Sylvia:I am glad to see you widening this to the other lists.You are quite right. This is a complex topic.I just finished reading an essay on Husserl’s intentionality and its basis in his theory of temporality, most specifically on “protention.” The author concludes by suggesting protention, intentionality, and intersubjectivity [!] as the “foundation of phenomenology.” And this is presented as Husserl.I mention this to note that the intricacies and variations in the interpretations of Husserl continue. The essay was difficult but left me thinking about its application to my work as a phenomenological gestalt therapist.Phil will answer for himself, although I find his understanding of this field sophisticated. He’s read beyond Husserl. Actually, like many, many, people who use the phenomenological method and its terminology, he does not use the term “intentionality” in a strictly Husserlian way. (Or at least a way that includes the complexity and richness of Husserl’s analysis.)I thought I said I’d let Phil answer for himself. :)I also like Spinelli’s distillation of Husserl’s method. Yet I think we can do better. I think he actually does do better in his most recent book, Existential Psychotherapy. He adds noetic and noematic analysis. This is an extra nuance.Dan=On Jul 24, 2010, at 7:47 PM, croc...@aol.com wrote:
Hi Dan,First let me say that I think this discussion is much wider than studying Stein, and that we should post this particular discussion (and similar others) on the Gestalt_L and AAGTMembers list. I imagine there are many other people would might not be interested in Stein but would be interested in this. Thus I'm posting this to the GSTALT-L list.Now to respond to your post.Yes, I'm also certain Phil knows that Brentano's version is "awareness always intends an object." But I do not think he understands that and how Husserl's meaning diverges from this, given what he says about it the post to which I responded. In fact, I think there is widespread confusion about what the term means in Husserl and its relevance to Gestalt therapeutic processes.. Phil's statement of it does not reveal the difference. I don't know about the other thinkers you mention, but I do know that Husserl's concept of intentionality is dynamic, involving movement from examination of present experience to other contents that are suggested (reached) by present experience. This is what we do much of the time in Gestalt therapy:exploring and experimenting with present experience in ways that lead to what is "connected" to what in the client's living, and thus to the ground in his actual living of his responses and interactions with others.It's important not to forget that Husserl was both a Platonist and a mathemetician, and that from both of the elements in his background his orientation would be to follow out what present implies (reaches toward) and leads the mind to other contents. In Plato, for example, it is impossible to understand the meaning of "justice" without examining the nature of "human," "society," wisdom," "courage," etc. Mathematicians do not simply contemplate geometrical figures or mathematical statements, but rather, raise questions about their relationships to other figures or develop proofs of the statements by subjecting them to other statements and principles in the wider field of mathematics. Similarly, if someone says in a Gestalt session, "I'm scared," we immediately want to know the answer to "Scared of what?" And if the client says "I'm scared of my father," we instantly want to know "What does the father do that scares you," or "How does he scare you?" or "How do you react when you are scared of him?" etc. We do not simply dwell on a given revelation, but engage in a variety of processes to discover how this fact operates in the person's life and in his relationships with others.The important thing in understanding Husserl's method is to bracket off the goal he was trying to achieve (the system of pure essences that inform the world of experience) and to look at what is involved in the method itself. The movement within his system depends on the dynamic character of his concept of intentionality, and that is its relevance for Gestalt therapy. Spinelli's explanation of the requirements of the method, in my opinion, are accurate descriptions of what is required in the method: bracketing (and thus not employing) all assumptions that cannot be verified by experience; beginning and always checking/testing hypotheses and conclusions against further experience; and horizontalization (not prejudging what will be important/significant in present experience). These are principles that operate in Gestalt therapy, and for the most part in empirical science. Working in accordance with these principles we (Gestalt therapists) discover two major things: how the person's living is organized and how this affects his behavior; and we are able to facilitate the emergence of the meanings of the person's experience from his progressive self-revelations. In this way we do not thematize and objectify the person, but we able to meet this here-now-unique-person as he uniquely reveals himself to be and as he is becoming.There are differing opinions about what does and does not appear in present experience, as well as differing opinions about the goals to be achieved through the use of the method. Many of the differences among phenomenologists have to do with these kinds of differences. We do not all assume the limitations that are inherent in Husserl's notion of experience; we are free to take a modified realistic position (and other possible ontological positions) as to the nature of experience if that seems closer to what we mean by "experience." I think it's important for us Gestalt therapists to pay attention to what the PHG authors say in "The Present Situation" early in the original version of PHG: the method they said they were developing was essentially an actual meeting the actual living of the person, and with the person to discover how that living is organized. The processes of meeting and discovering open up numerous opportunities for change--and the alleviation of suffering and dissatisfaction.In a message dated 7/22/2010 3:57:49 P.M. Mountain Daylight Time, D...@djbloom.com writes:Sylvia:You are very clear. Thank you for that!But you imply there is only one meaning to intentionality and accordingly one way to understand it in gestalt therapy.This afternoon I was reading Alfred Schutz description of it. Although he was an orthodox Husserlian, he made it clear that insofar as intentionality had any relevance to social science, it meant the directedness of consciousness including the intentional object and the intending ego or subject. He developed this further. I simplify.We can also look at Heidegger.Or we can look at John Searle.Or Giorigi and Giorgi.Or Spinelli.Or Shaun Gallagher.Or......I offer this so we can avoid a tussle over “intentionality.”By the way, I am sure Phil already knew the relationship between Brentano and Husserl. :)love,Dan=On Jul 22, 2010, at 5:16 PM, CROC...@aol.com wrote:
