Phenomenal and Psychological Mental States & Their Relationship to Design


Currently, I’m reading David Chalmers’, The Conscious Mind. He draws a distinction between the phenomenal and the psychological. In short, the phenomenal entails giving in to an experience, while the psychological entails adhering to behavior despite changing conditions. In design, specifically, from my background, Burleson drew the opposition of the phenomenal to the contrived, which is similar. There is a rough correlation of phenomenal engagement of experience to Burleson’s phenomenal and between the psychological to Burleson’s design practice through rote analysis and contrivance. The interesting thing which Chalmers’ work brings to the discussion, if in fact the correlation is defensible, is that he does not see the phenomenal and the psychological as oppositional propositions but rather integral yet competing aspects of one consciousness. If the correlation is extended, then there is no need to oppose the phenomenal design process to that of design by copy, by analysis, by theorizing. It is enough to accept that each methodology has its place in every design opportunity. Furthermore, the metaphor seems apt for another aspect of architectural design. Traditionally, architecture is considered a practice which incorporates art & science…most professions do this, so really architecture stands as a profession which by its description seems to epitomize the integration of art & science. Here again is a correlation of the phenomenal (art) and the thoroughly explainable, analyzable, and repeatable (science.)

Next pull back to the focus of my investigation. What is appropriate design? Whatever it is, it is contextually dependent to a significant degree. It is facilitated by maintaining a rate of change of technology and culture that is comfortable for human hardware and software (body and mind). This rate of change can perchance be defined in terms of the proper balance…proper weighting of phenomenal and psychological mental states.

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