Situated phenomenology and biological systems: Eastern and Western synthesis

Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 2015 Dec;119(3):530-7. doi: 10.1016/j.pbiomolbio.2015.06.019. Epub 2015 Jul 2.


Phenomenology was born with the mission to give foundations for science of experience and to open consciousness to scientific study. The influence of phenomenology initiated in the works of Husserl and continued in a wide range of works of others was immense, but mainly within the confines of philosophy and the humanities. The actual attempts to develop a scientific discipline of the study of consciousness and to carry out research on cognition and consciousness were always based on the methods of traditional science in which elimination of the subjective has been always a primary tenet. Thus, focus was mainly on neurological correlates of conscious phenomena. The present paper is an attempt to initiate an extension and revision of phenomenological methodology with the use of philosophical and scientific experience and knowledge accumulated in a century of inquiry and research in relevant disciplines. The question which disciplines are relevant is crucial and our answer is innovative. The range of disciplines involved here is from information science and studies of computation, up to cultural psychology and the studies of philosophical traditions of the East. Concepts related to information and computation studies provide a general conceptual framework free from the limitations of particular languages and of linguistic analysis. This conceptual framework is extending the original perspective of phenomenology to issues of modern technology and science. Cultural psychology gives us tools to root out what in phenomenology was considered universal for humanity, but was a result of European ethnocentrism. Most important here is the contrast between individualistic and collectivistic cultural determinants of consciousness. Finally, philosophical tradition of the East gives alternatives in seeking solutions for fundamental problems. This general outline of the research methodology is illustrated by an example of its use when phenomenology is studied within the conceptual framework of information.

Keywords: Biology; Cybernetics; Eastern; Experience; Phenomenology; Robotics; Situated cognition; System; Western.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biology / methods*
  • Consciousness
  • Life
  • Philosophy*