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XXXIII, 2, 2023: Beyond Consciousness. Paths of Phenomenological Research. Edited by Andrea Altobrando and Alice Pugliese

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copertina-2016-1-fronteHow can a field of research that takes sticking only to what is intuitively given to consciousness to be its fundamental principle, propose to investigate phenomena that – by definition – would place themselves beyond consciousness? And how can such a method bring to intuition phenomena and experiences that seem to place themselves beyond the limitations of finite individual minds? How could such a field ever “go beyond consciousness,” and thus avoid reducing everything it sets out to investigate to a kind of phantasmagoria or intellectual speculation? Although phenomenology is not reducible to a study of the “first-person”, and it has even been possible to speak about a-subjective phenomenology, is it really possible to phenomenologically explore objects, events, and even experiences that exceed, or essentially diverge from, what the phenomenologist is or may be as he lucidly carries out his work of reflection and analysis?
Husserl did not ever extensively deal with such questions in the works published during his lifetime. In a sense, his philosophical program, in addition to being inspired by (a certain view of) Descartes, can be regarded as a philosophical inquiry that not only starts from experience, but also puts experience itself under scrutiny in order to identify its structures and to bring out the conditions of possibility inherent in the experiential dynamics themselves and their objects: one starts from the experience one first finds oneself in – imaginary or otherwise – measures its limits, analyzes its structures, and then tries to figure out which objects of experience are sensibly asserted or not. There are, however, experiences and objects of thought that seem to place themselves beyond consciousness.
In the articles collected here we find many of these issues addressed from different perspectives, but all within the framework of phenomenology and aware of the problematic nature that certain “phenomena” pose to phenomenological inquiry. Interestingly, all papers collected here examine “phenomena” that, while outside the bounds of objectual perception, are nevertheless an integral part of the everyday lives and experiences endowed with meaning of human subjects: drives (Brudzińska), instincts and “embodied” morality (Battermann), the relationship between intentionality and the unconscious (Pugliese, De Vita, Mapelli), dreams (Failla, Chu, Di Chiro), fantasies (Senatore), the transcendence of reality (Neumann), objects of hope (Atkinson), attunement and coordination with other living beings (Bornemark), God and matter (Breuer), and infinity (Altobrando). These are not, in short, experiences and “ideas” that are the result of some improbable and far-fetched mental experiment. They are, rather, “phenomena” which, despite being unclear to us in a phenomenological sense, our lives are filled with. Moreover, when looked at from an existential, or otherwise practical-everyday point of view, we see that these experiences play a central role in our lives. Such experiences even play a role in our cognitive lives and impact how we understand ourselves, or how we grasp the world and others. In this sense, the very philosophical relevance of phenomenology (in the full-blooded sense) is at stake in these kinds of questions. Although it would be dubious to assume that phenomenology should deal primarily or predominantly with these types of phenomena, if phenomenological research were unable to say anything meaningful about them, it would run the risk of coming across as a discipline that is limited to mere intellectual exercises or otherwise as a field that simply sits on the sidelines with respect to the overall meaning of philosophical inquiry – a situation that would clearly go totally against the Husserlian idea of phenomenology as “first philosophy.”
One could even – keeping Plato in mind – say that philosophy is either able to look at the whole, or it is not philosophy. Phenomenology, then, if it is to be a philosophical discipline, must also look “beyond consciousness.” This Platonic maxim, of course, does not imply that every philosopher must deal with everything, nor that every philosophical work must always deal with everything. Similarly, phenomenology, which already for Husserl was a part of philosophy that does not exhaust philosophical work in its entirety and complexity, and is thus not able to complete the tasks set out for other areas of philosophy, such as metaphysics, philosophy of language, ethics and meta-ethics, philosophy of history, logic, science, etc. Moreover, it is also not the case that Phenomenology can claim to deal rigorously and simultaneously with all types of phenomena. Phenomenology is most of the time a patient work of meticulous analysis of extremely restricted phenomena. However, it must always operate against the background of the awareness that each phenomenon stands out in a much broader and qualitatively differentiated horizon of experiences, objects, and questions that alone can properly give meaning to the thorough investigation itself. And there is more to the story, for if one could not see that phenomenological work always again exceeds the limits of the analysis of representational consciousness, phenomenology would still find itself entangled in that psychologism which it critiqued so thoroughly when making its first appearance in the contemporary philosophical world.
Hence, we can say that the contributions collected here all show an awareness of the limits of their own field of inquiry, thereby letting us see the possible connections of their analyses with further investigations both phenomenological and, more broadly, philosophical-in view of that mathesis universalis that Edmund Husserl always dreamed of as the ultimate goal of the work he began and whose continuation he delivered to us.

(click on the titles to view the abstracts)

Andrea Altobrando, Alice Pugliese, Introduction
Jagna Brudzińska, Drive and Knowledge. On Some Aporias of Transcendental Idealism and Phenomenology
Philipp Battermann, From Scientific Tradition to Immediate Sittlichkeit. What are the Limits of an Archaeology of Original Meaning?
Alice Pugliese, Intenzionalità concentriche, eccedenti, sprofondanti. Revisioni di un concetto fondamentale della fenomenologia
Alberto De Vita, Husserl, oltre la coscienza (cartesiana?)
Tommaso Mapelli, Il diventare cosciente dell’inconscio nella fenomenologia di Husserl
Mariannina Failla, Fenomeni di confine: attualità, inattualità, sonno, veglia, inconscio
Hon Ming Chu, Sleep, Death, Others. Three Limit-Phenomena in Husserl’s C-Manuscripts
Antonio Di Chiro, «Ho sognato il dubbio e la certezza». Alfred Schutz e l’indagine fenome-nologica del sogno
Mauro Senatore, Where Do Centaurs Come From? A Non-standard Reading of Husserl’s Doctrine of Phantasia
Daniel Neumann, Max Scheler and Hedwig Conrad-Martius on the Experience of Reality
Jonna Bornemark, Edwin Gold, The Phenomenology of the Centaur. On the Oneness of Equestrian Bodies
Mitchell Atkinson III, Toward a Dynamics of Hope in Social Life
Irene Breuer, Phenomenological Metaphysics and the Problems of Facticity and Genesis. The Twofold Unity of Primal Hyle and God as the Limits of the World-Spanning Teleology
Andrea Altobrando, Sketch of a Phenomenological Enquiry into the Origins of Our Ideas of the Infinite