A Phenomenological Strategy for Cognitive Positioning

David Mazzacua

People in the world cannot identify their own mind.

They believe that what they see, or hear, or know is mind.

They are blocked, and so cannot see the brilliant spirit of their original mind.



In the domain of the cognitive sciences ‘functionalism’ considers qualitative states of mind (qualia or mental phenomenon) as genuinely inner, and episodic events, identical with states or events occurring in the nervous system. While some cognitive scientists are accepting of mental phenomena or qualia, issues of quantification in this area of thought have isolated mental phenomena as risky terrain on which to base cognitive theories. The position presented here is pragmatic. While some of the arguments supporting the theory are highly abstract the basis on which they stand is that a pragmatic understanding equates with making it work better. Submitted is a functionalist cognitive strategy intended to explicate a phenomenological approach to creative thought procedures. It is an attempt to position qualia as purposeful and discernible phenomena having an immediate relation (identity) with pre-representational cogitation.

To position the following argument amongst the contemporary literature of phenomenology / cognitive science it is necessary to modify the definition of phenomenon. Daniel Dennett who coined the word ‘Qualia’ rides roughshod over variances in description of such states, accepting the following as indicative of what qualia/phenomena are: "the qualitative content of mental states’ or "intrinsic properties of conscious experiences’. Explicated, phenomena/on refers to the quality, or condition of, a discernible mental state associated with an external percept or, the neural quality strongly associated with the particular mental state of a specific percept.

It is argued herein that:

(a) Qualia, are of themselves, a qualitative mental, or phenomenological state, free of mental imagery/representation, or external precept.

(b) That mental phenomenon; pre-representation, are perceptible, and as such can be isolated.

(c) That a sensory positioning (situated) strategy, free of external percept, can extend non- representational processes associated with creative thought.

(e) The phenomenological positioning strategy given herein considers such state(s) as qualitatively discernible, and as such necessarily possessing a sensory correlate. ‘Open intentionality’, a neologistic phrase, is used to denote the intended state.

Summation of Hypothesis and Objective

Attaining an open intentionality, is accessing and sustaining a pre-representational phenomenological state. The anticipated gain is the extension of pre-representational cognitive processes resultantly offsetting the focal narrowing that accompanies mental representation. By maintaining thought processes outside the processional stipulations of semantic orchestrations (open intentionality) it is theorized that the potential for a ‘broad-band’ aggregation of potential problem resolutions is availed. Simply, the facilitation of creative thought processes. From this it holds that, while accessing pre-representational resolution potentiates a positive effect by altering data structure permeability, this process of itself, cannot substitute for content.

The Contemporary Argument for Representation.

Any adaptational role of a cognitive capacity, that does not presuppose mental representation, cannot be explained. A mental function is cognitive only in virtue of its semantic representation. Simply stated, representation keeps a train of thought on track. Meaning is considered dependent on mental representation and as symbolic processes are considered as based on algorithmic progression, such processes are semantically stipulated. In this model, information retrieval (recall) acts as a symbol-search process. Closely tied to the meaning-representation model is the mental anagram theory: the speculation that each act of mental cognition (image processing) lays down a related synaptic configuration. Such configurations have yet to be identified.

The Non-Representational Model.

The opposing position has to answer the question of how do/could we sustain a thought process without representation to progress it, and chart its course. The forwarded model positions mental phenomena at the center of a non-representational organization of mind that acts on content in a wide, to full dimension phasic. The process is facilitated phenomenally. At the heart of the debate over phenomenology is the quantifiable replication of such states. The scientific method results in dubiety as to the existence of qualia. Daniel Dennett author of the word; qualia, is one such authority in the cognitive sciences that denies the existence of phenomenological states of mind. When considering qualia he states, "there is so little to "observe" and so much to pontificate about without fear of contradiction." He continues "we have no privileged access to the nature or content of (our) conscious experience." What Dennett would probably consider the result of the inaccurate interpretation, by an unqualified observer, of their own experience.

