Peter Gaitsch gained his PhD from the University of Vienna in 2013 with a thesis in philosophy (published Gaitsch 2014). He is a faculty member at the Department of Theology, University of Graz. His current research interests are in the fields of phenomenology, philosophy of biology and philosophy of religion.
Open peer commentary on the article “The Uroboros of Consciousness: Between the Naturalisation of Phenomenology and the Phenomenologisation of Nature” by Sebastjan Vörös. Upshot: In my commentary, I focus on the main claim that naturalizing transcendental phenomenology should lead to a phenomenologisation of nature. I suggest that this could be spelled out in a non-idealistic correlationism of mind and nature and, more specifically, in a phenomenological investigation into living beings based on the analysis of the embodied mind/lived body.
Gaitsch P. (2015) Do We Need a Metaphysics of Perception? Constructivist Foundations 11(1): 158–159. https://cepa.info/2242
Open peer commentary on the article “Towards a PL-Metaphysics of Perception: In Search of the Metaphysical Roots of Constructivism” by Konrad Werner. Upshot: My general concern is that transferring the analysis of perception to a metaphysical and even metametaphysical level is not very helpful when it comes to justifying a certain philosophical conceptualisation of perception. To this end, a phenomenological analysis is needed. Furthermore, I point to an ambiguity within Werner’s correlationist account of the mind-world relation - and to a last resort for radical constructivism.
Gaitsch P. (2016) Modern Anthropomorphism and Phenomenological Method. Constructivist Foundations 11(2): 220–221. https://cepa.info/2546
Open peer commentary on the article “Lived Experience and Cognitive Science Reappraising Enactivism’s Jonasian Turn” by Mario Villalobos & Dave Ward. Upshot: As a reply to the criticism that anthropomorphism and modern science are incompatible, targeting Jonasian phenomenology and Varelian enactivism, I suggest considering the concept of modern anthropomorphism, which seems prima facie compatible with the pluralistic situation of today’s life sciences. My further claim is that the phenomenological method is intrinsically linked with this sort of anthropomorphism.
Vörös S. & Gaitsch P. (2016) Desire and/or need for life? Towards a phenomenological dialectic of the organism. In: Tønnessen M., Armstrong K. & Rattasepp S. (eds.) Thinking about animals in anthropocene. Lexington Books, Lanham MD: 89–106. https://cepa.info/4245
Excerpt: In a sense, modern biology is back to square one, for if there is, indeed, to be a “welcome return of the organism”, theoretical biologists and philosophers of biology need to “go back to the roots” and confront a vast array of intricate philosophical questions that have lain dormant for more than half a century, questions about the nature of organism, living beings, and life as such. The current paper purports to provide a small contribution to this overarching agenda by shedding light on these issues from a phenomenologically-inspired perspective. In other words, it tries to approach the phenomena of “life” and “organism” by drawing from, and reflecting upon, some of the most important phenomenological approaches to biology. But this immediately raises a delicate question: What, if anything, can phenomenology, especially if construed in the Husserlian sense as the study of experience, say about “life” or “organism”? In what sense, and to what degree, these questions fall under its aegis? Are they not, as matters pertaining to matter (however broadly construed), something that needs to be resolved by natural sciences, and not by reflection on the nature of experience?
Vörös S. & Gaitsch P. (2016) The horizons of embodiment: Introduction to the special issue. Phainomena 25(98–99): 5–32. https://cepa.info/4154
In the past two decades, the notion of embodiment has been quickly gaining currency in cognitive science and philosophy of mind. Although virtually unknown at the beginning of the 1990's, it has now become, in the guise of embodied and enactive cognitive science, a serious contender against the classical (cognitivist) conceptions of mind, cognition, and consciousness. By drawing on the thematizations of the body found in Husserl and MerleauPonty, especially on the distinction between body as lived body (Leib) – a prereflective bodily awareness that shapes our experiential landscape –, and body as physical body (Körper) – a thematic experience of the body as an object –, it is maintained that mind and cognition are embodied in a twofold sense: (i) structurally, i.e., in the sense of being constituted by extracranial (neural, bodily, environmental, and social) processes, and (ii) phenomenologically, i.e., in the sense of including the experience of oneself as a bodily agent situated in the world. It is contended that this Janus-faced nature of corporeality, divided between “being a body” (Leibsein) and “having a body” (Körperhaben), may help undermine some of the age-old dualities (mind-body, interiorityexteriority, etc.) and thereby help anchor experience in materiality and materiality in experience. The main focus of the volume at hand is to analyze, evaluate, and critically reflect upon, what might be termed “horizons of embodiment.” First, it purports to examine the scope and applicability of the notion of embodiment in relation to not only human, but also animal, vegetative, and perhaps even artificial life. Specifically, it aims to investigate to what extent, if at all, different construals of embodiment might contribute to a better understanding of different life forms – of their unique, if tentative, modes of being, cognizing, and experiencing. Second, it purports to examine, from both practical and theoretical perspectives, possibilities for a “fusion of horizons” (Horizontverschmelzung) between structural and phenomenological approaches to embodiment: How can objective (third-person) and experiential (first-person) aspects of corporeality be combined so as to provide efficient means for the study of the living? Both perspectives wish to enrich and broaden our grasp of different grades, modes and dimensions of embodiment, bringing forth their tentative limitations and paving ways for their overcoming.