Hermeneutic & Phenomenological Tradition (dr. casey, part I)

04/23/2007 – 06/27/2007

I want to say some things about a form of depth psychology that never got institutionalized. We are taking up a forgotten chapter of depth psychology for a new broadened notion of what counts – a third wave that is not Freudian, not Jungian. It is phenomenological/ existential/hermeneutic and there actually was a period of history in which these were being imposed as a new form of therapy in Zurich that was in competition with C. Jung Institute. There was a whole counter-movement to Freud and Jung that we will be reading about. Our effort is to re-explore this neglected existential psychoanalysis as it was referred to in the U.S. in the mid to late -50’s. The great bible of the new method was “Existence” (still a fabulous book) with actual case histories from an existential/ phenomenological view, including the great case of Ellen West by Binswanger which rivals Freud and Jung. In that case history, he takes Heidegger’s notion of ‘being toward death’ and shows how it applied in West’s troubled life in ways that psychoanalysis and analytical psychology were unable to reach. He shows the limits of depth psychology and how the existential approach helped in the case of Ellen West. Existential psychoanalysis looks for dasein (the code for human being) in highly individuated existential structures that each of us lives out uniquely which are no less essential for being existential. I am putting it cryptically because our work is to move between being and existence and in some ways Neitsche is the real pioneer.

Daseins’ analysis by Binswanger has no training programs, is non-international, and non-ambitious and so it never happened like the Freudians or Jungians who put depth psychology on the map but it is just as promising. Its full resourcefulness has yet to be felt. It is important, I feel, to re-experience this non-archetypal way of construing depth psychology. One form is to favor description over analysis. This issue is not to understand why something came into being (causal) but the interesting question is ‘what’ has happened psychically, bodily, or historically and what methods can we devise to describe it in a way that leaves our prejudices aside and moves into phenomenon to sense what it is like from it’s own inside. This is description and is very different from explanation. The great success of natural science is that it is causal but we as Americans have lost touch with the value of sheer description, in other words, taking the time to linger over the infra-structures and micro-structures that inhabit the surfaces of things. Obviously, this has direct implications for field work. But it is important for psycho-therapeutic work, too.  Instead of diagnostic labeling, or at least until that moment, how do we get more fully into the life history of a person? Phenomenological/existential techniques are used to do this. The path is to get better acquainted rather that trying to figure out the pathologic diagnosis, for example, how did Ellen West experience her life from the inside? Description is used to get to a level of detailed infrastructure that we would glide over if we were to be wholly explanatory in our concerns, i.e., only trying to explain how something came to be. What is the state of that person, thing, or animal that we are now confronting in our own lives? How to linger and have the patience of indefinite exploration of that being? These are ways of expressing the primacy of description over explanation.

Husserl in his youth said we must get to a pre-supposition-less knowledge. He thought he could really excoriate any form of pre-supposition including prejudice. Sixty years later, the wiser and more sagely Gadamer says in Truth and Method that there is a prejudice against prejudice. Yes, dogmatic and hurtful prejudices do need to be examined and eliminated but if prejudice means simply judging before the fact with an intuitive understanding of what’s going on, some of it has value. Otherwise we would really be lost if we could not bring any foreknowledge to bear, that is, if we are based in a tradition to which we validly belong…maybe we should explore more deeply that tradition instead of eliminating it.

(Question about projections)

Notice that not every projection is to be eliminated. I know Jung talks about drawing in projections but that is not the same thing as elimination of them.  It is really trying to understand the projections we have been doing and by owning them and taking responsibility for them it shows we are learning from them as a hermeneutical activity. Why, where and in what way did we come to project in this fashion, and I might even keep projecting but at least I would begin to understand for what reason I am doing it. That is the first step towards wisdom.

All that is under the heading of description versus explanation and I am going to edge into the topic now.  I am going to propose the unusual idea that what is new about this form of depth psychology is that it is not the unconscious that is the place we need to go, which we assumed according to Jung, but I am going to argue a revised sense of pre-conscious life that needs to be re-entered and re-examined. It was dismissed by Freud because the pre-conscious can be converted into consciousness, as Freud thought, and it exists as virtual or latent consciousness. So it was just a forestage of consciousness to Freud, in other words the preconscious is a repository of memories of things we have heard, which reflects an oral basis of language acquisition that Freud was playing around with in the 20’s. Language is stored momentarily in the pre-conscious so we have these word memories that are populating our pre-conscious and which act to structure our social life, but those memories sink into the unconscious and become word representations which fester and are subject to distortion and various modes of transformation where we lose control over them. In the preconscious we still have control of them. And that is all that Freud is willing to give to the preconscious.

Jung said our functional character and our process of individuation are based in preconscious life. A generous reading of Jung would show an inkling of the importance of the preconscious that was never theoretically followed through. He really wished us to explore it but it was dropped as a term. This is a mistake, and I am going to argue that Freud and Jung were wrong and we have to pay attention to the preconscious. Existential and hermeneutical philosophy allows us to have access to a new enlivened and revived sense of the preconscious that I think is relevant today. So this is my hypothesis, that there is a new form of depth psychology.

This is a new line of thought for me and I didn’t even have it in the last version of this course, but now it has come together around the thought that the preconscious has to be considered as to furnishing depth which has not been allowed in Freud and Jung. We can understand why they did not go there as follows and why it almost had to be neglected by them.

(Question – is the preconscious like prejudice?) Prejudice was only an example at the level of belief and language of the preconscious. These levels of belief or linguistic expression are two vicissitudes of the preconscious. But, actually, I am thinking of it as a psychical arena or domain, or a scene in Freud’s sense of a dream scene. It is a staging area of the psyche and it is not just something on its way to consciousness or is waiting to be articulated with a lucky twist. I am actually suggesting that it has its own autonomy, life, and phenomenon. I just want to link that up with them and will be discussing it in more detail by thinkers who were not coming out of depth psychology in the usual sense. I am building a hypothesis or bridge that you won’t find in the texts. This is literally experimental for me.

(Our discussion will start with the German phase of thought and move into the French phase, namely Sartre who actually proposed existential psychoanalysis at the end of Being and Nothingness, but it never took hold in Paris just as it didn’t in Zurich.)

The reason that Freud missed it, and therefore Jung who follows him in the early speculation of the character of the unconscious and here we are indebted to Paul Ricoeur, in Freud and Philosophy, who proposes that the matrix out of which depth psychology came was the hermeneutics of suspicion. This phrase encompasses Nietsche, Freud, and Marx which means that they were not willing to give credit to surface structures but felt they had to move beneath that structure to another level called the unconscious. Actually, Marx didn’t call it that, but economic infrastructures are not consciously present to the actors on the scene but under analysis can be uncovered. This is to posit an area of knowledge not accessible to consciousness, but only accessible by extraordinary means called interpretation, whether psychoanalytic, cultural, symptomatic, historical, economic, or class struggles interpreted in terms of the deeper structures of society.  Each is tempted to posit a region either of personal mind or collective mind unavailable and inaccessible, I would say. This is a powerful, necessary, and crucial historical development between 1842 all the way up to Jung around 1910. It is a great period of the hermeneutics of suspicion and the positing of the unconscious beneath consciousness. So, the preconscious was missed out of necessity in the practice of a suspicion towards the surface structure in order to go to a deeper level that could not be reached through consciousness or preconsciousness.  By 1954 Chomsky rediscovers another kind of depth structure in his theories of syntax, which is the syntactic structure of language. So, the tradition goes on intermittently and doesn’t stop with depth psychology. It is a valid way of proceeding, and I am saying that it had to be. It was good that it happened.

An antechamber of consciousness sounds uninteresting to these thinkers, as they were getting down to this really deep stuff and making discoveries about things that people never thought about, like dream logic. So, what a temptation to downplay the preconscious on the way to the unconscious in depth philosophy! This is where Nietsche comes in as one of the credible figures in the hermeneutics of history.  Let’s go back to a statement on page 651, surely you do. Freud said that the unconscious is the true psychical reality. And, similarly, Jung would say the collective unconscious is the true psychical reality. The preconscious is not where the true reality was to be found. Freud took it seriously but circumvented it in the end.

So that is the hermeneutics of suspicion. I am going to look at hermeneutical optimism. This is where we trust consciousness, and no longer suspect it. We trust pure consciousness and this is Edmund Husserl in a nutshell. If only we could get to pure consciousness by the right road then it will lay itself bare as translucent in appearance and as an absolute sphere. One structure that will be self-evident to the phenomenological investigator is called intentionality. Intentionality is that structure of pure consciousness that we can trust that is always there before us if only we have eyes to see. I will read a couple of characteristic statements: “intentionality is an essential peculiarity of the sphere of mental processes taken universally in that all mental processes in some manner or other share in it. It designates a whole stream of mental processes as the stream of consciousness and as the unity of any one consciousness.” It is proof that Husserl who had the exactly opposite idea of valorizing pure consciousness. By 1900, and working in isolation and probably dimly aware that unconsciousness was being taken care of, decided to move deliberately way over to consciousness as something to count upon. This is hermeneutical optimism. It presents itself with evidence, in German, which means self-evident and it cannot be denied. It stares you in the face.

So now we have an interesting drama developing. We have the hermeneutics of suspicion and then the optimists but each ignores the preconscious. So then the preconscious gets lost. It really fades. It has never been given full justice in depth psychology or phenomenology. In its later phase, it will be discovered, though not named and my argument here is that when Sartre talks about pre-reflective consciousness or Merleau Ponty talks about lived bodily experience, they are taking about the preconscious. So we have a way to collect together disparate directions that we might think are at war with each other. They are best friends but philosophically at odds. Maybe each is giving his own version of the preconscious that was missed by Husserl, the great founder, and missed by Heidegger. By the time we reach the French phase we will reach the full force of what we will have to call the preconscious, even if they were calling it other things. Each postulated the preconscious in a very rich way, and only now can we afford the luxury of looking back in this post-modern moment to understand what these guys were doing. Let’s think about it in this program this way.

