Volume 13 · Number 1 · Pages 91–97
The Past, Present and Future of Time-Consciousness: From Husserl to Varela and Beyond

Shaun Gallagher

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Context: In developing an enactivist phenomenology the analysis of time-consciousness needs to be pushed toward a fully enactivist account. Problem: Varela proposed a neurophenomenology of time-consciousness. I attempt to push this analysis towards a more complete enactivist phenomenology of time-consciousness. Method: I review Varela’s account of time-consciousness, which brings Husserl’s phenomenological analysis of the intrinsic temporal structure of experience into contact with contemporary neuroscience and dynamical systems theory, and pushes it towards a more enactivist conception of consciousness. I argue that Varela’s analysis motivates a closer examination of the phenomenological aspects of the intrinsic temporal structure of experience, understanding it in terms of an action-oriented embodied phenomenology in its most basic manifestation. Results: This fully enactivist phenomenology of time-consciousness continues the analysis initiated by Varela and remains consistent with but also goes beyond Husserl’s later writings on time-consciousness. Implications: This analysis shows that the enactive character of intentionality in general, goes all the way down; it is embedded in the micro-structure of time-consciousness, and this has implications for understanding perception and action. Constructivist content: This account is consistent with Varela’s constructivist approach to cognition.

Key words: Time-consciousness, enactivism, Husserl, Varela.


Gallagher S. (2017) The past, present and future of time-consciousness: From husserl to Varela and beyond. Constructivist Foundations 13(1): 91–97. http://constructivist.info/13/1/091

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