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 character. But three features distinguish the sort of work I do. First, my historical work is increasingly shaped by methodological questions about non-western philosophy (see book in progress). Second, analytic philosophy's history and its ongoing inheritance of Aristotle, Kant, and Hegel via Wittgenstein informs my ways of navigating phenomenology and East Asian philosophy. Third, 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 global 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 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. My interpretation thus affords clarity on several basic issues in Husserl, particularly 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 things, creatures, and people you and I experience. A further upshot of the dissertation is that it sets the stage to understand post-Husserlian phenomenology as the rejection of the identity of phenomenology and philosophical logic.
Philosophy Going Global? The Promise of Metaphilosophy
(Co-authored with Wiebke Denecke)
This book articulates ‘the global challenge’ for philosophy in the 21st century, and proposes a solution. The global challenge consists in two facts. On the one hand, social and institutional pressure is only increasing for Philosophy to include non-western traditions. But on the other hand, ‘non-western philosophy’ is a 16th century construction yet to be redesigned, under which most of the world’s intellectual traditions get distorted and domesticated in order to be taken seriously. To meet the global challenge, Wiebke and I propose embracing metaphilosophy (asking what philosophy is) as internal to philosophy, but reimagining metaphilosophy to include the ameliorative project of re-engineering the concept ‘philosophy’ for a global world.
"The intention and other beginning of Husserl's Prolegomena to Pure Logic"
Husserl’s Prolegomena to Pure Logic came to immediate acclaim as dealing the ‘deathblow’ to psychologism; since then, it has been read mostly as a propaedeutic to Husserl’s phenomenology. But what does the Prolegomena intend to do? I argue that it intends to resolve what, after Hegel, was known as the ‘logic question’ (the question of logic’s content as doctrine) and that the Prolegomena’s first seven paragraphs constitute an other beginning. These paragraphs assert that logic, per its concept as a 'teaching' or 'doctrine' (Lehre), is the self-knowing of science rather than any expansion of scientific knowledge. And while this beginning anticipates just what the later Husserl calls ‘transcendental logic’, it cannot be what the Prolegomena concludes logic to be, namely ‘pure logic’, the study of proof-theoretic and model-theoretic facts. Respecting how foreign the Prolegomena’s beginning is to the rest of the book lets us see many new things, including the early Husserl’s complex relation to post-Kantian logic and the unity of Husserl as an author.