Looking at Joseph Trabbic’s Essay (2021) “Jean Luc-Marion and … First Philosophy” (Part 2 of 5)

0006 Trabbic’s approach to Jean Luc-Marion’s masterwork, The Phenomenology of Givenness, is curious.

Trabbic precisely executes a style that is rarely used in contemporary works.

He asks us to recognize a possibility (that seems to be impossible).

0007 First, the reader must recognize that there are phenomena, rather than nothing.  Things themselves are simply given.

Second, the reader must recognize that givenness implies a gift with no giver and no recipient.

0008 Trabbic’s construction leads the reader up the staircase of one and down the staircase of two.

The literary structure is beautiful to behold.


Looking at Joseph Trabbic’s Essay (2021) “Jean Luc-Marion and … First Philosophy” (Part 1 of 5)

0001 Joseph Trabbic’s essay appears in the American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly (volume 95(3), pages 389-409).  This is the second article on phenomenology to attract attention.  The full title is “Jean Luc-Marion and the Phenomenologie de la Donation as First Philosophy”.

Jean-Luc Marion is a French phenomenologist who attempts to put Husserl’s paradigm into perspective.  His book is published 25 years ago.  It still confounds readers.

Trabbic performs admirably in trying to decipher both the French language and the book.

0002 There is a lot to unpack, especially since science is not mentioned at all.

I wonder what Husserl is up to when he calls for a return to the noumenon?

Perhaps, scientists focus so much on phenomena that they neglect the thing itself.

0003 This is the lesson formulated in Reverie on Mark Spencer’s Essay (2021) “The Many Phenomenology Reductions”(available for purchase at smashwords).  Spencer also publishes in the American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly.  The full title of Spencer’s article is “The Many Phenomenological Reductions and Catholic Metaphysical Anti-Reductionism”.

Spencer mentions Jean-Luc Marion, along with many other phenomenologists.

It is like going through an old jewelry box.

Jean-Luc Marion sparkles.

0004 Comments on Joseph Trabbic’s Essay (2021) “Jean Luc Marion and … First Philosophy” (also available at smashwords) builds upon this reverie.

Why does Jean-Luc Marion catch the eye?


Looking at Mark Spencer’s Essay (2021) “The Many Phenomenological Reductions” (Part 4 of 4)

0014 Despite the hazards involved, there are opportunities.  

The Christian realist cannot speak in terms of metaphysics, because those words are not allowed in polite scientific society.

Perhaps, the Christian realist can convey the same meaning, presence and message with phenomenological terms, which are designed to sidestep the dictates of the positivist intellect.  The language of phenomenology is adapted to not wake the sleeping dog of science.

0015 Spencer ends the article in an impasse.

The impasse is theatrical.

Spencer declares, “Phenomenology longs to speak the language of metaphysics.  Metaphysics longs to speak from the platform of phenomenology.  Why can’t we find an accommodation?”

The phenomenologist cannot answer by saying, “An accommodation will destroy us both.”

0016 For Christians and phenomenologists alike, there is something to be learned from Mark Spencer’s 2021 essay, “The Many Phenomenological Reductions and Catholic Metaphysical Anti-Reductionism”, appearing in the summer issue of the American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, and Razie Mah’s commentary, available at the smashwords website.

Science cannot be ignored.


Looking at Mark Spencer’s Essay (2021) “The Many Phenomenological Reductions” (Part 3 of 4)

0009 Sound is a very interesting thing.

Dogs can hear sounds that humans cannot.

Does that mean that humans cannot be effected by inaudible sounds?

Can humans be impacted by inaudible sounds?

0010 These questions have proper grammatical form, but they do not speak to the heart of the matter.

Phenomenologists speak in a specialized language that scientists do not hear.  The scientist’s ears are tuned to hear about measurements, models and precisely defined terms.  Phenomenology does not speak of phenomena in scientific terminology.

The guard dog of science is on the prowl for another language that scientists do not want to hear, the language of metaphysics.  So, phenomenologists also do not speak of phenomena using metaphysical terms.

