Iulian Apostolescu (Ed.): The Subject(s) of Phenomenology: Rereading Husserl

The Subject(s) of Phenomenology: Rereading Husserl Book Cover The Subject(s) of Phenomenology: Rereading Husserl
Contributions To Phenomenology, Vol. 108
Iulian Apostolescu (Ed.)
Hardback 103,99 €
XIV, 380

Reviewed by: Luz Ascarate (Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne)

We can think of the Husserlian phenomenological project and the history that surrounds it as the passage “from visible graces to secret graces”, borrowing the expression with which Alain Mérot (2015) describes Poussin’s artistic work. In Mérot’s words, the visible graces are those of rigour (diligentia), order and visual eloquence with which Poussin always sought to show the clarity he was voluntarily seeking in all things. These visible graces make possible, in Pousin’s work, the realization of “secret graces”, which are those inexplicable and never totally expressed graces that support the deep and dark unity of the world, inseparable from the delectation that his work offers. It is because of the transmission of hidden graces that Poussin, according to Mérot, is accessible only to those who are both intelligent and sensible. Moreover, it is precisely because of the transmission of these secret graces that his work needs, in order to exist in all its fullness, a community of chosen people to whom it can be addressed.

Like Poussin’s work, facing the path of making grace visible by combining various techniques from the history of painting, Husserl’s work is a work in progress, a work that is always preparatory: “Everything I have written so far is only preparatory work; it is only the setting down of methods” (Husserl, 2001a). We can say in this sense that, insofar as the contemplation of a painting by Poussin makes us participants in the grace made visible and not sufficiently expressed (secret), the methods of the phenomenological vision are put into practice by every reader of Husserl. In this way, everyone who sees through Husserl, irremediably leaves aside, in her or his reading, something that cannot be said. It is for this reason, perhaps, that phenomenology continues creating interpretative divergences even so many years after the method’s foundation. Nevertheless, this is the same reason why phenomenology must confront other traditions of thought (from positivism to structuralism, among others) in front of which it still has something to say.

This book presents us with the panorama of these divergences, establishing the center of the discussion in the semantic richness of the notion of “subject(s)”. Thus, we can understand this book as the discussion of the subject(s) as the main theme, or main themes, of phenomenology. But we can also understand this book as the discussion of whether the main theme of phenomenology – expressed in the imperative to go back to the “things themselves” – revolves around the notion of subjectivity (subject), although transcendental, or of the multiplicity of subjectivities (subjects). Moreover, the main interest of this book is that it is situated in the field of the most recent of Husserl’s readers, which allows us to question the relevance of the phenomenological method in front of the themes of contemporary philosophical debate: “The Subject(s) of Phenomenology: Rereading Husserl sets out to critically re-evaluate (and challenge) the predominant interpretations of Husserl’s philosophy, and to adapt phenomenology to the specific philosophical challenges and context of the twenty-first century” (viii). In this way, as we expect of every new book of phenomenology, this book puts in dialogue phenomenology with the most recent philosophical proposals in order to show the limits that this tradition must overcome, or at least identify, to defend its actuality. The presentation of these dialogues and limits is organised around three orientations, each of which is developed in one of the three parts of the book: 1) the logical field of phenomenology, 2) problems and applications of the phenomenological method, and 3) the extents of phenomenology.

Part I, which has five chapters, is entitled “The Phenomenological Project: Definition and Scope”. This section concentrates mainly on the logical and linguistic framework of the Husserlian project. The Logical Investigations (2001b and 2001c) are thus a constant reference in this part of the book.

In the first chapter, “An Analytic Phenomenology: Husserl’s Path to the Things Themselves” (3-15), Jean-Daniel Thumser presents the path of the Husserlian language to things themselves, a path which he calls, for the first time in phenomenological literature, an analytical phenomenology. This essay concentrates on Husserl’s methodological language, from logical investigations to his ‘late manuscripts’. Thumser opposes the Husserlian language to the common language and to the scientific language (3). Unlike these languages, the language of phenomenology, according to the author, responds to the objective of phenomenology, which is “describe the essence of the experiencing life by practicing the phenomenological reduction” (3). The author speaks in the terms of an analytical phenomenology as a way to understad how transcendental language can express lived experience. The aim of the author of this contribution is to show the unity of Husserlian thought from this particular method while showing its limits.

In the second chapter, entitled “Parts, Wholes, and Phenomenological Necessity” (17-30), Adam Konopka reconstructs the notion of Husserlian necessity from the early logic of Husserlian phenomenology referring to parts and wholes. This notion of necessity will be presented as the radicalization of the Kantian conception of the material a priori from the diversification of phenomenological a prioris: “Kant accounts for the necessity proper to the unity and organization of manifolds in a one-sided relation to the subjective accomplishments of the knower. In contrast, Husserl account (sic.) for necessary unities of sense in terms of a two-sided relation of intentionality that is inclusive of lateral unities of coincidence” (29). However, to the author, Kant and Husserl are both convinced that transcendental philosophy clarify the necessity of the lawful regularities in a contingent world by a reference to the necessary conditions of their knowability.

Simone Aurora, in “The Early Husserl Between Structuralism and Transcendental Philosophy” (31-43), establishes a dialogue between Husserlian phenomenology and structuralism. To this end, he must overcome the apparent opposition that, due to the problems of an interpretative caricature of both traditions, would make this dialogue impossible. The author seeks to show that both Husserl’s early philosophy and structuralism must be considered as part of the same transcendental tradition. He concentrates on the notion of Wissenschaftslehre and the mereology of the “Third Logical Investigation” to identify “original” structuralist elements in Husserl’s transcendental philosophy: “Husserl’s version of structuralism is, however, original in many respects. Indeed, unlike the various structuralist currents that have animated many scientific fields, the philosophical programme which underlies the Logical Investigations is by no means limited to a specific disciplinary domain” (39). In this way, the author sets the relevance of Husserlian broad and philosophical structuralism in comparison with other structuralisms.

In the fourth contribution, entitled “Transcendental Consciousness: Subject, Object, or Neither?” (45-56), Corijn van Mazijk problematizes the term “transcendental consciousness”. The author presents three different interpretations of this concept. The first type of reading is classified by the author as ‘subjectivist’. This reading “sees transcendental consciousness as a kind of too narrowly restricted, exclusively first-person reality” (46). The second is the analytic or representationalist one characteristic of the thinkers of the U.S. West Coast. According to these thinkers, Husserlian phenomenology is interested in the ways in which we acquire knowledge of things and says nothing about the being of these things. From this reading, consciousness and the things it apprehends are totally different entities. Phenomenology would then have its own region of objectivities. The third reading is proper to thinkers of the U.S. East Coast (including Dan Zahavi) which challenges the West Cost interpretation. “These scholars understand transcendental consciousness in a more world-encompassing sense” (47). The East Coast argues that transcendental consciousness is no different from its world and is above the subject-object distinction. In the face of this discussion, van Mazijk proposes that phenomenology refers to the entire reality: “phenomenology and natural science genuinely study one and the same reality, even though they have different themes” (52). What is at stake, in the author’s view, is a metaphysical commitment in Husserl’s thought. It should be noted that, to van Mazijk, “metaphysical here (as in its classic sense) refers to a positive claim about what all (actual and possible) being in its final sense amounts to” (50) and Husserl maintains precisely that the ontological region of the transcendental consciousness includes the totality of the being.

Vedran Grahovac’s paper, “Philosophy as an Exercise in Exaggeration: The Role of Circularity in Husserl’s Criticism of Logical Psychologism” (57-94), shows that Husserl develops, in his Logical Investigations, a circular strategy of analysis that allows him to take advantage of the circularity inherent in psychology for the logical framework of his analyses. Thus, Husserl’s criticism of psychology and empiricism would consist above all in showing a circularity that is presupposed in these theories. The advance of Husserl’s philosophy itself depends on these theories, which he overcomes by transforming his themes and his own philosophy in the mode of a circular process. Moreover, for the author,

The persistence of the critical relation of pure science of logic towards psychologism, as the exaggeration of the latter through the self-regulation of the former, secures, in fact, the fixity of its epistemological position. The emphasis on the conscious particularism of the logical claim for universality clearly remains a pivotal concern for Husserl in the 1905–1907 lectures on Logic (85).

Part II, entitled “The Unfolding of Phenomenological Philosophy”, develops different themes that are very present in the current debate of phenomenological tradition, such as the relevance of phenomenology for the social sciences, problems of the transcendental point of view, imagination, intersubjectivity, and passivity. We can say that the papers here are organized in such a way that they outline the passage from the themes of static phenomenology to those of genetic phenomenology.

In Victor Eugen Gelan’s contribution, entitled “Husserl’s Idea of Rigorous Science and Its Relevance for the Human and Social Sciences” (97-105), we see how Husserl’s idea of rigorous science constitutes a great contribution not only to the understanding of the idea of science in general, but above all to the scientific character of the human and social sciences. To this end, the author presents Alfred Schutz’s thought, which allows him to show both an applied phenomenological idea of rigorous science and Husserl’s influence on the social science tradition. Moreover, the author points out that there is a thematic convergence in both thinkers that make such a contribution possible: “Husserl understood that it was necessary to complete his analysis of transcendental intersubjectivity (in Ideas I) with an investigation of subjectivity at the level of the natural world and attitude (elaborated in Krisis), from which the positive sciences emerge. This is where Husserl and Schutz meet” (104). Gelan also shows the methodological aspects of phenomenology that are valuable for social sciences, such as phenomenological reduction and the theory of the constitution of sense, aspects that are inscribed in the Husserlian idea of rigorous science.

Marco Cavallaro’s essay, “Ego-Splitting and the Transcendental Subject. Kant’s Original Insight and Husserl’s Reappraisal” (107-133), puts Husserl and Kant in dialogue about being an “I”. To this end, Cavallaro defines being an I as self-identity and self-consciousness. Firstly, the text attempts to reconstruct Kant’s implicit thought on the problem of Ego-splitting, and secondly, the text presents the view of Husserlian phenomenology on this same problem. According to the author, Husserlian phenomenology considers Ego-splitting the foundation of all transcendental philosophy. Cavallaro maintains that all self-consciousness implies an Ego-splitting and “that this is at odds with the prerequisite of self-identity we generally attribute to every experienceable or solely thinkable object” (128). He thus concludes that the splitting is a eidetic necessary character of the Ego.

“What Is Productive Imagination? The Hidden Resources of Husserl’s Phenomenology of Phantasy” (135-153) by Saulius Geniusas reconstructs the concept of productive imagination from the Husserlian point of view. The author treats this concept in a relative way, as opposed to the concept of reproductive imagination, which he seeks to expose first through the concept of fantasy. Next, the author shows that fantasy cannot be conceived as an ingredient of perceptive consciousness. Memory and fantasy, according to him, generate patterns of meaning and can therefore be taken in the field of positional experience. This allows him to show the place of productive imagination in the cultural field: “One can thus say that the cultural worlds are indeed historical through and through: the systems of appearance through which they are constituted admit of almost endless corrections, transformations and variations” (151). Moreover, according to Geniusas, despite Husserl’s concerns about the Kantian concept of transcendental imagination, Husserlian phenomenology of fantasy allows us to make a re-appropriation of the Kantian concept of productive imagination and apply it to the cultural world.

