Academic journal article Indo - Pacific Journal of Phenomenology

Husserl's Phenomenology of Intersubjectivity: Historical Interpretations and Contemporary Applications

Academic journal article Indo - Pacific Journal of Phenomenology

Husserl's Phenomenology of Intersubjectivity: Historical Interpretations and Contemporary Applications

Article excerpt

Husserl's Phenomenology of Intersubjectivity: Historical Interpretations and Contemporary Applications Frode Kjosavik, Christian Beyer, and Christel Fricke (Eds.). (2019). Husserl's phenomenology of intersubjectivity: Historical interpretations and contemporary applications. New York, NY: Routledge. Hard Cover (390 pages). ISBN-10: 0815372973 & ISBN-13: 978-0815372974 Cost: USA $140.00

by Ian Rory Owen

Even the most attentive and patient student feels overcome by the volume of Husserl's output. As a basic teaching need, there is a demand for concretely written, easily readable texts. Lecturers hope to have texts that they can cite for students and say, "Read this chapter, it gives a concrete overview of the whole thing I have just been talking to you about". The difficulty in appraising Husserl concerns how to make a narrative about a perspective that is so complex and multifaceted. The detailed analyses Husserl provided can, on occasion, be very tangible descriptions. And yet there are reams of writings that talk about the difference between living in everyday experience, as opposed to theorising it in the psychological or transcendental attitudes that were clear to the author but not to his audience. The problems for anyone wanting to get a good grasp of Husserl's original writings are many. I will name a few.

Edmund Husserl wrote like a man possessed, and, given his arcane style and the fact that he was open to changing his mind, there is need for clarity. Among the problems of concluding on what Husserl meant, the entire output, the Nachlass, was written over a period of approximately 50 years. Many of the manuscripts are fragmentary and written as a means of recording his own thinking, seemingly only for himself. They are writerly texts rather than lectures. This is why it is refreshing to find a few concrete examples in works like Thing and Space (Husserl, 1907/ 1997) and Introduction to Logic and Theory of Knowledge (Husserl, 1907/2008), where he expressed himself in clear, tangible ways.

Furthermore, there are varieties of conclusions about the practice of Husserl's methods. This leads to two problems that are more central. Firstly, Husserl attracted many followers, and phenomenology was, and still is, a genuinely radical movement because of its promise. However, anyone who uses "phenomenology", and wants to justify an approach, claims to have genuinely understood the methodology and manner of analysis for concluding on ideals. Husserl's phenomenology maps or models human encounters and the sense contained therein. It is a selfconscious theoretical enterprise at one level. At other levels, it involves the practices of awareness, reflection on and analysis of one's own lived experience, and paying attention to the lived experiences of social wholes of other people. It produces idealised sociality as theoretical constructs to wield. Importantly, Husserl's influence attracted followers - but many took issue with some aspect of his perspective and manner of writing.

Secondly, where this leaves all who read Husserl and phenomenology in its various forms, is with a sense of keen interest in the analysis of qualitatively meaningful social and personal experiences - and yet there is a grand confusion about how this could be achieved, leading to what could be called "justification anxiety" in qualitative research. This anxiety is relieved by expert commentary from persons properly qualified. If this were not to be received, then criticisms of Husserl or phenomenology would be inaccurate and irrelevant, since the criticisms made bore no relation to the original project. If persons wish to take inspiration from Husserl and phenomenology and develop their approach in some way, then that is their right as free thinkers and actors. However, the fundamental question remains: What are the original methods and standpoints of Husserl, and how are they justified? - or not? - with respect to the evidence that we all have as human beings about what consciousness is and how it fits into the contemporary social world. …

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