Husserl's descriptive psychology
differs from Brentano's in that it is not built from empirical facts
or mental objects, but is a direct analysis and description of the
essences of experience, the general structures of how experience
presents itself to mind. The mind directly intuites essences, as
general concepts or general properties of the object-at-hand, and the
phenomenological method is to describe and classify these essences
which are given by experience and directly apparent to the mind. So
this method is not a rule of procedure for inductive generalisations.
The essences, the meanings, the truths concerning objects of
experience are presented in full to the mind or mental act, rather
than inductively derived from some concrete empirical facts or
The empiricists, including Brentano, mistakenly assumed that objects present in the mental act are of a raw sense or 'simple' in the Lockean sense, and that the mind gives meaning to these or classifies the objects by some inductive procedure of generalisation whereby general ideas or essences are invented or found appropriate. In such a theory one mental act apprehends the object and another one gives conceptual meaning to it. In contrast, Husserl's descriptive science assumes nothing but what is given in the experience. Our experience is not of an 'object' and then of an apprehension of meaning, but rather our experience is of a meaningful object, and that meaning is given apriori in the experience of the mental object. The meaning, or essence, is directly intuited, not in a separate act from apprehending its object but is known in the experience of the object. The object is presented already with meaning.
In fact, it is the meanings or essences which are apprehended, and any talk of a particular object apart from those meanings is incomprehensible, meaningless, or a metaphysical hypothesis. I apprehend in front of me a green tree, not an object devoid of general properties or general meaning. I apprehend the essence of green, or green foilage, and the recognition of this being a tree is immediate. There can be no apprehension of some particular reality devoid of any meaning. Some meaning is always given within the intentional mental act. It is possible that I may experience something which is not recognised as a so-and-so or I may be uncertain the properties of this phenomena, some alien thing, as it were, but even here there must be some essence recognised, some meaningful thought, for it is at least `something' to the mind, and if there is any possibility of understanding more of what this is then such a further clarification could only be based on whatever properties or essences are apprehended apriori in the experience itself. In order for the mind to even be questioning the meaning or properties of an object, there must be some thought or concept already in mind concerning 'this' what is being questioned. Nothing can be derived from nothing, so all descriptions of phenomena must be derivatives of apriori intuited essences as their premises. The fault of empiricits was in not accpeting that essences must necessarily be the very premises of descriptive science.
scientific descriptive method is free of metaphysical assumptions and
psychological theories. Hume metaphysically presupposed that all
direct experience is of particulars or particular raw sensa, from
which general ideas or recurring essences are inductively built, and
he showed there to be no necessary certainty, no necessary validity,
in the truth of these derived essences or ideas about the world. The
inductive procedure, for Hume, is only objective as a psychological
tendency or custom of the human mind, and is not logically
justified, and thus essences are convenient generalisations made by
humans in their desperation or disposition to believe and understand
the world as uniformally meaningful and consistent.
But Husserl makes no attempt to produce a causal explanation of essences or of an inductive process of mind, and he rejects Hume's presupposition of particulars without essence. In all honesty, Hume does not begin from his raw experience, and he has no knowledge of particular objects apart from his ideas of these or apart from his unsubstantial theory that experience is based on non-recurring particulars. For experience tells us otherwise. We see green trees, blue sky, a redish sun. We know the smell of coffee and frying bacon. Maybe no two experiences are exactly the same, like fingerprints, but experiences shows recurrence of essences, general properties which appear to be consistent and recurring, and which are repeatably recognised, like the blue of the sky, like the sky, like the smell of coffee.
We can know the reality of mental acts because we can experience various mental modes, such as apprehension, thinking, recognising, studying, etc., and some-thing can be said to be objectively apparant in relation to a mental act, as in apprehending something, whatever it may be. That 'something' is a logical entity or logical variable, which Husserl calls the intentional object. Mental acts and intensional objects are necessarily related, since each necessarily implies the other, and neither can have meaning without the other being in relation. There are different kinds or essences of mental acts, and it follows that these different mental modes either determine corresponding kinds of intensional objects or are determined by the kind of intensional object. Which determines which may be impossible to answer since both are always found in logical relation. What is apprehended of the object are essences or meanings.
Thus, the object is just a logical
notion for whatever constitution of essences relate together as one
particular meaning, what we might think of as one independently
existent thing or event. The general idea of there being objects of
consciousness is the most general idea or essence apprehendable.
This and that, and anything one can think about or apprehend
individually from a larger context, are all objects, in this general
sense. We know these appearances as objects simply because each make
up the temporary content of consciousness. The idea of external
things can be reduced to possible objects of consciousness, when the
idea of 'external' is eliminated or suspended. If, in experience, we
suspend the notion of there being a particular object, as well as
suspend the notion of there being a particular mental act made by a
particular ego or consciousness, then only the essences remain, only
fundamental general properties remain apparent in experience.
So, suspending belief in external existences, or particular substances, which are only supported by non-empirical presuppositions or senseless metaphysical assumptions, only presuppositionless essences or meanings remain. The most general of these meanings is simply the object of consciousness. If we analyse experiences further we find that there are kinds of objects, and if analyse further we find certain necessary and sufficient properties which constitute the meaning these kinds. We could speak of any object, in the most general logical sense, as being identical to and nothing more than the constitution of all the essences which could possibly be apprehended in one whole meaning, as being this so and so kind of object.
The intensional object is always a knowable essence, or constitution of essences, and it always has some meaning, even if most general as just the 'object of consciousness'. At least some meaning or some properties will be apparent to consciousness, and the relational totality of these at any one time is what constitutes the intensional object. Meaningful apprehension is what consciousness does. Since apprehension of particulars, devoid of essences or self-evident meaning, is impossible, what is known of objects are apriori essences. They are apriori because they are already recogisable and already applicable. More essences can be learned and recognised, but all learning must necessarily be based on recurring experience and any experience must presuppose at least some essence knowledge.
One is apt to understand the essences as a third realm, between the mental act at one pole and the intensional object at the other pole. This makes some sense, when we view the realm of apprehended meaning-content as identical to essences. We could realise both the mental act and the intensional object as the fundamental necessary logical presuppositions in all experiences and descriptions, while the essences are the apriori intuitions of experience. Here, the two poles are logical entities, while the inbetween essences are the fundamental constituents of experience and empirical knowledge.
Yet, since the essences are of such a
sort so very different from the two poles of mental act and object,
it seems misconstrued to call this a third realm. What we ought to
say, for clarity, is that the essences or meanings are 'about' either
mental acts or objects. Mental acts and objects are two fundamental
class essences of experience, and essence-knowledge is about one or
the other. In other words, the essences come in two categories, which
are mental acts and objects. For those two most fundamental
experiences are what science and inquiry and knowledge are all about.
Psychology focuses study on mental acts and natural science studies objects, and phenomenology studies the necessary and essential relations between mental acts and objects, and how objects depend on acts and acts depend on objects. Mental acts and intensional objects are like question marks, with no answers until essence-knowledge fills their logical void. To speak of acts and objects is to speak of the most general of categories, the most general essences, but the building of knowledge is in describing these, describing their contents. And what we find in that analysis is nothing but a content of essences. So, mental act and intensional object are virtually vacuous concepts, until we discover their actual and possible meanings in particular case experiences. Only then can we find and describe the various kinds of acts and objects, which is the true purpose of sciences. Thus, to view a metaphysical system with acts and objects polarised, and essences independently between, is to misconstrue because objects nor acts cannot be realised apart from essences, that is, there are no objects of experience other than essences of objective experience, and there are no mental acts other than essences of subjective activities.
It is not that these essences are just
in our mind, while the 'real' objects are outside mind. It is not
meaningfully descriptive of experience to say that in front of my
body is some 'thing' which in my mind is a rock-concept, whereby
there is the particular thing and then there is the known essence or
idea of 'this' existing in something else called a mind. Experience
shows there to be a rock object, whereby the rock is a kind of
object. There is no experienced distinction or separation between
rock and object. I don't experience an object out there and a rock in
my mind. Empirical theories can lead to such nonsense.
Simply, we could say that an object of experience is constituted of essences and nothing else, and the object is an entity of logical language rather than an empirical appearance. All that appears for consciousness are constitutions of essences, and the object 'containing' these essences is merely a logical construct for grammatical or descriptive purposes. In other words, we speak of an object constituted by essences, but this is grammer leading us falsely to assume a metaphysical commitment to something other than essences themselves. In truth, the object is a non-metaphysical logical entity used in description only, while the essences are metaphysically real to experience. Only essenses are really apprehended and there is no object of experience except a constitution of essences.
Describing experience as given, phenomenologically, I should say there is a rock in front of me, a blue rock, an unusual rock because it is glittering blue, and I have no memory of any other blue rock, and I realise this as 'one-of-a-kind', so to speak, yet nonetheless I recognise this to be a blue rock, a rock which is blue, and the rock and the blue are essences experienced outside of my body. I could say that the rock and the blue are inside my mind, for these essences, these knowables, are in my present consciousness or in the present mental act of apprehension. But definitely, the rock and the blue are outside my physical body. My fingers can even touch the rock, even touch the blue. So it does make sense, when speaking from direct experience without metaphysics, to describe the rock and the blue as independent essences in the world, since I can pick up the rock and see the blue outside of me, as long as we do not mistake this as a description of the general concept being outside the body or independent of mind. Just know, simply, that when I describe a rock, I am not describing the concept rock but the object in front of me, and this object is none other than a rock. The object and conceptual recognised essence are identical. No 'unknowable object', no 'object being described' is assumed in the phenomenological description. All that can be described is just experience itself, and all that is experienced are essences, general concepts or properties. There is blue, there is rock, or there is blue on the rock, or there is a blue rock. This descriptive method is objective, in terms of one's experience, but one experience is not necessarily shared by others. Another mind may apprehend glittering sparkles of violet moving through the blue, or he may apprehend this simply as a hard solid object. A philosopher may see here a material object or maybe a 'thing', but that too is a general concept rather than a particular non-conceptual entity. For someone else looking at this rock, or material object, he may apprehend a kind of nature spirit or maybe a sacred object used in some special ceremony. Someone else may be puzzled and view my rock as an unidentified alien object.
What appears self-evident to mind, in experience, are essences, properties, general notions, and yet we can speak of an object there, in a logical non-empirical sense, having a set of possible or potential empirical essences. In speaking of an object in this way, the object is a logical entity which we presuppose to possess further essenses than presently revealed. The essences are not entities, but rather common meanings shared by a set of entities or possible experiences. Thus, an essence of a set of possible objects might be red, which is the universal redness of all red things. Philosophers trouble over universals, essences, because they are used in phenomenologially descriptive language as though they were existing entities in the world. But of course essences are concepts, and yet postulating a mental world of universal entities seems just as troublesome. Language speaks of essences as though they are entities, but these universals are not entities, not 'here or there' as existing things. They are not found here in the mind, nor there in the external world, but are realisations, recognitions, or simply experiences.
