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The Phenomenology

of Edmund Husserl

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl SIX ESSAYS

LUDWIG LANDGREBE Edited with an Introduction


Cornell University Press ITHACA AND LONDON

Copyright © 1981 by Cornell University Press

All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations in a review, this book, or parts thereof, must not be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher. For information address Cornell University Press, 124 Roberts Place, Ithaca, New York 14850.

First published in 1981 by Cornell University Press. Published in the United Kingdom by Cornell University Press Ltd., Ely House, 37 Dover Street, London W1X 4HQ.

International Standard Book Number 0-8014-1177-7 Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 80-69827 Printed in the United States of America Librarians: Libran/ of Congress cataloging information appears on the last page of the book.


Acknowledgments Works of Edmund Husserl Introduction: World and Consciousness

1. The Phenomenology of Corporeality and the Problem of Matter Translated by Donn Welton 2. The Problem of Passive Constitution Translated by Donn Welton 3. Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism Translated by R. O. Elveton 4. The World as a Phenomenological Problem Translated by Dorion Cairns and Donn Welton 5. Regions of Being and Regional Ontologies in Husserl's Phenomenology Translated by Richard Cote 6. The Problem of a Transcendental Science of the A Priori of the Life-world Translated by Dont] Welton Index

7 9 13 33


66 122


176 201



As editor, I take this opportunity to express my appreciation to Professor Ludwig Landgrebe for his encouragement with this project. His help with a number of the difficulties encountered during the course of translating, as well as his patience during the long process of preparing this edition, is gratefully acknowl­ edged. I also thank Armen Marsoobian, Elizabeth Lazeski, and Kath­ leen Wallace for their valuable assistance during the final stages of editing the volume. Acknowledgments are due the following publishers. The first essay appeared as "Die Phänomenologie der Leiblichkeit und das Problem der Materie" in Beispiele: Festschrift für Eugen Fink zum 60. Geburtstag, ed. L. Landgrebe (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1965), pp. 291-305, was reprinted in Ludwig Land­ grebe, Phänomenologie und Geschichte (Gütersloh: Gerd Mohn, 1967), pp. 135-147. It is translated by permission of Gerd Mohn. "Problem der passiven Konstitution," Tijdschrift voor Filosophie, 36 (1974), 466^482, was translated as "The Problem of Passive Constitution," by Donn Welton, Analecta Husserliana, 7 (1978), 23-26. This translation is copyright © 1978 by D. Reidel Publish­ ing Company, Dordrecht, Holland, and is reprinted with their permission. "Husserls Abschied vom Cartesianismus," Philosophische Rundschau, 9 (1962), 133-177, was reprinted in Ludwig Landgrebe, Der Weg der Phänomenologie (Gütersloh: Gerd Mohn, 1967), pp. 163-206, and translated as "Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism," in The Phenomenology of Husserl, ed. and trans. R. O. Elveton (Chicago: Quadrangle, 1970), pp. 259-306. This translation is reprinted by permission of Gerd Mohn and R. O. Elveton. "The World as a Phenomenological [7]


Problem" was first translated by Dorion Cairns, in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 1 (1940), 38-58. The revised transla­ tion in this volume is based on a revised German text printed as "Welt als phänomenologisches Problem" in Der Weg der Phänomenologie, pp. 41-62. Portions of the first translation are reprinted by permission of Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. The revised German text is translated by permission of Gerd Mohn. "Seinsregionen und regionale Ontologien in Husserls Phänomenologie," Studium Generale, 9 (1956), 313324, was reprinted in Landgrebe, Der Weg der Phänomenologie, pp. 143-162. The translation appears with the permission of Gerd Mohn and Richard Cote. "Das Problem der transzen­ dentalen Wissenschaft vom lebensweltlichen Apriori," Proceed­ ings of the Xllth International Congress of Philosophy, September 7-14, 1963 (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México), was reprinted in Phänomenologie und Geschichte, pp. 148-166. It is here translated by permission of Gerd Mohn. Donn Welton

Stony Brook, New York


Works of Edmund Husserl

Listed below are the works of Husserl published in German or in English translation that are quoted in the text. In order to facilitate recourse to Husserl's writings, footnotes throughout this volume cite the pages of both the original and the transla­ tion, if one exists. Reference is made to the first edition of a volume only if it does not appear in the collected works, the Husserliana. Throughout this book abbreviated titles will be used.

Husserliana Cartesianische Meditationen und Pariser Vorträge. Ed. S. Strasser, Husserl­ iana, vol. 1. 2d rev. ed. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1963. Cartesian Meditations: An Introduction to Phenomenology. Trans. Dorion Cairns. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1960. Die Idee der Phänomenologie: Fünf Vorlesungen. Ed. WalterBiemel. Husserl­ iana, vol. 2. 2d ed. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1958. The Idea of Phenomenology. Trans. William Alston and George Nakhnikian. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1970. Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie. Book I: Allgemeine Einführung in die reine Phänomenologie. Expanded and ed. Walter Biemel. Husserliana, vol. 3. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1950. Ideas: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology. Trans. W. R. Boyce Gibson. New York: Collier Books, 1962. Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie. Book II: Phänomenologische Untersuchungen zu Konstitution. Ed. Marly Biemel. Husserliana, vol. 4. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1952. Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie. Book III: Die Phänomenologie und die Fundamente der Wissenschaften. Ed. Marly Biemel. Husserliana, vol. 5. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1952. Die Krisis der europäischen Wissenschaften und die transzendentale Phänomenologie: Eine Einleitung in die phänomenologische Philosophie.


Works of Edmund Husserl Ed. Walter Biemel. Husserliana, vol. 6. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1954. The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology: An Introduction to Phenomenological Philosophy. Trans. David Carr. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1970. Erste Philosophie (1923-24). Part I: Kritische Ideengeschichte. Ed. Rudolf Boehm. Husserliana, vol. 7. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1956. "Kant and the Idea of Transcendental Philosophy." Essay III of Erste Philosophie I. Trans. Ted Klein and William Pohl. Southwestern Jour­ nal of Philosophy, 5 (1974), 9-56. Erste Philosophie (1923 -24). Part II: Theorie der Phänomenologischen Reduk­ tion. Ed. Rudolf Boehm. Husserliana, vol. 8. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1959. Phänomenologische Psychologie: Vorlesungen Sommersemester 1925. Ed. Walter Biemel. Husserliana, vol. 9. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1962. Phenomenological Psychology. Trans. John Scanlon. The Hague: Mar­ tinus Nijhoff, 1977. Zur Phänomenologie des inneren Zeitbewusstseins (1893-1917). Ed. Rudolf Boehm. Husserliana, vol. 10. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1966. The Phenomenology of Internal Time Consciousness. Ed. Martin Heideg­ ger. Trans. J. S. Churchill. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1964. Analysen zur passiven Synthesis: Aus Vorlesungs- und Forschungsmanuskript­ en 1918-1926. Ed. Margot Fleischer. Husserliana, vol. 11. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1966. Zur Phänomenologie der Intersubjektivität: Texte aus dem Nachlass. Part I: 1905-1920. Ed. Iso Kern. Husserliana, vol. 13. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1973. Formale und transzendentale Eogik: Versuch einer Kritik der logischen Ver­ nunft. Mit Ergänzenden Texten. Ed. Paul Jansen. Husserliana, vol. 17. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1974. Formal and Transcendental Eogic. Trans. Dorion Cairns. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1969.

Other Published Works Logische Untersuchungen. Vol. I: Prolegomena zur reinen Logik. 2d rev. ed. Halle: Max Niemeyer, 1913. Vol. II, Parti: Untersuchungen zur Phäno­ menologie und Theorie der Erkenntnis. 2d rev. ed. Halle: Max Niemeyer, 1913. Vol. II, Part 2: Elemente einer phänomenologischen Aufklärung der Erkenntnis. 2d rev. ed. Halle: Max Niemeyer, 1921. Logical Investigations. Trans. J. N. Findlay. 2 vols. New York: Humani­ ties Press, 1970. "Die Idee einer philosophischen Kultur. Ihr erstes Aufkeimen in der griechischen Philosophie." Japanisch-deutsche Zeitschrift für Wis­ senschaft und Technik, 1 (1923), 45-51.


Works of Edmund Husserl

“Erneuerung: Ihr Problem und ihre Methode.“ The Kaizo, no. 3 (1923), 84-92. “Entwurf einer 'Vorrede' zu den 'Logischen Untersuchungen' (1913).“ Tijdschrift voor Philosophie, 1 (1939), 106-133, 319-339. Introduction to the Logical Investigations (1913). Trans. Philip J. Bessert and Curtis H. Peters. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1975. Erfahrung und Urteil: Untersuchungen zur Genealogie der Logik. Prepared and ed. Ludwig Landgrebe. 2d, unchanged ed. Hamburg: Claassen, 1954. Experience and Judgment: Investigations in a Genealogy of Logic. Trans. James Churchill and Karl Ameriks. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1973.

Introduction: World and Consciousness DONN WELTON The first of all phenomenological investigations—that investi­ gation which specifies itself as distinctively noematic—is that of the passively given object. —Husserl (1920-21)

Consciousness as being intentionally directed, a concept essential to Husserl's starting point, proves to be, in fact, a derived phenomenon. It is one of the specific possibilities.. . made possible through the passive genesis of consciousness. —Landgrebe (1932)

Ludwig Landgrebe, more than any other of our contem­ poraries, knows that at the core of Edmund Husserl's work there is a process of thought continually radicalizing itself. The writings in this volume are by one who stands inside Husserl's long and complicated development, which found its resting place, almost against the will of its author, at the point of yet another beginning. The last works—The Crisis of European Sci­ ences and Transcendental Phenomenology, written in 1934-37, and the introductory section, written in 1935, of Experience and Judgment—complete the circuit of thought initiated by the Logical Investigations by turning us back to those critical moments that make phenomenology possible and placing them in a context of thought and praxis which, at first, was invisible.1 In these last texts Husserl, the perpetual beginner, found the beginning he 1. Full bibliographical information on Husserl's works is given at the begin­ ning of this volume. In order to simplify reference to the original German and to make comparisons with other studies on Husserl easier, I cite both the German text and, when one exists, the English translation. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are mine.



sought, one which, in fact, can arise only in that never-ending return of thought upon itself. As one of his closest co-workers, Landgrebe knew Husserl's direction and realized that not merely the results but even the premises of his phenomenology were reworked ceaselessly. In Husserl's hands phenomenology became a task to be com­ pleted, a "dream"2 to be fulfilled. Perhaps for this reason, above all others, Landgrebe's work on Husserl is not a defense of doctrines but, in a way which continues that dialogue initiated in the late 1920s and 1930s, a critical interaction with and thus an extension of Husserlian phenomenology. Such a procedure at­ tunes us to productive philosophizing; for it is only when one interrogates a philosopher that he can speak and we can hear, and he, in turn, falls silent and we can speak. I

Husserl's phenomenology, with its intention of ending the history of thought, was born in that very history. If it was Her­ mann Lotze and Bernard Bolzano, on the one hand, and Franz Brentano and Carl Stumpf, on the other, who initially defined the problematic upon which Husserl labored in the Logical Inves­ tigations,3 it was Descartes and Kant who required him to re­ think his characterization of the task and field of phenomenol­ ogy as well as his method in the first volume of Ideas, a book first published in 1913.4 The results were profound. In one of the 2. Krisis, p. 508; Crisis, p. 389. 3. For Husserl's own reflections on the Investigations, see his “Entwurf einer 'Vorrede' zu den 'Logischen Untersuchungen,"' passim; Introduction to the Logi­ cal Investigations., passim. 4. Husserl undertook a serious study of Descartes and Kant between the publication of the Investigations and Ideas I. The Investigations did indeed refer to both of them and of the two it is clear that Husserl is more concerned with Kant (and the Neo-Kantians) than with Descartes. His comments there are of a gen­ eral nature, however, and they indicate that Husserl had not yet come to terms with either. But in the introduction to his 1907 lectures, ''Hauptstücke aus der Phänomenologie und Kritik der Vernunft,“ the first place where Husserl sys­ tematically expounds his theory of phenomenological reduction, he is preoc­ cupied with Descartes' method. (This introduction has been published as Die Idee der Phänomenologie.) Directly after these lectures, between 1907 and 1909, Husserl began to wrestle with Kant and to see the deeper affinity between their projects. On this development, see Iso Kern, Husserl und Kant, Phaenomenologica 16 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1964), pp. 20-21, 24-33. [14]

World and Consciousness

manuscripts from 1908 we read: "The Logical Investigations takes phenomenology as descriptive psychology (although the epis­ temological interest was definitive for them). But one must dis­ tinguish this descriptive psychology, understood as empirical phenomenology, from transcendental phenomenology."5 Dur­ ing the period 1900-1913, Descartes and Kant continually con­ verge and diverge in Husserl's thinking; the result is a concep­ tion of method and of the subject matter of phenomenology which attempts to combine their seminal insights with what Husserl had already discovered in the Investigations. No doubt the Cartesian heritage is already found in the concept of self­ evidence which Husserl, following Brentano and Stumpf, intro­ duces in the Prolegomena and develops in Chapter Five of the Sixth Investigation.6 Husserl's twin criteria of adequacy and apodicticity, the degree of coincidence between intention and fulfilling content and the certainty which would characterize such fulfillment, were first fashioned in the hands of Descartes. Yet, in the Investigations Descartes' doubt did not have its full impact. Husserl maintains that in the case of external perception there is a core of the perceived, existing thing—its immediate perceptual content or its direct manner of givenness but not the entire object—which is adequately intuited and thus known apodictically.7 Furthermore, the field of lived experience (Erleb­ nisse), which is open to inner perception and thus adequately The interaction with Descartes produced Husserl's concept of evidence and further radicalized his idea of phenomenological method. From Kant he derived the task of an analysis of mental events as syntheses and the characterization of his method as transcendental. 5. MS. B II 1, pp. 25f., as quoted in Die Idee der Phänomenologie, p. ix. Walter Biemel dates the manuscript as 1907 but Iso Kern argues convincingly that it stems from 1908, after Husserl gave the 1907 lectures and in the middle of his intensive study of Kant. See Husserl and Kant, p. 31. It is significant that the phenomenological reduction is characterized in the lectures as the ''epistemolog­ ical reduction'' and not as transcendental, even when Husserl does mention Kant. See Die Idee der Phänomenologie, p. 48; The Idea of Phenomenology, p. 38. 6. Logische Untersuchungen, I, 12-17; II/2, 3-6, 115ff.; Logical Investigations, pp. 60-63, 668-671, 760ff. 7. Ibid., II/2, 66-67, 75-101, 116-117, 240; Eng. trans., pp. 721, 728-748, 761, and 866. On this point see Ernst Tugendhat, Der Wahrheitsbegriff bei Husserl and Heidegger (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1967), pp. 73-76; and Donn Welton, The Origins of Meaning: A Critical Study of the Thresholds of Husserlian Phenomenology, Phaenomenologica (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, forthcoming), chap. 6.



intuited, also belongs to the order of objective and factual existents: "What I labeled descriptive, psychological phenomenol­ ogy in my Logical Investigations concentrated only on the sphere of lived experiences in terms of their immanent [reell] content. [However,] the lived experiences are experiences of a living ego; inasmuch as this is true they are related empirically to objects of nature."8 Husserl remedied this inconsistency by carrying through and then, with Kant, going beyond the Cartesian coor­ dinates of inner and outer, of mental event and physical object: "For a phenomenology which wants to be epistemological, for a theory of knowledge (a priori), the empirical relation must re­ main bracketed. In this way there arises a transcendental phenomenology proper, one which was executed in the Logical Investigations only in fragments.9 This suggestion is then further explained in the course of the 1907 lectures: We are no longer standing in psychology, this natural, tran­ scendently objectivating science. Thus, we do not research nor do we speak of psychological phenomena, of certain occurrences of the so-called real world (whose existence we keep in question), but of that which is, and which is valid, regardless of whether there is something like objective reality of not, regardless of whether we reckon the positing of such transcendencies or not. So do we speak of such absolute givens: may these also be related intentionally to objective reality, that self-relation is a characteristic in them and thus we do not assert the existence or nonexistence of reality.10

In one sense these ideas agree with Descartes' skeptical turn in distinguishing between things which exist spatio-temporally and phenomena which exist for consciousness, and then main­ taining that we have no "apodictic" or "pure" evidence for the former.11 "The existence of objects is not given."12 In another sense Husserl's ideas go beyond Descartes' by suggesting that the procedure of bracketing existence must be applied to the 8. MS. B II 1, pp. 25f. as quoted in Die Idee der Phänomenologie, p. ix. 9. Ibid. 10. Ibid., p. 45; Eng. trans., p. 35. 11. Ideen, I, 337f.; Ideas, pp. 353f. 12. Die Idee der Phänomenologie, p. 46; The Idea of Phenomenology, p. 36. Italics mine. [16]

World and Consciousness

psyche as well, and that doing so does not yield a stream of simple, immanent events. Rather, the mental life opened to view by the reduction displays a structure, that of intentionality. What is uncovered is not a self-enclosed ego with its mental contents, but a field of consciousness polarized into acts of ap­ prehending and apprehended objects, syntheses and appear­ ances. All consciousness is consciousness-of-something. /zBeing-related-to-what-is-transcendent, intending it in this or that manner, is an inner characteristic of the phenomenon."13 What Husserl wanted, above all else, was a philosophy rest­ ing on sound epistemological grounds. It was the introduction of his notion of reduction that "purified" the field first described in the Investigations and made this possible. Accordingly, the phenomenological reduction does not mean limit­ ing the investigation to the sphere of psychological immanence [reelle Immanenz], to the sphere of what is immanently contained in the absolute This of the cogitatio. In fact, it does not at all mean being limited to the sphere of the cogitatio, but rather to the sphere of pure self-givenness: to the sphere of that which is not merely spoken about, intended or perceived; but rather to the sphere of that which is given in precisely the sense in which it is intended, self-given in the strict sense, so that nothing of what is intended fails to be given. In a word we are limited to the sphere of pure evidence.14

In his efforts to characterize this sphere, Husserl reached for the only term which Kant would allow: the region studied by pure phenomenology is itself transcendental. These ideas find their systematic expression and, thus, their fulfillment in Ideas I. The astonishing fact, however, is that simultaneous with and, so to speak, behind the back of that work we can find an intense concern with phenomena which, when studied in terms of their implications, would require the departures which Husserl eventually takes in the 1920s. The essays that begin this volume catch Husserl at precisely this juncture. They show that the motives for the transformation of Husserlian phenomenology are internal and that they arise in 13. Ibid. Cf. p. 60; Eng. trans., p. 48. 14. Ibid., pp. 60f.; Eng. trans., pp. 48f. 117]


the course of its own development. Eventually, the momentum of his studies carried Husserl beyond what he came to speak of as his Cartesian way15 into a phenomenological method which is both historico-critical and transcendental. Each of the essays in this collection deals with a topic of im­ portance in its own right. At the same time, the essays ferret out, in a way that may not be immediately apparent,16 the motives behind Husserl's development. In this brief sketch I would like to concentrate on this second line of thought. The essays can be grouped in this fashion: the first three suggest that Husserl's concrete phenomenologies of the body, passivity, temporality, and his analysis of alternative "ways" into tran­ scendental analysis create difficulties for the concept of tran­ scendental consciousness as outlined in Ideas I; the second three essays show that the attempt to integrate history and the life­ world into a structural phenomenology outstrips Husserl's ini­ tial characterization of the world. Thus we have the unifying theme of this collection: world and consciousness in the phenom­ enology of Edmund Husserl. II

In the second book of Ideas (begun 1912), Husserl set out to analyze systematically the various regions of ontology. There he undertook a description of material nature, which, in turn, required him to treat the body. As Landgrebe's first essay, "The Phenomenology of Corporeality and the Problem of Mat­ ter," shows, the opposition in terms of which nature is defined is not between nature (body) and soul, but rather between nature and living body (Leib). The way in which Husserl defined his concept of nature can best be explained by contrasting what he called the naturalistic or objectivistic attitude with the personal­ istic. The personalistic attitude designates that "manner in which man exists immediately in his life-world."17 In this attitude, we are occupied with things and a world that are "cultural." By way of contrast, the naturalistic attitude abstracts from all the use 15. Cf. Krisis, pp. 156-158; Crisis, pp. 154-155. 16. The one exception to this statement is Landgrebe's "Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism," the third essay in this volume. 17. P. 42 below. [18]

World and Consciousness

and value properties of objects in order to treat things and, correspondingly, physical nature, as that which is "given to us through the senses in the mode in which they themselves ap­ pear immediately in sensuous intuition."18 In Ideas II, it is the personal attitude which is normal and not "artificial." The field of nature, Husserl admits, is gained only by "special means," by "abstraction" or a kind of "self-forgetfulness."19 In a way which anticipates the Crisis, Husserl also suggests in passing that there is a concept of nature correlative not only to the naturalistic but also to the personalistic attitude, and it arises "in the nexus of community," but this insight is not explored in any detail.20 What enables Ideas II to maintain the validity of the objectivistic concept of nature as the totality of perceptual objects, thus creating the opening in which the transcendental analysis of Ideas I takes place, is the fact that nature is described as the correlate of a modality of the living body which Husserl under­ stands as basic. Nature, objectivistically characterized, is an abstraction in the sense that isolating the body from its praxis and use of language is an abstraction. Nature correlates not to our everyday experience but to a mode of perceiving the world detached from our acting upon it. Yet a description of the world from this perspective yields, Husserl suggests, the basic coordi­ nates (space and time), as well as the elementary types (percep­ tual senses), foundational to any object of experience, including those which are specifically cultural. What Husserl did not then realize, as we shall see, was that this procedure of intuitive reflection is not sufficient to free the perceptual field from those meanings and transformations which are historically determined. There is a second perspective from which we can understand Husserl's concern with the living body. In the second essay, Landgrebe shows that Husserl's attempts to penetrate the deepest level of constitution,21 the temporalization of objects in 18. P. 35 below. 19. Ideen, II, 183-184. 20. Ibid., p. 208. This is the closest Ideas II comes, I suggest, to distinguishing the originary perceptual from the pre-given perceptual world. I return to this topic in the third part of this essay. 21. This study was undertaken first in The Phenomenology of Internal TimeConsciousness. Although originally published in 1928, the texts composing this 119]


the field of experience and then the process of selftemporalization of the ego, create a problem which is solved only by juxtaposing it with the concept of the living body. If temporalization is the deepest level of the ego, and if this deep dimension is latent and operative in all acts of apprehension, it is the most elementary condition, in Husserl's language, of the constitution of objects. But how can it be intuited in and for itself? Would not the very process of reflection transform it into what it is not, into an apprehended object, rather than that generative process of temporalization making possible all acts of apprehending? Would we not intuit a temporal object rather than temporalization itself? Were this final constituting level taken as implicit in manifest acts, and were its existence inferred as a hypothetical necessity, this problem would not arise. Time and self-temporalization might be comprehended but not apprehended. But Husserl is faithful to his Cartesian criteria of evidence, and thus the prob­ lem of how one gains an intuition of what can never be an object of intuition persists. It seems as though we do not have even a clue or "perspective" on the basis of which we could apperceive this ultimate level. The solution Landgrebe proposes takes several strands of Husserl's concrete descriptions and carries them in a direction originally inhibited by Husserl's methodological restraints. If we introduce Husserl's opposition between constituting and consti­ tuted, the living body itself must be understood as constituting22 and, thus, as belonging to the same level of "pre-constitution" as temporalization. This affords a way beyond the difficulty: temporal and kinaesthetic syntheses are interrelated because impressions, or what Husserl calls hyletic data, are not first given, then temporalized, and subsequently spatialized; but rather they are given only through a process of temporalization coordinated with kinaesthetic syntheses, the effectual volume were written between 1904 and 1918. It is significant that simultaneous with Husserl's extensive work on the living body in Ideas II (1912 to 1918) he composed what are known as the Bernau manuscripts (MSs. L I and L II), some 817 pages on the problem of time, which are now kept in the Husserl Archives in Louvain, Belgium. 22. Thus my preference for translating Leib as living body.


World and Consciousness

movements of the body. Without the kinaesthesen, there are no perceptual fields and without perceptual fields, in which certain data can become prominent, there are no time-constituting ac­ complishments nor, in turn, a process of self-temporalization.23 At the level of perception, each res temporalis is necessarily a res extensa. Furthermore, kinaesthetic syntheses are not only coconstitutive with temporal syntheses of perceptual givens, but they are themselves temporal occurrences with a before and after. Kinaesthetic consciousness is necessarily temporalizing and self-temporalizing consciousness. If this is true, then it is possible that the depth level of temporalization would display itself in and through the awareness of kinaesthetic conscious­ ness. This gives us the key to our problem: kinaesthetic con­ sciousness is the living and moving body. The living body is not apprehended as an object. Rather, I have an immediate and nonthetic awareness of the body. Such a direct awareness arises because the living body is always at my disposition, is that in which I move and "hold sway," and is that which, at the level of perception, I am. It is precisely here, where perceptual world and bodily movements resonate in each other, that the ego is identified with the living body, and we have a nonobjective and subsidiary awareness of it. The "attunement" of ego, body, and world is experienced immediately without an act of reflection. One could turn the problem another way and suggest that the immediate awareness we do have yields far less than Husserl expected. Rather than giving us access to the variegated content of mental life, we are aware only of temporalization and spatialization, of the ego­ body as the locus of a temporal "standing-streaming," which it generates, and as the invisible center of a spatial field, which it organizes. In order to apprehend the "active accomplishments" of the ego, we must reintroduce reflection. Yet, as we will sug­ gest shortly, the apprehension of the ego in this fashion is not immediate, but indirect. Thus, it seems to me that Landgrebe poses a problem of central importance to Husserl's concept of reflective intuition: to the extent that we have an immediate 23. For a detailed study of the relationship between the temporalization of experiential objects and self-temporalization see Klaus Held, Lebendige Gegen­ wart, Phaenomenologica, 23 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1966), pp. 61-137.



awareness of the ego, it is not produced through reflection; to the extent that we reflect upon the ego, it cannot be known immediately or completely. The concern with the living body, therefore, is not accidental. In order to explain adequately the concept of subjectivity and the manner in which it is known directly, the body must be placed at the center of any phenomenological account. Including it, however, threatens the standard premises of transcendental theory and creates a problem of considerable magnitude for Husserl's Cartesian way. In the 1920s, these and other problems began to compound themselves. They are elaborated with lucidity and precision in "Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism." There are three diffi­ culties, all of which further undermine the Cartesian way. They concern the limits of starting with the noetic side of conscious­ ness, the notion of evidence, and then the question of whether transcendental subjectivity is egological. In several of his writings, Husserl begins to complain that the Cartesian way is too quick; that its reflection throws one, in a single move, into the center of the cogito without any indication of the intervening strata; and that we are at a loss to know what has been gained by this procedure or "how a completely new sort of fundamental science, decisive for philosophy, has been attained."24 The yields of the Cartesian reflection are simply too paltry. Its bracketing of the existence of the world gives us, at best, indubitable evidence of the existence of the ego. No doubt, The Idea of Phenomenology and Ideas I both emphasize the fact that the world is not lost, that it is fully present as cogitatum, and that there is no cogito without a cogitatum. But the question is whether this thesis, so central to phenomenology, can be se­ cured by the Cartesian reflection, or whether it does not under­ mine the very nature of that correlation. The fact that the cogitatum was characterized from the side of the cogito, that van­ tage point secured by the Cartesian way, had the effect of trans­ forming it into "subjective representation." When Husserl, fol­ lowing Kant, goes on to place this cogito cogitatum on the other side of the mundane world, and to call it transcendental, the 24. Husserl, Krisis, pp. 157-158; Crisis, p. 155. After Eng. trans.


World and Consciousness

result is not a dismantling of the experienced world giving us its conditions, a project which would begin with the cogitatum, but rather a duplication of this world. Because everything is left after the reduction, nothing is gained. At the same time, Husserl's characterization of the cogito, as active and effective synthesis, and his definition of it, as the object of reflective intuition, left him without a way of entering those dimensions of conscious­ ness which are passive and affective, and without a way of disclosing the latent horizon of meaning constitutive of the presence of perceptual objects. What is lost in the Cartesian way, Landgrebe indicates, is precisely "how this momentary point of certitude, with respect to my own existence as the in­ dubitable ego, already includes further evidences which are equally assured, evidences with which a transcendental field of experience can be disclosed." If phenomenology is established by recourse to experience, and if experience always opens upon horizons which escape presence yet are constitutive of it, then the requirement that evidence be absolute becomes an intention which cannot be ful­ filled. Absolute evidence can only be the telos of phenomenol­ ogy, that is, a task defined in terms of the future that simultane­ ously requires a break with the past. As a result, the Cartesian way, with its juxtaposition of presence and the present, must give way to a method which is historical and critical. These two ideas turn us to yet a third. Certainly these remarks render problematic the thesis that transcendental subjectivity is egological. This is seen clearly when we realize that the lines of thought necessary for Husserl's description of transcendental subjectivity as egological begin to diverge and eventually break out into an open conflict. In the Cartesian Mediations (1929), a text that Husserl finally abandoned to take up work on the Crisis, only a "core" of the ego, the "living present," can be intuited with adequacy.25 Be­ yond that, Husserl says, "only an indeterminately general, pre­ sumptive horizon extends, comprising what is nonexperienced but necessarily co-meant."26 Included in this indeterminate 25. Cartesianische Meditationen, p. 62; Cartesian Meditations, p. 22. 26. Ibid., p. 62; Eng. trans., p. 23.



horizon is "the ego's past" and "his transcendental capabilities and habitual traits." Anticipating the obvious objection, Husserl then suggests that the "actual being" or "subsistence" (Wirklich­ sein) of the ego is assured but not "what determines its being more particularly." "This," he adds, "is not given but only pre­ sumed during the living evidence of the I-am."27 In addition to the moment of intuition, he concedes, we also need a process of "criticism" concerned with those dimensions implicated in its living present. There are at least two insurmountable difficulties with this sketch. As he has described the range of intuition, it seems that what is intuited, or what could be intuited, in a single living present is not a transcendental ego but rather a particular act or experience (Erlebnis), filling out the living present, not ego but cogito. The transcendental ego is not a concept or a form for Husserl; it has the quality of a fact, albeit a transcendental fact. An apprehension of the ego must include its "actual being," but this cannot be separated from the minimal idea that this ego unites or synthesizes past, present, and future strings of experi­ ences. Husserl, however, singles out the ego's past as one fea­ ture not given but only implicated in reflective apprehension. If this characteristic is not included in the intuition, we can never be sure that what we have stumbled upon is indeed the tran­ scendental ego.28 The second problem follows closely on the heels of the first. The evidence which Husserl claims for this ego is quite unstable. What establishes a fulfilled intention as enduring truth is the fact that we can repeat the act (future) in view of previous fulfill­ ments (past). To suggest that the future and past are not part of the immediate evidence of the I-am is to concede that the only certain intuitive evidence that the transcendental ego can have—since it is evidence for itself of itself—is fleeting, that is, not evidence at all. Interestingly enough, these ideas come to­ gether in a text which Husserl composed about 1922: 27. Ibid. 28. Actually the issue is much more complicated that what is suggested. I will let the criticism stand because it is only after the Cartesian Meditations that Hus­ serl attempts to resolve the problem I suggest. For a further discussion of this see Held, Lebendige Gegenwart, pp. 83-88 and 94ff. [24]

World and Consciousness Evidences of pure intuition have only a momentary certainty but a certainty attached to the flow of perception and retention that can­ not be canceled. But these evidences do not give us apodictic cer­ tainty of the infinite past and future of life, nor certainty of the identical ego that is the subject of this infinite life, and the subject of certainties which it can authenticate again and again, even after the primitive living certainty stemming from primitive perception has elapsed. It is because of recollection that we first have the "again and agains." The possibility of facts that are an sich stems out of it; facts, that is, which are primitively experienced in percep­ tion, but which can be experienced again any number of times, can be again identified as the same and described... in the identical manner and in the identical truth any number of times. Thus,. . . there is an enduring truth which contrasts with momentary truth.29

As a result of these and other complications, the Cartesian way leads to a double dilemma: to the extent that it insists on absolute intuition, it cannot apprehend the transcendental ego as ego and, thus, cannot find a foundation upon which to erect the edifice of knowledge; to the extent that it wants to preserve the transcendental ego as ground, it cannot know this ego through reflective intuition and, thus, undermines its concept of evidence. Landgrebe himself takes up the second part of the dilemma and argues that the immediacy of the ego is secured, as suggested above, by that attunement of ego and body which we directly experience. In such tacit awareness, however, the con­ crete modalities of the ego are not thematic. Our apprehension of the ego becomes differentiated as we become aware of not that "passive" modality in which ego and body are identified, but those "active" modes of being-in-the-world whereby the ego distances itself from the body—either by using it or setting it to the side of its concerns—and, yet, is displayed through the body. These modes are known only through a reflection upon the various acts and activities by means of which the ego consti­ tutes the world. Such a reflection, however, is much closer to a form of historical and critical reconstruction than of immediate intuition. Let me briefly elaborate on this cluster of ideas. 29. Analysen zur passiven Synthesis, p. 370.



Were the ego able only to view and assimilate the world, were it merely a spectator of the dance of appearances, the ground for positing its existence, as Hume has taught us, would be hard to find. Landgrebe, however, underscores a different characteriza­ tion: "This world ... is not something which is purely given and which simply must be accepted, but it holds sway for me only upon the strength of my affirmation, recognition, and position." I am conscious of myself as free, able to create and re-create, and thus as responsible for the world in which I live. Because we can discover a generative source of actions and acts, we may yet speak of an ego; and because it is not bound by nor identical with any "mundane" complex of conditions or interests, we may call it transcendental.30 Landgrebe, breaking with Husserl's epistemological orientation, speaks of such a transcendental ego as "an ethical ego," thereby stressing the primacy of historical praxis and human responsibility. In his theory, the prereflexive and immediate awareness we have of the ego in passivity does not allow us to overtake its active life directly. The ego as dif­ ferentiated is comprehended only in and through the web of actions and experiences which it is not and, thus, only "as the 'dialectical' relationship of 'being-identical-in-being-other.'"31 What allows us to continue speaking of it as absolute is the fact that it is the irreducible condition of there being teleologically oriented praxis.32

in The expanded analysis of subjectivity carried Husserl, as the second set of three essays shows, into deeper studies of the world and gave rise to his concept of the life-world. Let me suggest the main line of his development of the notion of the world. In Ideas I the procedure of bracketing and reduction was never intended to "eliminate" or to discard the world at hand: sus­ pending judgment on the existence of the world gave us its 30. P. 118 below. 31. P. 115 below. For Landgrebe's concept of the dialectic see “Das Problem der Dialektik“ in Phänomenologie und Geschichte (Gütersloh: Gerd Mohn, 1967), pp. 80-134. 32. This interpretation of the transcendental ego is further elaborated at the end of the final essay in this volume.


World and Consciousness

presence and, in a much more important sense, left it com­ pletely intact. The world at hand, the pregiven world, was not changed but set in relation to the various kinds of synthetic activities or accomplishments that give rise to the specific struc­ tures which it has. This strategy, as Landgrebe shows in "The World as a Phenomenological Problem," required two steps, and separating them was quite important for Husserl's own development: (a) the description of the various regions of the world as given, a "mundane" phenomenological analysis; and (b) the characterization of these regions as the correlate of transcendental accomplishments, a transcendental phenom­ enological analysis. By momentarily setting aside the task of transcendental characterization, this separation had the result of freeing Husserl to devote considerable attention to the descrip­ tion of the pregiven world and then to discover that there, in the intuitive base, a concealed "transcendental constitution" was at work. The strategy of Ideas I was to begin with the most direct level of perceptual experience, and then to study it to the extent that it was foundational to the other regions. In the course of his further considerations after Ideas I, however, he realized that the pregiven world is itself a specific cultural world and that freeing it from claims of existence does not rid the perceptual field of those meanings or senses that are themselves historically de­ termined. What remains concealed from the Cartesian reduction is the fact that even perceptual objects are in a horizon of culture and history which is invisible. Thus Experience and Judgment33 came to distinguish between the pregiven and the originary life-world and Husserl was required to speak not just of a return to the given but of a dismantling of the given.34 Furthermore the given must be studied in correlation not just to "the mental accomplishments which we human beings carry out," but to a "universal subjectivity functioning at the ultimate or deepest level."35 But what is this "subjectivity" over against the mental accom33. Erfahrung und Urteil, pp. 21-45; Experience and Judgment, pp. 27-46. 34. This task finds its clearest expression in the very important section on Galileo's mathematization of nature in the Crisis. See Krisis, pp. 20-60; Crisis, pp. 23-59. Cf. the discussion of Kant on pp. 116-138; Eng. trans, pp. 114-135. 35. Krisis, p. 115; Crisis, p. 113. Cf. pp. 142-145 below. [27]


plishments of historical persons? In attempting to understand it, Husserl reached for his concept of the living body. Thus the Crisis suggests that "sensibility, the ego-active function of the living body or the bodily organs," belongs to all perceptual ex­ perience "in a fundamental, essential way."36 This, in turn, gave him a way of characterizing the originary world; for just as the living body is itself "given" to us not as an object among objects but as that which we immediately have as the ground of the endless course of experience, so the originary world is not an object among objects but is present as the aesthetic nexus within which all possible givens have their being and their meaning. Within mundane analysis a transcendental aesthetic was born, and it was this which should have provided the guiding clues for transcendental analysis proper. In fact, it did not. As Landgrebe notes, Husserl's transcendental analysis of the "origin" of the world was carried out during a period before he clearly contrasted the pregiven and the originary life-world, that is, on the basis of the pregiven world. Thus, the study of percep­ tion guiding the transcendental reflections of Ideas I was of a perception that took place within established horizons. Hus­ serl's transcendental analysis was concerned with what exists "in" the world rather "than the origin of the world itself."37 Only in his later manuscripts on the problem of time and, I would add, on the problem of language, did Husserl broach the problem of the constitution of the horizon per se. It is likely that on this point Landgrebe's influence on Husserl is quite pronounced. The only published text of Husserl's which clearly distinguishes between the pregiven and the originary life-world is the Introduction to Experience and Judgment (sections 6 to 11), a text for which Landgrebe himself is largely responsi­ ble. Landgrebe introduced the book by speaking of a "unique kind of collaboration," one in which "the content of the thought, the raw material, so to speak, stems from Husserl" while "the literary form" was his own.38 The Introduction, however, was the last section to be written (1935), and this Landgrebe describes as "a free rendering" of ideas taken from 36. Ibid., p. 109; Eng. trans., p. 106. 37. See p. 144 below. 38. Erfahrung und Urteil, p. x; Experience and Judgment, p. 7. [28]

World and Consciousness

Formal and Transcendental Logic (1929) and the Crisis, based on "verbal discussions" with Husserl and on manuscripts from 1919 to 1934. "The plan of the Introduction was discussed with Husserl and approved by him,"39 yet it is certain that Landgrebe and not Husserl wrote jt. David Carr, in his excellent study, has pointed to the impor­ tance of this text and has argued convincingly that its opposition between the originary and pregiven world adds to the thought of the Crisis and clears up "a major ambiguity" of that text.40 Clearly, the Introduction does not repeat the Crisis but ex­ tends the studies undertaken there. It is significant that the essay that we are now considering was published in the same year as Experience and Judgment. Here Landgrebe argues, in ef­ fect, that Husserl did acquire the distinction but that he did not develop it. Perhaps, one could speculate, it was during the course of those discussions in 1935 that the contrast crystalized for Husserl.41 Thus Husserl, at the end of his long, winding journey, finds himself at the beginning. Having introduced the contrast between the pregiven and the originary life-world, Landgrebe goes on in the final essay, "The Problem of a Transcendental Science of the A Priori of the Life-World," to relate it to the question of history and to the possibility of a phenomenological science of the life-world as the most universal of all horizons. His exposition of Husserl is, in fact, part of his ongoing dialogue, and here we find in Husserl's final beginning the seeds of what, in the hand of Landgrebe, eventually becomes a well-circumscribed theory of the life­ 39. Ibid. 40. David Carr, Phenomenology and the Problem of History (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1974), p. 219. 41. It is worth noting that the contrast between (a) a primitive, structural interconnection of experience and world and (b) the acquired interconnection through which the historicity of consciousness and the cultural world arise, was firmly in hand when Landgrebe published his exposition and critique of Dilthey in 1928, the same year he began work on Experience and Judgment. See his "Wilhelm Diltheys Theorie der Geisteswissenschaften," Jahrbuch für Philosophie und phänomenologische Forschung, 9 (1928), 234-366, esp. pp. 247-254. This con­ trast is also found in Landgrebe's 1932 lecture to the Kantgesellschaft in Göt­ tingen. See "Das Problem der Geschichtlichkeit des Lebens und die Phänomenologie Husserls," pp. 19ff. and esp. pp. 27ff. This, I believe, is another indication that Landgrebe's influence was decisive. [29]


world and a transcendental history of the experience of con­ sciousness.42 This volume concludes, then, with an invitation to go with Husserl beyond Husserl. 42. See Ludwig Landgrebe, Phänomenologie und Geschichte; “A Meditation on Husserl's Statement: 'History is the grand fact of absolute Being,' " Southwestern Journal of Philosophy, 5 (1974), 111-125; Der Streit um die philosophische Grundlagen der Gesellschaftstheorie (Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1975); and ''Pheno­ menology as Transcendental Theory of History,'' Husserl: Expositions and Appraisals, ed. Frederick Elliston and Peter McCormick (Notre Dame, Ind.: Uni­ versity of Notre Dame Press, 1977), pp. 101-113. See especially his most recent essay ''Lebenswelt und Geschichtlichkeit des menschlichen Daseins,'' Phänomenologie und Marxismus, vol. 2, Praktische Philosophie, ed. Waidenfels, Broekman, and Pazanin (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1977), p. 13-58. A translation of an edited version of this essay is forthcoming in Research in Phenomenology.


