Husserl's Account of Our Consciousness of Time

Husserl's Account of Our Consciousness of Time

Husserl's Account of Our Consciousness of Time

Husserl's Account of Our Consciousness of Time

Synopsis

Having asked, “What, then, is time?” Augustine admitted, “I know well enough what it is, provided that nobody asks me; but if I am asked what it is and try to explain, I am baffled.” We all have a sense of time, but the description and explanation of it remain remarkably elusive. Through a series of detailed descriptions, Husserl attempted to clarify this sense of time. This book traces the development of his account of our temporal self-awareness, starting with his early 1905-1909 lectures on time consciousness and proceeding through the 1917-18 Bernau Manuscripts, the Analyses of Passive Syntheses of the 1920’s and ending with the C, B and E manuscripts on time and instincts of the 1930s. Although it covers all the stages of Husserl’s account of temporality, the book is nonetheless systematic in its approach. It is organized about a number of basic topics in the theory of time and presents and critically appraises Husserl’s positions on the issues pertaining to each.

Excerpt

Few subjects have so exercised the human imagination as that of time. Its devouring nature has been religiously depicted as the father of the gods, Chronos or Time, swallowing his children. Some of the greatest masterpieces of literature from Shakespeare’s Sonnets to Proust’s À la rechereche du temps perdu have had time as their theme. In science, time enters into practically every equation used to mathematically describe the world. In philosophy, it has been a subject of speculation from the Pre-Socratics onward. There are three main reasons for such attention. The first is its all-pervasive character. Everything that occurs seems to require time for its unfolding. The second is its elusive character. When asked, “What, then, is time?” Augustine admitted, “I know well enough what it is, provided that nobody asks me; but if I am asked what it is and try to explain, I am baffled.” We all have a sense of time, but the description and explanation of it are remarkably hard to get hold of. The third is its intimate tie to ourselves. To grasp temporal relations, we must turn inward, that is, regard our memories and anticipations. Outside of us, it is always now. Thus the external perception that directs itself to the world cannot “see” the past or the future. Neither is present since the former has vanished and the latter is yet to come. Thus, at any given moment we only outwardly see spatial relations. As Kant expresses this insight, “time cannot be outwardly intuited, any more than space can be intuited as something in us” (KdrV, B37, Ak. 3:52). Thus, I intuit time in its pastness and futurity through my memories and anticipations; regarding them, however, I

1 Aurelius Augustine, Confessions, trans. S. Pine-Coffin (London: Penguin Books), 1964, p. 264. Throughout the current work, this translation of the Confessions will be cited as Confessions 1964.

2 “Kritik der reinen Vernunft (2. Aufl.)” in Kants gesammelte Schriften, ed. Königliche Preussische Akademie der Wissenschaften (KdrV, Berlin: Georg Reiner, 1955), 3:52. I will throughout refer to this work as the KdrV, followed by the original B edition page number. The Prussian Academy edition will be cited as Ak, and will be followed by its volume

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.