Hume and Husserl: The problem of the continuity or temporalization of consciousness

International Philosophical Quarterly 46 (181):59-74 (2006)
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Abstract

This paper examines Husserl’s fascination with the issues raised by Hume’s critique of the philosophy of the ego and the continuity of consciousness. The path taken here follows a continental and phenomenological approach. Husserl’s 1905 lecture course on the temporalization of immanent time-consciousness is a phenomenological-eidetic examination of how the continuity of consciousness and the consciousness of continuity are possible. It was by way of Husserl’s reading of Hume’s discussion of “flux” or “flow” that his discourse on temporal phenomena led to the classification of a point-like now as a “fiction” and opened up a horizonal approach to the present that Hume’s introspective analyses presuppose but that escaped the limitations of the language that was available to him. In order to demonstrate the radicality of Husserl’s temporal investigations and his inspiration in the work of Hume, I show how his phenomenological discourse on the living temporal flow of consciousness resolves the latter’s concern about the problem of continuity by re-thinking how, in the absence of an abiding impression of Self, experience is continuous throughout the flux of its running off impressions

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