Dermot Moran, Rodney K.B. Parker (Eds.): Studia Phaenomenologica: Vol. XV / 2015 – Early Phenomenology

Antonio Calcagno

Studia Phaenomenologica: Vol. XV / 2015 – Early Phenomenology Book Cover Studia Phaenomenologica: Vol. XV / 2015 – Early Phenomenology
Dermot Moran, Rodney K.B. Parker (Eds.)
Zeta Books
Paperback €30.00

Reviewed by: Antonio Calcagno (King’s University College, London, Canada)

The edition of Studia Phaenomenologica devoted to early phenomenology makes a highly original and important contribution to philosophy. Moran and Parker bring to publication articles about figures and their texts foundational to the phenomenological movement, ultimately expanding our understanding of key issues and developments in thought. The large volume consisting of 522 pages contains articles by leading scholars and provides both in-depth scholarship and philosophical analysis. In their Introduction, Moran and Parker define early phenomenology in the following way: “The term “early phenomenologists” is used here to encompass five main groups of philosophers who contributed to the  early phase of the phenomenological movement in the first third of the twentieth century: the students of Theodor Lipps who formed the Munich Circle of phenomenologists; Husserl’s original students at Göttingen prior to 1907, the so-called Urschüler; the Göttingen Circle, who studied with Husserl, Reinach, and Scheler in Göttingen from 1907 to 1916; the students who studied with Husserl in Freiburg from 1916 until he was barred from the university in 1933; and a handful of students of Carl Stumpf in Berlin” (11). The Editors note that as research advances, more members of the Movement and their texts are being uncovered (12), ultimately demonstrating a wide breadth and depth of research interests as well as tensions between philosophers over the exact nature and scope of phenomenology itself.

The volume opens with Thomas Vongehr’s presentation of some interesting documents, including an excerpt from Edmund Husserl’s Nachlass (Ms. A III, 1, 1914), which consists of Husserl’s assessment of Jean Héring’s thesis tiled, “Die Lehre vom Apriori bei Lotze,” a text later reworked by Héring into his well-known article “Bemerkungen über das Wesen, die Wesenheit und die Idee. Edmund Husserl zum 60. Geburtstag gewidmet” (in: Jahrbuch für Philosophie und phänomenologische Forschung  IV, 1921, pp. 495–543). In the excerpt one sees Husserl’s succinct grasp of Héring’s attempt to deal with the problem of individuation and singularity by proposing individuated essences in addition to more general essences or ideas. In this text, we see Husserl comparing Héring’s ideas with his own, resulting in an interesting dialogue about the delineation of essences as well their logical limits.  The two other documents in the first part are by Jean Héring (Phänomenologie als Grundlage der Metaphysik? / Phenomenology as the Foundation of Metaphysics? (Edited by Sylvain Camilleri. Introduction by Sylvain Camilleri and Arun Iyer. Translated by Arun Iyer)) and Hedwig Conrad-Martius (Dankesrede bei der Feier zur Verleihung des großen Verdienstkreuzes der Bundesrepublik Deutschland am 01. März 1958/ Acceptance speech at the ceremony for the award of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, March 1st 1958 (Introduction and translated by Susi Ferrarello)). The former text struggles with the relation of essences to the factical world, and posits a distinction between eidetic phenomenology and a phenomenology of facticity in order to deal with the fact that the world presents itself as highly determined and individuated. Héring notes that a transcendental phenomenology can deal with topics and questions in general metaphysics, but it has to find ways of overcoming the risk of reducing the world and factical existence to my consciousness (48). The latter contribution by Hedwig Conrad-Martius reflects on the early phenomenological movement and its adherents. She draws attention to how inspiring Husserl was for his insistence that students study the things themselves, despite the fact that many of his students were critical of his turn to idealism. The text is interesting because it gives a brief history of the early Movement and her own development as a young philosopher.

