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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Also, while I'm at it, I want to mention that even though I think Bourdieu started his career flirting with phenomenology and then claiming that he moved beyond it (basically saw it as a historical artifact), I think his insight into the habitus is exactly the same thing that both Husserl and, especially Schutz, articulated years before Bourdieu made it famous. That is, despite claims of historical misinterpretation over the works of the philosophers, I think the essential insight behind the habitus is accurate. One way that I would articulate it is as a middle way between social constructionism and transcendental essentialism. I think the answer lies beyond the polarities between the ways we actively construct our reality and the way in which reality presents itself as being always already there. I also feel that to do this I follow Ferrer when he says not only do we need to move beyond subtle Cartesianism (a dead horse at this point but very difficult to do) but we also really need to move beyond neo-Kantianism as well.



Hi, Sean, thanks for these introductory thoughts.  I am about to run to campus to do some prep work, but I will be back to respond in more detail soon.  Hopefully others here will join in as well.

In this post, I just wanted to note that I had misread your earlier comment to me, and now that I have realized that, I have gone back and edited my previous post.

All the best,


Hi Bruce,


Thanks for inviting me! I certainly don't expect most folks nowadays to be that familiar with Husserl nor do I claim to be an expert. Merleau-Ponty on the other hand, is still very popular. What I find interesting about what you said is that among those who followed after Husserl there were a few who are considered faithful to Husserl's project whilst adding to and enriching it. Among the more well-known of these are Merleau-Ponty, Schutz, and Ricoeur. Rather than breaking completely, Merleau-Ponty was true to Husserl even though he felt Husserl failed to emphasize certain themes like, for example, the body. Given this, I think Levin too is true to Husserl without necessarily accepting everything he said, which is healthy. So, when Levin relies on Merleau-Ponty he is still following in the tradition, unlike others who broke radically from it. I see Levin as being a part of the evolution of the tradition. Merleau-Ponty felt that Husserl did not place enough emphasis on certain things (and thus did not satisfactorily develop them) not that Husserl was fundamentally wrong and I think Levin would generally agree with this. This is why we can say that Levin is a phenomenologist as was Merleau-Ponty. 

Sean, As some context you might want to read the last 2 posts about Levin and Merleau-Ponty from this thread. I think they frame my questions about the extent to which we can have any kind of conscious intentionality, collective or otherwise.

Thanks theurj. This definitely adds more context! I'm new to the forum so am obviously not aware of the conversations that have already been had.



Hi, Sean, I think the last time I read any of Husserl's original work was back when I was a student at JFKU, taking one of Sean Esbjorn-Hargens' classes.  In any event, I'm fascinated to learn that previously unpublished manuscripts are revealing developments in his thought not previously recognized by his critics.  I hope you'll share some of that here.

Concerning Levin, yes, I agree: I also see him as part of the phenomenological tradition, carrying it forward partly in response to post-structuralist and other critiques.  I just had (badly) misread your statement "without failing" as "while failing" and reversed your meaning there (e.g., taking you to mean that he was a Husserlian, primarily, and failed to incorporate any further, post-Husserlian work into his own).  I agree with Xibalba above (and Wilber as well) that there is certainly still room for phenomenology in post/postmodern philosophy and praxis, if shorn of its transcendentalism (for instance, as an enactively framed hermeneutic phenomenology, which is a topic we've explored here on a number of threads).

Theurj, concerning intentionality, you may or may not have come across this passage in Levin when we were discussing him, but just in case you haven't, this might be of interest.

I have not seen this reference before so thanks. I find this statement of interest:


“Here Jung confesses his bewilderment, confronted with a depth psychology that recognized a body of non-dual awareness which is not at all unconscious, yet also not centered around, or constituted by, the limited sensibility of the conscious ego.”


I take into consideration that Levin wrote this in 1988, and that in our discussion of his later work he appears to deal with some of the critiques of this apparently naïve realism about total awareness. In this section of the book he goes into how there is obviously a pre-egoic awareness that is “non-dual” in terms of the subject-object split inherent to ego. But this early work, or at least these few pages, seem to lack the latter recognition that preconceptual awareness is not only not totally conscious but not completely in direct touch with the thing in itself. Recall this post from another thread on this issue.


In light of this I'm wondering how Sean sees Husserl in this, and to what extent even collective consciousness can be considered intentional towards some kind of “greater understanding of how the collective interior evolves between human beings.”

Hi, Ed,

Discussion of Levin may be tangential to this thread, and I don't intend to derail this conversation right at the outset, but just for point of reference (I think we've reviewed this passage in the past, or something like it), Levin discusses what he means by this presence about 40 pages after the section I linked previously.  Here's a segment of that discussion:

The metaphysical sense of 'presence' contested by Derrida comes through very clearly in a recent interview.  What Derrida has to say indicates that we cannot continue to suppose that the sense of 'presence' involved in Gelassenheit is threatened by the deconstructive technique.  Here is what Derrida says:

"The priority of spoken language over written or silent language stems from the fact that when words are spoken, the speaker and the listener are supposed to be simultaneously present to one another; they are supposed to be the same, pure unmediated presence.  This ideal of perfect self-presence, of the immediate possession of meaning, is what is expressed by the phonocentric necessity.  Writing, on the other hand, is considered subversive insofar as it creates a spatial and temporal distance between authoer and audience; writing presupposes the absence of the author and so we can never be sure exactly what is meant by a written text..."

