Information on the Series: Phenomenology and the Positivist Intellect

In the Fall of 2021, the American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly publishes three essays on phenomenology.  Each author asks, “Why does phenomenology exclude other philosophical traditions, such as Thomism, when they share similar concerns?”  The essays are not only remarkable for what they say, they are also remarkable for what they do not say.  None mention natural science.

Of course, this lacunae demands exploration.  Edmund Husserl (1856-1938 AD) lives in the heyday of modern science.  He calls for a “return to the noumenon”.  He names his method, “phenomenological reduction”.  So, phenomenology concerns the noumenon and its phenomena.

The series on empirio-schematics serves as a resource.  The noumenon and its phenomena appear in the Positivist’s judgment, initially derived in Comments on Jacques Maritain’s Book (1935) Natural Philosophy.

Contributions to this series are listed below, in order of production.  Most are available at smashwords and other electronic book vendors.  Those that appear on the blog at www.raziemah.com are noted, along with dates.

Reverie on Mark Spencer’s Essay (2021) “The Many Phenomenological Reductions”    (e-article, note on blog September 2021)

Comments on Joseph Trabbic’s Essay (2021) “Jean-Luc Marion and … First Philosophy”   (e-article, note on blog October 2021 

Comments on Richard Colledge’s Essay (2021) “Thomism and Contemporary Phenomenology”   (e-article, note on blog October 2021)

Comments on Jack Reynolds’ Book (2018) “Phenomenology, Naturalism and Science”.    (e-article, note on blog March 2022)

Looking at John Perez Vargas, Johan Nieto Bravo and Juan Santamaria Rodriguez’s Essay (2020) “Hermeneutics and Phenomenology in… Social Sciences Research”      (blog only, www.raziemah.com, April 2022)


Looking at John Perez Vargas, Johan Nieto Bravo and Juan Santamaria Rodriguez’s Essay (2020) “Hermeneutics and Phenomenology in… Social Sciences Research” (Part 1 of 18)

0001 Three faculty at the Universidad Santo Tomas, Columbia, publish an article with the title, “Hermeneutics and Phenomenology in Human and Social Sciences Research”, in the journal, Civilizar: Cienceas Sociales y Humanas(volume 20(38), 2020, 137 to 146, DOI: https//doi.org/10.22518/jour.ccsh./2020.1a10).  I thank the authors for presenting in English.

0002 In this series of blogs, the above article serves as a testing ground for four commentaries on phenomenology, contemporary Thomism and science.  The commentaries, available at smashwords and other electronic e-book vendors, follow.

Reverie on Mark Spencer’s Essay (2021) “The Many Phenomenological Reductions”

Comments on Joseph Trabbic’s Essay (2021) “Jean-Luc Marion and … First Philosophy”

Comments on Richard Colledge’s Essay (2021) “Thomism and Contemporary Phenomenology”

Comments on Jack Reynolds’ Book (2018) “Phenomenology, Naturalism and Science”

0003 Testing ground?

These commentaries contain particular category-based nested forms, interscopes and judgments, constructed from (or in reverie to) the essay and book under consideration.  These synthetic structures are abductions, constructed on Peircean frames.

So, what to do with a guess?

Test it.


Looking at John Perez Vargas, Johan Nieto Bravo and Juan Santamaria Rodriguez’s Essay (2020) “Hermeneutics and Phenomenology in… Social Sciences Research” (Part 3 of 18)

0006 Test one.

In the conclusion (Part 5), the unspoken agenda of the authors becomes apparent.

Why are hermeneutics neglected in phenomenological inquiry?

0007 The authors offer several good reasons for why hermeneutics should be employed.

First, in history, Husserl’s project differentiates out of nineteenth century hermeneutic traditions.  Both refuse to accept the triumph of positivism.  So, if these two traditions have common ancestry, then why are they apparently not compatible?

