Grasping the Inner Song through the Method of the Phenomenological Epoché; From the Subjective Experience of the Object to its Eidetic Description

ICNAP 2021 Conference

« Methodology in Interdisciplinary Phenomenology » (June 9th-10th 2021)


As a painter tries to translate his/her vision into a painting and as a writer tries to verbalize the story s/he imagines, so the musician tries to perform what s/he hears “in his/her mind”: the inner song.[1] In music practice: interpretation means playing the inner song as a specific understanding of a piece of music; improvisation means performing the inner song in the moment of hearing it; and composition means writing down the inner song as it is imagined.

Philosophically, the inner song is:[2] (1) a phenomenon—it is given in the phenomenological consciousness[3]—(2) of phantasy—it is neither a phenomenon of perception nor an intuitive positing of past or future as true—(3) teleologically oriented toward a performance—it is given as a part of the act of performing—(4) constituted through an intention—chance plays a very little role in its constitution—and (5) sonorous but not necessarily linguistic—it is composed of sounds but language might or might not be involved.

The inner song is given in consciousness at first as fleeting, unsteady, and obscure. However, it becomes clearer as I practice, rehearse, or perform, i.e., as I hear how it actually sounds. Phenomenologically speaking, it is therefore more precisely an obscure phantasy pointing to a possible clear appearance.[4] The clearer my inner song is, the more refined and musical my performance will be. As a consequence, it is necessary to listen to the inner song attentively in order to play musically and beautifully.

In the present paper, I will demonstrate how the study of a particular experience of the inner song during a music practice session can lead to the phenomenological uncovering of the essence of the inner song; in other words, how the description of a subjective experience of the inner song can lead to an objective scientific description of the essence of this phantasy object. I will: (1) describe the experience of a particular music practice session, (2) identify the stages of that process singling out one of its moments as a conversion of attention, and (3) introduce that specific moment as a practical epoché leading to the grasping of the inner song in the phenomenological consciousness.


I am in Pittsburgh, at home, by myself, about to play my cello. I sit on the edge of a chair, the cello between my knees, my legs slightly folded behind me, touching the legs of the chair.

I close my eyes. I do not rush playing the cello. First, I relax my shoulders, balancing my arms along my body, trying to get rid of muscular tensions. I can feel the volume of my cello against my chest and between my legs. I can feel my instrument weighing on me. The windows are closed. Silence fills the room. It is calm. No noise disturbs me. I focus inside. I try to abstract from my thoughts and anything that could disturb me. Now, I am in touch with my inner space where I can feel the music, and hear the inner song singing[5] in me.[6]

A song grows in me. It brings me back to[7] this concert of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra a couple of weeks after the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue on the 27th of October 2018. I remember sitting in Heinz Hall. In the dark. Sharing the pain of that traumatic event with all the people around me in the hall. I can visualize the clarinetist standing with the orchestra behind him. I can hear the sound of his clarinet growing out of the silent and dark hall. Kaddish.[8] Ravel. So profound. I loved so much what the clarinetist played that day that I looked up a recording of it immediately after the concert; I found a cello transcription that I liked; and in the next days, little by little, I learned the entire piece by memory with my cello.[9] Progressively, what I played started to resemble more to what I wanted to hear: my inner song.[10]

I am physically in my room in Pittsburgh sitting with my cello, my eyes closed. However, I am absorbed in my phantasy, hearing the Kaddish. Not the one of the clarinetist. My own inner song. As I have been working on it for a while, my inner song has already attained a certain clarity. I can hear the notes voiced in my imagination and I know their names.[11] The inner song has a progression: I can feel its rhythm in my body. I move and breathe through it.[12] It develops: one note comes after the other. I orient myself toward what is coming, anticipating it. As each note becomes present, I can get it more accurately. Each note seems to fade away, fall into the past, and be replaced by the next. It has a particular intensity: it starts piano and remains calm like a breath, almost suspended. At this point, I have worked on that piece so steadily that I have it in my fingers and I can almost feel the moves on the instrument and play it virtually in my phantasy. I know it is not real, but it feels almost like an inner perception. Indeed, my inner song has flesh. It is the type of sound I have been working on: a compact but soft sound, performed with the fleshy part of my finger. [13]

I am ready to play. I breathe in, out, in. I put my bow on the strings, feeling the bow weighing on the strings. The sound comes out of my cello. For the next couple of hours, I work on learning this piece. I listen to my inner song and perform it, trying to mirror the music represented in my phantasy with my cello. I play, stop, check with the inner song, correct the move, play again, etc.


