Chapter 4



Natural reflection alters the previously naive subjective process quite essentially; this process loses its original mode, "straightforward," by the very fact that reflection makes an object out of what was previously a subjective process but not objective. The proper task of reflection, however, is not to repeat the original process, but to consider it and explicate what can be found in it. Naturally the transition to this considering yields a new intentional process, which, with its peculiarity of "relating back to the earlier process," is awareness, and perhaps evident awareness, of just that earlier process itself, and not some other.

Edmund Husserl, Cartesian Meditations

One discipline for training mature contemplatives in the western philosophical tradition is the transcendental phenomenology of Edmund Husserl (1859-1938). In a variety of works, including Cartesian Meditations (1977), Ideas: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology (1931) and The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology (1970), Husserl described a method for training the mind to apprehend and intuit its own essential processes. Unfortunately, Husserl's work is difficult to understand due to the language he used in trying to express its results and its methods. I will describe his approach to self-awareness as it relates to actual training and practice, using his own terminology and instructions. Then I will endeavour to reinterpret Husserl's project in neurophenomenological terms that will make it easier to understand the significance of his discipline to the question of training mature contemplatives, and will let us integrate his perspective more completely into our own.


Paraphrasing Peter Koestenbaum (Husserl 1967: X-XI), the definitive characteristics of transcendental phenomenology are:

(a) A method that presumes to be absolutely presuppositionless.

(b) A method that analyses data and does not speculate about world-hypotheses.

(c) A method that is descriptive, and thus leads to specific and cumulative results, as is in the case with scientific researches.

(d) A method that is an empiricism more adequate than that of Locke, more sceptical than that of Hume, and more radical than that of William James.

(e) A method that is a scientific enterprise in the very best sense of that term, without at the same time being strictured by the presuppositions of science and suffering from its limitations.

The trouble with this all too typical summary of transcendental phenomenology is that it misses the developmental heart of Husserl's message. Husserl repeatedly emphasized that phenomenology is a method of self-discovery, a series of reductions that lead to essential self-knowledge. The term "method" is not used here merely in the "small-m" sense of a specific sociological or psychological technique. Rather, the claim of phenomenology to the status of methodhood is a radical one -- a big-M Method as sociologists would say. It claims to be nothing less than a spiritual discipline with all the attendant techniques and intuitive insights requisite for leaving the practitioner essentially changed (Husserl 1960: 34). As Eugen Fink, one of Husserl's more accomplished disciples, wrote:

Astonishment is original theory because man suffers the experience of a breakdown of his traditional knowledge, a breakdown of his pre-acquaintance with the world and things, and that as a result of a new confronting of the existent and a new projection of the senses of "being" and "truth" become necessary . In turning towards the existent with astonishment, man is as it were primevally open to the world once again, he finds himself in the dawn of a new day of the world in which he himself and everything that is begins to appear in a new light. The whole of the existent dawns upon him anew.

(in McKenna et al. 1981: 24)

This is nothing less than a radical return of consciousness to what the Zen tradition calls the "beginner's mind" (Suzuki 1970). As a consequence, the reductions are difficult to realize because, prior to performing them, we are ignorant of their possibility and their implications. As Fink put it:

Every discussion of the phenomenological reduction, no matter how incomplete, finds itself faced with the unavoidable difficulty of being compelled to speak about it as if it were an activity of knowledge which it is always possible to perform, and which from the very start lies within the horizon of our human possibilities. In truth, however, it does not at all present a possibility for our human [read "natural attitude"] existence. The unfamiliarity of the reduction is therefore not only an unfamiliarity with it as a fact, but also an unfamiliarity with its possibility. Although we also say that all talk about a particularly difficult kind of knowledge quite remote from our everyday knowing ...presupposes actually having been involved with it ...a discussion of the reduction not only signifies an appeal to its actual performance, but also imperatively requires the performance of an act which places us beyond the horizon of our own possibilities, which "transcends" our human possibilities.

