Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Noncorrelationist phenomenology: the Whitehead-Hartshorne-Peirce axis

In polishing my book tentatively titled Speculative Naturalism: An Ecological Metaphysics, I came across the following part of a book review where two useful paragraphs never made it to print, at least in full. These two unpublished paragraphs will actually form the kernel of a chapter in my book.

I think the below paragraphs from THIS review (second part HERE) provides a good taste for the chapter and the amount of detailed argument I plan to present.

[Update: I guess I wasn't clear in saying at first that I am the author of the review!]

Hartshorne's “My Eclectic Approach to Phenomenology” articulates a phenomenological method which is a “descriptive science” – one that, in Whiteheadian terms, “gets its basic concepts from the most general aspects of experience” and which does not specifically reference the observer but experience itself” (Harsthorne, 11). Hartshorne articulates how his phenomenology is different from Husserl’s and Heidegger’s - he met and briefly studied with both philosophers during his travels in Europe as a Sheldon Fellow in 1924-1925 (Hartshorne published the first English review of Sein und Zeit in 1929). If some argue that phenomenology may never truly be a “realist” method of metaphysics due to the “human-centeredness” of its methodology (the charge is that the phenomenological method espoused by Husserl is “correlationist” because it refers its results to a human standpoint, that is, always to an observer), then Hartshorne’s version of phenomenology easily dodges the correlationist bullet.

Hartshorne emphasizes that the question of phenomenology is, “As what are sensations experienced?” Disagreeing with Husserl and agreeing instead with Whitehead (and Peirce), Hartshorne explains that, “Experience-of-x is x plus something. But the relation of the two is no mere and. Experience-of-x includes x. Whitehead uses ‘prehend’ for this inclusion” (Hartshorne, 12). This is to say that reality is experiential and not just experiential-for a human observer which activates within an observation some experience. Experience and sense (feeling) are instead said to be one. Hartshorne’s phenomenology, being panexperiential and a priori in metaphysical orientation, shifts speculative query back into an exhibitive display of the real without recourse to a specifically anthropocentric intentionality. As an “eclectic phenomenologist,” Hartshorne elaborates, “I can say…Husserl was right in seeking the source of meanings in concrete experience as such but dismally wrong in trying to conceive experience in abstraction from an actual world, without…dynamic agents other than the experiencing or experiencer itself” (Hartshorne, 24). In this Hartshorne establishes the beginnings of a “non-correlationalist” phenomenology, indebted to both Peirce and Whitehead for its construction.