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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Saur 2022

Chapter 6 Different Ways of Attending to Experience: Formalizing the Phenomenological Epoché to Translate Between Science and Philosophy

From the book Access and Mediation

  • Yuko Ishihara and Olaf Witkowski


When we reflect on our experience, our attention shifts from the objects of our experience towards the experience of the objects. This shift of attention can be understood in at least the following three ways: (1) an instance of introspection where a physical self is attending to its own experience, (2) an instance of psychological reflection where a psychological self is attending to its own experience in a phenomenological manner, or (3) an instance of transcendental- phenomenological reflection where a transcendental-phenomenological self is attending to its own experience. Misunderstandings of phenomenology often revolve around conflating phenomenological reflection with introspection or understanding it merely as a kind of psychological reflection. Such misunderstandings are detrimental not only to phenomenology alone, but also to the interdisciplinary study of experience insofar as they hinder productive exchange between disciplines. This paper presents a metareflection by a philosopher and a scientist on the nature of reflection understood as a shift of attention. We introduce a new formalism of the phenomenological method of ‘bracketing’, known as the phenomenological epoché, that will help clarify the aforementioned differences and prevent making logical mistakes that may arise from the ambiguity of the concept of reflection. The formalism delineates a layered model defining structural constraints on the language inherent to each discipline, with physics at the ground level, psychological phenomenology on the level above that, and transcendental phenomenology at the top. Our model, together with the notations we introduce, further illustrates how translations between the disciplines are possible and what kind of precautions one must take when undertaking them. Finally, we discuss potential implications of the model by highlighting important analogies between science and philosophy.

© 2022 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston
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