Edmund Husserl's Logical Investigations or Logische Untersuchungen is a philosophical work that seeks to justify our knowledge of objects by the concept of ideal mental objects. The work redefines knowledge of objects so that is not dependent only on empirical perception.

Husserl doesn't believe that our sensory and neurological apparatus, which allows us to perceive colors, shapes, spatial coordinates, enables us to have knowledge of objects. According to him, the apparatus that actually does allow for this is separate from sensual perception, although often working together with it.

Sensual perception is always accompanied by an act of the constitution of the separate sensations into an ideal object. This ideal object mirrors the real object in question and makes the knowledge of the real object accessible. However, during the act of perceiving of an object, the perceiver is usually not aware of this other side-activity that makes the perception possible. He therefore neglects to consider the mental object that has given him access to the real real object.

The goal of Husserl's phenomenology, called phenomenological reduction, is to remedy this unfortunate neglect by turning away from the real objects and catalog the ideal mental objects (noemas) and the mental acts that produce them (noesis.) instead. Husserl turns to a clever metaphor of background and foreground that would be conducive to convincing others to undertake his method.

This metaphor succeeds at concretely illustrating why we are able to access objects only when our mind reaches out to these objects with self-constituted ideal entities that can grasp them. The foreground and background of our perceptive field shows that there are select empirical objects that cause us to produce ideal mental objects that grasp the real empirical ones. However, the other sensations are not grasped as objects at the same timepoint. They are merely left as undifferentiated and undetermined sensations.

Filmed representations of subjective consciousness offer good examples of foreground and background objects of perception. The screen's focus on a specific person or thing, while blurring everything around them seeks to represent a consciousness that perceives a specific object in its field, while relegating everything else to a whirling flux of undetermined sensations.

In his phenomenological approach, Husserl wants to focus on the dichotomy of the flux of undetermined sensations in the background of our field of vision and the empirical objects in focus in the foreground of our vision. It only latter objects that we grasp during an act of perception by constituting ideal mental objects to access them. The others in the background are left unprocessed and unaccessed.

One of phenomenology's many insights into perception is the elucidation into the way a person's mind intends meaning by producing a certain mental object in a certain way. Said more concretely, it is the study of how and why a person's mind chooses to pick out certain sense expressions to create an object that becomes the foreground of his focus while leaving out the others as undetermined in the background.

Husserl's phenomenological approach developed in his Logical Investigations would later serve as a foundation for studies of human thought and behavior. His essays Ideas I and Ideas II moved from theoretical concerns of justifying knowledge to touching broader implications affecting human life.

These phenomenological explanations of human life took a person or a group's subjective interaction with his Umwelt or surroundings as a starting point. The essays showed how these influenced a person's focus tendencies and therefore produced varying ideal mental objects in his mind.

The same phenomenological theme is later developped by Martin Heidegger in Being and Time. His philosophy creates an intimate link between the way a person posits his objects and his interaction with his surroundings. In this way, Heidegger's view of the constitution of objects takes into consideration one's concrete physical interactions with one's environment, as well as various factors that influence this interaction such as individual psychology, emotional disposition, and inherited cultural values.

Thus, Husserl and Heidegger use the basic idea that a person generates his perception of empirical objects by a prior mental object constitution to draw attention to a broader theme. This broad theme uses phenomenology's description of subjective focus to stress cultural and personal subjectivity in general. Although Husserl's philosophical goals were to ground knowledge, the phenomenological approach was eventually applied to the way a person's psychological state of mind as well as his cultural tendencies influenced conceptual frameworks in their environment.

Source: Moran, Dermot. The Introduction to Phenomenology . Routledge: New York, London: 2000

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