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Phenomenology 2005

Volume 4, Issue Part 2, 2007

Selected Essays from Northern Europe Part 2

Peter Reynaert
Pages 601-612
DOI: 10.7761/9789738863378_6

A Nonrepresentationalist Approach to Phenomenal Consciousness

The question of a naturalistic explanation of human existence ultimately means naturalizing conscious embodiment. This requires two steps. First we need a sound definition of the socalled phenomenal consciousness that is typical of embodiment. Secondly, we need to clarify the nature of a naturalistic explanation of this phenomenal consciousness. The paper argues that classical phenomenological analyses of embodiment (Husserl and Merleau-Ponty) can be relevant here. Phenomenology’s noetico-noematic analysis can help to distinguish phenomenal consciousness from so-called qualia. In accordance with recent representationalism, qualia are to be understood as phenomenal properties of the perceived object, and are elements of representational or intentional content (noema). Noematic phenomenology of the experience of the lived body further permits an identification of the phenomenal properties of the lived body, and a complementary noetic phenomenology identifies a specific bodily self-awareness as the proper phenomenal consciousness (subjective experience) of embodiment. Phenomenology thus leads to the clarification of several central issues in the actual discussion about the possibility of naturalizing consciousness, and more precisely to a defense of a nonrepresentatonalist conception of phenomenal consciousness. This clarification substantiates the claim for a more radical naturalistic explanation of conscious embodiment.