Next Talk of “Monthly Phenomenology”: W. Clark Wolf (Marquette University)

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W. Clark Wolf ‘In Defense of Pure Concepts’ online Friday 19 January 2024. Organized for the Network for Phenomenological Research.

Announcement of the next talk of the series:
An online forum of discussion on recent work in phenomenology

Description: This series of talks gather together scholars interested in phenomenology and its relation to contemporary issues in philosophy, especially in the philosophy of mind. It establishes a forum of discussion where people can meet on a regular basis and present their work-in-progress or recent publications. The topics addressed will stretch from the history of early phenomenology to the systematic application of phenomenological insights in recent debates in analytic philosophy.

Schedule: The talks will take place once a month on a Friday from October to May. Time: 10:15am ET, 3:15pm GMT/GMT+1, 4:15pm CET. (Exceptions are the talks of February and March, which will take place at 7:15am ET, 12:15pm GMT, 1:15pm CET.) Talks last 90 minutes, including a 45 minutes Q&A.

Participation: Talks are held on zoom. To participate, please send an email to [email protected] with the heading “Registration Monthly Phenomenology”. A zoom link will be sent to you the day preceding each talk.

Programme: Next talk

W. Clark Wolf (Marquette University)
In Defense of Pure Concepts
Friday, 19 January 2024
10:15am ET, 3:15pm GMT, 4:15pm CET

Abstract: This paper is a preliminary attempt to carve out the notion of pure concepts for contemporary philosophy (with a view to cognitive science more generally), inspired by Husserl. The aim of a theory of pure concepts is to clarify the cognitive activity of philosophy. While the notion that philosophy is conceptual “analysis” has largely fallen out of favor, the claim that philosophy involves an especially conceptual activity (under designations like “explication” or “engineering,” for example) remains attractive. However, contemporary philosophers often use generic accounts of concepts from psychology and cognitive science to demean any concept-centric idea of philosophy. Unfortunately, these accounts do not make a clean distinction between empirical concepts and those that interest philosophers. In particular, the notion of an “abstract concept” is insufficient. Here, I will argue that a narrower notion of empirical concepts can be developed, according to which empirical concepts (including abstract empirical concepts) are those rooted in the phenomenal similarity of their instances. Pure concepts can then be defined by contrast with empirical concepts. In particular, pure concepts are those that do not depend on the phenomenal similarity of their instances, and indeed a negative test for pure concepts is that they have similarity violating instances. This feature is similar to the phenomenon of “multiple realizability.” The theory of pure concepts developed here depends on Husserl’s in several respects. First, it permits the extensional overlap of pure and empirical concepts (previously defended in Wolf 2021). Hence, pure concepts can be exemplified in experience. Second, pure concepts must be constructed (or prompted) by productive acts of thought (for Husserl: eidetic variation). I deviate from Husserl on a few points in order to expand the relevance of pure concepts. In particular, I suggest that Husserl’s focus on pure concepts of phenomenal qualities (like colors) stands in tension with the more philosophically valuable features of his account.

Upcoming talks

Takuya Niikawa (Kobe University)
Atmosphere and Mood
23 February 2024

Kengo Miyazono (Hokkaido University)
Dissociations between Sensory and Presentational Phenomenology
8 March 2024

Marie Guillot (University of Essex)
Phenomenal Concepts of Time, Space and Self
5 April 2024

Elisa Magrì (Boston College)
24 May 2024

Guillaume Fréchette (University of Geneva)
Marta Jorba (Pompeu Fabra University)
Alessandro Salice (University College Cork)
Hamid Taieb (Humboldt University Berlin)
Íngrid Vendrell-Ferran (Philipps University Marburg)

Organized on behalf of the Network for Phenomenological Research