The Phenomenology

of Edmund Husserl

1. The Phenomenology of Corporeality and the Problem of Matter Were there not one point where mental and physical are en­ tirely in one another then matter would not be capable—as is undeniably the case—of being raised into the mental. —Schelling

The problem of matter does not appear to be among those issues of primary concern to philosophers today. This is quite remarkable because a large part of the contemporary world has aligned itself under the banner of materialism in the struggle over the future of man, and in those circles a lively discussion is underway concerning the determination of the essence of matter as the "substructure" [Unterbau] and its relation to conscious­ ness as "superstructure" [Überbau]. It is, to be sure, easy to point out the simplistic presuppositions upon which this dis­ pute over matter rests; but to do that would be to overlook the fact that the problem does not merely concern itself with the theoretical dilemmas into which a materialistic pseudo­ metaphysics leads, but rather with the sense-bestowing func­ tion of praxis [Sinngebung der Praxis] for human existence. If, according to common conviction, "history" (meaning events that take place) is such that it is kept in motion through human activity [Handeln], then the answer to the question of the mov­ ing force of history will itself be the presupposition of the an­ swer to the question of the significance and boundaries of human praxis. And this implies that we can account for the final goal that praxis serves and can discover the extent to which praxis contributes toward its realization. The conviction that his­ tory is totally fashioned in the hands of man—a conviction which has, we could say, prevailed since Vico—is an essential ingredient in the self-comprehension of the modern age. But this conviction is always threatened by the possible existence of an unsurpassable limit set for all productive activity by nature [33]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

and its laws of causality. Therefore the question as to the extent of this control by nature remains a fundamental one for the determination of the sense-bestowing function of human praxis. This question, in the form in which it is put by the Marxist world, can be disposed of neither with a Positivistic shrug of the shoulders (the gesture with which it treats all such metaphysical problems) nor with the comfortable certainty that we already possess in Kant or Hegel the corrective to the dogmatic pseudo-metaphysics of Marxist materialism. Today we see how inadequate the alternative of idealism and materialism is when we raise questions concerning the moving force of history. Still we cannot spare ourselves the trouble of coming to grips with the problems of matter and whether its laws of motion can be scientifically understood. The stubbornness with which the question of matter repeatedly asserts itself must rather be un­ derstood as an indication that we have not yet placed it into a framework in which it can be answered in a convincing manner. Obviously the following short discussion cannot pretend to develop the problem of matter completely. It must restrict itself to a brief indication of how, in Flusserl's phenomenology of corporeality,1 a new approach is opened to this problem which, considered in its consequences, could exhibit not only the ad­ vantages and limitations of its previous mode of treatment but also make possible a further step. Our treatment of Husserl's analysis here is not for the purpose of interpreting him and giving a correct understanding of his own position, for indeed, his analysis only forms a point of contact with the problem of matter. Thus the question as to what extent the consequences drawn from this analysis can be legitimized on the basis of an interpretation of Husserl's own starting point and how far they extend beyond his actual analysis will not be discussed in this context. In order to see the relation of the phenomenology of corpore1. The German word Leiblichkeit is translated as "corporeality," Leib as "body" or "living body," and Körper as "physical body," depending on the context. The distinction between Leib and Körper is central to this essay. Leib refers to the body as lived, the subject-body serving as that center about which our personal worlds are organized; while Körper refers to the body as an ex­ tended object capable of being studied by the natural sciences. This contrast should become clear in the context of this essay.—Trans.


The Phenomenology of Corporeality

ality to the problem of matter, we must begin with Husserl's analysis of the constitution of material nature in the second vol­ ume of the Ideas.2 Its fundamental thoughts must be presented in a much shortened and simplified form in order to open the questions: what is to be found in this analysis germane to the determination of the essence of "matter"; how do these results show themselves in Husserl's own reflections, both from the time of the composition of Ideas and the later investigations; and what additional consequences can be drawn from these reflec­ tions? In the second volume of Ideas the question of the constitution of material nature is raised in connection with the "scientifictheoretical" problem of gaining an understanding of the basic regional concept "material thing" which demarcates the exact natural sciences. To this end there must be exhibited those functions and accomplishments of consciousness [Bewußtseins­ leistungen] which are the unique basis for something like "ma­ terial nature" to be given to us in the a priori universality of its essence. In order to open material nature to our gaze, a specific interest and an attitude corresponding to it are presupposed, namely, the natural scientific attitude or the "naturalistic" in contrast to the "personalistic" attitude. The latter is the attitude of our "everyday life" and therefore—in the essential sense— it is not an "attitude" which we first select but rather that fundamental frame of reference found in everyday life. The correlate of this frame of reference is our world with its values, goods, and so forth; the correlate of the naturalistic attitude are things taken as "mere things" [die Dinge als "blosse Sachen"]. As such they are given to us through the senses in the mode in which they themselves appear immediately in sensuous intuition, that is, they are given in a way which disregards what they actually mean for us as objects of utility, as works of art, and so on. In this sense the "material thing" is the "primal object" [Urgegenstand]. It is, no doubt, acquired by disregarding all properties resulting from their use by us, all "value predi­ cates." Yet it is still a primal object in the sense that all these 2. For an exact analysis of the systematic construction of this work compare “Regions of Being and Regional Ontologies in Husserl's Phenomenology," Chapter 5 in this volume.


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

properties presuppose precisely the sensuous presence of the "bearer" of such "predicates." What we understand by "material thing" can be acquired only through an analysis of the accomplishments in which a sensible object is constituted for our consciousness as such. The manner in which the perceived thing shows itself to us—as actually changing in its adumbrations and perspectives—is taken as dif­ fering ways of being conscious [Bewussthaben] of one and the same thing. This well-known analysis of sensible perception need not be repeated in detail. It is only appropriate here to emphasize what is relevant to the concept of "material reality," that is, to the concept of nature understood as the domain stud­ ied by the exact natural sciences. The thing which shows itself in ever-changing perspectives appears in the course of perception [Wahrnehmungsabläufen] as one and the same object. When we analyze the perceptual object in this way we treat the object as having an essential lawfulness to the sequence of its presentations: "The thing is a regulation of possible appearances."3 A perceptual object cannot be given to us in another way and any meaningful talk of material concrete reality legitimizes itself only by referring back to this intuitive manner of givenness. In the analysis of the constitution of the material thing the relativity of its appearing shows itself in the momentary apprehension of the sensuously perceiving subject, in the normal or abnormal functioning of his sense organs, and so on. However, the motive for the "objectification" of the mate­ rial thing, that is, for its scientific determination in the sense of the exact natural sciences, already lies in this manner of its giv­ enness. In order to reach agreement with others concerning what appears relative to our sense organs we need a way of determining sensuously perceived things in concepts and judgments, which then can be performed by each subject capa­ ble of thinking regardless of how his sense organs function. Exact scientific determination wants objective truth and this means intersubjective truth comprehensible for all thinking sub­ jects. The physicist does not speak of sensible qualities but of mathematically determinable wavelengths, and so forth. But in 3. Ideen, II, 86. [36]

The Phenomenology of Corporeality

the last analysis all these determinations are again related back to sensible objects and occurrences appearing in intuition. All his statements are verified in the experiment which, in one way or another, must have recourse to intuition again and again. Thus the physicist does not construct a world which would lie behind the world of sensible things, but instead he has de­ veloped a method which determines these same things and oc­ currences in an unconditional universal manner, which holds true for all thinking subjects. Things or events are specified by reference to the laws of their appearing: occurrences in which they so appear can themselves be introduced and the effect of intervening in the course of nature can be predicted exactly. The objects subject to such determinations are already pregiven in perceptual comprehension. They are the "primal objects." This manner of comprehending them, which in itself already motivates the theoretical comprehension of the natural sciences—a mode of comprehension whose end is a universally communicable determination—is specifically designated by Husserl as that of a theoretical attitude: it required nothing from the objects, it does not want to grasp them according to their utility, etc. Rather the leading interest is in "being as it appears" [das erscheinende Sein].4 Because exact determination is a method-directed activity motivated by the constitution of natural things, we can see the sense and limits of such a procedure—an idea, incidentally, that is in harmony with the conclusions of the majority of modern physicists. This method cannot involve the attempt to penetrate into the metaphysical foundation of nature and, in this sense, to reach a theory about the essence of matter. In an analysis of the constitution of material nature we are looking for the basic regional concept "material thing" with which the field of the exact natural sciences is to be staked out. The result, therefore, is a determination of the matter of nature which sounds very much like the Kantian notion and which is seen as a concept of that "which corresponds to sensibility."5 This means that we cannot express anything about the basis for the affection 4. Ibid., p. 26. 5. Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, trans. N. K. Smith (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1965), B 34. 137]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

of the senses other than just this correspondence. "Matter" is only a way of referring to the unknown and theoretically uncognizable basis of appearances; not a "thing in itself," but "a cer­ tain kind of idea of an unknown object obtained through the external senses."6 In the same way, material nature and thing­ hood [Dinglichkeit] are also "the X and nothing but the X that determines itself through general determinations."7 But Husserl's analysis of constitution does not rest satisfied with this critical and negative answer to the question of the metaphysical essence of the matter of nature. The analysis of the constitution of material things suggests that the appearance of the thing in its adumbrations stands in correlation to the kinaesthesen, to the kinaesthetic functioning of the parts of the body. The thing shows itself as such under "intramundane (real) circumstances": it is what it is in actuality only in the nexus of intramundane causality. The synthesis of sensations is not merely the productive accomplishment of consciousness related to one and the same perceptual thing which presents itself as a intramundane thing in the synthesis of the impressions of the various sensible fields, but rather "aesthetic" synthesis is inter­ woven with "causal" synthesis. The perspective in which the thing appears on the basis of sensible impressions is not simply the product of a passive acceptance. Husserl contrasted his own notion of sensuous receptivity to the concept of receptivity which Kant defined as "the ability to receive percepts through the manner in which we are affected by objects."8 For Husserl it is not only a [passive] undergoing of affections but likewise a consciousness of activity. And between these two there is a causal relationship: "because I have moved my head, have walked around the object, I have beheld the object in these perspectives," and so on. Thus the "aesthetic-causal synthesis" is that which transmits the immediate intuitive experience of a "because-thus." And this means "that functions of spontaneity belong to each perception. The running-off [Abläufe] of the kinaesthetic sensations is free and this freedom in the con­ sciousness of such running-off is an essential part of the con­ 6. Ibid., A 385. 7. Ideen, II, 302. 8. Critique of Pure Reason, B 33. [38]

The Phenomenology of Corporeality

stitution of spatiality."9 Therefore the spatiality of material thinghood and of the thing-world constitutes itself primordially in kinaesthetic self-movement, in the traversing of space in self-nearing [Sichnähem] and self-distancing [Sichen tfernen]. Through my body I am interwoven with the causality of the thing-world. Hence Husserl can say: The body has for its ego the unique distinction that it bears the null point of all orientation in itself. One of its spatial points, even though it may be a point not actually seen, is nevertheless charac­ terized in the mode of the central “here," namely in a "here" that has no other outside itself in relation to which it would be a “there." Thus all things of the surrounding world have their orien­ tation to the body just as, then, all expressions of this orientation bear this relationship in themselves.10

The body is hence "the place in which a system of subjective causality (and, as such, of causality which is not intramundane) interweaves itself with the system of intramundane causality"— if, according to definition, intramundane "reality" means spatially, temporally, and causally determined reality. Thus kinaesthetic "spontaneity" undeniably belongs to the receptivity of sensation and perception. Certainly kinaesthetic movements are frequently carried out involuntarily. But we our­ selves can be conscious of them and do become conscious of them—particularly at the moment of their failure or miscarriage. We can, therefore, regulate them and bring them under our control. They belong within the scope of the "I can," of the system of our "capabilities" and therewith, at least potentially, within the scope of our freedom. This "because-thus," this kinaesthetic causality, this command of the motor movements is adopted by the small child in his earliest years. It is that through which the child first unlocks his environment in the most primi­ tive way before all language and all reflection upon his ability. What shows itself here is a reciprocal relation between the constitution of material thinghood and material nature, on the one hand, and the constitution of the kinaesthetic body functioning in it as living body, on the other hand. Man "is in 9. Ideen, II, 58. 10. Ibid., p. 158. [39]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

nature only by virture of the fact that, first of all, his living body is a material thing in space."11 This relation is confirmed on the basis not only of external but also of internal evidence: What we call living body is already more than a material thing. It already has a stratum belonging to the soul which is not merely related to the body by us through a conveniently appropriate con­ sideration, but from the outset—thus intuitively—as being the ap­ perceptive stratum belonging to the whole of the body itself. Therefore we must first abstract from this in order to grasp the simple material body.12

Thus the corporeal is, on the one hand, "given as interwoven in the causal nexus of physical nature"13 and, on the other hand, as belonging to "the reality of the soul." The mode of its move­ ment is not determined through the laws of physical causality alone. It is noteworthy that "material things are conditioned exclusively from without and are not conditioned by their own past. They are realities without a history." To material reality belongs the ideal possibility that in a cyclical process it would re­ turn in identically the same external circumstances under which it already has appeared even though such may be highly improbable. Material reality, however, is so composed that in such a cyclical return it would have to have identically the same total state. On the other hand it belongs to the essence of the reality of the soul that, in principle, it cannot return in the same total state. Realities of the soul do have a history. Two cycles of external circumstances border­ ing on one another would effect a particular soul in the same way but in the soul itself the states could not be the same because the earlier state functionally determines the later.14

Thus both material reality as well as the reality of the soul order themselves in the formal idea of reality as " 'a unity of enduring properties in relation to conditions belonging to it.' But it must be differentiated according to the kind of 'properties' and 'condi­ tions.'"15 The reality of the soul, as reality interwoven with a 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.


Ibid., Ideen, Ideen, Ibid., Ibid.,

p. 118. III, 118. II, 118. p. 137. p. 136.

The Phenomenology of Corporeality

body, is moved, not only from without but also from within. Thus what we "have contrasted with material nature as a second kind of reality is not the 'soul' but the concrete unity of body and soul, the human (or animal) subject."16 What further conclusion about the essence of material nature do we arrive at over and above the elementary idea that the material thing is nothing other than "the X that determines itself through general determinations"? In order to answer this ques­ tion we must proceed from Husserl's statement that "'na­ ture' and the body, and again the soul in its interweaving with the body, constitute themselves in this reciprocal relation successively and jointly into one."17 This means that sensations, especially the kinaesthesen belonging to them, not only constitute the material thing as the correlate to external perception, but also constitute the body at the same time: "they function at the same time as thing-constituting and body-constituting."18 It is the living body of which I am conscious as being, at the same time, the mate­ rially intramundane body, interwoven in physical causality, and yet my own, under my own motive control. The "ego" knows itself as "governing" within the body, as moving it directly, and it thereby "knows" more in an immediate intuitive manner about "na­ ture" than it does from the external perception of physical occurrences. It has in its body-consciousness a source of experience which must be systematically disregarded in order to give rise to the objectification of nature effected by the exact sciences of nature. We must, however, reintroduce a consideration of this source if we are to become clear as to the contribution which a phenomenology of corporeality brings to the clarification of the problem of matter. To this end, first of all, we should briefly point out the conse­ quences Husserl himself draws from these insights. We note that the determination of the concept of material nature, as it showed itself in the analysis of the accomplishments constitut­ ing it, is not alone decisive. It is concerned not with the "es­ sence" of nature at all, but only with the product of the method used in the scientific determination of the concept of material 16. Ibid., p. 139. 17. Ideen, III, 124. 18. Ibid., p. 133.


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

nature. There is an aspect of nature that is not unfolded in this objectivistic concept of nature and that can show itself only by relinquishing the "naturalistic attitude." Thus Husserl says in retrospect that a tension has now been produced "between the nature which existed at the beginning and the nature which sprang forth for us in the nexus of community."19 He points to a tension between nature as the fundamental stratum founding everything, the stratum of "mere things" [bloßer Sachen], on the one hand, and that which we ourselves are, with others in our common surrounding world and for others as corporeal subjects (therefore, as beings of nature), on the other hand. This tension refers to the fact "that we do not have two attitudes invested with equal right and rank, or two apperceptions having entirely the same right and at the same time permeating each other, but that the naturalistic subordinates itself to the personalistic and that it is only through an abstraction or, much more, through a kind of self-oblivion of the personal ego that it gains a certain independence, thereby simultaneously absolutizing (unjustifi­ ably) its world, nature."20 As we have already said, the per­ sonalistic attitude is essentially not an "attitude," but rather the manner in which man exists immediately in his life-world. In the Crisis this theme is taken up again and Husserl's task there is to gain a concept of nature that is not "naturalistic,"21 but one which rests upon the experience of nature that results from the kinaesthetic "governing" of the ego in the body. This nature of the life-world is not the nature which is exactly objectively de­ termined. It is the historically changing idea of nature which de­ termines the experience and praxis of the life-world, not the concept of nature given in the "naturalistic" attitude. But the constant, the a priori upon which these historically variable ideas of nature rest, is the internally experienceable relationship of the corporeally and kinaesthetically active subject to "nature" and to itself in its body as a component of nature. The nature given in the naturalistic attitude—the nature "which existed at the beginning"—is the totality [das All] of realities, among which certain things are found which are not 19. Ideen, II, 208. 20. Ibid., p. 183. 21. Krisis, p. 306; Crisis, p. 327.


The Phenomenology of Corporeality

merely material things, but bodies with souls (animals). Among these is our own body which stands as a distinct object, a mate­ rial body-thing, in the intramundane causal nexus, and the soul attributable to it, which can be questioned on the basis of its psychophysical dependence on real causality. In comparison to this, what is nature and what is our body in the "personalistic" attitude, the natural attitude of the life­ world? In this attitude we do not think of our body as a material thing to be apperceived among other things, a thing in which a soul is to be "enclosed." Nor do we then ask about ourselves as corporeal beings with psychophysical conditions [Bedingtheit] as we do in the naturalistic [naturalistisch] attitude. On the con­ trary, the natural [natürlich] apprehension appears "to contain a plus."22 It is the attitude "in which we are at all times related to one another, speak to one another, greet one another with the shaking of hands, in disposition and deed, in talking and con­ tradicting"23 and in which "man is given to us in the human body as a personality which lives, acts, suffers and of which we are conscious as an intramundane personality, which comports himself within the circumstances of his personal life now one way, now another."24 This plus shows that in the two cases we are concerned with a "totally different apperception," an actu­ ally different understanding of what we ourselves are: "One time the 'surrounding world' offers the system of real condi­ tions, and another the mere body and the interconnected events of consciousness which transpire."25 The "conditions" upon which we know ourselves to be dependent as persons in our personal surrounding world are not those of causal determina­ tion but of motivation. In my comportment I am motivated by my view of things, but the question of being motivated is entirely different from the question of the psychophysical relationship of "sense-stimuli"—which the view of things gives to us—to a material "object producing the stimuli." Thus, in the normal attitude, we are not directed to the living body as an object among objects. It is not a thing in our personal surrounding 22. 23. 24. 25.

Ideen, Ibid., Ibid., Ibid.,

II, 140. p. 183. p. 140. p. 142. [43]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

world which we all can see but rather belongs to me in a specific way, as a "dark underlying ground" [Untergrund] of mental [geistig] and personal subjectivity. The body is that underlying ground of sensuousness upon which subjectivity depends in­ asmuch as it is sensuous and corporeal.26 If we distinguish in intentionality between consciousness of the object and the positional attitude of the personal ego, includ­ ing its "comportment," then both have this "background which lies before all comportment or, much more, is presupposed by all comportment."27 The mental-personal ego is not an "abstract ego," but has a "bedrock of lived experiences and a bedrock of nature ('my nature'), which manifests itself in the mechanism [Getriebe] of the experiences."28 This underlying ground is none other than that which is conscious to the ego (as experiencing) in a twofold manner: as the corporeality which conditions [bedingen] the ego by motivating its comportment, as the ego's sensuousness with its striving and affections, on the one hand; and as actually being my body which I control and am within, on the other side.29 As such it is a "singular subjective." Con­ sequently we can see that one must speak of nature in a three­ fold sense: (1) nature for the objectifying exact natural sciences which, in principle, is not intuitable and is specifiable only in mathematical-symbolic determinations of thought as a "product of the method" and, with this, as a personal accomplishment of the intersubjectivity driving the natural sciences; (2) the intuitive nature of the life-world, the nature of outer sensuous perception. To think of nature as that within which things happen in conformity with a strict causal lawfulness (that can be recognized as such) is only one specific way of con­ ceiving of the nature of immediate perceptual experiences; and (3) that which is the constitutive condition for the possibility of the experience of nature in general, the "underlying ground of nature" manifesting itself in corporeality as a passive struc­ tural moment of constituting transcendental subjectivity itself. This is what Husserl calls "the natural side" of subjectivity but 26. 27. 28. 29. [44]

Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid.,

p. p. p. p.

276. 279. 280. 281.

The Phenomenology of Corporeality

it, as he later remarks, does not really deserve the name "nature." In his reflections on "first philosophy" Husserl speaks of the absolute transcendental subjectivity with its communal relations "whose index in the passive sense is called nature; in the active sense, however, it is called engaged, determining activity that works itself [hineinwirken] from one ego into another via the medium of the positing of nature."30 (The implications of these conclusions for the concept of transcendental subjectivity must be set aside for the moment.)31 If Husserl hesitates in this connection to use the name "na­ ture" for this most fundamental basis of all constitutive accom­ plishments, it is for a good and pertinent reason: the relation of corporeality and material nature has been presented in such a way that both constitute themselves in one another and indivisibly from one another. This relation shatters the traditional separa­ tion of inner and outer, of an immanence as the range of the subjec­ tive from a transcendence of objects which stands in opposition to it. In the transcendental attitude, the attitude in which we ask about the constitutive conditions below all the experiences of nature in the life-world, "the distinction between 'springing forth from without' and 'what is added to it by the mind [Geist]' disappears. What remains is the distinction of that which is most basic and genetically primitive and yet alien to the ego, that which is contingent, and the lawful formation of reproduction, association, apperception, and other constitutive accomplish­ ments whereby the lawfulness of these formations is not acci­ dental but essential."32 Where does this leave us in our effort to define the essence of matter as the basis of the affection of the senses in constitutive analysis? Has not matter been dissolved into that which is genet­ ically and primitively alien to the ego, that which is only contin­ gent in relation to the ego—the ego which always has the possi­ bility of becoming conscious of itself with its constituting ac­ complishments and their essential lawfulness? Is not the only 30. Erste Philosophie, II, 506. 31. This question is taken up in the next essay, "The Problem of Passive Constitution."—Ed. 32. Manuscript B III 10, p. 14 (1921) as cited in Iso Kern, Husserl und Kant, Phaenomenologica 16 (The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff, 1964), p. 273. 145]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

alternative to speak with Kant of the impossibility of ever ap­ prehending the basis of the affection of the senses? In order to find an answer to these questions, the investigation of Husserl's texts must be set aside and, going beyond them, we must at­ tempt a few cautious, conjecturing steps of a preliminary and fragmentary character. For "theoretical" knowledge—what Husserl calls objectivating knowledge—the basis of affection, the basis of this contin­ gent factum that there is a reception of sensations, is not cogniz­ able. But in the manner in which we receive sensations there lies, as the analysis of the kinaesthetic functioning body showed, a "manifestation" of this "underlying ground of na­ ture." It manifests itself in the sense that the functioning of sensibility is not experienced as a merely receptive submission, but as that which is bound up with the "I can," the "governing" of the body and the self-movement of the sensible members of the body. The "I move" is a "practical possibility" in contrast to the "positional attitude of the ego, its acts of judgment, and so on"33 The corporeal subject itself is already conscious of this possibility before all explicit consciousness of the ego. And it is aware of itself as a center of a kind of spontaneity which is not that of thinking. Even before all such spontaneity of thinking, the human being experiences his existence as founded in this ability of his; he learns to understand himself in his ability which is not primarily an "intellectual" act but a self-understanding of the "I can," of this ability to move ourselves. In the inner aware­ ness of this ability lies the fundamental, intuitive experience of force [Kraft]. The grasping of the hand knows itself as an impulse which moves as "I will," and in grasping it experiences the resistance of what is grasped, the countereffect of its force. It experiences efficacious force [wirkende Kraft] as teleological, goaloriented, and in this sense intentional. In this "because-thus" one must seek the intuitively experienceable basis which finally gives all conjectures about efficacious force a meaning which is understandable for us. But in this experience also lies an indica­ tion of that which, as the basis of the affections, motivates the kinaesthesen. Certainly that which is sensed in sensation, that 33. Ideen, II, 330.


The Phenomenology of Corporeality

which presents itself as contingent and alien to the ego, that which Husserl designates as the last matter of all formation by intentional accomplishments—the prote hyle in the Aristotelian sense—is not at all determinable taken in itself. But it does show itself to be determinable in the relation in which it stands to the kinaesthetic self-moving of the sensuous body. The last matter is only affecting if this movement comes up against it [entgegen­ kommen]. It exists for the impulse of the "I move" as simply given. But this appearance [Anschein] of an immediate simplicity of existence [Dasein] as given and, following from this, the ap­ pearance of the impossibility of any further determination of the same, abides only as long as the constitutive conditions of this simple existence are not taken into consideration. Being given means, namely, "already existing." This always-alreadyexisting [Immer-schon-dasein], this being pregiven for each im­ pulse considering it, taking it in hand, and so on, is that which we designate as the being-there [Da-sein] of nature in which we always find ourselves as already there. Now and here, nature is always already there. But that there is for us such an "already there" is not most basic. Rather it refers to the constitutive con­ ditions of such a consciousness of "already there" as a temporal determination [Bestimmtheit]. We experience this "already there" as the transient now in the slipping away into the "just been." That we have a given with this character of an already there that immediately slips away is possible only because the impulse of our "I can" wants to hold on to the given as affecting us, be it to take it in hand, to know it, or whatever. Because intentionality already goes out beyond itself [ein Woraufhinaushat] in this bottommost level of the spontaneity of the "I can move myself," because our existence is directed at each level, first inexpressly and then expressly, by a goal it wants to attain, it experiences the given in its already-there as the slipping away. We do preserve what we have "already" experienced in order to incorporate it into the realization of our purposes and goals. This is to say that it is only because we are protentially directed and, in order to realize this direction, seize and hold fast the given, that we experience retentional fading into the just-then [So-eben] as a slipping away (and eventually as an opposition which, in some cases, we overcome in memory). [47]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

The fundamental experience of the efficacy of force which lies therein is the experience of a teleologically efficacious force. Thus in all the images of that "life-world" into which the modern objectivist concept of nature has not yet "flowed" (Husserl), efficacious force is taken as teleological. First by means of a methodological disconnecting, which forms the basis of the ob­ jectification of the natural event, do we come to the idea of a causally efficacious force—to an idea which, as Hume correctly saw, corresponds to nothing in intuitive experience. Thus it is on the basis of the synthesis of the temporalization by time­ consciousness that the given presents itself to us as "already there," as that which approaches us and demands our "I can," but united, at the same time, to that which is just slipping away and demanding, in order for us to reach the goal, its detention in retention and memory. Obviously the ego, even though it is first "anonymous" in its identity with the past ego which it remem­ bers, is the presupposition for this synthesis. But it thinks of the past ego [das Gewesene] as an intramundane past ego which it has experienced as having-been-perceived, thus related to its past body-consciousness. Accordingly the memory of this cor­ poreal having-been-there-with [Dabei-gewesensein] belongs to memory. This does not mean, however, that the unity of the ego would be nothing but the unity of the body, in the sense of Jean-Paul Sartre's "the body that I am,"34 but rather it means only that the unity of the ego depends upon the thoroughgoing unity of the "I can move" first experienced in opposition to that which its intentional force, its goal orientation, "solicits." That which we, with Husserl, speak of as the last matter, the contingently given in sensation and in this sense nature, does not have—and this should be pointed out—in itself the force of that which approaches us and challenges us. This force is only there as force in relation to the "I can" of a corporeal, kinaesthet34. Therefore what Linschoten says is questionable: "The body discovers it­ self as an ego that is already there, that has its origin in a pre-time; and it discovers itself as being orientated toward the future." Joannes Linschoten, Auf dem Weg zu einer Phänomenologischen Psychologie, PhänomenologischPsychologische Forschungen 3 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1961), p. 237; On the Way toward a Phenomenological Psychology, ed. Amedeo Giorgi (Pittsburgh, Penn.: Duquesne University Press, 1968), p. 298. The body does not discover itself, rather, more accurately: I, as corporeal, discover myself.


The Phenomenology of Corporeality

ically functioning being. For all efficacious force is, as the origi­ nal experience of force shows, teleologically efficacious. It de­ clares itself in the freedom of the "I can" in the most basic way and constitutes the being [Wesen] that we are, a being whose goal-orientation toward purposes and designs and, finally, to the last purpose does not stem from the given, appearing as "already there," but only out of our own being. With this we can see that the basis for the movement, which we call our world as our being-in-the-world, is itself accessible to us in an experi­ ence. Our being-in-the-world is understood in the manner in which we experience ourselves, namely as an event [Geschehen] that befalls us and challenges our freedom. But this constraining and challenging is to be designated neither matter nor spirit. It is an event that shows itself differently in history at any given time but always as overwhelming in comparison with our own ability. It is not causally efficacious nor does it, by itself, give the world a teleological direction; but rather makes us teleologically efficacious in our existence and our freedom. However, it does so in such a way that the power [Macht] which approaches and challenges us regulates and challenges us by means of the "al­ ready there" of the given, but in such a way that it conceals itself in this "already there" of the given. That which we call matter is not the unknown basis of affection; it is known to us in this relationship as that which conceals itself in this appearing of the given "material" and yet is still announced insofar as it chal­ lenges us.


2. The Problem of Passive Constitution

In speaking of the concept of passive constitution and passive synthesis, we raise the central problem in the interpretation of Husserl's transcendental phenomenology. It is with the intro­ duction of this concept that transcendental phenomenology dis­ tinguishes itself from traditional transcendental philosophies which, since Kant, have considered all syntheses as the "spon­ taneity of an act of understanding." Yet it is not only the rela­ tionship of phenomenology to this tradition but also its own character as a theory of transcendental constitution which is still controversial. Thirty years ago Eugen Fink already pointed out that Husserl's use of the term "constitution" fluctuates "be­ tween sense-formation and creation."1 Instead of "sense­ formation" one can also use the term "apperception" which means the apprehending and determining of something as something. Husserl's most important and basic operative con­ cepts lack precision, particularly in the case of his concept of "transcendental life." And yet it is only after we have made these basic concepts precise that we can answer the question: who or what really is "transcendental subjectivity"? In response to this question we do not have, as is well known, a general consensus. I hope that the following remarks will contribute to the clarifi­ cation of the problem. They do not claim to be original but rather proceed from and bring together what already has been worked 1. “L'analyse intentionnelle et le problème de la pensée spéculative," Prob­ lèmes actuels de la Phénoménologie (Paris: Desclée de Brower, 1952).


The Problem of Passive Constitution

out in the interpretative literature in order to draw a few conse­ quences that I trust will be illuminating. It will become apparent that this fluctuation of the concept of constitution between sense-formation (apperception) and creation cannot be elimi­ nated by making the concept more precise, but rather that it has its basis in the "things themselves" [Sache selbst]. We must see at what point in the theory of constitution this fluctuation of mean­ ing becomes evident and the transition from one meaning to the other is demanded and, accordingly, how far we are justified in understanding constitution not only as sense-formation but also as creation. This thesis is, of course, based on an interpretation which attempts to answer a question which Husserl himself did not pose but for which we can draw several clues from his texts. So much by way of introduction to the task of the following inquiry. Where do we see this fluctuation in Husserl's use of constitu­ tion? To be sure we do not find it in Husserl's analysis of the phenomena of active constitution and synthesis which them­ selves are the accomplishments [Leistungen] of the positional ego. It is clear that these accomplishments must be understood not as creating acts but rather as apperceptive sense-bestowing acts. The meaning of the phrase "accomplishments of the ego" is completely intelligible here. The ambiguity of the concept of constitution becomes apparent, however, in relation to the pas­ sive constitution and passive synthesis which is prior to all ac­ tive constitution, which is, in fact, its presupposition. In this sense Husserl also speaks of it as pre-constitution. Of course one must distinguish in the concept of passivity between secondary passivity and an original passivity or "primal passivity." Everything that was once actively constituted be­ comes an "acquisition" of the ego to which one can always reach back. This secondary passivity must be left out of consideration because it belongs to constitution qua sense-formation and our remarks must be restricted exclusively to original passivity. To this end three theses are advanced which I hope to estab­ lish by what follows: First, the "depth-dimensions" of the process of constitution cannot be attained by the phenomenological reflection. Second, the functions of corporeality belong to the functions 151]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

of passive pre-constitution and together with it to "tran­ scendental subjectivity." Third, the primal streaming occurrence [Geschehen] of "tran­ scendental subjectivity" is to be understood as a creative pro­ cess. The precise meaning of creation is gained from the phenomenological analysis of this process. I

Let us begin with an exposition of the first thesis which is: the "depth-dimensions" of the process of constitution cannot be attained by the phenomenological reflection. This thesis is not new. It was amply established by Klaus Held in his book Lebendige Gegen­ wart.2 Here we can only briefly summarize the results of his study. At the bottommost level of the deep dimensions of original passivity, according to Husserl, lie the syntheses of the time­ consciousness in which the ego constitutes itself as temporal and becomes aware of itself as a stream of consciousness. It is precisely this self-constitution of the ego in its temporality which expressly became a problem in Husserl's later reflections during the thirties. The most decisive texts concerning this prob­ lem are found in the unpublished manuscripts which Held re­ fers to in his book. Let us begin with a sentence written by Husserl in 1931: "The universal life of consciousness or ego of consciousness that, as a stream of consciousness, extends through a transcendentalimmanent time is a founded intentional accomplishment."3 It is first in the uncovering of these accomplishments that the phenomenological reduction attains that fundamental basis which makes all experience possible. But how is this fundamen­ tal basis to be defined? Husserl answers: "If we consider this transcendental life itself, this transcendental ego, or if I consider myself as I am to be posited prior to all my prejudgments and to all that which is for me precisely as the primal condition for their on tic sense [Seinssinn], then I find myself as [the] streaming 2. Klaus Held, Lebendige Gegenwart, Phaenomenologica 23 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1966). See esp. pp. 79-122. 3. MS. C 2 I, p. 11 (1931) after Held, p. 66.


The Problem of Passive Constitution

present."4 This "primeval, streaming, living present"5 is that fundamental level aimed at by the phenomenological reduction. It is not possible here to follow Held's extensive analysis of the living present and the development of its "riddles." Only this much can be said: in the earlier writings, including Erste Philosophie,6 Husserl again and again passed over a discussion of these depth-dimensions. Yet it is only such a discussion that can justify speaking of transcendental subjectivity as an absolute subjectivity. This fundamental functioning ego is absolute in as much as it is the primal source for all constitutive accom­ plishments that are built upon it. It is the absolute ground for all transcendencies which it encounters because no intentional ex­ perience can be effected without it.7 In this sense it is the "pri­ mal phenomenon in which everything else that can be called phenomenon has its source. It is the standing-streaming [stehend-strömend] self-present or the absolute ego present to itself as itself streaming in its standing-streaming life."8 This characterizing of the fundamental functioning ego as the absolute ego leads us with greater clarity to the question: in which sense is "constitution" used here: as sense-bestowal or as creation? Does the word "source" mean the basis of all constitu­ tive functions involved in allowing what is given to appear or does it mean the basis of what is given itself? In the latter case the depth-dimensions of constitutive accomplishments would be absolute in the sense in which metaphysics has always spo­ ken about the absolute. But for the moment this question must be set aside. Let us ask: how is this "primal phenomenon" of the "standing­ streaming life" characterized by Husserl? His statements on the subject, found in the decisive C manuscripts from 1931 to 1933, sound contradictory. The streaming life is passive: "passive means. . . that the stream proceeds without the activity [Tun] of the ego."9 On the other hand, however, we read: "temporality 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

MS. C 3 III, p. 10 (1931) after Held, p. 67. MS. C 7 II, p. 5 (1932) after Held, p. 68. The main texts of these two volumes are lectures given in 1923 and 1924. Cf. Held, Lebendige Gegenwart, passim. MS. C 7 II, p. 12 (1932) after Held, p. 70. MS. C 17 IV, p. 1 (1930) after Held, p. 99.


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

[Zeitlichkeit] is in every respect ego-accomplishment."10 But this statement is at the same time qualified by Husserl's indication that it is not the case "that this temporalization of living­ experience is always active accomplishment" for if "the station­ ary stream in itself. . . already always had effective intentionality [Husserl means here active intentionality], . . . we would come to an infinite regress."11 How, then, is the relationship between stream and ego to be conceived? Husserl replies: "The stream is always ahead [im Voraus], but the ego is also ahead."12 The "riddle" of the living present is, therefore, the following: "the entire primal streaming occurrence is not a dead occurrence [dead meaning: foreign to the ego] but rather the accomplish­ ment of the ego is the inner most dynamo."13 We find a similar passage in the second book of the Ideas: "The ego does not arise14 originally out of experience—in the sense of the associa­ tive apperception in which the unities of the manifolds of the nexus constitute themselves—but rather out of its own life15 (it is what it is not for the ego but, rather, it is itself the ego)."16 It is clear that one cannot speak of accomplishment in the sense of an active accomplishment for "activity in general has, as such, its 'presuppositions,' 'its conditions of possibility,' that do not themselves arise through activity."17 In the pretemporalization, in the primal passive streaming [Strömenlassen], "an absolutely anonymous ontic sense that is not already [temporally]18 dif­ ferentiated is temporalized"19 and it is only afterwards that it can be pointed to in the phenomenological reflection. Husserl was well aware of the difficulties encountered in the reflective comprehension of the "primal phenomenon." He even questions the possibility of comprehending it when he says 10. MS. C 17 IV, p. 5 (1932) after Held, p. 101. 11. Ibid. 12. MS. C 17 IV, p. 6 (1932) after Held, p. 101. 13. MS. C 10, p. 23 (1931) after Held, p. 103. 14. Reading entspringt aus for ist aus. There is an obvious allusion to the beginning of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, B 1.— Trans. 15. Reading aus seinem eigenen Leben for aus Leben.—Trans. 16. Ideen, II, 252. 17. MS. C 2 I, p. 7 (1931) after Held, p. 103. 18. After Held who interprets geprägt as meaning gezeitigt. Cf. Held, p. 103—Trans. 19. MS. B III 4, p. 59 (1933) after Held, p. 103.


The Problem of Passive Constitution

that in reflection "the present which has become objective is objective in an. . . act that itself is not objectively known. Thus what we presume as the last existent, that primal existent which we assume under the title "primal phenomenal present," is ac­ tually a "phenomenon" for us and [therefore] not the most fundamental."20 It is conceded thereby that the "amazing being-for-myself in the living present"21 cannot become a phe­ nomenon for itself. It only becomes a phenomen for itself when it is turned into an object of a reflection and therewith "ontified." Reflection directs itself toward what has already hap­ pened, it is an awareness of the functioning of the ego after the fact. It cannot overtake the ego itself as it functions, for in the very moment of reflection the functioning has already become another, that is, it has become the performance [Vollzug] of its act of reflection, and thus it is not objective for itself. Here we reach a final limit to what is attainable in its self-being through the reflection. In what sense can we speak of the apodictic self-certainty of transcendental subjectivity in relation to this fundamental basis of all of its active and passive accomplishment if it is not com­ prehended in its self-being through the reflection? Husserl leads us to this question and yet it is not really answered by him. What gives us the right, we may ask, to assert propositions about the primal phenomenal sphere? Held cites Husserl's "mollifying statements" with which he circumscribed the ques­ tion. These accomplishments, it turns out, are to be made evi­ dent as such that have always already occurred. As a "nontem­ poral" and "supratemporal" ego I know myself as being the identity of the one who now reflects and the one who performs these accomplishments (that have already taken place) upon which I reflect. "What we have called the identity of the one who performs [these accomplishments] is something specifically unique [ein einzigartig Eigenes]."22 This, then, is an identity apodictically certain to itself but unable to grasp in reflection precisely that function which allows it to become an identity for thought. If it is in the carrying out of the reduction that we 20. MS. C 2 I, p. 14 (1931) after Held, p. 113. 21. MS. C 3 III, p. 33 (1931) after Held, p. 115. 22. MS. C 10, p. 28 (1931) after Held, p. 118. [55]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

obtain apodictic certainty, how is it possible to define this iden­ tity if its being in its depth-dimensions is a primal passive streaming [ Strömen lassen ] in which an anonymous ontic sense appears? Is it possible to overcome this absolute anonymity? Can the ego—to use Fichte's phase—catch itself red-handed? And if this functioning is at all expressible, then how can it be characterized as a transcendental subjectivity?23 Who or what, we must go on to ask, is this "transcendental subjectivity"? What does its absoluteness mean and how are we to understand its "accomplishing"? Can it be understood exclu­ sively in the sense of sense-formation if the passive pre­ constituted "ontic sense" is an absolutely anonymous sense that, as such, eludes each apperceptive objectification (sense­ bestowal), because the reflection upon it already "ontifies" it? Or must this primal passive occurring be understood as creation and what, then, would creation mean? In order to find an answer to these questions we must con­ sider precisely what it is that belongs to this occurrence of the primal stream in which subjectivity constitutes itself in its selftemporalization [Verzeitlichung]. Thus the second thesis: the functions of corporeality belong to the functions of the passive pre­ constitution and together with it to "transcendental subjectivity. " Thus the lived body is not only constituted but also constituting. First we must ask the question: how must one think of cor­ poreality so that it is understood not merely as constituted but also as constituting? For only after we have answered this ques­ tion can we move to the third thesis and investigate its conse­ quences for the concept of the accomplishments of constitution and transcendental subjectivity. But now the first question: to what extent could functioning corporeality belong to the passive primal constitution as an accomplishment of a transcendental subjectivity whose most 23. In this sense Richard Zaner asked in the colloquium on “Brentano, Husserl and Phenomenological Psychology" at the Philosophy Congress in Vienna: is transcendental subjectivity identical with transcendental consciousness, tran­ scendental ego, individuality and the sphere of what belongs to me (Eigensphäre)? These are questions which he further develops in the discussion of Merleau-Ponty in his book The Problem of Embodiment: Some Contributions to the Phenomenology of the Body, Phaenomenologica 17 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1964).