Experimental Boundaries

Stepping over this position to the possibility of phenomenal states existing, there are problems of replication, consistency and objective evaluation thereof; the problems of how to express the requirements, or experience of an isolated mental phenomena. These problems loom large in the litany of difficulties required to qualify phenomenological positioning. The possibility of phenomenal positioning of mind acting on brain, as an affective and discernible event requires identifying an isolated brain state(s) and autonomous invocation of such states at will without an external percept. To attempt this first requires realization of the immediacy of thought as thinker.

Either Side of Thought: The Position of Mental Representation

Creative resolutions do not occur in representation. It is widely accepted in the cognitive sciences that the adaptation of available information would be too vast, complex, and spontaneous to be represented (Dennett 1991.) Neuroanatomically, the executive functions of the frontal lobes (inter-compartmental organization) seem responsible for the production of final representations or mental images. In this aspect of the brain the production of symbolic content enables reasoning procedures/ visual comparisons our conscious assessment as to whether or not the presented resolution coincides with the subject matters associated paradigm.

To validate the image production/comparison we just need to look into the world as we do. The structural base of what is rational is strongly image related. Our minds mirror the world and attempt to impose order, rules of causation, and from these; rules of probability. We think in this manner because a predictable environment is simply more advantageous. When moving from the perceptible to the probable we tend towards mental constructions in the form of images or linguistic narratives denoting images. When drawing from our own, or disparate stores of abstracted information, the easier it is to visualize a scenario, the stronger its credibility tends to be. Visual evidence is our fundamental report of how things work. When mental images are produced for their ‘reality-check’ we are essentially comparing the produced image against the picture of reality we perceive/construct. In abstraction visual feasibility can be organized under two fundamental principles: the principle of non-contradiction de dictum, and Liebniz’ principle of sufficient reason de re.

Reason is the great organizer. It predicates, in a sense it almost predicts. It organizes what can be broken apart in the concrete, be observed and by reflection - visual reversal, put back together. Dissecting the concrete yields minutia and variation of possible combinations that exceed what is immediately visible and concrete. The analytic process, of necessity becomes a symbolic exploration, while the concrete becomes a test bench. Phrased differently: When visual reflection can no longer progresses understanding, mind peruses an abstract possible, and reaches beyond the concrete visible into symbolic reasoning while still following the rules of the concrete. It is here the principle of non-contradiction sustains the de dictum accuracy of abstraction. To justify advanced theoretical abstractions, meanings are necessarily reduced from symbol state to re-presentation in concrete form. Comparatively, in creative thought, this parallels the reduction from non-representational, to re-presentation or symbolic processing. It is however, in the highly abstracted form that the concrete achieves its greatest malleability and extent of it’s potential. Similarly, representational thought acts as a symbolic materiality; test bench material. The extreme abstraction of pre-representational thought is thought in its most malleable circumstances, its principle state. Sustaining this state would extend its potential yield by reaching further into the possibilities of information permeability and consolidation.

Stop The Train…of Thought

It is feasible that preference selection and mental representation are identical; expressions of each other. When images are encountered in thought (creative) they are evaluated against the existing paradigm, if the resolution is judged unsatisfactory, the creative processing (search) again enters the pre-symbolic resolution process. In this model optional resolutions to creative processes (representation) act as a refractory juncture of processing. Images are presented, arrest our thought and processing halts. One of Wittgenstein’s thought experiment challenged us to imagine an object while looking at it. Even if such a thing were possible, such a feat would only repeat the same information, as occurs with metal representations. Attempted reflections on what remains in representation merely repeat the same product - inappropriate activity for thought progression. If imagery is allowed to hold our attention, it will obscure what may be resolving itself - if thought without the looking glass. Attempts at apperceptive exploration of option-representation in representation incurs a refractory confusion; the illusory regress of a single reflection reflecting itself. This ‘hall of mirrors’ confusion, results in ‘fixedness’; adhesion to the limner of representation. Thought fossilizes when thinking begins reflecting itself in symbol. It is such that by appearing, the singularity of thought as thought dissipates, and we peruse its relic. In this sense, symbolic representation can be considered a second order plurality.

