Does cognitive psychology rest on a mistake?' Mind, XC (1981), pp. 321-42, esp. p. 331. Cp. R. Cummins, The Nature of Psychological Explanation (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1984), p. 177. Searle, Intentionality, p. 3. Ibid, p. 4. Cp. R. Aquila's review of Searle, Intentionality in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, X L V I (1985). Cp. Husserl, Logical Investigations, Inv. V. Searle, Intentionality, p. 262. Ibid, p. 265. Cp. editor's Introduction to Dreyfus, Husserl, Intentionality and Cognitive Science. Searle, Intentionality, esp. ch. 4. B. Waidenfels, 'Intentionalität and Kausalität', in Der Spielraum der Verhaltens (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1980), pp. 98—125, esp. p. 109 (tr. J. N. Mohanty). Cp. E. Marbach, 'On using Intentionality in empirical phenomenology: the problem of "Mental Images'", Dialectica, 38 (1984), pp. 209-29, esp. p. 223. See J. N. Moharty, 'Intentionality, Causality and Holism', Synthese, 61 (1984), pp. 17-34. R. Mclntyre, 'Searle on intentionality', Inquiry, 27 (1984), pp. 468-83 esp. p. 479. I am not surprised that Searle does not think the thesis about the 'background' to be incompatible with Husserl's transcendental reduction. Cp. Mclntyre, ibid, pp. 482—3, n. 12. R. Aquila, 'Critical notice on Searle', Intentionality, Philosophy & Phen. Research, XLVI (1985), p. 163. Barry Smith, 'Acta Cum Fundamentis in Re', Dialectica, 38 (1984),

40 41 42 43 45 46 47 48 49 50 51


53 54 55

56 57



58 59 60 61

pp. 157-78. Ibid, p. 163. H. Putnam, Realism and Reason (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), p. 15. Ibid, p. 24. For the relation between transcendental phenomenology and relativism, see chapter 3 of this book.

Chapter 3 Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy 1 2 3 4 5 6 R. Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1980). Cp. B. K. Matilal, Perception, An Essay on Classical Indian Theories of Knowledge (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986). M. Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge, tr. A. M. Sheridan Smith (New York: Pantheon Books, 1971), p. 10. Ibid., part II, ch. 1. Ibid., pp. 3 2 - 3 . E. Husserl, The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology, tr. D. Carr (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1970), esp. p. 28. Also see Frank M. Kirkland, 'Husserl and Kant: the problem of pre-scientific nature and transcendental aesthetics', in Kant and Phenomenology, eds T. M. Seebohm a n d j . J. Kockelman Washington, D.C.: CARP & UPA, 1984. Cp. M. Heidegger, Kant und das Problem der Metaphysik (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1951). D. Davidson, 'On the very idea of a conceptual scheme', Proceedings of the American Philosophical Association, 17 (1973—4), pp. 5—20. E. Husserl, Prolegomena to a Pure Logic {Logical Investigations), tr. J. N. Findlay, vol. I (New York: Humanities Press, 1970). D. Carr has shown this with considerable subtlety in his 'Phenomenology and relativism' in Interpreting Husserl: Critical and Comparative Studies (The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1987), ch 1. M. Eliade has emphasized this distinction in his numerous studies on Phenomenology of Religion. Erwin Strauss draws attention to these distinctions in his Phenomenological Psychology (New York: Basic Books, 1968). Davidson, 'On the very idea of a conceptual scheme'. E. Husserl, Ideas, I, tr. Boyce Gibson (New York: Collier, 1972), p. 136.

7 8 9 10

11 12 13 14



15 E. Husserl, Cartesian Meditations, tr. D. Cairns (The Hague: M. .Nijhoff, I960), pp. 140-1. 16 Husserliana, Bd XIV (The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1973), pp. 91-101. 17 Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. 18 Davidson, loc. cit., p. 9. 19 Husserl, Cartesian Meditations, pp. 140—11. 20 Cp. J. N. Mohanty, Phenomenology and Ontology (The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1970). 21 For this contrast, cp. J. N. Mohanty, 'Subject and person: Eastern and Western modes of thinking about man', International Philosophical Quarterly, XX (1980), pp. 265-73. 22 Husserl, Cartesian Meditations, Meditation 4. 23 Hegel, Philosophy of Right, tr. T. M. Knox (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967), §144. 24 Ibid., §265. 25 Gp. J. Habermas, 'Zu Gadamers "Wahrheit und Methode'", also his 'Der Universalitätsanpruch der Hermeneutik', both reprinted in Hermeneutik und Ideologiekritik, eds J. Habermas, D. Henrich and N. Luhman (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1980). 26 Gp. M. Walzer, Spheres of Justice: A Defense of Pluralism and Equality (New York: Basic Books, 1983). 27 T. Nagel, The Possibility of Altruism (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970). 28 Ibid., p. 101. 29 I. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, B 125: '(In the latter case) representation in itself does not produce its object in so far as existence is concerned, for we are not here speaking of its causality by means of the will.' (Tr. N. K. Smith). 30 Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, B15, A103, A143, A240=B299. 31 This is what Husserl works out in The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology, esp. §9.


