Phenomenology 2010

Volume 3, 2011

Selected Essays from the Euro-Mediterranean Area

Daniel Marcelle
Pages 292-316

The Great Gurwitsch-Follesdal Debate concerning the Noema
The Connection of the Conceptual to the Perceptual

The Noema has enjoyed a tremendous debate in the history of phenomenology from the time of the 1960s to the present. The poles of this debate generally are Aron Gurwitsch and his “perceptual noema,” on the one side, and Dagfinn Follesdal’s noema as a sense, on the other. While Gurwitsch and Follesdal never directly debated, named, or impugned one another, these activities were eagerly taken care of by many others taking one side or another. First, I explore this debate and then in the end show that Gurwitsch’s position has been rendered into a kind of straw man. I then show how Gurwitsch’s understanding of the noema meets several of Follesdal’s challenging theses. Thus, I make a defense of Gurwitsch by show ing that his noema is very robust because not only is the perceptual noema amenable to gestalt organization, but that it is also conceptualizable. I finish by exploring these dimensions and describing the manner and importance of the conceptualization of the perceptual noema.