A closer description of this practice session reveals various stages: (1) the physical preparation to the session, (2) the turning inward to focus on the inner song, (3) the contact with the inner space in which the inner song grows, and (4) the back and forth between the act of listening to the inner song and its realization in performance, in an effort to mirror the inner song through the performance.[14]

Within that performance process, the second moment is a one of turning the attention inward in order to become receptive to: (1) the inner song, and (2) the perceptual object heard in its realization in performance.[15] That moment, which is a process of conversion of the attention, goes as follows: [16] (1) the musician breaks away from the world calling his or her attention, (2) then s/he turns inward toward the inner music triggered by[17] either (a) an appropriate context encouraging it—for instance silence, calm, absence of noise—or (b) an effort to regain control and focus on the inner song—for instance when I force myself to deviate my attention from the sound of my phone ringing in order to keep playing—or (c) an appropriate stimulus—for instance if I hear a note which is not attuned and it forces me to listen to the attuned note I hear in my inner song—and finally (3) the musician lets go and becomes receptive to the experience of listening to the inner song.[18]

The musician usually starts the rehearsal session distracted by things they perceive around them: noises, thoughts, bodily tensions, etc. Sometimes, these distractions are so strong that it is impossible to go through the process leading to the grasping of the inner song. As a consequence, the musician cannot practice or perform efficiently. In order to get away from the distractions, an effort is required.[19] This effort to change the direction of the attention is proportional to the difficulty of breaking away from the distraction. Triggers can help the musician to become receptive to the inner song. However, it is not enough to become receptive, the musician needs to remain in that state of receptivity. In other words, the orientation of the attention should be sustained over time. In order to do that, the musician needs to develop a habit of focusing inwardly by repeating his/her effort to break away from the distractions. As the musician learns to divert his/her attention quickly and to sustain it for a long time, the appropriate orientation of the attention becomes easier to maintain, which enables a more efficient practice session.

Once focused inwardly, the musician becomes aware of the inner song given in phantasy as a temporal object.[20] This inner song grows out of a sonorous background, develops, and comes to an end.[21] Along with it, the musician can also listen to how s/he is performing the inner song, namely how the inner song sounds when it is played. Then, through: (1) the apprehension of the two objects—the inner song on the one hand, and the perceptual object corresponding to its performance on the other hand— (2) their comparison; and (3) the practice of rehearsal aiming to mirror the inner song through the performance, the inner song becomes clearer and is further elaborated, while its realization simultaneously becomes a better image of it.


At this point, an additional step is required in order to go from the descriptions of (1) the personal experience of the inner song, and (2) the stages of the process in play, to (3) the description of the essential structures of the inner song, i.e., to a phenomenological description.

This is the step that Husserl makes when he introduces phenomenology as a science through his critique of Brentano’s psychology. In Ideas 1, Husserl shows how Brentano misses the phenomenological turn by misunderstanding the notion of intentionality namely, the definition of consciousness as being consciousness of something.[22] For Husserl, in order to go from the psychological science which is an experiential science busied with facts and realities[23], to the phenomenological one, which is an eidetic science, aiming at the description of essences, it is necessary to apprehend the object as it appears in the intentional consciousness, and not as it exists in the world. This switch takes place through an appropriate reduction[24] that Husserl calls eidetic reduction.[25] This transcendental reduction, or epoché,[26] is a method through which the orientation of the attention is turned away from the a posteriori of the subjective particular experience, toward the a priori of objective givenness of the essence of the object, thanks to a suspension of the natural thesis regarding the existence of the world.[27] This epoché is a switch from the natural attitude considering the object as it exists in the natural world, into the phenomenological attitude considering the object as it appears in the intentional consciousness. It marks the phenomenological turn.[28]

The French phenomenologist Natalie Depraz works on that Husserlian notion of the reduction, and argues that: “the reduction is not simply a formal method making possible a theoretical analysis, a justification in principle (Begründung) of subjective experience, but is wholly rooted in an effective praxis which yields intuitive access to internal experience”.[29] In other words, she sheds light on the embodied subject[30] practicing the theoretical epoché, and she underlines how the theoretical gesture of the epoché can also be a practical one. [31] This practical epoché is “an exercise which is itself open to scientificity since potentially animated by necessary and universal rules”.[32] The subject practicing it operates a conversion of attention breaking away from the world in order to direct his or her attention inward, toward the ego and its ego-life, i.e., toward the phenomenological region of consciousness.[33] The reduction appears then as a gesture which is both practical and transcendental,[34] and the subject performing it as both the subjective agent of a particular experience and the objective agent of a scientific description.


Husserl, and Depraz reading Husserl, consider the epoché as the method leading to phenomenology. For me, the question is the following: is it necessary to go through an epoché in order to provide a phenomenological description of the inner song?[35] I want to answer that problem by going back to the things themselves.

Earlier on, I described the experience of a music practice session. Then, I identified a moment of conversion of the attention in play in that process. Finally, I showed how this moment corresponds to the essential gesture through which the musician breaks away from the world in order to become receptive to the inner song given in consciousness.[36] Now, I want to identify that moment of conversion of the attention in music practice with the moment of conversion of the attention that Depraz interprets as the praxis of an epoché. Thanks to this identification, I want to argue that, when the practicing musician focuses inward in order to grasp the inner song, s/he performs an epoché, and therefore a phenomenological gesture.

This thesis impacts the status of the apprehended object. Indeed, as the inner song is grasped under the epoché, it means that it is given as it appears in consciousness regardless of its status of existence namely, as a phenomenon. As such, it can be described phenomenologically. In other words, it becomes possible to describe not only its subjective experience but moreover its essence. This thesis also impacts the subject of the action. Indeed, as the inner song is an object necessarily given in the phenomenological region of consciousness, the scientist wanting to describe it needs to reenact the gesture of the musician leading to the givenness of the inner song in this region. In other words, s/he needs to perform both a practical and a theoretical epoché. The scientist describing the inner song is therefore necessarily either a musician-phenomenologist, or a phenomenologist grasping the inner song by empathy[37] with a musician.


In the §34 of the Cartesian Meditations, Husserl comes back to the phenomenological method in order to add “a fundamental methodological insight, which, once it is grasped, pervades the whole phenomenological method”: the “method of eidetic description.”.[38] This method requires imagining the pure possibilities of intuition of the object, in order to identify the essential structures of the phenomenon—for instance, turning the object around in phantasy in order to evaluate its possibilities of perception.[39] According to Husserl, this variation in imagination can lead to the identification of invariants, and through them, to the essential structures of the object. In other words, that method of eidetic variation, can lead to the eidos of the object.

The description of the essence of the inner song also requires the ability to distinguish what belongs to the subjective experience of the inner song, from what is always part of the apprehension of the object. In other words, it is also necessary to identify invariants in order to access to the essential structures of this object of phantasy. This cannot be done exactly as Husserl describes in the Cartesian Meditations. Indeed, the inner song is not an object of perception but an object of phantasy. However, it is still possible to use the phantasy to turn an imaginative object around. I do it in my own research in two ways: (1) I look at various types of phantasies of the inner song in my personal instrumental practice, for instance when I try to improvise, or when I rehearse a piece, i.e., I perform a variation in the first-person, and (2) I engage with other performers through interviews, asking them to describe their own experience of the inner song, i.e., I practice a variation involving a third-person experience and therefore intersubjectivity.[40] These two practices allow me to distinguish variants from invariants, thus identifying the eidos of the object.[41]


The present paper lead from the description of a personal experience of the inner song during a music practice session, to the identification of the main stages of that experience, and finally, to the description of the object as a phenomenological object of phantasy. In my description, I demonstrate how it is possible to go from the subjective experience of the inner song to an objective description of the essence of the object thanks to a practical and theoretical epoché, accompanied by the method of eidetic variation. In that study, the inner song appears as a musical object of phantasy always apprehended through the epoché. As the epoché is the method uncovering the phenomenological region of consciousness, and therefore characterizing phenomenology, it follows that any description of the inner song is necessarily a phenomenological description.

