Progress, Promise and Problems: Revisiting the Art of Techne 

Anoop George
BITS Pilani K.K. Birla Goa Campus

Technology both during the Greeks and our times is an event of unconcealment which means it reveals. In the current times our perception towards the rivers, mountains, oceans, plants, animals, other humans etc., have undergone a radical change. Today we bring them all into the light of modern machination. What has gone wrong here is our perception towards revealing the truth. One major difference between the Greek and the modern technology is that, the Greek notion of techne does not fit with the modern machine-powered technology. And according to many philosophers of technology the modern machine technology is the most disturbing one and which indeed pushes us to make an enquiry into the question concerning technology as such. Modern technology, though it is a revealing, unlike the Greeks it does not unfold into a “bringing-forth”, rather it manifests as a “challenging-forth” which enables man to have an unduly control over the nature.

‘Technology’, for the later Heidegger, is the ontological name that stands for the tacit human understanding of Being in the late modern era, which lets humans to see all that is, all beings, including themselves, as resources for human manipulation. This Heideggerian name for the most extreme form of instrumental rationality holds within itself recollections of the Greek techne but it names according to him the era of ‘completed metaphysics’, wherein the name ‘metaphysics’ becomes dispensable in favour of science and technology and all beings appear in the framework of the necessity of the will to will and calculate. This name includes the specific regions of Being, like “objectified nature, the business of culture, manufactured politics, and the gloss of ideals overlying everything,” which become intelligible and lighted up in the clearing provided by the technological understanding of Being by the human being.

Technology, therefore, does not merely mean machinery and apparatuses. It is the most general ontological name that includes the machines as well but primarily allows us to speak about western metaphysics in its planetary avatar without referring specifically to what material and mechanical changes this metaphysics is bringing about in the different geographical regions of the world. That is why Heidegger repeats in the form of a refrain in the technology essay that the essence of technology is nothing technological. Technological modernity has obstructed the true revealing of Being and has interpretively appropriated the meaning of the Being of entities as resources, so that all of reality, including humans themselves, have become reducible to mere resources. They have all become profane ‘usables’ standing ready to be called upon by humans for their relentless satisfaction. It is clear that care-structured humans cannot be treated in this fashion because it denies them their very Being. This paper will essentially evaluate the true meaning of the Greek word techne while philosophically engaging with progress, promise and the problems of technological life-world.

 

 

Expressing Life-worlds: Intertwining Phenomenology and Posthumanism

Angus McBlane
Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar

Posthumanist philosophy is, simply put, a model of philosophical inquiry and interrogation which does not take as its starting or its end point the human. While it may be concerned with the human as such or a human in an experiential mode this should not be to the detriment of the myriad of other beings which express alongside the human. It may be concerned with notions of the posthuman, but this does not mean that there is a being which is or comes after ‘man’ or the human or that it signals a merging of humanity and technology as such. Rather, posthuman is simply a designation, an already established designation, which signals a certain kind of philosophizing. A form of philosophizing that makes its home in the limits of various boundaries, suspended in the abyssal in-between of a multiplicity of life-worlds. It is a form of philosophical interrogation firmly planted in the borderlands of everyday experience – not only ‘mine’ or the ‘human’ but yours and other beings.

Therefore, for all the talk of potentially transgressive machine acts (intentional machines, integration of humans and technology and so forth) and the cultural, philosophical, and ethical ramifications that they may have on humans little, or, rather, not enough has been written about what posthumanist philosophy actually is. The question for this paper is not whether phenomenology is posthumanist in the sense that it is attendant to the bifurcations and exclusions inherent within humanism which has developed into a mode of cultural criticism and analysis, rather it is in demonstrating how phenomenology, particularly in its Merleau-Pontyan and existential phenomenological mode, contributes or signals a beginning of posthumanist philosophy, or, rather, of posthumanist forms of philosophizing. 

Life-world: An ever-existing ground or a lost paradise? 
The Phenomenology of Life-world in Husserl and Blumenberg: A Comparison

Abbed Kanoor
Bergische Universtität Wuppertal, Germany

Life-world (Lebenswelt) is a central concept in Edmund Husserl’s late Phenomenology. It is of high philosophical relevance in Husserl’s critical approach to what he called The Crisis of European Sciences. The crisis of modern sciences is not related to their function – sciences never have been so successful in breaking the boundaries of human knowledge –, but to the fact that the scientific approach has lost its kinship to its root in subjective experience. The crisis of modern sciences is the crisis of meaning and orientation. The modern sciences work but in a quasi-autonomous manner in their independent different branches and not with regard to the meaningful human world. The objective scientific world has its foundation in a common life-world shared by culturally and historically situated subjects. Its objectivity is due to an idealization process totally legitimate for the theoretical projects. But the wrong step is to identify the common world and its corporeal objects with the constructed scientific objectivity. Insisting upon the relativity of the objective scientific knowledge in contrast to the evident general structure of life-world, Husserl calls the “independency” of modern sciences into question. His main point is that the life-world is to be considered as a given common “ground” always there in everyday experience.     

