Journal of Consciousness Studies 22 (9-10):83-108 (2015)

Matt Bower
Texas State University
There is clearly some area of thematic overlap between the subject matter of Edmund Husserl's genetic phenomenology and studies of cognitive development. I aim in this paper to clarify the extent of this overlap. This will, I hope, serve as an indicator about whether genetic phenomenology might be able to shed some light on actual cognitive-development phenomena. To begin with, I differentiate two strands within Husserl's genetic phenomenology, an idealized and a concrete approach. After providing a schematic outline of the former I argue that its application to actual, empirical cases of cognitive development faces serious challenges. I then set out the concrete approach, in two stages. First, I explain the importance of bodily experience on the concrete approach and note some affinities it has with the work of Piaget and embodied approaches to cognitive development. Second, I introduce the notion of affect as the engine of the developmental process on the concrete approach, an idea that, moreover, helps clarify how the concrete approach overcomes the problems facing the idealized approach. Finally, I propose that Vygotsky's notion of the 'zone of proximal development' can serve as a bridge between Husserl's concrete approach and contemporary scaffolded and extended accounts of cognitive development.
Keywords affect   cognitive development   development studies   embodied cognition   extended mind     genetic phenomenology   phenomenology
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