Rodney K. B. Parker’s contribution “Does Husserl’s Phenomenological Idealism Lead to Pluralistic Solipsism? Assessing the Criticism by Theodor Celms” (155-184) establishes a dialogue between Husserl and Theodor Celms. The author reconstructs Celms’ critique of Husserl’s supposed solipsism in Der phänomenologische Idealismus Husserls (1928). This reconstruction allows him to rescue Celms’ contribution to the formulation of Husserl’s Cartesian Meditations under the assumption that Husserl read Celms’ book before writing the text of Cartesians Meditations. Parker defends Husserl’s transcendental idealism by pointing out that the theory of intersubjectivity present in the Fifth Cartesian Meditation can neutralize transcendental solipsism. In any case, according to Parker, if transcendental idealism leads to a solipsistic pluralism, this would not be problematic.

Matt E. M. Bower’s essay “Finding a Way Into Genetic Phenomenology” (185-200) questions the place of genetic phenomenology in Husserian thought. The author concentrates on the clarification of the method of reduction and on its different ways in order to show the limits of these in dealing with the genetic themes of phenomenology. In the face of this, the author seeks to propose a new way that can give an account of the genetic description without leaving the transcendental scope. For this, he is inspired by Husserl’s late reflections on abnormal forms of consciousness. The characteristic feature of this new path is the fact that it is indirect: “The way to genetic phenomenology is indirect, and is at least one step removed from the familiar ‘ways to the reduction’” (191).

In “The Allure of Passivity” (201-211), Randall Johnson puts in discussion Husserl and Merleau-Ponty on the subject of passivity. To present Husserl’s thought on this subject, the author takes as his main reference the passive synthesis lectures, which, according to the author, were not known to Merleau-Ponty: “Based on H. L. Van Breda’s account of Merleau-Ponty’s visit to the Husserl Archives in 1939 and documentation of which manuscripts were available to him while they were being housed in Paris from 1944 until 1948, as well as those he later borrowed, it seems unlikely that Merleau-Ponty was able to read the passive synthesis lectures” (207). Merleau-Ponty’s contribution to the phenomenology of passivity consists, according to Johnson, in the diaphragmatic self-relation of an ego that cannot sustain its fragments. It is precisely the fragmentary forms of Merleau-Ponty’s notes that represent this characterization of passivity, which have produced, in the author, a strong impression capable of inspiring a profound reflection on love, with which this paper ends.

Part III, entitled “At the Limits of Phenomenology:  Towards Phenomenology as Philosophy of Limits”, explores the challenges of the phenomenological method in different limit areas, which can be understood as different extensions of the Husserlian perspective of phenomenology. We can identify here four orientations of these explorations: time, expression, the social ground of the phenomenological method, and the reception of Husserl’s work by his French readers (heirs and critics).

The temporal orientation is explored by the first two papers. On the one hand, “Time and Oblivion: A Phenomenological Study on Oblivion” (215-229), by Benjamin Draxlbauer, is a phenomenological analysis of a time limit-case. The phenomenon of oblivion is treated as a limit-case arising in the description of time-consciousness in Husserlian terms. The author shows the passage from the early Husserlian thought on this subject, in relation to retention and intentional consciousness, to the reflections of Husserl’s later manuscripts. Husserl’s late perspective, according to Draxlbauer, calls into question his early thought on this subject by mobilizing the concepts of sedimentation and horizon. On the other hand, Christian Sternad, in “On the Verge of Subjectivity: Phenomenologies of Death” (231-243), explores various conceptions of the very different time limit-case that is death. What interests the author is to show how the conceptions of death of phenomenological thinkers such as Husserl, Heidegger, Scheler, Fink, Sartre, Lévinas or Derrida influence the conceptions of subjectivity of each of these thinkers. Moreover, Sternad understands death as the interruption of the correlation between subject and object. With it, “death” questions the fundamental premises of the phenomenological method as it ends the subject of the experience to describe. What puts this in relevance is the relation between the notions of death and intersubjectivity, as the author of this paper defends.

The second orientation of Part III puts Husserl in dialogue with Frege and Merleau-Ponty around the concept of expression. First, Neal DeRoo in “Spiritual Expression and the Promise of Phenomenology” (245-269) presents Husserl’s response to Frege’s theory of meaning, which makes Husserl’s thinking on expression possible. According to the autor, this concept allows Husserl, on the one hand, to situate meaning as the connection between subjective acts of meaning and objective meanings. On the other hand, this concept allows Husserl to develop his notion of spirit and the analysis of the “lifeworld”. Moreover, according to DeRoo, in the Husserlian intention of understanding the scientific knowledge on the basis of Husserl and Frege’s discussion, “expression” will constitute the promise of the phenomenology itself. Second, “Individuation, Affectivity and the World: Reframing Operative Intentionality (Merleau-Ponty)” (271-290) by Elodie Boublil, focuses on the notion of “coherent deformation” present in Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology of expression. The author argues that, through this notion, Merleau-Ponty understands the individuation of subjectivity from its creative and ontological aspect. With this, Merleau-Ponty manages to show the dynamics inherent in intentionality and its expressions. The paper reveals that in his discussion with Malraux, Merleau-Ponty develops a phenomenology “from within” that displays the metamorphoses of the subject in diverse works of expression such as those of literature and art.

The third orientation explores the limits of the social basis of the phenomenological method, either from the point of view of the socio-geographical limits highlighted by the non-European vision of the world, or from the point of view of the socio-political limits highlighted by the political demands that we can address to phenomenology. Firstly, Ian Angus, in “Husserl and America: Reflections on the Limits of Europe as the Ground of Meaning and Value for Phenomenology” (291-310), problematizes a point that is present in the “Vienna Lecture” and that will be extracted in the Crisis text. This is the moment when Husserl defines the spirit of Europe by discounting Papuan people, the Inuit, the Indigenous peoples, and the Romani, and including “America”. For Angus, “this discounting and inclusion cannot be simply dismissed or ignored but constitutes a fundamental gesture in his critique of the crisis into which European reason has fallen” (292). This gesture is analyzed through the concept of institution (Urstiftung) of the Crisis, so that the “discovery” of America will be understood as an event instituting the spirit of Europe. Thus, the author defends that phenomenology can only be fully realized if, going beyond its European limits, it becomes a comparative diagnosis of the planetary and universal crisis of reason. Secondly, “Politicising the Epokhé: Bernard Stiegler and the Politics of Epochal Suspension” (341-354) by Ben Turner exposes Stiegler’s political appropriation of Husser’s epoché method. This method will not be seen simply as access to the structures of transcendental consciousness by suspending the influence of the world. Rather, what will suspend the epokhé will be the existing social systems to allow a moment of critical unfolding of disruptive source, which will be the institution of a new epoch. The author shows that the understanding of Stiegler’s epokhé has been achieved through, on the one hand, Husserian phenomenological thinking about the internal consciousness of time and, on the other hand, reflections on the pharmacological point of view of certain techniques that are both poisonous and curative. The political point of view of the epokhé must, thus, fight against the poisonous aspects of the epoché.

Last but not least, the fourth orientation of Part III groups three contributions that present the French reception of Husserlian phenomenology from very different topics but that identify, each time, a limit theme of Husserlian phenomenology. Firstly, I would like to present the last text of the book, which shows the contribution of the French critics of Husserl to the phenomenological project. This text, “Not Phenomenology’s ‘Other’: Historical Epistemology’s Critique and Expansion of Phenomenology” (355-380) by David M. Peña-Guzmán, deals first with the tensions between the tradition of French epistemology and the tradition of Husserlian phenomenology. At the same time, the author seeks to defend that, beyond possible misunderstandings, both traditions have similar features. The central references of the essay are Jean Cavaillès and Gaston Bachelard. Peña-Guzmán proves that the critiques of phenomenology by these thinkers have made possible an expansion of the phenomenological Husserlian project in their heirs and readers. Thus, the author of this essay considers that French historical epistemology is the Other of phenomenology. Secondly, I introduce the contribution, “Phenomenological Crossings: Givenness and Event (327-339)” by Emre Şan, which shows an example of the reappropriation and development of phenomenology in the French tradition. This essay focuses on the post-Husserlian developments of Michel Henry, Merleau-Ponty, and Jean-Luc Marion. Şan shows that these authors exceed the limits of the given meaning of the phenomenological perspective of noetic-nematic correlation. This is accomplished with the modification of the phenomenon considered, by these authors, as the event of meaning. With it, they manage to extend the scope of phenomenality to subjects such as the invisible, totality, affectivity. Finally, Keith Whitmoyer, in his essay entitled “Husserl and His Shadows: Phenomenology After Merleau-Ponty” (311-326), reflects on the reading of Merleau-Ponty, Levinas, and Derrida of Husserlian phenomenology. With these authors, he conceives Husserl’s work as a work that should not be considered from a luminous pattern, but rather from a certain brilliance that shines through the paradoxical multiplicity and chiaroscuro of his path. In this way, Husserl’s phenomenology must be understood as the clarification of that which in us makes reduction possible and that which in us resists reduction.

This last idea allows us to return to the reflection with which we started this review. Mérot (2015) affirms about Poussin, in the same text we referred to at the beginning, that he shows the correspondences that sustain the “dark and deep unity” of the world on a certain visual elocution, which is an application, through visible graces, of secret graces. The same can be said of the Husserlian phenomenological project, which, many decades after its foundation, continues to cause the perplexity of that which, wanting to make visible, does not become visible without making visible in that same movement that involves simultaneous occultation. The subjects of phenomenology are thus variable, multiple, urgent, and undefined. Let it be permitted to us then, in front of the perplexity proper to the phenomenological path, to finish this review with a poem by Jaccottet (1977) that makes us think of the paradoxical light with which the phenomenological method seeks to illuminate things themselves: “mêlé au monde que nous traversons, / qu’il y ait, imprégnant ses moindres parcelles,/ de cela que la voix ne peut nommer, de cela /que rien ne mesure, afin qu’encore /il soit possible d’aimer la lumière/ ou seulement de la comprendre,/ ou simplement, encore, de la voir/ elle, comme la terre recueille,/et non pas rien que sa trace de cendre”.


Celms, Theodor. 1928. Der phänomenologische Idealismus Husserls. Riga: Acta Universitatis Latviensis.

Husserl, Edmund.  2001a. “O. Adelgundis Jaegerschmid: Conversations with Edmund Husserl, 1931–1938.” In: The New Yearbook for Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy, vol. 1, p. 336.

