“The Most Difficult of all Phenomenological Problems”

Husserl Studies 27 (1):27-40 (2011)
Abstract
I argue in this essay that Edmund Husserl distinguishes three levels within time-consciousness: an absolute time-constituting flow of consciousness, the immanent acts of consciousness the flow constitutes, and the transcendent objects the acts intend. The immediate occasion for this claim is Neal DeRoo’s discussion of Dan Zahavi’s reservations about the notion of an absolute flow and DeRoo’s own efforts to mediate between Zahavi’s view and the position Robert Sokolowski and I have advanced. I argue that the flow and the tripartite distinction it introduces into consciousness is firmly grounded in Husserl’s texts and is philosophically defensible. The absolute flow is distinct but inseparable from what it constitutes. It is intentional in a nonobjectivating way, and accounts for the awareness I have of my individual acts of consciousness and of the unity and continuity of my conscious life. In its absence, consciousness would become an incoherent stream of episodic acts. There is nothing mysterious about the flow. What would be mysterious is consciousness without the flow
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