I just came across an interesting-looking paper proposal by a colleague of mine at JFKU.  I will see if I can locate the full paper.


Husserl, Schutz, and Collective Intentionality: A Transpersonal-Her..., by Sean M. Avila Saiter.

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I'm with you Sean on your overall project, and agree to the primacy of intersubjectivity. Just trying to understand your angle on it. The following excerpts are from a prior thread called "the embodied challenge" and pull quotes from those I weave into my own version:

Here's Habermas on the lifeworld from Postmetaphysical Thinking (MIT Press, 1992):

"This background...constitutes a totality that is implicit and that comes along prereflexively--one that crumbles the moment it is thematized; it remains a totality only in the form of implicit, intuitively presupposed background knowledge. Taking the unity of the lifeworld, which is known only subconsciously, and projecting it in an objectifying manner onto the level of explicit knowledge is the operation that has been responsible for mythological, religious and also of course metaphysical worldviews" (142-3).

Martin Morris from “Between deliberation and deconstruction” in The Derrida-Habermas Reader (U of Chicago Press, 2006, 231-53):

“The lifeworld reveals only a portion of itself in any dialogue because it exists as a phenomenological ‘background’ of pre-theoretical, pre-interpreted contexts of meaning and relevance….the vast proportion of lifeworld convictions always remain in the background during any discussion…. The lifeworld itself cannot be the proper them of communicative utterances, for as a totality it provides the space in or ground upon which such utterances occur, even those that name it explicitly….it remains indeterminate” (235-6).

"Speaking for the lifeworld as if one could step outside of it and know it directly inevitably leads one to 'invoke a cosmology,' a 'metaphysics of the thing-in-itself'” (239).

Pertinent to this discussion is of course G. H. Mead, but we’ve gone over him at length before (see link). Just a tad from that discussion follows:

“The essence of Mead's so-called ‘social behaviorism’ is his view that mind is an emergent out of the interaction of organic individuals in a social matrix. Mind is not a substance located in some transcendent realm, nor is it merely a series of events that takes place within the human physiological structure. Mead therefore rejects the traditional view of the mind as a substance separate from the body as well as the behavioristic attempt to account for mind solely in terms of physiology or neurology. Mead agrees with the behaviorists that we can explain mind behaviorally if we deny its existence as a substantial entity and view it instead as a natural function of human organisms. But it is neither possible nor desirable to deny the existence of mind altogether. The physiological organism is a necessary but not sufficient condition of mental behavior (Mind, Self and Society 139). Without the peculiar character of the human central nervous system, internalization by the individual of the process of significant communication would not be possible; but without the social process of conversational behavior, there would be no significant symbols for the individual to internalize.”

Gadamer makes the following claim:

"[D]oes Husserl follow the rigor of his own principle “Zu den Sachen selbst” in beginning his analysis of the evidence of our cognition by the standard model of sense perception? Is sense-perception something given or is it an abstraction that thematizes an abstract constant of the given? Scheler, in his very living contacts with psychologists and physiologists of this epoch as with American pragmatism and Heidegger demonstrated with vigor that sense perception is never given. It is rather an aspect of the pragmatic approach to the world. We are always hearing, listening to something and extracting from other things. We are interpreting in seeing hearing, receiving. . . . So it is obvious that there is a real primacy of interpretation. Husserl refused to accept this analysis . . . and held that all interpretation is a secondary act."

"Hermeneutics of Suspicion."


By "structures," here and perhaps then by application, "structuralism" -- which is to say as such terms relate to the work of Wilber -- I understand something more along the lines of Gustav Mensching's "structures," which are really more akin to phenomenological "essences," rather than anything like what is found in LeviStrauss or Saussure.

theurj said:

Doesn't EH though accept the very kind of kennilingual structuralism which presupposes direct, conscious apprehension of the real through intentional methods (e.g. meditation, and "how the collective interior evolves"), a presupposition about intentionality that the polydoxae (including Foucault) question? (See Foucault excerpt above.)


Hi Sean,

You write:


I feel I need to defend Husserl as being essentially misinterpreted. In fact, I feel that people like Foucault have actually chosen to focus on particular works by Husserl in their critiques (the earlier Husserl) and have failed to appreciate the fact that Husserl wrote more about intersubjectivity (among other themes) than any of the other phenomenologists after him (see Zahavi). Similarly, in an interesting turn of events, Schutz (who came after Husserl not before), directly inspired the introduction of social constructionism, ethnomethodology, and conversation analysis, all very influential in contemporary thought. So, what I found is that both Husserl and Schutz, if one were to take the time to read their original work and not the critiques through people like Derrida and Foucault (among many others) one would find many of these critiques to be questionable if not downright inaccurate (though, I must say, transcendentalism doesn't seem to be recoverable at this point).