The next section of the volume contains various articles on questions and debates within early phenomenology. George Heffernan’s article, “The Paradox of Objectless Presentations in Early Phenomenology: A Brief History of the Intentional Object from Bolzano to Husserl, With Concise Analyses of the Positions of Brentano, Frege, Twardowski and Meinong,” explores the concept of the intentional object. Heffernan shows that Husserl’s understanding of the concept can be better understood through a discussion of key insights of 19th century figures like Bolzano and Brentano as well as other figures like Frege, Twardowski and Meinong. Heffernan ultimately concludes, “Husserl accepts Bolzano’s objectivism and Frege’s logicism, rejects Brentano’s conception of immanent objects and Twardowski’s notion of representational pictures, and ignores Meinong’s theory of objects. Thus the paper has employed the formation of Husserl’s concept of the intentional object to enhance the understanding of the historical and philosophical relationships between early phenomenology and contemporaneous philosophical movements. The result is a clearer picture of the influences that early phenomenology drew upon for the formation of its concept of intentionality, and of the influences that early phenomenology exerted on philosophers outside the phenomenological movement” (87). Marek Pokropski’s article “Leopold Blaustein’s Critique of Husserl’s Early Theory of Intentional Act, Object and Content” introduces readers to the ideas of Blaustein, which were deeply influenced by Husserl when Blautstein studied under him at Freiburg. Pokropski describes Blaustein’s philosophy as “analytical phenomenology” (94).  Blaustein was also deeply influenced by Roman Ingarden, who urged Blaustein to study with Husserl. Both Ingarden and Blaustein continued to debate about the concepts of act and object developed in both Husserl’s Logical Investigations and the the turn in Ideas I until the latter’s death in one of the Nazi-controlled Jewish ghettos in Poland. Ultimately, Blaustein maintains, “Presenting content is understood, following Husserl, as the representation or the fullness of hyletic moments. However, contrary to Husserl, it is not a part of act (taken in the second broader sense). The concept of intentional essence is, according to Blaustein, redundant, and it is possible that ideal and fulfilled meaning are redundant too. Object of representation is not a part of act itself, but rather accompanies it” (100). The next article makes an interesting contribution to the scholarship on Husserl and Bentano. Hynek Janoušek’s “Judgmental Force and Assertion in Brentano and Early Husserl” continues the line of thought carried out in the previous articles that explores various logical problems raised by Husserl’s concepts. Janoušek defends the claim that Husserl’s early theory of judgement, in contrast to Brentano, opens up a wider space for considering objectifying acts: “Since for Husserl fulfilment of act-matter does not concern only act-quality of assertions, but also that of conjectures, pure presentations and other qualities as well, this approach opens a much wider space for the theory of objectifying acts and their different modalities in which a theory of judgment has to be situated. This brings the phenomenological theory of judgment to a deeper level of understanding of concepts of assertions, judgments, truth, actual and possible being etc.” (126).

While the first few articles of the second section of the volume focus on logic and questions of intentionality and objectivation, the next few articles look at the work of figures like Héring, Geiger, Lipps, Ingarden and Conrad. Christian Y. Dupont’s essay, “Jean Héring and the Introduction of Husserl’s Phenomenology to France” and Daniele De Santis’ “Wesen, Eidos, Idea. Remarks on the “Platonism” of Jean Héring and Roman Ingarden” take up important questions on Héring’s notion of essence. The former author traces the influence of Héring on thinkers like Levinas and Lev Shestov, demonstrating that Héring was not only vital for showing both thinkers the limits of Husserl’s positions, but was also instrumental for transmitting Husserl’s philosophical legacy in France. The latter author clarifies the key Platonic concept of form by exploring Héring’s own distinctions between individual essence, morphé, ideas and essentiality. Simon Calenge’s contribution explores Hans Lipp’s critique of Husserl’s idealism. “Hans Lipps critique de l’idéalisme de Husserl” negotiates a tension in Lipps’ own existential and hermeneutical philosophy by showing how Lipps needs to critique Husserl’s transcendental philosophy qua representation in order to get back to factical existence. There has been very little work on Lipps’ philosophy and Calenge gives to readers not only an engagement with Lipps’ project but also an insight into the constant tensions between realism and idealism, which plague early phenomenological discourses. Faustino Fabbianelli’s “Bezeichnung und Kennzeichnung: Theodor Conrads Bedeutungslehre in Auseinandersetzung mit Husserl” shows the relation to and differences between Husserl and Conrad on meaning. Fabbianelli employs a manuscript by Conrad dating from the early 1950s to show how Conrad’s earlier distinction between Kennzeichung and Bezeichnung shows a fundamental critique and opposition to Husserl’s phenomenological theory of meaning developed in his Logical Investigations and earlier logical writings.

