Phenomenological Reviews

Series | Book | Chapter


Phenomenology and meaning for consciousness

Ian R Owen

pp. 17-31


Humanity has explored the ocean depths, been to the moon and used its ingenuity to explore the distant universe. However, when it comes to knowing itself with certainty there has been less success. This chapter argues for the place of Husserl's philosophy in guiding a reformation of psychology and psychotherapy and clarifying their aims and subject matter by creating eidetic ideals: "To every eidetic, as well as to every empirical, constatation… a parallel must correspond… [Evidence] if taken, in the natural attitude, as psychology, as a positive science relating to the pregiven world, is utterly non-philosophical; whereas the "same" content in the transcendental attitude… is a philosophical science", (V, 147). "Philosophical science" is meant in the sense that it is exact or rigorous in the way that mathematics is. The sequence of topics below introduces a formal approach to intentionality (Brentano, Psychology from an empirical standpoint, 1973; Richardson, Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 65:250–282, 1983). Husserl's philosophy can promote standardisation of the accounts of scientists, researchers and the public around subjective meaningful experience. Husserl's phenomenology is the great grandmother of qualitative approaches for grounding the concepts of mathematics, the sciences, psychology, philosophy and other disciplines and practices in meaningful experience. The chapter starts with noting the fundamentality of the intentionality of consciousness and provides an overview of the arguments made below. The purpose of transcendental philosophy is noted next in relation to what that means in making phenomenological conclusions from the givennesses of what appears. The chapter closes by considering what it means for Husserl to apply qualitative methods that he had pioneered in creating number theory that he applied to the many types of being aware and how this can be applied in thinking through the methods and interpretative stances of natural sciences. The chapter introduces a means of being precise about intentional being, its motivations and conditioning contexts. The function of the intentional analysis of the intersubjective lifeworld of everyday commonsense is stated as the right way of looking through the microscope. Once this is accepted it becomes possible to understand the senses of natural being, transcendent ideas and people as the contents of consciousness are shared, despite the differences in sense that the same idea, person or natural being can have for two or more people. On closer inspection what comes into sight is consciousness and what it does because we can analyse what and how we are aware of the contents of our perceptions, memories, imaginings and in doing so what appears are common shapes, patterns, forms and figures that are given a mathematical idealising treatment in a parallel to how numbers refer to natural being. The chapter provides some orienting details about phenomenological argument in order to orient the study.

Publication details

Published in:

Owen Ian R (2015) Phenomenology in action in psychotherapy: on pure psychology and its applications in psychotherapy and mental health care. Dordrecht, Springer.

Pages: 17-31

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-13605-9_2

Full citation:

Owen Ian R (2015) Phenomenology and meaning for consciousness, In: Phenomenology in action in psychotherapy, Dordrecht, Springer, 17–31.