———. 2001b. Logical Investigations, Volume I. Trans. John Findlay. London: Routledge.

———. 2001c. Logical Investigations, Volume II. Trans. John Findlay. London: Routledge.

Jaccottet, Philippe. 1977. À la lumière d’hiver. Paris : Gallimard.

Mérot, Alain. 2015. Des grâces visibles aux grâces secrètes. dir. Nicolas Milovanovic et Mickaël Szanto. Poussin et Dieu, cat. expo. [Paris, musée du Louvre, 2 avril-29 juin 2015], Hazan/Éditions du musée du Louvre, pp. 76-83.

Gerhard Kreuch: Self-Feeling: Can Self-Consciousness be Understood as a Feeling?

Self-Feeling: Can Self-Consciousness be Understood as a Feeling? Book Cover Self-Feeling: Can Self-Consciousness be Understood as a Feeling?
Contributions To Phenomenology, Vol. 107
Gerhard Kreuch
Hardback 83,19 €
XVII, 266

Reviewed by: Maik Niemeck (Philipps-Universität Marburg)

In Self-Feeling: Can Self-Consciousness be Understood as a Feeling?, Gerhard Kreuch offers a well-expressed theory of self-consciousness that largely builds on insights from the so-called Heidelberg School – including such authors as Manfred Frank, Dieter Henrich, and Ulrich Pothast – and from the theory of existential feelings – developed by Matthew Ratcliffe, Achim Stephan and Jan Slaby, among others. His central claim is that understanding self-consciousness as an affective phenomenon – namely as a self-feeling – helps to overcome problems that beset other prominent theoretical branches in this area of research, such as various higher-order representationalisms or theories of pre-reflective self-consciousness. Besides providing a justification for this claim, Kreuch also aims to develop a model that allows us to build a theoretical bridge between basic, non-conceptual self-consciousness and its more sophisticated forms, such as full-blown first-person thoughts about one’s own character traits or values. In addition, Kreuch explores how feelings in general can have a fundamental impact on our self-interpretations, and analyzes the conditions under which we would evaluate such interpretations and self-feelings as appropriate or misguided.

Before going into further detail, allow me to sketch the overall structure of the text. The book is divided into four parts. The first chapter provides a brief but helpful overview of various current theories of self-consciousness and the alleged challenges they face. The second chapter discusses human affectivity in general and introduces the reader to the theory of existential feelings. The third chapter brings the two fields together. Kreuch explains why the theory of existential feelings can be very useful in research on self-consciousness and how the features that these kinds of feelings apparently exhibit fit the description of pre-reflective (or as Kreuch also calls them, “same-order”) forms of self-consciousness identified in the first chapter. The fourth chapter seeks to provide an adequate description of the relationship between self-feelings and those first-person thoughts which are attempts to explore one’s own identity.

In Part I the book begins with a comparison of what Kreuch terms “Higher-Order and Same-Order Models of Self-Consciousness”. Higher-order models maintain that a mental state can only become conscious if it is represented by a numerically distinct state, whereas same-order models hold that there is no need for such higher-order representation. Kreuch’s terminology could be considered somewhat misleading since many of the theories to which he refers (such as those of Armstrong, Gennaro, Carruthers or Rosenthal) are not primarily concerned with self-consciousness but with consciousness. Of course, some of them – such as Kriegel’s and Williford’s self-representationalism – are also intended to provide an adequate account of what is nowadays known as the subjective character, or the mine-ness or me-ishness of experience, but the central purpose of introducing these ideas is to give an informative explanation of consciousness. Nevertheless, it seems reasonable to talk about consciousness, since self-consciousness is, after all, also a case of consciousness. Kreuch then presents reasons for preferring a same-order view of self-consciousness over a higher-order one. Central to this decision are the various regresses and vicious-circular explanations which, according to Kreuch, beset higher-order approaches. For instance, he claims that if we assume that a mental state (A) can only become conscious or self-conscious (Kreuch shifts between these two descriptions) if it is represented by a different mental state (B), then there also needs to be yet another mental state (C), which represents B to make B conscious/self-conscious, and so forth. Moreover, Kreuch maintains that genuine self-consciousness is not just a consciousness of something that happens to be oneself, but includes an additional awareness of the identity-relation holding between oneself and the object of which one is conscious (he uses Manfred Frank’s notion of De Se Constraint to denote this condition). Yet, the crucial question is this: how can a representation ensure genuine self-consciousness (or to use different terminology, fulfill the De Se Constraint)? It seems that in order to be able to recognize a representation as a representation of myself, I already need to have some prior knowledge about myself which enables me to do this. Hence, theories which attempt to explain self-consciousness in terms of self-representation presuppose what they try to explain, or so Kreuch claims.

For this reason, Kreuch sympathizes with pre-reflective theories of self-consciousness, which share his diagnosis and argue that not all cases of self-consciousness can be self-representations. However, these theories also provide a couple of other negative characterizations, such as the idea that self-consciousness is non-objectifying and non-relational. Kreuch adopts this characterization, and states that “[s]elf-consciousness is a pre-reflective, non-relational, single-digit phenomenon. There is no duality, inner perception, representation, etc., involved. Every conscious state is in itself self-intimating” (20). I am not entirely sure what “non-objectifying” or “self-intimating” mean, but I take to be the core of this approach the claim that some instances of self-consciousness have to be understood as non-relational properties rather than as relations one entertains to oneself (such as specific propositional attitudes). However, this is not a particularly rich description of these types of self-consciousness, as Kreuch rightly stresses: “Looking closer at alternative pre-reflective theories from the Heidelberg School and Zahavi/Gallagher we saw that they suffer from the ‘ex negativo’ challenge. They focus on refuting what self-consciousness is not and give little account on what it is.” (50). This is the theoretical gap Kreuch wants to close in the remainder of his book.

In Part II, Kreuch provides a general introduction to the philosophy of emotions and an account of existential feelings. He claims that one has to investigate what he calls fundamental human affectivity to come closer to an adequate theory of self-consciousness. Fundamental affective states, according to Kreuch, include moods, background feelings, and bodily feelings. He contrasts these with short-term, object-oriented emotions such as anger or fear, on which most of the contemporary philosophical literature focuses (67). While fundamental human affectivity has been discussed occasionally in the literature on emotions (e.g. in the work of Else Voigtländer, Edith Stein, Max Scheler, Bernard Waldenfels or Antonio Damasio), until recently it has never been the focal point. Kreuch maintains that Matthew Ratcliffe’s theory of existential feelings represents the most elaborated attempt to explore this dimension of affectivity and notes that he therefore relies heavily on Ratcliffe’s prior theoretical work on these issues (73ff.). Kreuch describes existential feelings as bodily emotional states which constitute “the affective background of all our experience” (74) and “shape our space of possibilities” (76). According to Ratcliffe, as Kreuch reads him, existential feelings shape our way of being in the world and are in this sense “about the world as a whole and our relationship with it […] They constitute our way of experiencing the world as a whole. Existential feelings are not about specific objects, and neither are they a medium through which something else is experienced” (80). As such, they shape “our sense of what is possible for us. Thus, they are background orientations that structure all our experience and thought.” (82). To illustrate how these existential feelings define our “space of possibilities”, Kreuch discusses a variety of cases: “In depression, the whole world feels deprived of possibilities, nothing is worth pursuing anymore. […] Similarly, a case can be made for more usual everyday situations. Imagine you had a very hard night with your baby crying for hours. You are tired and feel weak. […] Then you go to work where you are about to give an important presentation for a committee that decides on financing your long-time planned project. Under normal circumstances you would feel a bit nervous but fairly confident about it. This time, however, everything feels harder and less doable.” (84–85).

Although I find Kreuch’s idea rather intriguing, it is not entirely clear to me in what ways these feelings are supposed to define our space of possibilities. In the quotation above, for instance, Kreuch uses the words “feels deprived of possibilities” or “nothing is worth pursuing”. These are quite different things: I can believe that almost anything is possible for me while still thinking that none of these possibilities are worth pursuing, and I can believe that I am deprived of all possibilities while having the feeling that any possibility would be better than none. Do these existential feelings make me epistemically blind to certain possibilities, while presenting others as especially salient? Or do they present with a particular valence those possibilities of which I am already aware; that is to say, as possibilities that may or may not be worth pursuing? Later on, it seems as if Kreuch has in mind something along the lines of the first characterization, when he writes: “Self-feeling shapes what appears as possible action for us, it is a sense of what we can do or cannot do. For instance, when we feel vulnerable and rejected, it is unlikely that we find ourselves capable of holding a speech in front of a large audience” (137, my emphasis). However, it would be helpful to have a more precise description at some point of exactly how these feelings work and how they shape a person’s “space of possibilities”.

In Part III of his book, Kreuch seeks to develop a theory of self-feelings to overcome the problems outlined in Part I. This section can be seen as the theoretical heart of the book. Here Kreuch claims that self-feelings are not a subclass of existential feelings and existential feelings are not specific types of self-feelings, but “[i]nstead, existential feeling and self-feeling are two aspects of the one unitary phenomenon of fundamental human affectivity. Every existential feeling is always a self-feeling, too. At the same time, every self-feeling is always an existential feeling, too.” (122). As a first step, Kreuch summarizes the essential features these self-feelings are supposed to have. They are pre-reflective, non-reducible, pre-propositional, single-digit and irrelational De Se phenomena (124). As pre-propositional mental states they do not have complete propositions as their intentional objects but they always include the possibility of full articulation in one’s overall self-narration occurring in thought and speech (131). As bodily mental states, self-feelings integrate experiences of one’s own body with a feeling of the world and they also combine bodily aspects with cognitive ones. Kreuch explains: “When you touch the tip of a pencil there are two aspects involved: You feel the changes in your finger (as part of your body), your skin and tissue is deformed by the hard pencil. At the same time, you feel the pencil, you have a feeling of this object in the world. […] The situation is similar with self-feeling. In self-feeling we feel how we find ourselves in the world. It is at the same time a ‘world-feeling’, we feel our being in touch with the world.” (135). Later on, Kreuch introduces two additional features of these self-feelings. They also include a feeling of one’s own existence and one’s individuality. By virtue of entertaining them we become aware of the fact that we exist and thereby gain somehow an awareness of how we exist as this specific individual in the world. Kreuch mentions feeling healthy or welcome as examples of this how-aspect (139).