Second, hermeneutics situates texts, in the same way that a reader situates an author’s writing.  So, hermeneutics situate the same phenomena as phenomenology.

Third, hermeneutic practices arise out of the potential of interpretation.  Phenomenological reductions arise out of the potential of identifying what the noumenon must be.  Why are these not complementary processes?

0008 An answer starts with the Positivist’s judgment, initially diagrammed in Comments on Jacques Maritain’s Book (1935) Natural Philosophy.  Judgment has a triadic structure consisting of three elements: relationwhat is and what ought to be.  When these elements are assigned to Peirce’s categories, the judgment becomes actionable.

0009 The relation is a positivist intellect, who has a rule, saying, “Metaphysics is not allowed.”  This relation belongs to thirdness, the realm of normal contexts.

What ought to be is an empirio-schematic judgment, consisting of a disciplinary language (relation), mathematical and mechanical models (what ought to be) and observations and measurements (what is).  What ought to be belongs to secondness, the realm of actuality.

What is is a dyad, consisting of two contiguous elements.  The elements are a noumenon, the thing itself, and its phenomena, its observable and measurable facets.  The contiguity expresses a logical necessity.  In natural science, a noumenon cannot be reduced to its phenomena.  No arrangements of phenomena fully objectify their noumenon.  I place the contiguity in brackets.  A noumenon [cannot be objectified as] its phenomena.

0010 Here is a picture of the Positivist’s judgment.

Figure 01

This figure does not answer test one completely.  But, it is a start.


Looking at John Perez Vargas, Johan Nieto Bravo and Juan Santamaria Rodriguez’s Essay (2020) “Hermeneutics and Phenomenology in… Social Sciences Research” (Part 4 of 18)

0011 The first test posed by the authors concerns the apparent lack of compatibility between hermeneutics and phenomenology.

The lack is explained by the rule of the positivist intellect, saying, “No metaphysics.”

0012 Both phenomenology and hermeneutics are capable of situating the Positivist’s judgment.

However, hermeneutics arises from interpretation, which is necessarily metaphysical.  Interpretation is not physics.

0013 Can the same be said for phenomenology?

Phenomenological reduction self-identifies as not metaphysical, even as it elucidates what the noumenon ought to be.

0014 The positivist intellect’s rule gives permission to phenomenology, but not to hermeneutics.

Phenomenology, not hermeneutics, situates the Positivist’s judgment.

This answer is portrayed in Reverie on Mark Spencer’s Essay (2021) “The Many Phenomenological Reductions”.


Looking at John Perez Vargas, Johan Nieto Bravo and Juan Santamaria Rodriguez’s Essay (2020) “Hermeneutics and Phenomenology in… Social Sciences Research” (Part 5 of 18)

0015 Test two.

What is the latent dilemma between phenomenology and hermeneutics?

Both phenomenology and hermeneutics are able to situate the Positivist’s judgment.  However, since the rule of the positivist intellect disallows metaphysics, only phenomenology is allowed to situate scientific discourse.  Hermeneutics is programmatically excluded.

0016 How am I to diagram this answer?

First, the Positivist’s judgment unfolds into a content-level nested form, according to the categorical assignments of the elements.  Here is a picture.

Figure 02

0017 According to Comments on Jack Reynolds’ Book (2018) “Phenomenology, Naturalism and Science”, another latent problem stands between science and phenomenology.  Practicing scientists are perfectly happy to work within this content level, as the mechanical philosophers of the 17th century intend.  Hands-on natural scientists3a build models2a of observations2a of phenomena1a.  They take the noumenon1a for granted.

But, by the 20th century, visionary scientists lobby to situate the Positivist’s judgment with a glorified unfolding of the empirio-schematic judgment.

Edward Husserl (1859-1938) counters visionary scientists with phenomenology.  Husserl’s project3b brings the actuality of phenomenological reduction2b into relation of the possibilities inherent in a return to the noumenon1b.