(in Elveton 1970: 104-5)

Definitions of the first, or "phenomenological" reduction, for instance -- definitions such as "the suspension of belief in the existence or nonexistence of phenomena" -- make it appear to the naive philosophical reader to require nothing more than a simple act of intellection. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. The reduction is a radical shift of consciousness that requires training to realize with any consistent results. For this reason, transcendental phenomenology may be compared with other spiritual disciplines, including the Buddhist traditions of contemplation we will examine later.

Unfortunately, Husserl left no clear, concise manual on how the phenomenological reduction is to be performed, and students are left more or less on their own to discover the explicit "small-m" methods (see Kockelmans in Kockelmans 1967: 25). Husserl teaches that what is reduced is the so-called "natural attitude" about the world (see Chapter 1); that is, the presumptive cognized order of affairs that is so taken for granted by people that it is tacit and reified, and indeed perceived as natural.

Daily practical living is naive. It is immersion in the already-given world, whether it be experiencing or thinking, or valuing, or acting. Meanwhile all those productive intentional functions of experiencing, because of which physical things are simply there, go on anonymously. The experiencer knows nothing about them, and likewise nothing about his productive thinking. The numbers, the predicative complexes of affairs, the goods, the ends, the works, present themselves because of the hidden performances; they are built up, member by member; they alone are regarded. Nor is it otherwise in the positive sciences. They are naivetes of a higher level. They are the products of an ingenious theoretical technique; but the intentional performances from which everything ultimately originates remain unexplicated. To be sure, science claims the ability to justify its theoretical steps and is based throughout on criticism. But its criticism is not ultimate criticism of knowledge. The latter criticism is a study and criticism of the original productions, an uncovering of all their intentional horizons; and thus alone can the "range" of evidences be ultimately grasped and, correlatively, the existence-sense of objects, of theoretical formations, of goods and ends, be evaluated.

(Husserl 1977: 152-153)

But the reduction is not simply one of dropping this "natural thesis," or "natural attitude," and leaving a residue of "real world." Rather, it is a sort of staged process of discovery of the constitution of the world leading to the point of clear reflection required for apprehension of the essential given order of phenomena and meaning. Moreover, the reduction is not a process of analyzing the meaning of words, an activity dear to the hearts of orthodox philosophers, for words are notoriously ambiguous (Levinas 1973: 102). What is sought is clear, absolute and unambiguous self-knowledge. What are gradually intuited and changed in the reduction are the many onion layers of seemingly "natural", but nonetheless delusory views upon the foundations of which the natural thesis is constructed. These are set aside via certain knowledge of their artificiality. At the same time the mind comes to gradually intuit the principles upon which it, itself, constitutes the phenomenal world for itself. And in the process of learning to clearly see the essential nature of mind, the mind comes to free itself from the chains of delusory misapprehensions, thus replacing the naive empirical ego with knowledge of the transcendental ego, or what Buddhists might call "the builder" -that hidden "me" that desires the world and for whom the world is constituted by the self.


That said, how does one go about stripping away the layers of the onion that result in the natural thesis? This task is accomplished in Husserlian phenomenology by contemplation upon the processes that produce the object of perception (which is constituted by the noema , or noematic functions of consciousness, including generation of sense impressions, (1) and identification) and cognitive operations intending the object (which are constituted by the noesis , or noetic functions of consciousness, including attention, arousal, and higher cognitive processes; see Husserl 1931: 255ff). The object being studied is viewed as a product of mind just as are the cognitive associations and principles of organization that attend the object. The object becomes the "transcendental guide" for the contemplative, for all of the processes of consciousness to be uncovered in the work are always intended upon that object. Husserl offers the example of the relation between an object of perception and our enjoyment of that object:

Let us now pass over to the phenomenological standpoint...We now ask what there is to discover, on essential lines, in the nexus of noetic experiences of perception and pleasure-valuation. Together with the whole physical and psychical world the real subsistence of the objective relation between perception and perceived is suspended; and yet a relation between perception and perceived (as likewise between the pleasure and that which pleases) is obviously left over, a relation which in its essential nature comes before us in "pure immanence," purely, that is, on the ground of phenomenologically reduced experience of perception and pleasure, as it fits into the transcendental stream of experience.