After this in-depth discussion of the essential characteristics of self-feelings, Kreuch addresses the problems he identified with higher-order (or reflective) theories of self-consciousness in Part I. He takes the following claims as the key conclusions to be drawn from Part I: (A) “mental states must be self-intimating” (i.e. “they must be conscious by virtue of themselves”); (B) “[a]ll feelings are mental states”; and (C) “all feelings are self-intimating” (150). I am not sure whether I understand Kreuch correctly here, but (A) cannot be true unless we assume that all mental states are conscious, since self-intimation is usually considered to be sufficient for that. And because not all mental states are self-intimating, the argument is not sound and provides no justification for the proposition that all feelings are self-intimating. The argument is more likely to work if we substitute “mental states” in (A) and (B) with “conscious states”, though I am not sure that all feelings are conscious (it also depends, I suppose, on one’s preferred terminology). Later on (153), Kreuch maintains that he does not necessarily have to defend (A) as it stands and that it would be sufficient for his theory if only self-feelings were self-intimating. This, however, seems to be in tension with the assumption that something like a pre-reflective self-consciousness is a universal feature of experience. Kreuch then addresses the circularity and regress problems which, he claims, beset higher-order theories of (self-)consciousness. According to Kreuch, theories which appeal to self-feelings do not entail a regress since these feelings are conscious by virtue of intrinsic properties (or as Kreuch puts it, because they are “self-intimating”) and not because they are represented by other mental states (151).

However, he rightly questions whether his theory is able to explain self-consciousness, since it seems to rely on the rather mysterious notion of “self-intimation”, which appears to presuppose some sort of self-consciousness without specifying or explaining it any further (152). Kreuch admits that he cannot completely avoid such circularity problems but that his theory, like all same-order views, is nevertheless superior in many respects to higher-order theories of consciousness and that therefore the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. First, the theory of self-feelings at least seems to avoid the problem of regress, since a conscious state does not have to be represented by numerically distinct states. Moreover, he argues that it “is plausible that it is advantageous for creatures if their most important mental states are self-intimating and do not need an additional mechanism to become self-conscious. For example, a creature that had to undergo a lengthy and exhausting process of self-reflection in order to be able to conclude that it is hungry would be disadvantaged from a creature that had the feeling of hunger right away.” (152–153). I don’t think that this is a particularly strong argument, since it is still rather unclear what consciousness is good for, and one might even hold that an unconscious hunger is better suited to trigger an immediate reaction, as consciousness might only be present during the performance of cognitively more demanding tasks (like complex decision-making or reporting one’s hunger). Finally, Kreuch claims that higher-order theories of consciousness also fail to explain why some mental states are accompanied by meta-representations while others are not, and therefore that they presuppose something they do not explain (just as his own theory of self-feelings does). Hence, even if Kreuch’s theory might contain some explanatory black boxes, this is a feature that it shares with every other currently available theory of self-consciousness (153).

In the final major section of Part III, Kreuch explores the appropriateness conditions of the self-feelings his theory posits. According to Kreuch, we cannot be mistaken in self-feelings about our own existence but these feelings can, on the basis of a number of criteria, be more or less appropriate or inappropriate (171, 194). In order to be appropriate, self-feelings may have to be balanced, stable over time (176), open to intersubjective reasoning (174), include an awareness of their own contingency (173), need to be biologically (180) or socially effective (181) and consistent, to some extent, with the network of other mental states in which they are embedded (182). However, none of these criteria alone is sufficient or necessary for an adequate evaluation of self-feelings, since this task is highly context-sensitive and in different contexts the distinct criteria are considered to be more or less relevant (183).

The final part of the book, Part IV, provides an account of how self-feelings are connected to first-person thought. It concerns the question of how these kinds of feelings inform our thinking about ourselves and influence our understanding of our own identity. Kreuch first provides some terminological clarifications which form the basis for the claim that a theory of self-interpretation should take theoretical center stage in the philosophy of self-consciousness, rather than the epistemological considerations which are usually associated with the notion of self-knowledge. Referring to the work of Cassam, Schwitzgebel and Lawlor, Kreuch suggests that research should focus more on interpretative, self-reflective activities which are pursued to “mak[e] sense of our own individual lives and create synthesized, general narratives about who we are” (204). This is also, Kreuch maintains, the theoretical field in which the concept of self-feeling can contribute valuable insights. While our self-interpretations or self-narratives are, to a certain degree, open and are unlikely to ever end, they are not based in mere imagining and therefore require a hermeneutical foundation that provides some clues as to which direction the interpretations should take. Building on Krista Lawlor’s concept of internal promptings, Kreuch proposes that self-feelings can provide such a hermeneutical base for our self-narrative thoughts (208). Later on, Kreuch writes: “[A self-feeling] offers a direct, affective experience of one’s overall being in this world. As affective resonance of one’s individual existence it can itself function as source of evidence for self-interpretation” (215). Moreover, self-feelings do not only shape our space of possible actions, as Kreuch has argued in Part II, they also determine the way we think about ourselves: “Thus, given a particular self-feeling there are thoughts that are possible and others that are not. For example, in the case of severe depression our self-related thoughts are predominantly concerned with our insignificance and disability. We believe that we are worthless and unable to live a normal life. Thoughts like ‘Things will become better for me again’ or ‘I have strengths and skills, too’ are likely to be impossible in severe depression” (211). Hence, self-feelings guide, limit, and provide evidence for our self-interpretations.

The next major section of Part IV analyzes how the evaluation of self-feelings and self-interpretations are related to one another (217). For this purpose, Kreuch discusses four different evaluative combinations of these mental states and how we might interpret them (220). According to Kreuch, there are: 1) inappropriate self-feelings with fitting self-interpretations (e.g. depression); 2) appropriate self-feelings with non-corresponding self-interpretations; 3) inappropriate self-feelings with misguided interpretations (as in narcissistic personality disorder); and 4) appropriate self-feelings and adequate interpretations (which Kreuch calls “authenticity”). A self-interpretation is only fully appropriate (or authentic) if it somehow captures the nature of the self-feeling on the basis of which it was formed. In addition, the underlying self-feeling has to be appropriate, too. If I feel a deep sadness for no good reason and understand myself as a melancholic person, both the feeling and the interpretation seem to be misguided, even if the interpretation resembles the feeling. Or, as Kreuch ultimately puts it: “There cannot be appropriateness on the higher levels if something is wrong in the foundation” (251).

Overall, Kreuch’s Self-Feeling is an important contribution to current debates on self-consciousness and addresses pressing issues which are rarely discussed within those debates. The author succeeds in demonstrating that it is worthwhile to investigate the neglected relations holding between self-consciousness and emotions more deeply. The book provides a novel account in a tremendously complex area of research and generally presents its ideas very clearly. While Self-Feeling covers a wide range of topics and appeals to different analytical and continental traditions, one never feels lost since the author is an excellent guide throughout the book. Yet, the broad scope of the book obviously comes at the cost of more detailed discussion of particular arguments, especially those which are presented as motivations for Kreuch’s own theory. Let me offer a few examples and thereby end this review on a constructively critical note.

The regress argument, which Kreuch presents as a problem for higher-order theories of consciousness, is highly debated in the literature. The crucial claim that needs justification or has to be accepted by higher-order representationalists to get the regress going is as follows: only conscious mental states can make us conscious of the things they represent. This, however, is an assumption that most of these theorists will not accept. David Rosenthal, for instance, writes: “Nor must a HOT [Higher-Order Thought] itself be conscious to make us conscious of its target. We’re conscious of things even when we see them subliminally, though we’re not in such cases aware that we’re conscious of those things. Similarly with HOTs and their mental targets. We’re seldom aware of having HOTs, which is what we should expect” (Rosenthal 2005: 9). And even philosophers who explicitly argue against higher-order models, such as Rowlands (2001), agree that at least some types of unconscious mental states, such as perceptions, can make us conscious of things they represent. Thus, in order to provide a comprehensive justification for a critique along these lines, Kreuch would need to put a lot more work into the argument.

Similar issues apply to the circularity critique Kreuch raises against higher-order theories of consciousness (or reflective theories of self-consciousness)[1]. Kreuch writes: “The challenge is then about how should self-consciousness emerge out of a set of completely unconscious states? The only explanation seems to be that self-consciousness was implicitly already there. Otherwise it remains dark how the combination of two unconscious states should make for self-consciousness” (15). I am not sure why there is supposed to be a circular explanation here. Higher-order theories of consciousness maintain that a mental state becomes conscious in virtue of being adequately represented. The meta-representations themselves, they claim, are most often unconscious. Hence, according to these types of theories, the only thing needed for consciousness to emerge is meta-representation. And we might add that quite often when two things stand in appropriate relations (such as a representation-relation), they can gain properties (such as being conscious) that they would not have on their own. Therefore, higher-order theories at least prima facie seem to offer a non-circular explanation of (self-)consciousness and therefore more detailed discussion is required in order for this criticism to work.

Yet, as I explained earlier, Kreuch identifies another circle. According to him, any theory which understands self-consciousness merely in terms of representation presupposes other (unexplained) forms of self-consciousness, because a subject would already have to know something about itself to recognize itself as the object of representation. Kreuch concludes, therefore, that some cases of self-consciousness cannot be representations, but must be understood as non-relational properties or, as he puts it, as “single-digit phenomena”. It is not absolutely clear, I think, whether one really has to know something about oneself to entertain genuine De Se representations (or, as people say, “representations about oneself as oneself”), since we might also be able to have proper De Re representations without having any knowledge about the objects in question. And I am also not sure that we have to accept completely non-relational forms of self-consciousness in order to account for De Se representations, since even those non-representational instances of self-consciousness are supposed to be about me and my mental states and, hence, appear to exhibit some kind of directedness or intentionality. We could simply introduce some form of non-representational self-acquaintance instead. I believe that Kreuch is correct in pressing the question of how genuine De Se (or first-person) representation is possible and that this should be the focus of a theory of self-consciousness. However, it would be useful to be provided with a deeper understanding of exactly how Kreuch’s concept of a single-digit self-feeling can help answer this question.

Rosenthal, David. 2005. Consciousness and Mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rowlands, Mark. 2001. “Consciousness and Higher-Order Thoughts”. Mind & Language. Vol. 16 (3): 290–310.

[1] As stated earlier, Kreuch seems to use these names interchangeably. However, it is not clear whether these notions usually denote the same types of theories in the literature, as a theory of self-consciousness may not be expected to give any hints about the conditions of consciousness in general.

Aaron Ben-Ze’ev: The Arc of Love

The Arc of Love: How Our Romantic Lives Change over Time Book Cover The Arc of Love: How Our Romantic Lives Change over Time
Aaron Ben-Ze’ev
University of Chicago Press
Cloth $40.00

Reviewed by: Cecilea Mun (Arizona State University)

In The Arc of Love, Aaron Ben-Ze’ev (2019) aims to convince us of the possibility of enduring romantic love (5), what he also often refers to as long-term, profound love (Ben-Ze’ev 2019, 14). Such love is not to be simply equated with enduring love or romantic love, which he also respectively refers to as long-term romantic relationships and profound love, and these two kinds of love can come apart (Ben-Ze’ev 2019, 11, 66). Ben-Ze’ev fulfills his aim throughout his book by providing accounts of enduring romantic love which may make those who have yet to experience such love optimistic about its possibility, and those who are in the midst of actualizing such a love more secure in the path they chose. It is also a book that I would highly recommend to those who are still wondering exactly what romantic love is in general regardless of its endurance and how they might achieve it. So, I will not contest Ben-Ze’ev’s claim that enduring romantic love is possible. My concern in this review is with specifying what Ben-Ze’ev believes to be the differentia and the genus of enduring romantic love, along with his claim that love is not a property of nor resides in the connection between a lover and their beloved.

