The Enactive Torch: A technological bridge between eidetic and empirical psychology

Ron Chrisley and I are co-organizing the “WG1: Fundamentals” work group symposium at this year’s COST conference: Consciousness: A Transdisciplinary, Integrated Approach (COST Action BM0605), to be held on the 20th Nov. 2008 in Gent, Belgium.

I will also give a short presentation during this symposium. Title and abstract are below:

The Enactive Torch: A technological bridge between eidetic and empirical psychology

T. Froese

The method of eidetic intuition (Wesenschau) was an important aspect of the early phenomenology of Husserl. However, the essences which are intuited in this manner, namely by a kind of imaginative ‘free variation’, are not only difficult to obtain in practice, but also necessarily limited by our imagination in principle. Moreover, such ideal essences have little implication for developing our understanding of the circumstances related to our factual existence in the world. Thus, as the phenomenological tradition developed further, especially in terms of recognizing the importance of embodiment and situatedness, it became crucial to develop a methodology that was more adequate to the concreteness of actual existence.

One popular approach, pioneered by Merleau-Ponty and continued by others today, is to turn to empirical psychology in order to analyze case studies of pathological conditions. These represent a kind of ‘factual variation’ of human existence which can help us to determine essential aspects of consciousness that would be difficult (if not impossible) to simply intuit imaginatively. However, this methodology also poses significant difficulties to the phenomenological tradition, especially in terms of its inherent lack of researchers’ first-person access to the phenomena in question, and thus the impossibility of proper intersubjective verification.

Here we propose that certain technological interfaces, such as the Enactive Torch (Froese & Spiers 2007), can provide a way forward by enabling a systematic variation of (perceptual) lived experience that can potentially be available on a first-person basis for all interested researchers. Moreover, it points to a way of capturing experience by means of a practice based in sharing technology rather than linguistic specification.

References:

Froese, T. & Spiers, A. (2007), “Toward a Phenomenological Pragmatics of Enactive Perception”, in: Proc. of the 4th Int. Conf. on Enactive Interfaces, Grenoble, France: Association ACROE, pp. 105-108

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