(Husserl 1931: 259)

The meditation is thus an alternation between the object of perception as the object of study (the noematic processes that bring the object before the mind) and noetic cognitive processes as object of study. Noema and noesis are two active processes that rise to meet each other in the moment-by-moment flow of experience, the former constituting the object before the mind and the latter intending meaning or cognitions about the object. Consciousness then is seen as a dynamic mandala the entire configuration of which changes with each and every shift in object of focus, and the noetic operations of mind intend (take as their object) whatever the noema currently constitutes before the mind.

Figure 0. A Schematization of the Roles of Noesis (Cognition) and Noema (Perception) in Unfolding Experience Within the Consciousness.

These relations may become clearer if we modify our "two hands clapping" model of consciousness (see Figure 0). In this model each moment of consciousness (termed the "now point" by Husserl 1964; see also Chapter 7) is the co-production of simultaneously active cognitive and sensorial operations, the latter providing a meaningful object before the mind, the former constellating various cognitive operations upon that object. The co-producing noetic and noematic operations arise and pass away every moment.

Direct awareness of these various operations is not easy to attain. It is certainly not a straightforward rational process; i.e., we cannot reason our way into that mindstate. Apprehending the role of the object as transcendental guide implies the development of a subtle skill that must be learned. The goal of a reduction is the relevation (Bohm's 1980: 35 term for elevating a previously unconscious process into the light of awareness) of these processes, an exercise Husserl termed "intentional analysis:"

In an important sense, exercises in "constitution" are exercises in intentional analysis. They consist in beginning with a "sense" already elaborated in an object that has unity and a permanence before the mind and then separating out the multiple intendings [read perceptual and cognitive associations] that intersect in the "sense." ...Thus, one ascends from the indivisible stability of the thing, such as it "appears" visually in the flux of profiles, aspects, outlines, or adumbrations through which consciousness anticipates and claims the unity of the thing. Intentional analysis always takes for its "transcendental guide" an object -- a sense -- in which the intentive processes ... of consciousness are united. It never begins directly with the untamed generative power of consciousness. (Ricoeur 1967: 36)

Eidetic Intuition .

Of course, I am not speaking of logical inference here. I am speaking of intuition in the sense discussed in the last chapter, the capacity of mind to directly apprehend the universal principles upon which it operates and of which its operations are instances. Husserl's term for this method is eidetic intuition (from the Greek root eidos : "essence" or "form" used in the Platonic sense of universal). (2) The German word he uses for intuition is Anschauung , which comes from the root "to see," implying "direct seeing" or experience of some relationship or structure. His German word for eidetic intuition is Wesensschau , denoting the knowledge derived by way of the direct seeing of essences.

In emphasizing "direct seeing," the critical distinction here is between acts of anticipated meaning, or "signification" that merely "aim at" the object of perception, but that may not actually be fulfilled, and intuitive acts that "reach," "possess" or "grasp" their object (Levinas 1973: 67). Anticipated meaning may or may not be matched perfectly -- be "fulfilled" -- by actual sensorial events, but intuitive knowledge is always realized in the sensorium. In intuition there is a one-to-one mapping of knowledge and what is given before the mind. The discrepancy between a signifying act (an anticipated sensorial event) and the object of perception (the actual sensorial event) will produce the experience of dissonance, whereas dissonance never arises in the intuitive act (Levinas 1973: 73).

Husserl speaks of "primary" intuition, the direct seeing and cognization of what is actually given in perception, and "categorical" intuition, the direct seeing and cognization of the more abstract aspects of perception. Eidetic intuition is thus an extension of abstract categorical intuition to an apprehension of the universal aspects of perceptual acts. Such apprehension requires the utmost in sustained concentration without actually becoming absorbed in the object (Spiegelberg 1984: 680), a state of mind also recognized as requisite to Buddhist insight meditation.

The actual apprehension of essences and relations among essences requires systematic contemplation of multiple variations and examples, a movement from particulars to essential features that Husserl called "ideation" (herausschauen ; 1931: 55).

