Robert Alan and Kathryn Dunlevie Hayes Professor of Humanities and Professor of Philosophy at Rice University

Phenomenological Approaches [to philosophy of perception]

For The Oxford Handbook of Perception, edited by Mohan Matthen, Oxford University Press.

 From the Introduction:

Phenomenology (as a philosophical movement or tradition) originated in the
late nineteenth century, partly in an effort to find philosophy’s place in a culture
increasingly dominated by experimental science and technology—and in
dialogue (sometimes in tension) with an emerging academic psychology.
Beginning with Franz Brentano, phenomenology seeks an elucidation of just
what the phenomena are psychology purports to explain, via inquiry anchored in
an understanding of mind available from the first-person point of view. From this
perspective experience or consciousness is seen as fundamentally “intentional”:
it refers to or is directed at objects. Just how to describe this “intentionality” and
its forms becomes a basic theme. Beginning with Edmund Husserl, the
intentionality of perception is investigated by asking: how can experience, itself in
near constant flux, nonetheless be of stable objects, so that meaning and
knowledge might be possible for us? The key to answering this question, he
proposes, is to see perceptual consciousness as dynamic and prospective—a
process wherein the needed constancies are achieved via the successful
anticipation of further experience through movement and direction of attention.
This conception of Husserl’s—with its emphasis on the experience of one’s own
body—helped inspire Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s important mid-twentieth century
contribution to phenomenology. The following is a summary of approaches to
perception (in Brentano, Husserl, and Merleau-Ponty) that are central to the
phenomenological tradition, closing with a brief reference to recent work that
stems from or neighbors it.

© 2020 Charles Siewert. All Rights Reserved.