Manifestation and the paradox of subjectivity

Husserl Studies 21 (1):35-53 (2005)
The question of who we are is a perennial one in philosophy. It is particularly acute in transcendental philosophy with its focus on the subject. In its attempt to see in the subject the structures and activities that determine experience, such philosophy confronts what Husserl called “the paradox of human subjectivity.” This is the paradox of its two-fold being. It has “both the being of a subject for the world and the being of an object in the world.” As the first, it appears as the subject whose constitutive syntheses result in the presence of the world. Possessing an “absolute being,” it is uniquely singular. As the second, it is itself but one object among many in the world. It appears as a particular human subject with all the vulnerabilities and limitations that we all too readily recognize in ourselves. Reflecting on this duality, Husserl asks: “Howcan human subjectivity,which is a part of theworld, constitute thewhole world, i.e., constitute it as its intentional product . . .? The subjective part of the world swallows up, so to speak, the whole world including itself. What an absurdity!”4 The absurdity arises when we identify the two subjectivities, that is, when we say that the absolutely constituting subjectivity is, in fact, our own limited empirical subjectivity. It is at this point that we say that a part of the world constitutes the whole of the world and hence itself as a part of this whole.
Keywords Subjectivity  Husserl  World  Constituting subjectivity
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DOI 10.1007/s10743-005-6242-1
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