Phenomenology & Aesthetics (2019)

Flyer 8.5*11 3-26



saturday, april 6 (@BU)

12 – 12:10  Opening Remarks

12:10 – 1:30  Walter Hopp (BU) Intuition and its Roles in Knowledge – Response Zachary J. Joachim (BU)

1:40 – 3:00  John Brough (Georgetown) Time and the Photograph – Response Michaela Sobrak-Seaton (BC)

3:00 – 3:30  Coffee

3:30 – 4:50  Jeff Mitscherling (Guelph) Empathy and the Aesthetic Experience in Early Phenomenology – Response Jason Bell (New Brunswick)

5:00 – 6:20  Kristin Gjesdal (Temple) Else Voigtländer on Literature and the Affirmation of Life – Response George Heffernan (Merrimack)

6:20 – 8:20  Reception


sunday, april 7 (@BC)

1:30 – 2:50  Samantha Matherne (Harvard) Are All Artists Phenomenologists? Perspectives from Edith Landmann-Kalischer and Maurice Merleau-Ponty – Response Becca Rothfeld (Harvard)

3:00 – 4:20  Dennis Schmidt (Western Sydney) Thinking and Painting: Some reflections on Plato, Heidegger, and Klee – Response Magnus Ferguson (BC)

4:20 – 4:50  Coffee

4:50 – 6:10  Richard Kearney (BC) Paul Ricoeur and the Linguistic Imagination – Response Ben Roth (Harvard)

If you plan to attend, please register above.


Walter Hopp (BU)
Intuition and its Roles in Knowledge

Knowledge is something everyone has some of, and that we, collectively, have a lot of. We inhabit a lifeworld saturated with knowledge. So, at least, it appears. In this paper, I will take the appearance of abundant knowledge seriously by examining the many roles of originary intuition in knowledge. I will begin by discussing the role of intuition in verifying or confirming propositions in acts of fulfillment. This is the most familiar role of intuition, but not the only one. Second, I will argue that, as Husserl maintains, intuitions also play an indispensable role in the structure of intentionality itself. Knowing what a proposition means is tied in very definite ways to intuition. Third, I will argue that originary intuition is, despite being nonpropositional, itself a form of knowledge—something very much like Russell’s knowledge by acquaintance. Finally, I will argue that even the nonobjectifying awareness we have of ourselves and our conscious experiences constitutes knowledge. Knowledge doesn’t just span the divide between intuitive and conceptual consciousness. It spans the divide between objectifying and nonobjectifying consciousness.

John Brough (Georgetown)
Time and the Photograph

I will first look at the photograph through the lens of Husserl’s understanding of Image-Consciousness.  I will then argue that Roland Barthes is correct in holding that time is the essence of the photograph.  That will be followed by a discussion of what it might mean to experience a photograph aesthetically, which will include an examination from Husserl’s perspective of some of the features that make an appearance a likely candidate for aesthetic interest.  The remarks here will be illustrated by photographs that are generally acknowledged to be works of art. In the final section of the paper, I will raise some questions about whether Husserl can sustain, in the case of the photograph, his claim that aesthetic experience excludes any interest in existence and therefore in reality and time.

Jeff Mitscherling (Guelph)
Empathy and the Aesthetic Experience in Early Phenomenology

The subjective character inherent in all human experience has always posed a problem for those attempting to provide our knowledge with a certain, objective foundation. This problem becomes most glaring when we’re examining human experience itself—when, that is, we’re examining not the “objective world” supposedly existing apart from the subject, but the subject itself that’s performing that examination. This problem of subjectivity is already familiar enough to an audience of philosophers and psychologists, so I offer no further examination of it here. It is necessary, however, to announce it at the outset because this is the problem that ultimately underlies the topics that I do discuss—namely, empathy and the aesthetic experience. As I describe, the concept of empathy was unclear when it was first introduced as a topic of thematic interest in psychology in the late nineteenth century, and it has become only more unclear since then. And the same holds true of the concept of aesthetic experience. Philosophers and psychologists have been using the same words for these psychological concepts, or states, or acts, for the past 150 years, but they’ve never achieved any clarity, let alone agreement, on what these words actually mean or refer to. It’s obviously impossible to attempt to resolve such a longstanding issue in a brief paper such as this: No final definition of the meaning of “empathy” or “aesthetic experience” is suggested, and no new discoveries regarding “human subjectivity” are announced.

My primary goal in this paper is simply to identify and describe some remarkable features of analyses offered by a couple of our early phenomenologists—Edith Stein and Roman Ingarden—that have been, as far as I can tell, almost entirely overlooked by the commentators. After some introductory comments on accounts of empathy offered by other authors, I argue that there exists a uniquely problematic tension in Stein’s analysis of empathy that originates in the nature of human subjectivity itself. I then turn to Roman Ingarden’s analyses of the aesthetic experience, in which the concept of empathy—or more precisely, Stein’s view of the subjectivity involved in the empathic relation—makes an abrupt and quite surprising appearance. Ingarden’s reflections on the empathic dimension of the aesthetic experience are brief but, as I argue in my concluding remarks, they carry profound implications not only for our understanding of the nature of empathy but also for our appreciation of the incalculable value of art and aesthetic experience.

Kristin Gjesdal (Temple)
Else Voigtländer on Literature and the Affirmation of Life

Samantha Matherne (Harvard)
Are All Artists Phenomenologists? Perspectives from Edith Landmann-Kalischer and Maurice Merleau-Ponty

I approach the question whether all artists are phenomenologists by exploring how two
phenomenologists, Edith Landmann-Kalischer and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, might answer this question. I suggest that initially it seems that Landmann-Kalischer would answer this question in the negative while Merleau-Ponty would answer it in the affirmative. For Landmann-Kalischer argues that the task of the artist is to intuitively present our experiences in a way that she suggests no one else can. This appears to sharply contrast with Merleau-Ponty’s analysis of phenomenology as engaged in the same effort as artists, like Balzac, Proust, or Cézanne. However, I claim that a closer look reveals that if we embrace a more aesthetically-oriented account of phenomenology, such as the one Merleau-Ponty models, then there is reason to conceive of artists as, indeed, engaged in phenomenology.

Dennis Schmidt (Western Sydney)
Thinking and Painting: Some reflections on Plato, Heidegger, and Klee

Richard Kearney (BC)
Paul Ricoeur and the Linguistic Imagination


Boston University (BU) / School of Theology Building, Room 325 / 745 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215
Boston College (BC) / McGuinn Hall, Room 521 / 140 Beacon Street, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467


Vicente Muñoz-Reja (
Zach Joachim (


Image | “Spring I” Alejandro A. Vallega Arredondo
Design | Ying Yao