0011 In short, phenomenologists strive to be impactful while being inaudible.

0012 Mark Spencer does not reflect on the tentative engagement between phenomenology and science.

He innocently explores an accommodation between Christian realism and phenomenology.

After all, both indirectly situate science.

0013 Well, forget the “after all”. 

Spencer does not mention science at all.

As such, he threatens to wake the sleeping dog of the positivist intellect.

His proposals make phenomenologists jittery.

Talk of metaphysics will upset a delicate arrangement.


Looking at Mark Spencer’s Essay (2021) “The Many Phenomenological Reductions” (Part 2 of 4

0006 The scenario depicted in the prior blog appears in Comments on Mark Spencer’s Essay (2021) “The Many Phenomenological Reductions”, available for purchase at smashwords.

Search for Razie Mah, Mark Spencer, and phenomenological reductions.  The electronic article in smashwords, or some other electronic literature venue, should appear.

0007 The engagement between phenomenology and science is delicate.  Phenomenologists attend to the same phenomena as scientists.  But, they do not compete with scientists.

Scientists directly situate phenomena using the empirio-schematic judgment (which is first diagrammed in Comments on Jacques Maritain’s Book (1935) Natural Philosophy), in the normal context of a positivist intellect.  The positivist intellect has a rule.  Metaphysics is not allowed.

Phenomenologists sidestep science, by contemplating phenomena, while reducing their field of consciousness to exclude the machinations of science, among other distractions.  The goal is to identify what the thing itself must be, without any metaphysical baggage… er… I mean… terminology.  Anything that sounds like metaphysics will raise the ire of scientists.

0008 It is like tiptoeing around a sleeping dog.  The metaphorical dog protects science against metaphysics.  It has been known to gnaw on the bones of its victims, especially the ones who uttered the word, “hylomorphism”.  That word sounds totally metaphysical.  “Hyle” is Greek for “matter”.  “Morphe” is Greek for “form”.

To the sleeping dog of science, physics is the master of the house.

The master of the house says, “No metaphysics.”


Looking at Mark Spencer’s Essay (2021) “The Many Phenomenological Reductions” (Part 1 of 4)

0001 What is Phenomenology?

Phenomenology belongs to (what John Deely calls) the Age of Ideas, starting with the Western civilization’s turn from scholasticism towards mechanical philosophy.

0002 Mechanical philosophers, such as Rene Descartes (1596-1650 AD) say, “Forget final and formal causation.  Think in terms of material and instrumental causalities.  Attend to phenomena, the observable and measurable features of our world.  Then, build mathematical and mechanical models using well defined terms.”

0003 Later, Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) codifies a reaction against this fixation, arguing that we must not forget the thing itself (the noumenon).  Sure, phenomena are crucial to scientific observations and measurements.  But, the noumenon cannot be objectified as its phenomena.

0004 Then, Edmund Husserl (1856-1939) declares, “I have developed another way to situate phenomena.  By consciously focusing on phenomena, while bracketing out all this measurement business, along with other distractions, I can identify the noumenon, what the thing itself must be.”

0005 Now, there are two ways to situate phenomena.

First, scientists directly situate phenomena through observations and measurements.  They build models.  They are not interested in the thing itself.

Second, phenomenologists virtually situate phenomena through a method of bracketing assumptions, such as the empirio-schematic judgment, to end up with a noumenon, what the thing itself must be.


Looking at Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality” (Part 8 of 8)

0031 Look to Reality: A Journal of Philosophical Discourse.

Visit the website.

Donate to its flourishing.

Read the works.

Take a course.

0032 Most challenging of all, hire a budding scholar to compare and contrast Kemple’s article “Signs and Reality”, in the journal, Reality, and Razie Mah’s Comments on Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality”.

The assignment will not disappoint.


Looking at Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality” (Part 7 of 8)

0027  Comments on Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality”, available at smashwords, includes a story of a rot consuming the Age of Ideas, the third age of understanding.  Modernism is frozen in its gaze upon a thing, an innocent thing.  Certain modern elites hunger to financialize and harvest such innocence.  Call it what you will.  The yearning goes by many names.

In time, the rot will run its course.

Modernism will fail.

