Time and epoché

On The Future of Husserlian Phenomenology. The New School for Social Research – The Husserl Archives in Memory of Alfred Schutz. (2007)
Abstract
To ask about the future of Husserlian Phenomenology at this time is actually quite a natural gesture – caught up, as it is, in the anxiety wrought by the difficulties that come with the beginning of a new millennium and the malaise of the postmodern. Though, it must be borne in mind that it is a gesture that simultaneously puts the sense of ‘naturalness’ into question. It answers to a conscientious zeitgeist that seeks to catch itself in mid-act (between breaths) – as an attitudinal re-orientation, break, or moment of suspense – in order to find its bearings and to re-discover its responsibility as a rigorous philosophical praxis. And, as it does so, the history of the movement of phenomenology exemplifies nothing other than the constant re-iteration of this turn to momentarily step outside its history (or, at least, a naïve, un-reflective attitude to it) in order to re-turn to itself with greater clarity and precision. This is the epoché at the heart of phenomenology as it unfolds in time. Thus, in order to re-gather itself and to re-establish the sense / significance of its time / history so as to forge ahead, phenomenology must perpetually return to its beginnings. This is, arguably, the essence of the meaning of phenomenology as an ‘infinite task.’ This infinite task is none other than an infinite re-iteration of phenomenological questions that always remain open to further analysis. Such is the thought of a ‘phenomenology of phenomenology,’ which traces itself throughout Husserl's work.1 1 To ask about the future of Husserlian phenomenology already problematizes the idea of a ‘terminus.’ If this elicits panic and alarm in certain philosophic and scientific domains then this is only the effect of an orientation that has not grasped the meaning of epoché. It is a question of a change in consciousness itself – a transformation of the manner of waiting-towards the not-yet..
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