Oh the lovely way he describes embodiment …
On the Physics of the Emergence of Sensorimotor Control in the Absence of the Brain
Phenomenology since Husserl has always had a problematic relationship with empirical science. In its early articulations, there was Husserl’s rejection of ‘the scientific attitude’, Merleau-Ponty’s distancing of the scientifically-objectified self, and Heidegger’s critique of modern science. These suggest an antipathy to science and to its methods of explaining the natural world. Recent developments in neuroscience have opened new opportunities for an engagement between phenomenology and cognitive science and through this, a re-thinking of science and its hidden assumptions more generally. This is so partly because of the shortcomings of conventional mechanistically-conceived science in dealing with complex and dynamic phenomena such as climate change, brain plasticity, the behaviour of collectives, the dynamics of various microbiological processes, etc. But it is also due to recent phenomenological scholarship focussed on the ‘embodied’ phenomenology of Husserl’s Ideen II and Merleau Ponty’s later ontology of nature which have helped to extend the insights of phenomenology beyond the narrowly ‘human’ to an understanding of nature (which includes the human) more generally. Thus re-contextualised, phenomenology is well placed to examine some of the assumptions that give rise to the reductionism and associated scientism which has characterised conventional science in its approach to the study of natural processes. In light of this, it might be suggested that the ‘anti-science’ of early articulations of phenomenology is more a hostility to the underlying assumptions of science as conventionally understood than to science itself – that it is scientism rather than science that is targeted.