On the distinction between static and genetic phenomenologies -- On time consciousness and its relationship to intersubjectivity -- On the question of intersubjectivity -- The Husserlian account of ethics -- Conclusion: The impact of genetic phenomenology.
This study provides insight into the human desire to return to important places of our past and to establish places of memory. Drawing upon philosophers such as Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Gadamer, and Ricoeur, Janet Donohoe uses the idea of a palimpsest as a jumping-off point to explore how we make and preserve memories.
In this paper, I explore a confrontation between Husserl’s ethical position of vocation and its absolute ought with a feminist ethical position. I argue that Husserl’s ethics has a great deal to offer a feminist ethics by providing for the possibility of an ethics that is particular rather than universal, that recognizes the role of the social through tradition in establishing values and norms without conceding the ethical responsibility of the individual, and that acknowledges the role of both reason and (...) desire in establishing moral values that has the consequence of breaking down the public/private distinction that has reigned in so many ethical theories. In order to make this case, I proceed with a review of Husserl’s position of the absolute ought, some typical criticisms that might be leveled at his position, and finally, responses to those criticisms that show ways in which Husserl’s position can be beneficial to the formulation of a feminist ethics that is inclusive of the emotional aspect of moral valuation, and the particularity of ethical commitments, while providing for a different way of evaluating thinking that accommodates what are usually understood to be “feminine” concerns. In addition to describing Husserl’s position, I show how that position meets some of the expectations for a feminist ethics as put forth by Iris Marion Young and Sara Ruddick. (shrink)
The development of genetic phenomenology marks a change in Husserl's thinking which occurred between 1917 and 1921. Much of the second half of his philosophical life was devoted to genetic phenomenology as a supplement to the static phenomenology of his earlier writings. I argue that the development of genetic phenomenology, which involves a regressive inquiry into the genesis of the ego and of meaning, coincided with and made possible a greater emphasis on ethical and intersubjective positions in Husserl's later writings. (...) ;I trace the development of three prominent themes in Husserl's thought: time-consciousness, intersubjectivity, and ethics. In each case it is possible to see that prior to 1917 Husserl's phenomenology was not equipped to address such topics with the complexity they require. Static phenomenology has a rigid structure focusing on complete constitution of meaning by an already fully active ego. This position lacks the framework for investigating the development of the ego itself and of the transformation of meaning through time. In moving his thought beyond that rigid structure and addressing questions of historicity, Husserl began to incorporate an understanding of intersubjectivity based on the sedimentation of meanings built up through successive generations. Such an approach provides a way to think plurality in community without either the elimination of ethical foundations or the elimination of the importance of inherited convictions. The same sensitivity to the historical development of meaning made possible the later Husserl's theory of renewal and critique of history and tradition. ;This study concludes that Husserl's static phenomenological investigation into essences in combination with his genetic inquiry into origins provides a model of philosophical thinking that offers a balanced account both of individual freedom and of historical and traditional context. The goal of this project is to demonstrate that Husserl's later understanding of the human being as inheritor of an ethical tradition, but as still responsible for the taking-up of that tradition, would not have been possible had he not developed genetic phenomenology as an explanatory supplement to static phenomenology. (shrink)
This paper argues that private, individual memory is often only made possible through a collectivelhistorical memory that makes itself felt at a most fundamental level of place. It draws upon Husserl's concept of the lifeworld in opposition to Ricoeur's notion of narrative identity. I show that in focusing on narrative, Ricoeur fails to recognize the ways in which the very constitution of the world, of places, becomes the avenue of support for narratives, intersubjectivity, and collective memory. The analysis makes explicit (...) the manner in which experience itself can be collective and is grounded not only in narrative, but in the world, specifically in places in the world that are not private, isolated places, but places of communality. The idea of lifeworld serves as a foundation for collective memory in terms not only of shared experiences, but also in terms of traditions that have been inherited through built places. (shrink)