Throughout this paper, the epoché appears as a common practice both of performers and philosophers. As a consequence, I argue that its study can be a fertile ground for a dialogue engaging both performers and phenomenologists. Indeed, performers practice the epoché without necessarily being aware of it, and phenomenologists know about it without necessarily seeing it as a praxis, or knowing about its specific role in performance. Through dialogue, performers can learn from phenomenologists about what they do and how to eventually do it better; while phenomenologists can learn from performers how to practice the epoché, and eventually gain access to unstudied phenomena. Music practice is then enriched by a structured theoretical approach, while phenomenology is enriched by the discovery of unique personal experiences.[42]

[1] I took this expression from the book of a French cellist and pedagogue from the Paris Conservatory: Gagnepain, Xavier, Du musicien en général…au violoncelliste en particulier, Paris, Cité de la musique, 2003. I had the chance to discuss my thesis on the inner song with him after my first master’s degree. That became my first interview, and the beginning of a series:

[2] This definition raises the problem of the creation of concepts: what are the boundaries of the concept of inner song, why are they not arbitrary?

This is a problem that Husserl raises in the §66 of Ideas 1: “The words used may derive from the common language; they may be ambiguous and their changing senses may be vague. As soon as they ‘coincide’ with the intuitively given in the manner characteristic of an actual expression, they take on a definite sense as their actually present and clear sense, hic et nunc; and starting from there we can fix them scientifically.” Husserl, Edmund: Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy, First Book: General introduction to a pure phenomenology, translated by F. Kersten. The Hage, Martinus Nijhoff Publisher, 1982, pp. 151-2.

The present definition of the inner song corresponds to the current stage of my phenomenological investigation. It is the result of a work at three levels: (1) individual through a self-reflection about my own experience; (2) intersubjective through a consistent dialogue with practicing musicians (interviews are available online here: – indeed, the only defined question that I keep from one interview to the next is the following: “how would you define the inner song”, and from that the discussion goes on; and (3) theoretical through a close reading of the Husserlian corpus, and more specifically his account of imagination and phantasy.

[3] This will be the focus of the present paper; I investigate the other aspects in my PhD dissertation.

[4] Husserl mentions that type of object in Husserl, Edmund: Phantasy, Image consciousness, and Memory (1898-1925) translated by J. B. Brough. Dordrecht/Boston/London. Springer, 2005, §38, pp. 86-7.

[5] I dedicate a chapter of my dissertation to the notion of imaginative voice. I use this notion to show how the inner song can be apprehended in consciousness because it is mediated by a specific kind of voice. I speak about the flesh of the inner song and show how the musician works on mirroring this fleshy character when s/he works on his/her sound.

[6] All of the first paragraph could be used to describe the natural attitude from which the musician performs the conversion of attention that leads to the grasping of the inner song. It is not the primary object of this study,but I dedicate part of the First Chapter of my PhD dissertation to that problem.

[7] In my PhD dissertation, I show how the constitution of the inner song can be understood as a temporal synthesis in which a present impression leads to the constitution of phantasy-expectation made of the reshaping of phantasy-recollections. I show how there can be no constitution of an inner song without the previous tone-data, and therefore how the inner song is based on memory through the constitution of hyletic data. This part of the description of the experience shows how the inner song can be related to memory.

[8] This performance of Maurice Ravel’s Kaddish (A prayer of the Jewish peoplewas recorded and can be found on the Youtube Channel of the Clarinetist Michael Rusinek with the following link:

[9] Touch is an essential part of the constitution of the inner song as a phenomenon of phantasy.

[10] I develop the thesis of the perceptual being the image of the imaginative object in my dissertation. This thesis reverses the primary Husserlian account of imagination claiming that imagination is built up through perception. However, it is closer to the late Husserlian account of phantasy.

[11] I was educated in the French system in which we learn to solfege, namely, to associate the pitch of a sound with its name (do-ré-mi-fa-sol-la-si-do).

[12] In my dissertation, I develop the thesis according to which the inner song is constituted by a pulse ego and introduce the notion of inner pulse as a foundation of the spatial and temporal givenness of the inner song.

