C O U R S E L E C T U R E
The Experience of the Now
Notes taken on April 22, 2017 by Edward Tanguay
you start listening to a song, e.g. the Beatles song, "Hey Jude"
after it starts, the beginning is sinking into the immediate past
each moment of the song is, in time, a separate and discreet event
each word is a separate event
when we hear the word "Hey", every bit of us pulls towards the next word in the song, "Jude"
as the two words unfold, we have both anticipation and retention
the anticipate and retention is a part of our experience
it's as if we can hear the approach words but not in a sensory fashion
the middle piece between subjective past and subjective future
the now is temporally extended to include the whole song or parts of the song
our present experience spreads to past and future and that is all contained in each and every present moment of consciousness
the first three are the familiar spacial dimensions
the fourth is physical time, or clock time
Husserl is the pioneer of the fifth dimension
like the fourth dimension, the fifth dimension affects all the contents of consciousness
you can anticipate a thought, experience its presence, and retain it as it fades
all consciousness is consciousness of something
in our phenomenological zoo, we find every kind of object: real, unreal, concrete, abstract, precise or vague
we find every kind of psychological attitude toward those objects
perceive, believe, imagine, remember, anticipate, hope, fear, etc.
some of these objects and attitudes are especially important
the computer at which you sit is not like the unicorn you imagine, i.e. it's real
but your psychological attitude toward both it is one of belief
although there are many insights to be found in the fun house of phenomenology, in the end, we exit to the serious business of real life
but if the fun house is consciousness itself, how can we leave it?
real things like computers and tables are elements in conscious awareness
our experience of computers and tables are different than our experience of unicorns and superheroes, but what is that difference?
much of Shakespeare probes the nature of the real and the unreal
Macbeth in particular explicitly questions reality throughout the play
as he prepares to kill the king of Scotland, he envisions a hallucination hovering in space
Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee. I have thee not, and yet I see thee still. Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible To feeling as to sight? Or art thou but A dagger of the mind, a false creation, Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain? I see thee yet, in form as palpable As this which now I draw.
the dagger Macbeth sees certainly looks real, but raises many questions
being a good phenomenologist, he reaches out to test some multi-sensory confirmation, but multi-sensory confirmation fails, "I have these not, and yet I see thee still"
his dagger lacks the continuity of a real thing that persists through time
the seeming dagger unlike a real thing, fails to enter into a cause-and-effect relation with other things, including Macbeth's hand as he reaches for the hallucinated weapon
there is no interpersonal agreement about the existence of the dagger
continued reality testing condenses the subjective into the objective
which will sort hallucinations from reality quite reliably