The Problem of Passive Constitution

fundamental accomplishments, the depth-dimensions, are syn­ theses of its temporal self-constitution? How do temporal self­ constitution and corporeality relate to one another? It may appear that all concepts of the accomplishments of the constitution of time-formation would be concepts of mere forms of functions that would then need a given content before they could come into play. In the lectures on time-consciousness Husserl understood this content as a hyletic datum correlative to a primal impressional consciousness.24 Hyle in the Ideas also means formless stuff.25 In this sense Robert Sokolowski has spoken of the time-constituting functions as mere forms whose employment would depend on a given reality.26 But this concept of the hyle and its correspond­ ing primal impression was later given up. Thus Husserl says in the Crisis that with the question about the ultimate and deepest source of verification of all "pure" experience "one must not go straight back to the supposed immediately given 'sense-data,' as if they were immediately characteristic of the purely intuitive data of the life-world."27 Ulrich Claesges has shown in his book on Husserl's theory of space-constitution how this correction of the notion of hyle comes from Husserl's analysis of kinaesthetic consciousness.28 Claesges then asks: what consequences which Husserl himself did not draw out can we establish for the revision of the rela­ tionship of mundane and transcendental subjectivity and for the definition of the concept of transcendental subjectivity? In the first discussion of kinaesthetic consciousness in the second book of the Ideas the relationship of hyle and the kinaesthetic functions is described in terms of its meaning for the constitution of something as the object of perception and not for the temporal self-constitution of the ego. The reason is that the notion of constitution found in the Ideas is static and the 24. Zur Phänomenologie des inneren Zeitbewusstseiiis, pp. 1-134; The Phenomenol­ ogy of Internal Time Consciousness, pp. 21-188. 25. Ideen, I, 209. 26. Robert Sokolowski, The Formation of Husserl's Concept of Constitution, Phaenomenologica, vol. 18 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1964). 27. Krisis, p. 127; Crisis, p. 124. 28. Ulrich Claesges, Edmund Husserls Theorie der Raumkonstitution, Phaenomenologica, 19 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1964).


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

question of genesis is left out of consideration. However, the problem was already touched upon in Ideas II in the analysis of the constitution of the personal ego. Husserl remarked there that all capabilities [Vermögen] of the ego, to which the kinaesthetic capabilities also belong, are finally traceable back to the "primal capabilities of the subject."29 Husserl was com­ pletely aware of the limits of these analyses, as we see in his critical remarks written in the margin of his text, which refer to their incompleteness and especially to the unsolved problems of the "beginning," of the origin of all these accomplishments.30 What does it mean when Husserl says in the Crisis that the sense data should not be taken as something immediately giv­ en? In manuscript C 7 I the problem is formulated as a ques­ tion: I always need two things: on the one hand the streaming field of the living experiences within which [there is] constantly a field of primal impressions fading into retention and before it, protention; and, on the other, the ego that is affected and moti­ vated to action by this. But is not [what is] primally impressional already an apperceptive unity, a noematic [something] which comes here from the ego; and does not the questioning-back lead again and again to an apperceptive unity?31

This is the same problem we noted earlier when we quoted: "The stream is always ahead, but the ego is also ahead." In the lectures on phenomenological psychology Husserl speaks of the "inner time-consciousness constituting the sense-datum"32 that functions for the new higher level consciousness of apprehend­ ing. He also indicates there that affection has the structure of "form and content."33 But because the hyle, understood as that which is sensed in the act of sensation, is not itself immediately given but rather mediated through the constituting accom­ plishments of temporalization, the distinction between hyle as 29. Ideen, II, 225. 30. Ibid, pp. 250 and 255. 31. MS. C 7 1, p. 18 (1932). This quote is the motto Aguirre takes for his work. See Antonio Aguirre, Genetische Phänomenologie und Reduktion: Zur Letztbegründung der Wissenschaft aus der radikalen Skepsis im Denken E. Husserls, Phaenomenologica 38 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1970), p. vii. 32. Phänomenologische Psychologie, p. 424. 33. Ibid., p. 479.


The Problem of Passive Constitution

formless stuff and animating apprehension as form is no longer in force. Husserl also speaks in the Cartesian Meditations of the "passive synthesis providing all matter."34 What then are these accomplishments? They are, first of all, retention and protention in their synthesis with the streaming present. When one speaks in this manner, however, it is based upon an abstraction insofar as what is synthesized in this syn­ thesis of temporalization is left out of consideration. In a decep­ tively clear passage in the lectures on time-consciousness this "what" is called the primal impressional datum.35 For example, the tone which is constituted in its duration as fading away. But the tone datum—and Husserl does not bring this out there—is only given to us in receptive hearing in such a way that it can become a theme for us. This is not merely an inner act of atten­ tion but rather already presupposes preceding kinaestheses, such as the turning of the head to hear. This is easier to see in the relationship between ocular movement and the correspond­ ing optic datum. Husserl says nothing of this in the time lec­ tures. The passive syntheses of time-consciousness have not yet been brought together with the kinaesthetic syntheses. But when one does this, the results are clear: without impressions there are no time-constituting accomplishments and without kinaesthesen there are no impressions. The impressions are related to the actual kinaesthetic field coordinated to the sense-capacities. That the living streaming present is always a primal impres­ sional present means that these primal impressions are already synthetic unities produced in the passive syntheses of associa­ tion and contrast. Only in them does the individual datum come into relief. And only by disregarding those accomplishments which let it appear, can it be considered as isolated. In concreto, however, its appearance is mediated through those passive syntheses which for their part are constituted in inner time­ consciousness. Thus one can say with Claesges: "the kinaesthe­ tic consciousness is time-consciousness."36 Aguirre expressed this in the following way: "The hyle arises (herkommt) from me 34. Cartesianische Meditationen, p. 112; Cartesian Meditations, pp. 78-79. 35. Phänomenologie des inneren Zeitbewusstseins, p. 29; The Phenomenology of Internal Time Consciousness, p. 50. 36. Raumkonstitution, p. 120. 159]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

myself."37 It springs up in the kinaesthetic process without which there would be no living, streaming present. The ego is originally aroused through affection. An awake ego without im­ pressions is not conceivable. But does that mean that tran­ scendental subjectivity owes its affection to itself? If this is the case, the accomplishments of constitution would be creative. Another citation from Husserl gives us a point of access to this question: Each sense-datum is a datum constituting itself in consciousness in a most complicated way (in the original consciousness of temporal­ ity). Each ego-act and each "1 am affected by an impulse" is an experiencing [Erleben] that is only thinkable as streaming here from the ego and as being-directed-toward-it, and thinkable only in *he entire nexus of the monad.38

If we only consider that all affection is the primitive affection of the sense organs as organs of my body and that all kinaesthetic movements are the conditions under which the affection of the sense organs becomes possible, it follows that corporeality must be understood not merely as constituted but also as constituting. It is a system of constitutive capabilities [Vermöglichkeiten] to which the actual sense fields are coordinated, and, as such, it belongs to transcendental subjectivity. What can possibly be­ come a datum for me is established by that organization of the sense fields related to my body. It is in this sense that the hyle "arises from me myself." To understand that is to ask: how do I become aware of my corporeality in an original manner so that I can speak of its functions as constituting? It is, as Husserl amplified in Ideas II, the consciousness of the "I can," the awareness of the "ability to-rule" [Walten-Können] in the body; I can do this and that. Thus it is a practical consciousness. But, one could object, is not this consciousness of our ability already a constituted awareness? Does it not coincide with the awareness of that movement brought about by engaging my capabilities? For example, I see my hand that grasps. It is thereby already constituted as the object of my perception. Does 37. Genetische Phänomenologie und Reduktion, p. 167. 38. Phänomenologische Psychologie, p. 486.


The Problem of Passive Constitution

not my being aware [innewerden] of the movement brought about by me already presuppose my body as constituted? Against this objection one must recognize that the body is first my body because its organs are understood as the ensemble of that which I have immediately at my disposal. Obviously this being-able-to-dispose [Verfügenkönnen] occurs before we have a consciousness of it. Looking at it genetically, the body becomes gradually assimilated as being at one's disposal. Thus Husserl says in Ideas II: "Originally the Ί move'. . . precedes the Ί can'.. . ."39 And to this we should add that also the conscious­ ness of our "I can," or our "ruling in the body," genetically pre­ cedes the developed ego-consciousness. The discovery of what is mine [das Mein] precedes the discovery of the ego.40 That means that the spontaneity which we attribute to the perform­ ing ego is still concealed but nevertheless ruling in this conceal­ ment. It is only in this sense that the words "the ego also lies ahead" [voranliegt] are to be taken. What kind of "knowing" or "being-aware" [Innesein] do we have of the ego-consciousness as not yet developed? This "knowing" precedes the reflection and is one with the perfor­ mance of the kinaesthesen as a satisfied or unsatisfied "body­ feeling" [Leibgefühl]. The expression "body-feeling" is not en­ tirely appropriate because it means something "inward" where an "inwardness knowing itself" is not at all given. Perhaps Heidegger's concept of "attunement" [Befindlichkeit] charac­ terizes this "being-aware" better, for it is not merely a "feeling" but rather it points to the situation as in the middle of all that which it affects and against which kinaesthetic movement is directed. In this sense it is the first disclosure of the world. It precedes reflection and in the immediacy of its performance it cannot be brought before our gaze through reflection. For, as we have already seen, the objectification of the accomplishments of the ego in reflection never gives us the ego in the immediacy of its present activity. There is more to understand about the world and our localisation in the world than can be overtaken by reflection. It is a fact, which we cannot further deduce, that there is actually such a center of spontaneity. However, this center is not 39. Ideen, II, 261. 40. Ibid., p. 258n.


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

without locality. It is coordinated with a transcendental occur­ rence in which the world "makes" itself for us as a construct in the immanence of "transcendental subjectivity." Husserl al­ ready speaks in this sense in Ideas II of the "bedrock [Unter­ grund] of nature" declaring itself in corporeality as a passive structural moment of the constituting transcendental subjectiv­ ity itself, and he likewise speaks of the "nature-side" of subjec­ tivity.41 In Erste Philosophie he also speaks of the "absolute being of each ego in itself, the absolute being of each Ithou-relationship and of each communal relationship running from one ego to another ego or to more egos, whose index is called passive nature."42 But how must transcendental subjectivity be understood so that it does not merely have nature as something opposed to it but rather it itself has a "nature-side"? And what then does "accomplishment of constitution" mean?

in With this we make the transition to the third thesis: the primal streaming occurrence of "transcendental subjectivity" is to be under­ stood as a creative process. First we must clarify what the phrase "the nature-side of tran­ scendental subjectivity" means. This must be understood as an indication of the fact that we know of nature only to the extent to which it is related to the corporeal-kinaesthetic accom­ plishments of constitution. Thus we cannot know anything other or anything more about nature—and it itself cannot be anything other for us—than what "declares" itself in this cor­ poreal occurrence. All of our knowledge about this occurrence which encloses us as corporeal beings, all of our theories con­ structed to clarify it are in the last analysis dependent upon this. This occurrence is experienced as an occurrence which penetrates through our body and through the body of all others with whom we share our world. But from the outset it is dis­ tinguished for us (1) into an occurrence which we have at our disposal as our corporeal kinaesthetic occurrence within certain 41. Ibid., p. 281. 42. Erste Philosophie, II, 506.


The Problem of Passive Constitution

borders; and (2) into an occurrence that affects us. In the latter case the occurrence is not at our disposal and thus it is "extra­ corporeal." Yet it shows itself to us as an occurrence that is inseparably related to what each as his body can experience. Even if this occurrence transcends my body and encloses it, the hyle is not something that is based in something entirely foreign to the body (as is the case with Kant who used the word "matter" to designate the uncognizable basis of affection) but rather it belongs to the immanence of transcendental becoming itself. To what extent, therefore, is phenomenal corporeality itself constituted and to what extent does it belong to the constituting functions of transcendental subjectivity? It is the corporeal living­ experiences, my consciousness of my to-be-able as ruling in the body, that are constituting, and it is the body as apprehended that is con­ stituted. Because we can only be aware of the accomplishments of constitution which are uncovered in the reflection after the fact and because the reflection is performed only in linguistic articulation, the primal stream as a creative process cannot be grasped in the propositions which attempt to conceptualize and define it. It escapes all attempts to point to it in reflection. It is beyond the distinctions of inner and outer, subjective and objective, spiritual and material, form and matter—it is, to speak with Kant, beyond everything that belongs to the concepts of reflection. We can designate it, with Aguirre, as an indifference.43 But this indifference is not "the night in which all cows are black" (Hegel), for if we look at what it is that the primal occurrence constitutes, then we can state how it must be necessarily thought and, negatively, how it cannot be thought if it is to maintain its status as the basis which itself does not have a basis; that is, as absolute. In this sense it is a creative process. What, then, does Husserl's puzzling sentence "the streaming is always ahead but also the ego is ahead" mean? It indicates that this streaming cannot be thought as a diffused occurrence whose modalities give us recognizable regularities—be they of "nature" or of "society"—that would then clarify individuation, but rather in order for it to be such a streaming it must already bear in itself a principle of individuation. In this sense Husserl can 43. Genetische Phänomenologie und Reduktion, p. 162. 163]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

speak of monadology as a transcendental history that has its teleological objective in coming to consciousness of itself. The process is anonymous and cannot be brought before our gaze in its original performance. However, this can be said: it cannot produce individuation but—and there is more evidence for this—it is this process and it already presupposes an organiza­ tion which then can be actually experienced as "my body" and "my ego belonging to it." Therefore, subjectivity is not individuated through the body as Merleau-Ponty thought. The fact that there is even a body presupposes that one possesses it and has learned to command it before he has discovered himself as an ego. The body does not discover itself as an ego, as Linschoten also for­ mulated it,44 but rather it is I, that discovers my body. In this sense Husserl's talk of the "pure ego" is justified when he says that it is only called an ego by equivocation. This manner of speaking points to a perplexity: how can one speak of the absolute principle of individuation? It is "pure" because it cannot be under­ stood as corporeal and it is "pure" because it is the presupposi­ tion that there can be such a thing as the body. The ego discovers itself first in a transcendental genesis as transcendental history. It is aroused through affection. Thus Husserl says in a text which handles the problem of the begin­ ning of consciousness: " 'the ego is created;' there enters the 'inexplicable impetus' [unbegreiflicher Anstoß], definite sensa­ tions, affections [directed] toward the ego, reactions, egoacts . . . ."45 Does something foreign enter into the primal stream from without? What does Husserl, picking up a phrase of Fich­ te's, mean by "inexplicable impetus"? To be sure, this impetus cannot be thought of as one which occurs again and again such that, as is the case with Descartes, the ego would be continually maintained in its unity by God. For in this case one would assume that the stream would already be an occurrence in infinite time. But time must first be consti­ tuted in the stream. The impetus, therefore, can be understood only as nontemporal. It cannot mean that each affection is con­ 44. Auf dem Weg zu einer Phänomenologischen Psychologie, p. 237; On the Way toward a Phenomenological Psychology, p. 298. See p. 48 above. 45. Phänomenologische Psychologie, p. 487.


The Problem of Passive Constitution

tingent in relation to the stream. Not each affect appearing through affection in the genesis occurs through this impetus. Each hyle is, in fact, already "sedimented history."46 The non­ temporality of the impetus can only mean that it is the absolute facticity. It is not contingent in the sense of the factum brutum, for the distinction between the accidental and the necessary is al­ ready itself a constituted distinction; it arises from the reflection upon the conditions of becoming. Thus in the absolute facticity of the primal stream there is no contingency. But that it is should not be looked at as a necessity, for all insights of necessity are gained through the eidetic variation. Thus it is also on the other side of the alternative between universal and particular, of eidos and fact. And because the primal impressional stream goes before and, in the same manner, the "ego" goes before in that equivocal sense emphasized by Husserl, the being of each ego is an absolute facticity in the same manner as the being of the primal stream. It is not just an occurrence of the world but rather the world (which is none other than the world immediately there for us as actually my world and, for the other, as his world) runs through all the primal streams in the same manner. The world which I experience as unique is correlative to the world which every other experiences as one common world. Thus the investigation of the manner in which the constitutive occurrence is to be thought as creative by no means leads to a mere negative determination, to a negative theology, so to speak; rather it leads to a grounding of the insight that the existence of each ego as one and unique for himself is not derivable from an occurrence which then permits of individuation. The individua­ tion is itself absolute, and only as such can genetically develop­ ing subjects be understood as subjects of absolute responsibility and only as such is Husserl's theory of constitution the founda­ tion of a philosophy of absolute responsibility. 46. Aguirre, Genetische Phänomenologie und Reduktion, p. 158.


3. Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism

The Significance of the Lectures on First Philosophy

The second part of Husserl's lectures on First Philosophy,1 given in 1923-24 and published as the eighth volume of Husser­ liana, has a character quite different from his previously pub­ lished works. While the texts which have been made public to date were either published by Husserl himself or aimed at and brought to the point of being ready for publication, this does not hold true of the text of the First Philosophy, particularly with respect to its systematic second part. To be sure, Husserl had given these lectures in the winter semester of 1923-24 with the aim of preparing them for publication, but this project, which occupied him until 1930, was dropped for reasons we shall dis­ cuss below. In spite of this, however, the first and historical part of these lectures, together with its supplementary appendices, presents a self-contained whole including everything Husserl achieved through his lectures and exercises in the history of philosophy since his Göttingen period in coming to terms with the historical tradition and in preparing a historical foundation for the necessity of phenomenology, so that this project of the lectures is based upon long and extensive preparatory work and therefore achieves a great measure of internal resolution. It is quite different with the second part of the lectures which we are to discuss here. This part not only presents long-cherished thoughts which are brought together for didactic purposes, but 1. Erste Philosophie, II. See Dieter Henrich's review of this work in Philosophische Rundschau, 6 (1958), 1-26.


Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism

also has the character of a first draft which is worked out from hour to hour and conveyed in lectures. It is the path of an experimenting adventurer in thought whose successes are con­ stantly thrown into question in the reflections which accompany the lectures2 and whose goal is not fixed from the start so that it actually leads elsewhere than initially foreseen. It was of course Husserl's purpose in these lectures to present a way to phenomenology which would take into account all the advances made by his thought since the appearance of the Ideas (1913), advances in terms of which phenomenology would be estab­ lished once and for all with respect to its historical and systema­ tic necessity. But it is the paradoxical result of this attempt (the full significance of which was only gradually seen by Husserl himself) that this way and this foundation is in general not workable, with the result that in the later work of the Crisis an entirely different way will finally be taken. Hence this work has a significance for understanding the historical development of Husserl's thought comparable to that possessed by Hegel's Phenomenology of Mind for the development of Hegel's system, and the history of this work's origin, which is the history of an ever further pursued improvisation, is also comparable to the origin of the Hegelian phenomenology. Of course Hegel had authorized his Phenomenology by publishing it himself, whereas Husserl, after intensive efforts in the years following these lec­ tures, had finally left this project behind as incomplete and as incapable of ever being finished. Thus the history of the origin of the text before us is the history of a shipwreck. If it were simply a question of the shipwreck of a new attempt to introduce phenomenology, however, one would have to view undertaking publication of such a text as highly questionable. But this shipwreck—and this could be clear to neither Husserl himself nor to those who heard the lectures at that time—is more than an author's accidental misfortune. It is not the sign of a failing systematic creativity; it is rather the case that in no other of his writings is Husserl's radicalism concerning the continually new "presuppositionless" beginning and the questioning of all that had so far been achieved so visibly confirmed. In no other work 2. For example, Erste Philosophie, II, 354-355. f


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

has Husserl exposed himself to the "force of the absolute" (Hegel) to such an extent, so that this basic feature of his thought is manifested here to a unique degree, a thought which does not aim at a will to mastery through system, but one which advances toward the "affair" [Sache] with restless abandon. A retrospective glance from the historical distance we have now achieved permits us to understand that there occurs within this text a departure from those traditions which are determinative for modern thought and a breaking into a new basis for reflec­ tion. It is a reluctant departure insofar as Husserl had wished to complete and fulfill this tradition without knowing to what ex­ tent his attempt served to break up this tradition. It is therefore a moving document of an unprecedented struggle to express a content within the terminology of the traditions of modern thought that already forsakes this tradition and its alternatives and perspectives. The risk of publishing this problematic text is thereby splen­ didly justified. Not only because it is the key for understanding the development of Husserl's phenomenology; for the problems that emerge here first make it possible to situate correctly Hus­ serl's later work within the course of this development and to relate it properly to his earlier work, so that within this context it is comprehensible why in the later Crisis Husserl found himself forced to strike out on a new path (whose novelty is once again partially obscured by the self-interpretation he gave it); but be­ cause, in addition to its significance for the interpretation of phenomenology itself here, before the eyes of the reader, occurs the shipwreck of transcendental subjectivism, as both a nonhistorical a priorism and as the consummation of modern rational­ ism. Today, primarily as a result of Heidegger's work, the "end of metaphysics" is spoken of as though it were quite obvious. We shall first properly understand the sense of such language if we follow closely how, in this work, metaphysics takes its departure behind Husserl's back. One can state quite frankly that this work is the end of metaphysics in the sense that after it any further advance along the concepts and paths of thought from which metaphysics seeks forcefully to extract the most extreme possibilities is no longer possible. To be sure, neither Husserl nor those who were his students at that time [68]

Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism

were explicitly aware of this, and it will still require a long and intensive struggle of interpretation and continuing thoughtful deliberation until we have experienced everything that here comes to an end. From this, new light will also be cast upon Heidegger's relation to phenomenology. From his first stay at Freiburg and from his many conversations with Husserl, Heidegger knew the thoughts affecting Husserl at this time and had therefore also experienced the shipwreck of this attempt through his own observations and had drawn the proper conse­ quences in attempting, from that point on, to take his leave of the language of metaphysics which Husserl himself still em­ ployed. The effort required to penetrate this work's almost inextricable train of thought, which, continually interrupted by excursions and the reinterpretations of themes already executed, labori­ ously draws itself forward with constantly new beginnings, will therefore be richly rewarded. To be sure, its study places severe demands upon the reader, who has no clear and surveyable train of thought to follow as a clue and who can only penetrate the sense of what takes place by drawing upon the appendices (which compose three-fifths of this large volume) added to the main text, by looking ahead to Husserl's later work, and by glancing back to his earlier work. The editor of this volume has already indicated its unique character in his very important and instructive introduction and this character justifies his editorial procedure in every way. It is proper that the main text of the lectures is reproduced without any attempted gloss (the temptation to proceed in this way could well have been suggested by Husserl's own later critical comments on the text) and that all of Husserl's self-critical reflec­ tions appear only in the notes and appendices. These are so aptly chosen from the vast abundance of manuscripts belonging to the domain of the text's problem that one cannot exclude any of them from his attention if he desires to obtain a just picture of the entire problematic. The same exemplary care predominates in the critical textual apparatus as in the previous volumes of the collected works, although here the editor saw difficulties before him greater than in previous volumes and the manner in which he overcame them deserves the highest praise. [69]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

From these introductory remarks it follows that the evaluation of this work within the framework we have presented here must limit itself to emphasizing basic thoughts and their relationship for the purpose of attaching critical-interpretative considerations to them, considerations which, at least at some points and in a quite provisional fashion, shall serve to fix what has already been generally indicated concerning the work's significance. For the more detailed analysis of the train of thought, its turnings, breaks, and later corrections, one must refer once and for all to the editor's introduction. To add to it would require a critical commentary accompanying the entire text. One must also refer to this introduction with respect to the occurrence of the title First Philosophy, and the meaning its employment has in the development of Husserl's thought. Here we need only remark that after the completion of these lectures this title recedes more and more into the background and appears only in passing in the Cartesian Meditations, and only once again in quotation marks in the Crisis. When the editor remarks that it is replaced by the more general expression "transcendental philosophy," this could be made more precise by remarking that it is not simply a modification of a term designating one and the same subject matter. Husserl saw that he was compelled to abandon the subject matter itself, and that means that the guiding thought of the basic discipline of phenomenology designated by the title First Philosophy is to be abandoned as incapable of reali­ zation.

The Guiding Thought of the First Philosophy and Its Problematic

We must first seek the guiding thought of the work desig­ nated by the title. In a somewhat earlier essay Husserl speaks of First Philosophy as the science of method in general, of knowledge in general and of pos­ sible goals of knowledge in general, i.e., of possible knowledge in general in which all a priori sciences that have disconnected all types of the contingent (and also the contingent and material a priori) show themselves to be branches which have developed from one and the same science. A mathesis universalis stands above all sciences ... as a mathematics of knowledge-achievements. . . . This 170]

Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism highest logic, illuminated by absolute intelligibility. . . moves within exceptional forms of pure subjectivity and requires the study of pure subjectivity in its entirety. . . .3

This, therefore, is nothing other than the idea of the phenomenological transcendental philosophy, which was re­ quired in the Ideas as the "first of all philosophies"4 in the form of a basic science of transcendental subjectivity and its constitu­ tive accomplishments. In opposition to all constituted being it is a "region" of absolute being, since everything which we can in general speak of as "being" [Seiendem] is being [Sein] for con­ sciousness and must permit the justification for its being posited as "being" to be exhibited in consciousness. By contrast, according to the lectures of 1923-24, First Philoso­ phy not only has the task of systematically presenting this idea, but also includes within itself as equally belonging to its sys­ tematic content those meditations and preparatory meditations upon the way which leads to this idea and its absolute begin­ ning.5 With reference to an absolute beginning, First Philosophy is itself a universal science which establishes an absolute ground. It is that science "which 'in itself,' that is, in terms of inner and essential grounds, is first."6 "The name 'First Philos­ ophy' would then indicate a scientific discipline of beginnings." "The beginning of First Philosophy would itself therefore be the beginning of all philosophy in general."7 As such, it it a philos­ ophy which is absolutely self-justifying in every step of its thought. In this way Husserl continually points to the exemplary Cartesian quest for the fundamentum absolu turn et inconcussum which is to be found in the indubitable evidence of the ego cogito. It is the idea of a first science which issues from a firm, indubitable, and, in this sense, apodictic, evidence, and whose every additional step is built upon it in a similar manner and is derived from and justified by it. With its performance of the phenomenological reduction to the transcendental ego as the 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

About 1921; cf. ibid., p. 249. Ideen, I. 8; Ideas, p. 46. Erste Philosophie, II, 5. Ibid., I, 4. Ibid., p. 5. [71]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

dimension of an ultimate and absolute foundation, Husserl realized what Descartes strove to achieve with his beginning but had failed to accomplish. The introduction of this guiding idea in the first three lectures8 already permits us to discern the path traversed by Husserl since the presentation and introduction of the phenomenological re­ duction in the Ideas. After pointing out the "general thesis of the natural attitude," the belief in the world which all thought and action already carries with it, he introduced the reduction as an "affair of our perfect freedom."9 that is, as the result of a free resolve whose necessity is not established by any additional grounds. The transition to the reduction simply follows the pre­ sentation of the natural attitude with the words: "instead of remaining within this attitude, we shall radically alter it."10 Now, however, this "naïveté" is to be surmounted by medita­ tions upon the situation with respect to the motivation of the "beginning philosopher." Establishing the necessity for this step must emerge from these meditations. Thus the Cartesian principle of starting from the "I am" is concretized into "I, the beginning philosopher." The philosopher "necessarily requires an individual resolve which, originally and as such, makes him a philosopher, an original self-causation, as it were, which is an original act of self-creation. No one can simply fall into philosophy."11 This resolve to effect the phenomenological reduction to the dimen­ sion of an absolute and ultimate foundation signifies a "radical world-denial" as the means necessary for "viewing an ultimate and true reality, and, therewith, for living an ultimately true life."12 No exemplar for such a resolve can be pointed out in life as it is lived upon the basis of the "natural attitude," or a life lived in "kinship with the world."13 This life is content with attaining the closest and most limited goals and is satisfied with clarity concerning the presently given limited situation. This 8. Ibid., II, 3-25. 9. Ideen, I, 65; Ideas, p. 98. 10. Ibid., p. 63; Ideas, p. 96. 11. Erste Philosophie, II, 19. 12. Ibid., p. 166. 13. Ibid., p. 123. L 72 J

Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism

also holds for an involvement with philosophical problems of limits within the individual sciences, problems which are then pursued to a point which seems sufficient to solve the paradoxes and difficulties in method belonging to a given issue. In fact, therefore, it is a question of an entirely “unnatural" attitude and an entirely unnatural way of contemplating life and the world. Natural life is carried out as an entirely primordial and thoroughly necessary surrender to the world and as a being lost in the world. Unnatural life is the life of radical and pure self-reflection upon the pure “I am," upon the pure life of the ego and upon the ways in which something gives itself within this life as being in some sense objective, and how it achieves just this sense and this status as something objective solely through the inner and ownmost achievement of this life itself.14

If, therefore, no exemplar for the resolve of the "beginning philosopher" can be found in the natural life in the world, its possibility is nevertheless already found here (although not at all apprehended as such) "in the motivation of the scientist in gen­ eral," and this means that it is found in the fact of striving for knowledge as such. For this striving, in accordance with its very essence, aims at a steadfast truth, and therefore aims not only at knowledge, but at knowledge which has also been established upon the basis of some ground,15 so that this striving already contains the tendency to surmount the "naïveté concerning the attainment of knowledge."16 Not only the striving for knowl­ edge, however, but also all striving in general belonging to the natural life demands justification and vindication. Thus the striving after scientific truth is here already viewed with refer­ ence to the question concerning the vindication of all striving with reference to its "meaning which encompasses all pure cul­ tures."17 For the truth of all man's striving after the good, the true, and the beautiful is ultimately vindicated by the knowl­ edge of the justness of the norms from which it is derived, so that "in the knowledge-forms of theoretical truth all other truth, 14. Ibid., p. 121. 15. Cf. the appendix “The Principle of Sufficient Reason for All Scientific Knowledge," ibid., pp. 329-335. 16. Ibid., p. 19. 17. Ibid., p. 23.


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

and hence every truth concerning values (what we term true and genuine values) and every practical truth, is expressed and determined in predicative forms of knowledge and takes on forms of being established as knowledge. . . . The authenticity of values and the truth of striving are ultimately vindicated in knowledge."18 Therefore the striving after knowledge is essen­ tially directed toward universality, toward "omniscience,"19 and in this sense is directed toward "universal science." These ex­ pressions, however, have no quantitative meaning but refer sol­ ely to the fact that no isolated knowledge can have the character of an absolute foundation and that such a character can be ob­ tained only within the universe of all possible knowledge in general, for knowing reason is one and universality does not signify that the totality of knowledge is actually attainable, but only signifies the idea of the correlativity of all possible knowl­ edge in general and its organization within the unity of reason. As far as quantitative universality is concerned, philosophy as absolute science is an "idea situated in the infinite." Hence the resolve of the beginning philosopher is to pursue earnestly the striving already present in human life, the resolve for a "universal critique of life,"20 and "thus the idea of philoso­ phy itself includes a kind of finality and a sort of radicalism in finality"21 which presuppose nothing less than "some sort of break with all naive knowledge-values and science-values ... in knowledge . . . and the necessity for a completely new beginning and a completely new kind of science."22 But this striving for an ultimate vindication of knowledge does not only have meaning for the reflections of the individual. He is always a member of the community. "The self-responsibility of the individual who knows himself to be a member and functionary of the community also includes responsibility for this kind of practical life and accordingly includes responsibility for the community."23 "On the other hand, to bring others to 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23.


Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid. Ibid.,

p. 25. pp. 196, 344. p. 154. p. 21. pp. 197f.

Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism

responsibility belongs to my self-responsibility within this actual and possible union."24 In this way the idea of a "highest axiolog­ ical form of community" emerges "which would enact this abso­ lute valuation as the idea of a goal which consciously guides the progress of the community."25 Thus it is the idea of the philosopher's human responsibility not only to himself but also to mankind that is involved when, with the philosopher, there emerges the idea of a striving after a rational and no longer traditional foundation for his existence, an idea which Husserl had developed several years earlier26 and which is now taken up in the course of the meditations concern­ ing philosophy's absolute beginning. Of course here it sounds as if once this beginning were carried out by the philosopher, it would be established with compelling evidence once and for all and could be performed again by anyone else with the same evidence. Yet even in the historical part of the lectures, where phenomenology was to have been established as the secret long­ ing of all Western European thought, thereby receiving a histor­ ical foundation for its necessity, in the absolute beginning at­ tempted here a problematic arises of which Husserl gradually becomes aware and which finally compels him to surrender the attempt to establish philosophy upon a fundamentum absolutum et inconcusum in the spirit of Descartes. How this becomes visible in the further course of the lectures and in the accompanying reflections and how it finally leads to the new way of the later works will be indicated in what follows. This idea of the goal of life's absolute philosophical self­ vindication and self-justification is guided by the experience of evidence as a "having of the thing itself," as the consciousness of the actual presence [Selbst-Dasein] of what is meant: "In the various forms of the activity of striving, the knowing subject is conscious of the fact that he has now reached the very goal of his striving. He knowingly views the 'truth,' that is, what he had striven for, the 'thing itself' that belongs to the judgmental in­ 24. Ibid. 25. Ibid., p. 200. 26. "Die Idee einer philosophischen Kultur" and "Erneuerung." The portion of the first article which is important for this problem is taken up by Husserl in the text of Erste Philosophie, I, 8-17.


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

tending"27 and which is opposed to a "mere," "empty" opin­ ion. Hence there are two sides to the requirement of an absolute justification: the knowledge in question is to be an "ultimate" knowledge, for the posting of the goal is guided by the idea of a steadfast and ultimate truth, a truth obtained as an ultimate truth; and, on the other hand, it is to be a truth which is evident "in every respect."28 "That which is known is not to possess essential determina­ tions which are excluded from the sight of my otherwise perfect evidence and which, by virtue of their not being known, bring with them initial unclarities, puzzlement, and doubt."29 Such evidence "is also termed adequate evidence."30 "In any case, we know that it is this kind of evidence only by means of a second, reflective, evidence, which must once again be adequate."31 This characteristic of adequate evidence "stands out in the test of passing through doubt and negation."32 Similarly, it includes insight into the impossibility of not-being and not-being-so and is in this sense apodictic evidence.33 Husserl here34 refers to the fact that this is nothing other than the Cartesian maxim of indubitability construed as the principle of perfect justification. Here "apodictic" and "adequate" are equated with each other and we shall for the moment disregard the fact that Husserl later on distinguishes between them.35 In what follows, it is only a question of seeking adequate evidences, and the task of criticiz­ ing the adequate evidences, which have been won with respect to their apodicticity, is indicated as a later task which is not taken up in these lectures.36 Let us now inquire more closely into the problematic encoun­ tered by Husserl in this explication of phenomenology, an expli­ cation which is carried out under the idea of a science estab27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36.


Ibid., II, 8. Ibid., p. 31. Cf. also pp. 9, 48, 366f. Ibid. Ibid., p. 33. Ibid. Ibid., p. 35. Ibid., p. 380. Ibid., p. 125. Ibid., p. 310; Cartesianische Meditationen, p. 55; Cartesian Meditations, p. 14. Erste Philosophie, II, 169, 380.

Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism

lished upon an absolute basis. This clarification will for the first time present us with the possibility of grasping the later train of thought of these lectures. The explication of the guiding idea of the First Philosophy is at first attached to the argument of the first four lectures.37 In order to understand the problematic of these lectures we must also take into account Husserl's later reflections, reflections which are in part already recorded in the continually backward-glancing reinterpretations of the lectures' progress that are found later on. Briefly, this problematic can be indicated in the following way. What is sought is a field of apodictic evidences which can serve as the basis for absolute justification and vindication, and which includes insight into not-being-able-to-be-otherwise [Nich t-anders-sein-können ]. If there were only subjective opinions "which stood firm only oc­ casionally and approximately," there would be no "absolute norms for all correspondingly directed opinions—and then all talk of a truth valid in itself and all striving after truth would have lost its meaning."38 Hence the sought-after apodicticity must possess the character of essential insight which had al­ ready been discussed in the Ideas; namely, insight into uncon­ ditioned universality and necessity.39 Now, however, apodictic­ ity in the sense of apodictic evidence is also defined as "having the thing itself," as consciousness of the actual presence of what is meant, and, in this sense, is defined as an immediacy, as an immediate standing-in-front-of-the-affair. The outcome of the initial meditations was this: "At the very start. . . there must be an immediate knowledge, possibly a field, coindicated by immediate knowledge, of entirely accessi­ ble and therefore itself immediate knowledge, and these im­ mediacies must be certain in an immediate fashion."40 But such immediate certainty can be nothing other than the certainty of experience. Hence later on it is stated that the inves­ tigation leads "to transcendental subjectivity as the sole source of apodictic immediacies, of absolute and indubitable experien37. 38. 39. 40.

Lectures 38-41. Erste Philosophie, II, 366. See Ideas, I, para. 137. Erste Philosophie, II, 40.


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

tial givenness."41 This thought is developed further in a reflec­ tion originating from approximately the same period: all experi­ ence is ultimately referable to intuition, for only intuition is con­ sciousness of the sought-after immediacy: "absolute justification thus presupposes absolute intuition."42 The phenomenological reduction to the transcendental ego therefore opens up "the possibility of an absolute experience and an absolute science of experience,"43 and the question then becomes "where such im­ mediate intuitions and therefore absolute experiences" are to be found. "If there are absolute experiences, they must be such that I, while I am originally enacting them, 'cannot possibly imagine' that what is experienced could be something which does not exist, or is doubtful, or is only possible."44 Here "experience" must be understood quite literally. It must not be misconceived as having the sense of the traditional notions of an "intuition of an idea [Ideenschau] or an intellectual intuition. The radical break with the convictions of traditional metaphysics which follows later is thereby already indicated, for among the basic presup­ positions of traditional metaphysics belongs the assumption that insight into unconditioned necessity and universality, and therefore insight into "eternal" and "necessary" truths, can never be derived from experience, which always has to do with the factual and in this sense with the contingent. In the light of this tradition, an absolute experience which guarantees apodicticity would be an absurdity. Numerous reflections accompany­ ing the lectures continually raise the question whether the goal of an apodictic foundation can in general be reached, or whether it must be abandoned, and indicate that Husserl was fully aware of these difficulties. This is most visible where he speaks of the "normative force of original self-givenness."45 When, namely, all self-givenness ultimately refers back to absolute experience, nothing other than the positivistic principle of the "normative force of the factual" is expressed, a principle with which every possibility of subordinating the factually given 41. 42. 43. 44. 45.


Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid.,

p. p. p. p. p.

41. 367. 362. 368. 452.

Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism

to the apodicticity of eternal truths is annulled. Positivism's hid­ den meaning as a protest against the suppression of facticity by metaphysical thought is hereby clearly visible, and hence we stand at the point to which Husserl seeks to return beyond positivism (a meaningful alternative only upon the basis of metaphysical thought) or beyond empiricism and rationalism. Of course this break with the tradition does not occur here for the first time. It had already been initiated in an earlier (1908) and persistently maintained definition of metaphysics as the theory of facts, as well as in the expositions of the first part of these lectures.46 In fact, Husserl, in all essentials, had already left behind the Cartesian way of establishing a foundation insofar as he con­ ceived the Cartesian "apodictic" evidence of the "I am" together with all of the content included within it as an absolute experi­ ence, indeed, as an entire realm of experience. Results secured in a similar manner could only be achieved by Descartes by means of the doctrine of innate ideas and their force which was guaranteed by the existence of God—a way which is not open to Husserl because it can give information concerning the origin of innate ideas only by means of metaphysical argumentation and not by returning to absolute experiences. But for this way such experiences must also be capable of being exhibited as constitu­ tive achievements belonging to the transcendental subject if its claim to truth is to be provided with a foundation. Kant's "re­ gressive" return to the dimension of ultimate foundations from the fact of the "I think" and its experience to the "conditions for its possibility," which cannot in turn become the "object" of an experience because it first makes all experience possible, is closed to Husserl for similar reasons. Both ways do not conform to the requirement of making-evident, of bringing something to immediate intuition. Neither is there a simple intuition of the "eternal truths" as things existing in themselves—a Platonizing aspect which is still at work in the concept of categorial intuition in the Logical Investigations—and therefore no Platonic thigein of Ideas and Idea-relations, for then transcendence as something in itself 46. Ibid., I, 258. [79]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

would stand over and against the evidence of subjectivity. Talk of this sort of "something in itself" can be permitted only when its sense is exhibited by returning to its origin within subjectivi­ ty's constitutive accomplishments in experience. The sense of talking about truths existing in themselves holds only in correla­ tion with the subjectivity which can experience them, and this does not mean in correlation with their being experienced by some possible consciousness-in-general but with subjectivity's factual primordial experience. Thus possibility does not precede actuality; much rather do all considerations of possibility serve only to illuminate the facticity of transcendental experience,47 so "that in general a real and an ideal being which passes beyond total transcendental subjectivity is an absurdity and is to be un­ derstood as such."48 For these reasons Husserl criticizes Kant for having both unquestioningly accepted and presupposed logic and logical evidence, and later, in the Formal and Tran­ scendental Logic, he will attempt to lead the question concerning the origin of logic and logical evidence within the achievements of subjectivity to its conclusion. From this we can also understand that Husserl, in his historical observations, places Hume with his questioning of origins higher than Kant as a precursor of pheno­ menology. It would extend far beyond the scope of this essay if we were to draw out what consequences this has for resolving the dif­ ficulties49 involved in the concept of a dimension of ultimate foundations which is not to be a dimension of preceding a priori truths taken as valid but one of absolute experience. Here we can only point out that the question concerning the meaning of the a priori's "priority" hereby takes on a new form.50 Keeping all this in view, we can understand to what extent the problem of apodicticity shows not only the inadequacy of the Cartesian way, but also the inadequacy of all further develop­ ments of the question concerning the principles of an ultimate 47. Ibid. 48. Ibid., II, 452 49. Henrich, "Review," and Hans Wager, "Critical Observations Concerning Husserl's Posthumous Writings," The Phenomenology of Husserl, ed. and trans. R. O. Elveton (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1970), pp. 204-258. 50. Cf. Erste Philosophie, I, 358-363.


Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism

foundation from the problematic of "innate ideas" to that of "synthetic judgments a priori," and how the scope of this prob­ lematic in modern philosophy is thereby transcended. Thus, beginning with these lectures, the problem of the way or ways leading to the dimension of an ultimate foundation retains that centrality which is the reason for Husserl's repeatedly devoting new reflections to this problem in the following years, of which only a small selection are presented in the published "appen­ dices." This problem of the way leading to the dimension of an ultimate foundation is therefore not simply a problem relating to the presentation and a proper didactic introduction to phenomenology; rather (as we have noted above) does it belong to the "systematic content" of phenomenology itself. Naturally this holds only as long as we adhere to the assumption that there is an absolute and apodictically establishable beginning which, once discovered to be a firm truth, must remain fixed "once and for all." Even though this assumption already begins to appear problematic to Husserl himself in these lectures and in the chain of reflections affixed to them, it nevertheless remains effective in the following years as a motivating force and only gradually fades into the background with the eclipse of the guid­ ing idea of the First Philosophy, whereby the question concern­ ing the number of ways and their relation to each other also loses importance.

Transcendental Subjectivity as a Field of Absolute Experience and the Problem of the Ways Leading to Its Disclosure

It is not possible here to discuss in greater detail the problem of differentiating the various ways leading to phenomenology and their relation to each other in terms of the text at hand.51 Rather do we intend to point out the problem which stands as the driving force behind this question concerning the ways into phenomenology. By means of these ways transcendental subjec­ tivity is to be disclosed as the "field" of absolute transcendental experience and therewith a threefold question is to be answered: 51. Cf. the editor's introduction to ibid., II. [81]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

1. In what sense can we speak here of experience? 2. How is the subject of this experience to be defined? 3. What is the province or "field" of this experience? Obviously we are concerned here with three aspects of one and the same question that cannot be separated from each other; but it is also a question which, depending upon which aspect is emphasized, also permits of being answered in different ways. If we attempt to distinguish these three aspects, we must point out that this differentiation does not entirely coincide with Hus­ serl's attempts to distinguish these ways. The attentive reader of the appendices will discover that in many respects these at­ tempts contradict and partly cancel each other, so that on the basis of the texts presented in this volume we cannot come to any confident conclusion as to how many ways Husserl himself had distinguished, precisely because he had not reached any final differentiation. Rather is it a question of discovering a clue which can expose the inner logic of Husserl's inconclusive at­ tempt to differentiate these ways and the reason for its failure, and which can also indicate that we are dealing with a basic issue in phenomenology which, despite this failure, cannot be passed over precisely because it is here that the problem resides. Only in this way can we succeed in clarifying the lec­ tures' argument, an argument which is exceptionally difficult and internally disunified with respect to this issue. 1. The question as to the sense in which we can here speak of experience was already treated by Husserl in the conclusion to the preparatory meditations (Part I), and is then given particular treatment in the first two chapters of the second part52 where this concept of experience is set apart from the customary and familiar one. Experience, according to the latter concept, is al­ ways understood as the experience of beings in the world, and as the experience of the world itself as the totality of everything that can be experienced. But such experience cannot measure up to the criterion of apodicticity: it is always presumptive, correct­ ing itself as its course develops, unmasking and negating some­ thing supposedly already experienced as being only an appear­ ance; indeed, in general there is no apodictic certainty that it will 52. Ibid., pp. 37-64. I82J

Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism

proceed further in a continuous way as the experience of the world, and it is possible that in place of such a continual advance the continuous consciousness of experience, together with all of its presumptions, corrections, and negations, will dissolve into a "tumult of sensations."53 If this experience rests upon the "gen­ eral thesis of the natural attitude,"54 and this means that it rests upon the belief in the thoroughly real character of the experi­ enced world, this belief is not one which could be apodictically justified and established. Consequently, the belief that the ex­ perienced world is contains no apodictic certainty which could serve as a point of departure for a way leading to an absolute foundation. The experience of the world is not the sought-after basis of absolute experience. The belief in the world's reality cannot, therefore, be employed, but rather must be included in the absolute overthrow of all previously held convictions.55 The true being of the world is nothing other than the idea of a non­ dissolving course of perceptions whose further development is one which is harmonious.56 The world's being is contingent and for this reason is not to be established as a necessity. Belief in the world is therefore the "universal prejudice of positivity,"57 and "world" is nothing other than a title for facticity whose ques­ tions belong to metaphysics but not to the beginning absolute science. Of what sort, then, is an experience which conforms to the requirement of absoluteness? It can be nothing other than the reflective self-experience of the "I am." The proposition "I am" is "the true principle of all principles."58 Hence this "first" way to the dimension of absolute experience we are seeking passes through the "critique of mundane experience" (the title of the second part of the lectures). It signifies the attempt to develop the Cartesian point of departure without Descartes' metaphysi­ cal substructures and is therefore also termed the "Cartesian way." 53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58.

Ibid., p. 49. Ideen, I, 62; Ideas, p. 105. Erste Philosophie, II, 68. Ibid., p. 52. Ibid., p. 461. Ibid., p. 42. [83]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

2. How can the subject of this experience be defined more precisely? It is not an ego in general, such as belongs to all thinking subjects, for talk of other thinking subjects already presupposes the being of the world, a being which must be included within the absolute overthrow of all previous opinions. For this reason the meditations concerning First Philosophy can only be formulated in the first person.59 Other egos are given to me only as subjects in the world and in a way such that I per­ ceive their bodies along with other things in the world and "place" a consciousness in these bodies. Perception of the oth­ er's being is perception through "interpretation,"60 and his being as grounded in my perception of his body is no more apodictically certain than are mundane objects and the world it­ self, and therefore must be included in the overthrow. The sphere of experience which is apodictically certain is the sphere of the "I am" which is thought of as the solus ipse.61 Transcendental phenomenology can therefore only begin as egology: one's own life has the privilege of being a first and original givenness.62 This critique of the experience of others is at first only hinted at in connection with the critique of mundane experience and is then discussed in greater detail in the concluding part of the lectures,63 which is a glance back at the results which have been achieved.64 After this reduction to egology the question is raised whether or not this amounts to an epistemological circle. In simplified form, this question can be understood as follows.65 The accep­ tance of mundane experience is disconnected because it does not withstand the critique of apodicticity.66 But I have won the 59. Ibid., p. 59. 60. Ibid., p. 63. 61. Ibid., p. 66. 62. Ibid., p. 174. 63. Ibid., pp. 174-190. 64. Husserl had already given a first presentation of the reduction of "inter­ subjectivity" in a lecture given in 1910. (These have been edited and pub­ lished in Husserl, Intersubjektivität, I.—Ed). It is not treated in Ideas and the inclusive presentation of this topic first occurs in the Cartesian Meditations of 1930. 65. Erste Philosophie, II, 69-75. 66. Ibid., p. 69.


Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism

reflective knowing of myself and the "I am" only as reflecting upon myself, the one who experiences, or presumably experi­ ences, the world, and who maintains that at least this certainly is apodictically secured. Yet I have reached this certainty only be­ cause I had preveiously had this experience, or presumed ex­ perience, of the world and worldly beings, Is it not therefore a "naive assumption" to suppose that I could have obtained an apodictically secured basis in this way? Has not the world been indirectly presupposed here? For in general do I not have the possibility of reflectively turning back upon myself and my con­ sciousness in this manner only as an ego within the world? The resolution of this apparent circle follows from distinguish­ ing two senses of the ego: the human ego and the tran­ scendental ego. In a concrete sense, I am an ensouled body, a psychological reality belonging to the world and to the totality of realities. I am an object of mundane experience among other such objects. Must I not sepa­ rate from this that ego which here is the subject of this experience: the ego which is the subject for the ego-object? More precisely: I, the ego who actively lives through a continuing world-experience, find myself confronted by this manifold and unified world, and thus as a world-encountering subject I am most assuredly the sub­ ject for all objects, the subject for the entirety of the world. I also encounter myself as being situated within this world, i.e., I en­ counter myself as object, as this human ego together with the entirety of its psychical life.67

This equivocation is of course not accidental, but is grounded in the fact "that I, the subject of experience, (am) identical with the ego which has become objective in man."68 Thus I can at any time "return from the reflective experience of the subject-ego to the objective and mundane experience of the human-ego."69 I have not indirectly presupposed the being of the world and have therefore not argued in a circle when I claim a higher and eventually apodictic certainty for this subject-ego. Rather is it the case that "if the created world, the object of my experience, 67. Ibid., p. 71. 68. Ibid. 69. Ibid., p. 72.


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

is annihilated, I, the pure ego of experience, am not annihilated, nor is this experience itself annihilated."70 "The epistemological contingency which the world has by virtue of the essence of my mundane experience together with everything which results from this contingency concerns neither my ego nor the life of my ego in its purity."71 Thus the critique of mundane experience has the function of making the previously concealed transcendental subjectivity and its transcendental life visible ... as a sphere of being which is sepa­ rable from the world—and yet not separate from it in any natural sense, as if it were a question of a realm of being existing severed from the world. Transcendental being is fully self-enclosed and yet, thanks to the unique sense of mundane experience (an accom­ plishment carried out within the transcendental ego), it can be experienced as the ensoulment of a body.72

This methods leads, therefore, to the knowledge "that I, in my own ultimate and true reality, live an absolutely enclosed life of my own, a life of constant objectifying accomplishments, a life which shapes mundane experiences, which shapes an objective world within itself as its phenomenon, and therefore as a phe­ nomenon within this ultimate subjectivity."73 Therewith the sought-after subject of absolute experience is first defined and a further insight into the unique character of its experience is won. It is a reflective experience, but as such it is to be distinguished fundamentally from the traditional sense of "inner experience." For, as Husserl continually emphasizes, this latter would have identified the experiencing subject with the human ego, with the ego of man in the world, and thereby would have occasioned all of the epistemological aporiae which dominate modern thought. This reflective self-experience of the transcendental ego, the "primordial ego" [Ur-ich], is to be dis­ tinguished fundamentally from the psychological reflective ex­ perience which never discards the character of being mun­ dane.74 This objection is not only directed at a specifically 70. 71. 72. 73. 74.


Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid.,

p. 73. p. 74. pp. 76f. p. 78. p. 79.

Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism

psychological analysis and theory of consciousness (in particu­ lar, the psychology first made autonomous and free from phi­ losophy in the nineteenth century). Rather it also extends to the entire modern problematic of consciousness—not only to the theory of consciousness and the theory of the human psyche, but also to every questioning of man's essence which intends to elevate man or "humanity" to the level of being the principle of an ultimate foundation.75 Correctly understood, it is thus di­ rected against the entire movement of anthropologism which, beginning with Ludwig Feuerbach, dominated modern thought to a degree which for a long time had not been fully recognized. Kant also had not been able to free himself from this "an­ thropologism,"76 and his transcendental philosophy could be nothing other than a transcendental psychology.77 Of course a coming to terms with apparently similar distinctions present in the various systems of German Idealism is lacking in Husserl.78 But these indications already make it clear that the distinction between psychological and phenomenological reflection and analysis of consciousness, which is viewed as something for­ eign, indeed, even superfluous, by many phenomenologists, is of central importance for understanding Husserl's phenomenol­ ogy. It is for this reason that in the years following these lectures Husserl paid unceasing attention to this distinction. Here we can only point out that the difficulties involved in this distinction are already indicated by the fact, which is con­ stantly emphasized by Husserl, that a purely psychological de­ scription and analysis—when it does not presuppose any theory concerning psychophysical connections as its basis, but simply limits itself to what is consciously known purely as it is con­ sciously known—must lead to the same results as a phenomenological description and analysis of individual and different modes of consciousness and of different kinds of acts, so that such psychological analysis can be "read" as being phenomenological merely by an "advance notice" that they are 75. Cf. the postscript to Ideas. Ideen, III, 138-162; published as "Author's Preface to the English Edition," Ideas, pp. 5-22. 76. Cf. Erste Philosophie, I, 354f., 357f. 77. Ibid., p. 401. 78. Cf. Henrich, "Review," p. 17. 187]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

to be treated in this way. The first part of the Ideas79 had already referred to this relation, although there the difference between psychology and phenomenology was understood as the differ­ ence between an inductive factual science on the one hand, and an essential science on the other80—even though the possibility of a correctly understood "rational psychology," that is, of an essential science of the psychical, was left open in the third volume of the Ideas.81 The problem becomes more acute after the phe­ nomenologically reduced subjectivity is presented as a field of transcendental experience, and after the eidetic science of transcendental consciousness is characterized as an instrument for the transcendental science of facts,82 a science resting pre­ cisely upon the basis of "absolute experiences." By contrast, the possibility of such a transcendental phenomenological science of experience was explicitly denied in the Ideas I.83 We are now compelled no longer to distinguish psychology as an inductive science of experience from phenomenology as an eidetic science, for there must be both a psychological and a phenomenological factual science, as well as a psychological and a phenomenologi­ cal eidetic science, and the relation between these two directions of inquiry must be determined. We cannot discuss here how this problem adds further complications to the question concerning the various ways leading to phenomenology.84 In fact, a problem is hereby touched upon which also concerns most of the current projections of a philosophical anthropology. On the one hand, they claim universal validity for their asser­ tions about man, his difference from animals, his realm of in­ wardness and the genesis of this inwardness, and so forth, and on the other hand (and with justice), they base their assertions upon the results of partly empirical and partly experimental re­ search. As long as these generalities are not established by metaphysical reference to a theory of values and a realm of values, it remains completely indeterminate as to whether their 79. 80. 81. 82. 83. 84.


Ideen, I, 175; Ideas, p. 213. Ibid., pp. 193f., 220f.; Eng. trans., pp. 231f., 260f. Ideen, III, 73-75. Erste Philosophie, I, 258. P. 149; Ideas, pp. 183f. See the appendices to Erste Philosophie, II, 443-465.

Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism

character is that of an empirical and presumptive generality or that of an unconditioned, and therefore a priori, generality. This becomes clear in an exemplary fashion in the anthropology of Arnold Gehlen, with its richness of important material. Understanding the dimension of an ultimate foundation as one comprised of "absolute experience" will first be capable of eliminating this difficulty by revising the alternatives of "empiri­ cal" and "a priori."

The Extent of the Field of Transcendental Experience: The Consciousness of Horizons and Its Importance

The distinction between transcendental and psychological subjectivity has only been touched upon in the development of the "first way" leading to transcendental subjectivity discussed so far, and has not yet been treated in detail. It requires a more precise differentiation between phenomenological and psy­ chological description on the one hand, and a theory of reflec­ tion on the other. First, however, there follows an observation85 which is to serve as a kind of "survey" of the realm of trans­ cendental experience. It presents the central theme of the lectures and is later retrospectively designated as a phenomenology of the phenomenological reduction.86 It introduces a treatment of both of these other two problems: a discussion of the difference between phenomenological and psychological analysis (within the context of an anticipatory view of and a retrospective glance over the entire course of the lectures),87 and a discussion of the theory of the phenomenological reflection in a chapter88 which Husserl later characterized as an excursus. We shall first set aside both of these problems and proceed to sketch the basic features of this "survey" of the realm of tran­ scendental experience. This observation applies to the problem mentioned under the third heading of this essay, namely, the question concerning the extent to which the absolute sphere of being of the "I am" can be viewed as a self-enclosed field of 85. 86. 87. 88.

Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid.,

pp. 81-163. p. 164. pp. 120-130, 139-146. pp. 87-111. [89]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

transcendental experience. The first way into phenomenology, the "Cartesian way," does not provide an adequate answer to this question. It only establishes a reference to the sought-after dimension of the absolute foundation (which remains entirely empty) by leading back to the indubitable evidence of the "I am" through the critique of mundane experience and the overthrow of the belief in the world's existence. This way does not grant us insight into everything that has been overthrown with the dis­ carding of this belief, nor does it grant us insight into what still remains with this evidence of the "I am," that is, how this momentary point of certitude with respect to my own existence as the indubitable ego already includes further evidences which are equally assured, evidences with which a "transcendental field of experience" can be disclosed. Initially, this part is introduced only as an observation serving to give "a more precise view of transcendental subjectivity." Only in a later reflection is it first designated as a new "second way" into phenomenology, a way which, entirely apart from the previous "Cartesian way" of disconnecting the belief in the world, exemplifies the performance of the reduction upon indi­ vidual kinds of acts and shows how the full transcendental field of experience can be disclosed in terms of these acts.89 It is first shown retrospectively that the different kinds of acts analyzed in this connection are not arbitrarily chosen examples. These acts reveal how the entire transcendental field of experience is already implied in all actual moments of the "I am" and its performance of this or that act. Hence it presents this text's development of the theory of intentional implications.90 This theory is of central importance, not only because it is here that the concept of the world in the Husserlian sense is first clarified, but also because it shows that, as the locus of ultimate foundations, transcendental subjectivity is not exhausted by the "present actuality" [Aktuosität] of consciousness91 and that all constituted "sense" and "meaning" cannot be traced back to this aspect of consciousness. The systematic significance of this part rests in the following: 89. Ibid., p. 127. 90. Ibid., p. 153. 91. Cf. Henrich, "Review," p. 20.


Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism

it was at first maintained that after the critique of mundane experience and after the reduction to the "apodictic" evidence of the "I am" there remains not merely an empty point of con­ sciousness, but also a consciousness that "I am, and that I am experiencing this experience of the world."92 We must therefore show how in the current act of experience, which, as an experi­ ence of worldly beings, is primarily a perception, not only this and that particular being is now currently perceived, but also how in this perception, actual at this moment as the rendering present of some being, the experience of the world is already implied by this being's "actual presence" in its sensory given­ ness. The present perception is known as constituting one mo­ ment within the stream of perceiving experience. It is both con­ sciousness of what has just been perceived and the anticipation of what is immediately to come—a connection which was first presented in detail in the lectures concerning the consciousness of time.93 There it was already shown that the domain of synthesis in consciousness extends much further than was seen by the tradi­ tion and that this domain does not concern the bond between the succession of acts in the course of consciousness alone. The decisive difference between Husserl and Kant must already be understood from this point, the discussion of which would of course be the task of a separate investigation. Here we can only point out that with this analysis Husserl succeeds in penetrating into a dimension of consciousness and in answering questions of which Kant stated: "How this should be possible we are as little capable of explaining further as we are of accounting for our being able to think the abiding in time, the coexistence of which with the changing generates the concept of alteration."94 In itself, therefore, actual consciousness as presentiating [gegenwärtigend] already implies presentification [Vergegenwär­ tigung], which, on its side, can at any time be transformed into a present act of remembering or into an imaginative depicting by way of anticipation (re-presentification). Thus in every present 92. Erste Philosophie, I, 81. 93. Husserl, Phänomenologie des inneren Zeitbewusstseins, Phenomenology of Internal Time Consciousness, passim. 94. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, footnote to B xli.




The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

ego cogito I already "know of my transcendental being or life in both past and future."95 This "knowing" is already included in every presentiating consciousness, and the fact of alleged re­ membrane or ability-to-remember belongs to its phenomenologi­ cally reduced (reduced to its pure meaning, disconnecting its claim to validity) and secured content. This is the presupposition for the fact that we can inquire whether and to what extent memory deceives and can be corrected. Upon this présentifying mode of consciousness rests the fact that the evidence of the "I am" is not limited to the momentary now-presentiating con­ sciousness, but that it continually includes consciousness of an experiential bond extended into the past and into the future, so that there is consciousness of a presumably experienced real world in this extendedness. There are, however, not only such acts of real and presumably perceiving conciousness together with the rememberances and expectations which belong to them. They, as positional acts, are to be distinguished from quasi-positional acts,96 acts of anticipa­ tion, and the delineation of possibilities which are bound up with real perception, or acts of pure fantasy. Consciousness is not only consciousness of real objects in the existing world, but is also consciousness of ideal objects and ideal relations (logical and mathematical objects and relations, etc.), and is so always 95. Erste Philosophie, II, 84. There is some difficulty in finding adequate trans­ lations for Gegenwärtigung and Vergegenwärtigung. The usual rendering of them as presentify and re-presentify is not suitable. The "re" of re-presentify implies a second act distinct from the act of presentifying, while Vergegenwärtigen can be either a part of Gegenwärtigen or a second act based upon it. In order to do justice to this possibility I use the old English term presentiate to render Gegenwärtigen and the term presentify or re-presentify to translate Vergegenwärtigen. Such strictness in translation is required by Landgrebe's argument which depends upon two sets of contrasts: (1) presentiating (Gegenwärtigung) can be contrasted to presentifying (Vergegenwärtigung) as the impressional phase (pri­ mal now) can be contrasted to the retentional and protentional phases (primal past and future) of an act of making something present (gegenwärtig); and (2) presentiating (Gegenwärtigung) is distinct from representifying (Vergegenwär­ tigung again) as the act of presenting something is distinct from a second act of making something absent present to consciousness, as in acts of recollection and anticipation. What Landgrebe is indicating is that the ego cogito includes both items contrasted in (1). Thus we read "in every present (Gegenwart) I know my life in both past and future." Acts of recollection or anticipation are based on and are continuous with this.—Ed. 96. Ibid., p. 115.


Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism

upon the basis of its consciousness of the world, for the ideal worlds of science, art, and so on, together with their creations, all belong to our world. If we now consider that this not only relates to consciousness of what is factual, but that it also relates to consciousness of pure possibilities, and, if we consider that essential insights can be gained by a free variation of what is factually given in presentiating experience and that in the light of such generality (which in some way or another is always already understood) this worldly being is grasped as "a man," "an animal," and so forth, the significance of this analysis of re-presentifying acts and the extent to which re-presentification and fantasy belong to the constitution of worldly reality become clear. These elements, already implied at any given time by actual consciousness as the consciousness-of-backgrounds evi­ denced "when I advance in such-and-such a manner in my experience. . .," are responsible for the fact that this conscious­ ness of the "I am" as experiencing implies the consciousness: "this, my world, is." But even more: to this stream of my experi­ ence there also belongs the experience of others, an experience which, according to Husserl's exposition, is nonpresentiating. Only the bodies of others are given through presentiating per­ ception and a consciousness "like mine" is indicated within these bodies which are also directed toward and which also experience the same world that I experience. This knowledge of the other is therefore the achievement of a special group of non-presentiating (but re-presentifying) acts on the basis of which the world experienced by me is accepted by me as not only my world, but as the public world. The experience of the world implies the experience of mankind as an encompassing personal community.97 The result of this survey of the field of transcendental experience is this: it is indeed a field and its correlate is the world as it is intended by consciousness. Also disclosed is the fact that the reductive analysis of the individual act-consciousness cannot remain with these individual acts, but leads to the consciousness of horizons which is already implied by every consciousness of acts. If, therefore, the true phenomenological reduction is to be performed (in which all 97. Ibid., p. 127.


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

presupposed objectivity is set out of action), it cannot limit itself to the individual acts but must include that consciousness of horizons implied in every consciousness of acts, a consciousness which is ultimately consciousness of the world as the total hori­ zon. First of all, therefore, it must set out of play the acceptance of the world's being which is concealed and implied by indi­ vidual acts.98 And therefore the analysis of the consciousness of individual kinds of acts requires an analysis of the consciousness of horizons.99 With this result the domain of transcendental ex­ perience is accessible in its full extent.100 It is also shown that the attempt (with which this part of the lectures began) to perform the reduction upon individual acts can only be viewed as a way leading to the field of transcendental experience when not only the positing of the object as existing is set out of action, but when its entire horizon, the being of the world, is also "brack­ eted." Hence this way, carried through to its end, leads to the same result as the first way, only that with this way questions can be answered which were left unanswered by the first. Of course in the present text the train of thought does not proceed in this unbroken manner. The necessity of bracketing horizons in order to reach the transcendental field of experience by departing from individual acts is only afterwards shown to be the result of this train of thought and is at first motivated by a consideration (later withdrawn) as to whether the attempted reduction of individual acts together with their being-thesis and its correlates is not just simply the psychological reduction and by the question how this reduction is to be distinguished from the transcendental-phenomenological reduction.101 We cannot touch upon this issue here. This analysis of the consciousness of horizons and the insight into the necessity of including this consciousness (in its widest extent) within the overthrow effected by the reduction—which Husserl himself viewed as one of the most important discoveries in these lectures—is of significance in many respects. It is the basis for the assertion that it is the world and not merely beings 98. Ibid., p. 153. 99. Ibid., pp. 146-164. 100. Ibid., p. 146. 101. Ibid., p. 142.


Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism

in the world that is actually experienced. Of course the world is not experienced nor is it capable of being experienced as one object among others; neither is it the totality of experienced objects and objects which could possibly be experienced (as such it is an "idea"), but it is constantly experienced as something the existence of which is believed in as the uncontested horizon of the "and so forth" of our experience. In fact, with this theory of the implication of the total-horizon within every single actual consciousness an essential advance has has been made beyond the entire tradition of the modern theory of consciousness which permits us to understand the limits of this tradition's position and the aporiae which result from its limitations. From this the following emerges as being of particular impor­ tance for the evaluation of phenomenology's relationship to Kantian transcendental philosophy: experience is not only the "discursive" apperceiving which runs through individual ele­ ments and gathers them together and reaches a totality of ex­ perience only as a limiting concept of reason. Experience is al­ ready involved with the whole of experience as the horizon of the world before all discursiveness in individual experiences, a horizon which not only accompanies every act of consciousness as the potentiality of being able to advance further and to go back further into the past through memory, but which also di­ rects every act of consciousness. The more exact analysis of the consciousness of horizon cannot be discussed here. This horizon is known to be open in terms of an indeterminate openness, "without real boundaries and yet bounded and with variable boundaries,"102 an openness therefore which for the immediate having of the world cannot be designated as the consciousness of either a finite or an infinite openness, so that the concept of the world as an open horizon does not fall under the antinomy of the concepts of "finite" and "infinite" that arises from reflec­ tion. On the other hand, this discovery signifies a motive which is of great importance for the further development of Husserl's thought in the later works. Although here this discovery is car­ ried out in terms of the consciousness of perception and the 102. Ibid., p. 467.


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

re-presentifying consciousness which is essentially implied by it, nevertheless we shall soon see that the horizon of the world is not only the horizon of what actually is and can be perceived; but also, as the horizon of a common world, it implies in itself all of the opinions, "prejudices," and schemata for understanding and regulating our experience. They refer to its historicalcommunal evolution, and, no less, to the evolution of those perspectives and problem-directions of the sciences which are already decisive in this historical-communal world, and which themselves therefore belong to the horizon of this world through which this world is already understood in a determi­ nate way. This insight thus motivates a twofold inquiry that is first taken up by Husserl in the later works:103 on the one hand, there is the return to the "life-world," the return from the scien­ tifically interpreted world-horizon to the conditions for its for­ mation in terms of subjectivity's prescientific and extrascientific encounter of its world; on the other hand, there is the question concerning the conditions of this becoming as a historical becom­ ing. If, therefore, this horizon is one of absolute experience and is as such the horizon of my own ego, the analysis of the horizon­ consciousness cannot limit itself to exposing the general struc­ tures of this horizon in terms of its significance for the constitu­ tion of the world in all of its levels—from the prescientific to the scientific interpretation of the world—but is intensified by the question concerning this determinate historical ego in its deter­ minate historical origin, and this means that it is intensified by the question concerning the historical horizon of this "I am" which can set before itself the goal of an apodictic foundation and justification and hence orient itself within the horizon of Western science, philosophy, and world-certitude. These are of course perspectives first worked out by Husserl in his later years and which are announced only in his recognition of the incom103. On the interpretation of the later works see A. Gurwitsch, "The Last Work of Edmund Husserl," Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 16 (1956), 380-399, and 17 (1957), 370-398; reprinted in A. Gurwitsch, Studies in Phenomenology and Psychology (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1966), pp. 397M77.


Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism pleteness of the way leading to phenomenology in these lec­ tures. In glancing back over the course of the lectures up to this point,104 Husserl observes that with the requirement of discon­ necting each objectivity and extending the reduction to include the hidden objectifying opinions and convictions which are only darkly at work as a horizon, the goal of an apodictic foundation for transcendental subjectivity as a field of absolute experience is not yet reached: rather the task of an apodictic critique of tran­ scendental experience still remains to be achieved. Husserl had, in fact, nowhere carried out this critique for the simple reason that it cannot be carried out in the traditional sense as the estab­ lishing of a beginning once and for all. Husserl had of course first reached full clarity concerning this in connection with his work in the Crisis. In an important reflection written in 1935 we read: "Philosophy as science, as earnest, rigorous, indeed, apodictically rigorous science—the dream is spent."105 These words relate to a text which is concerned with the question: "how is history a requirement" for the radical philosophical re­ flection? Here we see how the dismissal of the guiding idea of an apodictic science goes hand in hand with the decisive turning toward establishing the way of phenomenological reflection his­ torically (including the history of philosophy). This is not a break with Husserl's earlier beginnings but is rather the conse­ quence of a program dedicated to an ultimate establishing of philosophical truth upon "absolute experience." The way lead­ ing to this consequence was first opened by the analysis of the consciousness of horizons which, as consciousness of the world, inseparably belongs to every act performed by the ego, and by the conviction that this, too, must be included in the "over­ throw" effected by the reductive bracketing; for the overthrow of all self-evident convictions which draw their effectiveness from this horizon and which had been uncritically accepted pre­ viously must indeed also question the self-evidence of the belief in necessarily starting with the evidence of the "I am" and must 104. Erste Philosophie, II, 169. 105. Krisis, p. 508; Crisis, p. 389.


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

also justify it. But this is not possible by having recourse to a general essence of consciousness, or to its intentional achieving and world-formation—a way which is inaccessible to Husserl at the very moment when the requirement that every justification is to be based upon absolute experience and upon the subject of absolute experience is advanced to a primary position. Therefore the foundation in the Crisis work follows an entirely different way by reflecting upon the earlier history of this requirement in European science and philosophy in order to demonstrate that this requirement is the telos of this history.106 Hence one can say that the historical-philosophical establishing of phenomenology in the Crisis work fills in the place left empty in the lectures by the failure to fulfill the requirement of an apodictic critique. This occurs as the consequence of Husserl's return to "absolute ex­ perience" and not by way of turning to something new. It is therefore no overstatement to maintain that in this return to absolute experience, as it is followed out for the first time in the First Philosophy, lies the motive whose consequences lead to the destruction of the framework which sustained the metaphysical thought of the tradition (in particular, its Cartesian form). Hus­ serl himself was of course never entirely aware of the full extent of this break with the tradition. Beginning with the First Philoso­ phy, it is played out behind his back in his incessant endeavor to establish phenomenology. The following must be mentioned in order to understand the importance of this development in Husserl's thought and in order to reflect further upon the consequences inherent within it. The historical foundation obviously can no longer be apodic­ tic in the traditional sense; it cannot be derived from eternal truths and rational necessities. Rather it is a foundation resting upon a historical fact and upon a willingness to affirm and to grasp the "resolve" of the philosopher and the possibility it offers. Although Husserl had not worked this out, one would misunderstand his historical-teleological establishing of phe­ nomenology if one desired to interpret this as a "dogmatic" and theoretically established thesis concerning the course of his106. Cf. Stephan Strasser, “Das Gottesproblem in der Spätphilosophie Ed­ mund Husserls,“ Philosophisches Jahrbuch, 67 (1959), 130ff. [981

Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism

tory. It is rather a "regulative" principle determinative for man's activity and behavior. For, as the resolve of the "beginning philosopher," the resolve to enact the reduction is an act of will and in this sense signifies an "entirely personal conversion." This teleology of history is discovered only when it is taken up by the will of the one who reflects and who thereby takes upon himself this datum which serves to establish his own existence. To this extent this teleology is an idea, but not one which is to be viewed in some absolute realm; rather it is a task posed to the beginning philosopher by his own history: the resolve to accept this task as one which is given starts anew at every moment with a free will. From this it follows that the "absolute experience" upon which all of life's justification and responsibility rests is a historical experience. Its absoluteness and finality does not rest upon the knowledge of some truth in itself, or upon the grasp­ ing or conquering of an "eternal truth," but is absolute in the sense of the philosopher's being placed before an insurmounta­ ble facticity which can only be accepted. The foundation is final in the sense that the resolve for its acceptance ("it shall be so") is the settlement of deliberation. This alone can be the sense of an absolute foundation after the ideal of its apodicticity proves to be unrealizable. To the possible objection that drawing out these consequences does violence to Husserl's work, it can be answered that this interpretation alone makes it possible to grasp the continuity and internal logic of the development of Husserl's thought be­ ginning with the Ideas, progressing through the First Philosophy, and concluding in the later work of the Crisis. The way leading to a historical foundation for phenomenology was prepared quite early in the importance granted by Husserl to the consid­ erations of the history of philosophy, considerations which he often called his "tale" (and later on his "poem") "of the history of philosophy"107 in which phenomenology was to have proved itself to be the "secret longing" of the earlier beginnings of European philosophy. But this observation is given not only in his occasional lectures on the history of philosophy, but also in the historical part of the First Philosophy, preeminently within 107. Krisis, p. 513; Crisis, p. 395.


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

the framework of a pure history of philosophy. It is in the Crisis, with its genealogy of "objectivism" as the fundamental attitude of the modern period, that the establishing of phenomenology's necessity first follows from an encompassing world-historical and cultural-critical perspective. The theoretical-scientific foun­ dation, which was of central importance for Husserl in the Ideas and during the years after the first World War, is here systemati­ cally included within the problem of the "renewal of European Man" for the first time. Certainly Husserl's coming to terms with Heidegger's Being and Time was not without its influence for this "existential" turning point, but it cannot be understood solely in these terms. The theme had already been treated earlier in the above-mentioned essays, even though its treatment was very general. Naturally this last step of Husserl's does not follow as a consequence of pure reflection—only the possibility of such a step was disclosed by the problematic of the First Philosophy. It was above all the historical experience of the thirties which demonstrated to Husserl that the "collapse" signified more than a crisis in the foundations of the sciences and that it was to be understood in the context of the historical collapse of "European Man." And where is the great thinker who has not received decisive impetus from such historical experiences? Let us now turn back from the view of the perspectives dis­ closed by the discovery of the horizon-structure of conscious­ ness to the text of the lectures itself. In this context the indication of the horizon-structure served to demonstrate not only that the basis (the "I am") won by the reduction concerned the momentary evidence of the act just performed by the ego but that along with this act a field of transcendental experience was also won. This means that the requirement of extending the reductive bracketing to include the consciousness of the world implied in the horizon of every single act signifies not only re­ taining the momentary now of the "I am," but also retaining the world which is cogiven in the horizon-consciousness as some­ thing which is also intended. What remains is the "I am" to­ gether with its consciousness of the intended world, this stream of its intended world-experience—no matter how it might stand with respect to the true being of the intended world. The phenomenological reflective experience is now directed toward 1100]

Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism

this stream of experience, an experience which is therefore not simply the experience of the world but the reflective experience of the constitution of the intended world within the achieve­ ments of my experience. This remains as something absolutely given after the reduction has been performed. Only by viewing these achievements can we decide and justify the sense, possi­ bility, and limits of every truth of beings which is to be gained. Understood in this way the transcendental subjectivity won by the reduction can no longer be called "subjectivity" in the traditional sense. Transcendental subjectivity is nothing else than the inseparable unity of world-experience and its inten­ tional correlate, the intended world experienced within it, upon which the possibility of the traditional distinction between "sub­ jective" and "objective," "inner" and "outer," is based. Hence what remains after the reduction is not only the certainty of individual acts performed in the living present, the present life which alone is immediately given,108 but also certainty of the total-horizon as the already cointended world just as it is in­ tended and, in this sense, certainty of the "entirety of an endless nexus of life."109 Thus in the reduction "I survey my life. . . and at one with this and in a correlative turn: I survey the world, the world which is continually formed and reformed in the manifold modifications of content in my intentionality, my judgmental certainties and probabilities, my positings of value, and my ac­ tions."110 Clearly it is not a question of "an actual view, an actual reproduction of past life within a continuity of explicit remembrances . . . and of an explicit depiction of the likelihoods and possibilities of my future life."111 Rather it is a question of the universal essential structures of this achieving, worldformative life. In particular, we are concerned with the "essen­ tially unique feature of my life that in every present phase it has and continually produces anew—even though it be empty—a consciousness of distance, a consciousness of horizons."112 In 108. 109. 110. 111. 112.

Erste Philosophie, II, 175. Ibid., p. 153. Ibid., p. 157. Ibid., p. 155. Ibid., p. 161.


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

this way "I gain the pure universal life, and the worldly universe is transformed into universal intentional objectivity as such."113 In this way the reduction discloses a "new realm of experi­ ence."114 The central portion of the lectures ends with this result. It only remains to note briefly its conclusion.115 It is presented as a retrospective glance over the results which have been attained and chiefly strengthens the necessity for the egological character of the considerations up to this point by continuing the analysis of the perception of the other, where the other is never "there himself" and whose presence is indicated solely by his bodily character as an object in the world. We do not, however, hereby end with solipsism, for solipsism is only a methodological "pas­ sageway." Precisely when we inquire with the criterion of "ac­ tual presence" after the truth of the being of all presumably existing things, and when the other qua other fails to measure up to this criterion, this is reference to the fact that here some­ thing exists which is genuinely transcendent over and against my own subjective continuity and which has its own manner of being confirmed with the apperception of the "other" enduring through the course of experience.116 "Absolute being," there­ fore, and this means transcendental subjectivity as the basis for the ultimate foundation of absolute experience, is not exhausted by my own subjectivity which, together with its world­ constituting achievements, is disclosed in phenomenological re­ flection; absolute being is the universe of transcendental sub­ jects, the "transcendental totality of egos": "The sole absolute being, however, is the being of the subject as it is originally constituted for itself, and absolute being in its entirety is the universe of transcendental subjects which stand in actual and possible community with each other. Thus phenomenology leads to the monadology anticipated by Leibniz with ingenious insight."117 113. 114. 115. 116. 117.


Ibid., p. 162. Ibid., p. 163. Ibid., pp. 164ff. Cf. ibid., p. 495. Ibid., p. 190; also pp. 482-497.

Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism

The Problematic of the Absoluteness of Transcendental Subjectivity and of Establishing this Absoluteness by Means of the Theory of the Phenomenological Reflection

Does not phenomenology thereby lead to a spiritualistic metaphysics and hence to the consummation of modern rationalism (even though Husserl had criticized the "dog­ matism" of the Leibnizian philosophy),118 and how is this com­ patible with the assertion that it is precisely in these lectures that the shipwreck of this metaphysics takes place? Husserl had in fact never revoked the thesis that transcendental subjectivity is absolute being, a thesis already advanced in the Ideas and main­ tained in the Cartesian Meditations of 1930. It was this thesis, however, which, after the appearance of the Ideas, evoked dis­ agreement on the part of Husserl's Göttingen students who re­ fused to go along with this step toward "idealism." Although in many cases this resistance was based upon inadequate argu­ ments taken from the arsenal of epistemological "realism," it contains nevertheless the legitimate question whether this step was the end to which the phenomenological point of departure necessarily leads. Therefore a critical inquiry into the foundation for this thesis would have at the same time the task of exposing the justifiable elements in this question. Its point of departure must be taken from the contradiction residing in the fact that the argument of the First Philosophy contains just those abovementioned moments which result in questioning the thesis that transcendental subjectivity is absolute being. Husserl himself had not drawn this consequence, so that his departure from metaphysics had not reached its conclusion. This is the reason for all difficulties encountered by the interpretation of Husserl's thought: the character of the absoluteness of transcendental sub­ jectivity as well as the meaning of the foundation-laying "oper­ ative" concepts derived from this character (concepts such as constitution, achievement, transcendental life, etc.) are left in­ complete and require self-contradictory interpretations.119 There­ 118. Ibid., I, 366. 119. Eugen Fink, “Operative Begriffe in Husserls Zeitschrift für philosophische Forschung, 2 (1957), 321-337.



The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

fore, the adoption of a critical stand must strive to uncover the basis for these obscurities, a basis which must permit itself to be pointed out in the course of Husserl's analysis itself, so that it is not forced to require an argumentative critique drawn from the outside. We must therefore first ask where in these lectures is the foundation for the thesis concerning the absolute being of tran­ scendental subjectivity to be found. The indication of the con­ sciousness of horizons has led to the insight that the immediate evidence of the "I am" is not just evidence for the act (and the act's intentional correlate) which has just been performed, but that it already implies consciousness of the intended world, and that therefore subjectivity is disclosed by the reduction as a field of phenomenological experience. From this, however, it does not yet follow that this field of transcendental experience is a field of absolute being. Rather is this thesis rooted in Husserl's interpretation of the essence and achievement of phenomenolog­ ical reflection. If it can be shown that this interpretation cannot stand up to criticism, it seems to me that the thesis affirming absolute being of transcendental subjectivity becomes untenable. Husserl's theory of reflection is inserted into the crucial portion of the lectures as an excursion.120 The discussion of this theory has been delayed until now so that we could give an uninter­ rupted presentation of the entire train of thought of the lectures. Now we must take up this discussion so that we can gain the point of departure required for our critical observations. For this reason we shall briefly outline the basic thoughts of this theory. The first step in Husserl's reflections concerns the general structure of reflection, which again is presented in terms of the "simple" example of external perception. In perceiving I am directed toward what is perceived. The perceiving ego is thereby in a state of "self-forgetfulness," or as Husserl rephrases it: the ego is latent. Insofar as it continues to perceive, however, it can at any time turn back upon its perceiving of which it is still retentionally aware as "having-just-perceived." Thereby the ego enacts the explicitly reflective consciousness "I perceive," 120. Erste Philosophie, II, 87-111. The analysis is carried on further in the Kant essay from 1924, ibid., I, 259-270; "Kant and the Idea of Transcendental Philoso­ phy," pp. 32M1. [104]

Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism

wherein the previously latent ego of perception becomes evi­ dent. Reflection is therefore a "becoming-subsequentlyaware."121 It consists of the fact "that the reflecting ego is per­ forming an act which makes the previously latent ego an inten­ tional object, i.e., the object of an act of reflection." Now the reflecting ego is latent in its turn and can become evident in a higher-level reflection. Essential here, however, is the fact that the performing ego always remains latent in performing its acts. For example, in the living presence of the course of a perception we have "in coexistence a twofold [verdoppelte] ego and a twofold ego-act: the ego which now continually observes the house, and the ego which performs the act: Ί am now aware of this'."122 This, however, does not lead to an infinite regress of reflections from which the performing ego would constantly es­ cape. Because the performing ego, the "subject-ego," knows itself to be identical with the "object-ego," or the object of its reflection, it follows that this possible infinite reiteration can remain ignored because it leads to nothing new; it continually leads to the same self-identical ego which is aware of its identity. Thus we can say "that the plurality of act-poles are in them­ selves evidently the same ego, or that one and the same ego makes its appearance in all of these acts . . . (and) that the life of the ego in its activity is from beginning to end nothing else than a continual-dividing-of-itself-in-its-active-behavior."123 Reflec­ tion is thus presented as the making of the previously latent ego into an intentional object. The ego-subject thereby becomes the intentional object of its own observation. So much for the structure of reflection in general. Now what distinguishes the natural, mundane reflection from phenomeno­ logical reflection is this: at all times mundane reflection follows from an interest in the being of the object124 toward which the ego was previously straightforwardly directed; for example, in perception I seek to assure myself of the being and character of what I have presumably perceived by reflectively considering "what I have really seen," and so forth. Perception thereby 121. 122. 123. 124.

