Heterophenomenology and phenomenological skepticism

  • Roy J
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Abstract

This paper is an attempt to clarify and assess Dennett’s opinion about the relevance of the phenomenological tradition to contemporary cognitive science, focussing on the very idea of a phenomenological investigation. Dennett can be credited with four major claims on this topic: (1) Two kinds of phenomenological investigations must be carefully distinguished: autophenomenology and heterophenomenology; (2) autophenomenology is wrong, because it fails to overcome what might be called the problem of phenomenological scepticism; (3) the phenomenological tradition mainly derived from Husserl is based on an autophenomenological conception of phenomenology, and, consequently, can be of no help to contemporary cognitive science; (4) however, heterophenomenology is indispensable for obtaining an adequate theory of consciousness. In response to Dennett’s analysis, the paper develops two main counterclaims: (1) Although the traditional conception of phenomenology does indeed fit Dennett’s notion of autophenomenology, his sceptical arguments fail to rule out at least the possibility of a modified version of this traditional conception, such as the one defended in Roy et al. (Naturalizing Phenomenology, 1999); (2) the distinction between autophenomenology and heterophenomenology is at any rate misconceived, because, upon closer analysis, heterophenomenology proves to include the essential characteristics of autophenomenology.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Autophenomenology
  • Dennett
  • Heterophenomenology
  • Husserl
  • Skepticism

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Authors

  • Jean Michel Roy

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