Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 501–519 | Cite as

Husserl’s hyletic data and phenomenal consciousness

  • Kenneth WillifordEmail author


In the Logical Investigations, Ideas I and many other texts, Husserl maintains that perceptual consciousness involves the intentional “animation” or interpretation of sensory data or hyle, e.g., “color-data,” “tone-data,” and algedonic data. These data are not intrinsically representational nor are they normally themselves objects of representation, though we can attend to them in reflection. These data are “immanent” in consciousness; they survive the phenomenological reduction. They partly ground the intuitive or “in-the-flesh” aspect of perception, and they have a determinacy of character that we do not create but can only discover. This determinate, non-representational stratum of perceptual consciousness also serves as a bridge between consciousness and the world beyond it. I articulate and defend this conception of perceptual consciousness. I locate the view in the space of contemporary positions on phenomenal character and argue for its superiority. I close by briefly arguing that the Husserlian account is perfectly compatible with physicalism (this involves disarming the Grain Problem).


Hyle Qualia Time-Consicousness Representationalism Sense data The grain problem Husserl Phenomenal consciousness Intentionality 



I would like to thank Manfred Frank, Maria Gyemant, Chad Kidd, Greg Landini, Charles Nussbaum, David Rudrauf, Marc Schwartz, Peter Simons, David Woodruff Smith, and Gloria Zúñiga y Postigo for conversations about or feedback on the material in this essay. I would like to thank Uriah Kriegel and Harry Reeder for very useful comments on a draft of this paper.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Texas, ArlingtonArlingtonUSA

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