This might be confusing or obscure, or it may sound like a postulation of a 'third realm' of essences. We could say that essences are functions of mental activity, maybe not things but events. Or, we could say that essences can be meaningfully described as either of an external world or of the mind, since essences can be thought of as things like rocks or colors like blue, while essences can also be known as general concepts which are obviously not like rocks of an external, material world. Blue is a recurring realisation about or in relation to certain kinds of rock, sky or waters. There are blue rocks, blue skies, and blue lakes. The essence blue is that which is found common to our experience of some rocks, skies and bodies of water. One could say that essences are the very elements of experience, without meaning they are just subjective or not also the elements of the known world. The essences make up the world, for the world is nothing, unknowable, without the essences, so they are the elements of the world as well as of experience. The world and experience cannot be divided, for there is no world describable but the world of experience, and all descriptions necessarily presuppose essences.
This is a non-metaphysically based
methodology for the science of experience, and it is foundational
since experience is the basis of any science. We can now study the
essence-features of mental phenomena, or appearances, without
dismissing these as unreal or unverifiable. Whoever dismisses these
features as unreal should be able to explain what is real, in
contrast to the unreal, without making use of essences or describing
features of experience. And if these intuited fatures are thought to
be unverifiable, then what is verifiable?
In the way of Descates, we can critically doubt more and more of our assumptions, beliefs and theories of reality, until we eliminate all but what cannot be reasonable doubted, until all that is left to regard as just given is that which we directly experience. We can doubt physical existence and the material world. We can doubt that what we know, as truth or essences, has existence outside of our mind. But we cannot doubt what is directly present in experience. So the objects of experience are without doubt, and these must be the foundations of objective truth if there is to be any sensible and rational meaning to the idea of truth.
Yet what kind of truth are we speaking of when one person may see a rock while another may see a nature spirit? Surely, the assertion of there being a blue rock on the ground does not mean that the object described is necessarily or truly a rock, nor that its color is blue. Truth cannot be necessarily identified with how something appears or with what we happen to think something is. That kind of truth 'objectivity' merely means some idea or property 'apparently objective' or being thought-objective in someone's mind. It seems objective but is not necessarily objective for anyone else. Sure, we can describe experiences by recognised essences, but this does not entail that those essences are recognised by anyone else. So your phenomenology, which is supposed to be the foundations of scientific truths, is grounded on pure subjective idealism.
Are we making a problem which is no more apparent with phenomenology than with any empirical science? All sciences of observation are founded on the observations of individuals. All tested and testable theories are founded on individual tests. All of the individual observations and tests are brought together for comparison, as a collection of data used to develop a coherent model or theory of which none of the observations or tests contradict. We should treat all observations with equal respect, but if just one observation contradicts all others we are likely to dismiss it as a mistake. My point is that each experience can be treated as objective, as objective as any other experience. You are right that objectivity is more meaningful as a concept to science when it makes reference to collective experience or to a large set of experiences, but it should be remembered that a collective meaning of objectivity or objective truth is still based, necessarily, on what is apparent to individuals or to individual tests. So, first we must accept the objectivity of individual experiences, including the essences or properties supposed in such experiences, before collective objectivity can enjoy the meaning you want it to possess.
This object which looks like a rock, a blue rock, may not be a real rock but an artistic replica made of plastic. By your methods, this object present to experience is a rock, for that essence is objectively intuited. You say it is meaninful to you as a rock. This is what you recognise so this is 'what it is'. But what if someone says it is plastic? You then begin to doubt this being a rock, and you can even imagine picking it up to find how very light weight it is and how plastic it feels to touch. Now you think it is plastic, a fake rock, made by man to mimic a real rock, while moments before you saw this as a heavy, solid rock of earthy substance and were amazed by its unusual organic blueness. Then, your friend tells you he was joking about it being fake and plastic. Or is he now joking? So you are now looking at this object and completely uncertain if it is an organic rock or a plastic piece of art.
One might ask here, what is true? Is the object before me a real rock or not? And the only way to settle this is to pick it up and examine it further or smash it with a hammer or some other test. The object could be rock and could be not rock. There is meaning in asking what it really is, by common language and common verification tests, apart from what you happen to think it is or apart from the essence you intuite. The essence you intuite is just your belief, which comes to your mind because of associations with its primary and secondary properties or associations with objects in memory which were identified as rocks. Your method moves too far into idealism. Realism will have to distinguish truth from mere appearances and the real from what is merely thought or believed as real.
I might wish to know if this object is made of organic material or if it is plastic instead, and you are right in that such a question cannot be aswered until some further tests are made, until further experiences are forced. Of course, the real and fake distinction is only meaningful because of the possibility of artistic creations. Art pieces are as real as organic pieces, if you mean by real' existing materially. In your example, the appearance of either possibility, organic rock or plastic rock, is the same. The fact of my uncertainty of its material composition, or the fact of my questioning, or if my thought about this were to alternate back and forth; all this is no contradiction to my description of experience. My method is to just describe experience, even if vacilating. One thing I note is that my belief, in this case, is either one or the other and is never both at once. Never do I apprehend this as a plastic work of art at the same time as apprehending it as an organic rock come from the earth mother. This shows, or proves, that these two different essences, or different recognitions, are incompatable and contradictory, which is now an addition to my world knowledge. I am looking for a description of what is given to experience. When studying the object present, I'm not necessarily looking for hidden material essences or compositional essences. I'm not looking for what causes this to be, neither psychologically nor physically. But, such questions could come to mind. I may, indeed, wish to discover the essence or essences of its material composition, and in that case I might pick up the object or test it with a hammer. Then, I find new essences, and some of the essences thought to be necessary to what is before my mind may then be discarded. If it turns out to be plastic, then I should say that I was wrong about the material essence, but it makes no sense to say my previous experience of an organic essence was untrue. The experience of an organic rock was what it was. It was real. Since the experience was as real at the time, we should not call it unreal or dismiss it as nonsense or insignificant study. To speak of experience as true or false is meaningless. We can speak of our description of experience as true or false, since we could be dishonestly lying, but experience itself is just fact. A fact just is. Only a description of fact can be true or false. The distinction between real and appearance also breaks down in the pure study of experience, as well as in the pre-philosophical attitude. All experience is real. All experience is appearance. The meaning of 'real' only has pragmatic significance in some theory presupposing a reality/appearance distinction or in terms of art being a mimic of the organic. Something is significantly 'real' only in comparison with somethings 'just appearing in the mind' or somethings faking an essence usually intuited.