0018 Here is a diagram of the resulting two-level interscope.  The situation-level nested form virtually situates (and emerges from) the content-level nested form.

Figure 03

Looking at John Perez Vargas, Johan Nieto Bravo and Juan Santamaria Rodriguez’s Essay (2020) “Hermeneutics and Phenomenology in… Social Sciences Research” (Part 6 of 18)

0019 Before continuing, I note that the relational structures in the prior blogs are presented in A Primer on the Category-Based Nested Form and A Primer on Sensible and Social Construction.  A two-level interscope characterizes sensible construction.  Sensible construction presumes a functioning perspective level, even though that perspective level may not be articulated.

0020 Now, I move on to test two, the latent exclusion of hermeneutics by Husserl’s paradigm.

What would a situation-level hermeneutic look like?

0021 Here is my guess, based on the essay.

A hermeneutic paradigm3b brings metaphysical realism2b into relation with the possibilities inherent in interpretation1b.

Figure 04

0022 This arrangement is not permitted.

Obviously, the actuality2 of this situation levelbmetaphysical realism2b, grates against the positivist intellect3a, because it2b defies its3a rule against metaphysics.  Less obviously, a difficulty originates from the reality that hermeneutics3b does not share the same perspective as the positivist intellect3a.  

Where is the perspective level?  

It is latent.

The term, “latent”, qualifies, because the perspective level of the Positivist’s judgment is not articulated.  It2c is just there.

It2c is simply given.

0023 What does this further imply?

Perceptive phenomenologists, such as the Catholic Jean-Luc Marion, note this lack of perspective and wonder what to do with it.  Could hermeneutics apply?  If so, then a normal context of hermeneutics3c could virtually contextualize Husserl’s paradigm3b, as Husserl’s project3b virtually situates the positivist intellect3a.

Would a perspective-level hermeneutics3c condone the rule of the positivist intellect3a?

I do not think so.


Looking at John Perez Vargas, Johan Nieto Bravo and Juan Santamaria Rodriguez’s Essay (2020) “Hermeneutics and Phenomenology in… Social Sciences Research” (Part 7 of 18

0024 So, hermeneutics3c does not put Husserl’s project3b into perspectivec.

What does this imply?

Perhaps, the perspective level does not want to be articulated.  Perhaps, it flourishes on the basis of some trickery.  Take a close look at the two-level interscope and guess what that trickery may involve.

0025 At this juncture, I have answered test two.

The latent difficulty between phenomenology and hermeneutics concerns the perspective level, which is not articulated.  Who knows what is in the perspective level?  Many may guess.  But, two points are certain.  Husserl’s project3b and the positivist intellect3a align with an unspoken perspective.  A situation-level hermeneutics3b and the positivist intellect3a do not.

0026 This answer raises the third test, asking, “What is the subject matter of phenomenology3b?”


Looking at John Perez Vargas, Johan Nieto Bravo and Juan Santamaria Rodriguez’s Essay (2020) “Hermeneutics and Phenomenology in… Social Sciences Research” (Part 8 of 18)

0027 Test three.

What does phenomenology3b do?

0028 In section three, the authors propose that Husserl’s phenomenology3b approaches reality1a by transcending the explanatory intentionality2a of the exact sciences3a.  Reality1a is a noumenon1a and its phenomena1a.  The explanatory intentionality2a of the exact sciences is the empirio-schematic judgment2a.   Phenomenology3b approaches reality1athrough phenomenological reduction2b.

In sum, phenomenology virtually situates hands-on first-order science.

Figure 05

0029 The authors continue, saying (more or less), “Consciousness (trained in the methods of phenomenological reduction2b) unveils the face of subjectivity (the noumenon1a) that has been eclipsed by positive objectivism (the positivist intellect3a).”

This quote fits the picture of Husserl’s project3b virtually situating hands-on natural science3a.

This quote fits the idea that phenomenological reduction2b elucidates what the noumenon1a must be1b.