Erste Philosophie, II, 89. Ibid. Ibid., pp. 90-91. Ibid., p. 95.


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

posits its intentional object as something which is real. It is positional consciousness and thereby rests upon the basis of the "general thesis" of the belief in the world; it enacts this belief along with its perception and thereby serves the aims of worldly experience. It is content when it has provided itself with a cer­ tainty regarding what it has experienced adequate to its objec­ tives. By contrast, phenomenological reflection has already set this belief out of play; it lives with an interest solely for the subjective course of the intending and the intended as such, that is, as the correlate of the intending, without coperforming the positional act which belongs to this intending. For this reflection "only the purely subjective exists, and my theoretical interest is occupied with observing and determining this pure subjec­ tivity and its entirely immanent contents."125 We need not re­ emphasize the sense in which "subjectivity," and "subjective" are used here; namely, as the indissoluble correlation of world­ experience and its intentional correlate, the "world." In the light of the specific interest which guides phenome­ nological reflection, an interest which is essentially different from all worldly interests coenacted within the natural attitude and within natural reflection, there emerges the possibility "of conceiving of a broadest possible concept of a 'sympathiz­ ing' or 'nonsympathizing' ego, or rather of a denying-all-sympathy-with-itself reflecting ego, and of conceiving thereby the idea... of an entirely general and disinterested theoretical self-observer and self-knower."126 Free from all worldly inter­ ests, this self-knower establishes himself as the "impartial ob­ server" of the mundame ego and its involvement with worldly interests. When Husserl designates his interest as "theoretical," what is meant is this moment of detachment, of not cosym­ pathizing with mundane interests. Therefore the ego's theoreti­ cal theme in performing phenomenological reflection is the re­ flective experience of the play of mundane interests as a "subjec­ tive" play which can be discovered in universal phenomenologi­ cal reflection. Its interest "is a pure interest in subjective be­ ing,"127 the "pure experience of subjective acts." These latter are 125. Ibid., p. 97. 126. Ibid., p. 99. 127. Ibid., p. 108.


Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism

defined "as what can be posited in experience and what at any time can be posited and known when I, as reflecting, disconnect everything that is straightforwardly accepted."128 In an appen­ dix Husserl adds: "Prior to this, transcendental subjectivity is not only there unnoticed, but it is nonthematic and absolutely anonymous to itself; only the worldly ego, including the human ego, the ego as a 'child of the world,' is already given, experi­ enced, evident."129 According to this observation, therefore, one must distinguish the latency of the mundane ego, which can be made evident in mundane reflection and which is already there even though it is unnoticed and nonthematic, from the absolute anonymity of the transcendental ego which cannot be simply removed by the possibility of thematically turning to­ ward it at any time. The mundane ego is at any time also "copre­ sent" in being "straightforwardly" directed toward its objects and can be made thematic in reflection. For this reason Husserl also modified "self-forgetfulness," the expression for this copre­ sence, into the expression "latent." Disclosure of the tran­ scendental ego requires a unique resolve. It is the demand of the "beginning philosopher" for absolute justification and respon­ sibility. This distinction contains the problematic of this theory of phenomenological reflection wherein the basis for the thesis af­ firming absolute being of transcendental subjectivity must be sought. We must ask whether it is actually in a position to accept the role of establishing this thesis. For this reason we must take our point of departure from the problem which provides the context for developing this theory of phenomenological reflec­ tion. This problem is the question concerning the unique motivation, not found in any worldly condition, for this striving after freedom from cosympathizing with the interests of the mundane ego. At the very outset Husserl indicates that no model is to be found in the natural life for this striving.130 It is "an entirely 'unnatural' attitude and an entirely unnatural ob­ servation of the world and of the self."131 To be sure, we already 128. 129. 130. 131.

Ibid., p. 110. Ibid., p. 417. Cf. above pp. 72-73. Erste Philosophie, II, 121.


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

find in natural life (at least insofar as it is guided by a striving after scientific truth) a striving to establish some foundation and to attain some established truth, and also a striving to establish knowingly a basis for norms determinative of practical life and its interests. But this striving is content when it has reached grounds which appear to be adequate to its current interests and does not mount toward an absolute (and therefore universal) foundation, justification, and responsibility, toward'a "univer­ sal critique of life." The resolve to achieve this does not find its motivation in the natural life. Rather does it rest in an act of freedom: "I can in my freedom renounce this natural cobelief of reflection."132 "Only through the free act of holding back judg­ ment, of willfully freeing myself from this primordial cointerest, can that attitude of the disinterested observer come into being." In addition, however, "a particular motivation must release me from this sympathy."133 Thus the question arises: "What can serve here as a motive?"134 But this question remains unan­ swered in the remaining portions of the text. In an appendix Husserl indeed attempts to answer this question: "The motive is clear: I come to know and to deepen my knowledge that all knowing and intending of the world stem from my own experi­ ence."135 Therewith is meant not only the epistemological ar­ gument from the "principle of consciousness," but also the in­ sight that everything which holds for me as my world, together with those interests contained in this world which determine my life, is not something which is purely given and which must simply be accepted, but that it holds for me only upon the strength of my affirmation, recognition, and "position"; not only that I accept my given world and agree to its requirements, but also that I am responsible for the world's being the way it is. But this insight is nothing other than consciousness of myself as a free ego, an ego not subordinate to any mundane complex of conditions or interests; and this, and nothing else, is the "tran­ scendental ego." It is the ethical ego which passes judgment upon all of its worldly interests. 132. 133. 134. 135. [108]

Ibid., p. 92. Ibid., p. 98. Ibid. Ibid., p. 416.

Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism

But the free ego is not simply free as the ego of various ac­ tions: it is the subject of absolute experience, and this primarily as my own subjectivity, my consciousness. It is not, as in Hegel's Phenomenology of Mind, the self-experience of absolute spirit which in the course of its experience comes to know what it already was in-itself, thereby ascending from being-in-itself to being-for-itself and to being-in-and-for-itself. Rather does the facticity of the absolute experience of the transcendental ego precede every possibility which is first constituted within it as such,136 and therefore the interpretation of the absolute nature of subjectivity in the sense of absolute idealism is exluded. Un­ derstood in this way, it would not be an experience of the "streaming transcendental life" with its indeterminate and open horizon of experience. Upon this openness is based the possibil­ ity of its freedom to be responsible for what is experienced. Nevertheless, it remains undecided as to how the absolute­ ness of absolute subjectivity is to be understood positively. The reason why Husserl leaves its character indeterminate can be discovered by a critical analysis of his theory of the phenomenological reflection. We must ask the question how this ego, conscious of its freedom, can be "entirely anonymous" before the reduction. Is not this consciousness of its freedom already presupposed by the possibility of resolving to enact the reduction? The resolve for absolute responsibility and justifica­ tion cannot be motivated by the insight that the world as it is for me is what it is upon the strength of my freely taking up a position; rather is consciousness of the necessity of responsibil­ ity and justification the presupposition for reaching this insight. It is therefore not accidental that all of Husserl's attempts to discover the motivation for the phenomenological reduction, in particular those which the appendices to these lectures also re­ veal, could not achieve satisfactory results. His theory of the phenomenological reflection, and the thesis concerning the ab­ solute being of transcendental subjectivity which it serves to found, is itself an obstacle to the answer that had been sought. This is shown when one asks why Husserl must stress the abso­ lute anonymity of transcendental subjectivity before the discov­ 136. Cf. above, pp. 79-81. [109]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

ery of the reductive procedure. Only in this way does he gain the criterion for distinguishing transcendental subjectivity as a unique and absolute realm of being from mundane subjectivity or the human ego, which, although for the most part latent, already knows itself to be an ego before the phenomenological reduction takes place. And the thesis affirming this absolute anonymity has its basis precisely in the theory of phenome­ nological reflection. We must now show how it follows from this theory. The temporal structure of reflection is that of a "subsequent awareness." Continuing with the example of an external percep­ tion, the reflecting ego directs itself toward the retentionally alive "having-just-perceived," and thereby becomes aware of itself as the same ego that has just perceived and which now reflectively directs itself toward this having-perceived. It be­ comes aware of itself in this identity as a being which constitutes itself as temporal, or as a self-endurance of the ego in its tem­ poralization. With this, the step is already taken which leads from what at first appears to be the momentary evidence of the "I am" to the I am as the "stream of experience" which, in its experience and world-constituting achieving, becomes the field of transcendental experience. "That which is actually perceived in the streaming now, whose pure content has been reached by the reduction, is an absolute self"137 to which, however, there inseparably belongs the horizon of temporality, so that the "pure ego extends much further than one at first under­ stands."138 "The concrete streaming present, the immanent as enduring and as giving itself with changing content in a unified manner in streaming continuation ... is given in its absolute originality as continuing and as developing in such and such a manner."139 The transcendental ego, which constitutes itself in its temporalization, "is absolutely present for itself" within this consciousness of its identity, and is the sole being which exists for itself absolutely in the "sense of an absolute being which presents itself in an absolute manner."140 Its self-presentation is 137. 138. 139. 140. [110]

Erste Philosophie, II, 466. Ibid., p. 477. Ibid., p. 467. Ibid.

Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism

essentially different from the self-presentation of a perceptual object, whose variation through appearances is always pre­ sumptive, thereby leaving open the possibility of deception and of being "canceled" (i.e., the possibility of its nonbeing) in the further course of perception.141 By contrast, the appearance of the ego as identical in the temporal succession of its acts is an absolute self-presentation, that is, it is a presentation of itself which excludes all possibility of nonbeing. It is in this sense that we are to understand Husserl when he speaks of transcendental subjectivity as an absolute realm of being which, as such, can become a field for description. It not only exposes the ego's accomplishments in the constitution of things and their horizon (the world), but also the accomplishments of temporalization through which the ego constitutes itself as identical in every now. This self-constitution of the ego, upon which basis it exists for itself in an absolute manner, is thus presented in accordance with that basic (and for Husserl, authoritative) model of all con­ stitution as the constitution of objective unity throughout man­ ifold modes of givenness. The transcendental ego becomes thematic in phenomenological reflection, and this means that it becomes objective [gegenständlich] as the unity which constantly maintains itself throughout all of its acts, or as the ego which is always copresent, even—although for the most part latent and "self-forgetful"—in its natural worldly life where it is directly addressed to objects. All talk of the anonymity of the tran­ scendental ego before the performance of the phenomenological reduction must therefore refer to this constant copresence, for in natural reflection the ego is aware of its copresence before this reduction only occasionally and only in the service of limited mundane interests. Through the phenomenological reduction and its establishment of the constancy of this copresence, all possible "excuses" are taken away from the ego and it now stands placed before the universality of its responsibility for ev­ erything that holds for it as its world. Understood in this way, all trace of an idle "theoretical" in­ quisitiveness is removed from our speaking of the "impartial 141. Ibid., p. 466. [Ill]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

observing" of the phenomenologically reflecting ego. This uni­ versal reflection proves itself to be the way along which the requirement placed upon the ego for a "radical critique of life" and its own absolute self-responsibility can now be established in its necessity. This is possible only by "escaping from a kinship with the world" and a "world-denial," which means an escape from simply accepting and coenacting all given interests, practi­ cal considerations, and worldly ties. Hence the phenomenologi­ cal reduction signifies the act in which the ego becomes aware of its freedom for absolute self-responsibility. Only because phenomenological reflection is an impartial observing in this sense (namely, as becoming aware of oneself as the absolute "performing-ego" which is not permitted to accept either the world or worldly interests simply as something given) can Hus­ serl later state in the Crisis that such reflection can lead to a "complete personal transformation" of man. It thereby loses the appearance of being merely in the service of a restful satisfaction with searching out and analyzing the infinitely rich play of sub­ jective intentional achievements. Husserl can with justice re­ peatedly quote St. Augustine's "go back into yourself, for truth dwells in the inner man,"142 for this way of reflection serves the same end. We must now, however, show how this simple state of affairs is once again obscured from another side insofar as the constant copresence of the transcendental ego (discovered by the reduc­ tion) is, in an idealistically sounding turn, presented as an objec­ tive [gegenständlich] field of absolute being. This is a conse­ quence of the already often noted fact that for Husserl being [Sein] primarily signifies being-an-object [Gegenstand-sein] for an act of consciousness which presents it. Only for this reason is it possible for Husserl to conceive of the temporalizing self­ constitution of the ego in accordance with his basic model for all constitution; that is, as the constitution of objective unity through its manifold modes of givenness. The absolute self­ existence of the transcendental ego can therefore mean only existence as the object [Objekt]—which holds firm and estab142. Cartesianische Meditationen, p. 183; Cartesian Meditations, p. 157, for exam­ ple.

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Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism

lishes itself in its continuing continuity—for the ego which is reflectively directed toward this existence. The truth of its abso­ lute being therefore means that it has established itself and can establish itself in acts of identification. It is nothing other than its continuance as the performer in all of the acts which it performs, and which becomes objective in phenomenological reflection. Since for Husserl truth primarily signifies the self-establishing objective continuance of self-existence, Husserl can view the achievement of phenomenological reflection as consisting of its discovery of the performing ego within the previously anony­ mous continuance of its copresence and constitutive achieving as a domain of absolute being, and therewith as a field for de­ scriptive analysis. Yet, is this absolute subjectivity actually present to itself in its self-temporalization in such a way that, in terms of its absolute existence-for-itself, it can become the object of a reflective act which makes it present, an act of re-presentifying? If the world is universally exhibited by the phenomenological reduction as something formed out of intentional accomplishments and as something for which I, as formative subject, am responsible, can this freeing of the ego for its absolute responsibility take place by disclosing a domain of absolute being as a new field of experi­ ence? May we not find moments in Husserl's analysis of the temporal self-constitution of the ego which make this question­ able? In the lectures on time-consciousness,143 it was already established that absolute subjectivity is an "absolute flux"— Husserl speaks in a later manuscript of a "Heraclitean flux"—for whose constitutive elements "we are totally lacking a name," since all names are only the names for the worldly and objec­ tified being which comes to be constituted within this flux. Nothing of objective continuance or endurance can be found within this flux. Rather, this is first discovered in a "subsequent awareness," and upon the basis of a retrospective reflection upon the unity and identity of the ego ("constituted" already within this flux) which, recollecting itself in all of the previous phases of the "stream of experience" that have run their course, 143. Phänomenologie des inneren Zeitbewusstseins, pp. 73-89; The Phenomenology of Internal Time Consciousness, pp. 98-126. [113]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

discovers itself as being the same ego. If this continuance and endurance are to be understood as belonging to absolute being, is it not thereby presupposed that the "performing ego" is com­ pletely incarnate in what the subsequent awareness of presentifying and re-presentifying reflection is able to establish with respect to the already enacted accomplishments and their re­ sults? If this is correct, the ego would first constitute itself in its absolute identity only through its retentionally established "having-been" [Gezuesen-sein], which is then re-presentified re­ flectively in recollection. It apprehends itself only as what it has been until now. Opposed to this, however, is the fact that be­ longing to the consciousness of the ego as a constituent of its identity within its "living presence" is not only what has been retentionally retained, but also the future-oriented protentions whereby it directs itself toward what is to be directly expected and experienced, while knowing itself to be identical in this self-directedness with the ego which is subsequently known in reflection. It is precisely this protentional directedness toward "what is to come" and what is temporally "forthwith" that grounds the possibility of openness for new experience and for factual responsibility for this experience. It is clearly no accident that the structure of protention is only briefly treated in the lectures on time-consciousness.144 Its fur­ ther consideration would have served to question the theory that the self-constitution of the ego is accomplished by its past experience and that the winning of its objective identity as the identity of a continuing field of absolute being is discovered by a "subsequent awareness" and retrospective reflection. Thus the Husserlian theory of the identity of the absolute ego cannot render intelligible how this identity, which comes to conscious­ ness in reflecting upon the constitutive achievements which have already been enacted, is one which can establish an identity with the presently active ego, and that means the ego which is extended beyond itself into the "future."145 Thus the per­ forming ego is not, in its identity, completely exhausted in 144. Ibid., pp. 52f.; Eng. trans., p. 76. 145. The critical remarks by Roman Ingarden, printed in the Hnsserliana edi­ tion of the Cartesian Meditations, refer to these difficulties. See Cartesianische Meditationen, pp. 205-218. [ 11 4 J

Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism what the subsequent re-presentifying and objectifying reflection can establish as its accomplished performances. Rather it is the case that its self-knowing identity is already presupposed by the possibility of such subsequent awareness and retrospective reflection. It must therefore already possess some kind of selfknowledge in the very performance of its acts, one which is clearly not entirely identical with the knowledge of its perform­ ances gained by reflection. For this reason, Max Scheier had already emphasized that the essence of acts "can only be ex­ perienced in their performance," and that reflection "is to be distinguished from all making-present as such."146 The ego's self-knowledge won by re-presentifying reflection is only a knowledge of what it has already enacted, that is, acts with their respectively determinate intentional direction wherein the ego constitutes an objective unity for itself. This way of reflection permits the ego to experience itself only in the results of the achievements it has already performed and not in their actual performance. Its ownmost identity, which includes both of these moments, can never be overtaken by re-presentifying reflection. It is always more than what it knows itself to be in reflection and is never present to itself in reflection, for it is always ahead of itself. It has, however, a knowledge of itself prior to all reflection, for which reason Sartre has made the attempt to differentiate a prereflective cogito and a reflective cogito. The self-identity of the performing ego is therefore not one that can become objective and cannot be described by con­ cepts referring to objective being; it can be grasped only as the "dialectical" relationship of "being-identical-in-being-other."147 As such, the transcendental ego is of course anonymous when measured in terms of absolute existence-for-itself as absolute self-presentation. But this anonymity cannot be removed by any re-presentifying reflection. It is that by virtue of which the ego is already ahead of its present, and in this "being ahead of itself" it is open for new experience and for responsibility for this experi146. Max Scheier, Der Formalismus in der Ethik und die materiale Wertethik, 5th ed. (Bern: Franke Verlag, 1966), pp. 46, 385. 147. Cf. Ludwig Landgrebe, “Das Problem der Dialektik,“ Marxismusstudien, 3 (1960), 1-65; reprinted in Ludwig Landgrebe, Phänomenologie und Geschichte, pp. 80-134. [115]

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ence. But this unique character of the ego's unity cannot be conceived of by Husserl because he equates being with objective identity, even though his analysis of time-consciousness could have offered him the occasion to recognize this character. For this reason alone, Husserl can present transcendental subjectiv­ ity only as a field of being which can be disclosed by means of the reduction. Further consideration of Husserl's analysis of the temporal self-constitution of the ego also forces us to surrender this the­ sis. It falls victim to Kant's criticism of the paralogism implied by the doctrine of the soul which has its roots precisely in applying the category of substance to the concept of the ego—and this is just what Husserl's concept of a "unity becoming objectively present" amounts to. Because Husserl, despite his criticism of Descartes, remains implicitly bound to the modern metaphysical concept of substance, his analysis of self-consciousness, and therewith the departure from metaphysics, remain incomplete. This confirms our previous assertion that, on the basis of the guiding concept of true being as a self-verifying identity capable of being presented in an objective manner, what Husserl had correctly seen under the title of transcendental subjectivity and its absoluteness becomes so obscured that he was not able to arrive at an unequivocal determination of this concept. In terms of this concept of truth, transcendental subjectivity, as the basis of absolute foundation and justification, must be an absolute being, and the theory of phenomenological reflection is meant to confirm this. But as free subjectivity this is just what it is not— and only as free can it find within itself the motive for absolute self-responsibility and set out upon the path of the reductive removal of its "anonymity." For this reason as well, Husserl can find no adequate answer to the question concerning the motive for the "radical critique of life," for this motive is none other than its freedom and openness for absolute experience, and just this excludes its subsumption under a concept of being as con­ tinuing objectivity. Thus the concept of absolute subjectivity vacillates between the concept of a free ego, open to absolute experience and responsibility in its "being-ahead-of-itself," and the idealistic concept of an absolute being which assures itself of this being in its theoretical and disinterested self-contemplation. [1161

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The question concerning the motive for this striving after abso­ lute justification and for the reduction as the way leading to this justification cannot be answered if the self-responsible and self­ justifying ego is presented as an absolute foundation of being. Husserl's self-critical observations published in the appendices show that Husserl himself found continually new difficulties on this point. That is, he did not succeed in adequately establishing the connection between the "theoretical" ego, which is directed toward the ultimate foundation of knowledge, and the "practi­ cal" ego, the free ethical ego, although his efforts aim in this direction. A further indication of this lack is found in Husserl's mention of the phenomenon of conscience as a "reflective at­ titude taken by the passions,"148 which is indeed introduced as a mode of reflection but which surprisingly is not related to the question concerning the motive for the striving for justification by which the reductive procedure is guided. Since Husserl cannot penetrate to the ultimate ground of the ego's absolute self-certainty as a ground which does not reveal itself to objectifying reflection, not only does the concept of tran­ scendental subjectivity remain "in suspense," but also all other "operative" concepts,149 such as "constitution," "achieve­ ment," and "transcendental life," with which the essence of transcendental subjectivity is to be interpreted.

The Result of this Critical Analysis The result of this critical analysis can be indicated only in brief. It has shown that Husserl's term "transcendental subjec­ tivity" is equivocal and that two different elements must be distinguished within it: 148. Erste Philosophie, II, 105. Here Husserl refers to acts of “reflection“ which need not be “intellectual," and which can have an emotional tone. As an exam­ ple Husserl cites a possible “reflection" upon the fact that “I love," a reflection in which I can be joyous or displeased and self-reproachful.—Trans. 149. A reference to Eugen Fink's notion of concepts which are not thematically “fixed" but which are employed as “intellectual schemas" whereby “thematic" concepts receive objective determination. They compose a “conceptual milieu," a conceptual “horizon," in terms of which other conceptual moments which are essential to a philosophical position can be ordered and explicated. Cf. Fink, “Operative Begriffe.“—Trans.


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

1. The subject as free and as called to its responsibility, a call which it experiences in inwardness as its own self. In this sense, transcendental subjectivity is the "subjectivity" of the subject, or, to speak with Kant, the "intelligible character" of man. As such, however, it cannot be reflectively re-presentified and can­ not be a "field" for description. 2. The indissoluble correlation of world-constituting accom­ plishment, which can no longer be designated as "subjectivity" in the traditional sense, and what is achieved within it. The presentation of this correlation is actually that great task of phenomenological analysis which can be achieved by the re­ ductive method: herein lies the "field" of phenomenological analysis. If this analysis is to result in the insight that this ac­ complishment constitutes the essence of transcendental "life" as the life of a transcendental community, a transcendental "We" or the transcendental "totality of egos," this means that what we call the "world" is nothing other than the interpretation of something experienced and about which, "in-itself," nothing could be possibly said apart from this correlation with the ex­ periencing and "entering-into-community" consciousness. In this respect Husserl is entirely correct in naming phenomenol­ ogy "transcendental phenomenology," and indeed "tran­ scendental" in Kant's critical sense, even though it is to be dis­ tinguished from Kant's transcendental philosophy with respect to method and range. "World" in this context is the result, con­ stantly changing throughout the history of man, of constitution as an interpretation, an expounding of something which, before and apart from this expounding, is nameless and unspeakable. When the attempt is made, however, to raise this play [Spiel] between the correlation of world (always formed by interpreta­ tion beforehand) and constitutive world-forming as the "hold­ ing sway" [Walten] of the world itself to the level of something absolute,150 then it appears to us that in this understanding its "holding sway" is lost, for the world in its "holding sway" is nothing other than the free play [Spielraum] of transcendental subjectivity in the first sense, transcendental subjectivity as an 150. Cf. Eugen Fink, Sein, Wahrheit, Welt, Phaenomenologica 1 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1958).


Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism

experience which is free and which is therewith open for an advance and a history for which it is responsible. When under­ stood in the first sense, the being of transcendental subjectivity breaks away from the immanence of a self-enclosed "holding sway" of the world. That is, the experience of the absolute sub­ ject as a free subject not only consists of its experience of the world and worldly beings in taking up a position for which it bears responsibility, but equally consists of its absolute certainty of itself as free and as called to absolute responsibility, a cer­ tainty in which it experiences its relation to the "absolute" in the true (Hegelian) sense, that is, its relation to the source of the possibility of a responsibility which is free from all worldly interests and conditions. Therefore the world in its "holding sway" cannot be the absolute. This certainty with respect to its ground which is included in the free subject's absolute self­ certainty, and which, like the certainty of its freedom, can neither be objectified nor brought under concepts of objective being, is therefore the certainty of a transcendence in the sense of something nonworldly which, however, does not stand op­ posed to it as a distinct and separate object, but which an­ nounces itself in it as a free subjectivity. Thus transcendental subjectivity in this sense, as a subject which is aware of its free­ dom, is not itself the absolute but the place where the absolute is experienced—whereby experience is here clearly spoken of in a radically different sense than as experience of the world and wordly beings, a sense which is in harmony with Husserl's re­ quirement that every transcendence, if it is not to be an empty thought, must have a manner of showing itself and announcing itself to consciousness which is appropriate to it. Subjectivity in its "anonymity" as free before all reflection is always absolutely certain of itself beforehand. Because Husserl, however, believed that the "performing-ego," the "ego which takes up a position," could be brought completely within the grasp of the "subsequently aware" re-presentifying reflection, he was unable to discover this immediate "being-within-itself" as the ground for the possibility of both reflection and responsi­ bility. To be sure, Husserl was somehow aware of this under the title of a "deeper ground of intentionality" ["Untergrund der In­ tentionalität"], but the attempt to determine more precisely the [119]

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relation of this "deeper ground" to the explicit subjectivethematizing reflection finally leads to the difficultly understood contention that the ego, as long as it performs no acts of reflec­ tion, is not at all aware of its own subjectivity,151 precisely be­ cause the concept of "consciousness" is oriented from the very start along the lines of re-presentifying consciousness which makes something into its intentional object. We cannot here explicate further how this revision of the con­ cept of absolute subjectivity also presents us with the possibility of giving a more precise meaning to other of Husserl's basic operative concepts that interpret this subjectivity. A separate investigation would also be required in order to show how this immediate prereflective "knowledge" of itself is not that of a "pure" subjectivity, a subjectivity pure because it looks on and re-presentifies in universal, theoretical reflection, and how it possesses the ground of its possibility in its worldliness, a worldliness to which its bodily nature belongs, so that its body is not simply a constituted, although exceptional, "thing"—as it first appears to objectifying reflection—but which itself, in the immediacy with which it is experienced,152 belongs among the constituents of its subjectivity which is known to be free and capable of acting. From this follows the revision of Husserl's inadequate analysis of the "Other"153 and the impossibility of the egological point of departure for the phenomenological analysis of the constitution of the "world," as well as a modifica­ tion of the meaning of distinguishing transcendental and psychological subjectivity. 151. This is found in what for this problematic is a very important section— “Natural and Transcendental Reflection and the Deeper Ground of Intentionality"—of the Kant essay, Erste Philosophie, 1, 259-267, esp. p. 266; “Kant and the Idea of Transcendental Philosophy," pp. 32-39, esp. pp. 38-39. 152. Cf. Erste Philosophie, II, 61. See the previous essay in this volume, "The Problem of Passive Constitution." 153. Concerning the difficulties encountered by this analysis see Alfred Schutz, “The Problem of Transcendental Intersubjectivity in Husserl," Collected Papers, Vol. Ill: Studies in Phenomenological Philosophy, ed. I. Schutz, Phaenomenologica 22 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1966), pp. 51-91. Also see the recent essay by Klaus Held, “Das Problem der Intersubjektivität und die Idee einer phänomenologischen Transzendentalphilosophie," Perspektiven trans­ zendental-phänomenologischer Forschung, ed. U. Claesges and K. Held, Phaeno­ menologica 49 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1973), pp. 1-60.


Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism

This, as already indicated, is of lasting significance for the critique of modern "anthropologism." But this critique and its intended distinction can no longer be interpreted as a descrip­ tion disclosing two realms of being and an eidetic which is to be based upon this description, whereby the problem of the paral­ lelism between the psychological and phenomenological analyses disappears, a problem with which Husserl had unceas­ ingly struggled. There remains the distinction between "tran­ scendental subjectivity" in the first-mentioned sense as the di­ mension of "absolute" or "ultimately foundational" experience, but which is not, however, a "field" of objectifying description and eidetic, and "transcendental subjectivity" in the sense of that indissoluble correlation of constitutive world-forming as the process of advancing history and the presently already con­ stituted world as the horizon of this advance. This latter is actu­ ally the field of phenomenological experience, but this is an experience into which all the results of psychological and an­ thropological empirical investigation continually enter. It need not be said that the methodological grounding of the possibility that the empirical can provide access to "absolute experience" occasions a revision of the distinction between "empirical" and "a priori," a distinction whose character as an exhaustive alter­ native has already become questionable from the side of re­ searches into the foundations of logic. All this is said here only to indicate how this project of the First Philosophy, whose own aims had failed, is, in this failure, not an end, but a beginning which signifies the disclosure of a great wealth of problems which concern not only the under­ standing of Husserl's work and its unity, but also the horizon of those questions which, with the end of modern metaphysics, become inescapable.


4. The World as a Phenomenological Problem

World as the Universal Horizon of All Experience and the Problem of Its Origin.

"World" seems to be one of our most familiar and readily understood concepts. The term is used continually, in ordinary conversation and in a great variety of sciences, without any apparent need of stating its exact meaning. The "world" of this or that animal species, "the world of primitive man," the "worlds" peculiar to various periods in history—all these "worlds" have been precisely analyzed. But the scientific de­ scription of that which is "the world" for a particular species, or for a particular group of human beings, is not equivalent to a philosophical clarification of the concept "world." Indeed, such description already presupposes a certain acquaintance with the concept. The problem of clarifying the concept "world" was once so central to philosophy that it determined the name of a special metaphysical discipline. However, in the process of positivistic dissolution undergone by the traditional organization of philos­ ophy during the nineteenth century, this fundamental problem—and many another—was as good as forgotten. It reappeared in a central systematic connection only with the emergence of Husserl's philosophy, where, especially in the in­ quiries of Husserl's last period, it occurs repeatedly and in vari­ ous forms. The phenomenological investigations to which this problem has given rise are significant in two ways. On the one hand, [122]

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they help to clarify and deepen the concepts of "world" that occur in the special sciences; on the other hand, they help to reawaken an understanding for the old philosophical problems concerning the world and aid us in giving those problems a new interpretation. In the future, anyone who proposes to clarify the concept "world" should first become acquainted with Husserl's results, see their presuppositions and their limits, and come to terms with them. In this essay I will bring out only a few of the fundamental ideas in Husserl's account. Already, in the period extending from the publication of the Logical Investigations (1900/01) to the publication of Ideas (1913), Husserl was led to undertake investigations that move, so to speak, in the realm of the "world"-problem—investigations along lines indicated by structures pertaining to the world— though the concept "world" had not, at the time, become a theme in its own right. He approached these inquiries in two ways: first, in the course of detailed investigations undertaken to clarify the nature of perception; second, in connection with the problem of the phenomenological reduction. In the latter context one also finds the motives that, in the period beginning about 1924, led Husserl to probe ever more deeply and minutely into the problem of the world. Let us, for the present, confine our attention to the approach first mentioned—which was also the earliest to bring to light certain world-structures. In the course of reworking his Logical Investigations, Husserl had already prepared to extend them by seeking, in the sphere of intuition, the "fullness" that, as the basis for and presupposi­ tion of the evidence of judgments, gives them their sense and is a presupposition for their "evidence." Thus perception, with its modifications (remembering and other "re-productive" acts), became his theme. Analysis of the perception of a particular thing—analysis of the syntheses in which the perception of a thing comes about—shows that one cannot confine oneself to the thing as an isolated phenomenon, if one intends to discover the concrete sense of such a perception. The perceptual thing is always a thing in front of its objective background, a back­ ground of objects consciously and more or less explicitly co­ meant along with it. Such co-intentions are always involved in [123]

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the concrete nature, the what of the thing standing before our eyes: the table is "a table in the room," "in front of the win­ dow," "in my house"; the house "on the street," "in this town"; etc. Thus, every particular given involves references to percep­ tions that might take place from there on—references to them as potentialities of experience: "I can go on from here and, if I do, I shall see this and that." These references need not always be­ come conscious as explicit themes; however, they' can at any time become "actualized." Everything that is perceived brings its horizon of possible fur­ ther perceptions, not only those perceptions in which it would itself become more precisely known with respect to its con­ stituents but also those relating to the surroundings in which it stands, the surroundings that we are always conscious of as belonging to the thing. In other words, the thing has its horizon: first of all as a spatial horizon, which, taken in its full concretion, is our surrounding world. On every hand this world we live in offers open possibilities of further experience so that, as we apprehend it, it is a part of "the" world—that part, namely, which is directly accessible to us. And, though it is a part, it is not rigidly limited. On all sides it admits of enlargement, by which, as we say, new aspects of "the" world become accessible to us. But the horizon of the perceived thing is also a temporally extended horizon. The table that I now see over there is, for me, the table that was already there on a previous occasion, the table at which I intend to seat myself later. Its stock of concrete de­ terminations refer to the past and future. Thus Husserl's early analyses of the perception of an individual thing disclosed—or, at least, began to disclose—a structure that he eventually saw as a determination of "the world": the world as the horizon of particular acts and, first of all, as the horizon of acts of percep­ tion. This insight became important when Husserl began to de­ velop his doctrine of the phenomenological reduction, a de­ velopment that, in turn, brought out a further determination of the concept "world." The fact that, even as a single act, each perceiving has its horizons, makes it necessary to exclude more than the doxic positing that takes place in, and transcends, the single act of perceiving. Otherwise we do not really isolate the 1124]

World as Phenomenological Problem

latter's "meant object, as meant." That is to say, a reduction performed on the single act itself is not enough to isolate the act's intentional object, purely as intentional. Such a reduction overlooks the horizon co-posited in every single act. The reduc­ tion was first introduced as a general resolution not to cooperate in any positing that oversteps the meant qua meant but, on the contrary, to inhibit every such positing. Such a resolution can­ not be consistently carried out merely by inhibiting, one by one, the doxic theses of separate acts, separate believings. Their basis must also be affected by the epochê;1 indeed, the epochë must relate primarily to their basis. In the course of Husserl's analyses of perception, this basis too had become visible in certain structures, namely, wherever perception does not flow in unbroken harmony, wherever con­ flict and subsequent negation occur in perception. In this way the thesis, already stated in the Investigations, that conflict also produces a kind of union, received its concrete confirmation. Every conflict, as a special form of synthesis occurring even in sensuous perception, and every "not," founded on such a con­ flict, presupposes a basis. While one is looking at an otherwise uniformly colored thing, a "green" may appear somewhere in place of the expected "red." Then the conflict (between expected "red" and actually seen "green") and the negation ("not red") arising from it take place on the basis of the continuously certain positing of the thing as somehow colored.2 The same is true uni­ versally. Every conflict, every negation, presupposes a basis of abiding doxic certainty. If, perchance, the whole thing is can­ celed, if we look and do not find the thing where we expected it, then we find something else there; every "not" is a "not so but otherwise." The process of conflict and negation may go on thus without limit, but even if we ultimately see ourselves compelled to cancel whole sections of our supposedly perceptual life—to regard them as illusory with respect to their supposed 1. The expression epochê is used by Husserl to designate the inhibiting of judgment, the “putting out of action" of doxic positing, which is the first step in the phenomenological reduction. The meaning of the reduction is treated exten­ sively in the lectures on “First Philosophy." Cf. Erste Philosophie, II, passim and pp. 89-97 below. 2. On this see Erfahrung und Urteil; Experience and Judgment, passim.


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

validity—still everything else in our surrounding world remains as it was before. No matter how large the segments that prove erroneous, there always remains a basis: ultimately and underly­ ing everything else, the basis which is our world. On that basis not only every confirmed experience but also every negation, indeed, every considering of anything as probable or possible, takes place. As a whole, our world, the world in which we find ourselves consciously living, remains certain, no matter how many details become doubtful or invalid. Only particular parts of it ever undergo the correction, "not so but otherwise." This means that every particular positing or negating presupposes a universal basis: belief in the world, certainty of the world. Every positing is a positing and every canceling is a canceling on this basis, which we can never disturb in the "natural attitude." Therefore, if the bracketing is to be really universal and not limited to particular acts and their meant objects qua meant, it must embrace this basis of all particular positings: "the general thesis essential to the natural attitude" must be "put out of action."3 In this way, while developing the doctrine of the phenomenological reduction, Husserl acquired an initial defini­ tion of the concept of the world, a clarification owing to his insight into the horizon-structure of experience. The world is the all-embracing doxic basis, the total horizon that includes every particular positing. If, in these analyses, Husserl was primarily concerned with acts of believing (acts of doxic positing as existence-positing) and acts of perceiving as doxic (existence-positing acts of a lower level), the reason is that, ac­ cording to his conviction, existence-positing acts and especially acts of perceiving (in the sense of immediate aisthesis) are fun­ damental to acts of every other kind. If anything is to be the object of a valuing or of a practical action (a striving, goal-setting act of willing), it must be—first and fundamentally—something perceived. Acts of believing, acts in which being is posited with doxic certainty, found all other acts.4 It follows that, in being the basis of every doxic positing, the world is, at the same time, the 3. Ideen, I, 65; Ideas, p. 98. 4. Erfahrung und Urteil, pp. 66-72; Experience and Judgment, pp. 64-68.


World as Phenomenological Problem basis for all our attitudes and acts of valuing or willing, which are built on our beliefs in being, the acts in which being is posited. In brief, the world is the horizon of our total attitude—the latter being understood as our intentional directedness in all our diverse acts. Our belief in being is a belief in the world and, in our natural discourse about being, it goes quite without saying that our theme is "worldly" being. Thus the "general thesis," the universally fundamental doxic positing of the world, is not a definite act, explicitly performed at some time or other, but rather the foundation for every defi­ nite act. It is nothing other than the elemental fact that, from the first and quite as a matter of course, the ego "lives in a world"— is intentionally directed toward the existent, which is always tacitly understood as worldly existent. Consequently, the uni­ versally fundamental doxic thesis must not be interpreted as a blind "prejudice," an innate or acquired habit. On the contrary, all the habits born in a man, or acquired in the course of his life, belong to him as a man who already stands on his belief in the world and, on that basis, is aware of himself as one existing object among others. Husserl had already reached these fundamental insights in the years preceding the appearance of Ideas. In that work, the doctrine of the "general thesis of the natural attitude"—and that means the doctrine of the world as the doxic basis underlying every particular experience—was presented for the first time. Now, when it is said that the whole world is "bracketed," the universality thus claimed for the method of phenomenological reduction yields consequences that necessitate a further clarifi­ cation of the concept "world." It is not the purpose of the reduc­ tive method to be merely an improvement on the method of analyzing consciousness: a suspending of judgment concerning the being of what is meant in consciousness, merely to ascertain that being and consciousness are always correlative. The exclu­ sion of all actual, potential, or habitual positings in which the existent is given as truly thus and so, as having this or that value, etc.—this exclusion is a preparation for showing that all these effective positings are accomplishments on the part of tran­ scendental subjectivity, accomplishments by virtue of which the world with all that belongs to it, as we intend it and believe it, is [127]

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there for us. But if we are to show that all being is thus built up from the accomplishments of consciousness, we cannot begin at an arbitrary point; rather, the existent, as it is given and accessi­ ble to us, and in its experientially given order of founding, must be taken as a clue. The correct initiation and performance of con­ stitutional analyses (analyses that trace being of every kind to the effective accomplishments of transcendental consciousness) ac­ cordingly require a preliminary explication of the world in its immediacy as given us in experience: the formulation of a "natural world-concept," as Husserl, adopting a phrase from German positivism, occasionally expressed it. This explication has the character of a preliminary survey of the world-structures which, taken all together, are to undergo "bracketing": first of all, the universal structures, those that must be present in every form of our surrounding world; then, on the basis of such uni­ versal structures, the essentially possible special types of sur­ rounding worlds.