The concept of “life-world” however has the same destiny as many other philosophical concepts. It has been created in a specific context, which is to be forgotten when the concept finds its rigid place in the history of philosophy. Husserl’s “life-world” is supposed to be evident to all phenomenology scholars. In my paper I try to challenge this self-evidence through Blumenberg’s interpretation.

With Blumenberg (Theorie der Lebenswelt, Lebenszeit und Weltzeit) I ask if already the diagnostic context in which Husserl elaborates his “ontology of life-world” and the task which he defines for it, does not cast doubt on perceiving the life-world as an evident given ground. The life-world theory is supposed to present a solution to the crisis of modern sciences. In order to find this solution Husserl tries to find a preliminary situation, where the kinship between the subjective meaningful experience and the scientific objectivity has not been disrupted. The question is, if he discovers this beginning or just reconstructs it theoretically. Regaining the life-world presupposes its loss. To put it differently, we thematize the life-world, because we are not living in it anymore.

The question “what is the life-world?” must be replaced by the question “why the life-world?” Blumenberg has a preliminary answer to this question: Giving the philosophical rational thinking a room in raw pre-theoretical experience. Acknowledging this point leads us to the fact that Husserl’s philosophical theory of life-world is the failure symptom of his cartesianism. The idea of Philosophy as a rigorous science is not evident anymore. It needs a philosophical prehistory and justification. 

Heidegger's Tool Analysis: Beyond the Ready-to-hand and Present-at-hand

Ashwin Jayanti
Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

In this paper, I shall read Martin Heidegger's tool analysis as laid out in Part I, Section III of Being and Time through a perspective focused on the ontology of technical artefacts. For Heidegger, all equipment has the structure of 'in-order-to' which constitutes the 'assignment' or 'reference' of something as something. The crucial objective of Heidegger's phenomenological analysis is to uncover the ontological basis of the assignment through which an entity attains the Being of equipmnent. Heidegger's ontological notions of artefacts—in the name of equipment that is either ready-to-hand, present-at-hand, in-order-to, for-the-sake-of-which, or under breakdown, etc.—seems to imply a functionalism that takes artefacts to be exhausted by the functions assigned to them. It is however not clear as to how an equipment comes to be assigned as having a particular inorder-to structure. Moreover, when Heidegger notes that our primordial engagement with the world is constituted by familiarity with the assigned, referred-to, in-order-to structures of entities, he is implicitly assuming Dasein to be a consumer of technological artefacts. However, there exist other modes of engagement with artefacts whereby one uses an artefact not for its designed or assigned purpuse but for something entirely different than that assigned to by its in-order-to structure. This could also involve situations whereby a broken tool is not foregrounded as something present-at hand but is rather assigned as being ready-to-hand for another assignment. In this paper, therefore, I shall look into the different modes of engagement with technological artefacts implicit in Heidegger's tool-analysis and illustrate their implications for an ontology of technological artefacts. This shall pave the way toward a better understanding of our technologically textured life-world.

Intentionality of Consciousness

T. K. Badrinath
Vivekananda College, Chennai                   

Phenomenology is the study of consciousness from the first person point of view. There are different kinds of experiences describing different things just as we experience them, in perception, thought, emotion, imagination and so on. Inspired and influenced by Brentano to a great extent, Husserl went on to develop a new science called as phenomenology and further defined it as the science of the essence of consciousness.

Every act of consciousness is intentional and is directed towards some object. Accordingly intentionality is the central theme or the common thread that runs throughout   the essence of consciousness. Every act of consciousness is experienced by a subject and is directed towards a corresponding object. In every act there is a content or a sense that prescribes an object as having different features. Furthermore what the content prescribes is constrained by a horizon of background meaning. Intentionality essentially consists in this complex relation among subject, act, content and object, constrained by horizon.

