Phenomenological understanding and electric eels

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Published 25-10-2017
Raoul Gervais

Abstract

Explanations are supposed to provide us with understanding. It is common to make a distinction between genuine, scientific understanding, and the phenomenological, or 'aha' notion of understanding, where the former is considered epistemically relevant, the latter irrelevant. I argue that there is a variety of phenomenological understanding that does play a positive epistemic role. This phenomenological understanding involves a similarity between bodily sensations that is used as evidence for mechanistic hypotheses. As a case study, I will consider 17th and 18th century research into the mechanism behind the electric eel's power to shock. 

How to Cite

Gervais, R. (2017). Phenomenological understanding and electric eels. THEORIA, 32(3), 293–302. https://doi.org/10.1387/theoria.17294
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