Abstract entities 37, 42, 43 Action 58, 61,62,63, 144 causal theory of 63 hermeneutic theory of 62, 63 intentionality of 62 metaphysical interpretation of 58,63 noematic correlate of 61 phenomenological account of 61, 62,63 psychoanalytic interpretation of 58 psychological theory of 61, 62, 63 AfFordance 78 Alexander, S. 15 Altruism 149 Analogical concept 16 Announcing 90 Appresentation 53, 55 Aquila, R. 108 Arendt, H. 63 Arnheim, R. 77, 78
Ätman 144 Auslegung 20, 21,59

Body 61 Body-subject 105 Brentano F. 15, 19, 39, 43, 46, 47, 95, 109, 111, 112 Brouwer 49 Cantor, G. 49 Carnap, R. 40 Gassirer, E. 44, 45 Caste system 148 Categories 9, 10 Causality felt 93, 106, 107 intentional 103, 104, 107 real 106-7 Cognitive psychology 101, 102, 103, 112 Conceptual frameworks 132—6, 138-40 Conditions of satisfaction 102 Consciousness 10, 11, 17, 18, 23, 51,67, 70,80,88,94, 116, 123, 124, 147, 151, 154, 156, 157 Constitution 37, 51, 83, 110-13, 118, 121, 131, 140, 144, 1502, 154-5, 160 Content 43, 44, 46, 47, 48, 83-6, 93,94 and context 83-93 causal theory of 84, 86, 91, 92, 93,99

Bachelard, G. 120 Bachelard, S. 6 Baier, K. 2, 4 Being-in-the-world 103, 104, 105, 107, 112, 123 Berkeley, G. 43

explanation of 86, 91—2 intentional 67-113, 126 real 94 representing 99, 102 Context physical 83, 84-5, 86, 116, 117, 129 psychological 83, 129 social 83, 85, 86, 87, 116, 117, 129 Continuity 123

Index Essentialism 51, 52, 56, 118, 130, 131, 138 Evans, G, 69, 71 Evidence 126, 157, 160 Expressibility, thesis of 85, 89 Firth, R. 76 Fodor,J. 48, 101 Formal ontology 56 Foucault, M. 50, 120, 121 Frege, G. viii, 40, 41, 42, 43, 45, 48, 67, 68, 69, 70, 73, 75, 78, 85,89,90,94,99, 113, 133 Foundationalism 40, 42, 109, 115, 116-27 Gadamer, H. G. 139, 145, 146 Galileo 156 Gandhi, M. K. 148 Generic concept 16 German Idealism 51, 156, 157 Gibson, J . J . 78 Given 4 - 6 , 21-2, 54-5, 80, 81, 104, 106, 129, 152 Givenness, modes of 91, 95, 152 Gurwitsch, A. 11 Habermas, J. 145, 146 Hartmann, N. 14, 20, 146 Hegel, G. W. F. 51, 53, 58-9, 63, 111, 118, 120, 145, 158-9 Heidegger, M. 20, 53, 102, 103, 144, 151, 156, 157 HempelJ. G. 8 Herder J. G. 118 Hermeneutics 21, 23, 24, 52, 53, 110, 127 Heyting, A. 49 Hubert, D. 49 Historicism 56, 57, 117, 118, 119, 120, 124, 127, 157 Historicity 122-3, 124, 125 History 57, 116, 117-23, 146, 157, 159, 160 Holism 102, 103, 157

Davidson, D. 132, 133, 135, 136, 137 Delius, H. 20 Deconstruction 119, \bS Demonstrative 76, 79 Descartes 157 Description 1, 7, 10-24, 51-65, 89,90, 116, 131, 137, 149 phenomenological 55, 57, 59, 101 surface 110 Descriptive predicates 75 Destiny 58, 59, 60 Dilthey, W. 41,43 Discontinuity 15-16, 18, 120, 121, 122, 123 Discourse, internal & external 139 Dretske, F. 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 103 Dreyfus, H. 44, 45, 46, 103 Dummett, M. 71,90, 141 Ego 45, 48, 61, 105, 112, 130, 133, 136, 143, 144, 152-4, 155, 156, 157, 159 Egoism 149 Empty terms 70, 71, 72 Epoche 12, 13,50 Erdmann, J. E. 39,40 Essence 7, 8, 9, 25, 28, 29, 3 0 - 1 , 32,33,34,35,36,37,38,51, 55,56,57,87,88, 116, 118, 131