The analysis of intentionality and its structure forms the basis of Husserl’s new science of Phenomenology. Special mention is to be given to Husserl’s concept of life–world which refers to our surrounding world in which we live or the world as experienced in our everyday lives. For Husserl, the character of our world is essentially objective, subjective as well as inter-subjective. Thus we experience a world of relations among things in space and time in an objective way; the subjective refers to the way our conscious experience flows in relation to things around us and the inter-subjective refers to the way the things are there for everyone along with social activities in our everyday life. An analysis of all these diverse features of experience together forms an intricate account of the overall structure of consciousness thereby defining the parameters of the new discipline of Phenomenology.

Thinking about Thinking: Revisiting the Heideggerian Calling to Thinking

Devasia M. Antony
Hindu College, University of Delhi          

The discipline of philosophy is often defined as the art of thinking about thinking, that is, the human activity of thinking becoming self-conscious and critiquing its own presuppositions. What I aim to do in this paper is to revisit, within the broad contours of the phenomenological tradition, the Heideggerian paradigm encapsulated in his celebrated piece What is Called Thinking? (Was Heisst Denken?) and to lay bare its theoretical depository. Heidegger delineates the fourfold character of the question ‘What is called thinking?’ in this way: firstly, that which is designated by ‘thinking’; secondly, the prevailing theory of thought that is taken to stand for thinking?; thirdly, the prerequisites one needs to perform the act of thinking; and fourthly, that which commands one to think. For Heidegger the fourth question is of paramount importance for it reveals the symbolic structure that holds together the other three questions.

The calling to think is of fundamental nature for Heidegger and this call is to be distinguished from mere sound and noise. Further thinking is not having an opinion or notion, neither it is representing or entertaining an idea. Nor is it ratiocination or presenting a cluster of premises from which one can infer a valid conclusion. Neither this thinking is conceptual and systematic in the sense of Begriff (concept) which for Hegel is thinking par excellence. For Heidegger thinking is a response on the human being’s part to a call that emanates from the nature of things which Heidegger calls Being itself. This act of thinking is reciprocal in the sense that thinking is determined by that which is to be thought as well as by the thinker who thinks. The Heideggerian challenge comes to the fore when he says that ‘what is most thought-provoking in our thought-provoking time is that we are still not thinking.’ I end the paper by spelling out what does it mean to think  after Heidegger in our contemporary human predicament.

Life-world and Cultural Consciousness:
Constructing an Organon of the Cultural Sciences

Israel Bar-Yehuda Idalovichi
Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

The logical-mathematical models and the scientific methods clearly and distinctively structure the fundamental determinants that all other cultural sciences follow. A similar logical process of the exact and social sciences has ostentatiously been introduced into the humanities. This trend in the humanities has led to disaster, or what Husserl called “ideational abstractions”. However, the object of the cultural sciences is to be acknowledged and accessible to all. Life experiences, personal narratives, all objects of arts and humanities, seem self-evident and easy to comprehend since they are the deeds, inventions and works of  art of our own creation. The reflective process of understanding is oriented toward moving in the opposite direction – namely, to reduce such endeavors to their parts, transform the creative process into a quantifiable, predictable, universal production process. Hence, to create a meta-synthesis that will equip all the cultural sciences with a common meta-language and meta-logic seems in our epoch to be a Promethean figment of the imagination. Bridging numerous cultural sciences is easier said than done, in terms of the objects with which each cultural science is concerned, the methodology that each one employs, the sources of inspiration, modi of thought and the anticipated successful results that each cultural science expects. Culture as a whole should be comprised of perpetual, synthetic creations of all cultural sciences, while the task of every cultural science is to decompose elements analytically in its own language and method and make them comprehensible, in order to obtain maximum realization in its own realm. The previous process is followed by the self-reconstruction by every cultural science of its own realm by symbolic forms, although, evidently, the totality of symbolic forms in itself cannot express the entire reality, and no cultural science per se possesses exclusive access to absolute truth.

Culture is not created by human’s conscious purposive behavior or thought, because the individual always finds himself already within a specific configuration of cultural forms, from which he draws substantial contents and values, which can always be altered or transformed. Human consciousness is directed toward interpreting, maintaining and actualizing certain forms of culture. Paradoxically, a major aspect of modern culture refers to new possibilities to shape the environment or even to fashion new ones, albeit at the price of spiritual homelessness. There is a collision between symbolic representations and the modern life, which ultimately discards the old aesthetic and ethical values. The striving for renewal or ‘new life’ versus tradition demands an internal dialectics in culture and the creation of new symbolic forms. Yet the completeness of each symbolic form is preserved in culture free from of dependence on cultural processes. In this manner, the entire human culture, as well as the structure of reality, turns out to be determined by the organon, which comprises the plurality of irreducibly different symbolic forms. This means that the liberated spirit strives to find new forms of fulfillment in life and culture, subsequent to recognizing this homelessness. By means of creating a systematic program of cultural sciences – i.e., an organon – it would be possible to moderate the crises of knowledge and life. Such a systematic program of the cultural sciences is intended to be an antithesis to the overall cynical, skeptical and hopeless pessimistic and nihilistic – modern or postmodern – moods.

