Constructionism and Phenomenology

Seminar in Phenomenology

The aim of the 1997 Seminar in Phenomenology is to provide a thorough critical examination of the idea, currently almost totally dominant in the academic and intellectual worlds of Western Culture, that the familiar world human beings deal with in their life and experience is, somehow, a construct or a product of—i.e. depends for its existence and nature upon—the mind or life of human beings, taken individually or corporately, or some "transcendental" being that is, roughly, mindlike or lifelike.  We will look at some of the major historical and current forms of Constructionism (Constructivism), and then we shall develop a critical response.  

This development will have two stages: (1) An examination of the fundamental elements of Husserlian Phenomenology and of how they were perverted by the presumed `Phenomenology' of Heidegger and others; and (2) an application of the principles of Husserlian Phenomenology to current varieties of Constructionism.

Resources

Constructionism and Phenomenology

The aim of this year's Seminar in Phenomenology is to provide a thorough critical examination of the idea, currently almost totally dominant in the academic and intellectual worlds of Western Culture, that the familiar world human beings deal with in their life and experience is, somehow, a construct or a product of—i.e. depends for its existence and nature upon—the mind or life of human beings, taken individually or corporately, or some "transcendental" being that is, roughly, mindlike or lifelike.  We will look at some of the major historical and current forms of Constructionism (Constructivism), and then we shall develop a critical response.  This development will have two stages: (1) An examination of the fundamental elements of Husserlian Phenomenology and of how they were perverted by the presumed `Phenomenology' of Heidegger and others; and (2) an application of the principles of Husserlian Phenomenology to current varieties of Constructionism.

Topics include:

  • Discussions of passages from Descartes, Hume and Kant: psychological constructionism, transcendental constructionism.
  • The emergence of history as a philosophical principle, and the re-emergence of science.
  • Brief selections from Nietzsche and Mach.
  • The two main `Realist' (non-constructionist) reactions.
  • Husserlian Phenomenology
  • Derrida's Speech and Phenomena
  • The Contempory American Attempt at "the same ole thang."
  • Internal and external realism.
  • Searle's high hopes and why he ends with a whimper, not a bang.
  • The end of Constructionism.  How to construct a table.  How to construct a sexual category.  What can make what?

 

TEXTS:

  1. Berger and Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality
  2. Derrida, Speech and Phenomena
  3. Husserl, The Idea of Phenomenology 
  4. Husserl, Ideas (vol I)
  5. Hume, Hume Selections, ed. C. W. Hendel 
  6. Kant, The Philosophy of Kant, ed. Friedrich (Mod. Library ed.)
  7. Putnam, Representation and Reality
  8. Putnam, Renewing Philosophy
  9. Searle, The Construction of Social Reality
  10. Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition

& Various Handouts

Note: In reading we are focusing explicitly upon the issue of construction, not on a general interpretation of the particular author's overall thought.

 

Click the "Download" link for the complete 5-page syllabus.

Assets

 Download