The Turn Back to the Life-world These matters occupied Husserl more and more in the nineteen-twenties and thirties, when he was seeking a deeper insight into the problem of the phenomenological reduction. During that period, the concept of the world, which was at first defined very generally as the all-embracing horizon of any expe­ rience, the doxic basis persisting throughout all experiences, re­ ceived a more concrete and fully differentiated content. The merely preliminary character of these analyses (analyses be­ longing to "mundane" phenomenology, i.e., a phenomenology that does not yet operate on the basis of the phenomenological reduction) makes it clear that, for Husserl, the problem of the world can find only its inception, not its solution, in them. For Husserl, a real understanding of the world can mean only an un­ derstanding of it in its origination as an accomplishment of con­ sciousness, and such an understanding can be attained only after the reduction has been performed, only as the result of detailed constitutional analyses. Not until we have examined Husserl's constitutional analyses shall we be in a position to judge the scope of his conception of the world and of his problem of the world. [128]

World as Phenomenological Problem

Let us first picture to ourselves a few leading traits of the "mundane"-phenomenological analyses that Husserl devoted to the structures making up the world—especially during the last decade of his life, when he was repeatedly finding new ap­ proaches to them. The purpose of such analyses is to discover and explicate the structures that make up the essence of the world, as the world that we experience, that is, our world as present to us now and always. To acquire knowledge of es­ sences, Husserl had developed the method of starting with an already given example and varying it freely.5 The example with which we start cannot be taken at random; we must perform an eidetic analysis of the world which is im­ mediately accessible to us. We must begin, accordingly, with our world as it is there for us. This "our" means "belonging to the men of our time"; it is with their "world" that the analysis must begin. As a result of having this "world," we already have a certain—usually quite inexplicit—understanding of the es­ sence "world," and this understanding provides the horizon within which alone we can gain access to "worlds" structurally different from ours, namely, by apprehending them as variants, each having a set of invariant essential determinations that be­ long to any "world" as such. This understanding of "world" which we already have, our "world-picture" (which is also, for Husserl, the obvious and de­ terminative starting point for such inquiry), is especially influ­ enced by two facts: 1. Our way of apprehending the world is determined by the fact of science, by the fact that mathematical natural science has explicated the world in categories that—although they undergo continuous development and correction—claim to define the world objectively, as a set of given objects and relationships, existing in themselves and capable of being grasped by exact meth­ ods. Our concept of the world therefore involves, quite as a matter of course, the belief that this is an objective, exactly determined and determinable world. Although this claim has been put in question by the most recent developments in the natural sciences, this point of view remains dominant, much 5. Cf. ibid., section 87. [129]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

like an unexpressed prejudice, among those not on top of these advancements. It still guides and operates in a hidden fashion behind most analyses of the world. 2. However, to this conviction, which has indeed become a downright matter of course to "modern men," the broadening of our historical, ethnological, and sociological knowledge has added the awareness that the world-picture determined by exact science cannot be regarded as the only one. Today, as in earlier times, we find human communities whose understanding of the world has in no way been affected by science. It is true that "exact" science, and the men whose way of thinking is deter­ mined by it, always claim that their world-picture is the only true one, the one that is valid objectively and in itself, so that extrascientific or prescientific world-pictures are, at best, pre­ liminaries to theirs or, in most cases, "subjective" falsifications of the real world by the prejudices of tradition, superstition, or the like. This claim is opposed, however, by a conviction that is likewise familiar to us all, the convction of those who think historically, the conviction of Historismus: this scientific world­ picture is itself only one among many and, like all the others, it has been produced by a certain society under definite condi­ tions. Thanks to their position and capabilities, modern men have created this tool called "objective natural science," as a means of intervening in the world technically and controlling it. To this historical way of thinking, the claim that the world-picture formed by natural science is absolute must appear naïve. The consequence of such thinking is rather a belief in the plurality and historical relativity of world-pictures and a conviction that none of them may claim for itself a greater truth—to say nothing of the whole truth—about the world. How did these views, which determine the modern world­ picture, affect Husserl's point of departure when he undertook to define the essence "world?" First of all, with regard to the claim that the methods of exact (mathematical) natural science give us access to a true, objective reality behind the sensuously apparent world, Husserl had pointed out earlier, in connection with certain epistemological deliberations, the contradictions and pseudo-problems that re­ sult from interpreting the methods of natural science in this [130]

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way. Already in Ideas the "impossibility of a world behind the world" is quite clearly stated: it is always one and the same world that we are trying to grasp and determine. Sometimes we can be satisfied with what is accessible in sensuous experience; at other times, if the goals of knowledge and the practices leading to them so require, we choose the path of "mathematization." This is a special method, but its results always lead back at last to the sensuously intuited world and find in it their ultimate confirmation. Accordingly, in Husserl's last period, when he attacked the problem of the world, it was obvious to him from the outset that the meaning-determinations borne by the world thanks to the accomplishments of natural science—the explication to which the world has been submitted by natural science—must not be regarded forthwith as essential structures belonging necessarily to a world as such. On the contrary, we must turn from the world as it is always already there for us, with its sense as explicated by natural science, and go back to the world as it is prior to science, the immediate "life-world" with its original givenness, which is the underlying basis for scientific determi­ nation. Correlatively, we must go back to prescientific experience, in order to comprehend the nature of the path leading from the immediate cognitions and practical plans of prescientific life to such a thing as a project to determine the world "exactly." Husserl's systematic and historical investigations concerning the origin of the methods of exact natural science, and the sense of the "idealization" involved in that method, belong in this context.6 The Essential Types of the "Life-world" The original giveness of the world—our "life-world"—de­ pends on the fact that, as men living in the world, having our experience and carrying on our practical activities in it, we are psychophysical unities, such that all our experience of the world is ultimately mediated by our senses and the functioning of our sense organs. For each of us, his body with its organs is the absolute zero-point, the orientational center for every experi6. Cf. Krisis, pp. 48-54; Crisis, pp. 48-53. [131]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

ence, the absolute "here" corresponding to every "there." Thus the first step in describing our immediate way of having a world is the distinction between near and far, between near-world and far-world, though these concepts at once involve more than merely spatial relations. The fact that all experience of the world involves the body and its organs divides what is immediately accessible in our world from what can be experienced only me­ diately, for example, by way of inferences from the immediately given or by way of communications from other persons. The absolute "here," first distinguished as the locus of one's life, is further determined by the fact that, with our bodies, we move on the earth or, at least, with reference to it. "Here" is "here on the earth." The earth is the primary basis for our experience. It is not merely one among the other objects of our experience; rather it is that, relative to which all other objects are determined with respect to their loci and, more particularly, are determined as at rest or in motion. Accordingly, for our immediate experi­ ence, the earth is immobile. Our cognizance of its movement does not derive from immediate experience; it is mediated by scientific knowledge. Thus, in explicating immediate experience, the experience of our world as a "life-world," Husserl effects a reversal of the "Copernican Revolution," by the insight that every experience necessarily presupposes an ultimate unmoved basis, which is not itself objectivated. For "us men," this basis is "our earth"—as specific realization of an essential necessity. These most general essential structures are without possible exception; without them an immediate "life-world" experience by men, as psychophysical beings, is inconceivable. But more than this is universally and essentially necessary to the "life­ world." The life-world is not only a world for me, the single individual; it is a common world, a world for a particular human community. And it is not only the world as given without our intervention, purely as Nature with its natural determinations; it is a world fashioned and cultivated by the men who live in it. This fact leads to a differentiation of surrounding worlds, on the basis of the world as Nature, which, at least in certain of its fundamental structures, remains the same throughout—a differ­ entiation determined by the peculiar way in which its surround­ ing world is shaped by a particular human community. The [132]

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differences among surrounding worlds are determined not only by differences in the given natural situation—the geographical configuration, for example—but also by differences in aptitude, in develomental level, and in the resultant customs and habits of particular communities. The task of describing the human "life-world" therefore in­ cludes a higher level. Having brought to light the all-pervading "aesthetic" structures of the world and world-experience—the structures pertaining to Nature as the basis of every surround­ ing world—we must look for the possible types of world, as the surrounding worlds of particular human communities. This may be conceived as an empirical enterprise, namely, as the task of reducing to types the environing worlds and the world­ views that have in fact been produced by past or present com­ munities of various levels, and investigating their development and the evolutionary levels to which these worlds belong. But the empirical task is, in itself, secondary to the task of elabora­ ting the essential possibilities and fundamental structures, the essentially possible types, of surrounding worlds. Until this primary task has been accomplished, we lack the concepts for an empirical grasp of the kinds of worlds that have actually oc­ curred. It goes without saying that Husserl confined his efforts to the primary task and that all his descriptions of possible types of human environment claim the character of essential descrip­ tions, though naturally their underlying intuitional material must derive from our historical awareness of different or "more primitive" forms of human life and experienced environment. This whole line of inquiry not only signifies a break, on Husserl's part, with one of the tendencies present in our modern understanding of the world—namely, the tendency to absolutize the world-picture developed by exact science—but also involves a close consideration of the opposed insight into the plurality of possible world views. The often-expressed opinion that Husserl was blind to the problems raised by Historismus are therefore unjustified. Indeed, Husserl's own problem can be understood only as having arisen from the same complex of problems im­ portant for Historicism. It need hardly be emphasized, on the other hand, that Husserl could never regard historical relativism as an ultimate and tenable point of view. [133]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

The difference between near and far, with its ultimate refer­ ence to the body and the functioning of bodily organs, is also important for the elaboration of the fundamental types of life­ worlds, as worlds surrounding typical human communities. It is this difference that originally delimits the circle of other people from whose communications and instructions each of us derives his knowledge of the world, so far as they are not imme­ diately accessible to him in his own experience. First of all, in the most immediate sense, this circle is made up of others as fellow-members of the community in which one was born and grew up. These "others" are marked off from the "strangers," the members of a strange or alien community. Now "foreign­ ness" or "strangeness" is a matter of degree: to the little child, still living in the family circle, those who stand outside the latter are "strange," "foreign"; and to the inhabitants of a certain part of the earth, provided they are aware of being united by a consciousness of belonging together, the inhabitants of "for­ eign" parts are "foreign." Thus, the all-pervading difference be­ tween near and far, a difference relative to the absolute "here" of our bodily existence, functions as the basis for a difference between near and far in a transferred sense, namely as a dif­ ference relative to our community and its particular surrounding world, which is marked off from the world surrounding any other community. This difference is the ground for a differentia­ tion of the concept "world" according to the essential distinction between home-world and alien or foreign world. As we have seen, the line between the home-world and the world are naturally not the same as for him who has become acquainted with all parts of his "native land" (a home-world on a higher level) and feels at home in them all. Despite this rela­ tivity of the difference between home-world and alien world, the responding concepts point to an absolute and essential dif­ ference: the members of any community, whatever its nature or extent, necessarily have their home-world as their original ba­ sis and point of departure for acquiring a broader experience, for appropriating and learning to understand—more or less intimately—that which is strange, for making the acquaintance of "alien worlds." To be sure, under certain circumstances an individual or an entire community may stand, with respect to [134]

World as Phenomenological Problem this home-world, in the relationship of one who has lost some­ thing. But his constitutes no exception, since losing is essentially a deficient mode of having, and "having lost the home-world" can be understood only as a modification of the essentially necessary structure of "having the home-world." None of these categories ever refers to objectively present situations or relationships—purely geographical relationships, for example. They all signify forms of our self-understanding, ways in which we consciously find and know ourselves in the world. The home-world comprises everything that is immedi­ ately familiar by acquaintance: the familiar surroundings, the scene and one's fellows with their familiar manners, customs, and ideas, the home state with its familiar laws and regulations. A home-world is never the home-world of only a single person; it always belongs to a community—a tribe, a people, or the like—dwelling in their "territory," where they have their his­ tory, their past that, in the form of tradition, has its influence on the present. Within the home-world, everything has its structure of acquaintedness. The attitudes and conduct of the individual are governed by the repeatedly fulfilled expecta­ tions accompanying this acquaintedness of things: "One" behaves thus and so in such and such situations; this is the custom and it is also to be expected from others with whom we have dealings. In these typical forms human dwellings are arranged and the land has been fashioned into a scene of culture. Outside this sphere lie "foreign parts" and nothing is predelineated in this way. Men may conduct themselves according to other rules, rules unknown to us; the houses are differently arranged; our expectations are repeatedly disappointed. The fixed pattern of the home-world is missing and its place is taken by a pattern far less definite. But our understanding could not penetrate such an alien world if it did not bring with it a set of familiarities from the home-world, familiarities that now, to be sure, become altered, yet in such a way that certain of their most general structures and predelineations remain: these are men of a certain kind, with needs the most general nature of which is familiar to us, with ways of satisfying such needs; they act and react somehow, in ways that we do not yet know but that we can learn to under­ stand if we penetrate further into their world. [135]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

From this beginning, Husserl tried to develop, as limiting concepts, the idea of a closed home-world and, correlatively, the idea of a "closed sociality," as the genetically original types: a community that remains inside a home-world completely shutoff from every foreign world. A closed home-world is in­ deed a limiting concept—a device for making the structure of a home-world particularly distinct—since, as a matter of fact, that would be a type nowhere to be found, certainly not in connec­ tion with any group now in existence. Everywhere the foreign projects into the home-world; the worlds surrounding different social groups are tied together by countless threads. And this means, for each individual, at least an incipient extension of his experiential horizon beyond the limits of his home-world; it means an antecedent awareness, however vague, of other worlds and world-pictures, and consequently a richer pattern of definite expectations than would be at the dispoal of a person locked in his home-world. This is the very situation that determines our modern understanding—including our prephilosophical and preconceptual understanding—of the world. Though each person and each community has, first of all, a home-world as the sphere of most intimate familiarity, there is always at least a vague aware­ ness of the presence of alien worlds, no matter how little they may be understood in their details. Regardless of the fact that our actual ability to understand is limited by the more or less narrow home-world from which we start, we are always aware that our home-world is not the "whole" world but only one among various "segments" of the world. That is to say, our "natural" world-concept, the one we have unquestioningly, as a matter of course, includes an awareness of the multiplicity of surrounding worlds, such that all the latter are understood as belonging to one and the same world as the total horizon of possible experiences—our own actual and possible experiences, which can be had directly by us, and the experiences of others who stand, or may be conceived as standing, in connection with us. To speak of alien "worlds," worlds not directly accessible to us but possibly accessible to somebody or other, is significant only if we assume at least the essential possibility of a course of experience leading from our world to those alien worlds and the [136]

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men who experience them. Alien worlds must be conceived as standing in a nexus of possible continuous (direct or indirect) experience with our own, in such a manner that all such "worlds" combine to make up the unity of the all-embracing world. Accordingly, the world cannot have for us the sense of being a self-contained world (like, perhaps, the rigidly limited disk of antiquity); we must take it to be a world unlimitedly open on all sides. In this openness it provides free space for all the different home-worlds of the most diverse human communities. It becomes the infinitely open universe as the whole of existence, the completely open horizon in which, ideally at least, our ex­ periences can always be extended ad infinitum. To be sure, the predelineation of these possible experiences is, for us, extremely vague; it is restricted to a very general pattern of what still might be encountered there, beyond the limits of any world already known to us. Finally it becomes merely the expectation that "somehow or other, things must always keep on this way": there must come along some scene or other, some human be­ ings; some planet or other, perhaps like the earth,with some living things upon it; etc. The concept of infinity that is involved here has nothing yet to do with the mathematical conception, which arises from "idealization"; it is, however, the presupposi­ tion for the latter. But the multiplicity of actual and possible alien worlds is not all that this total horizon of the world, as the universe, encom­ passes. In our differentiated modern way of living, particular spheres of life have acquired a certain independence and even the familiar world surrounding us—as the total horizon of our subjective and objective experience—embraces many separate horizons, for example, the horizon of vocational life alongside the horizon of one's experience as a citizen, as the head of a family, and so on, all within the immediately superordinate total horizon of the home-world, and the latter, in turn, within the total horizon of "the" world. As has already been said, it is characteristic of this horizonal structure of the world that, as such, it is usually not thematic. To live in the world is to live within its present horizons, to orient oneself and have one's experiences within them. Our thematic object, the object of our perceiving, the goal of our willing, [137]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

whatever we are directed toward at the time, is usually some particular object within the horizon. The horizon itself becomes thematic only where the references composing it are disturbed—only where we encounter some limit to our under­ standing of things, for example, an "alien world" that projects into ours. Only in such cases will "our world" itself become thematic, as the horizon that delimits and includes all that we can understand. Accordingly, that awareness of a world which we have even before any properly philosophical deliberation, is different in kind from the awareness of particular "worldly" existents. A world is not one object among others; rather it is that which embraces all possible objects of our experience, and functions as the basis for every particular experience. For this reason it does not attain original givenness in the manner characteristic of particular objects. But we do indeed understand and use this expression "world" and therefore there must also be a manner in which the world too is given, a consciousness of a world that bestows sense on such language. That is to say, even before any philosophical deliberation or thematizing of the world, there must exist an experience of the world. Now, for our consciousness, distinguished as it is by an awareness of the plu­ rality of possible surrounding worlds and the unity of the uni­ verse embracing them all, this experience of the world is pre­ cisely the above-mentioned consciousness of the possible "and-so-forth" of our experience, our consciousness of its pos­ sible extension without limit—as an extension not into the ut­ terly uncertain and indeterminate but into an infinity of possible givens pervaded by a most general style of being (and a correla­ tive syle of experience) that is essentially necessary to a world as such. To form an idea of the world requires, therefore, a "sys­ tematic construction of the infinity of possible experiences.7 The "idea" of the world that is to be acquired in this way is, like all the above-indicated elaborations of structures belonging to "the" world (home-world, alien world, etc.), precisely an explication of what is tacitly and inexplicitly contained in our prephilosophical awareness of the world. Accordingly, the re7. MS. A VII 1, pp. 14f.


World as Phenomenological Problem

suits of these explications are, in the first place, useful in making clear what we "really mean" when we use the term "world" in any given context, whether in everyday speech or in scientific—but nonphilosopical—discourse, when a "world" is somehow the theme. Let us suppose, e. g., that the historian speaks of the "medieval world." The concept includes the range of experience commonly enjoyed in the Middle Ages, and the medieval "world-view," that is, the set of categories by means of which existing things were explicated. But it also includes the whole set of customs and rules of conduct, the standards of value, in accordance with which men acted and passed judg­ ment, as well as the ways in which they gave the world external form—in short, everything that, as part of his life-horizon, was familiar and matter-of-course to anyone living in that era. The sense is quite the same as when, in ordinary conversation, we speak of the "world" in which a certain person lives, e.g., his "narrow world" with the prejudices peculiar to his station, etc., or the "broad horizon" that he possesses. For the purposes of this essay we will leave open the question whether Husserl correctly analyzed the interconnections of life and interest in which "world" is pre-philosophically thematic; and whether or not he correctly introduces consciousness of the "and-so-forth" in experience as the basic manner in which the "world," in contrast to existents in the world, becomes the­ matic. The Natural Concept of the World and the Phenomenological Question of the Origin of the World

Let us remember, however, that since these clarifications of our prephilosophical understanding of the world are attained in connection with the mundane-phenomenological explication undertaken prior to the reduction, they are, for Husserl, of sec­ ondary importance. The chief purpose of that explication is, after all, to gain clues to follow in the transcendentalphenomenological, constitutional clarification of the world. Only in the course of the latter clarification can the strictly phenomenological concept of the world be acquired.


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

What can the analyses already made contribute to the initia­ tion of this problem of clarification? To what extent may they become clues for constitutional investigations? These mundane-phenomenological observations are limited by only being able to ascertain that, wherever men are found living together in a community, their life is already a life in a surrounding world of a certain, more or less limited, type· This world is always there already for the individual who reflects. He was born into it; then he grew up in it—was educated in its traditions and conceptions; and thus he has acquired his world-view. By absorbing the experiences of earlier generations, elaborating them, having new experiences on their basis in community with his contemporaries, he contributes to the con­ tinuation and development of this world-view, either to its con­ servation within traditional limits or to a revolutionary disrup­ tion of the tradition, a disruption by which new tables of values are set up, new insights won, new standards of action estab­ lished. But no matter how far we go—not only back into actual history and prehistory but also in that free varying of the condi­ tions of human existence which affords us a survey of the possible forms of living with one another in a world—we still find com­ munities living in a world. It is essentially impossible to find men in any "pre-wordly" state, because to be human, to be aware of oneself as a man and to exist as a human person, is precisely to live on the basis of a world—at first quite as a matter of course and without any cognizance of the fact; then, perhaps, reflectively, with an awareness of the limits of that world, an awareness of its horizonal character. The world has always been there already, as a presupposition for the possibility of particular experiences in it, a presupposition for anyone anywhere finding himself as a human being. And this having-already-been-there means, on the other hand, that men have already been at work fashioning such a world-horizon and have transmitted their awareness to those who followed after. Accordingly, this posses­ sion of a world points to previous subjective accomplishments. It does not mean simply that something ready-given was there; rather, what is already there is there precisely as what one has learned from others to apprehend. And this continues to be the case, no matter how far back we inquire. Such analyses are U40]

World as Phenomenological Problem

significant because they show, on the one hand, that any sur­ rounding world, with its form at any particular time, is functionally dependent on, and inseparable from, the commu­ nity of men who shape it, and, on the other hand, that inten­ tional analysis is also a method by which the historical develop­ ment of surrounding worlds, and of the communities of men living in them, can be understood from the inside, as a subjec­ tively produced result. Analysis of this sort is what Dilthey en­ visaged when he required that the human-historical world be comprehended as a tissue of effects (Wirkungszusammenhang); it is what he himself attempted to carry out at several points. Its goal is to comprehend historical processes as completely hu­ man, and that means comprehending them as processes that can, as it were, be relived from the inside—in other words, the goal is to acquire deeper knowledge of the kind striven for in any cultural science, by an intentional analysis of the essential structures of human world-shaping cooperation. But this way of considering things—namely, the "mundane" way, which, when carried over into the empirical sphere, is also the way characteristic of the cultural sciences—is limited in that it can bring to light only this correlation between a particular form of world and a particular community of men. In so doing, we always presuppose the world. And this means, ultimately, that we presuppose that something is always there already, out of which men can fashion their surrounding world. Men live in their geographical environment and are dependent on the for­ mation given it by nature; ultimately, as the whole human race, they depend on the earth with what it provides by way of plants and animals, by way of "material" for them to fashion. We find these things, not as human creations but as pregiven "nature," the lowest stratum underlying every human fashioning of the world; the nature "in" which we have our place and which is effective in us as psycho-physical beings with "nature-given" aptitudes and inclinations; the nature that not only surrounds us but also governs within us. In all human surrounding worlds, no matter how diversely fashioned, nature, as the simple pre­ given "material" for any historically formative living, has the same general traits. This fundamental "material" of every his­ torical process interests the cultural sciences only so far as it is [141]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

worked and fashioned by men, or has an ifluence on their way of living; thus, for example, the geographical environment is of interest so far as it helps determine the development of a par­ ticular kind of social life, culture, etc. But the cultural sciences do not investigate the further significance of man's dependency on the nature that is already there, this "minimum" world which is always presupposed wherever human life, as historical life, can begin. That means, however, that the world as a whole is always presupposed wherever human life is conceived as beginning, no matter how primitively. On the other hand, if the world as a whole is "bracketed" by means of the phenomenological reduction, the first task is to understand precisely those subjective accomplishments by which this always-ready-given fact of the world as nature, as the purely sensuously pregiven substrate for any human efficacy, is built up for us. And the result of the above-stated explication of immediate world-experience, and of the natural world-concept, is the insight that the proper clue to these subjective accom­ plishments is this pregiven world, not as it has been determined by natural science but as the world of immediate sensuous ex­ perience, with all the structures indicated above, namely, the natural structures belonging to the world as a life-world. However, if we examine the way in which Husserl actually performed this task of bringing to light, by constitutional analysis, the very origin of the world (not merely its further development on an already given basis), we encounter difficul­ ties owing to the fact that he had already completed most of these constitutive analyses during an earlier period when he did not yet possess the clues eventually unraveled by his mundane-phenomenological analysis of the world. Thus his ini­ tial constitutional analyses were guided by an as yet unclarified awareness of world-structures, and this circumstance imposed limitations that were only gradually, and perhaps never com­ pletely, overcome. This meant that Husserl's early analyses were guided not by clues adequately analyzed but by what is most immediately given in experience. And a world as a whole, as the horizon of every possible particular experience—even though it be conceived as the above-mentioned "minimum" world of nature, still in no way formed by men but ready-given [142]

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as a basis for all their deeds—is precisely not the pregiven exis­ tent that lies most immediately at hand in experience. As has been shown, the "world" is not an immediate object of experi­ ence; the possible experiencing of a world is mediated and com­ plicated in many different ways. In our experiencing we are di­ rected first of all towards the particular existent, as given in perception. (As already said, all other attitudes or acts are built on "perception," in the sense of aisthesis.) Therefore, the par­ ticular object of perception and the togetherness of perceivable things became the immediately available clues for Husserl's con­ stitutional analysis. They determined the path that he followed beyond what is at first given immediately in natural experience, as his inquiry penetrated gradually into the deeper layers of constitutive accomplishment. For this very reason, the question of the world in its above-formulated sense, as the total horizon of experience and as something of which the community is conscious—something that is pregiven as the basis for every communal accomplishment and yet is itself formed through communal accomplishments—this question could not arise at the outset. In the constitutional analyses that lie closest at hand, the world is encountered chiefly in the guise of the immediate horizon of perception, the perceptual situation, and Husserl did not go on immediately to raise the problem of the world as a whole. Therefore the question of this horizon as always already there, and the fact that these predelineations also are products of subjective accomplishments, could not enter his field of vision at the outset; subjectivity, as producing this horizon, could be in no way comprehended forthwith. To understand this, let us consider how Husserl's reflective inquiry proceeded, starting with the thing given in perception, the perceptually meant as such. After analyzing all the intentional accomplishments that pro­ vide an initial understanding of the character of a perceived thing as standing before us—its givenness in adumbrations, the cooperation of kinaesthesis and data belonging to the different sensuous fields, and the apprehendings built on what is sensu­ ously given—all conceived as in the "primordial sphere," that is, without taking into account the fact that the thing, as objective, as veritably existent, is always, according to its own sense, inter[143]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

subjectively constituted—we reach the insight that these ac­ complishments, taken all together, involve a first level of activity on the part of the ego, an active receiving of what is passively pregiven. First of all, this activity is a turning toward something in the sensuous fields that "affects" the ego, and, when the result is apprehension of a concrete material thing with all its sensible qualities—not merely its optical but also its tactile and, perhaps, its acoustic qualities—the ego-activity is a turning to­ ward what is passively pregiven in the cooperation of a plurality of sensuous fields. Any active grasping presupposes this pas­ sive pregivenness, presupposes that something is already given there in the sensuous fields and stands out in them. To stand out is to stand out from a background of what does not stand out, does not stimulate us to turn toward it and thus is not grasped, but nevertheless is also there, as a background. But, in addition, this advertent receptive grasping is always a grasping within a horizon of a familiar type. Even what is grasped for the first time is always something already in some way familiar; it can be grasped only if this horizon is there in advance, to indi­ cate the direction that further experience will take.8 The con­ stitutional investigations that Husserl carried out along this line were, in the first place, investigations relating to the constitution of what exists within this horizon, to make the given existent understandable in its being-for-us as a result of constitutive ac­ complishments. Thus, if we use the term "world" to indicate the whole set of horizons in which experience of what exists takes place, and within which alone such experience is possible, we must say that Husserl was tracing the constitutive origin of the "worldly," that is, of what exists "in" the world, rather than the origin of the world itself. To be sure, Husserl did not stop with the fact that what exists stands out, in its sensuous qualities, from a sensuous field and affects the ego. He also investigated the associative and affective structure of such a sensuous field itself—but always the structure within a given field, always the principles governing the way in which particular "data" are em­ phatic in relation to the pregiven background. He did not under8. On this whole analysis see Erfahrung und Urteil; Experience and Judgment, sections 16, 17, 25, and 26. [144]

World as Phenomenological Problem take the search for the deeper-lying constitutive accom­ plishments, thanks to which a sensuous field is already given in advance whenever one grasps a particular object. There is one line of inquiry, however, which Husserl opens up and which does attempt to investigate not only the constitu­ tion of objects inside a predelineated horizon but also those accomplishments forming the horizon itself. We find this in his descriptions of time-consciousness. To put it simply, there seem to be two steps in the movement of Husserl's analysis. The first step went back to his established thesis that even the simplest sensuous "data" are not mere data but always unities of dura­ tion which must be constituted as unities in the temporal flow of consciousness. According to the clear wording of these investi­ gations, time-consciousness accomplishes not only the produc­ tion of immanent unities of duration in inner time but also—in the structures of primal impression, retention, and protention—constitutively produces the possibility of enduring and passing away in general, the possibility of apprehending something as enduring, becoming, or remaining. Thus it was the analysis of temporal content which is emphatic and stands in contrast to its background, and of the temporal relationships between such content that both opened and limited the analysis of consciousness as temporal horizon. The descriptions were focused on individual acts and their intentional correlates as unified through the syntheses of time-consciousness. Even though Husserl did speak of the temporal constitution of em­ phatic content and then the possibility of such a constitution as grounded in the temporal structure of consciousness, he did not account for the transcendental origins of that which is never emphatic and thematically present to consciousness, namely, of the world as horizon. The attempt to do so forms the second step in Husserl's analysis. Initially "content" referred to what is passively given, to what is given sensuously and already situated in a pregiven field. This was all that Husserl needed for a constitutive analysis of our perception of objects. But if the world as a whole, the world in its entire horizonal structure— which, to be sure, is not only temporal—is to be understood as a constituted accomplishment of transcendental subjectivity, then this ultimate pregivenness cannot stand simply as such. Rather [145]

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one must show how the distinction between activity and passive pregivenness points back to still deeper and more fundamental structures of subjectivity, a task which Husserl attacked many times during his last years.9 What we have just discussed, however, points to only one side of a phenomenological analysis of the origin of the world as horizon. What is still more fundamental is this: the horizonal structure of the world implies that everything apprehended on the basis of something pregiven, no matter how the latter has come about, is itself pregiven in a certain manner, as a familiar object of some type or other, and that the apprehending of it can develop only according to the pregiven horizon. World is always there, always presupposed as the comprehensive basis of our confidence. No matter how far back we go in tracing the genesis of the world, no matter how greatly we impoverish the pre­ delineation of already acquainted types of existents, a ready­ made horizon always remains. The task of clarifying the origin of the world from the intentional accomplishments of subjectiv­ ity is first fulfilled when we shed light on the origin of this comprehensive horizon of acquaintedness and familiarity. This analysis goes much further than the analysis of the origin of the divisions of the objects of the world as takes place in the Kantian transcendental deduction of the concept of the object of knowl­ edge. Rather the goal of this analysis is the clarification of the origin of the total horizon within which existents are so given that they can become objects of possible knowledge. The con­ cept of the object is acquired by investigating how, presuppos­ ing existents and that means a world of existents, we can get to know an object. That existents are manifest to us and, thus, that a world is already there for us as the horizon of familiarity is 9. While it seems that we have a reappearance of the Kantian opposition between receptivity and spontaneity in Husserl's first analysis of time­ consciousness, the later reformulation of the problematic points in a direction already anticipated by German Idealism since Kant. We do not have the space here to follow through this historical connection, one which Husserl himself did not expressly make. It would not, however, lead us to interpret the sense of Husserl's phenomenology through the goals of German Idealism but rather just the reverse, to explain the possibility of understanding the problematic of Idealism through a phenomenological interpretation.


World as Phenomenological Problem

presupposed in our articulation of individuals, in our grasping them as objects in logico-cognizing accomplishments, and in raising their familiar, typical structures to concepts. This point must be emphasized. On the one hand, the category "some­ thing in general" or "object in general"—the basic concept of formal logic—is the most general predelineation leading each knowing of a particular existent and is the a priori presupposi­ tion for that "generalizing" conceptual activity bringing the cognized existent under species and genus;10 but, on the other hand, the question of the origin of the formal category "object" is still not the question of the origin of the world. The attempt to make the question of the "reality" of the world into the question of the origin of the object is misdirected. This first question, properly understood, is concerned with the origin of the world as the all encompassing horizon of familiarity. It is concerned with the constituting accomplishment, through which the world as a whole first originates, the world as the a priori presupposi­ tion of every classification of it into objects singularily grasped. It seems doubtful to me that Husserl's extensive work on the "natural concept of the world," on the structures of the "life­ world" and on our primal and immediate possession of the world gives us clues sufficient to solve the problems at hand. In order to explain the way in which the world as a whole is pre­ sent in prephilosophical consciousness, Husserl introduces the awareness of the possibly limitless progression of experience, an idea which is traceable to the way in which modern science thinks of the world. But if the world is the encompassing hori­ zon of familiarity, then is not the much more primal situation, in which the world as a whole becomes thematic in prephilosophi­ cal life, that manner of being-in-the-world in which our confi­ dence in the whole is threatened and placed in question? Is not the idea of the possibly infinite progression of experience, of the "limitlessness of the world" and the vertigo which can result from this only a special, historically conditioned form of the threat to the familiarity of our being-in-the-world, one which belongs to the primal situation of human existence? And must 10. On generalization and formalization cf. Ideen, I, 32-34; Ideas, pp. 64-66.


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

not this existential phenomenon which is present in different kinds of "border situations" or "threshold experiences" provide the clue for the question of the origin of the world? In this essay I have not attempted to show how far Husserl himself progressed in the explication of this problem.11 Rather I have been concerned to show only the direction of his analysis and the consequences latent in it. It is only when this is clear that the phenomenological problematic of the world can be broached and fully developed. 11. Cf. Krisis, p. 146; Crisis, p. 143. The problem of an analysis of the life­ world is taken up in the next two chapters in this volume—Ed.


5. Regions of Being and Regional Ontologies in Husserl's Phenomenology

The question concerning the "structure of the world" has, for some decades now, acquired a more general and more extensive meaning than it formerly had in philosophical thinking. Long understood to be concerned exclusively with the world's deter­ minable physical, natural scientific structure, the question has been expanded into one pertaining to the multiplicity of entities, their kinds, the categories corresponding to them, and their rela­ tionship to one another. In this regard, Nicolai Hartmann's at­ tempt to construe this relationship as that of the structure of "strata of being" has met with considerable approval. Of particular significance in the development of this prob­ lematic is Husserl's doctrine of regions of being. Not only does this doctrine represent the historical point of departure of this development as a whole but, above all else, it exhibits the meth­ odological presuppositions under which a differentiation into kinds, regions, or strata can be made, and it does so with such acuteness and clarity that both the legitimacy and limits of such an endeavor become apparent. The development of Husserl's phenomenology is connected with the reaction against the naturalism which dominated the latter part of the nineteenth century. According to the naturalist there was only one mode of being, that of the "objectively" determinable object, that is, determinable in conformity with exact natural science. Additionally, there was only one type of law regulating the connections between objects, the causal law­ fulness of the natural order. In the case of logic, to whose foun­ dations Husserl's earliest investigations were dedicated, this [149]

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implied psychologism and, concomitantly, the denial of the spe­ cific character and lawfulness of the objects of thought. The objects of thought were understood to be psychical facts. Their lawlike connection, in turn, was interpreted in terms of the causal connection of psychical facts regulated according to natural laws. In his critique of this position Husserl pointed out that being must be spoken of in different ways. Not all of that which "is" may be considered an object conforming to the specifications of the natural sciences, that is, an object given, in the end, via the senses. Rather, there exist "objects of a higher order" among which the objects of logic must be included. Thus Husserl had, already in his earliest investigations, broken with the principle of an interpretation of the world oriented solely around one model of existents, the model of natural science. Husserl's insight had an additional consequence: the being of natural objects is related to sensuous intuition within which such objects are, in the end, given and with reference to which all concepts of such objects are to be verified. If, however, this is not the only kind of object; if, instead, there exist objects of another variety and of a higher order, then there must also be a corresponding intuition for these objects. For, with respect to all objects there exists the difference between a simple, empty pro­ cess of presenting, of reproduction, of merely verbal intention, on the one hand, and the "self-presence" and consciousness of self-givenness corresponding to this self-presence, on the other. Consequently, the concept of intuition must be both expanded and specified: to every kind of object there corresponds a proper mode of being "itself-there" for our consciousness as opposed to the mere intention and the more or less nonintuitive, repro­ ductive consciousness of such objects. Each such consciousness of self-presence, of the self-givenness of an object can, in a broad sense, be designated as intuition. In the case of objects of thought this consciousness of self-presence is "categorial intui­ tion." Categorial intuition can be clarified with reference to the difference between the way in which an object of thought, a state of affairs, can be merely intended in speech and the way in which it can be known with insight. The reflection upon the manner in which we obtain knowl1150]

Regions of Being and Regional Ontologies edge of such differences of entities qua differences of the objects of our consciousness indicated, further, that this knowledge cannot simply be lifted from experience [Erfahrung]. For experi­ ence, understood as the consciousness of the givenness of a manifold of "what is," requires from the outset a perspective from which it not only embraces existents as the same and as comparable but also differentiates these from existents of another variety. Were it the case that the entity did not present itself as in one respect the same and in another respect different, the investigation of the entity with reference to its comparability and differentiability would not be possible. This is the presup­ position under which what is experienced can become the object of a science. Husserl proceeds, therefore, from the fact that the world of our experience has in various ways already become the object of scientific determination. This determination is one in which what experience offers in a vague and incidental man­ ner is brought to coherent conceptual precision. Each science has its domain, understood as an aggregate of experiential ob­ jects. Science, however, does not itself furnish this domain; rather, given that the entity presents itself in experience within a structure of comparability and differentiability, the domain is pre-given to science. It precedes experiential science a priori and circumscribes the area of scientific investigation. The aggregate of objects of each possible experiential science considered in unitary connectedness, namely, that with respect to which these objects respectively constitute the domain of a science, Husserl designates a region. What commonly charac­ terizes the objects of a region as that which is essential to them and as that by means of which they first become such objects is comprehended in the categories of the respective region. These are the fundamental concepts of a region. Contained in these concepts are the a priori presuppositions under which a man­ ifold of experiential existents can, in general, be grasped in a manner sufficiently homogeneous as to allow them to become the subject matter of a science. In that they go to make up the specific ontic-constitutions, that is to say, the "object-character" of the objects of a science, the philosophical disciplines within which the categories of each region are developed Husserl des­ ignates as regional ontologies. U511

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

Lying at the basis of every experiential science of a particular sphere is a regional ontology, understood as the explication of the basic categories of this science. Obviously, this is not to be taken in the sense that these regional ontologies can be de­ veloped prior to all experiential science. To the contrary, the construction of regional ontologies proceeds from the sub­ sequent reflection on the conditions under which the demarca­ tion of a region has been and can be made. That which must belong in an unconditionally universal and necessary manner to an object, its essential structures, in order that it can become the object of this or that particular science at all, is explicated in the regional ontologies. Consequently, Husserl characterized these regional ontologies as sciences of essence as opposed to empiri­ cal sciences or sciences of fact. In itself, the constitutive features of the essence of an entity of a given sphere precede the entity's factual accessibility in experience and natural science, although the discovery of the constitutive features of the essence is, obvi­ ously, a subsequent one. At first, Husserl articulated this relationship between sciences of fact and sciences of essence with reference to the relationship between Euclidean geometry, with its characteristic threedimensional space, and the empirical investigation of spatial forms. The figures of Euclidean geometry are not something which can, as such, be discovered by means of the abstraction from and the comparison of given forms of space. Rather, they are to be construed as ideal figures and proportions, and it is in accordance with these that empirically given relations of space can be conceived. These ideal figures and proportions explicate what belongs necessarily and per se to the triangle, etc. In addi­ tion, they regulate the subsumption of empirically given figures under these concepts. From this, Husserl drew the following conclusion: wherever a manifold of objects is given in such a manner that it can become a unitary sphere of scientific investi­ gation, a sphere distinct from others, it must be possible, in like manner, to discover an essential structure by means of which this homogeneity is determined and which can be grasped in the basic concepts of this sphere. To each kind of objective entity there must be a corresponding way in which it is itself given;


Regions of Being and Regional Ontologies that is to say, there must be a corresponding intuition in the sense referred to above. Situated at a higher level than regional ontologies is formal ontology. Whereas regional ontologies explicate, respectively, the fundamental concepts and essence-constituents of a particu­ lar sphere of objects capable of becoming the subject matter of a science, formal ontology ignores all regional differences, all of their material determinacy. It concerns itself with objects only insofar as they are objects of thought in general. What consti­ tutes the subject matter of formal ontology are the conditions under which something in general can become the object of thought, something which can be both apprehended and expli­ cated by thought. Hence, the fundamental concept of formal ontology is the empty "something in general," object of thought in general, something which is capable of being apprehended and determined in general. Formal ontology develops the condi­ tions of the thought of objects and it does so in a manner which is indifferent to their kinds. As such, it is a part of logic qua universal analytic. In contradistinction to formal ontology Hus­ serl also refers to regional ontologies as material ontologies. Thus far, we have presented the general program of a dif­ ferentiation of regions of being—a program which construes re­ gions of being as regions of objects and the ontologies corre­ sponding respectively to them—which Husserl had already de­ veloped in the first volume of his Ideas. To be noted in this regard is that this program already contains an essential, pre­ determined decision; furthermore, it is to be noted that the pre­ suppositions, under which the differentiation of regions of being acquire their sense for Husserl, are made apparent. The differentiation of kinds of entities and, corresponding to these, of regional ontologies is obtained via the reflection upon the conditions under which an object of experience has already be­ come an object for the multitude of sciences concerned with it. That is to say, the differentiation is acquired by means of the reflection upon the a priori presuppositions of the scientific thematization of the world. From the very beginning, however, the significance of this differentiation extends beyond the scientific-theoretical formula-


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

tion of the question. For our world today also appears to unsci­ entific and prescientific consciousness in the light of an interpre­ tation which the labors of science over many centuries have given to it. The question concerning regions of being, their valid­ ity and their derivation, possesses, therefore, at one and the same time the character of a question concerning the perspec­ tives and prejudices in accordance with which what exists in the world appears to us today to be, as a matter of course, capable of division and differentiation. The reflection upon the conditions under which what exists is differentiated as a possible domain of science over and against other domains is a reflection upon the manner in which it be­ comes an object for consciousness in such a way that a dif­ ferentiation is possible. Being, therefore, is to be considered with reference to the consciousness for which it has become an object. Being, that is to say, is to be considered as being an object [Gegenstand-Sein] for consciousness. What is asked is how it comes to givenness and, eventually, to self-givenness for con­ sciousness, that consciousness of self-givenness which is gener­ ally designated as intuition. The differentiation of regions of being does not result from a simple description of entities and their differences; to the contrary, such a differentiation is yielded solely by correlating what is given with the mode of its givenness for consciousness. It is in this sense that Husserl speaks of the constitution of "what is"; what is meant is not simply its inner nature but rather its manner of appearing for the consciousness which is directed toward it and which has it as an object. Consequently, the investigation of diverse regions of being becomes, for Husserl, the investigation of constitution. From each kind of object, as in every case already dif­ ferentiated and, upon that basis, already an object of science, one inquires regressively into the proper, corresponding mode of consciousness. If there is to be talk of a variety of objects and of their essential structure—material and regional—then we must inquire into the corresponding and necessarily related manner of our conscious awareness in which such objects come to self-givenness, to intuition. This is, initially, a purely meth­ odological concept of constitution, one which refers to the task of inquiring into the consciousness corresponding to each region 1154]

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of entities. The inquiry is concerned with the "intuition" which is the sole source of the legitimacy of the concepts of this region, the intuition within which the fact that there is something at all is exhibited. It is to be noted, therefore, that talk about regions of being is meaningful only with reference to this necessary and essential correlation with the mode of consciousness in which existents of a respective region arrive at givenness. If such differentiations are to be understood as anything other than generalizations of concepts previously obtained in an empirical manner, then that which in general justifies our construal of such differentiations of being cannot be provided in any other way. In this sense Husserl's question concerning regions of being is a question of the transcendental-philosophical variety. It is a question con­ cerning the necessary correlation of being and consciousness and that means a question concerning the constitution of being for consciousness. Understood in this manner, the question pre­ cedes any metaphysical decision which might interpret this rela­ tion in an idealistic or realistic sense. It has often been pointed out in recent interpretations of Hus­ serl that this methodological sense of constitution must be sharply distinguished from its idealistic interpretation, and this despite the fact that Husserl obviously did not clearly draw such a distinction from the very beginning. To the contrary, the meth­ odological concept of constitution appears to play over into the idealistic one. This occurs already in the first volume of Ideas. Here, constitution as the accomplishment of consciousness does not, from the outset, simply mean the "bringing-toappearance" of "what-is" for consciousness; rather, it denotes, over and above that, the "creation of the world" qua creation of being through the positing accomplishments of consciousness.1 Thereby, all of "what is," which is not itself consciousness, ac­ quires the character of the "merely" constituted over and against the constituting itself, namely, absolute consciousness. In volume one of Ideas, absolute consciousness is characterized 1. Cf. Husserl's authorized interpretation of the concept of constitution pro­ vided by Eugen Fink in "Was will die Phänomenologie Husserls?", Studien zur Phänomenologie 1930-1939, Phaenomenologica 21 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1966), pp. 157-178.