Here my argument is that the preconscious, as odd man out, is in that awkward middle position which often loses out in the antagonistic struggle: conscious and unconscious have an unholy alliance, ego suppresses and the unconscious forms. So the seemingly innocuous odd man out, and this is a bell hooks kind of logic, gains power and resistance at the margin itself. The preconscious is characterized by four dimensions: 1) Psychical, 2) Bodily, 3) Linguistic, and finally 4) Understanding.  Psychical includes tacit memories and tacit understandings that are coming to the surface but are not there yet. A sense of how things are, as in Heidegger’s mood, or that which Merleau Ponty calls the “habit body” are psychical ways in which we are in touch with what is happening to us. We bring in the habit body pre-consciously and we adjust it in various ways in terms of the momentary requirements. Or, linguistically in the way that words arise from somewhere, not from nowhere. Chomsky may be right that syntactical structures are unconscious but words do actually come from a virtual space that we can almost feel is there hovering before us. You know how that is when writing or speaking and the words are coalescing like a cloud? Well, that is preconscious linguistic awareness, and this is not cloudy thinking but a cloud of rich words that you can pull out of the atmosphere. We touched on pre-understanding in advance, on the edge, almost there. This is not nothing, it means something…it is powerful. We should not reject it because it is less than clear. Un-clarity can be very valuable, because we are not talking about being confused. It is the right kind of ambiguity, and that is the trick. Where the right ambiguity is to be found and respected in our lives.

Now all of this, I think, leads us to a new sense of depth. Not the hidden depths but one which lies just beneath the surface just as Wittgenstein says, the depths are on the surface. You don’t have to go down so deep as we have been told according to classical methods of interpretation but perhaps linger at the margins of the surface itself. A new sense of surface analyses! The surface is where most of the action is. But the surface is not just the surface, because it has its own depth, like the skin is not just the epidermis but a whole living organ and it goes down or something analogous to this. Body, skin and flesh are not the unconscious since they feel the world from the way that one is situated in the world at any given day at any given moment, through a poly-sensory connection (if only I can respect it enough to get to the depth of flesh.) Phenomenology takes a new turn once we get there, to what I am calling preconscious depth and to what Merleau Ponty called bodily depths.

Spontaneous actions come from the preconscious like most acts of freedom.  For example, as Sartre says, “human beings are entirely or not free at all” and we must choose and your choice itself will be a commitment to freedom or its lack. The preconscious is the staging are of free action. It is where it begins to percolate and come out in our behavior. Most of the time, our awareness of place is preconscious. We take it for granted but we are aware of it as it comes into the preconscious and circulates. Place and the preconscious have a deep affinity for each other. (question – What it feels like to have a particular bone structure, for example, from within. I am just saying there are several analogues, and this is just one.) Sartre would say that the preconscious is not a part of me that can be objectified by reflection. I can objectify almost anything else, and can even objectify an unconscious part of myself if I talk about it in therapy, literally turning it into an object of discourse and discuss it but the preconscious, being spontaneous, is that which will elude that objectification or representation of any kind. The distinction between I and Me (according to Herbert Mead and Sarte in The Transcendence of the Ego) is the persona that is the reflected result of perceptions of myself (or others) of me insofar as those are consolidated into personal identity: Jung points out it is only a mask, a construct for “the active I” where we generate the sense of self from within despite the objectifications that we or others make of us. It is the “I” of the IAM. The more interesting question is, who is doing that, and the answer is the preconscious that is making the very objectification itself of itself. That is not an unconscious self because I know that who even as I am doing it. That is my “me” but I am not fooled by this. The I that is writing this is someone else who is available preconsciously and cannot be defined. At any given point in time,  I cannot tell you who or where I am…I am here but exactly who is here? It is very ambiguous.

One last quotation from Sartre before we turn to more sober matters: my favorite quote is “what matters is what I make of what others make of me”.  That sums everything up. My reflective self that I carry out in front of me is like a mask which is largely what others have taken me to be. So when DuBois as a child is playing with his friends and is not conscious of being any different, although he is black and they are white, when one of the white girls refuses to play because he is black, it is when he becomes aware of being designated, confined, and defined by a single Other’s perception in a wry, hostile way. A single glance is enough to make me aware of an aspect that I myself had not been aware of. I become “a me” for others and it does not have to take a lot of time. My research is on the power of the sudden glance to completely change a life by a definitive moment, such as Dubois describes in the Souls of Black Folks. This is what happens to a very special part of us, the preconscious sense, which is spontaneous and open and available but which can be closed down very quickly. It is very vulnerable and is also the source of our freedom. It has marvelous creativity but can be foreclosed by attitude, opinion, or look and then we are stopped in our tracks. And that is our preconscious depth here at stake.

Are you preconsciously vulnerable? There is a mixture of passivity and activity both at once, and you can’t always sort things out all at once. Pure consciousness is pure activity, is what the ego would like to believe.  It thinks it is nothing but activity, but the truth is elsewhere. But we know we are in passivity as well, in ways that are crucial.

