Looking at Jack Reynolds’ Book (2018) “Phenomenology, Naturalism and Science” (Part 1 of 3)

0001 Jack Reynolds, Professor in Arts and Education at Deakin University, publishes a book with the subtitle, “A Hybrid and Heretical Proposal”.  The book concerns two views that seem to resist hybridization: phenomenology and naturalism.  Why?  Does each regard the other as heretical?

Plus, where does that leave science?


0002 Razie Mah examines Reynolds’ book in Comments on Jack Reynolds’ Book (2018) “Phenomenology, Naturalism and Science”, available at smashwords and other e-book vendors.  The commentary is part of a series, “Phenomenology and the Positivist Intellect”.

0003 Phenomenology has an awkward relationship with science.  It situates hands-on natural science.  Yet, it competes for that role with visionary science.

Visionary science takes what is most precious to practicing scientists, the empirio-schematic judgment, and unfolds it into a situation-level nested form.  

Phenomenology competes with and excludes visionary science.

0004 Consequently, phenomenologists and visionary scientists despise one another.

Both work to situate hands-on natural science, represented as a content-level nested form.

Each offers its own situation-level nested form.

0005 Perhaps, this is why Reynolds’ proposal directs attention away from the point of contention.

Hands-on science is naturalism.  Hands-on science may be portrayed as the unfolding of the Positivist’s judgment into the content-level of an interscope.

Phenomenology and visionary science situate first-order natural science in very different ways.

0006 Phenomenology wants to consider phenomena in order to elucidate what the thing itself must be.

Visionary science wants to take an established scientific model and coronate it as what the thing itself must be.


Looking at Jack Reynolds’ Book (2018) “Phenomenology, Naturalism and Science” (Part 2 of 3)

0007 There is something funny about the last blog.

Phenomenology3b virtually situates hands-on natural science3a by bracketing out the empirio-schematic judgment2a and asking phenomena, “What must the noumenon1a be1b?”

Visionary science2b virtually situates hands-on natural science3a by unfolding the empirio-schematic judgment2a into a situation-level nested form, where the normal context of disciplinary language3b brings the actuality of mathematical and mechanicals models2b into relation with the potential of observations and measurements1b.

0008 Phenomenology3b faces the delicate task of framing its identification of what the noumenon1a must be1b without using metaphysical terms.  Why?  The content-level normal context, the positivist intellect3a has a rule that says, “Metaphysics is not allowed.”

What else is not allowed?

Common sense.

0009 Visionary science3b says that the model2b is what the noumenon1a must be2b.  The goal is to replace the thing itself1a.

For example, a bird in flight1a flaps its wings1a.

The bird in flight is a noumenon, a thing itself1a.  The flapping-wings are phenomena1a, observable and measurable facets of the thing itself1a.  The idea2a that the flapping wings resist gravity models2a the resulting observations and measurements2a.  Plus, the idea2a must be properly configured according to the disciplinary language of physics2a.  Gravity is part of that model.

0010 The visionary scientist then boldy situates the above example as a facet of this grand law2b, the law of gravity2b, which determines laboratory observations of birds in flight1b, and therefore becomes the thing itself1a(2b).  Now, birds in flight1a are phenomena1a that objectify what the noumenon1a must be2b (that is, gravity2b.)

0011 The phenomenologist takes a completely different path, using phenomenological reduction2b to bracket out the empirio-schematic judgment2a in order to intuitively assess what the noumenon1a must be1b.  This is how Husserl returns to the noumenon1b.

Ideally (or I should say, “transcendentally”) phenomenological reduction2b regards phenomena1a, the observable and measurable facets1a of the thing itself1a, without science-work2a in mind at all (except for the positivist intellect3a saying, “No metaphysics.”).

0012 Try the exercise.  Imagine the flapping-wings business, not as a way to resist gravity, but as a way to use something in order to survive.  Oh, bracket out even that.  What do the flapping wings, the tucked in feet, and the determination of the bird say to me?  The bird in flight is embodied, enactive, enchanting and entertaining.  Now, fix the consciousness in order to identify what the noumenon1a must be1b.

