Husserlian Ecology

Human Ontology (Kyoto) 7:9-24 (2001)
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If mind is a creature of adaptation, then our standard theories of intentionality and of mental representation are in need of considerable revision. For such theories, deriving under Cartesian inspiration from the work of Brentano, Husserl and their followers, are context-free. They conceive the subject of mental experience in isolation from any surrounding physico-biological environment. Husserl sought in his later writings to find room for the surrounding world of human practical experience, and a similar expansion of concerns can be detected also in the writings of other later phenomenologists such as Heidegger, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty. But in none of these authors do we find sustained attempts to grapple with the intervolvements of the world of human thought, feeling and action with the environment of human behavior as this is described by physics and biology. Their work can, however, be seen in a new light when conjoined with the ideas on perception and action of J. J. Gibson and Roger Barker, both of whom (independently) conceived their work under the banner of 'ecological psychology.' It is against this background that the term 'Husserlian ecology' is to be understood in this essay.
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