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Presence to Self: An Essay on the Phenomenal Origins of Intentionality

Frey, Christopher (2011) Presence to Self: An Essay on the Phenomenal Origins of Intentionality. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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My dissertation is an examination of an oft-invoked but insufficiently understood feature of perceptual experience, namely, its presentational character. We open our eyes and a world is before us. Someone strikes a tuning fork, and a sound is simply present. To experience is always, in part, to appreciate phenomenally something as other or as before one; it is always, in part, to appreciate phenomenally a manifest opposition between the self—that before which the other is present—and the other—that which is present before the self. I call this aspect of experiential phenomenality, this universally appreciable but non-sensuous sense of otherness in experience, phenomenal presence.Phenomenal presence is uniquely suited to illuminate the substantive interrelations that exist between two fundamental features of perceptual experience: intentionality and phenomenality. I argue that (i) the intentional features of experience, understood in isolation from experiential phenomenality, neither constitute nor explain phenomenal presence, (ii) phenomenal presence is itself the minimal realization of experiential intentionality, and (iii) the intentionality embodied in phenomenal presence is constitutively and explanatorily prior to all other forms of experiential intentionality. I then show how these conclusions can be brought to bear on the intentional status of our non-phenomenal, mental states.These discussions guide us toward an account of perceptual experience in which experiential phenomenality is competent to direct us intentionally beyond ourselves, independently of the contributions made by the understanding or intellect. Modeling the intentionality and self-awareness involved in perceptual experience upon the intentionality and self-awareness involved in belief and judgment, or insisting that the former depend on the latter obscures both the role of and the contribution made by the exercises of our perceptual capacities. This tendency to assimilate the perceptual and the intellectual realms and to privilege the intellectual leads inevitably to accounts of perceptual experience that either render epiphenomenal the distinctive contributions of experiential phenomenality or neglect those contributions altogether.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGupta, Anilagupta@pitt.eduAGUPTA
Committee MemberHill,
Committee MemberMcDowell, Johnjmcdowel@pitt.eduJMCDOWEL
Committee MemberSchafer, Karlschaferk@pitt.eduSCHAFERK
Committee MemberBrandom, Robertrbrandom@pitt.eduRBRANDOM
Date: 22 June 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 8 April 2011
Approval Date: 22 June 2011
Submission Date: 18 April 2011
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Philosophy
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Experience; Intentionality; Perception; phenomenology; Self; Transparency
Other ID:, etd-04182011-132704
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:38
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:40


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