Newsletter of Phenomenology

Keeping phenomenologists informed since May 2002

Repository | Book | Chapter

Consciousness and first-person phenomenology

first steps towards an experiential phenomenological writing and reading (ewr)

Natalie Depraz

pp. 127-149

For most phenomenological philosophers such a question will appear pointless in virtue of its obviousness. What would be a phenomenological approach that would not be a first-person one? Phenomenology is in the first person or is not at all. Tautological proposition, taken-for-granted question: the answer is in the question, which is rhetorical. And what? Are we actually there? The obvious argumentation of the philosopher is the following: as soon as the transcendental I is mentioned, we have to do with a first person proper. Since Husserl's phenomenology is exemplarily the science of a unique object, the subject, understood as the functional core of emergent lived experiences (which are to be experienced and described), phenomenology is ipso facto a first-person investigation.I would like here to question such a common view. In order to do so, I will (1) put into question the equivalence between the "transcendental" and a first-person experiential instance. While refusing Emile Benvéniste's linguistic assertion, according to which "qui dit Je estJe", while claiming the necessity of a radical first-person experience (first contended by P. Vermersch), I will show that the only way to equate phenomenology and a radically first-person approach is to demonstrate that Husserl's phenomenology is mostly a third-person phenomenology. In order to contend such a view, I will examine first accounts drawn from Ideas I, Lectures about passive synthesis and from Sartre's The Transcendence of the Ego: sorting out the ambivalence of the phenomenological (here Husserlian and Sartrian) posture, its thrusts and limitations, I will be able to suggest a few experiential criteria of a first-person phenomenology. My contention will be to explore the lived experience of the philosopher/phenomenologist while she or he is writing and reading in order to experientially check her or his lived disposition: does she or he "see" what she or he reads? What she or he writes? How is she or he related to his concepts, arguments, descriptions, examples? To what extend does she or he embodies her or his writing and reading? Unfolding the first steps of my first-person phenomenological approach, experiential reading and writing (ERW) will give me the opportunity to share with the audience the experiential quality of our experiential embodiment, as phenomenological researchers.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-81-322-1587-5_11

Full citation:

Depraz, N. (2014)., Consciousness and first-person phenomenology: first steps towards an experiential phenomenological writing and reading (ewr), in S. Menon & A. Sinha (eds.), Interdisciplinary perspectives on consciousness and the self, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 127-149.

This document is unfortunately not available for download at the moment.