Neurophenomenology Revisited: From Naturalism to Dialectics
In this paper, I examine the prospect of naturalizing phenomenology within the framework of Francisco Varela’s neurophenomenology. In doing so, I follow two main objectives. The first is exegetical. Namely, there is a pronounced discrepancy between Varela’s earlier works on neurophenomenology and his later works on naturalizing phenomenology, with the former receiving considerable scholarly attention and the latter remaining comparatively unknown. This discrepancy is further exacerbated by the fact that, due to his untimely death, Varela failed to produce a comprehensive view of naturalization, leaving us with a plethora of suggestive fragments scattered throughout his later works (some of them published posthumously). Thus, briefly recapitulating the original neurophenomenological program in Section I, I bring some of these fragments together in Section II and make an attempt at elucidating Varela’s position on the topic. My second objective is critical. Section III thus opens with a question of whether the idea of naturalizing phenomenology in the context of neurophenomenology makes sense. I argue that it does not and should therefore be discarded. The reason for this is twofold. First, a strong case could be made that the idea of naturalization is ultimately at odds with the spirit of neurophenomenology; secondly, and relatedly, Varela’s lax use of the term naturalization not only puts it at odds with the more ordinary interpretations of naturalism but also risks emptying it of any substantive content.
Copyright (c) 2023 Sebastjan Vörös
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