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

as a distinctive region, the region of pure consciousness for which everything which exists has being only by the "grace" of consciousness. As such, consciousness itself is raised to the level of absolute existent. It is clear that talk of a "region" of pure consciousness scarcely has a genuine sense; this region of constituting-being is incomparable with all regions of constituted-being. Such talk of a region acquires its sense, how­ ever, from Husserl's intention to demarcate the "sphere" of transcendental phenomenology (region as the sphere of a possi­ ble scientific field of investigation) and to distinguish this from the domains of nonphilosophical sciences. Let us look at the manner in which Husserl attempts to exe­ cute this program of the constitution of regions of being in the second volume of Ideas which, though likewise composed in 1912-1918, was nonetheless published from Husserl's literary remains only in 1952. If, with respect to this, the motives be­ come discernible effecting the transition from a methodological to a metaphysical concept of constitution, it will also become appar­ ent that this transition cannot possibly be executed in a flawless fashion. Rather, it will become evident that this transition leads to a division which, although not eliminated by Husserl himself, nevetheless can—precisely because of its unsolved nature— point to the direction in which the question concerning the "structure of the world" can be further handled. Prima facie, the levels of constitution, as presented in Ideas II appear to correspond entirely to a traditional schema. The three sections—the constitution of material nature, the constitution of animal nature, and the constitution of the human world—seem to be concerned with three distinctly different regions and, as such, with three successively established strata of entities. To these three regions there correspond, then, three basic types of science: the science of material nature (mathematical natural science); biology and natural scientific psychology (psycho­ physics); and the human sciences understood in the broad­ est sense. Each of these regions has its proper basic regional concept which supplies the "guiding thread" for its consti­ tution. In the case of material nature this concept is that of the thing, the "simple entity," the purely quantitative, causally de­ terminable res extensa. With respect to animal nature it is the [156]

Regions of Being and Regional Ontologies concept of an animated flesh and blood being. For the human world, the basic concept is that of the personal "I" and its per­ sonal accomplishments upon whose basis the things of experi­ ence appear as things charged with "value predicates," with meaningful characteristics, as, for example, things of utility, art objects, and so on. Whereas causality is the fundamental law of the connection of events in nature—both with respect to the material and the animal spheres—what rules the human world is the law of motivation which, qua intentional reference of the personal "I" to its environment, must in principle be dif­ ferentiated from the causal order. Consequently, and without further ado, the sense in which material nature is to be viewed as the lowest stratum in the structure of the world appears to be understandable. All vital processes cannot arrive at givenness in any way other than as processes upon and within a lived body qua physical body. If we are concerned with what is psychical in nature, then it can be located as the inner experience [Erlebnis] of this man who oc­ cupies his place hic et nunc in the world of extended things. In the same manner, all personal acts and modes of behavior can only make an appearance by virtue of a being which appears in a lived-body—physical-body fashion. Likewise, all meaningful characteristics require a perceptible, sensuous substrate, a mate­ rial thing. With respect to the entities of the two higher regions, it is a question of established objects of a higher order which, as such, obviously cannot be given via the senses. Either they come originally to givenness as psychical occurrences in a sensuously present living body via "empathy" or they refer, as their mean­ ing may require, to a personal activity by means of which, for example, a material thing obtains its character as "useful for. . .," as an instrument, etc. In this sense material nature has a constitutive priority. The material thing alone is the "originary object," that which can be grasped in simple, sensuous percep­ tion. As such, a foundational order among the regions of entities is established by means of the reflection upon the manner in which an entity of a particular region can arrive at givenness essentially. However, as soon as this reflection is carried through, it becomes apparent that with respect to these regions it [157]

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is not simply a question of strata or levels of being which are constructed one upon the other; rather, with respect to these, there exists "permeation" in such a way that the picture of strata of being is either, in general, inappropriate or only correct under quite restricted conditions. In order to understand what is meant by this "permeation" there is need for a precise analysis of the manner in which some­ thing is borne out, for our consciousness, to be an actual mate­ rial, spatial-bodily thing, that is, how it comes to self-giving intuition. A spatial object is given necessarily in perspectives, in "adumbrations," in whose variation it appears as one and the same, as self-identical. In this way the real thing is differentiated from the phantom which, in the attempt, for example, to catch sight of other perspectives via certain circumambulations, shows itself to be a nullity. However, it is also the case that the perdurance of the unity of the thing throughout the diversity of perspectives—allowing one to speak of one's sensuous perception—is still not sufficient to authorize one to speak of a real, material thing. It still could be a phantom. The real thing is differentiated from the phantom in that it is borne out as identi­ cal in its causal connection with other things, in the influences which it experiences from them and which it exercises upon them. Its material character is exhibited as material only in the causal connection of events; that is to say, only in that it is experienced as standing under causal "circumstances." We can­ not say whether or not a supposedly individual perceived thing, taken for itself, is on a par with what is real. Its reality is borne out only in the case where it is grasped in connection with other things, things from which it experiences influences and upon which it exercises the same. Viewed formally, the concepts real substance (understood con­ cretely as a thing in the broadest sense, and including animals qua animated things), real quality, real state (real behavior), real causal­ ity are essentially concepts which belong together. I say real causalities; for, in the case of states we are referred back to real circumstances in the form of the dependence of the real upon other things that are real. Realities are what they are only with reference to other actual and possible realities in the interweaving of substan­ tial "causality."2

2. Ideen, II, 126.


Regions of Being and Regional Ontologies

Therewith, however, the conditions are not yet exhausted under which something comes, for us, to givenness as a material thing. What is required is the experience of standing under causal circumstances and these are initially represented as if they were simply something which takes place for our consciousness—a connection which is external to us, to which we stand opposed as spectators. In the case of such an analysis, however, the agent who reflects on the conditions of givenness has remained within a state of "self-forgetfulness." He has failed to take account of the fact that he himself is implicated in this interconnection of circumstances. For, the circumstances in which the thing "endures" as one and the same do not lie solely in causal involvement with the occurrence of other things. Rather, the observer himself qua sensuous perceiver also be­ longs to these circumstances. He is now in possession of this perspective because he turned his head or because his bodily comportment was of such and such a kind. And now he has the other tactual perspective because he grasps it tangibly. He is implicated in these circumstances by means of his sentient body and acquires, thereby, the evidence: "because I have touched it, it has shown itself to me as having this characteristic," etc. Thus, everything which shows itself to be a material thing, as belonging to this foundational substratum, stands within an in­ separable correlation with the kinaesthetic movements of the perceiving body. Accordingly, that which initially appears as a higher stratum of being, as the living body constructed upon what is material, conversely exhibits itself as the condition of there being anything at all like material things for us, material things whose reality can be exhibited only by means of their sensuous presence. "What the subject encounters as a world depends on the body and what is proper to the psyche."3 Obviously, what one has in mind in this case is not factual dependence upon a particular psyche but rather the essential correlations which exist between the givenness of things with their perceptible properties and the structure of the perceiving subject. What is exhibited with respect to these correlations is 3. Ibid., p. 75. For a more detailed analysis of the relationship between physi­ cal body and living body see Chapter 1, “The Phenomenology of Corporeality and the Problem of Matter."—Ed. U59]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

the way in which the regions "material thing" and "animal be­ ing" interpenetrate. This foundational relationship is not one­ sided; rather, it is a correlational relationship within which sen­ tient animals belong to the "circumstances" through which we establish material identity and only with respect to which dis­ cussion of such beings is significant. However, "it is precisely this relativity which necessitates the constitution of a physical thing which manifests itself in the thing of intùition."4 For, "it is part of the sense of perception and experience in general that things are present in them which should, in themselves, be determined and differentiated from all others, and it is part of the sense of judgments about such things that they should qualify as objective."5 It is the very sense of the experience itself which necessitates, therefore, a determination of the thing which is free from this relativity upon the function­ ing of sensuous corporeality. For, the functions of the organs of perception could be either eliminated or altered. As normal functions they are also different from subject to subject (the keenness of the eyes, etc.). Thus, to determine an experiential thing means to determine it in such a manner that despite this relativity we can come to an understanding of the identity of the thing with another person whose senses may possibly function differently. Objective determination of a thing, grapsing it as what it is in itself, means intersubjective determination. For example, we offer an account of the spatial location of an object not by means of the relation "left" or "right" with respect to the position of my body but rather by means of its arrangement in an ideal system of points, in objective space. The thing is always a figure having a position. Qualities are plena, they extend over the surface and through the body of the figure. Qualities emanating from things, however, extend into "empty space"; light-rays, heat-rays, etc. This means: thing-like qualities are dependent upon other things, qualities and qualitative changes and, indeed, in such a way that the effect is functionally related to the position. To each change of position there corresponds a change of effect. By means of such coordination to exact, determin­ able spatial relations the sensuous qualities of exact determinations also become accessible.6

4. Ideen, II, 77. 5. Ibid., p. 82. 6. Ibid., p. 84.


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In this way the relativity of determinate and different organs of sense is eliminated. It does not belong to the idea of an objec­ tive, material thing that it be given precisely via these senses: "The senses could also be entirely different, provided they only enable a common understanding and constitute a common na­ ture qua appearing nature. In principle, however, the subjects cannot be blind with respect to all senses and, therewith, blind to space, motion, energy. Otherwise, a world of things would not exist for them; in any event, not the same world as there exists for us, the world of space, nature."7 What this means is that there belongs to the idea of nature as the entirety of spatial, material, objectively determinable realities that they be given by means of some kind of sensibility, that is, that they can be traced back to primal givenness. Yet, at the same time: The objective determination determines the things by means of that which belongs to it and must belong to it if it is to be capable of appearing to me or to anyone standing in relationship to me and capable of being valid for each member of a communicative community—also to me with respect to all possible modifications of my sensibility.8

In principle, therefore, the thing qua intersubjectively identical is only of a kind such that it can have absolutely no sensuous, intui­ tive content which could be given intersubjectively as identical. To the contrary: the thing is simply an empty identical something qua correlate of the identification—which is made possible by and is grounded upon experiential-logical rules—of that which appears in the changing, content-variegated appearances of subjects who, with their corresponding acts of appearing and experiential-logical thinking, stand in intersubjective connection.9

Nature in the sense in which it is objectively determined by natural science is, therefore, the product of the mental determi­ nations of subjects, though it is by no means their unconstrained projection. For these subjects must be sentient ones, subjects to whom "something" is given via the senses. Conversely, what is 7. Ibid., p. 86. 8. Ibid., p. 87. 9. Ibid., p. 88.


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

pointed out in other sections of Ideas II is that a community of subjects standing in communication with one another is only possible by means of such a nature in general. In order to enter into communication with one another these subjects must ap­ pear to each other such that their bodies can be given as natural objects via the senses. For it is only as "appresented" in a living body that the experience of other psyches is possible. The point of departure for the naturalization of the psychical and the spirit lies in this foundational relationship. Thus, nature in the sense understood by natural science, as the entirety of objectively determined realities, and intersubjec­ tivity, as the community of subjects standing in communicative relationship to one another, reciprocally implicate each other. Intersubjectivity requires the givenness of nature. Nature, in the sense of objective nature, is, on the other hand, the construct of cognitive performances. Therewith, the sense of statements hav­ ing to do with the being-in-itself of nature is clarified. At once it signifies: if a subject is to exist in community with other subjects (in intersubjectivity) and if this subject is to be capable of selfawareness, there is need for something which is purely and simply given, something which is not produced by means of the accomplishments proper to the knowing, the judgmentally positing, the object-producing subject. Rather, it is given via "primal sensibility" and that means in passivity of a kind such that it does not include precipitates of previous active, positing performances. (It is also the case that what was at one time actively posited can become passively conscious in the form of habituality, of that which intrudes.) Whether or not this sensibil­ ity must obviously be of the precise kind which we know from normally functioning subjects is a question to which nothing can be said a priori. In other words: the subject, conceived as intersubjectively situated, must be one who is capable of sensing in a bodily fashion. However, the being-in-itself of nature in this fundamental sense, that is, as that which is given purely and simply by means of the affection of the senses, simply signifies the givenness of an "empty identical something." That a thing is present signifies nothing other than that a rule exists in accor­ dance with which there occurs, within the manifold of the ebbing of sensuous appearances, the consciousness of that 1162]

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which appears one and the same in it. In this sense Husserl states that "the thing is a rule of possible appearances."10 Above and beyond this, if one states that the objective, natural scientific determinations are what belong to the thing in itself, the sense of such statements regarding being-in-itself is inseparable from the correlation with subjectivity qua intersub­ jectivity and its collective cognitive performances. What is stated is simply this: in every case where a sequence of appearances arrives at givenness, the sequence must be so determined that the conditions of its appearing are definable by means of deter­ minations of thought independent of the functioning of certain perceptions of the senses. It must, in addition, be capable of reenactment by every subject capable of thought (a subject who, in order to be able to stand in communication with others as a thinking subject must also be a sensuously perceiving subject). Therefore, the being-in-itself of nature in this sense is the prod­ uct of the method of objectification and the relation of that inter­ subjectivity which executes this method and is inseparable from it. A tension is therewith introduced between two concepts of nature: "nature, which was present at the beginning, and nature which for us at present has grown out of communal cohe­ sion,"11 that is, nature in the sense of that which is objectively determined. If it appeared to be the case in the beginning that nature would be the entirety of realities, the world, because everything which should, in general, be given to us must have its foundations in what is given to sensibility and, thus, every­ thing must be arranged within its framework in order that it be determinable in general for knowledge and especially for scien­ tific knowledge—and that means, of course, in order that it can be objectively determinable—it now shows itself to be the case that "this naturalistically viewed world is certainly not the world."12 To the contrary, it now appears to be the case that it is, moreover, a construct of subjects who already stand in the world in communication with one another, that is, that nature is 10. Ibid., p. 86. 11. Ibid., p. 208. 12. Ibid., p. 208. [163]

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an entity in itself only in the second of the senses which we referred to above. If it appeared at first as if nature, in the sense of the entirety of spatially extended things, of objectively determinable res extensa, would be the lowest stratum of that which exists, as the lowest stratum in the structure of the world, it now appears that such an edifice of strata cannot be spoken of as one which exists in itself. The principle from which Husserl proceeds regarding the question of regions of entities and their basic regional con­ cepts, namely, that regions of this sort can only be spoken of with reference to the consciousness in which the kinds and re­ gions of entities respectively come to be objects, now exhibits its range. What is thrown into relief are the presuppositions under which, in general, regions, strata, and a foundational order can be spoken of: the having of something as an object with respect to an entity in its proper regional way is dependent upon an "attitude" of the knowing subject, upon a "prevailing appercep­ tion"13 under which what is given is, so to speak, envisioned with reference to a certain perspective. Consequently, im­ mediately upon the introduction of the concept of the world as the entirety of realities and the definition of the world as nature, the first theme is the question concerning the attitude which corresponds to this concept of the world, the "naturalistic" at­ titude. This is the attitude toward "simple items," an attitude for which "all predicates which we ascribe to things under the head­ ings of amenity, beauty, utility, practically appropriate, and completeness remain out of consideration."14 This sphere of "simple items," of "nature," therefore, does not lie at the basis of all entities as a substrate. To the contrary, we reach it by means of a conscious disregard of all of the other meaningful characteristics in which things appear to us. It is only by means of such disregard that the object of physical and, then, mathe­ matical natural science is constituted. The reason that animal nature can appear as a higher, mea­ sured stratum is that it is both possible and, in a certain sense, justified to view animal nature—which is, according to Husserl, 13. Ibid., p. 2. 14. Ibid.


Regions of Being and Regional Ontologies

in principle to be understood as "ensouled" being (the dif­ ferences among man, animal, and plants not being taken into further consideration by him in this connection)—as that which occurs upon and within a material body, as that which is in­ tertwined with it and its causally determined courses. To be sure, it is not sensuously perceptible in the same way as physical occurrences are. It is, however, "attributed" to the physical body, it is co-conscious through an "appresentation" such that the validity of such an apperception has its own proper way of legitimizing itself. In the same way in which the apperception "physical thing" must give a satisfactory account of itself via recourse to the harmony of the course of experience, the ap­ presented psychical also has its way of being confirmed through the fulfillment of the expectations of certain behavior, expecta­ tions which are brought along with such apperception. If the region of animal being is to be defined through the concept of the psyche, it is therefore by no means to be understood as a substance lying at the back of the modes of appearance of the living thing. Within the "naturalistic" attitude, for which the psychical carries the value of an "annex" within a physical body, the psychical signifies—in exactly the same manner as the con­ cept of a thing with respect to the region of material nature— nothing other than a rule for the course of possible appearances which, in accordance with this, can be apperceived as the modes of a living being's behavior and can, as such, be borne out by experience. "Psyche" is the unity of a "manifestation" in a phys­ ical course of occurrences. This holds true, initially, both of one's own psychical occurrences as well as those of others to the extent that it is already subject to objectivating apperception. Be it the case that animal nature can be conceived in this fashion as being within the physically based stratum— presupposing the corresponding "attitude" which is directed toward psychophysical connections and things conditioned in this manner—the same does not hold true of the human world. For the object of the naturalistic attitude is obtained precisely by means of the consequential disregard for all "human" predi­ cates, for all characteristics of meaning which are not attributed to things in themselves but rather to things in their relation to the behavior of personal subjects. It is indeed true that things en­ [165]

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do wed with such characteristics also have their "corporeality," for example, the book, the home, and so on, and they are also physical things. However, it is precisely that which constitutes such a thing as a book that cannot be discovered by means of physical considerations. Consequently, with the transition to the question of the con­ stitution of the human world there occurs a reversal in the entire investigation. The human world can no longer be understood as a higher stratum, as "resting upon" (an expression of Nicolai Hartmann) lower strata in view of the fact that the sense of statements about the lower strata, which are accessible within the "naturalistic attitude," have exhibited themselves as correla­ tive to a consciously chosen attitude. Moreover, the determina­ tion of this correlation forces one to raise the question regarding the subject of this and every other attitude. This subject is plainly the person qua performer of free acts, the subject who "takes a position," and it is by means of this that the concept of what is human [Geist] is defined by Husserl. If it appeared in the beginning as if the difference between a naturalistic and personalistic attitude—the one as the presup­ position of natural science, the other as the presupposition of the human sciences—would be a question of two attitudes standing shoulder to shoulder on an equal level, attitudes which could be interchanged depending upon one's scientific aim, it is now evident that what is under consideration is not two equally legitimate attitudes. Rather, what presents itself is that "the naturalistic attitude is subordinate to the personalistic, that by means of abstraction or, moreover, by means of a certain kind of self-forgetfulness of the personal T it obtains a certain indepen­ dence, thereby at the same time making its world, nature, il­ legitimately absolute."15 The reason for the priority of the "personalistic" attitude is that it is not one which is secured by means of a methodological decision but rather it is the way in which we are immediately conscious of ourselves and of our world. The subject does not consciously find only things present in his environment but also other subjects: he sees them as persons, as 15. Ibid., p. 183 f.


Regions of Being and Regional Ontologies

actively involved in their environment, as determined by its objects and always determinable from anew. In this attitude it does not occur to the subject to "invest" the body with a mind, that is, to consider the mind as something within the body, as something which is part and parcel of a reality with a body. It does not, therefore, occur to him to perform the appropriate, real appercep­ tion (the natural apperception).16

In the comprehensive experience of the existence of the other we understand immediately that he is a personal subject, that he is concerned with objectivities that we are also concerned with: with the earth and the heavens, with fields and forests, with the room in which "we" tarry together, with a picture which we observe, etc. We are concerned with a common environment—we are in per­ sonal association: these belong together.17

One particular goal of knowledge of subjects who are in associa­ tion with one another, who exist in a personal manner with one another, is, then, that of the objective determination of what is given—a goal which presupposes the naturalistic attitude as the ignoring of all determinations of entities other than those which are purely "itemlike." It is the setting of a goal which has its absolute limit in what is mental, the reason for this being that it would assume the specific character of the mental and, so em­ ployed, would allow for the disappearance of the object of knowledge as such. In this sense what is human is an "opposite of nature," that is, nature understood in the objectively deter­ mined sense. What is human is not a stratum of being which is founded in objectively determined nature; rather, it is its neces­ sary correlate. As such, it is only with reference to it that nature can be spoken of in its objectively determined sense. To be sure, the impossibility of a consistent naturalism ap­ pears, for all intents and purposes, to be obvious today and Husserl's fight against it to be of little more than historical inter­ est. The difficulties, however, of reconciling biological and human-science oriented perspectives of man—difficulties which have not yet been eliminated—indicate that what is at issue here are clarifications which still cannot be regarded as settled. It is only when one sees that the naturalization of what is human— 16. Ibid., p. 190. 17. Ibid., p. 191.


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

which indeed has its methodological necessity in environmental research of a biological variety—does not simply signify the ac­ ceptance of givens which are in some sense final but rather is a product of a methodological attitude that the difficulties can be overcome, difficulties which have grown out of making absolute that which is only a product of a method. If it appeared, in the case of the initial survey, as if one could speak of three regions of entities: of material nature, animal nature, and the human world; and that, in Ideas II, what re­ sulted was a tripartite construction, it is now apparent that, in reality, what we have is a duality. It is a question of the relation­ ship between nature and spirit, between the natural world and the human world, a relationship wherein spirit has priority. For, the naturalization of what is human, of spirit, has limits which, for the reasons given above, cannot be surmounted; and this because the understanding of nature qua human construct ap­ parently leaves no residue which would not be absorbed by such an understanding. On the other hand, however, "subjects can­ not be completely merged with nature. For in this case, what would be missing is that which gives sense to nature. Nature is a field of pervasive realities; and it can be such, because these realities are always relative to an absolute, an absolute which supports all relativities: spirit."18 It alone is absolute, nonrela­ tive. If we do away with all humans in the world, there would then no longer be any nature. If we do away with nature, however, with the "true," objectively-intersubjective existence, something will always remain: spirit qua individual spirit. It is only that spirit forfeits the possibility of sociality, the possibility of a comprehen­ sion which presupposes a certain intersubjectivity of the body. In this case we no longer have individual spirit qua person in the narrow social sense, spirit which is related to a material and there­ with also to a personal world. We do, however, have an ego with its conscious life, and it is also therein that it has its individuality, its modes of judging, of valuing, of being motivated in its position­ taking. 19

18. Ibid., p. 297. 19. Ibid.


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Stated in another fashion: the things of nature have no being proper to themselves, no individuality. "That which distin­ guishes two identical things is a connection of the real-causal variety, and therewith we are referred back necessarily to an individual subjectivity."20 In this way, "the sole originary indi­ vidual is consciousness taken concretely with its ego. Every­ thing else of an individual character is something which appears and has its principle of individuation in actual and possible ap­ pearing which, in its own right, refers back to an individual consciousness."21 Consequently, "absolute individuation re­ verts to the personal ego." For, "intellects are not unities of appearances, but rather unities of absolute nexi of conscious­ ness, in more precise terms, unities of the ego." Nature, on the other hand, "is the X and, in principle, nothing other than the X which is determined via general determinations. Spirit, the mental, is not an X, but rather that which is itself given in in­ tellectual experience."22 Thus, what is exhibited in the concluding considerations of this work is the way in which the transition from the method­ ological concept of constitution, understood as the correlation of the given to its corresponding consciousness, to the metaphysi­ cal concept is accomplished. With this transition, the idea that all being is being by means of consciousness, something that is posited by it, emerges from the methodological conception that all being is essentially being for consciousness. In the same way that we become conscious of our own reflecting ego, conscious­ ness emerges as absolute being, as the absolute region. This transition is governed by the consideration that spirit in the sense of object-positing consciousness is given to itself im­ mediately in reflection, that there exists nothing which either would lie at the basis of this or would not be accessible to self­ experience, that there is no hidden "substance" of which con­ sciousness in its flowing life would represent the accidents. Na­ ture, on the other hand, is never given to itself; rather, it is solely the X which is further determinable in infinitum. We cannot 20. Ibid., p. 299. 21. Ibid., p. 301. 22. Ibid.


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

penetrate its "inner side" in the same fashion as in the case of spirit, because this latter internality is that which is itself given in consciousness. However, it is not the case that we cannot penetrate the inner character of nature because something re­ mains hidden to us; rather, we cannot do so because it is a construct of spirit. To this point, we have followed the path upon which the differentiations of regions of being are not simply methodologi­ cally relativized by Husserl by means of referring these back to their corresponding methodological "attitudes" but also abso­ lutely revoked [aufgehoben], and this by deriving them from spirit as the consciousness which constitutes all being. At the same time, however, certain points have become apparent with reference to which we can problematize this transition from a methodological to a metaphysical solution in the sense of abso­ lute idealism. This becomes apparent if we recall the conse­ quences of this transition for the concept of nature. The tension which emerged in the course of the analysis between two as­ pects of nature—on the one hand, nature as the entirety of realities and as a founding region, one upon which all entities of higher regions, the animal and the human, are based; and, on the other hand, nature as the construct of spirit—is done away with in favor of the second aspect. As such, nature can no longer be talked about as the most basic region of being, as that which founds other regions. For this to be possible, all regions must reside on the same plane; they must be comparable with one another. If it be the case, however, that spirit is absolute being, and nature something relative, something which is "only" con­ stituted in the intellect, then one can no longer speak of a foun­ dational relationship; for, what is absolute cannot be founded in what is relative. This consequence, however, is at odds with the considera­ tions which, at the beginning, led one to ascribe a foundational role to natural-thinglikeness qua spatio-temporal, causally de­ termined reality. This was established upon considering that natural-thinglikeness was the sphere of "originary objects," that is, the sphere which is given via "originary sensibility" in an accepting, passive consciousness simpliciter, that which has nothing to do with the formation resulting from active perfor[170]

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mances of consciousness. However, if, in the end, all active performances of consciousness are directed toward this given­ ness as toward the "stuff," the sensuous hyle which constitutes the presuppositions of all intentional "formation" which pro­ ceed23 from performances of consciousness, then there remains a residuum in nature of which we are, on the basis of such givenness, conscious. This residuum makes it impossible to conceive of nature entirely as a construct of spirit. This is the limit to which Kant's transcendental philosophy holds by recog­ nizing the given of sensibility, the sensation, as an index of the dependency of human understanding on givenness. It is in this way that Kant exhibits—in the "Refutation of Idealism" con­ tained in the Critique of Pure Reason24—the dependency of self­ consciousness on the existence of "things external to me," whereby, of course, that which is absolutely "other" than con­ sciousness, the "thing in itself," remains the unintelligible ground of appearances. Now, despite the extent to which Husserl's talk of the thing as an "X," as a "rule" of the course of appearances reminds one of Kant, he nevertheless oversteps the boundaries which Kant holds to, and he does this by transposing the methodological concept of constitution into the metaphysical one and by resolv­ ing nature into a construct of spirit which results from this. Therewith arises an insoluble difficulty for the determination of the concept of sensation; for if spirit is absolute, then it can have nothing over and against it. Sensing, as the faculty which gives sensuous stuff, would in this case not be as it presents itself to be in immediate consciousness, namely, as a receptive, simply accepting consciousness of affection. Rather, that it would so appear would only be the result of a particular mode of apper­ ception which itself would be based upon active, positing per­ formances of consciousness. In other words: the purely and simply given as well as sensing qua consciousness of such giv­ enness would, in the sense of absolute idealism, have to be deduced from the positing performances of spirit. One can, in point of fact, find the beginnings of such a position in Husserl's 23. Compare Ideen, I, 207f. 24. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, B274-279.


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

later manuscripts. Such an attempt is, however, in contradiction with the basic, methodological principle of phenomenology to which it owes its success; that is to say, with the principle of purely describing consciousness in the manner in which it is consciousness, of purely describing that which is in conscious­ ness in the manner in which it is consciously in it; and thereby to exclude every interpretation originating, as each does, from sci­ entific or metaphysical presuppositions. This contradiction is not inferred from considerations external to Husserl's analyses; to the contrary, it is a contradiction which exists between the way in which he basically understands con­ sciousness and the analyses in which its particulars are investi­ gated. Husserl's method is fundamentally a method of universal reflection orchestrated from the correlation of consciousness and object. To be sure, all consciousness is not of the kind which judgmentally posits objects, that is, of the theoretically objectify­ ing variety. However, that which it contains in itself as con­ sciousness in general is taken from such a reflection on its posit­ ing performances. The attitude which posits judgmentally, which objectifies in a theoretical way is taken as definitive of what it is qua consciousness in general.25 This consciousness is modeled entirely along the lines of its performances, perfor­ mances which are made apparent via reflection. As a result, consciousness of myself, as of a bodily-sensing ego, also ap­ pears as the product of an objectivating apperception which presupposes the constitution of an objective, spatial, thing-like world, a "nature." Obviously, this objectivating apperception is, in point of fact, both possible and necessary for certain scien­ tific inquiries (the psychophysical) in which I understand my sensing as the annex to a thinglike living body. What is prior to each such objectivating apperception, however, is immediately sensing consciousness with its kinaestheses in which not only things in their modes of appearance are constituted for me but, also, I am conscious of myself as sensing and affected and not just as a positing ego. This state of affairs is penetratingly displayed in Husserl's 25. Cf. Ideen, II, Ilf.; also, p. 38 of Landgrebe, Der Weg der Phänomenologie and “Husserl's Departure from Cartesianism," pp. 66-121 in this volume.


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analyses of corporeality. However, in that his fundamental pre­ supposition is that the sense of all consciousness can be dis­ closed in the judgmental-positing attitude, the nature I am con­ scious of in sensing is immediately identified with the nature which is the product of objectification based upon the givens of sensation. By means of this Husserl undercut the possibility of drawing the systematic consequences of his analysis of kinaesthetic consciousness qua corporeal consciousness. The fact that I possess a sensing body which I "have at my disposal" in kinaestheses is viewed as irrelevant to the determination of that which I myself am as an ego and the way in which I am aware of this. The corporeality of which I am aware in sensing is identified with the corporeality which I apperceive in an objec­ tifying fashion as one thing among other things—singled out, obviously, from the "simple" things by means of the interiority which is "appresented" in it. Consequently, what counts as the only thing of which I am immediately conscious is the pure ego which is nothing other than Kant's "intellectual representation of the spontaneity of a thinking subject."26 The only difference over and against Kant is that the pure ego is hypostasized as absolute being. What is overlooked in this case is that nature is something more than what is capable of being objectivized; fur­ ther, that my immediate consciousness of myself is not simply the consciousness of myself as a positing spirit, as one who performs positing acts, but rather it is precisely, in itself, already a consciousness of "nature" to the extent that I am a corporeal, sensing ego. Nature in this sense is not exhausted by nature in the sense in which it is objectively itemized by natural science. At the same time, it is also not the X which remains unintelligi­ ble; to the contrary, it has structures which are correlative to and accessible through the structures of sensing corporeality, which constitute the manner in which I find myself in my world prior to all efforts at objectification. The preceding should not be taken to imply that this view of the problem would have remained foreign to Husserl. It is al­ ready hinted at in the reference to the priority of the "personalis­ tic" over the "naturalistic" objectifying attitude as well as where 26. Critique of Pure Reason, B278. [173]

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Husserl suggests that the "personalistic" attitude is really not an attitude at all. Rather, it is the way of having something im­ mediately in the world, a way in which it does not dawn on us to view the psychical as an annex to a body considered as a thing. What is intimated, here, are Husserl's later analyses of the "life-world" in which this immediacy of having the world is analyzed. In that the question concerning the structure of the world was conducted from the very beginning with a view to­ ward the way in which "what is" had already become the object of scientific interpretation, the theme of a science, there is no longer any talk of regions of being in these later investigations. The reason for this is that these investigations are concerned with a dimension of immediate experience which is prior to such a scientific interpretation of what is experienced. The way in which the question concerning the structure of the world must be raised from this particular basis is a topic which would over­ step the bounds of the current investigation. As one result of our analysis it can be said that this structure cannot be explained with reference to the correlation with the objectifying, positing pure ego. Rather, the correlation which must be brought into consideration here refers to an ego which must be both entirely and concretely understood as a sensing "ego," and this in a fashion such that the ego is conscious of itself not only as a thinking ego but also as one which is sensuously determined. Structures and foundational relationships will also result from such a correlation. However, given that the presuppositions and limits of differentiations such as those of regions and strata of being have been demonstrated in Husserl's analyses, these structures and foundational relationships cannot be understood in these terms. That the initial steps toward this persistent problem are sketched out in Husserl's work and that, nevertheless, he was unable to draw from these the systematic consequences which would have prevented him both from making spirit absolute and from allowing the methodological to play over into the metaphysical concept of constitution can be explained as fol­ lows: Husserl held fast, in principle, to the interpretation accord­ ing to which the essence of consciousness is objectifying and positing. That is to say: consciousness is of a kind such that [174]

Regions of Being and Regional Ontologies

everything which we possess qua consciousness and everything of which we are conscious in it can be "disclosed" in reflection upon its positing performances. Whether or not this simply al­ ludes to a limit of Husserlian phenomenology or to a limit of transcendental philosophy per se is a question requiring further investigation. Regardless of the limits which become apparent upon critical analysis of the second volume of Ideas, it remains the enduring merit of Husserl's outline that within it is brought to the fore the impossibility of making absolute both the strata of being which are built one upon the other and, accordingly, the interpretation of the world based upon this. Thus, the limits of a universal naturalization were exhibited. In this way these investigations concur with contemporary efforts to secure not only the inde­ pendent character of the human sciences but also their character as methodologically distinct sciences. Furthermore, they are significant for the reason that this is accomplished with incom­ parably greater clarity and penetration than occurs in the works of Dilthey and the Southwest German school. In particular, the importance of these investigations is to be found in the fact that progression in the profusion of analyses is by no means guided by an already fixed idealistic program and concept of conscious­ ness. Rather, it is determined by the phenomena themselves. As such, the points have been exhibited upon which a future understanding, a thinking which goes beyond Husserl's idealis­ tic program, can take its first steps.


6. The Problem of a Transcendental Science of the

A Priori of the Life-world The problem of the return to the life-world is situated in the center of Husserl's later work. It is the theme of The Crisis of European Sciences, a book he unceasingly reworked during his last days.1 In his treatise on the crisis, Husserl wanted to pro­ vide a new way of introducing phenomenology and of ground­ ing and justifying its historical necessity. That volume is not an epilogue to Husserl's life-work pointing to a change or break in the development of his thought but rather a last step, which, of course, remained incomplete. It attempts to draw out the conse­ quences of the insight which he had already acquired in his previous work, in particular, his lectures on First Philosophy. Not only the text but also the reflections which accompany his final formulation and which are now published as appendices in the Husserliana edition enable us to see the unity and coherence of his earlier analyses from the perspective of his final formula­ tions. These texts also provide us with clues to where we should search for the questions which remained open. The expression "life-world" appears for the first time in Hus­ serl's published writings in the first part of that portion of the Crisis which was printed in 1936 in the periodical Philosophia, although the range and weight of the problematic indicated by the word are not really discovered in this sketch. The term was 1. The Husserliana edition is a compilation of the original 1936 article pub­ lished in Philosophia, the continuation in manuscript of that article by Husserl, and several other manuscripts relevant to that problematic. (When possible I use Carr's translation of the Krisis.—Trans.)


A Transcendental Science of the A Priori of the Life-world

introduced late in Husserl's career. We first find it in the manu­ scripts toward the end of the 1920s. It is, however, only a new label for something with which Husserl was concerned, at least as a problem, since Ideas I (1913), where he took up the positivists' project of gaining a "concept of the natural world." The full meaning of this problematic and the way in which it should be treated became clear and was further developed only in Husserl's last years. What this indicates is that the problem of the method of a phenomenological science of the life-world is not a special problem of phenomenological-constitutive analysis. Rather it concerns the deepest dimensions of the con­ stitutive accomplishments of transcendental subjectivity. The difficulties which we discover here touch the very concept of transcendental subjectivity itself and affect the method of un­ covering it. Husserl's later analysis surpasses all of his earlier expositions and accents the problems which could not yet be clarified in them. This late work shows us the persistent rigor of Husserl's thought, a rigor which always questioned the results of his earlier work and which opened new problems and dimen­ sions. In the first part of this essay, I will discuss briefly the connec­ tion in which the problem of the life-world appears in the Crisis. I want then to develop the concept of the life-world as historical world and as a world deriving from our immediate experience of nature. The third part will treat the method of acquiring the a priori of the life-world, its difficulties, and their clarification. The Connection between the Crisis-problematic and the Problem of the Life-world

Within the scope of this essay, it is not possible to analyze critically the design of the entire Crisis. The Crisis is indeed a new attempt to introduce phenomenology and it contains in itself all of Husserl's previous reflections about the ways into phenomenology, especially the way through psychology to which the entire third part is devoted. But we will not consider this here. We will approach the problem of the life-world, as treated in the second part of the Crisis, only in connection with


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

the way into phenomenology through the pregiven life-world. We will also give some consideration to the appendices which were not incorporated into the text. The problem of the life-world is situated by Husserl's concep­ tion of phenomenology as that philosophical science of foun­ dations which bears ultimate responsibility and provides legiti­ mation for human life. Let us, first of all, place Husserl in rela­ tion to the philosophy of science in his day. In so doing I hope to show that what Husserl accomplished in the Crisis is quite dif­ ferent from nineteenth- and early twentieth-century German philosophy. Above all else philosophy, at the time he wrote, understood itself as theory of science. Neo-Kantianism, then the reigning school in Germany, took the sciences as established facts and looked for the transcendental conditions of their possibility. Even Husserl's Ideas has a pervasive orientation toward the theory of science. He accepted the divisions of the regions of existence by the various scientific disciplines and then sought the conditions of the possibility of such a division in the a priori of the different regions. In the Crisis, on the other hand, there is a retrogressive move to a place behind the sciences in their fac­ ticity from which we then can question the facticity of this fac­ tum. The sciences themselves are in crisis precisely because they are not able to account for the meaning of their own activity. By becoming merely the means of transforming the world techni­ cally, the sciences have undergone a radical "emptying of sense" [Sinnentleerung]. Thus, the crisis of European sciences is none other than the crisis of the modern technical world. What has become clear since Husserl is that we are not simply confronted with a theoretical crisis concerning the foundations of science but with a crisis of modern life in general. We can see this most clearly in the moral problems which have been put to modern nuclear physicists concerning the practical and especially the political consequences of their discoveries. In what way can phenomenology help this crisis? Because the crisis of the world interpreted and transformed by the sciences is also the crisis of the sciences themselves, phenomenology is a search for the origins of the contemporary sciences, in the sense of the a priori conditions of their possibility. But what is new [178]

A Transcendental Science of the A Priori of the Life-world

about the way which Husserl opens in the Crisis is the discovery that the a priori conditions are not to be sought in a purely systematic way through an eidetic comprehension of the various foundational concepts underlying different regions, but rather in a unique "intertwining of historical and systematic investiga­ tions."2 In this work the meaning of a phenomenological inter­ rogation of origins obtains its final, though not fully completed clarification. The question of the method of the science of the life-world is, accordingly, none other than that of the meaning and method of phenomenological research into origins in gen­ eral. To search for the origin of modern science means, for Hus­ serl, to search for the historical and systematic conditions which give rise to this or that science in a world which itself lies beyond the interpretative scope of those sciences, namely, the life­ world. "The life-world was always there for mankind before science, then, just as it continues its manner of being in the epoch of science."3 It is "what we know best, what is always taken for granted in all human life, always familiar to us in its typology through experience."4 And it is "always already there, existing in advance for us, the 'ground' of all praxis whether theoretical or extra-theoretical," the "foundation of all objective knowledge." The world is "pregiven to us, not occasionally but always and necessarily as the universal field of all actual and possible praxis, as horizon. To live is always to live-incertainty-of-the-world."5 The question of the origin of science requires, first of all, the clarification of the relationship between the prescientific life-world and the world interpreted through science. We have seen that the life­ world is always and already pregiven before all science and is the ground of all praxis and all goals posited by our natural life. Thus, the new, Galilean science of nature, which has grown out of our prescientific life and its surrounding world serves a purpose which necessarily lay in this prescientific life and was related to this life-world. Man (including the natural scientist),

2. 3. 4. 5.

