A Mildly Naturalized Husserlian Framework for Embodied Cognitive Science
In this contribution I aim at developing some critical considerations about the possibility of establishing a dialogue between Husserlian phenomenology and embodied cognitive science to which both partners can participate with equal dignity, apart from any concession to radical forms of naturalism. Phenomenology and cognitive science are different theoretical enterprises, each of which relies autonomously on its own methods and categorial apparatus. This does not prevent of course that both disciplines can influence each other by exerting some kind of constraints. Phenomenology alone cannot provide a full explanation of our conscious experiences as regards their sub-personal mechanisms and needs therefore to be integrated in a unitary framework which allows for its communication with the empirical sciences of mind, without any need to distort phenomenology’s transcendental features. On the other side, cognitive science should seriously take into account phenomenological and eidetic descriptions of first-person experience and avoid superimposing on it its own ontological and methodological assumptions.
In the first part of the paper, I try first of all to highlight how Husserl’s phenomenology amounts to a theory of experience which keeps itself equidistant from both extremes of scientism and idealism and then to illustrate the necessity of downplaying Husserl’s transcendental philosophy through a critical assessment on its attitude toward natural sciences and by highlighting at the same time its right to conduct its inquiries autonomously. In the second part I explore the mediating role of psychological phenomenology in allowing a mutual exchange between phenomenology and embodied cognitive sciences, as far as it falls on the side of naturalistic attitude. In the third part I proceed to a critical evaluation of the encounter between embodied phenomenology and embodied cognitive sciences by underlining some ontological and methodological shortcomings in which some of their representatives incur. In the fourth part, I argue for a mild naturalization of phenomenology by confronting it with some forms of non-reductionist naturalism (e.g. liberal and enactive naturalism) for the purpose of safeguarding its fundamental tenets. In the fifth and final part I discuss the topic of lived body and embodiment as the turning point which allows for the mutual transition from the transcendental to the empirical level. To this aim, I try to focus on the intrinsic belongingness of lived body to the essential features of transcendental subject to the extent that it plays a major role in disclosing an oriented worldly space through its kinaesthetic powers.
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