Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Noetic-Noematic Division; Ideas I Part 5

Diagrams are made when concepts are just too difficult to put into words alone.

In the last post we went into a general example of a phenomenological description with Husserl's example of rejoicing. Now with his first example in tow, we move onto the substance of phenomenology and easily the most difficult part of Ideas I. As a warning to readers, don't read further if you're not ready for the precision in which Husserl details experience. What will be written about next is the first depths of phenomenological examination. It's a reduction and a dividing of what experience normally was (naively understood). The phenomenological reduction done by Husserl has lead to this point where experience gets dispersed into parts. It's here where experience isn't seen as holistic but surrounded by differences, modifications, multiple descriptions on each modification, and detailed analysis in general. This detailed analysis is phenomenological analysis. At once what was thought of as "going without saying" for phenomenology now becomes something different from what was "going without saying". It's here where we learn that what we find is different from what "immediate intuition" would like to present (immediate intuition understood in the naive empirical sense). We are given concepts about immediate experience that aren't realized in immediate experience. We are given an immediate experience that is not understood quickly but is incessantly detailed. The first division will happen with Husserl's concepts of Noesis and Noema. Before going into these concepts first though, lets take a look a more general view of the detailed description he is about to go into.

The general view of a phenomenological experience is given by the terms "sensuous" and "intentive". A sensation content is the actual data of say a "color". "Color" here needs to be put into inverted commas to signify that something is being talked about that nonetheless we are trying to abstract to get at the pure mental phenomena of an act. There is data being taken in when one is under a "tactile" sensation also for example. These data are not to be "confused with appearing moments of physical things-coloredness, roughness, etc." The data of these after-the-moment sensuous distinctions are independent from the appearance of a color or how something feels for a time (The question of temporality needs to be addressed in these distinctions. Are they to be understood as causal?). Now, "sensuous data" present themselves as stuffs for intentive formings, or sense-bestowings, belonging to different levels". This data, this stuff which Husserl will also call "hyletic" (raw data), is to be formed for an intention. This stuff is to be given a sense which is not simply a sense, but has its own multiple levels of explanation. There is something that forms this stuff into intentive mental processes. Pure mental forms (cogitationes) create intentive mental processes of anything whatever. From stuff moments come the objective moment. These appear in the apprehension of stuff moments. These are "physical color, shape, and the like". This most general description will serve us as a sketch for what will happen in the Noetic-Noematic divide. At its core, there are stuff moments where data is "perceived" which is then modified to objective moments which are the actual recognition of color, shapes, "and the like", that still need not be expressed. Keep in mind, everything is not to be expressed under the phenomenological reduction. There is unexpressed hyletic data that is apprehended into the objective moment for consciousness. This description though is too vague. It's too open ended and this is where phenomenology comes in; to try to close the openings and gaps that are testified in any theory of experience. These gaps will be filled in the description of the Noetic and Noematic components of experience.

