Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Invented Feelings; Ideas 1 Part 2

"I don't have to explain reality. I just feel it" (This post is at the expense of Ken Wilber)

Standard practice in a Husserlian text is to first criticize every method ever known to man in terms of reality being the object of the method. Most of his criticism goes to empiricism which he spends much time on in the Crises and almost as much time on in Ideas 1. At first though, Husserl does admire the original impulse of empiricism as springing from "praise worthy motives", and from it's abstention from "powers of tradition and superstition". Nonetheless, he gets to the point where he finds empiricism countersensical when it finds it's grounds in criticizing metaphysics and scholasticism as elaborating on the spectres of "ideas" and "essences". This post will not be about Husserl's perennial admiration and criticism of empiricism though. To be brief though, his criticism is based on the fact that an eidetic insight is needed to first establish anything called "experience". For an empirical statement to be made, I must have an original presentive intuition which makes immediately valid judgments, these judgments that first establish what any experience is in the first place. It's here where a thinker would firmly place in the the field of "idealism", and to some extent there are many analogies between him and German idealism (especially if we consider Kant an "idealist"). But just as there are analogies between Husserl and the earlier German tradition, there are as much analogies to his deferring to a real-time experience that envelops a theory of empiricism. That being said, Husserl exists in-between both modes of thinking. This we will see in later posts. In this post though, I want to emphasize the importance of Husserl's criticism of Idealism so he can't simply be lumped in with that mode of thought, as something that is absolutely opposite of logical positivism for example (and anyone who has read Husserl will know how much concern he placed in logic, albeit a logic to experience). As Husserl spent much of his time elaborating on the problems with empiricism's method, he wasn't so outspoken (in his published work) in his criticism of Idealism. Husserl knew that empiricism had a strong hold on not just the philosophical world, but the world in general as a theory of experience, which I would think made him spend as much time as he did showing the lack of grounding in the empirical author. In Ideas I though, he makes a striking criticism of idealism; I think enough so to fully keep him out of ever being considered an idealist. It's not just the logical substance in his criticism but the tone in which he approaches idealism that conveys to me how strongly he felt about dispensing with idealist proclivities, even more so than his thoughts towards empiricism (because Husserl saw the a rigorous admirable motivation at Empiricism's inception). This post then will elaborate on his criticism of idealism, so that Husserl can be distinguished from everything that he criticizes in that mode of thinking.