The natural attitude is pre-philosophical, pre-theoretical, and free of presuppositions. All propositions of experience are reduced to their primordial meanings, the fundamental essences to which they necessarily depend, and which themselves have an intuited independence from other ideas. We study expereience to find its constituting necessary essences, its foundational elements, and from this reduction to the primordial basis of experiences, we describe just the un-analysable, un-reducible, self-evident, intuited features. that which we can only accept as apriori if the experience is to have any meaning at all. From this method we build knowledge, a scientific knowledge of essences, an eidetic science.
First, we suspend any beliefs or theories about existence, representation, and causes, mental or physical.In this natural attitude there is no presupposed distinction between reality and appearances, or between truth and representation. We suspend all philosophical judgements and metaphysical presuppositions. Second, we view the general essences. All general ideas directly recognised in the object-at-hand or given circumstance are noted. The object of experience is constituted by a set of essential features or properties, which are necessary in order for this object to have the meaning it does. All objects appear as a related set of universal essences. We can only know these general properties and general descriptive concepts, and not some 'thing-in-itself'. There can be no absolutely hidden, unrecognisable essences. All essences can make themselves apparaent to mind, within the experience, though not all possibly recognised essences will be apparent at any one time or to any one mind. Objects are revelations of essences, but not all possible essences are necessarily revealed.
The essences are independent of any individual consciousness, for they remain stable as possible experiences, possible revelations for any individual consciousness, at various times. Thus, the essences are stable and objective. Without intuited stable essences the objects of experience would have no stable meaning and we could make no connection to different moments of perceiving the same objects. Then there would be no experience of essence recurrence, nor would we recognise objects being the same when they are moving or when our focus shifts away and back again or when we perceive X from different spatial perspectives. Meaningful recognitions can remain stable only if there are recurring necessary essences. If we accept experience for what it is, then the essences must be accepted. So for experience to what it is, appearing as it does, there must be necessary objective apriori recurring essences, and not simply unique unconnected particulars. This is a familiar argument to Kant, logically proving apriori truths by deducing them as necessary from experience. Yet we cannot necessarily deduce that essences are just constructions of the mind, as Kant assumed, and we cannot necessarily deduce that essences come to consciousness from a real world external to and spearate from appearances or experiences. What we have to accept, though, is that essence qualities very often appear to come from an external world, from material things outside the thinking and apprehending consciousness, so if we are to speak of reality as it appears to consciousness, or as it is in our experience, we should speak of those qualities as creative phenomena presenting themselves to mind from the external world. Just know that when I speak of the external world I do not mean Kant's noemenon nor things-in-themselves, nor a reality separate from our possible experience and knowledge.
Contrary to Kant, we see the meaninglessness in positing a real world apart from the world appearances. The reality/appearance distinction and the world/mind distinction is meaningless and ungrounded. Thus, the senselessness of arguments over essences being in the world or in the mind. We conclude them to be apriori and independent of individual minds, but not necessarily in 'the world' as distinct from the world of possible experience. We can say, truly, that the essences are found in the world, as long as we are not assuming the reality/appearance or world/mind distinction. What we would mean by 'in the world' is that essences or truths are apriori to individual experiences and independent of solipsism, that they are revealed from outside of our consciousness and come to us independent of our own constructions.
Thus, the objective scientific attitude can be validly maintained. We might also truly say that essences are in the mind or in consciousness, as long as we do not assume there to be some other things outside consciousness which these essences are somehow supposed to represent. For our only experiences of essences are through or via mental activity, or known in consciousness.
Though essences are independent of individual minds, the knowledge of essences do depend on particular cases whereby the essence is recognised. Thus, the nature of an essence, or the truth description of an essence, is not dependent on the existence of any one particular example of it, even though it is dependent on at least some particular example found in experience, no matter what one it is. Essences cannot be known without some particular case or objects appearing as such. The knowledge of blue essence depends on experiences of blue appearing objects. To have knowledge of blue, this essence must first present itself in some case experience, as in the sky above. Then I know the essence blue and now have the mental ability to recognise this same essence in other case experiences, in future skies, in certain waters or in certain rocks. I am then, also, able to exemplify this essence in an infinite number of variable particular examples. For example, I can now imagine or describe many possibilities, many possible variables, of this essence. Each essence has possible variations, independent of being actual or found. Many possible particulars or objects can be used as examples of the essence-meaning or used to identify the essence. We can even determine the limits of variation, that is, the horizon of the essence where a thing ceases to be that essence and becomes another. These horizons, or borders, are the least definitive intuitions of an essence kind, and are the borders where different minds are more likely to disagree on the identity of an essence, where two essences are more likely to fluctuate in their appearance, or where different essences come closest to merging.
