“Phenomenology” is an approach to philosophical questions that was inaugurated by Edmund Husserl and further developed by Martin Heidegger. It has had an international impact, influencing intellectual movements such as existentialism, hermeneutics, deconstruction, and critical theory. It focuses on analyzing the structures of our experience to show how it is possible that we can perceive things in the world meaningfully, “as” something: as provocative art, sensitive friend, historical turning-point, natural or artificial, three-dimensional, real, broken, and so on. In this book I offer a novel interpretation of phenomenology as essentially concerned with the “normative” elements in our experience, thanks to which we judge things in light of how they are “supposed” to be. This normative orientation of ours is deeply mysterious and leads to fundamental questions in metaphysics, theory of knowledge, philosophy of mind, and ethics.
The book won the Canadian Society for Continental Philosophy’s Symposium Award for the Best Book in Continental Philosophy (2014), and it was selected for an author-meets-critics session at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy.