NATURE’S DARK DOMAIN: AN ARGUMENT FOR A NATURALIZED PHENOMENOLOGY

Abstract
Phenomenology is based on a doctrine of evidence that accords a crucial role to the human capacity to conceptualise or ‘intuit’ features of their experience. However, there are grounds for holding that some experiential entities to which phenomenologists are committed must be intuition-transcendent or ‘dark’. Examples of dark phenomenology include the very fine-grained perceptual discriminations which Thomas Metzinger calls ‘Raffman Qualia’ and, crucially, the structure of temporal awareness. It can be argued, on this basis, that phenomenology is in much the same epistemological relationship to its own subject matter as descriptive (i.e. ‘phenomenological’) physics or biology are to physical and biological reality: phenomenology cannot tell us what phenomenology is really ‘about’. This does not mean we should abjure phenomenology. It implies, rather, that the domain of phenomenology is not the province of a self-standing, autonomous discipline but must be investigated with any empirically fruitful techniques that are open to us (e.g. computational neuroscience, artificial intelligence, etc.). Finally, it entails that while a naturalized phenomenology should be retained as a descriptive, empirical method, it should not be accorded transcendental authority.
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Ned Block (1986). Advertisement for a Semantics for Psychology. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 10 (1):615-78.

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