I take it that you are referring to my comment that "Husserl follows Schutz..." when you point out that it is Schutz who in fact follows Husserl. Yes, this is an important correction that should be made and my statement is misleading, as I have stated it. I'm not sure where I picked up the idea, and it may simply have been an impression from a book or a lecture, but my sense was that after Schutz published The Phenomenology of the Social World in 1932, and it was given a favorable review by Husserl, that subsequently, Husserl began to abandon the "transcendental idealism" of the Ideas, and began to emphasize concepts like the "life-world" and intersubjectivity. The implication is that (perhaps) the work of people like Scheler and Schutz were "influencing" Husserl. Maybe this idea derived from the imagination of some philosophy prof of mine who was speculating in class. haha. In any case, the idea has apparently stuck with me. I appreciate the correction.

My understanding of Husserl has been shaped by Gadamer's interpretation of his work, and Gadamer's views are a bit idiosyncratic, if though influential. Gadamer apparently resented the apologetic tone of interpreters like Schutz, Fink, et al., and insisted that Husserl had stuck to his guns, more or less, where a few key concepts were concerned -- rigourous science, the transcedental ego...

You may be (at least partially :-) correct to point out that some of the critiques of Husserl involve distortions in some sense - Derrida's and Adorno's more so than others perhaps. (Rorty's accounts might to some degree be called caricatures. haha.) I'm best acquainted with those aspects of Derrida's critique dealing with time. This aspect is a bit odd since Derrida himself admits that Husserl, in "The Phenomenology of Internal Time Conscisiousness," knowingly contradicts what he says elsewhere in the Ideas -- it's as if his own phenomenological method is taking him into uncharted territories. In any case, what caught my attention in Derrida's account of Husserl on time is its proximity to the Prasangika Madhyamika analysis of earlier Abhidharma theories of time and momentariness. Schutz too, I believe, had something to say about the apprehension of internal time consciuousness....

Getting back to Goddamner and the idea of critiques, it should also perhaps be noted that Schutz himself offered a critique the Fifth Cartesian Meditation, where Husserl attempts to give an account of intersubjectivity. Like Gadamer, Schutz appears to be saying that Husserl didn't quite get it right; Gadamer might have said that he could not have gotten it right given that he continued to hold onto older ideas, ideas that prevented him from doing so. But that's just Gadamer's take on the situation.



Just a quick note for now, as I must run off to kowtow to my capital masters. Since we're exploring Merleau-Ponty's relation to Husserl via phenomenology, I  found this statement rather interesting regarding Derrida's critique of Husserl, from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Derrida. More later:

"With so much Merleau-Ponty archival material available, it is possible now however to see similarities between Merleau-Ponty's final studies of Husserl and Derrida's first studies."

Balder mentioned Gary Madison's views on Husserl. This interesting article by Dan Zahavi does an overview on Merleau-Ponty scholars' interpretation of MP's views on Husserl, and how their own agendas skew MP's view on the topic. For example, Madison's criticisms have a much more Heideggerian flare toward Husserl than that of MP, i.e. claiming that Husserl "held unto the idea of a self-transparent transcendental ego that could be fully disclosed through systematic reflection." Zahavi criticizes Madison for maintaining this opinion without adequate documentation. He also points out that MP took into consideration Husserl's posthumously published work, unlike some of the critics like Madison. Zahavi then goes into various points of contention with the critics, one being “Merleau-Ponty’s repeated claim that Husserl considered transcendental subjectivity to be an intersubjectivity.”

Returning to the above statement about late MP and early Derrida on Husserl, Leonard Lawlor's chapter in Merleau-Ponty's Reading of Husserl (Springer 2002) called "The limits of phenomenology in MP and Derrida" explores this topic. This Google book preview gives a bit of it.

Bingo bango. Madison (who was a prof where I did my grad work) is clearly evoking Gadamer's interpretation of Husserl when he says that Husserl "held onto the idea" of the Transcendental Ego. Madison was a hermeneut. Gadamer's interpretation was apparently based on personal interaction with Husserl throughout their lives.

theurj said:

Balder mentioned Gary Madison's views on Husserl. This interesting article by Dan Zahavi does an overview on Merleau-Ponty scholars' interpretation of MP's views on Husserl, and how their own agendas skew MP's view on the topic. For example, Madison's criticisms have a much more Heideggerian flare toward Husserl than that of MP, i.e. claiming that Husserl "held unto the idea of a self-transparent transcendental ego that could be fully disclosed through systematic reflection." Zahavi criticizes Madison for maintaining this opinion without adequate documentation. He also points out that MP took into consideration Husserl's posthumously published work, unlike some of the critics like Madison. Zahavi then goes into various points of contention with the critics, one being “Merleau-Ponty’s repeated claim that Husserl considered transcendental subjectivity to be an intersubjectivity.”