Jeff brings up the analogy of light. Casey says we have three degree levels of illumination: the brightly lit circle where things are completely self-evident (high-noon, the perfect insight, the complete creature) and then we have a region of dim but not completely obscured awareness, sometimes called horizontal awareness, for example we know this campus is leading down to the ocean preconsciously and that it is going further up into the mountains. And then we have a third area which is completely unavailable: the other side of the mountain, the ocean, the unconscious, or the un-illumined. These three domains of depth psychology are in terms of comparative degrees of luminosity. Heidegger says the task is to find the right clearing, not the traditional one, but the clearing that will occur in the middle of the dark forest when suddenly there is a glade. The German word means both lighting and clearing…coming across a patch of light. Being occurs in the clearing off of the beaten path. It is the moment of moving into an unexpected illumination. This is ontological and is closely related to the way we are talking but this is a program in depth psychology, although some ontology will be helpful here and there, referring to Jeff’s question of progressive degrees of luminosity. (I would ask, and here Tiana writes, if the preconscious is like the sunrise and the sunset times of day, as in the time just before consciousness and the time before unconsciousness). 

For now, I want to remark on two terms in the course description called “Foundations” and “Traditions” which is part of the task of this course. I just want to remark that foundations doesn’t mean building blocks or solidity as in our usual image of foundations. In a postmodern world we have come to see that foundational awareness of any kind is actually subject to partiality, premises, intuitive leaps, in other words foundations are not solid and secure. This is due to the combined work of Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Derridas, and Roherty (sp?)who just died at Stanford last week, all of whom argued that foundationalism in anything has to be put into question. Beware! We are not going to get to any bedrock of psychology. We are all foundationalists in our deepest soul because we would like to find bedrock. You can see it in my enthusiasm for the preconscious in that I was putting forth a new foundation, and even as I said it I realized I was engaging in an old fantasy. In a postmodern moment, after deconstruction. I don’t really want to say that. I only want to say that here is a new way of thinking about familiar things which does not portend to be the last word. We, as Westerners, sold ourselves the myth that there could be a single foundation, in the same sense of monotheism according to Hillman, who deconstructs the monotheistic passion that has brought the West a lot of grief and wars. That is the form of foundationalism that we need to worry about. A Terrible Love of War by James Hillman is about the deep alliance between monotheism and war. I just want to mention how we need to be wary of this temptation.

Secondly, the idea of tradition is very powerful in a program like this as we are coming from a set of beliefs and practices. But Gadamer will make the point that we ourselves, at this moment, are carrying forward those traditions because we produce it, we ourselves produce the traditions. Depth psychology is not hovering in the archives or the library, but we are as teachers and students in this program producing and modifying depth psychology…as non-passive recipients, we are affirming the beliefs and practices in our own way. It is worth thinking about and in this sense we are producing tradition. I think it is relevant to a program like this that lives from a certain set of traditions that appear as text that are relevant to our lives and how we weave the texts into our lives, and how we make them pertinent to our research. We are here to experimentalize the text of the tradition. This course is implicitly about this because it focuses on a lot of tough texts, and how can they be put into action in fieldwork, research, writing and thinking. The word “experience” comes from the Greek root of per (as in perilous) which means “trial with danger”. We can’t predict the outcome! We can’t simply say traditions are given to transmit, which won’t serve us when it comes to the work of this program and our lives, the work being how to experimentalize (parallel to experience) or how to make our life into an experiment in new ways of thinking. So there we are for the first morning. The world is waking up and we will gather again at 2:00 o’clock after lunch.

HERM002 = Second half of the first day:[1]