More specifically, I will be concerned with precisifying Ben-Ze’ev’s account of the ontological nature and structure of enduring romantic love, especially in terms of what differentiates enduring romantic love from what Ben-Ze’ev might refer to as acute romantic love and extended romantic love. In other words, I will be concerned with what Ben-Ze’ev regards to be the differentia of enduring romantic love compared to the kind of emotion that a romantic lover might have while observing that way their beloved protected their mother from the rain, which made them fall in love, or during that time when they were jealous of their beloved’s colleague for the time they had together (possible occasions of acute romantic love), and the kind of love that a romantic lover might have while on a date with their beloved or perhaps while recalling their date at the end of the evening, after saying good-bye (possible occasions of extended romantic love). I will also be concerned with what it is about these kinds of experiences, if anything at all, that unify them under the genus of enduring romantic love (i.e., romantic love), and I will argue that in light of my discussion, Ben-Ze’ev ought to reconsider his argument against the dialogue model of love (Ben-Ze’ev 2019, 48). My conclusion, however, does not also deny that love is a property of lovers. That love is a property of or resides in the connection between a lover and their beloved can instead entail that love is also a property of lovers as well as their beloved.

I begin with my account of Ben-Ze’ev’s notions of acute, extended, and enduring emotions, focusing on explicating their ontological structure and identifying their differentia. I then discuss the two models of romantic love that Ben-Ze’ev introduces—the care model and the dialogue model—highlighting his argument against the claim that “love is a property of, and in some formulations resides in, the connection between the two lovers” (Ben-Ze’ev 2019, 48). Although this claim can be understood in at least one of two ways—as a claim about the essence of the genus romantic love or the essence of the overarching genus, love—I will concentrate on the implication of Ben-Ze’ev’s argument against this claim for his conception of the genus romantic love. I will argue that Ben-Ze’ev’s rejection of the claim that love can be a property of or reside in the connection between two lovers jeopardizes his book’s primary aim: to convince us of the possibility of enduring romantic love. Ben-Ze’ev should, therefore, reconsider his claim that romantic love is not a property of or resides in the connection between two lovers, and accept that it is at least possible.

Before I begin, however, it is important to note two things. First, Ben-Ze’ev employs a prototype framework for conceptualizing experiences of enduring romantic love, which was initially introduced in The Subtlety of Emotions (Ben-Ze’ev 2000, ch. 1). That he does so was also recently conveyed during his author-meets-critics session for the Society for Philosophy of Emotion, at the 2020 American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division conference. As he stated during the session:

I am not in the business of defining, but rather in the more modest task of describing and explaining. I do not work with binary categories, which provide clear criteria constituting sufficient and necessary conditions for membership in the category. I rather use prototypical categories, where membership is determined by an item’s degree of similarity to the best example in the category: the greater the similarity, the higher the degree of membership. The prototypical category has neither clear-cut boundaries nor equal degrees of membership.[1]

Second, although I speak of the “differentia” and the “genus” of enduring romantic love, I do not necessarily apply these terms under the presupposition of a materialistically essentialist framework about emotional categories that reifies emotions as distinct entities in-themselves, independent of the emotional beings that are the subjects of such experiences (read Mun 2016; also read Rorty 1985 and Russell 2009). I am also not presupposing a framework that requires one to give necessary and sufficient conditions for identifying either the differentia or the genus of enduring romantic love. I use these terms to simply speak of the feature or features, if any, that give a specified meaning to the use of the relevant words, such as “enduring romantic love.” I admit that such features, along with the genus of enduring romantic love may be prototypical or fuzzy, but such conceptualizations do not defy giving a definition of some kind, even though such a definition can be regarded to capture only the most typical experiences of the kind in question. So, for prototypical approaches, the concern in this review is about identifying the feature(s) that identify “the best example in the category,” as Ben-Ze’ev put it, of enduring romantic love and its greater genus romantic love.


According to Ben-Ze’ev, “intentionality and feeling are two basic mental dimensions,” and both can be said to describe emotions and moods as types of affective attitudes (Ben-Ze’ev 2019, 21). The intentionality of an emotion is therefore distinguished from an emotion’s feeling, although both are regarded to be “mental.” “Intentionality” refers to the aboutness of an emotion, i.e., that emotions are about something (a subject-object relation), and “feeling” refers to what I take to be felt physiological experiences along with what Ben-Ze’ev refers to as “a certain (implicit or explicit) evaluative stance (or concern)” (Ben-Ze’ev 2019, 21). This is all also consistent with the view Ben-Ze’ev put forward in Subtlety of Emotions ([2000] 2001). More recently, Ben-Ze’ev, also noted that feelings have a “primitive-level” of intentionality while also denying that they entailed any kind of evaluation. As Ben-Ze’ev stated:

The feeling component. I agree with Mun that one may consider feelings as having a primitive-level intentionality. Since I tend to steer clear of absolute borderlines, the issue is of lesser significance to my view. However, I would certainly not identify feeling with evaluation. [2]

Also according to Ben-Ze’ev, emotions differ from moods to the extent that moods may lack two additional components to their intentionality: a motivational component of a readiness to action and a cognitive component of being about practical implications (Ben-Ze’ev 2019, 21). Thus, according to Ben-Ze’ev’s book, in contrast with moods, emotions necessarily involve three major intentional components: cognition, evaluation, and motivation (Ben-Ze’ev 2019, 23).

At this point, I want to first call attention to one particular concern I had regarding the way Ben-Ze’ev conceived the nature or structure of emotions in general. In short, given the primitive-level of intentionality that feelings have, according to Ben-Ze’ev, it was a bit unclear from The Arc of Love exactly how he conceived the relationship between feelings and the other three major intentional components of cognition, evaluation, and motivation, which he identified therein. In Subtlety of Emotions, however, Ben-Ze’ev noted that emotions can be divided into four basic components: cognition, evaluation, motivation, and feeling (Ben-Ze’ev [2000] 2001, 49). Cognition, evaluation, and motivation all belong to what Ben-Ze’ev refers to as the intentional dimension of emotions and feelings constitute their own dimensions (the feeling dimension). Both dimensions are also central to an experience of emotion (Ben-Ze’ev [2000] 2001, 50). For, Ben-Ze’ev conceived the intentionality and the feeling dimensions as two aspects of the same mental state. As Ben-Ze’ev noted:

Intentionality and feeling are not two separate mental entities but rather distinct dimensions of a mental state. The typical relation between these dimensions is not that of causality—which prevails between separate entities—but that of accompanying or complementing each other. Since the two dimensions are distinct aspects of the same state, it is conceptually confusing to [speak] about a causal relation between them within this particular state. (Ben-Ze’ev [2000] 2001, 51)

Yet Ben-Ze’ev conceptually distinguishes the feeling dimension apart from the intentional dimension because he does not take feelings to have the adequate kind of intentionality to regard them as components of the intentional dimension. For Ben-Ze’ev the intentional dimension is constituted by mental states that necessarily have some reference to an object and, according to Ben-Ze’ev, feelings lack this kind of intentionality Ben-Ze’ev [2000] 2001, 50).

The intentional dimension, according to Ben-Ze’ev, also involves the emotional complexities of emotional diversity, emotional ambivalence, and behavioral emotional complexity, which respectively correspond to the cognitive, evaluative, and motivational components of emotional experiences (Ben-Ze’ev 2019, 23). These three components can also be cashed out in more detail in terms of an emotion’s typical cause by some positive or negative change in the subject’s personal situation; typical focus on the subject’s personal concerns; typical objects of which are other persons; typical comparative meaning, which involves a deliberative emotional weighting of possibilities; and as taking place in affective time, which includes the factors of location, duration, pace, frequency, and meaningful direction (Ben-Ze’ev 2019, 20).

These features—respectively, of cause, focus of concern, emotional object, emotional meaning, and affective time—can also help us identify what Ben-Ze’ev refers to as the “major emotional characteristics” of acute emotions: instability, intensity, partiality, and brevity (Ben-Ze’ev 2019, 18). The instability of acute emotions differentiate them from extended and enduring emotions in the sense that it indicates the introduction or experience of a novel context, which also characterizes the intensity, partiality, and brevity of acute emotional experiences: they are respectively intense, both cognitively and evaluatively focused on a narrow target, and brief (i.e., almost instantaneous) (Ben-Ze’ev 2019, 19). Yet the most notable ontological characteristic of acute emotions is that they are singular or particular in occurrence, and they are the experiences on which both extended and enduring emotions are constructed. They are the atoms of emotional experiences.

Extended emotions are experiences constituted by repetitive experiences of acute emotions that are bounded together by the feeling that they “belong to the same emotion” (Ben-Ze’ev 2019, 20). Note here the unifying role that Ben-Ze’ev gives to such a feeling. This also suggests that, in extended emotions, the acute emotions which constitute them share at least the same aspects of affective time (e.g., location, duration, pace, frequency, and meaningful direction). Both acute and extended emotional experiences are, therefore, synchronic, and what significantly differentiates the two is that the first is always occurrent and the second is always that which is constituted by a set of acute emotions that are felt to belong to the same emotion.

In contrast, enduring emotions are constituted by both acute and extended emotions. They are also the most temporally extended of the three kinds of emotional experiences—possibly lasting for a lifetime (21). Enduring emotions are, therefore, diachronic experiences, and may be understood as being in some sense always under construction or as always being discovered by a lover (and it seems that Ben-Ze’ev would agree with both[3]). It is also in this construction or discovery that one can find the dispositional affectivity of “having an inherent (built-in) potential to develop” (22), which distinguishes enduring romantic love from both acute and extended romantic love. As Ben-Ze’ev notes, “This specific sense of ‘dispositional’ is key for our inquiry into the possibility of long-term profound love” (22).


Ben-Ze’ev also offers a discussion of what he takes to be the two most relevant models of romantic love for the topic of enduring romantic love: the care model and the dialogue model of romantic love (45). The care model, according to Ben-Ze’ev, takes love to be centrally about a lover’s concern for their beloved’s well-being. It represents an essentially sacrificial kind of love, especially in its extreme versions (46), which is why it is often more appropriate for loving relationships between unequal partners (45); and although it is necessary for long-term profound love, it is not sufficient for such love (46). This is because, for Ben-Ze’ev, long-term profound love requires a reciprocal concern for the flourishing of the other between the lover and the beloved. Such reciprocity can be found in what Ben-Ze’ev refers to as the dialogue model of love, in which a mutual respect for the other’s autonomy also involves a joint commitment toward shared emotional experiences and activities that lead to the personal growth of both lovers (46-47).