[13]  All of the characteristics of the inner song as I am describing it here are the object of a description in my dissertation. As I am interested in the method to grasp the inner song in this paper, I cannot develop them here unfortunately.

[14] This process can certainly be identified in other artistic or hand-crafted practices implying the creation of an object: painting, sculpting, dancing, etc. I did not investigate that question, but the distinction is probably only in the third stage, in what the creator enters into contact with and tries to realize.

[15] The world of the inner song, phenomenological region in which the inner song is given, is made of two separate fields: (1) the field of phantasy – in which the inner song is given, and (2) the field of perception – in which the intentional object corresponding to the perception of the performance is given. These two objects are both related and distinct, the perceptual one contributing to the constitution of the inner song. I provide a more detailed analysis of that in my dissertation.

[16] The following description is inspired by Natalie Depraz’s description of the process of becoming aware in Depraz, N., Varela, F. J., & Vermersch, P. “The gesture of awareness: An account of its structural dynamics.” She describes the process as follows: “(1) inattentive action, natural attitude; (2) concentration of consciousness thanks to (a) the set, context, or (b) will and effort to regain control and focus, or (c) unpredictable stimulus;[16] (3) suspension of the unnatural character of attention, epoché of concentration.”

[17] These three triggers are also presented slightly differently in Depraz, N., Varela, F. J., & Vermersch, P. “The gesture of awareness: An account of its structural dynamics.” In M. Velmans (Ed.), Advances in consciousness research, Vol. 13. Investigating phenomenal consciousness: New methodologies and maps (p. 121–136). John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2000., p. 124. Depraz says: “ – an external or existential even may trigger the suspending attitude […],  – the mediation of others can also be decisive, for example a direct injunction to accomplish the act, or a rather less directive attitude, as it the case when someone plays the role of a model. – exercises initiated by the individual, presupposing a self-imposed discipline including long phases of training and learning until the newly acquired habits are stabilized.”

[18] In another text, Depraz describes this exact same process in a slightly different way. In M. Velmans (Ed.), Advances in consciousness research, Vol. 13. Investigating phenomenal consciousness: New methodologies and maps (p. 121–136). John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2000., p. 123-126, she skips phase one of the other account, and divides phase 2 into two stages. She identifies: “A. A phase of suspension of habitual thought and judgement. This is a basic precondition for any possibility of change in the attention which the subject gives to his own experience and which represents a break with a “natural” or non-examined attitude. B. A phase of conversion or redirection of attention from “the exterior” to “the interior”; C. A phase of letting-go or of receptivity towards the experience.”. Then she adds: “We call epoché the ensemble of these three organically linked phases, for the simple reason that phases B and C are always reactivated by and reactivate phase A.” Concerning the third stage she specifies: “The principal obstacle to this third phase resides in the traverse of an empty time, a time of silence, of the lack of take-up of the immediate givens, which are available and already assimilated to consciousness.”

[19] Husserl also mentions that difficulty and the necessity of an effort in his description of the epoché in Ideas 1, §27-32.

[20] The problem of the various temporal layers of the constitution of the inner song is a crucial one that I investigate in detail throughout an entire chapter of my dissertation.

[21] I will not describe the way the inner song grows, develops, and ends in more detail here, as what matters is to focus on the process of uncovering of the object. However, I develop that analysis in my dissertation.

[22] In the §85 of Ideas 1 Husserl demonstrates how Brentano misses the problem of intentionality because he does not get a proper understanding of the sensuous-contents, and does not come to the notion of hylé.

[23]Psychology is an experiential science. Two things are implied in the usual sense of the world ‘experience:’ 1. It is a science of facts, of matters of fact in David Hume’s sense. 2. It is a science of realities. The ‘phenomena’ that is, as psychological ‘phenomenology,’ deals with are real occurrences which, as such occurrences, if they have actual existence, find their place with the real subjects to whom they belong in the one spatiotemporal world as the omnitudo realitatis.” Ideas 1, Introduction, p. XX.

[24] Husserl distinguishes the object of psychology and the object of phenomenology by stressing the status of reality, characterizing the object of phenomenology as follow: “The phenomena of transcendental phenomenology will become characterized as irreal [irreal]. Other reductions, the specifically transcendental ones, ‘purify’ psychological phenomena from what confers on them reality and, with that, their place in the real ‘world.’ Our phenomenology is to be an eidetic doctrine, not of phenomena that are real, but of phenomena that are transcendentally reduced.” Ideas 1, Introduction, p. XX.

