The Phenomenological Status of the Ego

Idealistic Studies 39 (1-3):1-9 (2009)
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For phenomenology, the study of appearances and the ways they come together to present a world, the question of the ego presents special difficulties. The ego, itself, is not an appearance; it is the subject to whom appearances appear. As such, it cannot appear. As the neo-Kantian, Paul Natorp expresses this:“The ego is the subjective center of relation for all contents in my consciousness.... It cannot itself be a content and resembles nothing that could be a content ofconsciousness.” Husserl will wrestle throughout the whole of his career with the issue of how to handle phenomenologically an ego that cannot be considered asa content of consciousness. In this article, I will outline the stages of his journey toward resolving this question.



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James Mensch
Charles University, Prague

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