While it does not require the massing of instances from experience or from experimentation or even restriction to real cases, the intuiting of general essences must be based on the careful consideration of representative examples, which are to serve as stepping stones, as it were, for any generalizing "ideation." It is also necessary to vary such examples freely but methodically in order to grasp essential relationships ...between general essences, a method which Husserl considered peculiar to phenomenology. Yet eventually it is always the intuiting of the phenomena, particular as well as universal, in which all genuine knowledge finds its terminal verification.

(Spiegelberg 1984: 105)

Examples of Ideation.

This intuitive grasp of essential structures of experience from close study of individual examples of phenomena is central to Husserl's method, and learning to do this is the watershed that separates those capable of the "phenomenological attitude" from those who are not. Therefore, it is worth taking the time to give examples of the method so as to have a shared basis in experience for understanding the bear bones of phenomenological methods. (3)

I have already suggested one exercise that illustrates ideation, that being the contemplation of attentional effort. If you will recall, we moved our attention from object to object while studying the effort it requires to move attention around within the perceptual field. If the exercise was taken seriously, it becomes very easy to see that the aspect of effort can be directly apprehended and relevated into awareness, and if concentration upon it is intense enough then the various examples we create before the mind stand out in stark relief against the background of perception. Each time we move our attention, and focus upon the effort required to do so, we produce another particular example of effort. Sooner or later, if we continue the study of those examples long enough and with sufficient interest, a series of intuitive insights into the nature of attentional effort arises. These intuitions are the essence of "effort."

At this point I wish to introduce another exercise that we will use for illustration later in the book. So far as I know, Husserl never used this exercise, but more importantly for my purposes, the Sakyamuni Buddha did use this exercise as a principal meditation in instructing practitioners about insight work. This exercise is concentrating upon the breath. There are many different ways of contemplating the breath, but the one I suggest for the moment is that you sit quietly and comfortably and concentrate upon the sensation of the breath moving in and out of your nostril. Pick the nostril having the clearest flow of air. The task for the moment is to maintain sustained concentration upon the breath without paying any attention to distracting thoughts, fantasies or sensations. While breathing naturally, we wish to study the exact point at which the inhalation stops and the exhalation begins, and the exact point at which the exhalation stops and the inhalation begins.

Now, one of the first things we may notice about this exercise is that, unlike the one on attentional effort, we do not have to wilfully shift our attention from object to object in order to produce multiple examples of the phenomenon. Instead, each and every breath we take becomes for us a naturally occurring particular case. We need only attend a certain aspect of the process of breathing that suits our purposes, namely, the nature of the transition points between inhalations and exhalations. And if we sustain concentration on the sensation of the breath leaving and entering the nostril, the particulars accumulate in our experience as a function of the continuity of our concentrated awareness.

A variety of intuitions may arise relative to the object of our scrutiny, but they only arise as a consequence of our interest and state of curiosity about the phenomenon. One initial intuition might be that there is frequently a gap between inhalations and exhalations, another might be that there is rarely a clear boundary between any inhalation or exhalation and the gap; the inhalation or exhalation phase sort of fuzzes off into the gap. There are, of course, an endless stream of questions one may ask about the phenomenon of breath, and for this reason I will return to this exercise later in the book. Among other things, there are hidden aspects to "intentional analysis" that are discoverable using this exercise and that Husserl apparently never realized. But at the moment I merely wish to exemplify what Husserl meant by establishing a series of particulars from which ideation may be derived.


It is clear that performing the reduction was central to Husserl's method and training (Spiegelberg 1984: 106). Yet much confusion abounds about the uses of the terms "reduction," "epoche," and "bracketing" which are at times used interchangeably, and at other times only seem to overlap in meaning. There is perhaps a clue to the method in the connotations of the words "bracketing" and "epoche," the latter being the Greek root (meaning "bracketing") from which our contemporary word "epoch" derives. (4) Each of these words implies a somewhat arbitrary delimiting, framing or highlighting for the purpose of treating a phenomenon or process as individually distinct. The purpose of bracketing (taken from its original meaning as an operation in mathematics) is the temporary relevation of some aspect of a process, or a relation between processes, into greater awareness, after which it is seen and known within its greater context without the need of arbitrary and wilful bracketing.