(This abstract is based on my book Symbolic Forms as the Metaphysical Groundwork for the Organon of the Cultural Sciences, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, vol. 1 & 2, 2014, pp. 925)

Lebenswelt as the Bedrock of Dialogical Hermeneutics:
A Phenomenology of Reading

A. Joseph Dorairaj 
Gandhigram Rural Institute-Deemed University, Madurai

Phenomenological or dialogical hermeneutics is opposed to objective hermeneutics which drives a wedge between the subject and object. As opposed to the “natural attitude” brought in by philosophical realism and idealism, phenomenological hermeneutics calls for a bringing together or co-implication of the subject and object. It points out that the text under consideration cannot and should not be seen as a cold and lifeless object meant to be analysed or dissected in a detached and disinterested manner. On the contrary, it calls upon the reader or critic to enter into a sustained and meaningful dialogue with the text.

As far as literary texts are concerned, “meaning is neither in the mind nor in the world but in the intentional relationship between the reader and the text”. Therefore, the event of understanding and the primacy of the world of experience (Lebenswelt) play a crucial role in dialogical hermeneutics and subsequently in the phenomenology of reading.

Gadamer’s “fusion of horizons” and Jauss’s “horizon of expectations” are important signposts in the phenomenological roadmap of reading. Gadamer talks about the “fusion of horizons”—the horizon of the text and that of the reader. Any reader approaches a text with a certain pre-understanding—however tentative or provisional it may be. In the actual encounter with the text, these presuppositions or prejudices may get clarified and confirmed or altered and modified, or even rejected. This is a back and forth movement as the text unfolds in time. And this encounter with the text is a sustained one and till the last page, as it were, the dialogue with the text continues and in the course of this dialogical encounter the reader’s pre-understanding is continually altered leading ultimately to a fusion or synthesis of horizons. Jauss talks about the “horizon of expectations” to refer to “the framework of expectations and assumptions that brings the worlds of reader and author together in the constitution and interpretation of texts”. He argues that “a text has no objective meaning and whatever meaning it may have is the joint product of the readers’ own horizon of linguistic and aesthetic expectations” and clarifies that the responses of individual readers do not occur in a vacuum but are situated within a horizon of expectations that can be objectified.

This paper examines the phenomenology of reading with special reference to Iser, Gadamer and Jauss.

 

Bringing Ideology Back In:
A Critique of the Habermasian Life-world

Kevin W. Gray
American University of Sharjah Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Habermas develops his concept of the life-world from the work of Husserl and Schütz (Habermas 1984). While the Husserlian and Schutzian model of the life-world begins from the philosophy of consciousness, Habermas’ model of the life-world begins from the philosophy of communication. Husserl conceives of the respective lifeworld as a “world-horizon” of potential experiences, corresponding to different “possible worlds and environments” (Husserliana, vol. III/1, 100).  Habermas conceives of the life-world not as those assumptions which permit the apprehension of the world as a rational object or which condition the apprehension of future states, but those structures which are communicatively available to speakers in a rational speech context (Habermas 1984). The advantage to the Habermasian approach is it allows Habermas to explain both way in which the legitimation of political structures can be arrived at through democratic means and how systemic effects, mainly through the colonization of the life-world, distort communicative action (Habermas 1984b).

However, the construction of the life-world in The Theory of Communicative Action plays short-shrift to the world limiting role of the life-world. By confining the pathologies of communicative action to system effects in the life-world, Habermas eliminates the role played by ideology in traditional social theory. No longer do various ideologies circulate in society. I argue in my paper that critical theory needs to develop a more nuanced model of the life-world, one which accepts that pathological consensus may emerge from available structures of justification. Drawing on the work of the French pragmatists such as Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot, I argue that the life-world is not merely the realm of presuppositions upon which speakers can draw in domination free communicative action, but a realm of embedded ideologies which distort day to day interaction.

Life-world and Technological Consciousness

Kuruvilla Pandikattu
Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth, Pune

One of the unique features of a human being is her capacity for self-reflection and self-consciousness. What is consciousness? How far is it unique to humans? How does it shape the world around us, including the technology? In turn, how does contemporary technology shape us? How does technology enable us to experience (“erleben”) life differently? How is our life-world shaped by your technological consciousness? These are some of the questions we raise in this paper.

