(2013) Human Studies 36 (3).

Reflection and text

revisiting the relation between pre-reflective and reflective experience

Wenjing Cai

pp. 339-355

The paper presents the prevailing understanding of pre-reflective and reflective experience as a "data-description model". According to this model, pre-reflective experience is the original datum, the meaning of which is fully determined in the very beginning, whereas reflection is a secondary layer that purports to recover faithfully the meaning of the pre-reflective. The paper spells out the difficulty of this model by looking into the scepticism on reflection. Despite its contribution to explicating the basic level of human consciousness, the data-description model merely attends to the epistemological function of reflection and its orientation towards the past. The aim of the paper is thus to propose an alternative model inspired by the phenomenological-hermeneutical tradition, especially the paradigm of "text" Gadamer and Ricoeur emphasize. By understanding pre-reflective experience as a text, we are able to make explicit the essential role reflection plays for human life and its inherent existential dimension.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/s10746-013-9287-8

Full citation:

Cai, W. (2013). Reflection and text: revisiting the relation between pre-reflective and reflective experience. Human Studies 36 (3), pp. 339-355.

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