[25]  In contradiction to that [psychology], pure or transcendental phenomenology will become established, not as a science of matters of fact, but as a science of essences (as an ‘eidetic’ science); it will become established as a science which exclusively seeks to ascertain ‘cognitions of essences’ and no ‘matter of fact’ whatever. The relevant reduction which leads over from the psychological phenomena to the pure ‘essence’ or, in the case of judgement thinking, from matter-of-fact (‘empirical’) universality to ‘eidetic’ universality, is the eidetic reduction.” Ideas 1, Introduction, p. XX.

[26] Cf.  §32 of the Ideas 1.

[27] Depraz describes the status of subjectivity in phenomenology as follow: “The founder of phenomenology at the beginning of the twentieth century, Edmund Husserl, subscribes to the Cartesian heritage. He even goes one step further in positing a ‘transcendental’ ego, an apodictic repository of a radicalized scientificity whose unique ‘object’, he argues in the Cartesian Meditations, is precisely the subject. Subjectivity, however, appears only when we pull away from prejudices rooted in the taken-for-granted character of the world. The challenge represented by phenomenology’s claim to scientificity resides, in effect, in the following internal tension: (i) a maximum objectifying ambition on the part of the subject, the only guarantee of universality, and (ii) the recognition of the need to do justice to this subjective experience in its own intuitive quality.” Depraz, Natalie: “The Phenomenological reduction as a praxis” in Journal of Consciousness studies, 6, no. 2-3, 1999, pp. 95-110, p. 96.

[28] Husserl explains in Ideas 1: “our purpose is to discover a new scientific domain, one that is to be gained by the method of parenthesizing which, therefore, must be a definitely restricted one.” §32, p. 60.

[29] Depraz, Natalie: “The Phenomenological reduction as a praxis” in Journal of Consciousness studies, 6, no. 2-3, 1999, pp. 95-110, p. 97.

[30] I am not addressing the problem of embodiment in the present paper, but it is an important problem in the description of the inner song. Indeed, I demonstrate in my PhD Dissertation that the inner song being oriented toward its own realization in performance is an embodied object of phantasy. As a consequence, the inner song is an embodied phenomenon given to a musician-phenomenologist who is him/herself embodied. Embodiment is part of the givenness of the phenomenon in consciousness.

[31] “Reduction harbours, then, a tension between the practical and the theoretical. At one and the same time, it is an effective act, and immanent operation, an activity (Leistung) which makes of me both an agent working at a transformation of the world via the transformation of my-self, and a state, a mode of self-observation, an attitude (Einstellung) which places me in the overreaching position of an impartial and disinterested spectator.” Depraz, Natalie: “The Phenomenological reduction as a praxis” in Journal of Consciousness studies, 6, no. 2-3, 1999, pp. 95-110, p. 97.

[32] Idem.

[33] “Literally, I lead back (re-ducere, zurückführen, Ritter & Gründer, no date, Bd. 8, p. 370) my own experience, which gives itself immediately to me. This means explicating layers of the experience and freeing myself from the object in order to take note of the act of consciousness directed toward this object. In this way, I enlarge my field of experience by intensifying it, by allowing another dimension to emerge from it, a dimension which precisely frees me from the ordinary pre-givenness of the world. We have to do here with a specific mode of conscious apprehension, by means of which, quite simply, I learn to see the world and objects differently. I learn to look at the world in another way, not that the first is negated or even radically altered in its being, nor that certain objects are henceforward substituted for others but, from the simple fact that my manner of perceiving, my visual disposition, has changed, objects are going to be given to me in another light”.  Depraz, Natalie: “The Phenomenological reduction as a praxis” in Journal of Consciousness studies, 6, no. 2-3, 1999, pp. 95-110, p. 98.