That actual thought occurs outside of representation finds support in Lycan’s position on the representation of thought as speech: "I have come to think that sentential structures cannot be created within the speech center itself." This (as Lycan continues) infers that the speech centers must receive inputs antecedent to symbolic representations. "The inputs to the language centers come largely from conative and cognitive components who relay beliefs, perceptual states and other propositional attitudes." Lycan then streamlines the information relay-transmutation process suggesting that "…perceptual inputs and outputs can be characterized in semantical terms of some sort even though we do not normally so characterize them…"(Lycan’s italics). "The intuitively more behavioral sorts of mental states, such as belief and desires and intentions, presumably occur at a relatively high level of abstraction." Emotions act as first-person qualification that these states are so highly abstracted we often succumb to their dispositional effect without conscious awareness. It is in this extra-mentis manifestation that the possibility for a sensorial base of meaning; a phenomenal syntax exists.

That sentience, can be indicative of highly abstract mental states, suggests the possibility of the obverse; the phenomenal instantiation of a content-absent syntactic structure potentiates production of semantic representation. Determining and fixing the nature of such a state is the challenge.

Calling Intentionality into Phenomenological Clarity.

Immediacy as a concept-experience is critical to phenomenological positioning. As such immediacy should be considered as: the next possible time or position of a distinct instance to the same. Inkeeping with this, in the immediacy of thought no relationship can exist between thought to mind, or that of thinker to thought. To postulate a relationship between thought and mind is to place one in a second order relationship to the other. At a functional (operational) level, in a healthy system, the immediacy of mind and brain is consistently evident. The fact of insufficient function being perceptible shows that a determined mind-brain system exists and its (normally) accessible operational system is phenomenal.

A helpful model-more-metaphor for mind/mental phenomena acting on brain, is to consider their relationship as the experience of a simple quantum relationship; a simultaneity of possible states existing as the continuing consequent of consciousness. Within this perpetuity undifferentiated potentials are modified most readily by perception of the world. Outside of external percept processing, a residuum of undetermined possibilities remain internally undifferentiated until our action, our phenomenological presence in that flux, causes a valence of activity. An ordering of thought occurs. Possible states shift, yielding determinations particularized and made recognizable out of an unknowable potentiality.

While this is an acceptable model of thought, the focus is to use it as a starting point for manifesting a distinct qualitative state of mind, and do so to our owner-user benefit. The organization of phenomenological states is directed at superintending consciousness as consciousness (immediate), not an apperceptive bifurcation leading to endless regress, or a separation of self to impose over self again leading to the same. The objective is to utilize an operational system so evident, we tend to be oblivious of it.

Intentionality; Consciousness Direct.

"Meaning generally depends on intentionality" (Grice 1957). Regardless of the inadequacies we encounter in the phraseology of our meaning, or the inability to define what refuses to leave the ‘tip of our tongue’, the mental state of intention is the qualitative base of meaning. As the foundation of intended communication, intentionality of itself is considered as irreducible. As such, it holds that in reversing this relationship: by bringing intentionality to bear on the determination of meaning, the product of the values in this relationship do not change; meaning (understanding) can be attained in the phenomena of intentionality. This in turn positions intentionality ahead of mental representation, in what must necessarily be an invariable relationship. More applicably it identifies a phenomenological state that is fundamental to all cognitive processes.

With intention as irreducible, any theory related to it must focus on when intention (as a phenomenal state) is evident, or how to use intentionality as a qualitative state. In Lycan’s view, a mid-level phenomenon of intentionality exist as "…an intermediate level of functional characterization that offers a kind of directedness-upon-a-possibly-nonexistent-object, or type, that nevertheless falls short of the rich, full-blooded intentionality exhibited by the human mind…" Lycan is referring to an intention-more-notion to act in some way. A disposition towards stopping at the post office has a lower grade intentionality than the successful completion of a stop-smoke program. The contrast in this example points towards the qualitative variance between a readily facilitated intention and the phenomenological irreducibility of a sustained intentionality

At the primitive (limbic) level when intentionality is shifted towards an objective in the exterior environment an increased mental alertness establishes a broad-based perceptual clarity, in which the intentional object is positioned. In a more contemporary version of the intentional object, namely that of intellectual configuration, perceptual clarity remains essentially related to intentionality. Now however, perceptual clarity is phenomenal and paired with pre-representational cognitive processes that act on information deemed relative to the intentional objective. As intentionality is irreducible, therefore not subject to modification, an internally directed intentionality is necessarily a verbatim transposition.

