The Many Streams in Ralph Pred’s Onflow: A Review Essay

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This study of Ralph Pred’s Onflow (MIT Press, 2005) expands on Pred’s arguments and raises doubts about the viability of phenomenology. Showing that Pred’s method is indeed phenomenological, I validate his interpretations of William James as phenomenologist and his critique of John Searle in light of James, which documents the extent to which the role of habit in the constitution of experience is neglected by philosophers. In explaining habit, however, Pred himself reverts to non-phenomenological models drawn from James’ postulate of psycho-physical parallelism. Habit, like causation, poses an unmet challenge to phenomenological methods. In his critique of Gerald Edelman, Pred notes that Edelman falls prey to a metaphysical bias inherent in modern Indo-European languages. But Pred’s acuity in exposing a latent linguistic bias in phenomenological data is a two-edged sword. Revealing an invisible dependence of appearance on language, it casts doubt on the project of getting beyond language to "appearances-in-themselves."
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First archival date: 2015-11-21
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