There is an ambiguity about whether "the reduction" refers to a process or an end state. Husserl clearly uses the term in both senses: the end state and the training procedures by means of which one reaches the end state. As Koestenbaum views it, the epoche is the state of consciousness that arises from:

...focusing on any part or all of my experience, and then observing, analyzing, abstracting, and describing that experience by removing myself from the immediate and lived engagement in it. I must observe the experience in question from a distance, that is, from a state of reflection....

(Husserl 1967: XX)

The rub comes in trying to discover the precise means of attaining that end state -- the epoche -- for if there is one thing upon which all students of Husserl seem to agree, it is that the master never clearly outlined the exact procedures by means of which the reduction is to be accomplished (see eg., McIntyre and Smith in Dreyfus 1982: 91).

Reduction As a Developmental Stage .

Another problem is that there are a number of "reductions" discernable in Husserl's project. The "phenomenological reduction," or the "universal epoche," is the goal of all phenomenological psychology in that it produces a mindstate in which the essential order given in the noema is seen, undistorted by theories or presumptions pertaining to the existence of the object or its order. But this mindstate is only attainable by way of the process of "reducing," or "bracketing" the distorting influences of various cognitive operations upon the object. One gets the distinct impression that Husserl's methodology is geared to a stage-developmental process in the unfolding of eidetic intuition; that is, a stripping away of delusions about the nature of phenomena layer by layer until the ultimate, essential givenness of phenomena stands in pristine purity before the mind (Husserl 1931).

There is clearly an advanced stage of self-awareness, one that Husserl termed the "transcendental reduction."

Thus we see with surprise, I think, that in the pure development of the idea of a descriptive psychology, which seeks to bring to expression what is essentially proper to souls, there necessarily occurs a transformation of the phenomenological-psychological epoche and reduction into the transcendental ; and we see that we have done and could do nothing else here but repeat in basic outlines the considerations that we had to carry out earlier in quite another interest... .

(Husserl 1970: 256)

And although it is indeed hard to pin him down to precise methodology at times, it is quite clear that Husserl was advocating in the transcendental reduction a full-on process of self-discovery and ego transcendence that inevitably entailed the transformation of the being as a consequence of bracketing delusions and reconstituting experience on the basis of knowledge thus gained.

Unlike Descartes, we shall plunge into the task of laying open the infinite field of transcendental experience. The Cartesian evidence -- the evidence of the proposition, ego cogito , ego sum -- remained barren because Descartes neglected, not only to clarify the pure sense of the method of transcendental epoche, but also to direct his attention to the fact that the ego can explicate himself ad infinitum and systematically, by means of transcendental experience, and therefore lies ready as a possible field of work. This field is completely unique and separate, since it indeed relates likewise to all the world and all the Objective sciences, yet does not presuppose acceptance of their existence, and since thereby it is separated from all these sciences, yet does not in any manner adjoin them.

(Husserl 1977: 31)

Attentional Effort Again .

Now, in order to make what Husserl was saying concretely clear, let us return to the attentional effort exercise. In order to successfully carry out this exercise and effectively study the role of effort in attention it is necessary to drop concern over the practical aspects of perception. Whether the objects before the mind are "real" or not is no longer of any consequence. You have momentarily suspended belief in the existence or nonexistence of the objects you scrutinize and they have become guides for carrying out your exploration of one aspect of attentional structure. That is, you have "bracketed existence" relative to the objects, you have carried out the "first" or "phenomenological" reduction. The exercise could be carried out completely even if all or some of the objects were dreamed, imagined or hallucinated. Practical concern for the objects, presumptions about their existence and theories about their relations to other objects in the world are cognitively distinguished from the pure act of perception and dropped from consideration.

We extract only the phenomenon of "bracketing" or "disconnecting," which is obviously not limited to that of the attempt to doubt, although it can be detached from it with special ease, but can appear in other contexts also, and with no less ease independently. In relation to every thesis and wholly uncoerced we can use this peculiar [epoche], a certain refraining from judgement which is compatible with the unshaken and unshakable because self-evidencing conviction of Truth. The thesis is "put out of action," bracketed, it passes off into the modified status of a "bracketed thesis," and the judgement simpliciter into "bracketed judgement."