I am not talking about MP; I am talking about MP's interpretation of Husserl. And Sean is taking about Shutz's, and his own, interpretation of Husserl. You yourself brought up Gadamer's interpretation, as well as Derrida and others. It's not like there is one right interpretation, even from Husserl himself.

So it seems that providing how others see Husserl is of direct pertinence, especially in light of Sean's paper arguing that some interpretations get it wrong while others get it right. I'm trying to understand what it is, exactly, about other interpretations that get it wrong. Especially since MP is supposed to be one who understands Husserl better than Derrida, when it seems they both had a lot of similarity on the topic. So I'll continue with my inquiry whether you approve or not.

Hello gentlemen. Not scared off, just attending to other things. I was just wondering what it was that we were talking about as well...Will give it some thought...

kelamuni said:

did we scare sean off? hahaha.


For example, in Lawlor's Derrida and Husserl (IUP, 2002) he notes that Fink* was Derrida's prime source for his own interpretation. Lawlor goes even further though is saying “Derrida's philosophy—his deconstruction—is continuous with Husserl's phenomenology” (11). He argues that to get at a more accurate interpretation of Husserl requires us to get at the underlying operating assumptions of phenomenology versus critical philosophy, the latter misconstruing Husserl by assuming he had the same premises. In that regard Fink says (via Lawlor, of course) that Husserl's phenomenology is “world transcendent” (13). And yet it is a transcendence that is not only not within the world but not without it either, unlike critical philosophy that saw the transcendent as a strict dichotomy with the immanent. And it is here where we start to see Husserl's brand of transcendence show up in Derrida.


More later, work beckons.


* Fink is mentioned above as one who is a more accurate interpreter of Husserl, and Husserl himself “unqualifiedly authorized Fink's interpretation of his philosophy.” Lawlor also notes that “anyone interested in criticizing Derrida's interpretation of Husserl cannot ignore this authorization” (21).

Protevi's introductory lecture on Derrida and Husserl clearly sets out the issues with his own ideas about Husserl. For example:

Now perhaps the most basic guiding thread of Husserl's scripts is that of the parallelism of subjective act and objective correlate, which becomes known as the "constitution" of noesis and noema, a constitution performed ultimately by temporalization. Perhaps a useful schema, but one to be used carefully, is to think of Husserl as a thinker of the "middle."

A...way to see the difference is to think that Kantians work from the top-down, describing a structure to which all objects must submit, then transposing that structure to the subject's a priori formation of objects, which could do nothing but conform; phenomenology, on the other hand, would work from below, from concrete descriptions of the constitutive middle between subject and object.

We start in the natural attitude, which (falsely: the fallacy of "objectivism" or "realism" or "Platonism") assumes the independent existence of things--tables and chairs, or ideal objects like "triangle"--in the world: independent that is, of consciousness. We perform the phenomenological reduction, by suspending the thesis of the independent existence of things and consciousness, and observe things as they appear to consciousness in order to trace their constitution by transcendental subjectivity, both at the act-intentional level, and at the ultimate level of temporaliztion. We should note that this is not an abstraction to the universal and anonymous "epistemological ego" of Kant, but revelation of a concrete individual ego, at a transcendental level. Husserl will eventually call the concrete ego a "monad" because it includes not just the living streaming present, but also its past and future, its habits and capabilities, even its idiosyncracies. Nevertheless, there is a certain plurality of transcendental egos interrelated in such a way as to form an intersubjectively verifiable, objectively shared, world.

The transcendental ego is concrete and singular, but intersubjectively related to other egos so as to insure objectivity as truth for everyone everywhere. Husserl now faces a difficult problem: he must maintain a reference to concrete singular world-constituting consciousness without at the same time falling into solipsism. The Fifth Cartesian Meditation tackles this problem: how to constitute, as part of the world constituted within me, the other as other: in other words, how can I as absolute origin of the world see another as another absolute origin of the same world? This problem provokes Levinas--the translator of CM and the author of the first book on Husserl in French--to his own project of articulating a philosophy of "absolute alterity."