Of all the pursuits of human kind, the understanding and exploration of consciousness offers the most likely opportunity for us to realize a civilization oriented towards cooperation, compassion, sustainability, and respect for life. Awakening to higher states of consciousness is the process by which a person, or a collective, can re-organize their identity from an ego-centric material orientation to a level of awareness that is capable of holding many perspectives.

Only with an evolution in awareness can we discover the ever-greater and deeper aspects of ourselves- including our life-world – the collective way we experience our world!

Consciousness might be described as the quality or state of awareness that human beings have of themselves, their environment and their surroundings, including sensation, thought, feeling and intuition. Consciousness functions on many levels, including the dream states, the sub-conscious mind, the ever-present observer mind, waking consciousness, and many meditative and spiritual states of awareness. It is dynamic, always changing throughout the day, and continuously evolving throughout life.

Everything is both a mirror and a reflection of something else, and the technological world that we’ve constructed is a glimpse at our inner universe. It shapes our “we-subjectivity”. The way we use technology is analogous to how the mind interacts with nature, collects and stores sensory data, formulates ideas and adapts to surroundings. Humans first dominated nature by studying and imitating the workings of the natural world, and this process has evolved into a symbiotic relationship where the evolution of the species is heavily warped by our own invention. Now we are totally dependent on technology for survival and for any further evolution.

As such, it is enlightening to consider just how similar the human mind is to the computer, the core technology contributing to the evolution of human consciousness most by enabling communication to occur at synaptic speeds.

As such, technology was first used as an extension of our senses. Then it developed further as a means to explore and even enhance our consciousness (google, social-network, etc). now the challenge is: Does technology shape, control and covertly manipulate our consciousness?

Thus the relationship between human consciousness and technology is complex and multifaceted.  Nanotechnlogy, NBIC convergence and above all neurology, which are fast expanding sciences, will affect our collective consciousness.  This paper makes a modest attempt to explore the ambivalent relationship between human life-world and our consciousness. It also suggest some ways of dealing creatively and critically with our incredible technological progress! It studies how such technological progress can widen or deepen our life-world.  We also study some of the epistemological and phenomenological aspects of today’s technology.

Phenomenal Intentionality:
Bridging the Gap between Phenomenology and Philosophy of Mind

Manidipa Sen
Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

Philosophy of mind, as part of contemporary analytic philosophy has been regarded as distinct, in both methodology and subject matter, from phenomenology. Philosophy of mind seems to depend heavily on scientific study of mind, and thus seems to completely ignore the first-personal dimension of conscious experience. Phenomenology, on the other hand, seems to ignore scientific study of mind, and concentrate on the lived experience of the conscious subject from her special point of view.  Since these two influential movements in 20th Century Philosophy have such distinct trajectories, there doesn’t seem to be any meeting ground or any common concerns  for  philosophers belonging to these two modes of enquiry. However, in the past two/three decades we find philosophers of mind as well phenomenologists coming together to understand what consciousness actually consists in. (One may mention here the edited volume Phenomenology and Philosphy of Mind by David Woodruff Smith and Amie L. Thomasson, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 2005, as one such anthology trying to break out of this divide.)

David Chalmers in his article entitled, “Facing up to the Problem of Consciousness” (http://consc.net/papers/facing.html), in distinguishing between the hard and the easy problem of consciousness, very clearly states that “The easy problems of consciousness are those that seem directly susceptible to the standard methods of cognitive science, whereby a phenomenon is explained in terms of computational or neural mechanisms”.  Whereas, the real or, what he calls, “the hard problem of consciousness” concerns primarily the experiential dimension of consciousness, a dimension characterized by subjectivity. 

This paper will be an attempt to see how we can bridge the gap between phenomenology and analytic philosophy of mind by considering the possibility of phenomenal intentionality.  Experiences, such as, bodily sensations will be taken up as a case study to show that they are not merely experiential in nature but have a representational character to them. However, this form representationality, the paper will try to argue, cannot be understood in purely computational or functional terms.  A particular account of phenomenal intentionality that the paper would try to argue for, will further show: 1. We cannot really talk about either a purely subjective domain or a purely objective domain consciousness, and 2. The nature of consciousness is such that it is embodied and environmentally embedded, not in any trivial sense, but in significant way, many of our conscious experience gain their content by being directed upon the body and the environment in which body is located, such that it helps in individuating that particular consciousness.