So let me say a few words about Edmund Husserl who had an extraordinary biography. The uncanny and constructive thing is how Freud and Husserl were close, not in a genealogical sense, but in the way their lives were parallel. Both were born in Moravia of Jewish origin, Freud was born in 1956 and Husserl in 1959 and was three years older. Freud lived until 39 and Husserl until 38 and both died in the increasing militarization and tragedy of Germany. Each was persecuted; Husserl was driven from a teaching position and denied tenure, while Freud was driven from Vienna to London altogether. There are deep parallels going on here. Early on, the families of each, unknown to each other, moved to Vienna sensing that their children would have better educations than in what is no Czechoslovakia. Husserl excelled in mathematics and Freud in medicine and both were on their way to becoming distinguished contributors in their fields and had they stayed in their fields they would have been first rank in their fields. Husserl wrote his first dissertation on the character of the functions on the support of the history of mathematics, a brilliant breakthrough at the age of 28. But each ran into a defrocked priest in Vienna named Franz Brentano, a powerful and influential character who was re-thinking philosophy from the ground up. He re-revolutionalized those fields just by thinking things through. Freud studied with Brentano between ’74 and ’78 and Husserl studied between ’84 though ’86 (ten years later). They never met but were in the same classrooms with the same teacher and living in the same town. As far as I know, they read very little of each other if anything which makes the parallel uncanny. Brentano published a book while Freud was in his classroom in 1874 called “Psychology from an Empirical Point of View,” a great book although long forgotten and in that book for the first time describes this action of Intentionality. It is the awareness to be conscious of something as something. So, it just means I am aware of a person, object, thing, or event but as what it is at the time I am aware of it. So I am absolutely grasping it in its meaning for me, its content. My mind is nothing but a continual outward directedness of my thought towards those things of which I myself can be a part. If I see myself in the mirror, I am intending myself. If I think of myself without a mirror, I am still intending myself. The me that we spoke of in Sartre is the same thing. I am an object. Intentionality according to Brentano is just what the mind does all the time. It is nothing but intentional whether we are dreaming in reverie or doing math or painting. It is not to be confused with heavy handed intention, or having volition to do something. That is just having an intention to do X. This goes beyond volition, beyond any mental activity or thinking of anything. It is meaning-grasping or finding the world meaningful around me all the time. We are doing it so much we never notice it. Husserl called it a polythetic mind, aware of all these things at once and each is an intentional thing for me all at once. Brentano is responsible for re-introducing respect for the autonomy of mental activity in the face of, and this is a great moment in the history of psychology, the height of experimentalism…the great names of all guys who worked in labs who were turning out quantified data often based upon bodily correlations between psychical states and bodily states. It was a great period of physiological psychology. It was in this milieu that the lonely voice of Brentano outside of the laboratory said there was something more interesting than that stuff and in his own way starts to create his own world that was being totally missed by the official state-sanctioned, well-funded laboratory work of its day. This is parallel to the work of cognitive and earlier behavioral psychology in our academic American world today and is as if it came around again a century later!  So the money is going into experimental studies on the basis of cognitive or neurological models.  Psychology in the official academic sense and not depth psychology, notably, has once again taken this drift. We have to ask ourselves, “Who is the new Freud or Husserl, or who is the new Jung who can see through this? Even better, where is a new Brentano who can see through it initially? These experiments don’t tell us how to live in the world, rather they tell us how to live in confined and isolated circumstances but little else. So, there is the predicament. Somehow the thought that the mind was an intentional activity caught young Freud and young Husserl’s eyes…they must have thought it was wild and what was there to do with it. In a simple sentence, we could say depth psychology was born from the very simple and basic idea that mental activity is intentional all the time, not as brain activity, not random activity but as directedness to mental content.

And just to show you the effect, I cite to you the first sentence in Interpretation of Dreams, the Bible of depth psychology. Chapter 1, 1st paragraph, 1st sentence “In the pages that follow I shall bring forward the truth that there is a psychological technique which makes it possible to interpret dreams and that, if that procedure is employed, every dream reveals itself as a psychical structure which has a meaning and in which can be inserted at an assignable point the mental activities of waking life.” And here we have a reformulation of intentionality…right there. It is a weak transcription but it is taking Brentano’s insight, there is no citation and it is not plagiarism but a creative transformation and putting it into dream interpretation. Then, while we are on the subject, “I shall further endeavor to elucidate the processes to which the strangeness and obscurity of dreams are imbued and to deduce from these processes the nature of the psychical forces by whose concurrent or mutually opposing action dreams are generated.”  So what he is saying is that once we get clear with waking life, its intentional character, and then we can go down into unconscious life where primary processes can be found and detected behind the dream…the psychical forces that generate dreams. So we move from description to explanation in those two sentences. 

Interpretation of Dreams consists of six chapters of descriptions of dream life and a 7th added to explain how dreams are actually formed from these deep unconscious forces, so called meta-psychology, because he realized he had to go beyond the descriptive surface when working with patients in order to go below the unconscious in the way that we discussed this morning to find the explanatory factors that bring dreams into the form they take. So as with any great book, the opening says it all, if we could only understand it. It is really all there. In the case of Freud, we have a rather slow incorporation, digestion, thinking through of Brentano’s ideas, a checkered career. First he is moving out of the laboratory and then he is moves out of his medical practice and the practice of aphasics, which became a specialty for which he is very well known, and which his last scientific publication was based upon this. He took great risks and went into psychotherapeutic practice to discuss hysteria. So, Freud’s way winded that way out of his medical matrix and in 1897 he wrote to Fleiss, and I quote that letter which is well worth reading, I think Sept. 22nd of 1897, where it says “now that I am going over from medicine to psychology, I feel that I am reaching my original goal which was to become philosophical” and pursue philosophical interest in the psychological world. This is a very interesting statement, which is revealing, indeed. So Freud thought of himself, at that moment, as a philosophical psychologist, which I think works without any doubt. That is the way he put it. It was a pretty telling choice of words.