This kind of appreciation for the beloved’s autonomy leads to an emotional complexity in experiences of profound romantic love, including long-term profound love, that involves what Ben-Ze’ev refers to as a kind of holistic diversity, which is the kind of diversity in which the “love is directed at the beloved as a diverse, whole person” (24). As Ben-Ze’ev observes:

Profound romantic love involves a comprehensive attitude that takes into account the rich and complex nature of the beloved. The lover’s comprehensive attitude is complex in the sense that it does not focus on simple narrow aspects of the beloved but considers the beloved as a whole, multifaceted being. Sexual desire or friendship, by contrast, are more limited. In romantic love, we see both the forest and the trees, whereas in sexual desire we often focus on one or several trees. (24)

Such emotional complexity can manifest what Ben-Ze’ev refers to as the emotional diversity—that of “experiencing many different specific emotional states (e.g., anger, shame, and sadness)” (23)—of our emotional experiences in general, as well as the emotional experiences of romantic love.

Given the kind of emotional complexity involved in enduring romantic love, Ben-Ze’ev takes the dialogue model to be more suitable for an explanation of this kind of love, although he also rejects the aspect of the dialogue model which identifies love as a property of or as residing in the connection between two lovers. Ben-Ze’ev’s primary reason for this rejection is his belief that doing so would also deny that various features, including feelings, can be a psychological property of lovers. As Ben-Ze’ev argues:

[F]eelings such as pain or enjoyment, which are essential to love, are not a property of the connection between two lovers. Love is a psychological property of a lover. Accordingly, we would expect that some features of love, such as feelings, evaluations, and action tendencies, are properties of the lover, whereas other features, such as compatibility, resonance, and harmony, are properties of the connection. (Ben-Ze’ev 2019, 48-49)

This criticism of the dialogue model of love can be understood in at least one of two ways: it can be understood as a claim about the essence of the genus of enduring romantic love (i.e., romantic love) or the essence of the overarching genus (i.e., love). Assuming that Ben-Ze’ev is speaking of romantic love, one central question is what Ben-Ze’ev believes to be the features that unify experiences of acute romantic love, extended romantic love, and enduring romantic love under the genus romantic love, albeit from a prototypical perspective. In section four, I will address this question by focusing on the implications of Ben-Ze’ev’s criticism against the dialogue model of love for his conception of romantic love. I will argue that one consequence of such a criticism is that it presents Ben-Ze’ev with a problem of unification. Before doing so, I will first address another central question, which will also involve identifying the differentia of acute romantic love and extended romantic love: the question of how the components of an emotional experience and the notion of dispositional affectivity, according to Ben-Ze’ev, can help us identify the differentia of enduring romantic love.


By “profound romantic love” in the first quote cited in the previous section, I take Ben-Ze’ev to be referring to the genus of acute, extended, and enduring romantic love, the essence of which involves the holistic diversity that leads a lover to take a comprehensive attitude toward their beloved. Earlier, I referred to this as the genus romantic love. Given Ben-Ze’ev’s account of acute, extended, and enduring emotions, and his account of both the care and the dialogue model as capturing at least some of the necessary conditions of romantic love, we can propose the following accounts as possible accounts of Ben-Ze’ev’s notion of acute romantic love in contrast with extended romantic love and enduring romantic love.

Experiences of acute romantic love are typically those brief, unstable, occurrent experiences of love in which the emotional experience is focused on the reciprocal well-being of the lover and the beloved, and the meaning of this experience gains its significance from a comparative contrast with the contents of experiences of non-romantic love. The object of the experience is the beloved taken as a whole, autonomous individual. Thus, the experience of what a lover might simply call love when they observed that way their beloved protected their mother from the rain might be something Ben-Ze’ev would refer to as an experience of acute romantic love. An experience of extended romantic love would be constituted by similar components compared to an experience of acute romantic love except that these experiences would be temporally extended and unified by the feeling that the discrete experiences belong to the same emotion of love. Furthermore, one might question whether or not it may also be possible, given the emotional complexity involved in romantic love, for an acute emotional experience of some other kind (e.g., jealousy) to be an experience of acute romantic love. Although one can have an experience of jealousy that is not an experience of acute romantic love—for example, I can be jealous of my siblings for the attention given to them by my mother—consider a case in which I am jealous of my partner’s colleague because they get to spend so much time with my partner. Would this experience of jealousy be an experience of acute romantic love?

If so, I would refer to such an emotional experience as a meta-emotional experience, which is an emotional experience that explains another emotional experience (cf. Katz, Gottman, and Hooven 1996, along with relevant associated articles; also cf. Miceli and Castelfranchi 2019). Although Ben-Ze’ev denies the need to speak of such meta-emotions,[4] I believe doing so is quite instructive. Given the notion of a meta-emotional experience introduced here, I suggest that we can contrast both the experiences of extended romantic love and enduring romantic love with experiences of acute romantic love by noting that there is no question that the first two can be meta-emotional experiences.

The question then is how experiences of extended romantic love can be differentiated from experiences of enduring romantic love? We can answer this question by focusing on the question of how an experience of extended romantic love and an experience of enduring romantic love can play their role as meta-emotional experiences since that which binds the various components of extended romantic love or enduring romantic love (e.g., the various acute emotions that at least partially constitute these experiences) would be essential to such an explanation. Given what is stated in The Arc of Love, Ben-Ze’ev might conclude that the feeling that a series of acute emotions belong to the same emotion is the unifying element of extended romantic love. So, for example, the feeling that the experiences of acute surprise, anger, and contempt may all be bound by the feeling that such experiences are all components of the same extended emotion of shame, and in this way the experience of shame explains the experience of acute surprise, anger, and contempt. Ben-Ze’ev, however, also noted that such a feeling is only “one unifying element,” and that “there should also be a similarity in the nature of the experience.”[5] Yet it is the nature of the experience that is in question.

With regard to enduring romantic love, given the unifying element of extended emotions that Ben-Ze’ev identifies in his book, I initially concluded that such a feeling would also be the binding element for Ben-Ze’ev’s conception of enduring romantic love. According to Ben-Ze’ev’s recent comments, however, this is not the case. As Ben-Ze’ev states:

What does unify the emotion of enduring romantic love? In addressing this question, one should not focus on one feature, but rather on various features relating to our personality and circumstances. Thus, I disagree with Mun’s claim that the unifying factor is the feeling of belonging to the same emotion. This is indeed a typical subjective characteristic of extended emotions involving constant repetitions. Enduring emotions, like long-term love, are more complex, and such a feeling is of little relevance; in any case, it cannot be the unifying factor of enduring romantic love.[6]

Here then, we have to some extent Ben-Ze’ev’s answer to what unifies the components of enduring romantic love into experiences of enduring romantic love in contrast with experiences of extended romantic love: “various features relating to our personality and circumstances” for experiences of enduring romantic love and the feeling of belonging to the same emotion for experiences of extended romantic love. Yet there is a question as to whether or not what unifies experiences of enduring romantic love is enough for Ben-Ze’ev to fulfill his aim to convince us of the possibility of enduring romantic love. One might supplement this response with the notion of dispositional affectivity, which Ben-Ze’ev identifies as the key to our inquiry into enduring romantic love. For example, Ben-Ze’ev might suggest that such a dispositional affectivity lies in at least some feature of our personality, and given certain circumstances, the disposition to have experiences of enduring romantic love are actualized. Yet this supplement still leaves one wanting.

The main problem with this response is that it does not consider the implications of the compositional relations between experiences of acute, extended, and enduring romantic love, which unfold within a temporal sequence. Note that various experiences of acute emotions (e.g., jealousy, followed by rage, followed by shame, or joy, followed by appreciation, followed by admiration), each of which might also be regard by some as an experience of acute romantic love, may all be unified as an experience of extended romantic love, even in prototypical cases. They can, therefore, be identified as components of an experience of extended romantic love. Furthermore, these same components, as well as the experience of extended romantic love under which they are unified in virtue of a feeling, can also be components of an experience of enduring romantic love. Given this, Ben-Ze’ev may suggest that a certain kind of dispositional affectivity is what unites all the components of an experience of enduring romantic love, but if that is the case, then the same dispositional affectivity must also be involved in each experience of acute romantic love as well as the experience of extended romantic love even if such components never in fact become components of an experience of enduring romantic love.

In some sense, it is always in hindsight that one experiences their romantic love as an experience of enduring romantic love, and some may never have such an experience although they may have experiences of its components. These components must, therefore, be rooted in the same dispositional affectivity as that of the experience of enduring romantic love if such an affectivity is to unify these components in such a way so as to allow for the possibility, and actuality in hindsight, of enduring romantic love. Thus, neither the dispositional affectivity nor the personality and circumstances to which Ben-Ze’ev appeals can help him unify the components of enduring romantic love so as to differentiate such experiences from experiences of extended romantic love or acute romantic love. It may, however, help Ben-Ze’ev unify these experiences under the genus romantic love, and I will turn to this possibility in the final section of this review. Ben-Ze’ev can and does, however, differentiate experiences of acute, extended, and enduring romantic love in accordance with their temporal characteristic: respectively, occurrent, extended, and potentially lasting for a lifetime.


With the foregoing arguments in mind, Ben-Ze’ev’s claim that romantic love is not a property of or resides in the connection between lovers may also challenge his aim to convince us of the possibility of enduring romantic love by challenging the possibility of its genus: romantic love. For, assuming that one’s personality and circumstances are what unify the components of enduring romantic love, especially in virtue of a certain kind of dispositional affectivity as suggested in the previous section, it may not be possible to unify acute, extended, and enduring romantic love under the genus of romantic love without presupposing that love can also reside in the relation (i.e., the connection) that exists between the lover and the beloved. Ben-Ze’ev, himself, notes that, “At the heart of romantic love lies the connection between the lovers” (82). Furthermore, he notes that, “As the tie between two lovers lies at the heart of romantic love, how they interact with each other is one of the building blocks of such love” (58). Ben-Ze’ev, therefore, imagines the connection involved in romantic love as a connection that informs the interaction between two lovers, and it is only through this connection that the diversity of emotional experiences that are possible in experiences of romantic love can be identified as experiences of romantic love. Yet he denies that the love in experiences of romantic love can lie in the connection between the lover and the beloved. As he recently reiterated:

The ontological status of love. After describing the two models, I briefly mention in the book the ontological issue of love’s location. There, I suggest that while I accept the central tenet of the dialogue approach that mutual shared interactions are essential for enduring profound love, I reject its ontological assumption that love resides in these shared interactions, which are located between the lovers.