(Husserl 1931: 109)

In the course of the exercise you have "bracketed" in another, subtler sense. You have directed attention to an aspect of perception that presumably was previously unconscious to you. Attentional effort has always been there, and it is still there. The difference is that you relevated the function to consciousness; that is, you bracketed it, or delimited it for study. You now even have a name for it and can describe it to another person. If you in fact realized attentional effort in carrying out the exercise, then you know that aspect of perception with absolute certainty. There is no question that effort forms an essential part of your perception. This is the so-called "apodictic" quality of truths discovered via the phenomenological method, a quality of truth that itself remains unquestioned at the level of the first epoche (Husserl 1977: 151).

This exercise, however appropriate it might be for clarifying concepts, is a trivial one, and should not reflect any superficiality in the program of self-discovery advocated by Husserl. Husserl was quite aware that even the cognized self does not escape unscathed by the exercise of bracketing at the level of the transcendental reduction. Where once reigned the mundane "empirical" ego of the naive cogito, there now reigns the "transcendental," or "pure" ego that has always been there and that is characterized as being, among other qualities, a spectator to both the essential givenness of perception and the processes of constitution of the world (Ricoeur 1967: 40).

The realization of the transcendental ego does not happen overnight. It emerges developmentally as the ego becomes progressively freed from the cognitive operations upon which the naive natural attitude about the self was constituted. Just as the object of consciousness is reduced to its essentially pure nature by bracketing, so too is the ego reduced to its essential givenness -- to the role of undeluded watcher:

The psychic life that psychology talks about has in fact always been, and still is, meant as psychic life in the world. Obviously the same is true also of one's own psychic life, which is grasped and considered in purely internal experience. But phenomenological epoche ... inhibits acceptance of the Objective world as existent, and thereby excludes this world completely from the field of judgement. In so doing, it likewise inhibits acceptance of any Objectively apperceived facts, including those of internal experience. Consequently for me, the meditating Ego who, standing and remaining in the attitude of epoche, posits exclusively himself as the acceptance-basis of all Objective acceptances and bases ..., there is no psychology, i.e., as components of psychophysical men. ...By phenomenological epoche I reduce my natural human Ego and my psychic life -- the realm of my psychological self-experience -- to my transcendental-phenomenological self-experience. The Objective world, the world that exists for me, that always has and always will exist for me, the only world that ever can exist for me -- this world, with all its Objects, I said, derives its whole sense and its existential status, which it has for me, from me myself, from me as the transcendental Ego, the Ego who comes to the fore only with transcendental-phenomenological epoche.

(Husserl 1977: 25-26)

Transcendence and Science .

Moreover, the changes wrought by the reduction produce the kind of knowledge of phenomenal perception that is not only certain ("apodictic"), it also potentially forms the foundations of a fully mature science -- a status that modern science cannot as yet claim. That knowledge of perception is crucial to the evolution of science because without it the scientific program is perpetually doomed to misunderstand the ontological nature of its theories, and the relations between theory and observation (Husserl 1970). And according to Husserl, that knowledge of perception is unobtainable by any other method than training the observer via the reduction, i.e., mature contemplation.


As we have seen, Husserl's terminology is frequently difficult to understand and his procedures hard to discern and operationalize. After all, he was writing apparently without awareness of either other contemplative traditions in Euroamerican and eastern cultures, or the advantage of a more refined terminology drawn from modern neuroscience and cognitive science. Yet, in my opinion, Edmund Husserl single-mindedly pursued an approach to understanding consciousness primarily characterized by the intuition and description of the essential structures of cognition, and attempted to describe his approach and results with very telling results insofar as influencing the thought of others is concerned (see Ihde 1986).

In biogenetic structural terms, the essences to which Husserl referred correspond to some of the structures we have called neurognosis, the genetically predisposed, fundamental structures of the human nervous system. I have already suggested a modern, neurological explanation of the intuitive processes upon which transcendental phenomenological knowledge depends, as well as of the relationship between linguistic/conceptual knowledge and intuitive insight. What Husserl repeatedly emphasized is that access to eidetic intuition requires nothing less than a radical transformation of the normal range of cognitive-perceptual creodes.

