In the interest of that exactitude of technical terminology without which no study can become scientific, I propose the word phaneron to denote anything that can come before the mind in any sense whatsoever.
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.
I beg the privilege, in the interests of that exactitude of technical terminology without which no study can become scientific, of creating an English word, phaneron, to denote whatever is entirely open to assured observation, in all the entirety of its being, even if this observation be not quite as direct as that of a percept is. An external reality is not a phaneron because it is not entirely open to observation. The phaneron resembles rather what many English philosophers call an idea.
When I say a phaneron is open to observation, I use the word “observation” in a pretty broad sense. Whatever, whether in a purposive or cognitive sense, we mean, or rather, when this is any distinction, what we think we mean is a phaneron, although it may be vague and is usually general, so that it cannot react upon us as a percept does, is a phaneron.
Again, that which is observed, as a percept is absent, must be objectified, while mere tones of consciousness are phanerons. But though subject and object are not discriminated in these feelings, yet it is that element of them which becomes developed into the immediate object which is the phaneron.
By the Phaneron (a Proper noun) I mean the single entirety, or total, or whole, of that which the reader has in mind in any sense. This is vague, and is meant to be so; but the clause “in any sense” renders it less vague, since it thereby includes symbolic and habitual cognition.
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.
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.
I propose to use the word Phaneron as a proper name to denote the total content of anyone consciousness (for anyone 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. The reader will probably wonder why I did not content myself with some expression already in use. The reason is that the absence of any contiguous associations with the new word will render it sharper and clearer than any well-worn coin could be.
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.
Let us call all that ever could be present to the mind in any way or any sense, when taken collectively, the Phaneron. Then every thought is a Constituent of the Phaneron, and much besides that would not ordinarily be called a Thought.
Whatever is in any sense present to the mind, whatever its cognitive value may be, and whether it be objectified or not. A term proposed by C. S. Peirce in order to avoid loading ‘phenomenon,’ ‘thought,’ ‘idea,’ etc., with multiple meanings.