Two Conceptions of Phenomenology

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The phenomenal particularity thesis says that if a mind-independent particular is consciously perceived in a given perception, that particular is among the constituents of the perception’s phenomenology. Martin (2002a; 2002b), Campbell (2002), Gomes & French (2016) and others defend this thesis. Against them are Mehta (2014), Montague (2016, chp. 6), Schellenberg (2010) and others, who have produced strong arguments that the phenomenal particularity thesis is false. Unfortunately, neither side has persuaded the other, and it seems that the debate between them is now at an impasse. This paper aims to break through this impasse. It argues that we have reached the impasse because two distinct conceptions of phenomenology—a “narrow” conception and a “broad” conception—are compatible with our what-it-is-like characterizations of phenomenology. It also suggests that each of these two conceptions has its own theoretical value and use. Therefore, the paper recommends a pluralistic position, on which we acknowledge that there are two kinds of phenomenology: phenomenology-narrow (an entity conceived according to the narrow conception) and phenomenology-broad (an entity conceived according to the broad conception). The phenomenal particularity thesis is true only with respect to the latter.
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