The eidetic reduction -- the epoche -- is a phase of consciousness mediated by an extraordinary entrainment of conscious network; one that, among other qualities, is no longer dominated by the unconscious drive to respond to events in the operational environment. The "movement away" from the object of perception as real or unreal, as a condition "in the world out there" that requires an adaptive response, is but a metaphor. It is a spatial metaphor for the radical re-entrainment of intentional processes and other neural networks mediating "meaning" away from the normal, tacit "natural attitude" of the adaptive mode to a mode in service of the intentional reflexivity required to produce mature self-awareness. This is not a matter of casual ratiocination, of simply choosing to think about things in a new way. Rather, it requires retraining the normal operations of consciousness to enter an alternative phase of consciousness requisite to the phenomenological attitude.

It should be clear by this point that there is a developmental dimension to the production of the re-entrainments necessary for the arising of the "reduced" state of mind, the "epoche." An individual in pursuit of the phenomenological attitude must learn to control the warps that produce culturally conditioned phases of consciousness in which responses, judgements, decisions, and actions come so naturally and unreflexively. The contemplative does this by wilful control of his or her intentionality. The intentional processes "step in" as it were to disengage the adaptive, fulfilling mode so that the normally unconscious constituting neurocognitive processes producing the phenomenal world may themselves be relegated as novel objects of awareness.

Of course, one need not actually draw "brackets" about the new object -- this is only a metaphor used by Husserl and borrowed from his mathematician's training. Directing sustained concentration of attention and interest to the new object effectively and automatically brackets the object. That is the function of the prefrontal intentional processes of the brain, just as it is the function of the fovea of the retinae to bring objects into clear relief relative to the visual field. Only when this disengagement of normal adaptive processing is paired with turning intentionality with great interest and concentration upon the very processes of entrainment themselves are the conditions established for eidetic intuition.

Intentional acts, then, cause growth and change in the range of potential entrainments comprising conscious network. But to do so, the reductions must be practised . This must be repeatedly emphasized, for it is quite apparent from the writings of some of the philosophers who claim to have been influenced by Husserl's project that many (eg., Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Sartre, Schutz) have not exerted the effort necessary to actually perform the reductions. They do talk about the reductions, but they appear not to have performed them. They take an intellectual posture relative to Husserl's claims and then ratiocinate about them. In order to adequately evaluate Husserl's project, and to avoid wrong-headed metaphysics and dogma (Funke 1987:89), one must tread the road the master trod -- an admittedly difficult task to undertake in any event, especially if one must rely upon Husserl's writings for guidance. And this is precisely the radical claim that any path of mature contemplation will inevitably make and that is so anathema to positivist science: If you have not realized the reduction, you cannot know what those who have completed the realization know.


1. Whether the noema was intended by Husserl to include sensation and meaning (as concluded by Gurwitsch 1974), or merely meaning (as argued by Dreyfus in Dreyfus 1982: 97), is a controversy of long standing in phenomenology, and is an artifact of Husserl's dualism and ambiguity on the matter. Dreyfus takes Dagfinn Follesdal's view that the reduction requires a movement away from sensation and into meaning, whereas Aron Gurwitsch, in company with Merleau-Ponty, argues for centering noematic contemplation on sensation. As I shall eventually show, the approach taken in this book is somewhat in support of Gurwitsch's position in that it makes no sense in my experience to analytically dichotomize meaning and sensation in perception.

2. Carl Jung's exploration of archetypal symbols via "active imagination" is a kind of eidetic intuition.

3. See Idhe (1977) for an excellent introduction to methodology in transcendental phenomenology.

4. According to Webster's 3rd New International Dictionary, the word epoche (pronounced \ep ke\) means "suspension of judgement: a: in ancient scepticism: the act of refraining from any conclusion for or against anything as the decisive step for the attainment of ataraxy [read tranquillity]; b: the methodological attitude of phenomenology in which one refrains from judging whether anything exists or can exist as the first step in the phenomenological recognition, comprehension, and description of sense appearances: transcendental reduction ."