 

Life-world and Ecological Consciousness

S. Panneerselvam
University of Madras, Chennai

Philosophy teaches how to live with our environment with peace and free from conflict. Sufficient care has not been taken to understand the traditional methods of preserving nature. This has led to innumerable environmental problems. The degradation of the environment is leading to vast areas of the world and as a consequence of this, the world, which we live in, is becoming more and more unsuitable for human habitation. A clean and hygienic environment is a basic necessity for healthy living. Industrialization, unplanned development and mechanization have spoiled the environment considerably. The solution to the problem is possible only through global understanding, which is otherwise known as "global-ethic". If sustainable development is to succeed as a new way of life, its moral content should be well justified. The need of the society is to transform the behaviour of the societies towards the biosphere. A new ethic of embracing plants and animals is required so as to live in harmony with nature. Eminent environmental thinkers like R.C. Clark, R. Ellot and P. Singer have emphasized the need to protect the living beings on earth. It is the duty of man to take care of non- human beings also and hence has more moral responsibilities towards earth.

We live in a civilization that is threatened by the uncontrolled growth of technology, deriving from the empirical sciences, which have nothing to say about human values. Modern civilization is radically rotten, and only a complete transformation in theory and practice could cure it. The environmental crisis facing industrial society is so grave that man has to do something to save the human society, as well as nature and other living beings.  In the present society, there is a public demand for particular ethics for single profession of vocation, a demand which is as unwarranted as if one were to demand specific civic rights and laws for different groups, communities within the same political entity called state. The different professions and communal groups of people may have different mores, but there should only be one underlying set of ethical maxims, principles as obligatory for all human beings, irrespective of this race, religion, nationality or other secondary qualities. Thus the contemporary western thinkers have been contemplating the concept of “global ethics”. We are talking about "International ethics" or "Global ethics". By these terms we mean that certain ethical concerns apply globally, not just within the borders of one country or even to one culture. There are certain issues, which are discussed globally and not restricted to one region alone. In 1993, the important Conference held in Rio de Janeiro, otherwise known as the "Earth Summit" in which all most all nations participated. The idea here was to protect the earth. It is because the earth, which we live in, faces a common crisis and it is in the interests of all to join together in combating it.         

In the contemporary period, the need for such ethics has been felt very much. Albert Schweitzer defines ethics as man’s unlimited responsibility towards every living being. Philosophers like Immanuel Kant, Max Weber, Hans Jonas, Jugen Habermas, Richard Hare, John Rawls, and others have stressed this. Kant developed the moral philosophy or philosophy of practical reason during 1785 and 1797 and published three important books namely, Foundation of the Metaphysic of Morals, Critique of Practical Reason and Metaphysics of Morals. The philosophy of practical reason or ethics is concerned with that only which ought to be done, i.e., what should be enacted by man’s action grounded in a free will, whereas the philosophy theoretical reason or nature is concerned merely with everything that is. Max Weber’s ethics is known as “responsibility ethics”. He was guided in his historical-sociological research by an idea which was decisive in his construction of concepts and his formation of theories; the idea of the rationalization of all social fields. Max Weber who rejected the dogmatic interpretation of history and society, whether idealistic or materialistic has pointed out that in every investigation of historical and social events one must observe strictly one main question namely, what is such an inquiry is strictly, beyond doubt, factual. His study on Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism (1901) is a typical example of his approach to the socio-historical phenomena. Similarly, Hans Jonas’ The Imperative of Responsibility in Search of an Ethics for the Technological Age is an investigation with a reconsideration of the ethical key-concept freedom and like Kant he takes man’s free will as the metaphysical condition of morality. According to him, in so far as technical science has extended man’s educative power up to the point where it becomes sensitively dangerous to world as such, it also extends man’s responsibility for future life on earth. Thus man’s responsibility becomes for the first time cosmic. It needed the obvious endangering of the whole system, the factual beginnings of its destruction, to make us discover or rediscover our solidarity with the whole world. Habermas’ Discourse Ethics or theory of Communication is meant to serve the purpose of critically discussing various possibilities of morally responsible acting, aiming at guidelines for a morality justifiable life in our scientific-technical world. He considers as the objective of Discourse Ethics to re-formulate and re-assess Kant’s formalistic moral theory, in particular the justification of ethical norms and principles, by employing the means of communication by saying that moral questions can be by rational reflection and discourse. In Indian context, the issue is significant in the hands of contemporary thinkers. For example, R. Sundara Rajan talks about the ecological turn and the importance of Eco-philosophy. The need for re-thinking and re-ordering the contextual relation between nature and history is studied in detail by him. According to him, the "ecological repentance" is needed to understand the real relation between man and nature. He says: "The ecological turn, is not a single or univocal issue; on the contrary, it stretches all the way from issues of pollution of our rivers to the question of the relationships of humans, the world and God. Every discipline and every ideology, every system of morality and every form of religion has to rethink their fundamentals in the light of the ecological question, on pain of otherwise turning themselves into engines of oppression".

