This Independent Study is divided into four chapters. The first chapter establishes, according to Immanuel Kant’s arguments against David Hume, that all experience must consist in judgments and must presuppose certain synthetic structures. It is also demonstrated in this chapter that, consequently, meditative experience must also consist in judgments, and thus cannot simply be ‘non-’ or ‘pre-conceptual.’

The second chapter explains the details of the constituent structures of experience, as synthetically structured, drawing upon the work of Edmund Husserl and John Searle. This chapter opens up questions as to the difference between sensory information, its unifying structures, and external objects, so as to establish the terms by which an account of meditation may be meaningful.

The third and fourth chapters establish two possible theories of meditation which adhere sufficiently to the requisite structures of experience. The theory outlined in the third chapter builds upon the Husserlian division between active and passive synthetic judgment. Under this formulation, meditative mental states are defined as consisting only in the minimum requisite sorts of judgment which passively present objects of consciousness, and do so pre-reflectively.

In the fourth and final chapter, the mental state of No-Mind, drawn from Zen philosophy, is explicated as a second possible theory of meditation. No-mind is demonstrated as consisting in a union between the unbroken, stable attention towards the objects of consciousness and subjectivity’s not being self-consciously reified.


Thomson, Garrett




Comparative Philosophy | Philosophy of Mind | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion


Meditation, Phenomenology, Kant, Transcendental Idealism, Empiricism, Husserl, Searle, Zen, Consciousness, Experience

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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