Man and World 29 (4):419-439 (1996)

James Dodd
The New School
Husserl's idea of a self-enclosed region of pure consciousness, a transcendental subjectivity that is at once absolute being and a sense-giving synthesis of experience, has enjoyed few, if any, enthusiastic defenders. In a recent book on Husserl, David Bell struggles in vain to find anything of worth in Husserl's "transcendental ontology. ''1 To be sure, Bell is reading Husserl with Fregean eyes; yet much dissatisfaction can be found among continental thinkers as well. Jacques Derrida, for example, argues that the self-presence requisite for conceiving of transcendental subjectivity as both origin and absolute being is in the end undermined by the results of phenomenological analysis itself, especially the reflections on the nature of time. Jan Pato~ka, the Czech philosopher, railed against what he saw to be Husserl's "prejudice" of subjectivism in the demand for a world-constituting activity on the part of subjectivity. One can find similar objections in the work of Roman Ingarden and Jean-Paul Sartre - that is, in the work of those who, one could say, benefited the most from Husserl's phenomenology. 2 So many have said so much, and in a multitude of convincing ways, that perhaps someone interested in Husserl can finally be content to focus on those aspects and achievements that are more or less independent of the claim that phenomenology is a "transcendental idealism," a rigorous science the region of investigation of which is an "absolutely functioning transcendental subjectivity."
Keywords Husserl  transcendental idealism  pure consciousness  transcendental ontology
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DOI 10.1007/BF01271377
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