What’s the Real-Time?

While the perceptual aspect of this model operates at speeds approaching immediacy, cognitive processes tend towards a different time frame. "Perception and thought (processes) both appear as temporal even though they do not move at the same speed nor in the same time." (Hanson 1958). Perception of the environment can be considered as occurring on a real-time basis, but the cognitive evaluations apt to be thought of as coinciding, rarely occur as a simultaneity. In thinking, it is attaining the state of thought that enables thought. Identifying that phenomenal state acts as the same.

Part of the postulated model is that to sustain the phenomenal state, of itself, would enable non-representational processing mechanisms time to run their course, or possibly extend them in pursuance of novel resolutions. Using phenomenological perception to instantiate and sustain processing is, in essence; to bring thought into accordance with itself - the thinker. Here again intentionality, an ‘open intentionality’, is key.

Lose Your Allusions

Intentionality as such, has always born the association of hard mental effort; a narrow, deliberately strained, pantomime of forehead creasing. That a ‘considered intention’ animates mind is acceptable however, narrowed cerebral ‘exertions’ invoking the perception of a qualitative, ‘intentional immediacy’ are probably nothing more than pressor responses; sensations more closely associated with breath holding than accessing a quantum field of potential states. Misinterpretations and misnomers such as these raise the issue of language’s limitations in describing actual thought. Not the limitations we all encounter in expressing thought’s product in the sense of a notion or idea, not it’s narrative representations to our selves, but the pre-representational processes that language can only stand in relation to.

It seems a mistake central to philosophy of mind is to reduce phenomenological processes to a series of attention metaphors for the purpose of nominative configuration. McGinn said that mental concepts are "intuitively such that no physical concepts could characterize the essential nature of the property denoted." To further remove language from thought-events, Husserl (Welton 1973) stated that language is an intimation of the actual. It, at best, directs our attention to that which is being referred to.

Attention metaphors are a phrase-form or word that indicates, or are intended to act causally to invoke, a specified thought process. Attention metaphors are common-language vagaries, such as: focus, pay attention, concentrate, etc. Whereas the signifying aspect of such words narrow the subject of discussion, they express nothing informative of the inferred process, and achieve little more than the imposition of their inadequacies and limitations on thought processes. The limiting effect inheres in how palpable; how physically familiar they seem. Attention metaphors attempt to draw meaning from physical metaphors which ultimately, merely incurr an additional annulment of the actual. Even physical metaphors such as work ‘harder’, do nothing to describe the sensory perceptions they refer to. The common language use of these phrases amount to little more than a parroting behavior and as such, rarely are the states being alluded to given any autonomous evaluation.

The thought-encounter being referred to through metaphor, occurs as direct experience, and as such occurs outside of language. It is here the difficulty in speaking of thought has resulted or remained in reductionist phrases form. Even the most accurate cognitive strategies can only infer proximity to thought processes or the qualitative states that attempt to indicate them. In all real-time encounters a narrative fades in the actual. From this it stands that in all narrative forms immediacy is lost. Narrative is not the event, it is the story of an event, this is particularly relevant to the internal narrative often considered as thought itself.

Given the immediacy of thought, by speaking of thought we do not report on thoughts identity, its product perhaps, but its identity or its actuality is confined to its presence and experienced directly. Any representation of thought is therefore the reporting-of, not the event. To inhere in a narrative is a constant reporting on what was; to infer experience as a second order event. This leads to another cluster of attention metaphors, specifically those containing any indication of apperception or temporality, particularly "This is it; now I’m thinking."