All that we will be investigating now are "really inherent" moments pertaining to mental processes. First is the noetic moments. These are "directions of the regard of the pure Ego to the objects 'meant'". These noetic moments seize upon an object, hold it fast while the regard adverts to other objects which appear in the "meaning". Noetic moments take hold upon "stuff moments" and produce "explicatings, relatings, comprisings, multiple position-takings of believings, valuings, and so forth". "All these are to be found in the mental processes in question, no matter how differently structured and varied they are". Every mental process will have an aspect to it where it will do something with raw hyletic data. What will it do with this data? It will take it into noetic mental processes whereby they will be modified into various intentionalities. Stuff can be explicated on. Stuff can be related to... (can't finish sentence yet). Stuff can be valued and so forth. Stuff's modification is on it's way towards being something other than what it is by these noetic mental processes. All these possibilities represent inherent moments of consciousness but "nevertheless also refer to what is not really inherent, namely by means of the heading of sense". This is where sense becomes a pure abstraction. Sense is not a mental process nor does it appear outside in some world with intentional objects (physical objects). Instead, sense is given the noematic moment; A mediating space where the really inherent noetic mental processes are given sense. "Perception for example has its noema, most basically its perceptual sense, i.e. the perceived as perceived". This is where the difficulty lies, in the noematic differentiation. We can understand the noetic distinction as that which are mental processes that make up the intentionality sphere without sense and without direct object, meaning the inherent mental processes that produces its believings, valuings, judgings, and so forth. But the noetic is differentiated into a part of the whole structure of an experienced moment. It's without its sense and without its object. Husserl is considering it in the abstract as these intentionalities independent of the idea that they are 1. intentional and 2. have an object into which they are intended to. The noematic distinction however is where sense happens independent of mental processes. Sense comes to us not in a mental process (although caused by it. Again the question of causality comes up.) but after it, if after can be used at all in any temporal sense (The problem of temporality will need to be addressed and will be in a later post. In general, questions with this theory that are not yet explained are the relation of the Noetic-Noematic division in regards to temporality and causality). For the noema though, this outside sense that gives sense to us, what is the perceived as perceived for example? What would it be like to faithfully describe the "appearing as appearing" in complete evidence and description? What is a noematic description? How can we make a statement about this sense? Husserl states "We find the perceived as perceived, to be expressed as a 'material thing', 'plant, 'tree', 'blossoming' and so forth". The key here is that we find it in it's expression. Classically speaking the noemata by Greek definition is simply the object of one's mental process (the mental process being the noetic), but for Husserl it's much more detailed than this "dead-concept" of perception-object. To bring back alive the moment of experience the details of the noemata will be necessary. So then, the noemata in an experience can't simply be the direct object as "tree" for example which we place under inverted commas in order to signify both the fact that we have something in view, but that this having-something-in-view is not yet expressed. Husserl goes on to an insightful statement where he says "The tree simpliciter can burn up, be resolved into chemical elements. But the sense of this perception, something belonging necessarily to its essence- cannot burn up; it has no chemical elements, no forces, no real proprieties". It's here where we see that sense has no external existence. It's not made of any properties. Regardless, we have a sense of a "tree" even though the "tree" may no longer be there. We can be in front of a "tree" and it can vanish right before us, but we still had a sense that something was before us. Afterwords we can describe what was once before us as a "tree" but at first it's a sense independent of expression and this is proved by the fact that one can experience something that then vanishes but this experiencing of this vanished thing is not vanished itself. If the tree were to burn, my sense of the tree won't burn. The sense of the "tree" doesn't have the properties necessary to make it flammable. It doesn't exist in the classical conception of existence. "The perceived as sense includes nothing of itself other than what "actually appears" in the mode of giveness in which it is precisely something intended to in the perception". This actual appearance for us is nothing expressible or idealized. It's an absolute zero-point where something is appearing to me in which I have no idea of what it is. This is not that difficult to understand. Any time I space out, I have a perception right in front of me of something. This actually appears but nothing is going in my mind that's focusing on the appearing and modifying it into an idealization, an expression such as the "tree". I may not even be "spacing out". I may just be walking by something where my attention is directed to it, and that is all. So this is the noema. It's the percieved AS percieved. It's the remembered AS remembered. It's not the expressed perception of "tree" although this expressed perception is a correlate of it. It's the idea that the tree is something percieved. Again, to reiterate, in any moment I can be walking by a "tree" and not recognize it. If an outside observer was watching me he may see me turn towards a "tree". Chances are, I'm not saying to myself "That's a tree". Chances are I'm given a perception of something absolutely in general. This is what it means to put the emphasis on the fact that the unexpressed direct object is a perception, a judging, a valuing, a believing, ect. It doesn't matter what I'm valuing, the sense of the valuing doesn't come from the "signified" or the direct object. The sense of the valuing comes from what valuing actually is, essentially what the definition of "valuing" is, which generally speaking is to place a judgment. The noematic moment includes both the expressed "material thing" AND the idea of the perceived as the perceived for example. The noematic content at one time is the tree simpliciter (and it can't be stressed enough how important it is to see the tree as simpliciter which is essentially seeing something that's not understood at all as a "tree", but you're facing something like a "tree". The evidence of the experience could be corroborated by a third party. Essentially someone following you around asking you if the third "tree" on the right you ran by and happened to turn to made you think of a "tree". If you are able to say "I didn't even recognize it", then you had a noematic moment independent of the expressible object. Now, the idea of the noema is a concept that is of contention within phenomenology (so it's OK for it to be difficult to understand at first). Roman Ingarden saw it simply as the direct object of anything whatsoever that was intended in an experience. In this sense he had a "classical" interpretation of noemata, simply as the object of ones mental experience (which could also include a fantasized object for example) . Robert Sokolowski on the other hand in his Introduction to Phenomenology maintains that the noema is the percieved as perceived for example. It is exactly that. It's not the object of perception, but the fact that in one instance I can see a chair by perception. It's this phenomenological moment that is stressed by Sokolowski and I think is faithful to the Husserlian project; essentially to detail the fact that an object of a mental process is not just an object that can forever be elaborated on by language, but a phenomenological moment of perception when something, whatever it is, is a perception-sense, and when enough perception beyond the 1-sideness that is now happening, happens, then it becomes idealized into lingustic formulation. But I think it's helpful for Husserl to stress that the noematic moment is expressed as a "meterial thing" E.G. a "tree", but at the same time the noematic emphasis is on the fact that is was a perception-sense in the first place, not an expressible concept. Nonetheless I would personally combine both Ingarden and Sokolowski's views here based on the fact that Husserl referred to the noema both as being something expressed and as something of the intentional act soley as its sense. It must be said though that he absolutely stresses the fact of the noema being the object of the noetic intention (E.G. perception). In this case Husserl's emphasis is on the perceived as perceived. The actual linguistic object isn't the sense. The lingustic object is the dead represented term that will be immediately meaningful based on definitions. The sense though for the noema is the absolute simplicity of being able to see something NOT as something, but simply "as". This "asing" in the noema is the pure representation operation that's is on it's way to represent something, to give its something its sense by representing it, judging it, perceiving it, etc.

Husserl appropriately expands the concept of the noema into negating the idea of it being some sort of "Cartesian theater". Two realities aren't given. We don't have a reality that is happening outside ourselves and then one which the noema represents as an "internal image". "No internal image is given. Only the tree simpliciter". The noema is an operation of "asing" an intentional process into something else, maybe a "semblance to what was prior to the intention, but this is beyond our scope and pure speculation which is not the work of phenomenology. While phenomenology may always be at the limits of possible reason in terms of human experience it won't conjecture into whatever a raw hyletic data is (except for an empty variable). Basically, when I see a "tree" without recognizing it as a "tree", it's not a "tree", its a tree simpliciter meaning I have no sense of it other than it's something that's being perceived. It's object is my intentional perception of "it", and this is an example of the noema. Now, with all these quotations being made about a perceived "tree" that can't really be perceived, and even the "perceived as the perceived" that can't be understood in it's simpliciter sense, we are left to thinking if we can understand anything at all regarding Husserl's claims to phenomenological elucidation. He answers this though in a sort of "welp-that's-true" kind of way. He states "The parenthesis undergone by perception prevent any judgment about perceived actuality. But it does not prevent the judgment about the fact that perception is consciousness of an actuality and doesn't prevent it from appearing 'actually' in the particular ways intended to E.G. one-sidedly". Here we are given eidetic truths. Husserl won't allow us to understand something we can't understand. But what we can know is that what was parenthesized in order to show that the concept under parentheses can't be understood in it's "perceived actuality" nonetheless shows that something actual is being perceived even if we know nothing about it's actuality and can never know anything about it. We can even know that we see something one-sidedly. We can know that when we are running past a tree unknowing that what we see is a "tree", that we are only seeing one side of it, until we run a little further and see another side of it. None of this we know in the presence but we can logically infer this is the case. We can apply deductive logic to phenomenology. If a tree has an infinite amount of parts (or possible perceptions) to it and I run by some parts of it, then it's not the case that I see an infinite amount of parts to it. From this deductive logic, we can infer that we only see some parts of the "tree" even though we were never aware of it in the presence of the "tree".

Every post after this will be further elaborations on the Noetic-Noematic divide. This post certainly tried to flesh out the idea of the noema in regards to Husserl's conception of it. As beginners, I made a basic diagram at the top of this post in order to flesh out the Noetic-Noematic divide. It may be an over simplification for now but nonetheless will acquaint one with the idea of what Husserl is trying to convey (Please bear with the terrible penmanship. I whipped it up in 10 minutes) . What is missing is a detailed analysis of the Noetic-Noematic division (in the diagram). This detailed analysis will be done in further posts. There will possibly be more diagrams. I have a feeling at this point though that it will simply be loads and loads of descriptions in regards to the relationship between the noetic and nomatic components of mental phenomena.

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