Phenomenology — German Idealism Workshop

08 Mar 2022 08.00 AM - 11.00 AM Alumni, Current Students, Industry/Academic Partners, Prospective Students, Public
Organised by:
Dimitris Apostolopoulos

Speakers and Abstract


The Normativity of Color: Phenomenological Perspectives

  • Samantha Matherne (Harvard University)

Does color place any demands on us? Is there any sense in which we should respond to it? Do we have reason to engage with color in certain ways? Often, it is assumed that the answer to these questions is ‘no’, and that it is only value-laden properties, like aesthetic or moral properties, which generate demands, shoulds, and reasons. However, I consider two phenomenological accounts of why it only seems that color is normatively neutral, when it, in fact, places demands on us, viz., the accounts defended by Edith Landmann-Kalischer and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Although each defends a different view of the normativity of color, they both develop their views by means of an analysis of the symmetry between color and aesthetic properties. I argue that this strategy reveals something not only about the normativity of color, but also its continuity with aesthetic properties.

Sartre and the Spontaneity of Mind


  • Dimitris Apostolopoulos (Nanyang Technological University)

Sartre’s early account of intentionality argues for the ‘pre-reflective’ and ‘pre-personal’ character of consciousness. As typically read, it challenges the Kantian-Husserlian position that the subject synthetically unifies its experience, but adopts significant elements of Kant’s account of the productive imagination. With a focus on Sartre’s understanding of spontaneity, I argue that his early view of consciousness is better understood as a successor to Kant’s treatment of subjectivity in the ‘Paralogisms.’ Sartre develops Kant’s claims that there is no intuition of spontaneity, that spontaneity justifies a restricted ontological claim about consciousness’s existence as activity, and that spontaneity underlies faculties like synthesis or imagination. These tenets inform Sartre’s original phenomenological account of consciousness’s ‘absolute’ mode of existence. Appreciating Sartre’s proximity to Kant clarifies the structure of his argument and offers an opportunity to reexamine his attitude to transcendental idealism.

 From the Science of Consciousness (1913) to a Phenomenology of Spirit (1922)

  • Clinton Tolley (University of California, San Diego)

In this talk I explore a striking parallel between the development within German Idealism from Kant (and Reinhold) to Hegel and the development within the later phenomenology, insofar as both movements exemplify a transition away from an original preoccupation with a philosophy of 'consciousness [Bewusstsein]', and an increasing interest in topics grouped by Hegel (and by the phenomenologists themselves) in a more encompassing philosophy of 'spirit [Geist]'.  I will chart out the manner in which phenomenology in the 1910s and 1920s seems to expand well beyond the 'official' delimitation given in Husserl's 1913 Ideas, focusing especially on the contributions by Max Scheler in the mid-1910s and then by Edith Stein and Gerda Walther in the early 1920s.  A key question will be whether this transition toward a philosophy of spirit represents a transformation or perhaps even rejection of the earlier Husserlian conception of the method and scope of phenomenology itself.