Scientific Realism and Phenomenology: A Show down?Prof Jack Reynolds (Deakin University)
221 Burwood Hwy
Since Quentin Meillassoux’s influential critique of phenomenology, there has been renewed interested in understanding whether phenomenology is antithetical to scientific realism and instead supports versions of scientific anti-realism, whether instrumentalism, van Fraassen’s constructive empiricism, or Fine’s NOA. This paper works through the options here, and argues against views (like Meillassoux’s and Brassier’s, but also endorsed by many phenomenologists) that hold that phenomenology and scientific realism are mutually exclusive or forced into a “show down”. I contend that where a show down exists it is due to commitments that are sometimes (perhaps often) associated with scientific realism, but are not strictly required by the position (e.g. adopting a view from nowhen; a mechanistic conception of nature and the relation between parts and wholes; an objectivist aim to eliminate or replace the first-person perspective, etc.).
Jack Reynolds is Professor of Philosophy and Associate Dean (Research) of the Faculty of Arts and Education at Deakin University. He has written four books: Chronopathologies: The Politics of Time in Deleuze, Derrida, Analytic Philosophy and Phenomenology (2012), Analytic Versus Continental: Arguments on the Methods and Value of Philosophy (2010, with James Chase), Merleau-Ponty and Derrida: Intertwining Embodiment and Alterity (2004), and Understanding Existentialism (2006). He has also co-edited various books, including Phenomenology and Science (2016), Sartre: Key Concepts (2013), Continuum Companion to Existentialism (2011), Postanalytic and Metacontinental: Crossing Philosophical Divides (2010), and Merleau-Ponty: Key Concepts (2008). He is currently writing a book on the relationship between phenomenological philosophy and the empirical sciences (and hence on meta-philosophy). In arguing for the compatibility of weak forms of methodological naturalism with phenomenology, he contests many of the standard interpretations of this relationship. It is forthcoming with Routledge and titled Phenomenology, Naturalism and Science: A Hybrid and Heretical Proposal.