On-line version ISSN 1445-7377
Print version ISSN 2079-7222
Indo-Pac. j. phenomenol. (Online) vol.15 n.2 Grahamstown Oct. 2015
Christopher R. Stones
Editor-in-Chief, Emeritus Professor of Psychology Rhodes University, South Africa. E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
This final edition of the fifteenth volume of the Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology comprises six papers - one from the USA, one from New Zealand, one from Canada, two from South Africa, and one from England. Sequentially, these papers shift in focus from epistemology and ontology to praxis to research within what would, somewhat disturbingly, appear to have become an increasingly formulaic Husserlian mode - and then to something entirely different: a whodunit of sorts in which what may be very broadly termed metabletic analysis overlaps with archaeological excavation and forensic investigation of the origin of certain fundamental psychoanalytic concepts.
Since only one of the authors represented in this issue is definitely older than 50, and at least four are definitely younger than 40, if even nearing that, the outlook for phenomenology two to four decades hence is very positive. In particular, both Patrick Whitehead and Matthew Kruger-Ross seem set to exert a significant influence on the future of the field. There have been others who have stood out in earlier editions of the IPJP, but what sets these two authors apart is the passion of their vision as much as their deeply thought-through approach, as revealed in the papers published here. May that prognostication be recalled long after I myself have become dust.
Patrick Whitehead's paper, "Phenomenology Without Correlationism: Husserl's Hyletic Material", draws our attention to Speculative Realism, a contemporary movement in continental philosophy launched in 2007, which has, reportedly - due, reportedly, mainly to its active internet presence - "taken continental philosophy by storm" with its "metaphysical realist", "anti all the dominant forms of post-Kantian philosophy", and, in particular, "post-phenomenological" stance (see, e.g., Morelle, 2012; Sparrow, 2014). The gist of the attack on phenomenology by Speculative Realism is that phenomenology cannot escape either correlationism or idealism, and hence is incapable of contributing to the discourse of realism. Sparrow (2014) indeed goes so far as to state that "Speculative realism signals the end of phenomenology". The title of his book, The End of Phenomenology, is, of course, reminiscent of Heidegger's The End of Philosophy, published exactly 50 years before. Sceptical though one may be about a demonizing "-ism" coined just eight years ago - as Whitehead aptly points out, the Speculative Realists' criticism of phenomenology as fundamentally correlationist, and hence incapable of moving beyond its emphasis on the intentional subject, needs to be taken seriously, given the limiting implications for phenomenology's continued ability to contribute to constantly evolving knowledge fields. It is similarly necessary to acknowledge that there is substance to the criticism that phenomenology has, in effect, outlived its raison d'etre, having outlived the relevance of its emergence in opposition to the by now long exorcised 19th century mechanomorphism. Whitehead nevertheless argues that phenomenology has not only always been broader in focus and possibility than both its critique of the 19th century scientific worldview and the correlationism inherent in its own emphasis on human subjectivity - but that the way to overcome the latter had already been indicated by Husserl a century ago in his reference in Ideas to the "twofold bed" of phenomenology as comprising not only the noetic, but also the material or hylé. Husserl himself thus allowed for the focus of phenomenology to be on either the hyletic or the noetic - or both, as demonstrated by Merleau-Ponty (1945) in his Phenomenology of Perception, on which Whitehead draws for the model of hyletic ontology he proposes, defending what may be termed "the hyletic turn" as necessary in order for phenomenology to survive Speculative Realism by moving with the Zeitgeist beyond the impasse of correlationism.
The second paper, Matthew Kruger-Ross's "Raising the Question of Being in Education by Way of Heidegger's Phenomenological Ontology", explicates the way of Heidegger's phenomenological ontology into exploring the question of Being, and the relevance of the latter in an educational context which has become increasingly focused on the instrumental in its decontextualized and reductive approach to knowledge, with significant implications for, in particular, not only the development of selfhood, but the experience and expression thereof. Kruger-Ross argues that research and scholarship in the field of education should focus not only on Heidegger's philosophy in relation to education, but on applying Heidegger's phenomenological ontology to educational phenomena as they are lived: "New possibilities for inquiry and practice become available when teaching and learning are approached as they are experienced in the everyday lives of human beings." Apart from the content, an interesting aspect of this paper is that, in attempting to remain faithful to Heidegger's didactic approach, Kruger-Ross strives to present his material in a manner akin to Heidegger by using the title of his paper as the source and guideline for his argument rather than, as he puts it, the title of his paper being a description or representation of his argument.
Gabriel Rossouw, in "Thinking about Thoughts in Practising Psychotherapy", considers the impact on the psychotherapeutic process of how a therapist may choose to understand a client's thoughts. Juxtaposing a phenomenological-existential mode of understanding with the mainstream therapeutic modality of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Rossouw traces the implications of each with reference to a particular client, contextualising his analysis within a poignant elaboration of the Heideggerian metaphor of "home". In the process, he demonstrates the illogical consequences of CBT's logic in its inauthentication of lived reality. By focusing on the fact that a particular depressed adolescent "voted with her feet" as to whether inhabiting the representational world of CBT "in the mind" with "homeless thoughts" was more accommodating of her reality than "staying at home" with her depression, he brings home his point. In concluding, he recognizes the anxiety-provoking consequences for the therapist too of "leaving home" by heeding the call of the self to venture beyond the familiarity and safety of the collective mode into the unaccommodated unknown.