Lycan suggests that we admit that "the ‘marks’ of intentionality or aboutness are none too clear" i.e. what does it mean to intend something? Again common language descriptions of intention amount to nothing more than attention metaphors. Lycan continues by describing mental states precursive to representation as an intermediate level where "we speak systems-theoretically of "detectors," "scanners," "filters," "inhibitors," and the like quite literally, but without actually imputing thought or what might be called "occurrent" aboutness. The intimations of language applied to autonomous investigations of such phenomenal states, reflect possible experiential encounters, needless of internal denotation, back into a refractory state of relating-to. If we question ourselves by asking, "Is this thought?" the answer’s no. Intentionality (consciousness) and materiality (mind-body) attain continuity in physical sentience, and it is the physical sentience of thought; it’s phenomenon, that identifies thought in its own immediacy.

With the World in Mind, Where’s the World?

An objective encounter is always encountered relatively and linguistically inferred. As such, objectified experience of the world occurs as a constant relating-to. The portion we allot ourselves as subjective, as relationship-with is still mediated through linguistic percept-constructs. Attaining relationship-with things or objects in-the-world necessitates the removal of perceptual categorizations that determine what we can know. Metaphorically; a bridging of the subjective-objective divide. Recognizing the theoretical context of subjective-objective as a purely perceptual divide positions it in a narration-of relationship to existence. In narration of experience, we position ourselves in figurative/contextual settings, constructs of reasoned processes. When reduced to its essential foundations, any narration of ‘x’ experience in context, reduces to an Cartesian justification.

What is traditionally considered as thought’s setting, the habitual narrative that assigns its/our context, is the consequence of the thinkers construction or positioning in language. The perceptual process in itself, is the immediate, the assigned values following the percept are relayed in language. Structurally, this is the linguistic inference of ’x’ experience. And as such an abstraction, hence theory laden and removed. It has no immediacy.

Care To Know

In connecting with thought immediacy is required. Immediacy is both essence and definitive of thought. Attaining immediacy in a subject of thought, or to an object in the world, requires an adjustment in the sense of what is considered as either a subjective or objective perception. It obligates the thinker to suspend such categorization. To achieve this is to challenge the traditional categorizations of subjective-objective and the perceptual limitation they denote, and the only license or dominion for such modifications inheres in the autonomy of the modified realm; the mind. The privilege of our internal domain empowers us with license to describe the experience of that dominion with complete autonomy. Heidegger (1951) said "To call is not originally to name, but the other way around - naming is a kind of calling, in an original sense of demanding and commanding". How (or what) we call the characteristics of our perceptual extension into the world determines what relatedness-to percepts of the world we exercise.

The opposition of subjective to objective rests, ironically, in the age-of-reason interpretation of the phenomena of perception. The words: subjective and objective, have their linguistic roots in ancient Greek civilization. They are perceptual categorizations made at time when humankind first looked into, and thought about the world in primacy. Bold thinkers were inviting - invoking what could be grasped as our knowing of existence, exploring what could be known in a relatedness to existence free of mythological intermediaries. Science was not ruling out what was possible it was literally ruling in - calling in, naming what could be known. In interpreting the Greek roots of the word for objective, object perception or objective perception, the phrase ‘thrown against’ is the result. Perception (intentionality) is ‘thrown up and against’ what is resultantly classified as external. States of intentionality fixed exterioraly are an ‘intention against’ that which is concrete and external. Again from the Greek, in the subjective instance of intentionality, the process is considered to ‘throw under’ the percept. The meaning to be applied here in both instances, seems to be that of perceptual depth; the degree of perception/absorption attained relative to the percept.

From this point on in the paper it assumed that the ancients did not create the words subjective - objective to classify two mutually exclusively categories of perception. The inference contained in the words suggests a phenomenal continuum of perceptual quality, rather than an absolute division. With the experience of existence being evaluated in the minds of perceptive, intelligent men and women, in a culture borne aloft and ordered in debate, an ordering of phenomenal distinction; a malleable ordering would seem likely. This discrimination has its possible presence in the different accounts of subjective - objective perception. Subjective; is to throw perception, or the perceiver, under ‘x’. Perceiving ‘x’ places perception under ’x’. In this sense ‘x’ exerts its perceptual presence over the perceiver. In short; a strong phenomenal experience of the percept comes over the perceiver. As for the objective; what would be classified as objective would entail cognition of the percept, as it does today, but the phenomenal association to an objective percept would have been that of a projection against, less of a relationship-with or possibly that of a less active, vested perception of the percept. This would potentiate the malleability in the continuum. Blocks of stone are just such to the indifferent, the perception of; the intentionality towards is surface alone. But the sculptor’s relatedness to their material, their subjective relationship -with, ‘throws under’ the stone; perceives the stone in-depth. Simultaneously in the depth of subjective perception, the relatedness-with the stone ‘throws under’ the sculptor in its quality of potential. The artist’s subjective perception with what is ostensibly, concrete and in the world, becomes a perceptual interaction between the material and creative actor; a synchronic relatedness with. The fundament of relatedness-with is care. It is in the depth of care that subjective-objective perceptions are supervened.

