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Frontiers of Philosophy in China

Front. Philos. China    2020, Vol. 15 Issue (3) : 427-450
Analytic Phenomenology (or “What It Is Like”) vs. Husserlian Phenomenology
Heath Williams()
Department of Philosophy, Sun Yat-sen University, Zhuhai 519082, China
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I begin this paper by outlining two senses of “phenomenology.” First, the “what it is like” or “analytic tradition” sense: the verbalization of qualitative states of consciousness of which we are aware. Second, the “Continental” sense: the rigorous study of the structures of consciousness. I outline the ways in which these two senses diverge. First, Continental phenomenology involves a diversified account of consciousness, states of awareness, and the human person. The phenomenologist articulates this account not by introspection but via acts of phenomenological reflection concerning eidetic intuitions about essential structural features. Second, via the method of “sense explication,” the phenomenologist can articulate an account of passive and subconscious states which we are not strictly “aware” of. The conclusion shows these divergences of senses are sometimes overlooked, leading to equivocation. Zahavi and Gallagher must be employing the “what it is like” sense when they make certain “phenomenological” arguments concerning social cognition, yet Spaulding’s ensuing critique of phenomenology is directed at Continental phenomenology. Also, it is only phenomenology in the “what it is like” sense which cannot contribute to subpersonal psychology. Genetic Continental phenomenology describes the lawful relations amongst the precursors and preconditions which give rise to conscious experience, constituting a type of (non-causal) subpersonal explanation.

Keywords awareness      phenomenological reflection      passivity and the unconscious      genetic phenomenology      the simple phenomenological argument      subpersonal psychology     
Issue Date: 28 September 2020
 Cite this article:   
Heath Williams. Analytic Phenomenology (or “What It Is Like”) vs. Husserlian Phenomenology[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2020, 15(3): 427-450.
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