The phenomenological study of consciousness is the study of consciousness from the inside. The simplicity of this definition is, however, merely apparent. The idea of studying consciousness from the inside is amenable to two distinct interpretations. One of these interpretations is almost universally presupposed in recent influential scientific and philosophical treatments of consciousness outside of the phenomenological tradition. The other interpretation forms the conceptual core of the phenomenological approach but has, for the most part, been curiously overlooked in those recent scientific and philosophical treatments.When recent influential scientific and philosophical treatments of consciousness talk of studying consciousness from the inside, they do so through the prism of what Husserl called the natural attitude. From the phenomenological perspective, on the other hand, the idea of studying consciousness from the inside is constituted precisely by the rejection of the natural attitude. The two interpretations are, therefore, irreducibly distinct. They are not, necessarily, incompatible: arguably, both may be required for a complete understanding of consciousness. However, the distinctness of the interpretations does mean that recent scientific and philosophical treatments of consciousness have overlooked something crucial to consciousness. Indeed, I shall argue that they have overlooked what is most important about consciousness.
Rowlands, M. (2010)., Consciousness, in S. Gallagher & D. Schmicking (eds.), Handbook of phenomenology and cognitive science, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 84-97.
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