Index Horizon 59, 60, 78, 84, 85, 122, 123 Hume, D. 11, 12,43,45,93, 107, 141 Husserl, E. 1, 3, 6, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19,26,27,29,30,35,38,40, 41,42,44,45,46,59,69,70, 74, 75, 76,78, 80-, 81,93, 100, 102, 103, 107, 112, 121, 122, 123, 125, 127, 130, 131, 133, 134, 135, 136-7, 141, 143, 144, 153, 155, 158 Hyletic data 53, 75, 76, 78, 94, 158 Idealism 160 Ideality 93-5 Imaginative variation, method of 25-35, 36, 37, 38, 51 Impersonal point of view 145, 148-50 Indeterminacy of translation 62 Indexical 75, 90 Indian philosophy 119 Indicating 90 Individualism 84, 85, 86, 91, 117 Information 97, 98, 99 Inheritance 93, 155 Intensional discourse 96 Intentional causation 104 Intentional explication 59 Intentionality 15, 17, 39, 46, 48, 51,59,61,62,63,67, 73,74, 75,95-113 and causality 102-3, 103-5, 106, 107, 109, 153 cunning of 109 de re 109, 110 existential-phenomenological theory of 103-5, 111, 112 naturalistic theory of 96—101, 111 operative 105 transcendental 105, 108, 109, 111-12 Interpretation 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 52,53,54,55, 116, 117, 127-30 anonymous 146 framework of 131, 137 function 101 history of 129 metaphysical 60 phenomenological 58, 59, 60 sedimented 146 Jonas, H. 78


Kant, I. 14, 18,25,26,27,39,40, 44,45,51,74,77, 79,93,94, 108, 109, 123, 125-7, 132, 136, 140, 141, 144, 145, 148, 150, 151, 156
Karma 60

Kinaesthetic consciousness 108 Kitcher, P. 40 Knowledge 40, 41, 42, 45, 71, 72, 97, 124, 126, 154 Konig, J. 144 Kuhn, R. 137 Landgrebe, L. 16 Leibniz, G. W. V. 137 Levin, D. M. 36 Life-world 82-3, 103, 105, 107, 125, 131, 139 Lipps, T. 42 Locke, J. 43 Logic 40, 42, 43, 45, 46, 50 Indian 47 Logicism 94 McDowell, J. 69, 87 Mach, E. 2, 3 Mclntyre, R. 108 Marx, K. 118 Mathematics 49 method of 3 0 - 1 , 32 Meaning 33, 36, 45, 51, 52, 54, 56, 57, 59, 60, 62, 64, 67, 69, 80, 82,83,86,87,88,91, 106, 109, 115, 116, 117, 126, 127, 128, 129, 131, 141, 154, 155, 157


Index Patzig, G. 144 Percept theory 76—7 Perception 11, 12, 53-4, 55, 69, 73-83,94, 104, 106, 122, 125, 128-9 Perceptual consciousness 77, 80, 122, 129 Perceptual reduction 76 Person 138, 140, 143, 145, 146, 147, 149 Personal point of view 145, 148—50 Pettit, P. 87 Phenomenological accessibility, The Principle of 91 Phenomenological psychology 102, 111 Phenomenological reduction 117 Phenomenology 1, 21, 23, 25, 30, 31,34-5,36,38, 39,51,52, 53,54,56,57, 59,60,61,62, 63, 64, 65, 67, 70, 73, 74, 76, 77,80,81,83,85,87,92,93, 94,95, 101, 110, 123, 126, 128, 129, 130, 131, 132, 143, 151, 156 constitutive 132 descriptive 132 genetic 83 static 83 transcendental 64, 110, 121, 124, 159-60 Philosophical facts 10, 11, 17 Physics, world of 140-1, 143 Popper, K. 40 Possible worlds 35-6, 136-7, 138 Possibility 26, 27, 29, 30, 34, 35, 36,55,61, 154 Practical 144 meaning 61, 62, 63 Predication 78-9 Presence 123 Presupposition 12, 13, 14, 56, 57 Private language 89 'Psychological' 41, 42, 48, 51, 89, 90,95, 101, 102, 108, 158, 159