In the overwhelming age and use of reason, the subjective/objective bifurcation of perception, when reduced to its essential discrimination, is the assigned boundary of that which is considered (by reason) as being excluded from been known directly. However in perception what is external to the body causes a qualitative adjustment in perception that is unattainable in any way other than subjective experience; all percepts result in qualitative adjustments. The depth-relatedness of the sculptor to stone is attained in exploring the malleability of a concrete materiality, in this sense the stone occupies a greater range of perceptual faculties in the sculptor. As such, stone is known in greater depth. In a way, the appeal to objectify a perception is the appeal to obscure a depth relationship, to select, and dispense with further relatedness-with. Today this activity occurs as a law; a law based in reason that assigns a/the common qualitative state of mind.

Of itself, a continuity of what, and how, something can be accepted as knowledge is essential to scientific progress. Observation, qualification, replication and quantification leads to what is agreed upon as an acceptable explanation. The process itself, determines the collective knowledge of how, an isolated minutia of the whole, contributes to a structural determination of the whole. The success of the process so far has been determined by a conscripted method whereby the whole might possibly be assembled. Prepared as rational people, we cannot help being guided by the paradigm of rationality; the method whereby the minutiae of our existence, of the universe, are being approached. It follows that we perceive the world in theories related to what is scientific; at least theoretically so. As all perceptions are theory laden, we’re theory dependent; theory determined, and theoretically, how we embrace existence is a theoretical construct. Theories do not inhere in nature, they are assigned by reason. As such our perceptual capacities, while present in nature, are qualified in language. That qualification process amounts to a self imposed, collective agreement that can be qualified, by reason, deemed viable inter-subjectively (among others) and therefore acceptable. This suggests we are rational, but essentially removed. How we perceive the world is perception relayed through the dictates of reason; we are Descartes legacy. How’s that feel? Well, it’s limited; rationally speaking. Man is the rational animal, therefore we should be at home in rationale. But what we rationally are, and how we, behind rational minds apprehend existence is an assignation. Is this the fullest perception of existence that can be encountered; or just what we accept?

The point here is not to disqualify a reasoned existence, but to identify reason’s positioning, which seems to be located between perception and the world. Recognizing this positioning cannot extend perceptual apparatus beyond their range but it can be used as another step in the attempt to isolate immediacy in mind by using perceptual faculties directly, thereby circumventing symbolic representation.



Search and Reconfiguration: A Phenomenological Model of Creative Thought

The cognitive processes underlying creative thought incur the personal disposition of the individual towards the project. In this, the depth of relationship-with begins to contribute to the subject matter. In creative pursuit, strong motive enthusiasms related to the issues content procure underlying (limbic/primitive) neurophysiological responses that potentiate a directed intentionality. In a raw intentional disposition towards an intellectual pursuit the intentional stance is an intentionality that is directed, but contingent to motivational fluctuations and unbidden interruptions. Creative thought is often an extended process. (Rothenburg) Inspired flashes come about as the resolved product of a sustained intentionality towards an objective. Rarely would there be cause for such resolutions to occur as unbidden innovative flashes.

In the instance of the consistent innovant, the resolved pursuance of an original notion reaches beyond or outside (at least in part) of traditional thought associations. Hypothetically, a predilection towards original thinking requires a departure from, or extended pursuance of, ‘standard’ algorithmic thought progressions , and/or a shift into cognitive processes less habituated to semantic conformity.