Does the word, “sail”, come to mind.

Wings are to birds as sails are to boats?

0012 As soon as wings are sails, then the phenomenologist walks out of the room and the hands-on natural scientist says, “Hey, did you hear that?  What an excellent idea.  Let us model the phenomena of flapping wings as sails, instead of things that resist gravity.”

0013 Meanwhile, some visionary scientist stands at a podium, accepting an award for A Visionary Application of Science,from the Academy of Important and Tenured Figureheads, for his declaration that gravity is a noumenon1a(2b) and birds in flight are its phenomena1a.


Looking at Jack Reynolds’ Book (2018) “Phenomenology, Naturalism and Science” (Part 3 of 3)

0013 Comments on Jack Reynolds’ Book (2018) “Phenomenology, Naturalism and Science”, is available at smashwords and other e-book venues.

How do I find the work?

Search for Razie Mah and the series, Phenomenology and the Positivist Intellect.

Here are some lessons.

Visionary science virtually situates hands-on natural science.

Phenomenology virtually situates hands-on natural science.

Phenomenology and visionary science are at odds.

Phenomenology hinders visionary science from completing its self-anointed task.

There is something funny, dramatic, and wonderful about the insights that phenomenology offers.

The category-based nested form and the triadic structure of judgment allow the inquirer to explore Peircean implications of Jack Reynolds’ book.  What a tale these implications tell.


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 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 3 of 5)

0009 The following looks like a hylomorphe, but it does not belong to the realm of actuality.

Figure 1

0010 This dyad expresses what is in the Positivist’s judgment.

The Positivist’s judgment constitutes the second first philosophy, arising and ruling out the first first philosophy.

0011 What is a first philosophy?

A first philosophy addresses the question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?”

This is the first question that every philosophy must confront.

0012 Many prefer to skip to the next question, “What is ‘something’?”

The first first philosophy, as practiced by scholastics of the Latin Age, says, “It must be the things of God and of everyday life.”

The second first philosophy, modern science, says, “No, it must be phenomena, the observable and measurable facets of things.”

The third first philosophy, Husserl’s phenomenology, says, “We must return to the noumenon, the thing itself, and figure out what the noumenon must be.”

But, is the thing itself the same as what the thing itself must be?0013 Here is where Jean-Luc Marion enters the picture and says, “A fourth first philosophy should place Husserl’s situating of science into perspective, by addressing the question, ‘Why are there noumena, rather than nothing?’.”


Looking at Joseph Trabbic’s Essay (2021) “Jean Luc-Marion and … First Philosophy” (Part 4 of 5)

0014 Ah, phenomenology situates empirical science.

This is one lesson found in Reverie on Mark Spencer’s Essay (2021) “The Many Phenomenology Reductions” (available for purchase at smashwords).

0015 Givenness puts phenomenology into perspective.

This statement stands at the heart of Comments on Joseph Trabbic’s Essay (2021) “Jean Luc Marion and … First Philosophy” (also available at smashwords).

0016 Yet, neither Spencer nor Trabbic mention science.


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

0017 Comments on Joseph Trabbic’s Essay (2021) “Jean Luc Marion and … First Philosophy” adds value to the original.

How much value?

Maybe two Euros worth.

0018 What is the value of a Euro?

That is a very good question.

0019 Can a one Euro coin be reduced to its matter and form?

Can a Euro be reduced to instrumental and material causalities?

Surely, according to the empirio-schematic judgment, a one Euro coin can be accounted for by its constituent metals and circular shape.  There is a science to coining money.  Isn’t there?

0020 Or, does the givenness of the Euro allow us to imagine that a Euro is more than metal and shape?

Does the givenness of the Euro say that what the thing itself must be may be treated as a thing itself, supporting novel, “social”, sciences, where the noumenon can be objectified as its phenomena?

0021 If this is so, then phenomenological reduction precedes Husserl by over a century.

Is that possible?

Can what the thing must be become a thing itself?

There is something eye-catching and nonsensical about givenness.

Trabbic graciously accepts that Marion must make sense and leads the reader to that glittering impossible possibility.


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 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.”