[34] “Literally, the epoché corresponds to a gesture of suspension with regard to the habitual course of one’s thoughts, brought about by an interruption of their continuous flowing. Epockhô, ‘I stop’, as Montaigne used to say in his Essais, taking up again a key-word from the Pyrrhonians. As soon as a mental activity, a thought anchored to the perceived object alone, turns me away from the observation of the perceptual act to re-engage me in the perception of the object, I bracket it. It continues to exist in front of me. I have neither eradicated nor negated it – it would come back in force – but it is there in front of me, lacking any real efficacy, without validity (Geltung). I have already, as it were, left it to itself; I am no longer interested in it and so am able to contemplate it at a distance. This is the meaning of what Husserl quite rightly calls ‘neutralization’ of validity, thereby sharply distinguishing the epoché from any destructive negation”.  Depraz, Natalie: “The Phenomenological reduction as a praxis” in Journal of Consciousness studies, 6, no. 2-3, 1999, pp. 95-110, pp. 99-100.

[35] Dan Zahavi famously raised the question of the necessity of the epoché in his paper “Applied Phenomenology: Why is it Safe to ignore the Epoche”, Continental Philosophy Review, 2019. that it is safe to ignore the epoché when it comes to non-philosophical applications of phenomenology.

[36] Here I want to underline the interesting relation between the object of imagination and the phenomenological object. In the Logical Investigations, Husserl qualifies the object of imagination by saying that it matters primarily for its aesthetic effect, and therefore that its status of existence is suspended: it might or might not exist: “Often enough we understand narrations without decision as to their truth or falsity. Even when we read novels, this is normally the case: we know we are dealing with aesthetic fictions, but this knowledge remains inoperative in the purely aesthetic effect. In such cases all expressions express non-positing acts, “imaginings” in the sense of our proposed terminology, both in respect of significant intentions and of fancied fulfillments.” Husserl, Edmund, Logical Investigations, Volume II, Translated by J. N. Findlay from the Second German edition of Logische Untersuchungen, Routledge, London, New York, 1970, V, §40, p. 165.

If it is confirmed that the status of existence of the imaginative object does not matter, it could lead to the assertion that the description of an object of phantasy is necessarily the description of a phenomenon, and it is therefore necessarily phenomenological. Any description of the inner song, which matters for the musician primarily for its aesthetic effect and not for its status of existence, would be phenomenological.

[37] This idea of the grasping of the inner song by empathy with the performer should be developed further in a separate study.

[38] Husserl, Edmund: Cartesian Meditations, translated by D. Cairns, Boston, Kluwer Academic Publisher, 1960, §34, p. 69.

[39] “Starting from this table-perception as an example, we vary the perceptual object, table, with a completely free optionless, yet in such a manner that we keep perception fixed as perception of something, no matter what. Perhaps, we begin by fictively changing the shape or the color of the object quite arbitrarily, keeping identical only its perceptual appearing. In other words: abstaining from acceptance of its being, we change the fact of this perception into a pure possibility, one among other quite ‘optional pure possibilities – but possibilities that are possible perceptions. We, so to speak, shift the actual perception into the realm of non-actualities, the realm of the as-if, which supplies us with ‘pure’ possibilities, pure of everything that restricts to this fact or to any fact whatever. As regards, the latter point, we keep the aforesaid possibilities, not as restricted even to the co-posited de facto ego, but just as a completely free ‘imaginableness’ of phantasy. Accordingly from the very start we might have taken as our initial example a phantasying ourselves into a perceiving, with no relation to the rest of our de facto life. Perception, the universal type thus acquired, floats in the air, so to speak – in the atmosphere of pure phantasiableness. Thus removed from all factualness, it has become the pure ‘eidos’ perception, whose ‘ideal’ extension is made up of all ideally possible perceptions, as purely phantasiable processes. Analyses of perception are then ‘essential’ or ‘eidetic’ analyses.” Husserl, Edmund: Cartesian Meditations, translated by D. Cairns, Boston, Kluwer Academic Publisher, 1960, §34, p. 70.

[40] This is also a very important topic that should be developed in a separate study.

[41] I cannot develop this crucial aspect of the description of the inner song in the present paper because it would require a separate study aiming at the description of the specific method of the interviews and their integration into the phenomenological description. This is however part of the introduction to my dissertation.

[42] Many of my hypothesis about the inner song are already accessible in the interview with the phenomenologist István Fazakas available here:


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