conceptual 76, 77, 110 perceptual 73-83, 94, 110 Mental 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 48, 49, 50,61,93, 158-9 acts 39, 43, 44, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51 incommunicability of the 94 privacy of the 93, 158, 159 Merleau-Ponty, M. 6, 95, 105 Mill,J. S. 41 Mind 15, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 50, 51, 119 Moore, G. E. 2, 4 Moral criticism 147 Moral engagement 147 Moral relativism 145 Moral unity 148 Morality 145 Mundane 151 Nagel, T. 145, 149 Name 2, 3, 44, 89, 90 Naturalism 48, 49, 96, 99, 102, 105-6, 107 Necessity 126-7 Network 103 Noema 16, 44, 45, 49, 60, 67, 74, 75,80,81, 106, 107, 110, 113, 138, 140, 141 concrete 78 overlapping of 141, 142 perceptual 73-83, 87 Noesis-Noema structure 106, 136, 138, 143, 159 Noetic acts 43, 44, 50, 53 Non-objectifying awareness 91 Non-positional awareness 91 Non-representational background 103, 104-5, 107, 108 Object 49, 67-72, 80, 82, 86, 91, 95,96,97,99, 106, 107, 112, 121, 138, 143, 144, 151 Objectivity 35, 49, 149, 150, 154 Ontology 88-9, 9 2 - 3 , 94, 110

Index Psychologism 32, 33, 39-51, 52, 93,94, 124, 130, 158, 159 Putnam, H. 110 Quine, W. V. 56, 57, 62 Realism 109, 110, 160 scientific 84 Reference 86, 87, 88, 92, 102, 109, 110, 112 Relativism 50, 111, 116, 119, 12750 Representation 99, 101, 102, 106, 112 Representational state (system) 96, 97, 100, 101, 105 Representing content 99, 100, 102, 108 Resemblance 99, 100 Ricoeur, P. 21, 59, 61 Rorty, R. 118, 119, 136 Russell, B. 2, 3, 69, 70, 80 Sämkhya 144 Sartre, J.-P. 37,43 Schema 77-82, 94 Schutz, A. 132 Searle,J. 96, 101, 102, 103, 106, 107, 108 Seebohm, T. 50 Sellars, W. 96-7, 99, 100, 103 sensation 73 — 4 Sense (Sinn) 39, 44, 45, 46, 48, 49, 50,51,55,60,62,67,68,69, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76,81,82,88, 89,90,91,94,99, 109, 113, 151, 152 demonstrative 69, 70 fulfilling 81 predicate 78, 79, 82 signitive 81 Sinngebung 109-10, 113 Showing 90 Sittlichkeit 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150


Sluga, H. 48 Socrates 148 Solipsism 93, 149 methodological 103 Space 131 Spatiality 54 Strawson, P. F. 14, 18, 27, 35, 137 Subject 143-4, 147, 148, 150 Subjective point of view 101 Subjectivity 10, 35, 116, 120, 126, 127, 141, 144, 156, 157, 158, 159 levels of 158-9 paradox of 50 transcendental 16, 121, 159, 160 Synthesis, of identification 81 System closed 18 open 18 Tarski, A. 133 Theoretical 144 entities 84 Theory 84, 86, 87, 117, 125, 126, 150, 160 This' 82 Thought 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 76, 78, 82, 87, 90, 94, 95, 144, 150, 152 demonstrative 69, 70 visual 77 — 8 Thought experiment 25, 26, 35 Time 117, 122-5, 146 Timelessness 149, 159 Tradition 83, 93, 107, 120, 123, 140, 141, 146, 147, 148 Transcendental 49, 50, 159 act 5 0 - 1 argument 132 clarification 36 constitution 121 domain 151 ego 24, 130, 138, 139, 140, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 150, 152-4, 155, 156-7

and empirical 153, 157 field 51 foundation 40, 115 idealism 18 intentionality 108, 110 necessity 121 — 7 person 144 philosophy 40, 44, 50, 94, 95, 115, 118, 125, 126, 132, 136, 151, 159-60 psychology 49 question 125 reduction 108 structures 51 subjectivity 16, 121, 144, 159, 160 thinking 143 turn 48 Translatability 133, 135, 137, 138, 139, 142

Index Transparency, Thesis of 91, 104, 124 Understanding 71, 72, 89, 127, 133, 139, 146 philosophical 154 Vedänta 144 Waldenfels, B. 104, 106, 107 Whitehead, A. N. 14, 19,98 Whorf, B. L. 22 Windelband 40 Wittgenstein, L. 19 Worlds 131-41 World-noema 137, 138, 140, 141 Zaner, R. 27

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