Krisis, p. 364; Crisis, p. 351. Ibid., p. 125; Eng. trans., p. 123. Ibid., p. 126; Eng. trans., pp. 123-124. Ibid., p. 145; Eng. trans., p. 142.


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl living in this world, could put all his practical and theoretical ques­ tions only to it—could refer in his theories only to it, in its open, endless horizon of things unknown.6 This actually intuited, actually experienced and experienceable world, in which practically our whole life takes place, remains unchanged as what it is, in its own essential structure and its own concrete causal style, whatever we may do with or without tech­ niques. Thus, it is also not changed by the fact that we invent a particular technique, the geometrical and Galilean technique which is called physics.7

The question of the relationship between the life-world and the scientifically interpreted world, therefore, can be divided into two questions: (1) What is the goal of science which serves our life in the life-world? (2) To what extent does the life-world remain unchanged in spite of its transformation by the applica­ tion of science? To question 1: the life-world is that sphere of certainties with which we have been long acquainted in and through our human living, a sphere practically tested and taken as unconditionally valid before all requirements of scientific legitimation.8 "All life rests upon prediction or, as we say, upon induction. In the most primitive way, even the ontic certainty of any straightforward experience is inductive. Things 'seen' are always more than what we really and actually see of them. Seeing, perceiv­ ing, is essentially having-something-itself and at the same time having-something-in-advance, meaning-something-in advance. All praxis, with its projects, involves inductions."9 Ac­ cording to Husserl, what is legitimate in empiricism is that it is guided by this inductive style of everyday life. In a way con­ cealed from itself, empiricism is lead by the "tendency toward a scientific discovery of the ever familiar but nevertheless scienti­ fically unknown life-world."10 To what extent does science itself grow out of this style of the prescientific life of the "life-world" and to what extent does science serve its goals? The predictions of science surpass the 6. Ibid., p. 50; Eng. trans., p. 50. 7. Ibid., p. 51; Eng. trans., pp. 50-51. 8. Ibid., p. 411. 9. Ibid., p. 51; Eng. trans., p. 51. 10. Ibid., p. 449. [180]

A Transcendental Science of the A Priori of the Life-world

accomplishments of everyday predictions; they are predictions "extended to infinity."11 "All praxis, with its projects, involves inductions; it is just that ordinary inductive knowledge (predic­ tions), even if expressly formulated and 'verified', 'is' artless compared to the artful 'methodological' induction which can be carried to infinity through the method of Galilean physics with its great productivity."12 To question 2: To what extent does the life-world remain un­ changed in spite of the transformations of the world through science? The transformation arises because the goals and ac­ complishments of science, as all goals and ends, "flow" into the life-world.13 Through this influx the life-world becomes a world changed by historical conditions. The core of it, however, does not change, for "the scientists are themselves men in the life­ world, men among men. The life-world is the world for every­ body; and thus the sciences which are, first of all, the worlds of the sciences, are there for all men as a product gained by us . . ., they are there for everybody just as the life-world is there for everybody."14 This means not only that men live with these new means of prediction as men who set up and actively strive toward goals. The transformation of the world through science itself becomes visible in the perception of the things and events brought forth by science. These things and events are them­ selves perceivable in the life-world, the sensuous world of our corporeal bodies and their perceptions. In all historical trans­ formations of the world through the deeds and accom­ plishments of men, whether these rest upon natural induction or upon the methodological induction of the sciences, the world standing immediately before our eyes retains this invariance and this style by virtue of which it counts as a world for everybody. How are these extensive predictions carried out by science? They come about because we measure the life-world—the world constantly given to us as actual in our concrete world-life—for a well-fitting garb of ideas, that of the so-called objectively scientific truths. That is, through a 11. 12. 13. 14.

Ibid., p. 51; Eng. trans., p. 51. Ibid. Ibid., p. 466. Cf. p. 134; Eng. trans., pp. 131-132. Ibid., p. 446. [181]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl method which (as we hope) can be readily carried out in every particular and constantly verified, we first construct numerical in­ dices for the actual and possible sensible plena of the concretely intuitive shapes of the life-world, and in this way we obtain pos­ sibilities of predicting concrete occurences in the intuitively given life-world, occurrences which are not yet or no longer actually given. And this kind of prediction infinitely surpasses the accom­ plishment of everyday prediction.15

Here Husserl not only characterizes the Galilean method of the mente concipere, of the hypothesis with its verification in the experiment, but he also emphasizes that these ideas—for in­ stance, the idea of a straight-lined and homogeneous movement (Galileo)—are precisely our project. Our project is, in this sense, a priori in relation to the world, for our experience of the world along the lines suggested by the sciences rests upon our ability to construct such a project. Science, from its origin at the begin­ ning of the modern era, is derived from the presupposition that it can know the world in a manner which supersedes the rela­ tivity of sensuous experience and the opinions (that is, the doxa) grounded in it. Nature understood in this way requires, in addi­ tion, the hypothesis of being-in-itself. But, in fact, this hypothesis is only "one among the many practical hypotheses and projects which make up the life of human beings in this life-world." Moreover, "all goals whether they are 'practical' in some other, extrascientific sense or are practical under the title of 'theory' belong eo ipso to the unity of the life-world, if only we take the later in its complete and full concreteness."16 The sciences and philosophy at the beginning of the modern era did not take this idea of a world existing in itself as an hypothesis. Because of this, they, at the very beginning, fell under the spell of a metaphysical concept of true being, an inversion of true being, one which took it to be a persisting and permanent being-in-itself behind the changing and fluctuating world of belief (doxa) and of perceptual illusion and prejudice.17 The modern sciences were convinced that the scientifically ex­ plicated world was the true world. Husserl spoke of this convic­ ts. Ibid., p. 51; Eng. trans., p. 51. 16. Ibid., pp. 133-134; Eng. trans., p. 131. 17. Ibid., p. 127; Eng. trans., pp. 124-125. [182]

A Transcendental Science of the A Priori of the Life-world

tion as objectivism and he felt that the crisis of a technical world could be turned only by criticizing and overthrowing it. For objectivism the experienced reality of the life-world (as the op­ posite of the true world of science existing in itself) counted as a sphere that was merely subjective and relative. There could be no authentic knowledge and no true science of this domain. Husserl criticized this position in the following way: "The con­ trast between the subjectivity of the life-world and the 'objec­ tive/ the 'true' world [always thought of as nature, in an ex­ panded sense of the word,] lies in the fact that the later is a theoretical-logical substruction, the substruction of something that is in principle not perceivable, in principle not experience­ able in its own proper being, whereas the subjective, in the life-world, is distinguished in all respects precisely by its being actually experienceable."18 The life-world is a domain of ulti­ mate evidences of that which is given as "it itself:" "every man­ ner of induction has the sense of an induction of something intuitable, something possibly perceivable as the thing itself or rememberable as having-been-perceived, etc."19 Overturning the crisis of objectivism consists of the task of bringing "to recognition the primal validity of these evidences and indeed their higher dignity in the grounding of knowledge compared to that of the objective-logical evidences."20 We can see the necessity of this task by pointing to the simple fact that the ever-so-complicated theoretical constructions of the sciences can count as being true only when they have been confirmed in experiments. Verification, however, means being able to fix the predicted event as one which has taken place in the field of our sensuous experience. In this connection Husserl points out that all scientific theory-construction requires perception of models.21 These are nothing other than life-world intuitions, "which are suited to make easier the conception of the objective ideas in question."22 Indeed in the contemporary philosophical inquiry into the foundations of the mathematical natural sci­ 18. 19. 20. 21. 22.

Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid.

p. p. p. p.

130; 130; 131; 132;

Eng. Eng. Eng. Eng.

trans., trans., trans., trans.,

p. p. p. p.

127. 128. 128. Translation altered. 129.


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

ences the question of the meaning and derivation of the experi­ mental model [Modellvorstellungen ] guiding them is of central im­ portance. From objective-logical evidence we, therefore, can question back to the primal evidence in which the life-world is pregiven. Experience yields, accordingly, "an evidence taking place purely in the life-world and as such is the source of self-evidence for what is objectively established in the sciences."23 Questioning back to the life-world, therefore, means nothing less than the vindication of the domain of belief; for "the life-world is nothing other than the world of doxa treated so scornfully by the tradi­ tion."24 Husserl grounds the necessity of this return primarily in opposition to the current of modern thought; but noting this gives us a way of seeing the historical and systematic meaning of the problem of the life-world from within the history of Euro­ pean philosophy and a way of seeing a relation which phenomenology has to the tradition of metaphysics. Let me add a few remarks to this topic. Doxa was treated with suspicion not only in modern philosophy but from the moment Parmenides differentiated two ways: the way of truth, which can be none other than the truth of an everlasting and un­ changeable Being grounded in itself; and the forbidden way which leads into darkness, the way which substitutes becoming, change, flux, and the wavering opinions of mortal men for Be­ ing. From that point on the truth of Being was understood as the permanent and unchanging, be it interpreted as the domain of ideas, the eternal formae substantiates, or be it the permanent form of the lawful regularity of the course of the world drawn up ahead of time in a divine spirit and then reflected and repro­ duced by men. This presupposition of an eternal and unchang­ ing Being, situated behind the world experienced as moving, changing, and continually in flux, forms the foundation for the development of Western metaphysics in all of its varieties. At the end of its development we find Nietzsche's destruction of every kind of "world behind the world," and that means not only the thought of a transcendent God but also every presup­ position of a perduring "in-itself" behind the continual flux. 23. Ibid., p. 131; Eng. trans., p. 129. Translation altered. 24. Ibid., p. 465.


A Transcendental Science of the A Priori of the Life-world

Nietzsche called for a return to the "innocence of becoming," a becoming that is not gauged by the permanent and enduring. Heidegger has legitimate grounds, therefore, for characterizing Nietzsche's philosophy as the final word of Western philosophy. It is indeed a conclusion in so far as it attempts to negate the basis—the in-itself of permanent being situated within the anti­ thesis of being and becoming, of truth and doxa—from which metaphysics developed, and to establish the primacy of becom­ ing. After Nietzsche's termination of metaphysics, Husserl took up the Heraclitean flux itself as the theme of a fully grounded philosophical science and thereby attempted to establish the way forbidden by Parmenides, the way of the night, as the proper path to philosophical truth, as the path "returning us to origins." One could also say that Feuerbach's challenge to take up what is not philosophy into the text of philosophy finds its development here (although in a manner which Feuerbach did not anticipate). Doxa can no longer be circumvented by philoso­ phy. It itself must be accounted for in its necessity and truth through a "return to the naïveté of life—but in a reflection which rises about this naïveté."25 This means, however, that now problems arise which can no longer be mastered with the con­ ceptual tools of the metaphysical tradition. Although their ways are different, Husserl finds himself confronted with a task which Heidegger had characterized at approximately the same time as the "return to the ground of metaphysics." This is the ground which, in the history of metaphysics, had first given rise to the distinction between episteme and doxa.

The Life-world as Historical World and as World in the Immediate Experience of Nature In what we have just said the life-world was introduced as the domain of primitive evidences from which we can then proceed to understand the sense of the various other kinds of evidences attained in practical life and in the theoretical activities of the objective sciences. 25. Ibid., p. 60; Eng. trans., p. 59.


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl The life-world is pregiven to us all. . . as persons within the hori­ zon of our fellowmen, i.e., in every actual connection with others, as “the" world common to us all. Thus it is . .. the constant ground of validity, an ever available source of what is taken for granted, to which we, whether as practical men or as scientists, lay claim as a matter of course.26

The first step of the phenomenological return to the dimension of final evidence is the phenomenological reduction with its bracketing of the general thesis of ontic belief, of the belief in the being of the world as a world persisting in itself. This program was envisioned quite early in Husserl's career. Thus the return to the evidences of the life-world as the theme of constitutive analysis must be seen as his last step in the concrete explication of his program of reduction. “Life-world" is, therefore, not a novel theme in Husserl's writings. The expression is nothing other than a label for what Husserl spoke of in the Ideas as the correlate of the "natural attitude," a correlate now taken in its full concretion. The foregoing certainty of its givenness is spoken of as the "general thesis of the natural attitude," the belief in the world belonging to natural life. It is important to see, however, that this belief in the existence of the world is not merely a problem of epistemol­ ogy, as though we were concerned with the basis of the empty certainty of a "being outside of us." Rather, this certainty is a certainty which is structured in itself, is filled out and dif­ ferentiated with regard to the contents. The world of the actual "life-world" is given in such certainty. With the interrogation of the a priori of the transcendental-constitutive conditions of its givenness, phenomenology is lead back to that "residue" remaining after the reduction; to the deeper constitutional ac­ complishments of transcendental subjectivity, accomplishments making possible all other accomplishments. Once we see the origin of not only all scientific but also all philosophical conceptions of a being-in-itself and once we com­ prehend the truth of this concept as that of a necessary hypothesis of human existence, then we must ask: in what way can the dimension of primitive evidences, which appear as 26. Ibid., p. 124; Eng. trans., p. 122.


A Transcendental Science of the A Priori of the Life-world

purely subjective when compared with those of science, become the domain of a philosophical science which is fundamental? "Can there be, next to objective truth, yet a second truth, the subjective?"27 This would be a science whose exclusive task would be "to comprehend precisely this style, precisely this whole merely subjective and apparently incomprehensible 'Heraclitean flux/"28 that is, to comprehend precisely that do­ main of belief which, from the beginning of the history of metaphysics, was excluded from the entire range of what could be scientifically known. In the Crisis, this science was first introduced as a postulate, as "that novel universal science of subjectivity as pregiving the world."29 The philosophically fundamental science of the life­ world is, therefore, nothing other than transcendental phenomenology itself with its task of discovering the world­ constituting accomplishments of transcendental subjectivity in their "deep dimension." With the question of the life-world, the intention leading Husserl from the beginning comes to its ful­ fillment, while at the same time he is able to give the method of constitutive disclosure [Enthüllung] its most poignant formula­ tion. It is no longer sufficient—and this is a self-critical remark which refers to the way in which Husserl first introduced the reduction—just to demand "that we use no sort of knowledge arising from the sciences as premises, and we take the sciences into consideration only as historical facts, taking no position of our own on their truth."30 This demand already results from the elimination of the presupposition of a world subsisting in itself. The objective sciences and their propositions are not tested as to truth but rather their origin and existence are comprehended only as cultural facts among others appearing in history. More­ over, Husserl adds to this, in a certain way, concern with this sort of thing belongs continually to [one style of] objective investigation, mainly that of the histo-

27. 28. 29. 30.

Ibid., p. 179; Eng. trans., p. 175. Ibid., p. 159; Eng. trans., p. 156. Cf. p. 181; Eng. trans., p. 177. Ibid., p. 150; Eng. trans., p. 147. Ibid. [187]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

hans, who must, after all, reconstruct the changing, surrounding life-worlds of the peoples and periods with which they deal. . .. The same thing holds [even] if we take as our subject of investi­ gation, in the unity of a systematic survey, all [historical] periods and peoples and finally the entire spatiotemporal world, paying constant attention to the relativity of the surrounding life-worlds of particular human beings, peoples, and periods as mere matters of fact. ... It is taken one part at a time and then, at a higher level, one surrounding world, one temporal period, at a time; each par­ ticular intuition [yields] an ontic validity, whether in the mode of actuality or possibility. As each intuition occurs, it presupposes others having objective validity—presupposes for us, the observ­ ers, the general ground of the validity of the world.31

What this means is that a comparative and universal analysis can transpire on the ground of the "natural attitude." The methodological requirement of bracketing the general thesis of the natural attitude takes on a deeper meaning when it is contrasted to this comparative, "cultural-historical" consider­ ation of the world in its historical process and differentiation. Its task is not only to show how the consciousness of world as horizonal consciousness is implicit in our awareness of existents in the world, but also to show how this horizon is a historical horizon. This means that it does not merely disengage the ontic positing [Seinssetzung] implicit in our awareness of individual givens (for example, in the perception of things) but it also must thematize each individual ontic positing as a positing transpir­ ing in the horizon of the world as a historical horizon. In each the world is implicit not only as the horizon of what is simul­ taneously present but also as the horizon of what is past. "Be­ cause of this constantly flowing horizonal character, then, every straightforwardly performed validity in natural world-life al­ ways presupposes validities extending back, immediately or mediately, into a necessary subsoil of obscure but occasionally available, reactivatable validities, all of which together, includ­ ing the present acts, make up a single indivisible interrelated complex of life."32 By showing that the world is implicated as the horizon of the 31. Ibid., pp. 150-151; Eng. trans., p. 147. 32. Ibid., p. 152; Eng. trans., p. 149.


A Transcendental Science of the A Priori of the Life-world

positing of each individual existent, Husserl demonstrates that the world is not, as it was for Kant, the idea of the totality of all existents which could be conceived only after running through the multiplicity of existents: it is not a concept of an object to which nothing corresponds in experience. Rather it is always co-given in experience as horizon along with individual objects. Kant could not see this because the structure of horizonal consciousness—one of the great discoveries of Husserl's—was alien to him. The task of a phenomenological clarification of the life-world is to comprehend, first of all, the style of the world-life. Its systematic explication "as world-life and of ourselves as living in it leads us . . . to its style of historicity; its factual present is that of a past and has, before it, a future. And so is each conceivable present which is only a free variation of the factual present."33 "All possible historical variants," however, "are variants of the world valid for us."34 It is only in this way that we can think of these variants as "co-possible" with a world familiar to us all, with our historical world. Thus the horizon of our life-world is the horizon of world history, the history of the one world with all of its variations of historical environments: "World history— its temporally-modal, concrete Being as Being in its streaming present with its past and future—can be understood from my perspective as the history of the world valid for us, our world­ view in subjective temporality; a world in which both the con­ tent and validity of our idea are found."35 The development of the problem of the life-world results from the maturation of ideas which Husserl presented in his lectures on First Philosophy (1923). There for the first time, he system­ atically explicated the structure of world-consciousness as the structure of the all-encompassing horizonal consciousness. He also insisted that the reduction not be restricted to the brack­ eting of the ontic thesis found in the execution of individual acts but that it include the horizon of the world in its entirety, that horizon already and always implicit in each ontic positing. At that time, he spoke of this insight as his most important 33. Ibid., p. 500. 34. Ibid. 35. Ibid., p. 501.


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

discovery. It is only in his later work, however, that it becomes apparent that this was the way in which Husserl discovered history phenomenologically: the horizon of the life-world is nothing other than the horizon of world history. To put it exactly: the hori­ zon of world history is implicated in the horizonal consciousness of the life-world. With this claim, the task of interrogating the accomplishments of transcendental, world-constituting sub­ jectivity is given its final and most comprehensible formulation. The constituting accomplishments of transcendental subjectivity must contain, in themselves, the conditions of the possibility of encountering the life-world as historical world in its historicity. This is not to deny that the life-world is always the world of immediate experience, that what is perceived displays itself, in the structure of its spatio-temporality, to men as sensuous, per­ ceiving, kinaesthetic subjects; that the world discloses itself for them as nature, before all scientific analysis and objectification. Rather what this means is that an actual and changing "image" of nature is intertwined with their world-horizon. This "image" of nature, which is always changing and which is not that image of a nature in-itself as construed by the objective sciences, is the image which specifies our conduct and comportment toward things. As "environing nature" it is, then, not "alien to the spirit,"36 but rather something capable of being understood in "idealizations," in view of an idea, of an a priori which serves to direct the necessary projects of our natural life. As such it "pre­ supposes history."37 Taking the eidos, over against the flux of its factual and particular realizations, as the abiding and permanent truth is a "naïveté"; just as taking the a priori of the modern, natural sciences as unconditionally valid is a naïveté precisely because such an attitude freezes and absolutizes what was formed under historical conditions and within historical tra­ ditions. The immediate experience of nature in sensuous per­ ception and the historically changing "images" of nature which are formed on the basis of this generate the interrogation of those constituting accomplishments which make possible this growth 36. Ibid., p. 317; Eng. trans., p. 272. 37. Cf. ibid., p. 302; Eng. trans., p. 323.


A Transcendental Science of the A Priori of the Life-world and change, and, thereby, the history of the transformation of the horizons of the world. In other words, the life-world is noth­ ing other than the concrete historical world with its traditions and its changing "images" of nature. The question of the constitution of the life-world, therefore, is conceived, in its full range, to be nothing other than the question of the constitution of the world as historical world. One could obviously object to this in the following way: the life-world is and remains the world of immediate sensuous ex­ perience whose correlate is spatio-physical nature. Does not this reduction of nature to a historically changing "image" of nature, belonging to a historical stage of a particular culture, deny that there is something unalterable in the movement of the historical world? If the "images" of nature—not only those of the common man but also those fashioned in philosophy and science— belonging to the horizon of each particular culture, are histori­ cally variable, and are only hypotheses necessary for the various tasks of life, then there would no longer be criteria by which we could evaluate their truth. We would no longer have, for exam­ ple, the possibility of saying that the "images" of modern sci­ ence are obviously truer than those of Aristotle. Using Husserl himself, one could add that such "images" are truer only in that they provide us with better prospects of meeting the demands of our existence in the life-world; but they are not true in the sense of being final. For all concepts of nature are "hypotheses," they only have a presumptive meaning and therefore are capable of being modified in the course of further developments. They should never be construed as concepts of the Being of nature in itself. Because such concepts can be modified and have a nearly pragmatic meaning, they are also subject to the "Heraclitean flux." It seems self-evident to those who raise such objections that, in the history of philosophy, theoretical man leaped from nowhere, so to speak, into the ideal of an "objective" knowl­ edge of the world, the ideal of thinking in a rational way and of at least striving in continuous approximation for truths valid for everyone. But it is precisely this possibility which is the prob­ lem. "It is this [supposed] springing [into the ideal of objective


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

knowledge] which constitutes the naïveté of historical philoso­ phy."38 Epistemological theory can, indeed, uncover the condi­ tions of the possibility of objective knowledge and can under­ stand thereby, the light guiding the scientist, to use Kant's im­ age; but it cannot comprehend the conditions under which the various procedures of objective science are seen as historical constructions and under which science can understand itself in its historicity. To this end the theory of knowledge must itself become historical interrogation. Obviously "the theory of knowl­ edge has never been seen as a task involving the problem of history, but this is precisely what we object to in the past."39 Therefore philosophy must have in view "the total problem of the universal historicity of the correlative manners of being of humanity and the cultural world and the a priori structure con­ tained in this historicity."40 But, one could immediately ask, have not the changes of the historical world swallowed up everything that would be perma­ nent and abiding? Has not this flux thereby denied the possibil­ ity of a universal and binding truth which could be seen as such by all rational beings? This question places us squarely before the problem of the very method of a phenomenological science of the a priori of the life-world. It indicates all the difficulties which appear in this problem of method and it issue a challenge to find the way leading to their solution. At the same time the question of a phenomenological science of transcendental subjectivity, a sci­ ence which would provide ultimate foundations, is raised im­ plicitly in a new way, a way which transcends Husserl's earlier formulations.

The Method of Gaining the A Priori of the Life-world, Its Problems and the Way to Their Solution The task of the phenomenological science of the a priori of the life-world can now be formulated in this way: it must make use of the materials offered to it by the empirico-historical science of 38. Ibid., p. 499. 39. Ibid., p. 379; Eng. trans., p. 370. Translation altered. 40. Ibid., p. 378; Eng. trans., p. 369.


A Transcendental Science of the A Priori of the Life-World

the forms of human cultures, but it cannot restrict itself to this, as does the historian when he researches the actual course and changes of history and describes the succession of ever new forms of human culture in terms of their similarities and dif­ ferences. For a description of common structures only attains to the level of empirical generalities and not to the level of that which makes history as such and the change of its forms in unqualified universality possible. Our analysis, therefore, must transcend the configuration of history as a flux, in which there is nothing permanent and abiding, and in which all cultural worlds are life-horizons relative to the ones living in them, by a reflection upon the conditions of the possibility of this relativity, condi­ tions discovered in transcendental subjectivity. From within this re­ flection, the objective sciences with their claims to truth are also seen as historically relative constructions. To put it succinctly: All [merely] factual history remains incomprehensible because, al­ ways merely drawing its conclusion naively and straightforwardly from facts, it never makes thematic the general ground of meaning upon which all such conclusions rest, it has never investigated the immense structural a priori which is proper to it. . . . This is the concrete, historical a priori which encompasses everything that exists as historical becoming and having-become or exists in its essential being as tradition and handing-down.41

What method do we have of uncovering this a priori of his­ tory? Its uncovering required Husserl to take a step beyond the manner in which he, in his earlier work, had studied the essen­ tial correlation between constitutive accomplishments and con­ stituted Being: "the phenomenology developed at first is merely 'static'; its descriptions are analogous to those of natural history, which concern particular types and, at best, arrange them in their systematic order.42 Static phenomenology is restricted to a consideration of the correlation of essential forms, ideas of con­ stituted existents, and the constituting accomplishments essen­ tially adjoined to them. The existent which it studies in terms of its essence and its essential differences is thereby pregiven as a mundane existent, as appearing in the horizon of the world. In 41. Ibid., p. 380; Eng. trans., pp. 371-372. 42. Cartesianische Meditationen, p. 110; Cartesian Meditations, p. 76. [193]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

this static differentiation of the existent in terms of its genera neither the horizon of its appearing, the world, nor the accom­ plishments constituting this horizon of the world come into view. For "there exists a fundamental difference between the way we are conscious of the world and the way we are conscious of things." Things, objects are only conscious to us, in principle, as objects in the horizon of the world. This horizon, in turn, is only conscious as "a horizon for existing objects; without par­ ticular objects of consciousness it cannot be actual." Therefore the world "does not exist as an entity, as an object, but exists with such uniqueness that the plural makes no sense when applied to it. Every plural, and every singular drawn from it, presupposes the world-horizon."43 If, however, the world­ horizon is the horizon of world-history as the history of one world, then all static analysis and conceptualization of the correlation of ideas and corresponding constituting functions presuppose history and its a priori. It is precisely these considerations which generate the question of the method of uncovering this a priori of history. In order to achieve a reflection which goes beyond the limits of static phenomenology, it is necessary that reflecting subjectiv­ ity itself transcends the course of history in its search for an a priori making it possible. But "does not all science, no matter how different its peculiar characteristics may be, and thus all truths in the scientific sense, as science's guiding idea; does it not all derive from an idealization which is itself in a historical sphere, and does it not presuppose the a prior of history, which itself derives from an idealization?"44 Husserl thereby realizes that everything a prior as the condition of the possibility of science, including the science of historical being, rests upon an idealization. In the manuscript just quoted, however, the con­ cept of idealization is given a broader and still more fundamen­ tal meaning than that found in the "Crisis" article where it was used to characterize the method of the modern natural sciences. With this broader concept of idealization, Husserl formulates the fundamental problem of an a priori of history. A few years earlier Georg Misch in Lebensphilosophie und Phänomenologie 43. Krisis, p. 146; Crisis, p. 143. 44. Ibid., p. 363; Eng. trans., pp. 350-351. Translation altered. U94]

A Transcendental Science of the A Priori of the Life-World

(1930) had charged Husserl with wanting to bring, in a way reminiscent of Plato, the flow of history to a standstill with his idea of its continual flowing. Are not, in fact, the "Heraclitean flux," this correlation of historical world-horizon and sub­ jectivity constituting it, and the concept of the essence of this flow, which is nevertheless an "idealization," irreconcilable opposites?45 It is clear from the passage just cited that Husserl was more than aware of these considerations. They were, in fact, de­ veloped by him as precisely those problems whose solution was the key to unfolding the a priori of history, that is, the a priori of the life-world as historical world. Keeping the empirical sciences of history in view, we can say that this a priori is the set of the conditions of the possibility not only of a prescientific experience of history but also the conditions of the possibility of an empiri­ cal science of history. For "all questioning and demonstrating which is in the usual sense historical presupposes history as the universal horizon of questioning."46 The question, therefore, is this: how is it that our life-world has the horizon of history, that it is a historical world? How does Husserl solve these difficulties and which ques­ tions remain unanswered and therefore open? This brings us to the question of the "primal evidences" which are acquired and explicated in the reduction to transcendental subjectivity taken as the ultimate foundation. In his reflections on First Philoso­ phy, Husserl speaks of "absolute experiences." This a priori of history, therefore, is not a realm of ideas set off in some world behind the world, or "innate" ideas of archetypic concepts of pure reason as exhibited in Kant's "regressive" method; rather it is discovered in the region of the deepest lying self-experience of reflecting, transcendental subjectivity. What is the a priori of history as experienced in the return to these primitive evidences? It is the temporal structure of that ul­ timate, constituting subjectivity which constitutes itself as tem­ poral, as Heraclitean flux. This constitution always proceeds in the "living present." 45. Georg Misch, Lebensphilosophie und Phänomenologie: eine Auseinandersetz­ ung mit Heidegger und Husserl (Bonn: F. Cohen, 1930). 46. Krisis, p. 382; Crisis, p. 373.


The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl What is historically primary in itself is our present. We always already know of our present world and that we live in it, always surrounded by an openly endless horizon of unknown actualities. This knowing, as horizon-certainty, is not something learned, not knowledge which was once actual and has merely sunk back to become part of the background; the horizon-certainty has to be already there in order to be capable of being laid out thematically; it is already presupposed in order that we can seek to know what we do not know. All not-knowing concerns the unknown world, which yet exists in advance for us as world, as the horizon of all questions of the present and thus also all questions which are specifically historical.. . . Accordingly, we need not first enter into some kind of critical discussion of the facts set up by historicism; it is enough that even the claim of their factualness presupposes the historical a priori if this claim is to have a meaning.47

What then is the primitive evidence uncovering tran­ scendental subjectivity, my ego with its world-experience and with its experience of the historical horizons of the world? It is not merely experience of a factual nature [einer puren Faktizität]. The sentences in which it is expressed must be fixed and capable of being made self-evident again and again. Through what method do we obtain a universal and also fixed a priori of the historical world which is always originally genuine? Whenever we consider it, we find ourselves with a self-evident capacity to reflect—to turn to the horizon and to penetrate it in an expository way. But we also have, and know that we have, the capacity of complete freedom to transform, in thought and phantasy, our human historical exis­ tence and what is there exposed as its life-world. And precisely in this activity of free variation, and in running through the conceiv­ able possibilities for the life-world, there arises, with apodictic self­ evidence, an essentially general set of elements ... as the essence constantly implied in the flowing, vital horizon.48

This means that the conditions of the possibility of having a world as historical world are found not only in the accom­ plishments of the perceptual constitution of a natural world, but also in the temporal self-constitution of transcendental subjectivity, a constitution in which each living present has its "comet tail" of a past continuously sinking back and an open horizon of the fu47. Ibid., pp. 382-383; Eng. trans., pp. 373-374. 48. Ibid., p. 383; Eng. trans., pp. 374-375.


A Transcendental Science of the A Priori of the Life-World ture. These are, therefore, the conditions of the possibility of having a world with its traditions, thus a historical world. These accomplishments can remain "anonymous." The access to the ground of having this world-horizon can be concealed or buried. But this horizon can never be missing; otherwise our world would not be a potentially universal human world with its unre­ stricted possibility of communication. Contained in the primitive evidence of the self-experience of transcendental subjectivity is not only the awareness of the fac­ ticity of itself as Heraclitean flux but also the evidence of not being anything other than the condition of the possibility of having a world as historical world, so that "every establishment of a historical fact which lays claim to unconditioned objectivity likewise presupposes this invariant or absolute a priori."49 With this insight we stand, as Husserl said, before "the great and profound problem-horizon of reason, the same reason that functions in every man, the animal rationale, no matter how primitive he is."50 This means that facticity of each type has "a root in the essential structure of what is generally human, through which a teleological reason running throughout all his­ toricity announces itself."51 This a priori of history is different from the objective, logical a priori which is itself historically generated, taken from the projects and tasks of natural life. The a priori of history, to make the contrast clear, is the concept of an invariant style of life-world existence. It does rest upon induction. But the propositions about this a priori are not to be taken as probable but rather as essential propositions of unconditional universality. To what extent is the flux in its necessity not brought to a standstill in the ideas of its flowing but rather grasped as flux? Husserl himself recognized that all conceptualization of an a priori is an idealization. There is no answer to this question which could prove the objection untenable. But we can take a clue from the way in which Husserl carried out his analysis. The answer begins with a question of the sense of the method of disclosure and with the tasks that Husserl's "final logic," the 49. Ibid., p. 385; Eng. trans., p. 377. 50. Ibid., p. 385; Eng. trans., p. 378. 51. Ibid., p. 386; Eng. trans., p. 378. [197]

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

logic of the disclosure of transcendental subjectivity itself, must have in contrast to "world-logic." This a priori is discovered through a reflection upon the deepest level of the constituting ego and its primitive evidences as primitive experiences. The "I" reflected upon "cannot be de­ clined" and, in fact, is named "I" only through an equivoca­ tion.52 This "nondeclension" is nothing other than what Heidegger designates as "ever-mineness" [Je-meinigkeit]. It sig­ nifies a singularity which lies beyond the difference between logical universality acquired through idealization, and individuals sub­ sumed under the universal. As Eley in his Krise des Apriori53 has seen, the problem of the mediation of the individual through the universal is situated at a different level than the essential ap­ prehension of the constituting functions of the a priori of history and of the life-world as historical. As ultimate, the a priori known is apart from this kind of mediation. In Husserl's remarks above, we find the clue as to how it is comprehended. Such mediation is superfluous because that subjectivity which is ultimate and is the ground lies beyond the dialectic of the one and the many as does its correlate, the world being constituted in it. In its singularity it implicates the one world common to all and, thereby, humanity. Subjectivity, therefore, is discovered in the reflection upon its ultimately constituting accomplishments as, so to speak, the immediacy which mediates itself. But in what sense has subjectivity thereby discovered itself? The answer which Husserl gives must be made precise. Husserl himself points out that the concepts of the invariant structures in all historically changing worlds, concepts which allow us to con­ ceptualize them as worlds belonging to our world, as a priori conditions of the possibility of having one world, derive, as does every a priori, from idealization. But this means that they are a construction which is not closed but which must be transcended in our appropriation. Thus, reason is not defined by a permanent acquisition of a total concept of the world, a total concept to which it always has access and which makes possible other con­ cepts. Rather reason is intentional reason which, as intention, is 52. Ibid., p. 188; Eng. trans., p. 184. 53. Lothar Eley, Die Krise des Apriori in der transzendentalen Phänomenologie Edmund Husserls, Phaenomenologica 10 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1969). [198]

A Transcendental Science of the A Priori of the Life-World always ahead of [vorweg] and transcending itself. The a priori is an invariant but it is not exhausted by our conceptualization of it; for then it would be brought to a standstill. But because the a priori is itself a Heraclitean flux, the reason which concep­ tualizes it, which is subjectivity in its nondeclension factually reflecting itself as reason, transcends itself in its process of concep­ tualization. This solution to the problem of the a priori of history, it seems to me, already lies in Husserl's concept of intentionality and in the notion that history and its teleology are founded on an empty primal intention from which follows the intentional reaching-out into a still undeterminate, open horizon, a horizon which is first progressively filled out in the process of becoming. This filling out, as itself opening the new horizon of tran­ scendental life, is not the realization of a fixed, a priori possibil­ ity which already subsists "in itself"—one which could be specified, as with Hegel, by reference to absolute spirit—but rather it becomes a possibility only as envisioned and reached for. If the reduction eliminates the metaphysical interpretation of the a priori as a permanent world of ideas, a divine intellect or an absolute spirit, it also does away with the idea of possibilities which subsist "in themselves" and then, in their realization, become "for themselves." Likewise it eliminates the Hegelian problem of the mediation between the unconditional univer­ sality of the a priori and its constitution in factual, tran­ scendental subjectivity. All that is fixed is the direction of the goal prefigured in the primal intention. Yet this goal itself points to an open future. Phenomenological reason is not cir­ cumscribed by a fixed a priori apprehended [in reduction] but it is an open reason. It does not, therefore, comprehend itself and its ground "theoretically" (through idealization and logical ap­ prehension). Rather its possibilities first become possibilities by taking them up as projects of the will, that is, by assimilation and realization and, thus, by carrying out our freedom. It is in the actual carrying out of its freedom that transcendental subjec­ tivity comes to know that which grounds and makes possible the style of its life. The a priori possibilities of a teleological movement are not possibilities in themselves but rather ones first grasped in "absolute experience." As such they are constituted [199]

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through their accomplishment. But the guarantee which secures these possibilities as kinds of constitutional capabilities and yet leaves room for freedom, the ground of their being, is "experi­ enced" only in the execution of freedom and cannot be "theoret­ ically" conceptualized apart from it. Therefore, there is an inter­ relationship between the fact that freedom and its basis cannot be theoretically known (Kant) and the fact that the deepest lying a priori of the life-world cannot be objectified and idealized, that is, the a priori as the structural style of the transformations of the world-horizon in its indeterminate openness, the horizon in which constituting subjectivity factually finds itself. The fulfill­ ment of the primal intention of rational subjectivity first tran­ spires in its experience, in the "experiment" that is ventured. In this analysis of the essence of intentionality, we find the key to overcoming the traditional opposition between the a priori and what is empirical and historical. The universal struc­ ture of subjectivity constituting the life-world, its "intention­ ality [Willen tlichkeit]" (Husserl), would be intentionality in the sense of "always-being-out-beyond-itself" (transcendence in Heidegger's sense) and of not being able to grasp itself in an objectifying reflection. This, it seems to me, gives us the possi­ bility of solving the riddle of how there can be an a priori of history, a solution which results from Husserl's statements but which he himself did not envision because of his theory of re­ flection.



Body, 18-22, 33-49, 51-52, 60-62, 172-174 Brentano, Franz, 14

Kant, Immanuel, 14-16, 80, 91, 95, 104, 116, 118, 171-173, 200 Kinaesthetic movement, 38-39

Causality, 38-40, 43 Constitution, 50-51 See also Life-world; Passive constitu­ tion or passivity; World Corporeality. See Body

Life-world, 18, 91-96, 118, 174 first occurrence of, 176 as historical world, 185-192 method of investigation of, 178. See also History natural concept of, 128-145 transcendental clarification of, 146147, 187, 192-200 as world of immediate experience, 185-192 vs. world interpreted through sci­ ence, 179-185 Living present, 52-55, 195-197

Descartes, René, 14-17, 75, 116 Dilthey, Wilhelm, 175

Ego. See Subjectivity Evidence, 15, 24-25 Feuerbach, Ludwig, 185

Galileo, 27, 179, 182

Hegel, G. W. F., 199 History, 18, 33, 40, 64 a priori of, 42, 96, 186, 192-200 and life-world, 181, 187-192 as part of phenomenological inves­ tigations, 96-98, 179, 192 telos of, 98-99, 199 Horizon, 23, 89-102, 123-127, 145-147, 188 Hyle, Hyletic data. See Sense-data Intentionality, 17, 101, 118-119, 146, 199-200 Intuition, 19, 23-25 See also Reduction

Marxism, 33-34 Material reality. See Nature Materialism, 33 Meaning, 19, 27, 123, 165 Mind, 40-41, 165 Misch, Georg, 195 Motivation, 43 Natural attitude, 18-19 Natural sciences, 36-37, 179-184 Naturalistic attitude, 157-167 Nature constitution of, 35-37, 42—15, 179184, 190 and transcendental subjectivity, 62 as totality of objects, 19 Nietzsche, Friedrich, 184-185



Parmenides, 184-185 Passive constitution or passivity, 18, 50-65, 145-146 Perception, 95-96, 158-162 early theory, 15, 123-126 world, 142-146 Personalistic attitude, 18-19, 166-169 Phenomenological reduction. See Re­ duction Presentiation vs. presentification, 91-93 Reduction, 16-17, 53, 123-125, 127128 Cartesian way, 22, 81, 90 and problem of history, 96-98 way through the critique of experi­ ence or the life-world, 90-97, 99102, 186-187 Reflection, 22-23, 54-56, 61, 104-107, 109-117 motivation for, 107-109 Regional ontology. See World


Rules, 162-163 Sartre, Jean-Paul, 115 Sense-data, 56-60 Stumpf, Carl, 14 Subjectivity: as field of absolute experience, 81-89, 116, 169 as totality of egos or intersubjectiv­ ity, 102, 118, 120 transcendental, 51-53, 56-57, 60, 62-64, 100-102, 104-121, 177, 186, 192, 196

Time, 18-20 living present, 23, 113 World, 122-148 early theory of, 122-127, 140-145, 177 as horizon of perception, 124-127 later theory of. See Life-world regions of, 149-170

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl Designed by Richard E. Rosenbaum. Composed by The Composing Room of Michigan, Inc. in 10 point Palatino V.I.P., 2 points leaded, with display lines in Palatino. Printed offset by Thomson/Shore, Inc. on Warren's Number 66 Antique Offset, 50 pound basis. Bound by John H. Dekker & Sons, Inc. in Holliston book cloth and stamped in Kurz-Hastings foil.


Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Landgrebe, Ludwig, 1902The phenomenology of Edmund Husserl.

Includes index. 1. Husserl, Edmund, 1859-1938—Addresses, essays, lectures. 2. Phenomenology—Addresses, essays, lectures. I. Welton, Donn. II. Title. B3279.H94L26 193 80-69827 ISBN 0-8014-1177-7 AACR2