Michele Averchi (“The Disinterested Spectator. Geiger’s and Husserl’s Place in the Debate on the Splitting of the Ego”) and Dalius Jonkus (“Phenomenological Approaches to Self-Consciousness and the Unconscious (Moritz Geiger and Vasily Sesemann)”) focus their essays on the work of Geiger. Geiger, along with Scheler, was considered one of the founding philosophers of early phenomenology. He was also crucial for helping to found the Jahrbuch für Philosophie and phänomenlogische Forschung. Geiger’s work has been largely understudied and both contributors help readers critically understand key concepts in Geiger’s work. The former author shows how Geiger’s notion of the split ego influences Husserl’s consideration of the ego and its ability to perform the reduction. The latter contributor sets up a dialogue between Husserl Geiger and the philosopher Vasily Sesemann. Central to this dialogue is the establishing of the role of both consciousness and the unconscious (Geiger) for the possibility of objectification and self-awareness and self-understanding. Alessandro Salice continues to introduce readers to different aspects of early phenomenologists’ work, especially the work of Dietrich von Hildebrand, whose is largely read as a Christian philosopher. His early phenomenological work is largely understudied and contains important studies like the text on the metaphysics of community. Salice demonstrates how von Hildebrand and Reinach, two very close friends, understood the status of values. Salice concludes, “…[I]t might be worthwhile to stress one of the main ideas behind Hildebrand’s theory of moral action: in line with Reinach (1989c: 295f ) and Scheler (1954: 267f), and in partial disagreement with Husserl’s theory of evaluation (werten, cf. Hua XXVIII: 343, Hildebrand 1969: 86f, for a discussion of these divergences, cf. Mulligan 2010), for Hildebrand, values are primarily felt (in the specific sense of Wertnehmen or Wertfühlen)—they are not evaluated, not cognized, not meant, not inferred. To provide a gloss of what this means, one could quote Pascal’s well-known adage philosophiqueLe coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point” and refer to Scheler’s penetrative interpretation thereof (1954: 269): it is not true that reasons are only those which are known by the intellect and hence it is not true that the heart simply does not have reasons. Quite the contrary: the rationality the heart relies on is diff erent with respect to that of the intellect. But still, this is a kind of rationality. Actions, Values, and States of Affairs in Hildebrand and Reinach” (277).

In his “Reinach’s Theory of Social Acts,” Arkadiusz Chrudzimski explores the status of social acts in Adolf Reinach’s social and political philosophy. The author maintains that contemporary theories of performativity in thinkers like Austin and Searle differ from Reinach’s theory in that the early phenomenologist wished to maintain the possibility of primitive legal powers that stem from the metaphysics of the person. He also shows that in Reinach we find a difference between performative, conventional normativity and genuine moral normativity. Francesca De Vecchi’s “Edith Stein’s Social Ontology of the State, the Law and Social Acts. An Eidetic Approach” defends the view that Stein’s An Investigation of the State must be read as a genuine social ontology, not only because of the various themes and methods deployed by Stein, but also because one finds in it deep traces of Husserlian mereology and the development of a regional ontology of sociality. One wonders, however, despite de Vecchi’s fine analysis, whether Stein has not slipped in her own political desires into her eidetics of the state. Joona Taipale’s essay, “The Anachronous Other: Empathy and Transference in Early Phenomenology and Psychoanalysis,” brings early phenomenological discussions of empathy into discussion with psychoanalysis and the concept of transference. The author argues that both transference and empathy are modes for understanding the other. Transference complements the notion of empathy and should be included with analyses of empathy in order to better understand the other.

