Surface and Depth: On the Nature and Necessity of Phenomenology
Guest Lecture by Dr. Louis Sass, Graduate School of Applied and Clinical Psychology, Rutgers University, USA.
The aim of this lecture is clarify both the uniqueness and the necessity of the phenomenological approach, especially for the study of psychopathology.
I will begin by situating phenomenology (the tradition of Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty) in relation to some influential recent approaches to consciousness and the mind/body problem in analytic philosophy (mentioning such writers as Dennett, the Churchlands, and Searle).
Then I approach phenomenology through a via negativa—that is, by explaining its vision of how the study of consciousness or subjectivity should not be approached.
Three crucial sources of error and distortion are considered, the third of which seems to overlap and subsume the previous two:
- Prejudice and the failure to "bracket";
- problems associated with reflection;
- the "forgetting of the ontological difference."
Some points will be illustrated by reference to examples from psychopathology. My hope is to clarify phenomenology’s unique appreciation of the subtleties and depths of human subjectivity.
Louis A. Sass has strong interdisciplinary interests involving the intersection of clinical psychology with philosophy, the arts, and literary studies. His publications include critical analyses of psychoanalytic theory; phenomenological studies of schizophrenia; and articles on notions of truth and of the self in psychoanalysis, hermeneutic philosophy, and postmodernism. He is the author of "Madness and Modernism: Insanity in the Light of Modern Art, Literature, and Thought" and "The Paradoxes of Delusion: Wittgenstein, Schreber, and the Schizophrenic Mind."