Husserl's Lebenswelt and the problem of spatial cognition – in search of universals

Polish Journal of Philosophy 4 (1):23-43 (2010)
Abstract
Perception and conceptualization of space are some of the most basic elements of human cognition. It has been long assumed that human spatial thinkingand frames of reference used to grasp and describe the location of an object in relation to other objects are of universal nature and so are projected in naturallanguages in basically the same manner; three principal dimensions in egocentric perceptual space were distinguished: up-down, front-back and left-right, reflecting our biological make-up. If differences in spatial terminology were observed, they were relegated to surface structure phenomena, but were not regarded as differences in perceptual and conceptual representations in the human mind. That belief in the universal perception of spatial relations among humans was ofconsiderable importance for some philosophical theories, also for Husserl’s conception of the Lebenswelt a priori and his defence of the validity of scientificpropositions and of absolute truth. It now appears that the extent of the diversity in spatial thinking has been drastically underestimated (Levinson 2003), but it does not follow that Husserl’s intuitions regarding the existence of universal constituents in incompatible Lebenswelt experiences were necessarily wrong
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