English philosophers have quite commonly used the word idea in a sense approaching to that which I give to phaneron. But in various ways they have restricted the meaning of it too much to cover my conception (if conception it can be called), besides giving a psychological connotation to their word which I am careful to exclude. The fact that they have the habit of saying that “there is no such idea” as this or that, in the very same breath in which they definitely describe the phaneron in question, renders their term fatally inapt for my purpose.
The phaneron, as I now call it, the sum total all of the contents of human consciousness, which I believe is about what you (borrowing the term of Avenarius) call pure experience, - but I do not admit the point of view of Avenarius to be correct or to be consonant to any pragmatism, nor to yours, in particular, and therefore I do not like that phrase. For me experience is what life has forced upon us, - a vague idea no doubt. But my phaneron is not limited to what is forced upon us; it also embraces all that we most capriciously conjure up, not objects only but all modes of contents of cognitional consciousness.
Phaneroscopy is the description of the phaneron; and by the phaneron I mean the collective total of all that is in any way or in any sense present to the mind, quite regardless of whether it corresponds to any real thing or not. If you ask present when, and to whose mind, I reply that I leave these questions unanswered, never having entertained a doubt that those features of the phaneron that I have found in my mind are present at all times and to all minds. So far as I have developed this science of phaneroscopy, it is occupied with the formal elements of the phaneron. I know that there is another series of elements imperfectly represented by Hegel’s Categories. But I have been unable to give any satisfactory account of them.
I propose to use the word Phaneron as a proper name to denote the total content of any one consciousness (for any one is substantially any other), the sum of all we have in mind in any way whatever, regardless of its cognitive value. This is pretty vague: I intentionally leave it so. I will only point out that I do not limit the reference to an instantaneous state of consciousness; for the clause “in any way whatever” takes in memory and all habitual cognition.
I use the word phaneron to mean all that is present to the mind in any sense or in any way whatsoever, regardless of whether it be fact or figment. I examine the phaneron and I endeavor to sort out its elements according to the complexity of their structure. I thus reach my three categories.