Derrida suggests in Speech a n d Phenomena that for Husserl subjectivity is constituted and entails no identity with itself at the level of the living present. He further suggests that Husserl’s understanding of absolute subjectivity is “as absolutely present and absolutely self-present being, only in its opposition to the object.”’ In making such claims, Derrida is not giving as much weight to Husserl’s manuscripts from the 1930s as those warrant. The manuscripts may serve to draw Derrida’s claims into question.2 (...) They provide a n interesting look at the question of subjectivity in light of intersubjectivity and present the possibility of conceiving identity and alterity within the streaming living present. The ambiguity and complexity we find in Husserl’s manuscripts in particular suggests that Husserl was prepared t o address absence even at the most fundamental level of phenomenological discovery. In the following, I will explore several of Husserl’s manuscripts in order to indicate how he might escape Derrida’s ~ r i t i q u e . ~ This will raise several questions with respect to the phenomenological subject and its relation to the alterity of the other. Through such an investi- gation, we will see how it is possible to accept Derrida’s criticism of a metaphysics of presence, while recognizing that the criticism does not mean we must reject Husserlian phenom- enology as an example of such. (shrink)
In much of the contemporary situation for trans* persons, authority over identity has been given to, or perhaps taken by, arbiters of the medico-legal discourse. These identity “experts” have become the gatekeepers for sex reassignment and gender designation. Alternatively, many theorists argue that identity is exclusively about first-person appeals to one’s own sense of oneself. I show here that neither of these accounts does justice to our experience. Instead, drawing upon Hans Georg Gadamer’s notion of horizons, I outline a position (...) where first-person and third-person accounts of the meaning of the body can meet somewhere in the middle. Such a position, characterized by a hermeneutics of the body, mediates between the phenomenological first-person while still recognizing the third-person view of the body as relevant. Approaching the body through a hermeneutic process allows us to find a place where we can all be open to different performances of gender and different particular bodily actions that recognize the bodies of us all as a combination of sedimented styles of action within social discourses. (shrink)
Ziarek's claim concerning a more poetic thought appearing in the later Heidegger is echoed by Janet Donohoe. In her essay The Place of Tradition: Heidegger and Benjamin on Technology and Art she argues that notwithstanding the many differences between Heidegger and Benjamin, they share a commitment to a thinking which returns them to a more original poiesis at the root of the philosophical tradition. Both react to a crisis in the European tradition of thought and both see the expression of (...) this crisis in modem technological society. This essay, then, focuses on the paradoxical character of the tradition as elaborated in their respective texts, in order to understand how they can see an artistic or poetic thinking as an alternative to the technological paradigm of our present societies. The reflection on these topics brings out the thinking of a notion of place as central to both Heidegger's and Benjamin's critique of calculative rationality. (shrink)
I would like to investigate in this chapter what at first might seem a difficult position: a phenomenology of nature in an Arendtian vein. It might seem that such a position would be fundamentally anthropocentric given the tendencies of phenomenology to begin from the subject position and, in particular, given Arendt’s focus on how the human being differs from “nature.” What I would like to tease out, however, are the ways in which phenomenology and Arendt can help us to understand (...) nature not as something over against which we formulate ourselves, nor as some thing that is in itself, but as that with which we are intimately intertwined and without which we are not. I will begin by describing generally how we can conceive of a phenomenology of nature through Husserl’s notion of lifeworld. Then, I will examine how Arendt’s notion of the vita activa supports a phenomenology of nature that is neither anthropocentric nor objectifying of nature, but is an interweaving of human and world. Finally, I will show how this phenomenological understanding offers us a richer way to conceive of ourselves in relation to other beings and to the world. (shrink)
In the wake of the current rush to memorialize tragic events such as the World Trade Center attack of 2001, this article explores thefunction and role of monuments and memorials in the production of places for collective memory, communal mourning, and the preservation of the past. It argues that the rush to memorialize indicates a desire to control the way that an event is understood in bothcontemporary and future times and ultimately limits the effectiveness of memorials. Finally, drawing upon Heidegger, (...) Derrida and Nietzsche, this article addresses the characteristics necessary for a memorial to be open to the complexities of human existence and how we can approach memorials to preserve such openness. (shrink)