Husserl, the Absolute Flow, and Temporal Experience

The notion of the absolute time-constituting flow plays a central role in Edmund Husserl’s analysis of our consciousness of time. I offer a novel reading of Husserl’s remarks on the absolute flow, on which Husserl can be seen to be grappling with two key intuitions that are still at the centre of current debates about temporal experience. One of them is encapsulated by what is sometimes referred to as an intentionalist (as opposed to an extensionalist) approach to temporal experience. The other centres on the thought that temporal experience itself necessarily unfolds over time. I show how some of Husserl’s more enigmatic-sounding remarks about the absolute flow become intelligible if they are read as attempts to accommodate both these intuitions at the same time. However, I also question whether Husserl ultimately provides good reasons for preferring his intentionalist approach to a rival extensionalist one.
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DOI 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2011.00547.x
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John McDowell (1994). Mind and World. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

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