While Husserl considers Empiricism to be lacking in a thorough elaboration of experience, he sees idealism as simply "obscure". "To be sure, they speak of evidence; but instead of bringing it, as an act of seeing, into essential relations with ordinary seeing, they speak of a 'feeling of evidence' which, as a mystic index veri , bestows an emotional coloring of judgments". When addressing this "pure" idealist then, the idealist relies on an immediate "feeling of evidence". For Husserl, obviously this is a huge problem, not just philosophically, but personally. The lack of rigor in the "thinker" who relies on immediate feelings brings obscurity to the field of general science that requires rigorous methods and analysis. These "feelings of evidence" are mystic truth indexes according to Husserl (index veri). In other words, the starting off for any theory of reality in the idealist is from a Mystic starting point. It allows it's "feelings of evidence" to come from a Mystic starting point which it has no hopes for trying to understand, not wanting to understand. How easy it is to stop trying to understand when one doesn't really want to understand. This last statement is made in order to turn poorly-motivated-spirituality on it's head. This mystical starting point (index) bestows an emotional coloring of judgments for the idealist. Judgments then are not the affair-complexes in need of being elaborated on, but simply being understood with a "color" that is predicated to them by the idealist. "I feel it this way", "I feel that this the case". In a strong sense, the idealist wouldn't even know they are proposing anything in general. Would they even know they are idealists when attributing their colored-feeling-statements about reality? They would simply rely on a priori thinking without knowing anything besides the fact that it came before. This coming before would even be pushing it. It may just be the case for this "thinker" that there is some prior originariness without taking the time to possibly criticism this idea (metaphysics of presence). All that's required is that a judgment (any statement in general) has a certain color to it that gives an emotional sway to the thinker. We are going to have to give this idealist some credit though because they do think about what an evidence would look like. They reflectively see evidence as the product of an emotional coloring, whatever that may be (which we will soon go into). For Husserl, in the statement above, we see a more appropriate phenomenology of evidence. Firstly for Husserl, there is an "act of seeing". This "act of seeing" is brought into essential relations with ordinary seeing. Ordinary seeing is the one in which we speak of as naive empiricists; the kind of seeing that allows us the predication of "I see that chair". This ordinary seeing just doesn't happen on it's own though. It has a relation, an essential relation (it absolutely has to be the case), to an act of seeing. So there isn't just the indubitable de facto situation of "I see that chair", but a process in which this de facto and predicated situation has a relation to an "act of seeing". Broadly speaking, there is an act before predication that has a relationship to ordinary seeing. Of course we can think of this act as something as something that had to happen before it being spoken about. We went into this "empty" possibility in the first post when trying to understand the idea of eidetic intuition. The act can only be seen as an empty variable (an eidetic intuition), because it's an act that is not yet brought to elaboration. Not only does this variable exist though, but there is a process, a relationship between this act and what we normally call "ordinary seeing", the ordinary seeing that established empiricism's claim of objectivity that would try to "Occam's razor" scholastic thinking (see? Scholasticism was not simply an abstract discipline on "origins") and Aristotelian metaphysics. In other words, for Husserl, there is an elaborating that needs to be done between the act and ordinariness. This elaboration of relationships would be the project of phenomenology and will be explored in later posts in regards to Ideas 1. To simply posit experience as something like a "colored feeling" and privileging this colored feeling to a mystic transcendence is deeply problematic for understanding in general. "Such conceptions are possible only as long as one has not learned to analyze kinds of consciousness in pure observations and eidetically instead of theorizing about them from on high". This statement speaks for itself. Without understanding any method of understanding consciousness, in a pure observation where the subject, the ego was abstained from, then they would continue "theorizing about them from on high". I don't know how much "theorizing" would be going on if this idealist in this manner was deferring it's understanding from what comes from on the high; in other words, that mystic index that gave one magical and colored feelings that would be constitute experience for them. In other words, simply being able to say "I feel that this is the way" in a tone where it seems like the subject is speaking from some disingenuous "transcendental" sphere. In a formal sense, as was stated before, one would have to wonder whether this idealist really cared anyways (and this was the reason why Husserl spent time exploring the problems of empiricism, because it was a theory that took itself intellectually seriously, at the very least). "These alleged feelings of evidence, of intellectual necessity or whatever else they may be called, are no more than theoretically invented feelings". When someone says with any certainty that their certainty about experience comes from "the way they feel", because it has such and such a coloring to it, then it subsumed into an invention. Lets push this further. Husserl here isn't saying that "Feelings don't exist". He's not trying to admonish people from "feeling" (although in some sense he's trying to admonish the scientific thinker from allowing feelings in general from influencing their thought) but admonishing the idea that evidence of experience and reality can be based on a vague feeling. Vague, because it's merely described in a coloring without any need of the further phenomenological elaboration of the act of seeing and it's essential relation to ordinary seeing. He elaborates on this somewhat poetically (ironic in its poeticism) in the Crises when trying to reestablish the basis of Science, not on technology, but the nobility of thinking (Hegel's conception of Philosophy as Science). While Husserl doesn't want strong feelings influencing his phenomenology, one can't help but see how strong his feelings are towards a rigourous philosophy. What Husserl is establishing here is very simple. If one wants to try to understanding consciousness, they will need a theory. This theory will need to be elaborate and will not be constituted by a simple feeling. I can't say for example that the state of affairs that "This chair is here" is the case because I have a distinct feeling that this is the case. At this point, I'm just making up a theoretical feeling (without knowing that I'm establishing any theory in general, because no theory is really being established) that is so simplistic that it really is "too good to be true". It's not an intellectual necessity that I have these "feelings" first before I have the evidence of the world, because I simply made them up on the spot in order to establish why something is the way it is for one reason or another (maybe someone asked me about it). The intellectual necessity is involved in logical relationships between acts and intentions on their way towards ordinary seeing (objectivity), phenomenologically. Husserl footnotes these theoretical invented feelings and refers to Elsenhans Textbook of Psychology where he states that these descriptions (invented feelings) are "psychological fictions without the least foundation in the phenomena". In other words, the mental processes that Husserl elaborates on so acutely here in Ideas 1 are simply given fictional feeling ideas in the Textbook of Psychology. What Husserl says next is I think the of the greatest importance to his criticism of idealism. "an upper stratum, that of an identical stating, as a mere significational expressing, on the one occasion conforms step by step to a 'clearly seeing' intuition of an affair complex, whereas on the other occasion a wholly different phenomenon, a non-intuitive, perhaps a wholly confused and unarticulated consciousness of an affair-complex functions as the lower stratum. With the same justice in the sphere of experience one could conceive the difference between the clear and faithful judgment of perception and any vague judgment of the same affair-complex as consisting merely of the former being endowed with a 'feeling of clarity,' while the latter is not". The expression of a "feeling" about experience that would like to be experience's "explanation" is just that, an explanation, for Husserl, a mere mode of sense (Experience and Judgment). The colored judgment that operates with the liberty of being a "clearly seeing intuition" is different from phenomenological phenomena which essentially is not colored, not immediate, and as we will see in posts after this, actually not "intuition", if we understand "intuition" in the classical sense of something being presented to someone immediately in which they are able to express what they are experiencing within a sentence as what experience "is". This other non-immediate intuition of experience is perhaps confused, and if it's not immediate, if it's not the naive disposition circumscribed in the empiricist and the idealist (here is where empiricism and idealism find something in common) , then it doesn't have the ease of being easily clarified, and for a certain time is unarticulated. Even if the articulation is going on in the unarticulated, it will be confusing at first, and Husserl will eventually warn the reader of how different Phenomenology is and how one is always a beginner, not just for the sake of wanting the reader to operate always at a null-zero point, but for the sake of keeping the reader away from the dogmatism's of empiricism and idealism that could easily be the case based on the way thought has happened to man, the way in which man thinks (which can be otherwise). The "clear and faithful" ("faithful" here is being criticized as dogmatic) judgment of perception, the relying on "feelings" to explain experience, is endowed with a feeling of clarity. Everything is just crystal clear for the idealist. Whatever they feel, is what experience is (which leads to nauseating 20th century platitudes like "do what you feel") . This is brought into distinction from experience not being clear, not being endowed (luxury) with with a "feeling of clarity", but at first and maybe always confused and unarticulable. Phenomenology will enter into this non-intuitive, at-first-confused unarticulated consciousness that grounds experience in it's absolute emptiness, it's eidetic necessities, and ultimately it's lack of clarity, or at the very least, it's lack of "intuition" understood in the classical dogmatic sense. In this sense, by not relying on what's dogmatic "clear", we are undoubtedly beginners in phenomenology. We are beginners at understanding experience and consciousness. We are beginners until we throw away the shackles of "clear feelings" defining what experience is. We may always be beginners in an infinite description, but we won't be shackled to the fictions of idealism.

Yeah, this post was a right hook to New Age "thinking".

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