The “bio-philia” conception that there is an innate emotional affiliation of human beings to other living beings is important in this context. A respect of life is emphasized by many contemporary thinkers. One good example is Leopold. He argues in favour of a land ethic, which includes soils, waters, plants and animals or collectively, the land. “ A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise”. In Leopold, we see a need for a shift from human to nature. Thus, we see in the contemporary approach an extension of environmental aesthetics to plants and animals and to nature. Jonas explains how the future of man lies in the future of nature. Similarly, Deep ecologists like Naess raise deep questions about one’s assumptions regarding ecological relationship. Naess gives seven principles, which must be taken seriously in the context of environmental aesthetics. These principles are: rejection of the man-in-the-environment image in favour of the relational, total field image, biospherical egalitarianism-in principle, principles of diversity an of symbiosis, anti-class posture, fight against pollution and resource depletion, complexity, not complication, and local autonomy and decentralization. Naess’ deep ecology, otherwise known as “Ecosophy T” is explained as follows: …I call my philosophy ‘Ecosophy T’, using the character T just to emphasize that other people in the movement would, if motivate to formulate their world view and general value priorities, arrive at different ecosophies: Ecosophy ‘A’, ‘B’, …, ‘T’, …, ‘Z’. By an ‘ecosophy’ I here mean a philosophy inspired by the deep ecological movement. His distinction between "shallow ecology" and "deep ecology" should be taken seriously by both Indian and western philosophers of today. According to him, shallow ecology attributes value and importance to the processes of nature only in so far as they are important for human welfare and interests. This view explains and believes that global warming for example represents danger because it threatens agricultural production and human habitation. Deep ecology on the other hand is concerned with changes to the biosphere in themselves and not just to the extent that they work to the benefit or detriment of human beings. To think in this way is to hold the view that there are things of value and importance whose value do not lie in their connection with human interest, that there are strictly environmental values. From this standpoint, shallow ecology is objectionable because it makes human beings the sole focus of value and thus expresses a kind of self-centredness. The fact that environmental crisis are multiplied and take different forms shows that we are still in search of a truly environmental value which can be supplied only by philosophers.

 

Backward Reference and Forward Referring Anticipations:
Husserl’s Limits of Language

Prasenjit Biswas
North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong

Husserl’s formulation that single-rayed nominal presentations ‘refer back’ to multi-rayed predicative interpretations open up the possibility of differently intended senses that is actualized in ‘complete presentation of the one and same object’. In Husserl’s exemplication, “S is P” where the nominal presentation S refers back to an adequation of ‘what is’, which is ‘P’.  But P is a multi-rayed predicate with differently interpreted senses that carry the intentionality to bring an end to interpretation, that is, to find out which object fulfils the intended sense.  In order to fulfil the intended sense, the objects has to be self-evidently present. Husserl follows a logic of ‘non-oversteppable’ last goal of interpretation, which leads toward an ideal end-point as a limit to possibility of interpretation. Interpretation as a self-propelling act of consciousness requires an intuitive fulfilment that requires to refer back to ‘simple judgments’ or immediate ‘one time fulfillment’. This is potentially a limiting condition on infinite one-sided perspective on the world that refers back to its already constituted sense and its fulfilment by moving from objects to predications of the same objects by an act of previous interpretation. For Husserl interpretations are worldless and limitless, but they lead to meaning intentions freeing themselves from their signified contents that otherwise belong to them.

While the paper largely concurs with Husserl’s idea of referring back to previous meaning intentions yet it emphasizes and explores forward referring anticipations of unnameable objects and unanticipatable contexts of new intended objects that elude intended sense of the world. In terms of nature of linguistic constitution of the world, limits of language no longer bring an end to the world that is the subject of interpretation, rather limits only refer back in order to develop new ‘forward-referring anticipations’. 

