American University
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The foundations of Husserl and Merleau-Ponty and the phenomenological critique of science

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posted on 2023-08-04, 15:13 authored by Gary Mark Backhaus

This dissertation concerns the possibility of a viable foundational philosophy in the phenomenologies of Husserl and Merleau-Ponty. Since a phenomenological foundation is an irruption out of, and a reaction against, the inability of modern science and the philosophy which supplies its presuppositions, to provide an adequate foundation, a critical examination of science is a necessary moment in the formulation of the sense, and the justification for a phenomenological foundation. We characterize the rigorous science of phenomenology as the attempt to grasp an apriori science which is neither a construction nor an abstraction. In the return "to the things themselves," Husserl identifies and dispels the theoretical biases of modernity. Of equal importance, is the necessity of grounding the primacy of phenomena over the theoretical abstraction called science. We also examine Husserl's analysis and critique of the historical western telos and its aberrational form in the modern interpretation. We argue that a foundational quest is necessary from a meta-ethical point of view. In order to amplify and corroborate the Husserlian thesis, the historical thesis of Hugh Kearney concerning the metaphysical genesis of science and the structural thesis of Thomas Kuhn concerning the paradigmatic style of science are promoted. The presuppositions of Cartesianism are then elaborated and their subsequent influence, especially manifest in the problems of experimental psychology, is highlighted. A second criticism is developed concerning the problematics in the Husserlian foundation itself. Through our own investigations and the criticisms of Merleau-Ponty, we demonstrate that the essential weakness involves the unwarranted bifurcation of Form and Matter within the doctrine of intentionality. This erroneous separation of these moments assumes the dualistic subject/object dichotomy as manifest in the foundation. This ontological partitioning is overcome by Merleau-Ponty through uncovering the pre-conscious constitution of bodily intentionality. The lived-body is neither consciousness nor thing, but is the transcendental foundation prior to the consciousness versus thing conceptual abstraction. Finally, we demonstrate the importance of Merleau-Ponty's gestural theory of language in order to promote the most viable foundational philosophy of our time, the phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty.



American University




Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 54-06, Section: A, page: 2173.; Advisors: Harold Durfee.; Ph.D. American University 1992.; English


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