The knowing of an essence, or general property, is not derived from inductively abstracting an essence-property, or general feature, which all things of a certain kind possess. This inductive method is logical circular. Because how would one choose the set of studied particular objects of which the inductive process is to abstract the essence one seeks to know? In order to abstract and acquire knowledge of the essence blue, one would first need to pick out blue objects from other colored objects, which implies that one is already able to recognise the essence blue. Therefore, knowing the essence blue must be an immediate intuition. Knowledge must ultimately begin from these direct intuitions of essences. Once intuited, or directly perceived, the essence can be given a name, such as blue, and whenever new particular cases reveal this same essence that essence is immediately recognised as the same as previously experienced, and thus we call it by the same name. This, of course, depends on a memory of previous perceptions called blue. This, then, does require a right comparison for similarity between the present perception and previous ones in memory, in order to correctly name the essence, or in order to keep our names for essences consistent. Yet each instance of the essence blue appearing is, still, a direct intuition. One could say that a definite sensa of this essence is apparent, in each particular recognition, but for consistent naming or describing we must presuppose some mental ability to make comparisons with memories and recognise resemblances. And since right naming and consistent describing is an essential feature of truth-claims and knowledge, some form of a resemblance theory or a presupposition in certain mental abilities seems to be demanded.
The foundations of science must begin with a phenomenology of essences, Husserl asserts, because any and all knowledge is built from, and can only be built from, apriori intuitions or ultimate essences. Presupposed in all scientific discovers is an apriori knowledge of essences and the ability to recognise essences. Any science of discovering the real and the connections or recurring patterns of our common reality can only be based the fundamental essences or intuited properties of our experience. All knowledge can only be based on certain fundamental self-evident and unarguable intuitions, of which the phenomenological method studies and describes. Thus, phenomenology is apriori to all theories, descriptions, and relational thinking.
The objects of thought, and all ideas, can be reduced to ultimate essences, to foundational meanings of apriori intuitions. The essences, as the only objective, empirical necessary truths, are those direct intuitions which are not dependent on other truths since they are not derived from or inferred from any other truth or intuition. If an essence were derived either from some other idea or from a particular experience other than itself, then we could ask from what was this derived, until ultimately some elementary non-derivative, apriori truth must just accepted as self-evident.
Hegel and the objective idealists, such as Royce, do not believe that reason forces us to accept this presupposition of distinguishable individual essences or distinct building blocks of knowledge. They will say that we cannot possibly discover ultimate essences, or building blocks of knowledge, which are independent of necessary relations, necessarily related ideas or experiences. For them, nothing, no essences can be distinguished as fundamental and self-evident in themselves. Rather, they conclude, everything known is derived from related experiences or ideas, so all essences or truths are necessarily related to one another, and the only completely non-dependent truth could only be the totality of all knowing, the complete whole inter-relation of universe and mind.
Yet, what Husserl and others will argue is that for any experience or apprehension to have a distinct significance or meaning, which experiences do appear to have, there must be apriori known elements involved. So if we study our knowledge, involved in experiences, and proceed to reduce this further and further into the more elementary premises of our knowledge, we will eventually suspend all derived ideas and arrive at those non-derived, just-intuited apriori essences which are foundational to any ideas or meanings we hold about this experience and which must be necessarily evident in order for the experience to have the meaning it appears to have.
We can develop a science of essences, a project of discovering and describing essences, for these are the very elements of what we should call reality. The essences are what make up the world as it is to us. These are the general properties commonly found in the various cases of experience, such as general colors, shapes, textures, and the various essential substances found in the world. To find the fundamental essences we must study particular cases of experience. Thus, we study any and all experiences in order to discover and classify the various essences which necessarily constitute the revealed world.
Every object or circumstantial case of experience is embued with meaning or with a conglomeration of meaningful essences. The meaning is found in the necessary essences, those certain essences which are necessary to the meaning known or intuitively apprehended. Features which are ignored by consciousness, in a particular case, are those which are not necessary to the immediate meaning intensionally realised by consciousness. Thus, whatever general properties one apprehends are just those essences which are necessary to the general meaning enjoyed, to the overall comprehension of what is in focus.
Meaningful terms do not need to be based on external references or physical objects. Meaningful reference depends only on experience, on what universal properties are self-evident, apparent, or simply recognised. References can only be ultimately based on sensed intuitions or immediate empirical recognitions, all to do with the world as it appears. There is no rational need to justify these immediate intuitions of general properties, and there is no possibility of justifying them unless we hope to justify some empirical intuitions by other ones. At some point one can only accept what is recognised, that this is blue or this is a rectangular shape or there is movement. This is without presupposition of a physically real world distinct from how the world appears to mind. References to a world different from what is experienced involve an unsubstantiated inference. So, not only is reference to an external world unnecessary for meaningful truth statements, but any meaning-dependence on there being being an external world apart from our experience is ungrounded and thus meaningless. True meaning of propositions can only be related to objects of experience, not to metaphysical fictions such as the noemenon or to a world different from that experienced.
Frege argued that expressions can have sense-meaning independent of whether the meant object exists or not. Furthermore, different meanings may refer to the same fixed existing object. Thus, for aboriginies the 'morning star' is a meaning different from the 'evening star', yet these two meanings refer to the same physical object which modern astronomers know as the planet Venus. If we assume a rule that to know the meaning of an expression is to know its actual reference as a something at some time and in some actual place, then to understand the meaning of the morning star and the evening star is to understand their identity, as the same actual thing. Yet this limited notion of meaning allows no possibility of independent meanings for the morning star and the evening star.