Dear Phil,I'm going to respond to your email in pieces. I want to deal with this part on its own.First, "intentionality" comes from the root verb intendere which means "to reach." Brentano understood the term to mean that awareness is always of an object; there is no such thing as bare awareness. Husserl took this notion and "set it in motion." For him the phenomenological process involved focusing on and asking questions about what appears, and this process leads to other awarenesses. For example, he says we can look at a triangle, and we can wonder what it would look like from another perspective. We can move it or ourselves so that we can see what it would look like. In fact, we can build up a complex understanding of the appearances of a given triangle that we synthesize in our minds but of which we cannot have an actual visual awareness. We can carry this process forward by seeing that the same person might also wonder about the relationships of the sides to the angles, or the angles to each other, or the sides to each other. Then can move on to wondering/questioning what the triangle would look like in three dimensions, and what that would mean for the relationships among the angles and sides, etc etc. Ultimately, if all of the questions were asked, and all of the views and the proofs of the theorems were worked out, the person would, in principle, arrive at the entire discipline of trigonometry. Brentano's concept of intentionality is static. Husserl's is dynamic. If one doesn't grasp this difference one hasn't really understood Husserl's advance beyond Brentano, and it limits one's ability to understand the phenomenological process.Husserl envisioned situations in which people from a variety of backgrounds would approach their inquiries, first calling into question their own assumptions and grounding them in experience. And then they would proceed in all of their inquiries (1) taking no principle or idea or belief for granted, and thus bracketing whatever cannot be put to an empirical test. (2) Would constantly consult experience, and then test against experience any hypothesis or attempt at understanding by checking it against further experience. And (3) not prejudge what will be important or unimportant in experience; rather being open to the possibility that even the smallest detail of experience might prove to be important.This is exactly what we are doing in Gestalt therapy. (1) We do not put people in categorial pigeon holes, but we seek to understand them on their own terms. Thus we put aside our preconceptions about the person and stand open to however and whatever the client shows us. We are not primarily concerned about the issue of "is this really true, did it really happen that way?" Rather we want to know how what they are revealing to us verbally and nonverbally works systemically in how they live in their world. We track the uniquely personal logic of the person's revelations to discover what is connected to what in the way they live. (2) We begin and end with our experience with the client. Being open to his self-revelations (both verbal and nonverbal) something often prompts our curiosity; we often have a tentative hypothesis about it. BUT we do not stay with our own understanding unless it checks out in further experience with the client, either by further inquiry or an experiment. Everything we know about the client we discover through experience with the client, beginning and ending there. (3) We do not prejudge what revelations will be significant and important, but some small detail--like someone coughing repeatedly as they tell a story, someone twisting a lock of her hair, someone wrapping her arms around herself when she begins to talk about her boyfriend, someone suddenly becoming very still, etc etc--may turn out to lead to a hugely important piece of therapeutic work. We do not prejudge what will be important but rely on our own curiosity and care to help us focus and to explore further so that the client reveals himself more and more.The phenomenological process is a hermeneutical process! Here we trace out how what the client reveals to us (figure) leads to emergent figures that were previously hidden in the ground. In that way we discover the meaning of her twisting a lock of hair, coughing while telling a story, becoming very still, etc. Over time, both client and therapist come to an understanding of the unique ways in which the client's living is organized, and along the way many intentions/connections begin to shift and change.SylviaI don't have any more time now, but tonight I'll return to the rest of your email.In a message dated 7/22/2010 3:35:12 A.M. Mountain Daylight Time, philbr...@logic.bm writes:Dear Sylvia,I agree with you that intentionality is central to phenomenological process. However, I don't think intentionality in itself is "all about" how what is present points to other factors to which it is connected. Wouldn't that be the hermeneutical process?To me intentionality is the aboutness of experience. It is simply the observation of the valence of experience. It is about something. Period. To me, that is also what makes intentionality basically paradoxical and what makes what we do as gestalt therapists experimental. We simply observe what is, what is currently going on. We do this IN the natural attitude, accepting what is given as given, without conducting a reduction. That is the phenomenal tracking we have, until now, been calling the phenomenological method, but it really is not the philosophical phenomenological method at all. It is a paradoxical and experimental process. When a person starts making sense of "what is," he or she has shifted to still something else. That would be the hermeneutics of experience.