Phenomenology and functional analysis. A functionalist reading of Husserlian phenomenology

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 19 (5):869-889 (2020)
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In the article I discuss functionalist interpretations of Husserlian phenomenology. The first one was coined in the discussion between Hubert Dreyfus and Ronald McIntyre. They argue that Husserl’s phenomenology shares similarities with computational functionalism, and the key similarity is between the concept of noema and the concept of mental representation. I show the weaknesses of that reading and argue that there is another available functionalist reading of Husserlian phenomenology. I propose to shift perspective and approach the relation between phenomenology and functionalism from a methodological perspective, specifically taking into account the functionalist explanatory strategy called functional analysis. I discuss the notion of function in Husserl’s works and Husserl’s idea of functional phenomenology. The key argument I develop is that in functional phenomenology we can find an explanatory strategy which is analogous to the strategy of functional decomposition used in functional analysis. I conclude that the proposed functionalist reading of phenomenology opens a new approach to the integration of phenomenology with cognitive sciences.

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Marek Pokropski
University of Warsaw


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