Mapping Reduction

Daniel Avatar

When we experience an object it is in a totality or series of many objects. But we always experience in perception just the object. The content of all consciousness is given as it is. One can see a color but cannot grasp the state of being colored. Perception of objects is always perception of an essence, or objectness.

While there was attention towards phenomenology beginning in earnest with Franz Brentano, it was his disciple Edmund Husserl’s project that radicalized the study and paved the road for a refocusing of philosophy. In general phenomenology is a study of consciouness formation and perception making. I this short entry I want to put forth the outlines of Huserl’s Logical Investigations, including his theory of reduction, with the hope of showing that it lead to a major upheaval of the Cartesian cogito and to the diection of all philosophy.

Husserl believed that for phenomenology to be most effective, it must be completely presuppositionless in order to focus on pure intuition. This insight led a return to the primacy of phenomena and intuition, to seeing…

Whatever appears first is most analyzable, because we are intrinsically tied to what is given in our intuitions.

The denial of empiricism, or the reduction in phenomenological investigation removed dependence on logic and mathematics and even causal explanations in order to open a space for inner-awareness of essences. The reduction made phenomenological investigation a study of what is valid for all subjects, or eidetic processes. In order for the essential structures of consciousness to manifest, there had to be a focus on “actual being.” The world of meaning constructions is based on a sense of the object that is beyond the experience – grasping something that has transcendence in immanence, not what is valid for the subject in transcendence.

This deconstruction of the world of experience led to the notion that all perception is based on prejudices. Because all apprehension of the world is inherently prejudicial, perception needs to be suspended in order to lead back to a realm of pure possibility, to unprejudiced forms of experience.

It was the theory of reduction that proved to be the diverging point for Husserl’s disciples. In particular, Merleau-Ponty and Heidegger rejected the reduction by arguing that we can only think back to our being in the world, Husserl mapped out his notion of the horizon, where he justified reduction in pre-ontological terms.Because the reduction opened a space to explore ontology or the science of origins. This great insight posited consciousness is an entity that exists independent of nature, making all meanings as socially constructed, not based on the Cartesian “transcendental-subjectivity” which posited that consciousness is a part of nature.

Yet, all consciousness, while not a part of nature does simultaneously incorporate past and present – causing a focus towards the ideal realm. The tendency for neo-Kantian philosophy to depend on a level of naturalism was flawed because reality is not merely a part of a spatio-temporal system, or even a world system. Naturalism naturalized consciousness who’s essence excludes the kind of being that nature has. Reality is merely a correlate of consciousness.

The horizon, or notion that all perception is a constitution of the world is a system that is pre-given. The world in this case is a product of a constituting object. The ego is what is given in temporal profiles and time is measured by the egological basis of all ego creation itself.

How do I constitute the other? Others are given to me in an experience that does not give something itself originally but that consistently reifies something indicated. The other is phenomenologically constituted in my own owness.

I experience the other as a body like myself, yet my own ego is not grasped except through vague objectivity.

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