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Volume 17, Issue 1, Spring 2013

Normativity and Freedom

James Mensch
Pages 210-228

The Question of Naturalizing Phenomenology

The attempt to use the results of phenomenology in cognitive and neural science has in the past decade become increasingly widespread. It is, however, open to the objection that phenomenology does not concern itself with the embodied, empirical subject, but rather with the non-causally determined “transcendental” subject. If this is true, then the attempt to employ its results is bound to come to grief on the opposition of two different accounts of consciousness: the non-causal, transcendental paradigm put forward by phenomenology and the causal paradigm assumed by cognitive and neural science. In what follows, I shall analyze this objection in terms of the conception of subjectivity the objection presupposes. By employing a different conception, I shall then show how it can be met. My aim will be to explain how we can empirically use the insights of phenomenology without denaturing the consciousness it studies.