To someone who experiences the morning star in a meaningful way different from the evening star, who enjoys different feelings or recognises different spirits in regards to these two objects of consciousness, we cannot logically say their different meanings are wrong or mistaken or simply dismiss the meaning differences by analytically reducing them to the same meaning-sense as Venus. That kind of scientific reductionism is meaningful for physics but it would be an avoidance of psychological meaning. A psychological science cannot just dismiss the significant meaning differences of people's experience. Knowing the morning star and the evening star as physically identical is relevant to that physical scientific knowledge, but this kind of identicalness is insignificant to the different meanings and aesthetic experiences of the morning star and evening star. So, in aesthetic or psychological meaning, these are two different objects. They may look generally the same, but one comes up in the morning and the other in the evening, and each may be respectively related to different spirits and mythological meanings. Also, ordinary people probably do not aesthetically experience the same object as astronomers, that is Venus the planet next closest to the sun, but rather an aesthetic experience would more likely have as its object the morning star or evening star. If we aesthetically view with just the perception and without related beliefs or meanings other than the appearing star-like property, then the morning and evening stars look very similar, except that one is seen in the contextual background of dawn while the other is seen in the background of dusk. So even in the pure sensory aesthetic attitude, the two aesthetic objects are significantly different.
If my beliefs regarding the morning phenomenon are different from my beliefs regarding the evening phenomenon, in what sense can we say these beliefs are either untrue or actually mean the same? If I believe the appearance of the morning star brings the quality feeling of love to aesthetic experience, while the appearance of the evening star brings the quality of wisdom, then possibly such beliefs could be verified as true or false by studying a large set of aesthetic experiences, but the fact of the belief itself can be neither true nor false, for it is just a given psychological fact. In other words, the proposition or meaning of "I believe - M is related to L, and E is related to W" must simply be regarded as fact, a described belief, that is, assuming I am honest about this fact of my belief. If the above proposition were possibly true or false, then what is true or false is the fact of this belief and not what is believed. Of a different sort is the proposition, "M is related to L, and E is related to W." This has a meaning which we have reason to question as true or false, and we should be able to make some empirical study for its verification or not, though absolute verification may indeed be impossible except on an individual perspectival basis. This proposition is meaningfully true or false, and cannot be rationally accepted as just a fact, whereas the previous proposition of my belief must be accepted as simple fact if there can be no verification other than my self-evident introspection of this belief. A belief just is. When we say that a belief is true or false, we mean the 'what' of the belief and not the believing. The believing is a mental act which is a mental fact. What is believed is the propositional object which we usually call a belief, even though we often also call the mental act a belief.
Meinong spoke of the 'objective', in his phenomenological model, as distinct from the mental act and the object. In his view the object is always real, not in terms of some theory of existence but just in respect to the mental act. So objects in a dream are just as real to the mind at that moment as is anything solid in waking life. Thus the object is a fact and the mental act is a fact. But the objective is a 'belief' and is not a fact. So an objective belief is not real or factual, in the same sense as objects or mental acts. For clarity sake, then, let us not call beliefs real. Afterall, beliefs are infinitely variable in possibility and infinitely contrasting. If all beliefs were real, then there would be no distinction between beliefs and facts. Yet this is absurd, since experience gives us facts or evidence, but all sorts of beliefs could contradict those facts. Therefore, facts should be distinguished from mere beliefs which may or may not be factual. A belief is possibly true or false, fact or not. While a fact, a definite object in experience, has no meaning as true or false, for by definition it just is what is. It is either an unquestionable apriori truth or it is a verified proven truth. Thus, the objective, the belief, which can possibly be true or false, is not an object of experience, not a factual phenomenon, not real in any factual sense. Yet if dream objects and thought-objects are real or facts of mental phenomenon, we tend to wonder why beliefs are said to be unreal. This confusion arises due to the ambiguity of the term 'belief'. If we speak of a belief as an object of thought, as in "I'm believing the sky is blue", then "the sky is blue" appears to be the object or thought of my mental act of believing. It is then similar to saying, "I am thinking the sky is blue," where the "sky is blue" is the object of my thinking. Here, "the sky is blue" is a factual object of my thought or belief, that is, my thinking or believing, and it is not a statement which you would question as true or false except for the possibility that I may be lying about what I am really thinking or believeing. But if "the sky is blue" is regarded as a proposition about the world or existence, a hypothesis which could be true or false, that is, if it is not understood as merely a fact of my thinking or what thought is present in my consciousness, then this is an 'objective' proposition which is neither necessarily real nor existing. Such a proposition is not even a mental phenomenon, for if it were so regarded it would be a factual object without any meaning as true or false. How we regard statements, how they mean, seems to be another realm altogether. This is the realm of meaning. A statement is a fact, like an object, but a proposition is the meaning presupposed or assumed by the statement. So we can distinguish objective propositions from factual statements, just as "the sky is blue" can have either meaning. One distinguishable property of objective propositions which is devoid in factual statements is that propositions believed or stated can be analysed and unpacked of their presuppositions and implied meanings, to do with the whole nature of the statement. While in statements of fact there are no hidden meanings to unpack, though we can phenomenologically reduce the statement into its primordial intuited essences and then explicate or clarify the oestensive meaning of the essence-terms. The former involves comprehending beyond the meaning horizon of the individual terms to realise the presupposed context or theory implied in the statement, while the latter is only a reductive translation of each term into object essences. For example, in the propositional meaning of "the sky is blue" one needs to see beyond any oestensive meaning of sky and blue, and unpack the meaning of the whole statement into something like, "there is a substance blue existing up there in the sky", or "the sky is materially composed of blue", or maybe even "the sky and blue are identical substances." The statement could have many possible meanings, depending on the presuppositions hidden within it. Thus, its meaning is not directly apparent as is a factual object of thought, and in the context of its presuppositions it is possibly true or false. Yet, as a factual statement, "the sky is blue" means the sky (the essence referring to the space or appearance up there) appears to be blue (the color essence appearing or intuited). The appearance of the essence sky is constituted by the essence blue. The meaning of sky and of blue is no more than 'that' up there or 'that' which is factualy apparent in the mental act of perception.
