Not much, I would think. Psychology and neuroscience are empirical, scientific disciplines. Phenomenology (as conceived by Husserl) is an anti-naturalistic, a priori style of theorizing about consciousness. Well, who cares? Isn’t phenomenology “philosophically defunct” anyway? (Brian Leiter’s words in his Introduction to The Future of Philosophy, OUP, 2004.)
In fact, recently there have been scores of articles and books arguing that the sciences of mind and brain need to be supplemented by phenomenology. The late Francisco Verela, one of the leading proponents of this notion, coined a catchy term that is taking hold: neurophenomenology. There is a whole journal by the name of Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences.
I think these neo-phenomenologists begin with a reasonable motivation but draw the wrong conclusion. Over the last several decades, most mainstream psychologists and neuroscientists kept first-person data and consciousness at arm’s length. With the recent resurgence of interest in consciousness, it seems appropriate to look for a suitable scientific role for first-person data. Since phenomenology assigns a central role to first-person data, it might seem that phenomenology is what we need. But that is a non sequitur.
Phenomenology would solve our problem only if it comes with an adequate theory and methodology of first-person data. As far as I can tell, that is far from being the case. On the contrary, neo-phenomenologists’ view of first-person data seems to me untenable.
Last fall I presented a paper on this topic, entitled First-Person Data, at the Philosophy of Science Association Meeting. I criticized the neo-phenomenological view of first-person data and offered a more adequate alternative. The central idea is that scientifically useful first-person data are the outcome of a process of self-measurement. I’m hoping to submit the paper soon. Any comments would be much appreciated.