Does the unconscious undermine phenomenology?

Inquiry 29 (September):325-344 (1986)
According to Paul Ricoeur, the Freudian unconscious invalidates the ability of Husserlian phenomenology to explicate human psychology. The stumbling block is said to be the mechanism of repression, which can not only obviate conscious access to certain ideas and motives but also distort consciousness itself. The whole enterprise of phenomenology would seem to be at stake. But we must carefully distinguish being a conscious object from being a conscious process. By means of ?micro?phenomenology?, the reflective analysis of focal dynamics, I shall try to reconstruct the so?called unconscious as certain conscious processes we are unable to reflect on as conscious objects. This reconstruction utilizes two motivational principles of attention, motive attraction and motive repulsion, which affect the manner in which attention addresses its object. The principles explain how reflective consciousness can be so repelled by certain directly conscious events that it withdraws with subliminal rapidity, leaving those events reflectively unconscious. Various sorts of evidence, including experimental results in subliminal psychology, can be used to support this phenomenological hypothesis. Though hypothetical, the theory at least demonstrates that the existence of unconscious processes is not an a priori basis for dismissing phenomenological methodology
Keywords Metaphysics  Phenomenology  Unconscious  Freud  Ricoeur, P
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