The presence involved in Gelassenheit, however, is not a 'perfect self-presence.'  Nor is it an 'immediate possession of meaning.'  Nor is it incompatible with spatial and temporal distance: it is not a pure 'immediacy' in the sense of a 'fusion' or a 'coincidence'.  Nor does it fail to acknowledge alterity and difference.  Nor is it ever 'a mutually intuitive correspondence between two human presences'.  Nor does it suppress or occlude the invisibility of the invisible, or the absence of concealed depth and dimensionalit.  Nor does it constitute a situation in which there can be absolute certainty, absolute finality, or closure of meaning.  Nor does it require a metaphysical abstraction from its existential situation.  On the contrary, Gelassenheit is essentially 'circumspective': it is situated in a field of practical relations, in a world; and it is inseparable from its circumstances...

Is this sense of 'presence' metaphysical, and therefore subject, like the senses examined in Being and Time, to the critique which is aimed at the 'metaphysics of presence'?  I do not think so.  Rather, the third [presence] is a sense of 'presence' which comes to the fore only after the impact of this critique.  And it is, I submit, this other sense of 'presence' which explicates the attitude of Gelassenheit.  Letting-be is unquestionably not an attitude congenial to the reification and totalization characteristic of the 'metaphysics of presence.'  Therefore, the 'presence' -- the being-with -- involved in Gelassenheit is not an experience with the Being of beings totally determined by the history of metaphysics.

Best wishes,


My intent is not to derail this discussion but to provide some other context within which Sean can relate his ideas about Husserl and Schultz, to see some comparison. I'm curious as to how he sees Husserl's phenomenology in this context.

Oh, I understand.  I don't feel you're derailing the conversation; providing context is helpful.  I was concerned about derailing it myself by continuing to provide excerpts from Levin.


In any event, I was just in the midst of writing a brief post to seek Sean's more specific input, so I'll post it here:


A couple years back on this forum, we discussed Gary Madison and some of his writings on phenomenological hermeneutics.  (See here for a brief example, in which he describes drawing out the "radical, postmetaphysical implications of Husserl's phenomenological critique of the Tradition").  I'd be interested, Sean, to hear your thoughts on the linked (brief) essay, and in particular, to hear more about what you mean by appending 'transpersonal' to the term. 



Before I reply to your last question re: Gary Madison, I wanted to respond to Ed's earlier question:


In light of this I'm wondering how Sean sees Husserl in this, and to what extent even collective consciousness can be considered intentional towards some kind of “greater understanding of how the collective interior evolves between human beings.”


I think there is much debate about how intentional collective consciousness is. This goes back to the beginning of sociology and seems to be perennial. What I am after in my research is to get some more insight into group mind and group presence in the sense of there being a "third" consciousness that arises out of the coming together of individuals. Here there is a "greater than the sum of the parts" aspect that I'm getting at that I think is in vogue in consciousness circles these days. I have my doubts about how literal this is but I do know that, in response to your question about Husserl, that Husserl did say that transcendental intersubjectivity (the community of monads) is the first and foremost ontological foundation. Here is a quote from a section I am using in my dissertation:


“Transcendental intersubjectivity is the absolute and only self-sufficient ontological foundation. Out of it are created the meaning and validity of everything objective, the totality of objectively real existent entities, but also every ideal world as well” (Husserl, 1997, p. 249).


One other way of putting this is that Husserl and I support the idea that consciousness is not merely individual. It is fundamentally grounded in intersubjectivity and arises out of it. So, this means that collective phenomena should be thought of being foundational to individual consciousness. The trick is that we tend to become aware of the intersubjective by first developing our sense of individual consciousness so phenomenologically it seems that individual precedes collective but it is actually the other way around. This was a fundamental insight that Husserl developed in his later work which was increasingly preoccupied with intersubjectivity and the problems of the lifeworld.


I don't know if this is helpful or relevant to original question, however. 





Varela, although drawing on different sources, argues much the same:  he sees intersubjectivity as 'prior' to the individual subject. 

Cognition is enactively embodied:  co-determination of inner/outer
Cognition is enactively emergent:  co-determination of neural elements (local) and cognitive subject (global)
Cognition is generatively enactive:  co-determination of Me-Other
Consciousness is ontologically complex:  co-determination of first- and third-person descriptions

The third point is essentially the point of intersubjectivity:  cognition is not only embodied or emergent, it is intersubjectively generated.  Drawing on the work of Daniel Stern and other researchers, Varela argues that this mind is that mind - that subject and object distinctions arise out of a pre-reflective, empathic-affective 'ground.'

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