Being on Earth. Practice in Tending the Appearances
Phänomenologie in der Naturwissenschaft, Bd. 5
Ronald Brady, Stephen Edelglass, Georg Maier
196 pages, year of publication: 2008
price: 40.50 €
This book was conceived as a phenomenological approach to knowledge - that is, a study of the world in terms of its immediate phenomena. Since the sciences - today often just taught by computer - are moving further and further away from sensible perception the question arises: What is lost when knowing is separated from experience? In the academic classroom the answer to this question can sometimes appear to be "nothing", but in actual practice, researchers will often put stress on the need for a handson apprenticeship before the new member of the team can even read their manuals properly. Practice as opposed to theory, still demands perceptual experience, but in stated theory there is no account of the component that only experience can provide.
In attempting to give such an account, the authors concentrate on three aspects of experience. The first is the mental activity by which we attend to a particular phenomenon - the activity by which we understand and pick out the phenomenon for consideration. The second is the aesthetic organization of phenomena. Phenomena are unified wholes rather than mere collections of parts, and the recognition of wholes is an aesthetic activity. The third aspect of experience the authors investigate, is its ability to motivate the experiencing individual. Moral responsibility needs to be grounded in the meaning of individual experience, but this requires a recognition of meaning - hardly possible when we are preoccupied with abstract, universal laws to the exclusion of those particular events that comprise our biographies.