The 1980’s were also formative years for Husserl’s conception of phenomenology. So with the beautiful & creative work being done in all of the arts as well as in philosophy and psychology,   Freud and Husserl were subject to the end of the century’s mania and had the wherewithal to do something really creative about it by revolutionizing their respective fields. It is no surprise that their great works were published in 1900. Freud updated his book which was published in November of 1899, he pushed the date up to 1900 but Husserl published “Logical Investigations” in 1900. These were independent publishing events in which neither book sold more than 400 copies in the following five years. But still, Phenomenology and Psychoanalysis have a parallel in that each founding figure sought a method at all costs. It was not just a new conception of mind or a new way of thinking about the psychical, but in particular each was working hard to find a method that would replace the usual scientific method. In many ways their most distinctive contributions were deriving workable methods, in Freud’s case Free Association. In Husserl case it was Bracketing, Free Variation, and Clarification of essence, which are all closely related to each other. Weaving its way between these methods is something similar to Jung’s notion of Active Imagination. Jung’s contribution is not only Word Association, but anything you can do or say in and out of the therapeutic session which counts as active imagination. So “dreaming the dream forward” goes on in your life as the ramification and amplification of dream images. Free association takes it out into the larger life world of the patient, and is not just immediate association which similarly relates to Husserl’s notion of free variation and imagination because Husserl argues that you need to consult other cultural sources than your own training has been. You need to read other literature, in other words, you need to think differently.

I see that in myself as a form of active imagination. So Jung enters the mix with his method certainly after Freud and Husserl, and he could be situated between them with the idea of active imagination. Let me sum up what I see in common with the founding of depth psychology and that of phenomenology which occurred at the same historical moment by intellectual cousins. Sometimes you have real cousins that are very creative, like Birkholm and Proust who were literally first cousins, and it actually happens in families, but in this case we are speaking intellectually. What they have in common is that instead of getting fixated on a law or formula and getting it “right” or “measurable” as in the royal sciences of physics and math, yes, instead of all the passion and obsession of Western thinking and towards the end of all that, Freud and Husserl, who knew their science from the inside out, were able to find their way around it by taking an insight (whatever it may be) and varying it…amplifying it, as Jung would say, across other domains. They took their insights further into other domains (of science) to imagine freely across these different domains in order to find out how that first insight works, i.e., how does it reflect the insights and facts of those other domains (be it cultural experience, science, whatever the point is the issue of free variation). Free variation is the key. Husserl says you have to loosen up the stranglehold of the fix the western mind has had of the perfect structure or formal essence and investigate the free margins of that structure in order to find a structure more adequate to the different domains. Wittgenstein radically proposed that there is no fixed essence ever, instead we have language games that talk about the same topic which overlap as conversations, and then we can find common threads but no essences as scientists, artists or others. This is a very special contribution of Wittgenstein in his great book “Philosophical Investigations” and Rougherty, who died at Stanford last week, and who brought this down to American earth by working it into Conversational Therapy. By talking things out people can get much further than they used to think they could when they dismissed ‘mere’ conversation as something beneath their dignity. But these men, in the wake of Freud, Husserl, and Jung, have now broadened the whole methodology to include what we call conversational dialogue or dialogical philosophy writ large. Counsel, we could say. We can relate this to some things we have studied in other courses here that are pretty relevant to what we are talking about in this discussion.

Let’s go back to Husserl and say some things about his method. We share a fact world and take it for granted. It has official sources that usually come from the royal sciences (biology and neurology in our day). The official royal sciences sanction a certain set of facts about human and animal beings, and these are true facts. It is important to recognize that it is good science, and precisely because it is ‘royal’ it takes on the characteristic of being a cultural arbiter in our era, or any era for that matter The natural attitude sanctions an officially received body of discoveries and includes the majoritarian sociological ways of thinking that also act as cultural arbiters, as the “right” way of seeing that we, as legitimate citizens, should verify and affirm. No one has to tell us this, and they don’t, we just live off of this fact world. The fact world in Heidegger is shown to be the world of inauthenticity because these things were never your own discoveries, it is only received wisdom. We all have to do it, the point is how do we accept it and allow it to be true for its own domain, and yet think around the edges of it creatively? The young Wittgenstein said it best, ‘the world is everything that is the case”…that is the fact world. So, this world includes sociological facts, psychological facts, you name it, newspapers and magazines are full of factoids…we human beings are fact-generating, fact-confirming, and fact-believing factoids. We might as well be robots, or at least we are on the way. Phenomenology is the effort to suspend the stranglehold of the fact world and the whole massive attitude that creates it. It is an enormous undertaking and it is risky. Husserl was aware of that, and he wanted us to become conscious of the way we are unthinkingly replicating and re-affirming the world passively. We are taking it for granted as real; we really don’t think it through. The last person to be a universal genius who could think of everything that was actually happening to the world, the earth at one time, was probably Leibniz who died in 1750. So those days are long gone. Here was a person who might be able to think through for the first time every culture deeply, Leibniz was one of the first Western intellectuals to take Eastern culture seriously.

Husserl thought of our condition as social and epistemological pathology. We are in it so thick we don’t even know we are sick. We are so full of it that we do not know that things have gone awry. That is the sad fact of the fact world. You see we can really go to town on the notion of facticity.

