Some preliminary remarks on “cognitive interest” in Husserlian phenomenology

Husserl Studies 11 (3):135-152 (1994)
From an etymological standpoint the word "interest" is well suited to phenomenological investigations, lnteresse, to be among, 1 or as Husserl sometimes translates, Dabeisein, 2 succinctly expresses the sense ofHusserl's more usual term, "intentionality." Mind, he never tired or saying, is not at all another thing alongside the various things of the world; it is already outside itself, and in the company of the things it thinks. Yet despite the appropriateness of "interest" to name this fact of psychic life, only gradually does the word assume a place in the phenomenological vocabulary. The reason is not hard to find. Husserl's early work treats intentional achievements statically and hence rather thinly. Once he secured the transcendental or properly phenomenological stance he was free to move beyond his initial "Platonism" to a more truly Platonic position, which attempts to think the forms in motion. That is to say, Husserl discovered genetic phenomenology. 3 Mind is now considered in light of its purposiveness: genetic phenomenology highlights the teleological character of our thinking engagement with the world. "Interest," accordingly, may be said to name the history of our readiness to take up with things in their intelligibility. Alternately stated, Husserl's account of interest displays the drawing power of the real in virtue of its being thinkable or ideal. It is perhaps not too grave an injustice to read interest as the Husserlian analogue to the "idea of the good" proposed by Socrates to Glaucon and Adeimantus as that which lights the mind's way.
Keywords Husserlian phenomenology  Mind  cognitive interest  intentionality
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DOI 10.1007/BF01387289
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