You and I experience things around us. We see tables and chairs and smell burnt toast. Yet we experiencers, you and I, are people, too: we make marks and noises saying ‘we’, ‘you’, and ‘I.’ And with these marks and noises happen everything humanly possible—playing tag, waging wars, burying brothers, and avoiding love. Does our ability to experience depend on our ability to express a human standpoint? Does our ability to express a human standpoint, moreover, depend on our ability to experience?
I pursue this question of mutual dependence by study of two philosophical traditions: East Asian philosophy, and phenomenology.
My work is thus historical in focus. But two features distinguish the sort of historical work I do. First, a growing body of work in the analytic tradition drawing on Aristotle, Kant, and Hegel informs my philosophical sense of what is at stake in phenomenology and East Asian philosophy. Second, I believe that a philosopher, at their best, illuminates how thinking and knowledge-creation happen in art, science, and everyday life. My work therefore strives to be sensitive and attuned to how the arts and humanities, the cognitive and social sciences, and the many lineages of thinking philosophically conceptualize the issues I investigate.
Husserl's Philosophical Logic
We philosophers, declares Edmund Husserl in 1901, must "return to the things themselves." Historians of the phenomenological tradition standardly tell of a divide between Husserl’s early ‘realist’ phenomenology, launched by his Logical Investigations (1900-01) and the above declaration, and Husserl's ‘idealist’ phenomenology, launched by the first volume of Ideas (1913). Talk of a divide is not wrong: for while the first work unites the early phenomenological movement, the second work largely divides it, marking a key inflection point for the tradition that will come to dominate postwar European philosophy. But talk of a divide explains neither what is shared between Husserl’s early and later visions of phenomenology nor why Husserl himself saw no discontinuity between them. Scholars have answered variously as to what the continuity is, yet still leave a host of basic questions about Husserl's concept of phenomenology unresolved. My dissertation intervenes by arguing that Husserl’s phenomenology is, from early to late, a conception of philosophical logic. From the Logical Investigations on, Husserl understands ‘logic’ in the philosophical sense to be the explanation of what science and truth are. I argue that whatever else changes about Husserl’s phenomenology, it always aims to be logic in this sense. The upshot of my interpretation is greater clarity about several basic issues in Husserl, most notably, why phenomenology’s first-person descriptive work is primarily the work of philosophy, not psychology, and why ‘the things’ to which philosophy or phenomenology must return, by means of that descriptive work, are paradigmatically individuals, the objects of experience.
"How do you teach logic? Logic as Wissenschaftslehre in Husserl's Prolegomena"
Philosophy Going Global? The Promise of Metaphilosophy
(Co-authored with Wiebke Denecke)
What is 'non-Western philosophy', and how ought it figure in 'Philosophy', the global, academic discipline? Increasingly, it seems pressing to answer as follows: non-Western philosophy is any philosophy found elsewhere, and non-Western philosophy ought to figure in Philosophy as still more books that happen to be, upon inspection, recognizably philosophical and thus fair game for Philosophy to teach, research, and credentialize academic philosophers in. However, 'elsewhere' implies a center and a periphery, and 'recognizably philosophical' implies passing for philosophy by dint of satisfying criteria projectable from the center. The center, the West, gives the concept of philosophy, while the periphery, the non-West, demonstrates the (global, perennial) scope of this concept. In this book in progress, we expose the ways this line of answering the question fails to be responsive to both the challenge of 'non-Western philosophy' and the exigencies for Philosophy to go global, and we chart a new path that would succeed.