What are we going to do? Husserl thought, at first, that he could package forms of blind belief and then push them gently into the sheath in order to sink forever. So he packaged “psychologism” which is a belief that psychologists tell us what the ultimate truth is about mental activity. And that is the last word…Husserl showed us the idea that psychology could ‘wrap up’ the way our minds work is, itself, a fantasy. “Historicism” was the next package that Husserl discussed. As many of you know the late 19th C was the great age of history and the history of the earth and its species was thematized once and for all. And yet that became, itself, a form of blind belief…that everything is historically generated with epics and eras which did not allow for evolutionary leaps. The third form of blind belief is called “Scientism” (read Moran for all three of these) which is the idea that science wraps things up neatly and forever. It going down to Wal-mart, buying the package and taking it out of the store. Husserl then realized that this was not good enough. We needed something more encompassing. So he devised bracketing.

“In this description of the world from the natural standpoint” under Phenomenological Reduction, Husserl performs an example of bracketing. In this description in 1913 he picks out an accessible aspect of the natural attitude by talking about our ordinary life-world esconcement in the fact-world. We can all relate to it and this we call common sensical realism (a fourth form of the fact world). The world is simply there to be validated, observed, to move through. Simply there, that is the core of it, and we should take it for granted, or present-at-hand to use a phrase from Heidegger. It is the very beginning of the end because we don’t question the appearances of things. So begin here at the level of what appears undoubtable. The point is not to doubt it, however, unlike Descartes who would have questioned if things are really here at all. He was deeply cynical or skeptical. If God were all powerful he could have arranged a set of deceptive appearances and yet varnished them with apparently plausible appearances. That is not Husserl’s project. Things are perfectly real, the issue is what to do with that set of beliefs. The issue is to practice doing, taking what we take for granted into another modality or framework. It is always an issue of method. It goes to the depth our acceptance of the world or otherwise. Everything is methodology. Do I take it for granted or can I take it somewhere else?

He distinguishes between 7 or 8 levels of the fact world, as a series of expanding circles (something like the koshas in yogic philosophy).  (levels of coherent reality). The point of this is to show us how we are so well-located in the center of all this. Yes, all that is true but can you take any layer or any part of any layer and suspend like a cat walking across this room as a random natural fact and suspend its being as a merely biological natural entity and not let it be a mere fact that is crossing the room but open our minds to another sense, perhaps the presence of the animal world to which I need to open my mind to. Husserl allows us to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. I am opening my mind or psyche to other aspects hovering around the facts themselves or that cause us to drift from the fact towards something metaphysical. It is a momentary liberation, as exampled in Bachelard through image and dream, which has the effect of loosening up our minds for the purpose of trans-valuation. All doubting and rejecting is absent to effect a certain suspension, sometimes he says “disconnection” or a “light switch turning on and off” where the fact world is still there in the dark but now I am free to sense something that I feel without the visual appearance. The best analogy for this disconnection is bracketing. I put the fact in the bracket, suspending the literal fact, so that I can appreciate other aspects of that being. This is to discover its essence. The bracketing allows for a different focus, but it is not erased or replaced or getting to a better or more abstract fact. It is still what it is, but we now appreciate it in its phenomenal being. It has a special valence of meaning that really comes forward. Phenomenal presence and presence as phenomenon is the paradox. Something phenomenal can happen in the ordinary then. It is not longer an object, but it becomes a phenomenon. To be an object is to be without brackets, indifferently. But to be a phenomenon is something else. Maha-cat…natural energy that we no longer take for granted. This has relevance to field work in that it requires this attitude…to allow something extraordinary to rise from the mundane, taken-for-granted experience. The point is to see the phenomenal in the phenomenon. Your attitude changes, and Husserl is trying to accomplish Freud’s “evenly hovering attention” equivalently except that it is freely hovering in order to reach a unique form of consciousness that trans-values the natural attitude which is a concern of our full freedom. Trans-valuing is the German verb coined by Nietsche which had only been in the language for twenty years and Husserl uses it to represent that freedom which is repressed and unacknowledged in the fact world. The rub is this….that by changing this attitude I realize a form of freedom otherwise unavailable to me, and that freedom allows me to trans-value the world before my very eyes and see it anew.