Over the past few years, scholars like Dermot Moran, Dan Zahavi and Anthony Steinbock have turned our attention back to the phenomenology of emotions, especially in thinkers like Scheler, Lipps, Husserl and Stein. Íngrid Vendrell Ferran’s “The Emotions in Early Phenomenology” unpacks for the reader key aspects constitutive of the emotions, including stratification, their qualitative aspects, the foundation of emotion in cognitive acts, intentionality, and the relation between emotion and value. The author also ties the discussion of emotion in early phenomenology to motivation. Laudable in this account of the emotions are the discussions of the work of Kolnai. The discussion of emotions continues with Mariano Crespos’s contribution, titled “Moritz Geiger on the Consciousness of Feelings.” Drawing upon the work of Husserl and Geiger, Crespo shows that feelings can never be fully objectified, making way for what Husserl calls emotive intentionality. The author carefully guides the reader through important distinctions in different forms of perception in order to show how Geiger’s analysis can yield a fully non objectifiable form of the lived experience of of the emotions.

The last three essays of the volume introduce the work of Wilhelm Schapp and Emil Lask, while also taking up the relation between early phenomenology and Neo-Kantianism. Kristjan Laasik’s “Wilhelm Schapp on Seeing Distant Things” argues that the experience of colour adds a certain ordering or form to experience. He concludes, however, “I believe that Wilhelm Schapp is mistaken in his claim that we do not visually perceive distant things due to their lack of requisite color order. Nevertheless, I believe that Schapp’s investigation into what color order, or “form”, is needed in perceptual experience, remains of interest today. While there are doubtless numerous reasons to continue reading Schapp’s work on perceptual experiences, I have specifically argued that some of the same issues and problems that are there in Schapp’s work, produced more than a century ago, are also to be found in Alva Noë’s recent writings, and whoever is interested in the latter has reason to be interested in the former” (411–412).  Timothy Martell’s essay “Cassirer and Husserl on the Phenomenology of Perception” and Bernardo Ainbinder contribution “From Neo-Kantianism to Phenomenology. Emil Lask’s Revision of Transcendental Philosophy: Objectivism, Reduction, Motivation” develop the important relation between early phenomenology and Neo-Kantianism. The former essay, drawing upon the work of Wilhelm Schapp and Ernst Cassirer, argues that the Husserlian concepts of hylé and morphé are significantly challenged by Cassirer’s and Schapp’s discussion of symbolic form. Martell poignantly observes, “Claims about noetic-noematic correlation are supposed to be claims about relations of dependence between mental processes of various kinds, on the one hand, and the objects of those processes (as intended), on the other. If such claims are to be anything other than trivial, then mental processes must have features that can be considered and described apart from their objects. Husserl thinks that mental processes have such features; he calls them the really inherent components of mental processes, as opposed to their intentional components, or noemata. The section of Ideas I in which Husserl differentiates the really inherent parts from the intentional parts of a mental process, §88, lists two kinds of real components: noetic parts and the hyletic data upon which the noetic parts bestow sense. But if Cassirer is correct, then there is no good reason to think that mental processes really have parts of either kind. How, then, can intentional mental processes be described apart from their intentional objects? And if a phenomenological description of a mental process can amount to nothing more than a description of the intentional object of that process, how is it possible to make non-trivial claims about noetic-noematic correlation?” (429). The latter and last essay of the volume shows how the Neo-Kantian philosopher Emil Lask is closer to earl phenomenology than to Neo-Kantianism with regard to certain key structures of consciousness. Ainbinder demonstrates how both the reduction and motivation do not require a transcendental ego to function.

Moran’s and Parker’s special edition of Studia Phaenomenologica is to be lauded, not only for its breadth and depth, but also for its courage. It is not often that one finds volumes devoted to what philosophy traditionally calls, and wrongly so, I might add, “minor figures.” By bringing to the mind of readers the richness of the early phenomenological movement, Moran and Parker present for readers an important moment in the development of phenomenology, making clearer how the paths of the more canonical figures of the Movement, including Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Levinas and Sartre, drew upon the ideas and work of figures discussed in this volume. The volume successfully uncovers the richness of the early phenomenological movement and the spirit of dialogue and inquiry between the community of thinkers either inspired or critical of the Movement. Most importantly, the editors and contributors provide readers with a series of rich philosophical perspectives and insights about a variety of topics, including consciousness, logic, judgement, social ontology, emotions, colour, feelings, the unconscious, etc., all of which are relevant for contemporary discussion and research.

Leave a Reply