How this factually occurs remains an as-of-yet undiscovered secret of neuroanatomy, but again the focus here is pragmatic; to use what we possess fluently. In this sense the following serves as a model of the creative process for the subsequent applied theory: Instigating the creative process requires accessing a non-representational content search. The semantic sphere of the purpose (related associations) acts by expanding transparently through extant content, and in doing so, converts semantic origins into a syntactical phenomenology; in this transition, resides the potential to supervene conventional leanings (non-novel resolutions). While a goal related linearity is required, the correlation process itself, is dependent on a broadband aggregate of proximal - distal correlation’s with the creative objective.

Education and Relatedness-With

Any progression of knowledge is such that accumulated information is prescribed out in the hopes it becomes the residence of an active intellect living the dialectical of an informed place in the world. For serious students of the humanities such relatedness-with knowledge and world is essential to any elan-vital conception of the subject matter. During the information accumulation portion of traditional education, no emphasis exists on attaining relatedness-with. Any meta-perspective is either innate, or non-existent. Often even the possibility fades to ‘whatever’ for students, being replaced by indifference to any personalized instantiation other than exam successes. A strategy that might achieve both either inheres in the ingenuity of the dedicated professor, or possibly in an innovative application of the following.

A Thought Experiment On Open Intentionality

The following is a simple thought experiment. Its objective is a clearly defined encounter with a phenomenal state I have dubbed ‘open-intentionality’. If thought experiments are new to you, it is best to proceed somewhere collateral inputs (distractions) are minimal (art galleries are a personal favorite). A common difficulty with the experiment is the degree of credulity towards the (or any) possible outcome. I view a positive outcome as being of personal benefit to any individual who engages in creative thought. It may be that ‘creatives’ use this type of technique intuitively, and are therefore more amenable towards the cognitive positioning aspect of the experiment. The other end of the continuum is occupied by the hard rationalists; engineers, mathematicians, any who deal in ‘what is known’ as an absolute, and are those who stand to gain the most. For them I suggest the supervenience of what is rational, and known via the possibilities facilitated by imagination. Imagine if this experiment were to work? A Zen saying expresses any possible outcome most succinctly: If you understand, things are just as they are. If you do not understand, things are just as they are.

To experience blue is an attendance that can be encountered by reducing collateral inputs unrelated to blue becoming percepts. This allows the mental ‘tactility’ of blue to manifest. (good abstract art raises a monochromatic field to sensory eminence). Enabling color this degree of experiential access establishes a discernible qualitative state; color becomes what Heidegger expressed Being as; ‘that which stands up out of itself’. The significant aspect of this experiment is to first: Enable ‘blue-experience’. Second; Sustain the phenomenal state of blue-experience without ‘blue-content’. This entails encountering the unmediated (immediate) perceptual experience of blue then removing blue percept by eliminating the external presentation. From this a mental representation remains that inheres in a specified phenomenal base. Removing the image of blue while sustaining the phenomenal state identifies the phenomenon of an ‘open-intentionality.’


The experience is frequently described with adjectives relating to space or area - it is open. Blue-experience is the collusion of perception and cognition compelled to silence in the presence of a non-figurative, hence non-narrative experience. Removal of the external percept leaves the intentional state intact and the phenomenon of intentionality (irreducible) occurs in an open form. A positioning in thought, unfettered by semantical representation.

Possible Applications:

  1. Education: As an experiential proof of mind for low self-esteem grade students.
  2. Philosophy/Law: Identifying core components in complex representations.
  3. Science: Inductive reasoning.
  4. Religion: Mystic aspects.
  5. Psychology: Depth relationship with issues for students.
  6. With clientele for practitioners.

  7. Art: Sustained relatedness with expressive motives.







Relatedness-with; care, exists in a medium other than language. The traditional objective perspective, the ostensive relating-to the world attains a depth relationship whereby language designates, and as such, merely points towards. The vested pursuit, the thinking on, occurs outside of representation. A depth relation established phenomenologically alongside the ‘intimation of’ language or two-dimensional display can enable a greater empathic immediacy, if suitable. If a relationship-with is established, the necessity for an internal narrative, acting to describe, fades. The thought-event contains a complex whole as a relationship-with. Such a positioning more readily potentiates creative insight-understanding.










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