“A holy un-coerced” act in that you have to do it yourself to secure epoche or a certain refraining of judgment, free of the unshakeable conviction of truth. I get to the true cat after I bracket the natural cat. I allow what it means to be a cat to come forward to me with its own illumination.  To sum up, appearances are facts which we continue to be conscious of yet go beyond. Heidegger had the advantage of several more decades to put it in a better way “to let things be”, that seemingly innocent thing is philosophically profound. To just let them be the beings they are, be the witness of that appearance. It is not passive in that you have to do this actively so that this phenomenal essence comes forward. It is an uncanny combination of activity and passivity. It is not “anything goes” or indifference. It is very concerned to witness in a precise way how things are, i.e., the being-ness of things, which begins to sound like Heidegger. So it is easy to see the Husserlian origins of Heidegger’s thoughts. All the Heideggerian language is in Husserl but is pedagogical in character and lacks the poetic phrasing that Heidegger commands. Still, the basic thought is here in Husserl, written in one summer in 1913, an amazing year for intellectuals. In 1913, people knew the 1st world war was going to break out and people were aware of the tragedy to come. This unleashed an incredible outpouring of creativity in the arts and literature by people who were not sure the world would last or that they would last. A book was published called “1913” about this, and I suggest you read this. And here is Husserl in southern Germany, not a part of any metropol or artistic world, but he, too, is sensing the apocalypse. If we survive, he seemed to be saying, here is how we can go on. A survival guide, so to speak. I mention this because I feel we are in a similar period like this right now, they come up every so often in human history, but if we survive there are chances that some very creative things are happening in the world today in response to the calamity that may be upon us. I do believe we are at a very serious crisis. Husserl thought when Hitler came to power, it changed his writing style and wrote “Crisis of European Sciences” which is a response to the rise of totalitarian regimes. I feel we are getting close to something like this today. Those who feel this will resonate with Husserl.

04_CaseyII_002 01:21:21 Student Questions or Comments

Tiana: I had the sense from Dr. Erik Craig that bracketing was something you left out in order for the phenomenon to come forward, the inverse of what we are saying here. Maybe I got it wrong.

Casey: That is another way to construe it. You didn’t get it wrong, I am sure you got it right because that is one of the other ways of discussing it and understanding it. I just prefer to think of it in another way.

Tiana: I like this way of thinking about it. It is like the cat is always in relation to everything else. You are not severing your relation to it.

Casey: In fact, more than anything, you actually even allowing an even more intense nexus of relation to come out. Before it seemed like just some idiosyncratic thing I have about cats, either I hate them or I love them and I would have dismissed it. This doesn’t fit the orthodox attitude towards animals. This allows for a more complex or subtle relationship to emerge.

Tiana: It is interesting we are using the word “disconnect” in the language when the effect is actually to connect even stronger.

Casey: Very well put. You are disconnecting in order to reach out and reconnect more vividly with the phenomenon. Exactly and everything is fair game! Each of us can do our little bit in the fieldwork. It is encyclopedic but even Husserl knew that the world was not going to form a phenomenological army and proceed to march behind him. So it was left up to a few research students here and there, like Helmuth Plessner, Laughing and Crying. (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1970)  an otherwise a simple German student, who wrote a major thesis on the phenomenology of laughing and crying. What is really happening here? Freud was interested in this. This is fringe phenomenon on the edge between different zones of our lives. And so Plessner said, OK and he picked up a phenomenon that was resistant to natural scientific reduction and went into it further using phenomenological method. So we need to look into our lives and ask what is it in my life that is shadowed over or fallen under the cloak of official thought and how can I loosen the cloak a bit? That would be phenomenology right there. It is the same thing that draws you to do a particular fieldwork. The idea of field is at stake here. There is a whole history of thinking around what field phenomenon is, formulated by Gestaltists who were students of Husserl in the 1920’s and then it got transplanted to America as Gestalt psychology and therapy but it comes from Husserl as a plane of phenomenal evidence rather than being stuck in customary places. A field of being…you can trace out the history of gestalt psychology to the earliest lectures of Husserl’s phenomenology. So think about that when you talk about fieldwork. Let happen things that are genuine presences for which our customary categories are not adequate, to bring them into the light or clearing.

End of 04_Casey II-002

[1] A student asks Casey to describe bracketing again. It is a three step answer: First, a factoid taken for granted that we should question, for example, bracket a standard belief of yours, one that is based upon the questioned existence of things/events in time, e.g., the claim that the medical body is the actual body. That is an example of what Husserl would say fits in the natural epoch that we should question phenomenologically. Second, clarify (not classify) intuition, for example if someone likes the color red, focus on this and see if you can get to a clearer perception of its essences. What is red? Or, contrast this experience with a sound as in to describe a color of such and the sound of such. What is the felt difference between experiencing the color and experiencing the sound, how does it feel in its difference.  To put contrasting intuitions into words is not that easy.  Third, free variation, which is the deliberate proliferation of examples in order to detect their de-congruencies (overlaps), that is, what is selfsame in them, their common essence?  It does not have to be tangible, it could be soul or love if soul or love is taken according to its socially sanctioned, common meaning and from that sense we start to bracket and not from your personal sense. It has to be a part of some ‘taken for granted’ attitude. If we were to believe that love is just one kind of thing and nothing else, then we would be sanctioning the natural attitude and the majority’s position. This is trying to sensitize oneself first to what is taken for granted and to suspend an unquestioning adherence to it. This is the point, to get down just below the level of ordinary belief and see how that frees up some space to think around the edges of the unquestioned core belief. That is what we are doing and, yes, it is actually the most difficult. The first method is also the most crucial. The other two are more relatively doable. We will dwell on the most famous and the most strenuous to perform. That is just the way it falls out, but are there any questions about this morning’s talk left over like dangling participles? If not, we will proceed with Husserl.

Note: see “The Social and Political Body” by T. Schatzi, W. Natter.