So, in the statement of fact, which
itself is a kind of meaning, "the sky is blue" is just
factually descriptive of an apprehension or a belief. As a whole, it
is an object of thought. But as a metaphysical or explanatory
proposition, "the sky is blue" is loaded with
presuppositions and meanings not just apparent but implied, and those
meanings are not objects in the mental act because they are not
really there apparent in the terms of the statement and not really
there as objects of thought. We could take this to mean that
metaphysical propositions are not real at all or that these meanings
do not really exist, or we could say that those meanings are
subsisting in a non-factual hypothetical realm where the notions of
true or false are still meaningful.
What gets confusing is that the object of my believing activity can be regarded as just a fact when it is studied in necessary relation to the believing. For example, the object of my belief is "M is related to L, and E is related W, (where L and W are regarded as distinct qualities)." When understood independently of "my belief is that..", or when understood as a universal proposition, as a truth regarding verifiable entities and relations, this proposition appears questionable and meaningfully true or false. But if understood in the necessary context of 'this' being my belief, the meaningfulness of 'it' being true or false vanishes, for now it is just a statement of fact. For the very same statement, "M is related to L, etc.", can just mean or refer to my belief, to the fact of my belief, to the object of my belief, rather than meaning some true or false universal proposition. The fact of my believing X, or the fact of X being my belief, are un-arguable facts, referring as they are to mental phenomena. You might question my honesty, and in that sense the question is if I am being true or not. But for me, my beliefs are self-evident facts, as is my believing.
I believe the sun is hot. My believing is an unquestionable fact, and my belief 'that the sun is hot' is also an unquestionable fact, irregardless of whether or not the sun out there is actually hot. Similarly, my perception of a blue sky is a fact, for all this is is a description of a mental event, of a certain kind of perception. "I see two apples on the table" is a fact and "there are two apples on the table" is a fact of my seeing. To question if I am 'seeing correctly' is irrelevant to what I mean. I'm just telling you what I see. If I tell you, "there are two apples on the table" you will probably understand this as an assertive empirical proposition, and it is then meaningful as such because there may or may not be two apples on the table. But if this statement is necessarily related to my seeing, as the object of my mental act, as in "what I see is that .." "there are two apples on the table", then the meaning, the proposition, is of a distinctly different sort, even though the sentence appears the same. It also has an empirical meaning, but it is simply descriptive, a statement of unquestionable fact, referring to what I see.
Thus, when I say the sky is blue, there is no logical necessity for the meaning of this statement to refer to an essence blue existing in the sky. The statement can have a kind of meaning different from some supposed philosophical assertion that an essence blue actually exists in the sky and that this assertion can be verified or falsified by physically examining the material substance of the skies to test if the sky is composed of something blue. Instead of this literal material meaning, I may mean just that the sky appears to be blue, or maybe I mean that the sky is blue repeatably in my aesthetic experience and confirmed by other's experience. The ordinary meaning of "the sky is blue" is simply a factual description of aesthetic experience, a description of seeing, and it is not ordinarily a scientific assertion nor a theory about the material composition of the sky.
My belief 'that the sun is hot' is an
unquestionable fact. If the sun itself were actually cold, but
effectively felt as hot to me on earth, then the statement would
still refer to a meaningful fact, that the sun feels hot or the sun
is hot to me. So, meanings can refer to unquestionable beliefs or to
self-evident perceptions, without reference to actual existences
which can verified or not. Self-evident beliefs, feelings,
perceptions, or any aesthetic experience, are unverifiable by
scientific analysis and can only be described as they appear to
consciousness, and yet statements containing and relating these are
certainly meaningful, sensible and comprehensible.
If a physicist posits a new particle, this term or conceptual entity has a meaning in his overall system of belief, that is, within his overall theory, and yet when the particle is proven to be unverified or falsely supposed, there isn't much sense in saying that the particle never had any meaning.
If a novelist writes about an alien monster, the meaning or sense of what this refers to is not found somewhere in the universe, and the creature's meaning, or the meaning of using this object in a sentence, does not necessarily depend on that thing being verifiable or not. It is truly meaningless or nonsensicale to speak of having to verify a fictional creature, in the same way as we require verifiability for meaningful scientific or metaphysical assertions. We simply do not understand the novelist as using language in the same literal way as the scientist, as meaning the same by "there is a..", even though the novelist may use language in exactly the same way. Of course a good novelist uses language in the same way as a scientist or a news-reporter, and yet if we consider his sentences as objects of experience, the meaning we recognise in those sentences is a different sort than the meaning we would recognise in the very same sentences when recognised as scientific assertions or literal news. Same sentences but different meanings. And different effects as well if, for instance, one were to mistakenly comprehend a literal, scientific or news-worthy, meaning to the fictional assertion that "there are alien creatures approaching the earth."
Meaning only requires a reference to experienced phenomena, a reference to objects of the natural attitude, to recurrable comprehensable phenomena, with no necessary philosophical judgement as to what is real or true, apart from experience itself. Meaningful expressions or descriptions need not refer to existing or subsisting realities, and there is no presupposed logic that entails commitment to ontological or metaphysical entities. The meaning of any object of empirical inquiry is simply identical to the essences found to be necessary to how this object is apprehended. The meaning is the relation of essences found, those universal qualities or concepts which must necessarily be apparent and apprehendable in order for the object to be known as it is.