Life-world and Religious Consciousness

Sebastian Velassery
Panjab University, Chandigarh

My paper is concerned with five main issues. First, I am endeavouring to expound the Husserlian exposition of the concept of life-world by referring especially to two of his important works, Cartesian Meditations and Crisis. Second, I am tracing the philosophical connection between the concepts of life-world and religious consciousness in the intellectual front and argue that phenomenological distinctiveness in speaking about religion and religious consciousness is grounded on the aspect of transcendent apart from the social which are generally said to be the two inseparable aspects of every religion. I shall defend my position by suggesting that Phenomenological approach to religion is meant to search and uncover certain element in human consciousness where religion may be demonstrated and thereby establish a relation between religion thus located and its appearing to human subject as a phenomenon. This is to suggest that life-world in religious consciousness is to elucidate religion in terms of the dynamics of consciousness. It demands to retain a sense of mystery with the idea of holy. The categories important for such an investigation are the pre-theoretical natural attitude and an environing world, so to say, ‘the world of immediate experiences’, which are prior to any conceptualization. Thus, the concept of life-world emerges as an inseparable part of religious consciousness because religious experiences are constituted by human praxis wherein the psychical and the physical aspects are fully integrated. Fourth, I would like to argue that such an understanding of life world as lived experience is an action space, where my cognitive capacities and other aspects of human activities provide meaning including religious meanings. What is intended to suggest is that apart from the abstract space of geometry, so to say, the ‘Euclidean space’, there is an action space that unravels one’s religious experiences because all experienced space is action space. To substantiate this point of view, I take recourse to the concept of Self-knowledge in the Upanishadic tradition. Fifth, I am particularly sensitive with the application of ‘life-world’ to religious consciousness which requires a cautious appraisal of few phenomenologists of religion such as Rudolff Otto, G. Van der Leeaw and Mircea Eliade. Thus, I propose to develop a thesis that the appearance of the incomprehensible is taken to be the necessary element in human self-comprehension with regard to religious consciousness. Accordingly, the subjective must be apprehended objectively.

There’s no Ghost in the Machine, and it’s no Machine either! 
Re-orienting Philosophy of Mind through ‘Lived Body’                                               

 Shiva Rahman
 University of Calicut, Calicut

Consciousness/Mind - a theme which has dominated the philosophical circles ever since the modern period, still remains too 'hard a problem' to be solved. The core theme has sprouted numerous branches and sub branches and has produced considerable volumes of literature around it over time. However the long journey seems to have got bifurcated into ‘two cultures’ , namely the sciences vs. humanities in the broadest epistemological sense, analytical vs. phenomenological , and materialist–reductionist vs. dualist in the philosophical sense, behavioral-functional vs. enactive-reflexive in the psychological sense and so on, basing the differentiation largely on the idea of objectivity and subjectivity.

When the quest to discern the same phenomenon bifurcates into two traditions, even being aware of their inevitable convergence as to the ultimate goal, such bifurcation should be based on some misjudgments and misconceptions. A close perusal from a first person point of view informs us that any objectification starts with the suspension of that very being, who is attempting the objectification. That very being which serves as the subject has to be objectified as a body in the first instance!. This insight has the clue in it as to the reason for the present impasse that consciousness/mind research is trapped in. It is nothing but the wrong concept of the body in both the traditions. The common mistake has been to view the body as ‘objective body’- the body as seen from an observer’s point of view, where the observer may be a scientist, a physician, or even the embodied subject herself! .Once body is conceptualized thus, then there is no other option than to embrace either dualism or materialist reductionism when it comes to a theory of consciousness/mind, both of which have proved to be futile so far in that endeavor. And interestingly, the former approach has resulted in the famous ‘ghost in the machine’ ideal, and the latter in reducing human existence to the idea of ‘a highly evolved and stupendously complex machine’!

However, capitalizing on its unique insight as to human embodiment, Existential phenomenology can be seen to have responded to this impasse and tackled it successfully. And it is Maurice Merleau Ponty who has contributed heavily in this endeavor. He has drawn a distinction between what is conceptualized in Phenomenology as the ‘lived body’ and what the specatorial stance lead to, termed as the ‘objective body’. Building on Heidegger’s revision of subjectivity as a self-world relation rather than a consciousness apart from the world, Merleau Ponty has elaborated the concept of Dasein through an existential phenomenological rehabilitation of the human body, and provided it as the pre-categorical ground sought by Husserl and Heidegger that crosses between subjectivity and objectivity. He has further adopted and developed the Phenomenological concept of ‘operative intentionality’ as it reveals in the ‘lived body’, to express the continuity of the surface and depth of the world and that of human body.

Thus the Pontian insight as to the primary way of being in the world as a ‘lived body’ -i.e., the body understood as an embodied first person perspective or embodied consciousness as such, is capable of bringing about a reorientation in the field of Philosophy of Mind. A blue print of such a reorientation is intended to be developed in the present paper.

Page 1 of 2