However, in this theodrama, the premodern Thomism of the Latin Age, the second age of understanding, may transubstantiate into the postmodern Thomism of the Age of Triadic Relations, the fourth age of understanding.  Deely predicts it.  Kemple aims to manifest it.  Signs are real, just like things.

0028 This is not the only fissure to appear in the scholastic mirror of the world.

Shall I elaborate?

0029 Smashwords contains an entire series of commentaries devoted to the question, “Is Aristotle’s hylomorphism an expression of Peirce’s category of secondness?

Another series is devoted to empirio-schematics, starting with Comments on Jacques Maritain’s Book (1935) “Natural Philosophy” and Comments on Nicholas Berdyaev’s Book (1939) “Spirit and Reality”.

Several commentaries in the series, Reverberations of the Fall, expand on Aquinas’s breakthrough concept of original justice.

0030 These series are not anomalies.  They are features of what happens when Thomists take seriously the very topic that they struggle to avoid.

Kemple’s advocation leads the way.


Looking at Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality” (Part 6 of 8)

0020 Comments on Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality” tells a story and suggests associations between Kemple’s… er…. Aquinas’s terminology and the category-based nested form.

First, three kinds of sign-objects correspond to three actualities in a three-level interscope.

Second, three sign-relations couple the levels, so that each object may serve as both a sign-vehicle and sign-object.  The only sign that does not serve as both a sign-vehicle and sign-object is the interventional sign.

0021 Here is a picture.

Figure 3

0022 The interventional sign couples the perspective and content levels.

The specifying sign couples the content and situation levels.

The exemplar sign couples the situation and perspective levels.

0023 Kemple specifically mentions three types of signs.  These correspond to the character of the sign-vehicle for the interventional sign.

These types are nature, custom and stipulation.  

These three types associate to periods in human evolution.

0024 The first two are discussed in Comments on Chris Sinha’s Essay (2018) “Praxis, Symbol and Language”.  See this blog for the middle of May, 2021.

Early in the Lebenswelt that we evolved in, natural events serve as sign-vehicles for interventional signs.  Since hominins adapt into the niche of triadic relations, the sign-objects of the interventional sign, sensations and feelings, turn into sign-vehicles for specifying signs.

Later in the Lebenswelt that we evolved in, linguistic manual-brachial word-gestures serve as sign vehicles for interventional signs.  The sign-objects decode the interventional signs according to custom.  Specifying signs are trained by timeless traditions.  Exemplar signs cannot be articulated using hand talk, yet they involve crucial adaptations, because the exemplar sign-object manifests as a commitment.

0025 Finally, after the first singularity, in our current Lebenswelt, the exemplar sign is able to be symbolized by speech-alone talk.

This turns out to be most problematic, since speech-alone allows the interventional sign-vehicle to be stipulated.  Comments on Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality” tells a story about a stipulation.  The story also tells about concupiscence.

0026 The sign-object of the exemplar sign occupies the same position in the three-level interscope as the sign-vehicle of the interventional sign.  This is significant.  Thomas Aquinas’s theology of original sin conducts itself precisely along the circuit depicted above, as discussed in Comments on Daniel Houck’s Book (2020) “Aquinas, Original Sin and the Challenge of Evolution”.


Looking at Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality” (Part 5 of 8)

0016 Comments on Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality”, available on the smashwords website, examines Kemple’s work using the category-based nested form and the three-level interscope.

0017 Kemple presents three actualities: species impressaspecies expressa and species intelligibilis from various texts by Aquinas.

These fit into a three-level interscope in the following fashion.

Figure 2

0018 Of course, one may contest these associations.

But, how else would these terms fit into the empty slots of a three-level interscope?

Perhaps, I could put in the word “normal context” for the normal context3 for all three levels and “potential” for the potential1 of all three levels.

But, that would not change the overall picture.

0019 Even more curious, these three actualities serve as sign-objects and sign-vehicles in sign-relations.  There are three sign-relations in this figure.  So each actuality may serve as both a sign-vehicle and a sign-object.

The interventional sign couples the perspective and content levels.

The specifying sign couples the content and situation levels.The exemplar sign couples the situation and perspective levels.