Who's On First?

There is a pattern of miscommunication bedeviling the people working on consciousness that is reminiscent of the classic Abbott and CostelloWhos on First?’ routine. With the best of intentions, people are talking past each other, seeing major disagreements when there are only terminological or tactical preferencesor even just matters of emphasisthat divide the sides. Since some substantive differences also lurk in this confusion, it is well worth trying to sort out. Much of the problem seems to have been caused by some misdirection in my apologia for heterophenomenology (Dennett, 1982; 1991), advertised as an explicitly third-person approach to human consciousness, so I will try to make amends by first removing those misleading signposts and sending us back to the real issues. On the face of it, the study of human consciousness involves phenomena that seem to occupy something rather like another dimension: the private, subjective, ‘first-persondimension. Everybody agrees that this is where we start. What, then, is the relation between the standardthird-personobjective methodologies for studying meteors or magnets (or human metabolism or bone density), and the methodologies for studying human consciousness? Can the standard methods be extended in such a way as to do justice to the phenomena of human consciousness? Or do we have to find some quite radical or revolutionary alternative science? I have defended the hypothesis that there is a straightforward, conservative extension of objective science that handsomely covers the groundall the groundof human consciousness, doing justice to all the data without ever having to abandon the rules and constraints of the experimental method that have worked so well in the rest of science. This third-person methodology, dubbed heterophenomenology (phenomenology of another not oneself), is, I have claimed, the sound way to take the first person point of view as seriously as it can be taken..
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Daniel D. Hutto (2006). Turning Hard Problems on Their Heads. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 5 (1):75-88.
Daniel C. Dennett (2007). Heterophenomenology Reconsidered. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 6 (1-2):247-270.
Uriah Kriegel (2007). The Phenomenologically Manifest. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 6 (1-2):115-136.
Dan Zahavi (2007). Killing the Straw Man: Dennett and Phenomenology. [REVIEW] Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 6 (1-2):21-43.

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