Neosis is Husserl’s term for the psyche, i.e. mentation whose essence is intentionality. Here, intentionality means that the consciousness is driven by an intent, a being-directed-towards, which he describes in his well-known phrase, “consciousness is always consciousness of” (Lusthaus, 2002). This assumes that consciousness is never blank or pure, but always of something, a table, a chair or an idea. Intentionality also implies for Husserl that the intent of consciousness is the recovery or constitution of meaning (sinn). Therefore, the essence of cognition is its meaning that is being created by a process he called “neosis“. Neosis is a Greek term for ‘knowledge’, which signifies an intent-toward-meaning.
Husserl argues that the process of neosis gives or bestows meaning to raw sensate material (color, texture etc) called Hyle. He argues that the Hyle is not intentional. Intentionality constitutes or appropriates what is non-intentional, and thereby imbues it with meaning. The noetic constitution or appropriation of ‘hyletic data’ is what produces the neoma, or the object as it is cognized. Neosis is the consciousness intending toward its object/meaning, it reacts to and acts upon hyle, and constitutes the neoma or neomata (meaningful object) out of that encounter (Lusthaus, 2002). Husserl defines phenomenology as the scientific study of the essential structures of consciousness.
Few crucial points in understanding Husserlian phenomenology
The central doctrine of Husserl’s phenomenology is the thesis that consciousness is intentional. That is, every act of consciousness is directed at some object or other, perhaps a material object, perhaps an “ideal” object—as in mathematics. Thus, the phenomenologist can distinguish and describe the nature of the intentional acts of consciousness and the intentional objects of consciousness, which are defined through the content of consciousness.
It is important to note that one can describe the content of consciousness and, accordingly, the object of consciousness without any particular commitment to the actuality or existence of that object. Thus, one can describe the content of a dream in much the same terms that one describes the view from a window or a scene from a novel.
Husserl wants to describe sheer experience, without any presuppositions. He argues that we must begin with our experience, a careful and scientific approach to describe the experience without any presuppositions.
Unlike the the classical empiricists, who are atomistic and simplistic in terms of describing the contents of experience into “simple and complex ideas”. The phenomenologists, he argues, simply examine the contents of our experience and begin from there. As a “first philosophy,” without presuppositions, it lays the basis for all further philosophical and scientific investigations.
The First Reduction: the first of phenomenological method of so-called epoche or suspension: Argues that phenomenologists need to “bracket the natural standpoint”, the belief that all our experiences are caused by the natural things in our body. That experience is inside us (a physical world) and that it is casually related to a natural world, not saying that it is wrong or invalid, it just needs to be bracketed. Thus, phenomenologists “bracket” all questions about the reality or truth and simply describes the contents of consciousness. That is called the phenomenological standpoint.
The Second Reduction: Eidetic reduction method concerns the intentionality of the acts, where the attention is projected unto the objects (i.e. whatever appears in consciousness or phenomenon). It is a technique, used to identify components of the given experience or phenomenon. Husserl argues that each experience or phenomenon has a unique essential component to it, distinguishable from all other kinds of phenomena. With this reduction, Husserlian phenomenologists through its imaginative variation attempts to reduce phenomena or experiences to their essential components by removing unnecessary characteristics as it appears in the experience. If a characteristic is changed, and the object remains unchanged, the characteristic is unnecessary to the essence of the object, and vice versa.
Husserl wants a non-natural, non-empiricist experiment of experience, and that is what distinguishes the classical empiricists from the phenomenologists.
Types of intentional acts: perceptions, memory or imagination, whats the structure of the experience of …
Temporal phenomenology: the present cannot be a point in the line. it is impossible to cut them into different entities.
In Ideas: Husserl argues that “my experience must be constituted by a transcendental ego“, here, he had to posit the existence of transcendental ego as the regulator of our consciousnesses, unlike the classical empiricists like Berkeley and Leibniz, who posited god in this place as the agent responsible for regulation, Husserl posits the existence of transcendental ego which was rejected by many later phenomenologists, Sartre in particular.