The next two papers report on the findings of studies conducted within the Husserlian phenomenological mode.
Anina van der Walt and Pieter Basson set out to investigate "The Lived Experience of Discrimination of White Women in Committed Interracial Relationships with Black Men" in the current South African socio-political context. The themes that emerged from the open-ended interviews conducted with three white women, all born and reared during the Apartheid era, and each having been in a committed relationship with a black man for more than two years, indicate that discrimination, whether prejudicial, patronising or privileging in nature, was experienced in a range of contexts and from various sources. Despite its adverse impact on both the individual and the relationship concerned, it also had the positive consequence of ultimately increasing the commitment and closeness of the couple. Also reported on are the ways in which the women coped with this discrimination and how it affected them personally and influenced the dynamics of the couple's relationship. The paper concludes that the discrimination experienced by persons involved in interracial relationships is a both intra- and interpersonal phenomenon, and multi-layered in both its nature and its impact. The authors accordingly point to the need in the culturally diverse South African context for psychologists to be sensitised, through appropriate training, to the complicated lived reality, challenges and psychotherapeutic needs of persons in committed interracial relationships.
The title of the paper by Sadi Seyama and Clive Smith sums up both the focus of their research and the general theme of their findings - "Not Worth the Sweat: Performance Management Rewards at a South African University". Heads of Department being key players in the performance reward component of the performance management system implemented at a comprehensive inner-city South African university, the researchers set out to explore the experiences and perceptions of Heads of Department regarding the institution's pay-for-performance reward system. The themes that emerged from the in-depth interviews conducted are discussed in relation to both local and international institutional value statements and the findings of previous studies reported in the field, with recommendations outlined for overcoming the concerns expressed about, in particular, "the nebulous criteria for, and hence different understandings of" the nature of the performance required in order to qualify for higher performance ratings and rewards, procedural "inconsistency" both in the rating of performance and in the determination of the monetary amounts awarded, and the "lack of transparency" of the process. The questions raised regarding either the effectiveness or the appropriateness of such a system in the university context nevertheless remain open.
The final paper in this edition takes the daring step of venturing into the uncomfortable - and scholastically difficult - terrain of overlapping intellectual ideas and their ownership. Eva Cybulska's focus on "Freud's Burden of Debt to Nietzsche and Schopenhauer" proceeds from the recognition, by not only herself but others cited, of several key notions in the work of Sigmund Freud in the earlier works of Friedrich Nietzsche and Arthur Schopenhauer. The similarities being too specific to be coincidental or attributable to either common cultural influence or the 19th century Zeitgeist, the inevitable question arises. Without putting too fine a point on it, and in an interesting psychoanalytic twist, Cybulska suggests that the strenuous denial by Freud that he had ever read the works of either Schopenhauer or Nietzsche until very late in his life might well have been driven by an unconscious sense of guilt rather than having been a conscious and intentional confabulation.
In concluding, I wish - on behalf of the Editorial Board - to thank the several reviewers who, through not only their expertise and thoroughness but also their committed dedication to meeting the necessary deadlines imposed, enabled this edition of the IPJP to reach fruition. I wish also to thank the authors in this and other editions of the journal for considering the IPJP an appropriate academic and scholarly outlet for the dissemination of their work in an Open Access platform.
Stones, C. R. (2015). Editorial. Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology, 15(2), 3 pp. doi: 10.1080/20797222.2015.1101829
Morelle, L. (2012). Speculative realism after finitude, and beyond? A vade mecum (L. Orth, with the assistance of M. A. Ohm, J. Cogburn, & E. B. Cogburn, Trans.). Speculations: Journal of Speculative Realism, 3, 241-272. [ Links ]
Sparrow, T. (2014). The end of phenomenology: Metaphysics and the new realism. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press. [ Links ]
About the Author
Professor Christopher Stones, previously Head of the Department of Psychology at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa and former Professor of Psychology at the University of Johannesburg, has enjoyed a lengthy academic and research career, in the course of which he has taught in the areas of physiological, clinical, forensic and social psychology, as well as research methodology. He has served as Vice-President of the South African Association for Psychotherapy since its inception, and as past Chairman of the South African Society for Clinical Psychology. Editor-in-Chief of the Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology since 2003, he is also on the editorial panels of two other online journals. Professor Stones's research interests are in the areas of identity, attitudes and attitude change, phenomenological praxis and methodologies, abnormal psychology and psychotherapy, spirituality and religious experience, in all of which areas he has published extensively. An Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, with which he is also registered as a chartered psychologist, Professor Stones is registered with the South African professional board as both a research and a clinical psychologist.
Currently, while continuing to supervise postgraduate research at the University of Johannesburg, he conducts a fulltime clinical psychology practice at a health-care centre, and serves as a consultant in the fields of forensic investigation and behavioural risk management.