The rival view, which is compatible with the care model and which assumes that love is a property of the lover, seems to be intuitively true, as love is similar in this regard to other personal attitudes. We attribute to the lover not merely emotions, but other attitudes, such as moods, character traits, and political attitudes. Thus, it is implausible to argue that the love for a child, or the love for a country, is located somewhere between the agent and the child or the country.[7]

Ben-Ze’ev cites Martin Buber and Angela Krebs as proponents of the dialogue model of love, yet what he seems to find problematic about the dialogical model of love—that love is located somewhere between the lover and the beloved—can be attributed to Martin Buber (Krebs 2014, 7). The problem with Ben-Ze’ev’s criticism is that it is based on an uncharitable ontological interpretation of Buber’s claim that “love is between I and Thou” (Buber [1923] 1937, 14-15). In I and Thou, Buber ([1923] 1937) observes that the world of human beings is twofold: there is the world of relations, which is implied by the use of the primary word I-Thou and the other is the world of objectification implied by the use of the primary word I-It (Buber [1923] 1937, 3). So, in suggesting that love is between the I and the Thou, Buber is suggesting that love involves the lover relating to the beloved as a subject and denies any objectification of the beloved by the lover. The “between” is the relation in the relating, which does not involve an experience of the beloved but rather taking one’s stand in relation to the beloved ([1923] 1937, 3-6).

In consideration of Ben-Ze’ev’s account, the relation in which romantic love lies can be understood as that which is captured by the dispositional affectivity, which Ben-Ze’ev regarded to be the key to his inquiry into enduring romantic love, or the features of a lover’s personality and circumstances that Ben-Ze’ev takes as the unifying element of enduring romantic love. For the kinds of relations that are relevant in the philosophy of emotion, such as the relations of emotional intentionality, are products of psychological dispositions or features of one’s personality which relate one to their external circumstances.

I also argued in the previous section that such a dispositional affectivity, or features of a lover’s personality and circumstances, would be better suited to make sense of how the categories of acute, extended, and enduring romantic love can be unified under the genus romantic love. Granting this, to say that romantic love is “located” in the relation between the lover and the beloved would be to say that this kind of love is an aspect of a lover relating to their beloved as a subject, and this kind of relating can be taken to be a product of a kind of dispositional affectivity or a feature of the lover’s personality. Ben-Ze’ev would speak of such relating as a lover relating to their beloved as a “diverse, whole person” (24), which Ben-Ze’ev believes to be a necessary condition for romantic love.

In conclusion, by dispensing with Buber’s claim that love is a relation between the lover and the beloved, Ben-Ze’ev can be understood as discarding what he could take as the key to unifying his categories of acute, extended, and enduring romantic love under the genus romantic love or what he takes to be a necessary condition of romantic love. Ben-Ze’ev would, therefore, also be foregoing the possibility of fulfilling his aim to convince us of the possibility of enduring romantic love by rejecting that which could make his category of romantic love a unified and therefore a possible category. Accordingly, I recommend that Ben-Ze’ev ought to reconsider his claim and accept that it is at least possible for romantic love to also lie in or reside in the connection between a lover and their beloved.[8]


Ben-Ze’ev, Aaron. The Subtlety of Emotions. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, (2000) 2001.

______. The Arc of Love. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2019.

Buber, Martin. I and Thou. Translated by Ronald George Smith. Edinburgh and London, UK: Morrison and Gibb, (1923) 1937.

Krebs, Angelika. “Between I and Thou—On the Dialogical Nature of Love.” In Love and Its Objects, edited by C. Maurer, T. Milligan, and K. Pacovská, 7-24. London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

Miceli, Maria, and Cristiano Castelfranchi. “Meta-Emotions and the Complexity of Human Emotional Experience.” New Ideas in Psychology 55 (2019): 42-49. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.newideapsych.2019.05.001

Mun, Cecilea. “The Rationalities of Emotion.” Phenomenology and Mind 11 (2016): 48-57. DOI: 10.13128/Phe_Mi-20105.

Rorty, Amélie O. “Varieties of Rationality, Varieties of Emotion,” Social Science Information 24, no. 2 (1985): 343-353. https://doi-org.sheffield.idm.oclc.org/10.1177/053901885024002010.

Russell, James A. “Emotion, Core Affect, and Psychological Construction.” Cognition and Emotion 23, no. 7 (2009): 1259-1283. https://doi.org/10.1080/02699930902809375.

Aknowledgement: I’d like to thank Aaron Ben-Ze’ev for his comments in response to my review. I have, and I am sure the readers of this review will also greatly benefit from them. Thank you!

[1] Aaron Ben-Ze’ev, “Author’s Response” (Presentation, Author Meets Critics: Aaron Ben-Ze’ev, The Arc of Love, Society for Philosophy of Emotion Affiliated Group Session, American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division Conference, Philadelphia, PA, January 2020). https://sites.google.com/site/societyforphilosophyofemotion/spe-events.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Aaron Ben-Ze’ev, emailed comments, January 26, 2020.

[6] Ben-Ze’ev, “Author’s Response.”

[7] Ibid.

[8] And, as Ben-Ze’ev noted in his correspondence with me on January 26, 2020, “If ‘in between’ is just an agent’s attitude toward the beloved, I have no problem with this, except for saying that it is extremely odd to use this expression in this context.”

Christina M. Gschwandtner: Welcoming Finitude: Toward a Phenomenology of Orthodox Liturgy, Fordham University Press, 2019

Welcoming Finitude: Toward a Phenomenology of Orthodox Liturgy Book Cover Welcoming Finitude: Toward a Phenomenology of Orthodox Liturgy
Orthodox Christianity and Contemporary Thought
Christina M. Gschwandtner
Fordham University Press
Hardback $75.00

Hermann Schmitz: Wie der Mensch zur Welt kommt. Beiträge zur Geschichte der Selbstwerdung

Wie der Mensch zur Welt kommt Book Cover Wie der Mensch zur Welt kommt
Hermann Schmitz
Verlag Karl Alber
Paperback 24,00 €

Reviewed by: Jonas Puchta (University of Rostock)

Nach sechzigjähriger Schaffenszeit widmet sich Hermann Schmitz, der Begründer der Neuen Phänomenologie, in seinem 56. Buch der Individuation der Person als „Geschichte der Selbstwerdung“. Dabei entfaltet er sein Denken nicht grundsätzlich neu, sondern reformuliert Grundthemen der Neuen Phänomenologie wie das „affektive Betroffensein“, den „Leib“ oder die „Zeit“, die in zehn Kapiteln den „Zugang zur Welt“ der Person ersichtlich werden lassen. Zwar sind die Kapitel auch unabhängig voneinander lesbar, jedoch so konzipiert, dass sich bei sukzessiver Lektüre die „Selbstwerdung“ des Menschen nachvollziehbar entfalten soll.

Der Weg zur Selbstwerdung setzt ein mit dem „affektiven Betroffensein“, das stattfindet, wenn jemanden etwas spürbar so nahegeht, dass er auf sich selbst aufmerksam wird. (13) Dafür ist kein bestimmtes Denk- oder Reflexionsvermögen von Nöten, sodass auch schon Tiere oder Säuglinge affektiv betroffen sind. (Ebd.) Die Tatsachen des affektiven Betroffenseins sind für Schmitz subjektive Tatsachen, die er von den objektiven unterscheidet. Während subjektive Tatsachen ausschließlich die Person aussagen kann, die auch tatsächlich spürbar betroffen ist, können objektive Tatsachen von jedem ausgesagt werden, der ausreichend Informationen über den Sachverhalt besitzt (13, 15f.). Objektive Tatsachen umfassen beispielsweise den Blick eines distanziert protokollierenden Beobachters, während die subjektiven Tatsachen den unmittelbar Getroffenen nahegehen. (16, 19f.) Die Missachtung der Subjektivität in der Philosophiegeschichte führte, so Schmitz, zu einer Spaltung des „wirklichen Subjekts“ in ein erscheinendes empirisches und ein metaphysisches transzendentales Subjekt, das von der Lebenswelt des Menschen gänzlich unabhängig ist, und wird somit zur Grundlage „aller möglichen idealistischen Erkenntnistheorien“. (20f.) Das affektive Betroffensein soll dabei zugunsten von Konzepten der Seele oder des Bewusstseins übersehen worden sein, die Schmitz anhand seiner Analysen der Leiblichkeit und der Gefühle überflüssig machen will. (23f.)

Dazu beleuchtet er zunächst im zweiten Kapitel die Atmosphären des Gefühls als eine Quelle des affektiven Betroffenseins. Dabei will Schmitz über die philosophische Tradition hinausgehen, wobei er Kants Position kritisiert, Gefühle als bloße Lust oder Unlust aufzufassen und Brentano und Scheler vorwirft, diese auf intentionale Akte zu reduzieren. (37) Dafür sei es erforderlich, sich in „phänomenologisch haltbarer Weise“ zu vergewissern, wie Gefühle dem Menschen begegnen. (Ebd.) Atmosphären wie Zorn, Freude oder Schuld ergreifen den Leib spürbar so, dass die Person immer erst nachträglich zum Gefühl Stellung beziehen kann. (26, 28) Die „Macht“ der Atmosphären besteht im Moment der Ergriffenheit, wenn dem zunächst passiv Betroffenen bestimmte „Bewegungssuggestionen“ eingegeben werden und dieser so dem Gefühl anfänglich unterworfen ist. (47) Diese spürbaren Bewegungen oder Richtungen geben dem Ergriffen zum Beispiel gewisse Haltungen oder Impulse ein, wie es am gesenkten Kopf eines Trauernden zu beobachten ist. (Ebd.) Die „Gesinnung“ als aktives Empfangen des Gefühls, welches auch schon bei Tieren vorhanden ist, stellt sich als bestimmte präpersonale Art des Sich-Einlassens auf das Gefühl heraus (27f.), wenn sich zum Beispiel auf die Trauer weinerlich oder standhaft eingelassen wird. Erst in der darauffolgenden aktiven personellen Stellungnahme im „Dialog“ mit dem Gefühl ist es aber möglich, einen „personalen Stil des Fühlens“ als Teil der personellen „Fassung“ zu entwickeln, die zwischen „personaler Regression“ und „personaler Emanzipation“ vermittelt. (27, 38, 107) Die Stellungnahme variiert dabei zwischen einer Preisgabe an das Gefühl, wenn sich der Betroffene von diesem mitreißen lässt oder im Widerstand, bei dem sich der Macht der Ergriffenheit entzogen wird. (27f.) Die „Kunst der Bewältigung“ des Gefühls besteht für Schmitz darin, die Zeit zwischen Ergriffenheit und Stellungnahme kurz zu halten (48), also frühzeitig die Möglichkeit der Auseinandersetzung mit der Gefühlsmacht wahrzunehmen, wobei eine konkrete Beschreibung dieses Umgangs ausbleibt.

