I am reading Robert Sokolowski's Introduction to Phenomenology. He makes phenomenology out to be inherently realist: when we intend something, we intend the thing itself (not the "idea" or "concept" of the thing, but its "objective correlate"). The object in question has an identity, an essence, and although it is difficult to pinpoint exactly it exists; we are intending its identity. In his own words, "Consciousness is 'of' something in the sense that it intends the identity of objects, not just the flow of appearances that are presented to it," and "When we perceive an object . . . we have one and the same object given to us" (pp. 20-21). At the same time, it is not the sum of its appearances; the identity of an object "transcends its manifold of presentations" (p. 30).
I can understand this being the case for material objects. However, Sokolowski holds that this is true even for categorical intentionality as well.
Sokolowski states that categorical intentions arise from experience through a three step process. He provides the example of a scratched car. In experiencing, we first perceive its "various manifolds of presentation" and observe that "one and the same car is continuously given to us as the identity in the manifold" (p. 89). Second, we give the abrasions our attention, highlight them (not just the spatial part, but this feature, this abrasiveness, in the spatial part" [emphasis added] (p. 89). In this step "we continue to experience the appearances of the car, and we continue to recognize one and the same car in all the appearances, but we have now spotlighted one of the appearances and brought it to center stage" (pp. 89-90). Third, we return to the car as a whole and "take it precisely as being the whole, and simultaneously we take the part we had highlighted . . . as being a part in that whole. We now register the whole as containing the part. A relation between the whole and part is articulated and registered. At this point we can declare, 'This car is damaged'" (p. 90).
So we have this fact, this categorical object: the car is damaged. However, Sokolowski insists this is not an idea. Instead we are engaging in a process of constitution, where we bright the fact that such is the case to light (p. 92-93). The categorical object exists in its own right as part of the perceived object's identity: "the identity [is also] achieved through the statements we can make about it" (p. 94). I can reluctantly accept this, but he elevates it still further to what we would typically consider conceptual entities. This includes reasons, justifications, arguments—judgements as opposed to intending merely a state of affairs.
Sokolowski introduces an attitude he calls the "propositional attitude" and the reflection that establishes it the "propositional reflection" (p. 99). Propositional reflection entails the change of something being a state of affairs to being a judgement. This involves encountering an assertion. One intends the assertion. But suppose doubt arises. The state of affairs just constituted (i.e. the assertion taken as true) is given the qualifier "as proposed," belief is suspended. Yet, according to Sokolowski, the same "thing-and-feature" is intended even after a the change in the state of affairs (i.e. the assertion becomes a judgement/meaning). However, after evaluating the statement, one comes to the conclusion that it is true. The qualifier is removed and the judgement returns to being a state of affairs. All the while, this state of affairs exists in the identity of the object in question.
This account of judgements as existing in objects, and the implication that ideas do not exist, seem shaky to me. Sokolowski's Introduction to Phenomenology is supposed to be a general account of what phenomenology is without "taking sides." It also seems to presuppose realism. Yet I was under the impression that realism was only one stance of many among phenomenologists. Considering the role of transcendental idealism in some conceptions of phenomenology, Sokolowski's assertion that phenomenology is realist seems false. So I ask two questions:
Does phenomenology as a whole reject the existence of mediating concepts (i.e. ideas)?
Is phenomenology fundamentally realist, or if this is just a position held by some?