Now the transcendental ego is not an ontic double of the always singularly-placed empirical ego, but is uncannily "related" to it. Fink writes concerning the "logical paradox of transcendental determinations,"--in language that we can only see as provocative for Derrida--of the relation of transcendental and empirical egos, as "this singular identity-in-difference, this sameness in being-other" (Fink, 144). This relation, which will come to be called différance, is the key to JD's investigation, as it is for all philosophers writing in a post-Kantian world.

The essential structures of consciousness are: intentionality and time-consciousness. Intentionality is the relation of the subject to what is other than itself, what can become an object for it and everyone else. Intentionality is an explosion out of subjectivity toward objectivity; consciousness is being-toward- difference. We must stress that intentionality is not subjective, but is the "between" of subject and object, the middle out of which objects and subjects are constituted.

Husserl came at the end to investigate the "lifeworld." This is not the mute world of preconceptual, prelinguistic, pre-predictative experience, as it was for Husserl in the 1920s, but in the Crisis, becomes the actual historical cultural world of everyday experience. Out of the lifeworld, as one area of human praxis among others, arises the project of science: the establishment of an objective world and the ideal truths explaining this world. The establishment of objectivity is a historical European project for Husserl, beginning with the Greeks and applied by Galileo to nature. In a sense, then, modern science is the realization of Platonism: the discovery of independently existing objective being. This Platonist project, reason, culminates in phenomenology, which is the supercession of metaphysics in that it shows the subjective constitution of objectivity.

In relation to my question to Sean re: his proposal for a transpersonal-hermeneutic phenomenology, I've been doing a little background research on my own and came across the following article: Reeling Phenomenology Away from Theology, by Rajiv Kaushik.

I found it interesting, given my own interest in articulating a postmetaphysical, integral, enactive model of religious pluralism.  I expect Sean is interested in something similar, based on several of the elements he weaves together in his proposal, so I am curious to hear his thoughts on this brief article, especially in relation to his own use of Marion in his work.  (In particular, Sean, I wonder if you see the problem in Marion that Kaushik identifies, and if so, how you reconcile his approach, or the elements you draw from it, with what appears to be a pluralist-participatory orientation in your own approach [a la Ferrer, for instance]).

Briefly, the author of the article argues that Marion's theological reading of Husserl is antithetical to religious pluralism, and offers instead a reading of Husserl which he believes is truer to Husserl's project and better preserves a pluralist orientation.

A couple relevant quotes:

Especially in various circles of current European thought, the readings of Husserl by Jean-Luc Marion are becoming of more and more interest. Marion’s work appears to be the latest in what Dominique Janicaud has diagnosed as “the theological turn” from Husserlian phenomenology. (1) His main thesis does not seek to confront Husserl’s phenomenology with a theology of exteriority so much as it seeks to re-read Husserl’s phenomenology as a propaedeutic for a revealed theology. I see this direction in phenomenology as dangerous because it leads phenomenology into something that the latter sought to overcome. It introduces phenomenology to a justification for a religious dogmatism that is antithetical to the possibility of pluralism, and religious pluralism in particular. As James K. Smith says, it even “colonizes being.”(2)

...Of a theologico-metaphysics, Husserl writes in the Cartesian Meditations that it is undermined: truth, he writes, “has gained a new significance” because it now excludes “every naïve metaphysics that operates with absurd things in themselves” by providing a distinct opening into the investigation of “ethico-religious problems.” (12) Phenomenology can even break open an investigation of the “problem-motivates that inwardly drive the old tradition into the wrong line of inquiry and the wrong method.” (13) Just what these “motivates” are according to Husserl is not quite clarified until a lecture given in the 1930’s: they are certain “horizons of knowledge and feeling” so that any phenomenology of religious experience is really a matter pertaining to “Existenz.” (14) If Husserl is employing the term in the sense that Karl Jaspers employs it, phenomenology can include an exposition of what Jaspers calls “limit situations,” e.g., death, sorrow, anxiety, etc., which, because they transgress intentionality, are not initially begun with pure reflexivity.
   The question of a human relation to the theophany is thereby transformed by phenomenology into an inquiry in which the question grounds itself not on theology but on certain meta-noetical and factical modes of being in which the world is always already meaningful for the human when that human reflexively or intuitively turns to it. When we bring these comments connection with the above paragraph, the consequent Husserlian position is not merely that there are inner, temporal motivations of the religious life but also that these motivations are premised on a certain understanding of the present of consciousness which allows for a more sophisticated pluralism of the religious life. After all, here we have a temporal ground of consciousness that relies neither on a claim to the absolute nor on a naively relativistic understanding of thought. What we seem to encounter in Husserl is a rejection of absolutes that is not, on the other hand, a rejection of all understandings of grounds.

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