0030 Notably, a return to the noumenon1b renders a subjectivity that can be shared by others in the same situation.  Phenomenological reduction2b elucidates an intersubjective being1b in the category of firstness, the realm of possibility.

According to the authors, Husserl’s project3b has been criticized for reducing intersubjectivity to the field of consciousness.  However, consciousness has already been narrowed by hands-on science to a cogito (the essence of the positivist intellect3a, including the rule of no metaphysics).  

So, the terminus of phenomenological reduction2bwhat the noumenon1a must be1b (that is, a noumenon1b), is a mind-dependent being, capable of being treated as a mind independent being.  I would go as far as to conjecture that this capacity directly correlates to the intersubjectivity of the noumenon1b.


Looking at John Perez Vargas, Johan Nieto Bravo and Juan Santamaria Rodriguez’s Essay (2020) “Hermeneutics and Phenomenology in… Social Sciences Research” (Part 9 of 18)

0031 German philosopher and phenomenologist, Alfred Schutz (1899-1959), proposes that the noumenon1b is an intersubjective being1b that opens up a potential for dialogue with others.  In other words, one consciousness asks for a consensus from other consciousnesses, on the question of whether this intersubjective being1b is… well… worthy of consideration.

By whom?

The positivist intellect3a?

0032 What does this dialogue among consciousnesses resolve?

The authors posit several options.

One, the qualitative researcher consolidates an inclusive knowledge mediated by the experience of intersubjectivity.  To the extent that a consensus is achieved, the noumenon1b may overwrite the noumenon1a.  Then, the slot for the noumenon1a is occupied by what the noumenon1a must be1b, the noumenon1a(1b).

Two, contemporary knowledge integrates daily life (that is, routine modern life), science and technical reflexivity.  In effect, the revolution of phenomenology applies to life in the Laboratory (the union of all laboratories).   A consensus on the noumenon1b offers the opportunity for a novel empirio-schematic discipline2a (a novel hands-on science).

Three, the noumenon1a(1b) elucidated by phenomenologists3b, is objectified by its phenomena1a.  These phenomena1a are situated directly by the empirio-schematic judgment2a of hands-on researchers3a.  The intersubjective nature of the noumenon1a(1b) attracts a community of inquirers.

0033 Here is a picture of this consolidation.

Figure 06

0034 Four, phenomenology is a radical self-foundation of complete intellectual clarity.  In effect, once a noumenon1boverwrites a noumenon1a, a novel scientific inquiry opens, where the noumenon1a(1b) [can be objectified as] its phenomena1a.  As the novel empirio-schematic judgment2a consolidates, a consensus that the mind-dependent noumenon1a(1b) can be treated as an intersubjective mind-independent being, gains credibility.

Moreover, the shared experience of intersubjectivity brackets out common sense, natural scientific knowledge and metaphysical insights.  Consolidation converts social actors and their subjective realities into laboratory specimens.  Phenomenology3b is not interested in explanation.  Rather, it3b is interested in manifesting an intersubjective noumenon1a(1b) that can be objectified by its phenomena1a.  Then, an empirio-schematic inquiry2a, situating the objectifying phenomena1a, brings the intersubjective being1a(1b) to life, through subjective experiences within the research community3a.


Looking at John Perez Vargas, Johan Nieto Bravo and Juan Santamaria Rodriguez’s Essay (2020) “Hermeneutics and Phenomenology in… Social Sciences Research” (Part 10 of 18)

0035 Test three, continued.

What is the subject matter of phenomenology?

What is in the slogan, “Return to the noumenon?”

0036 The slogan directs consciousness3b towards elucidating what the noumenon1a must be1b.  The resulting noumenon1a(1b) is both novel and social.  It1a(1b) is novel because it is an intersubjective mind-dependent being1b that can be taken to be mind-independent1a.  It is social1b because the identification of the noumenon1b relies on individual and collective thought processes.

Here is a picture.

Figure 07