For example, this object before me has
meaning as a box, and can be truly described as a box, because of
certain general properties which constitute it. I apprehend a set of
properties which give meaning to the concept of box, viewing the
cardboard material, the rectangular shape, the possibilities for
setting other things in it, and how it seems to have been put
together. All of these general properties are immediately intuited
and there is no reason to doubt any of those direct intuitions or
property recognitions. All of these properties constitute the meaning
of what I apprehend as a box. This doesn't entail that all boxes must
be constituted by all these same properties, as though there were
only one set of necessary properties for all boxes. All that is truly
said here is that certain apprehended properties, sufficiently and
without contradiction, constitute the meaning of this object - in my
experience. Those properties give meaning to this experience, and if
recurring then the same meaning would again be present. What this
concurrment of properties would mean to someone else or to all other
people is not relevant in this immediate study. I can further study
what properties are actually necessary to this meaning I recognise,
and what are merely accidental. I see a large rip on one side of the
object, but it is still a box, so I know that unripped sides are
unnecessary to my essential meaning of box. I could use imagination
and see this object transformed into a round shape - still a box, or
if it was evidently metal - still a box, painted blue - still a box.
But if it had no opening, no apparent inside, or seemed completely
solid, and if I could not put papers inside - then it is no longer a
box, the meaning radically transforms. So the necessary properties
become more apparent. Some properties are less significant or more
significant, within non-specific boundaries. Shape may not be fully
significant, as it could be square, rectangular, round or conical,
and yet some shape and certain limits on shape are necessarily
significant. The object present might double in size or shrink to
half size, and still present the same general meaning, but if this
shape were small as a flea or large as the moon I would not apprehend
Objects have significant meaning beyond their mere appearance. Their meaning is wider than the meaning just apparent by the appearance. So an object may have more significance and more meaning than I can apprehend in this moment and by the essences immediately revealed. This is because many objects have a kind of living relation with some other objects not immediately in appearance, and this living relation is a complex of unfixed, growing and dying relations of meanings in various contexts or in relation with different objects. Much of the meanings I realise regarding objects are part of complex webs of lived relations and intersubjective experiences. Meanings live, they expand and contract within greater contextual meanings. So there is a horizon to my own act of apprehension, as well as perception, in regards to any object-of-inquiry, and it may be impossible for anyone to exhaustively apprehend all the actual meanings of an object in its various lived relations, let alone apprehend all the possible meanings of an object from all possible perspectives. We can still maintain that an object or essence may have meaning independently of other objects or essences, but this meaning is limited, has a limited horizon, and it may have a wider significance of meaning, in a wider context of meaning, beyond the mere horizon of its independent appearance or beyond the horizon of our individual understanding. We could say that objects have meaning in a wider, 'lived world', which is very often beyond the limited apprehension of any one mental act or any one ego consciousness.
Thus, the more complete meaning of objects depends on inter-subjective experience. I alone, this one ego, am not responsible for all the meaning in my world of experience. I, this particular ego-consciousness, have not constructed all the apprehended meaning of those objects in my experience. I may be responsible for some of the meaning but certainly not all! Much of the meaning I apprehend regarding objects has been presented to me analogous to how various objects are presented to me. I may construct some of the objects in my world, but not all. Likewise, some of my knowledge can be attributed to my own construction but much more is given by a world independent of this ego-mind. This does not mean that the knowing of essences depends on anyone beside myself. It is the individual ego-consciousness which experiences and realises essences; it is the particular mental acts which apprehend the essences; it is the ego which has the ability to recognise and conceptualise the essences. But the essences are independent of any one ego, any one act or experience. So the fundamental essences are independent of and apriori to my experience. Only my knowledge of them is dependent on my mental abilities and activities. And without me, this ego, those same essences of the world may be again and and again experienced in other egos in many possible variations or exemplifications. The essences are intersubjective experiences. And the relational meanings of these essences, how various essences relate together, have a much wider livingness than in how they appear to me. So many meanings are possible in the relation of essences, and many meanings are constructed independent of my ego. Then, some of these meanings constructed by other egos are given to my consciousness alongside of or implied within the objects presented from this lived world outside of my control and construction. Most meanings are just given by the intersubjective world, just as most objects are just acquired.
Thus, object meanings are dependent on consciousness, but not necessarily dependent on my consciousness or any particular ego-consciousness. So it follows that only a pure essence consciousness, a transcendental essence-ego, is necessary for object meaning and propositional meaning. The world, and meaning of the world, is only dependent on a general or universal consciousness, and not any particular kind of ego. The individual ego or consciousness is completely irrelevant. Anyone can recognise meaning, the same meanings and same essences as anyone else, so all these egos are identical in essence for nothing can distinguish them as different except their respective abilities to perform the same essential mental acts. If intentional thinking, apprehension of meaning, or appreciation of essences are essences of all egos, as general activities of all egos, then the conceptual existence of an individual ego is irrelevant except as an exemplification or variation of the necessary transcendental ego essence. We only have to suspend the concept or theory of being an individual ego, in order to discover by direct intuition our true essential nature. If, without the preconception of being an individual ego, and with all suppositions suspended or eliminated, the consciousness is finally left with nothing but its essence, its thinking or appreciating essence, and since this is meaningfully true for all egos then all egos are but exemplifications of the same essence, the same transcendental ego. This transcendental ego consciousness is the absolute necessary presupposition, because all mental acts and all objects of consciousness are necessarily dependent on some variation of ego-consciousness and the very meaning of those ideas depends on this absolute ego-essence, and because all other essences can be eliminated while the pure transcendental ego remains.
Existence independent of possible experience is senseless. A world independent of possible known meaning is senseless. A world is inconceivable and meaningless without consciousness. If something is not the object of consciousness it cannot be said to exist.