Wie Schmitz im dritten Kapitel verdeutlicht, ist das affektive Betroffensein nicht nur für die Wirklichkeitsgewissheit, sondern auch für die Lebensführung von Bedeutung. (52) Die „Autorität der Gefühle“ wie auch die „Evidenz von Tatsachen“ sind Möglichkeiten, die Verbindlichkeit von Normen geltend zu machen. Gefühle haben im Moment der Ergriffenheit eine Verbindlichkeit von Normen mit der „Autorität unbedingten Ernstes“, welche die Person vor eine große Verantwortung im Handeln stellt. (53) Auf dem „höchsten Niveau personaler Emanzipation“, das Schmitz auch mit der „Vernunft“ gleichsetzt, gilt es zu überprüfen, ob sich der Evidenz oder der Autorität zu entziehen oder zu unterwerfen ist, ohne dabei von einer ethischen Handlungsmaxime auszugehen, die auf jede Situation gleichermaßen anzuwenden ist. (54, 60) In dieser Hinsicht wird der „Vernunft“ wie auch dem Rationalismus ihr Recht eingestanden, wenn es „angemessener Informationen“ oder der sinnvollen Einschätzung über eine Sachlage bedarf. (55) So muss beispielsweise der Wissenschaftler, der bei seiner Arbeit von Zorn oder Eifer ergriffen ist, sich zugunsten seiner Erkenntnisse von diesen Gefühlen freimachen. (Ebd.) Daran anschließend geht Schmitz beiläufig im vierten Kapitel der Bedeutung der „Autorität der Gefühle“ im Christentum nach, das er von der Metaphysik losgelöst sehen will. (57, 62) Religion wird verstanden als „Verhalten aus Betroffensein von Göttlichem“ (57) und ist damit ursprünglich immer mit einer spürbaren Erfahrung verbunden und nicht auf bloße Lektüre oder Rezeption heiliger Schriften zu reduzieren. Göttliche Gefühle entfalten ihre Kraft aus der ihnen eigentümlichen Autorität unbedingten Ernstes (59), sind aber auch eingebunden in unübersichtliche Situationen. In diesen werden die Gefühle oftmals als „Plakatierungen“ – der Begriff ist hier frei von negativen Konnotationen zu verstehen – anschaulich „zusammengefasst“, worunter Schmitz vor allem Feste, Symbole, Personen, aber auch die Götter selbst versteht. (60f.) Ohne sich als Christ oder zur Religiosität zu bekennen, hält er dem Christentum zugute, die Autorität eines Gefühls mit unbedingtem Ernst, wie der Liebe, dem gegenwärtigen „ironistischen Zeitalter“ entgegen zu halten, das sich in einer haltlosen Beliebigkeit des „Anything goes“ oder der „Coolness“ verrennen soll. (62f.)

Alles affektive Betroffensein ist leiblich spürbar vermittelt, weshalb der Leib als wesentlicher Ausgangspunkt der menschlichen Lebenserfahrung vom äußeren sicht- und tastbaren Körper, der zum Beispiel Gegenstand der Naturwissenschaft ist, unterschieden wird. (65f.) Während der Körper in einem flächenhaltigen messbaren Raum zu verorten ist, sind der Leib wie auch die Atmosphären flächenlos (40, 66f.), woraus aber kein an die Philosophietradition anknüpfender Dualismus zwischen Leib und Körper abzuleiten ist. (67) Der Leib wird vielmehr durch „Einleibung“ mit dem Körper dynamisch zusammengeschlossen, was zum Beispiel dann ersichtlich wird, wenn „Bewegungssuggestionen“ der Musik den Leib ergreifen und sich auf die körperlichen Glieder beim Tanzen „übertragen“. (68) Schmitz gesteht ein, dass der Körper für die Funktionen des Leibes von Bedeutung ist, verweist aber mittels Phantomglieder oder Berichten von Nahtoderfahrungen auf die Möglichkeit, eines nicht notwendigen oder dauerhaften Zusammenhanges, (70) wobei er darüber hinaus keine „gültige Bestätigung“ bzw. eindeutig nachweisbare Kausalität vorliegen sieht, dass der Leib aufgrund körperliche Prozesse entsteht oder auf diese zu reduzieren ist. (69) Zur Beschreibung der menschlichen Lebenserfahrung ist für Schmitz einzig der Leib von Bedeutung, wobei der Körper vielmehr einen „sperrigen Block“ im „In-der-Welt-sein“ des Menschen darstellt. (70) Diese Einschätzung durchzieht Schmitz´ gesamtes Werk, in dem er bewusst auf die Einbeziehung von biologischen oder physikalischen Erkenntnissen der Naturwissenschaft verzichtet. Dagegen könnte der Vorwurf laut werden, dass der Leib zu autonom von körperlichen Prozessen verstanden wird. Wenn dieser Einwand auch nicht unbegründet ist, kann Schmitz´ Bestreben aber gerade auch als Widerstand gegen das reduktionistische und mittlerweile alltägliche Selbstverständnis des Menschen gelesen werden, welches die Lebenserfahrung auf Hormonausschüttungen oder neuronale Prozesse reduziert und damit das eigentliche Erleben auszuschalten droht.

In den Kapiteln sechs bis neun beleuchtet Schmitz die Zeit, die stets an das präpersonale wie auch personale Leben geknüpft ist. Die „primitive Gegenwart“ als „plötzlicher Einbruch des Neuen“, der zum Beispiel spürbar als engender Schreck leiblich erfahrbar wird, stiftet die „absolute Identität“ und legt damit den Grundstein zur „Selbstheit“. (74f.) Die vorhergehende selbstlose Weite, wie sie zum Beispiel am Kontinuum oder im Dösen nachzuvollziehen ist, wird durch die „primitive Gegenwart“ zerrissen in die Dauer als „Urprozess“ einer Bewegung zum untergehenden „Vorbeisein“ und einer Bewegung des „Fortwährens“ zum Neuen (83) und legt damit den Ursprung der Zeit. Schmitz richtet sich gegen die alltägliche Vorstellung, dass die Zeit eine alle Prozesse umfassende Bewegung sei und bezeichnet dessen vermeintlich gleichmäßiges Voranschreiten – wie es die Bewegung einer Uhr suggeriert – als bloßes Kunstprodukt. (Ebd.) Vielmehr soll die Zeitlichkeit an die Leiblichkeit der Person geknüpft und essentieller Bestandteil der Selbstfindung des Menschen sein. Die Dynamik des Leibes, so Schmitz, ahmt demnach die Strukturen der Zeit nach, wenn die gespürte „Enge“ die Richtung zum Vergehen und die „Weite“ das Fortschreiten in die Zukunft vermitteln soll. (Ebd.) Mit dem Eintritt der „absoluten Identität“ gliedert sich die „Weite“ in Situationen (75), die auch einen wesentlichen Anteil der Zeiteinheiten ausmachen sollen. (86) Die Verteilung der Dauer orientiert sich zum Beispiel an „zuständlichen“ oder „aktuellen“ Situationen. (84f., 91f.) Der Mensch ist durch die Sprache zur „Explikation“ oder „Vereinzelung“ fähig, um so aus den Situationen einzelne Bedeutungen zu individuieren und eine konkrete Einteilung der Zeit als „modale Lagezeit“ vorzunehmen, die aus der „Modalzeit“ einerseits und der „Lagezeit“ andererseits besteht. Die ursprünglichere „Modalzeit“ spaltet sich mit dem „Einbruch des Neuen“ in die Vergangenheit, als das, was nicht mehr ist, in die Zukunft, als das, was noch nicht ist und in die Gegenwart. (89, 93) Die „Lagezeit“ ist dagegen zu verstehen als Anordnung gleichzeitiger einzelner Ereignisse oder Daten in einer linearen Folge des Früheren zum Späteren. (Ebd.) Die Verbindung von „Lage“- und „Modalzeit“ zur „modalen Lagezeit“ macht sich der Mensch zunutze, indem er wie beim Gebrauch von Uhren die Dauer in Zeitstrecken mit jeweils einzelnen messbaren Zeitpunkten einteilt (79 ff.), was für die Orientierung des Menschen unerlässlich ist. Der „gewöhnliche Rhythmus des Lebens“ geschieht aber abschließend nicht in einem allumfassenden zeitlichen Rahmen oder einer Abfolge regelmäßig aufeinanderfolgender Zeitpunkte, sondern besteht in den immer wiederkehrenden „Einbrüchen des Neuen“, welche die fortwährende ruhende Dauer „zerreißen“ und durch welche sich der Mensch auf diese Weise immer wieder selbst finden soll. (91)

Diese zeitlichen Prozesse sind auch für das Personsein des Menschen von erheblicher Bedeutung. Im letzten Kapitel fasst Schmitz seine Erkenntnisse zum Prozess der Individuation des Menschen zusammen, die er aber nicht als Geburt in eine bereits vorhandene Welt begreift. (97) Auf der ersten Stufe der bloßen Selbstlosigkeit in der Weite des Kontinuums wird mit dem „Einbruch des Neuen“ wie beim affektiven Betroffensein durch den Schreck die absolute Identität gestiftet und gleichzeitig der Ursprung der Zeit gelegt. (97ff.) Aus der „primitiven Gegenwart“ resultiert die „leibliche Dynamik“ und die „leibliche Kommunikation“, mit der auch die Bildung von bedeutsamen Situationen einhergeht. (99f.) Die „leibliche Dynamik“ differenziert Schmitz nach ihrer Bindungsform zwischen gespürter Enge und Weite, die charakteristisch für die „leibliche Disposition“ der Person wird. Aus diesen Dispositionen werden Charaktertypen abgeleitet, die sich hinsichtlich der Offenheit oder Empfänglichkeit im Umgang mit Gefühlen oder Personen unterscheiden. (33ff.) Erst der Mensch, der über das Säuglingsalter hinausgegangen ist, kann dann auf einer nächsten Stufe mittels Sprache einzelne Bedeutungen aus der Situation explizieren und sich so auf andere Weise in seiner Umgebung zurechtfinden. (101 f.) Erst auf diesem Niveau ist es möglich, von einer Person zu sprechen, die in der Lage ist, sich in einem „Netz von Gattungen“ als Etwas zu verstehen und sich zum Beispiel anhand von bestimmten Rollen zu verorten oder selbst zu bestimmen. (104) Das „Sammelbecken“ als Ort der explizierten vereinzelten Bedeutungen und Gattungen bildet daran anschließend auf einer vierten Stufe die „Welt“, die nicht statisch vorhanden ist, sondern erst mit dem fragenden Explizieren der Person entsteht. (104f., 110) Die labile Person steht in diesem Zusammenhang vor der Aufgabe, sich zwischen „personaler Regression“ wie im „affektiven Betroffensein“ und „personaler Emanzipation“ in kritischer Distanz zur Betroffenheit zurechtzufinden. (106ff.) Damit einher geht auch die immer fortwährende Bildung der „persönlichen Eigenwelt“, die sich aus den Bedeutungen ergibt, welche für die Person durch die unmittelbare Betroffenheit subjektiv sind, während die „persönliche Fremdwelt“ alle Bedeutungen umfasst, die durch Abstandnahme in der personalen Emanzipation objektiviert sind. (Ebd.)

Schmitz greift bei der Darstellung seiner Thesen auf sein umfassendes Werk zurück, um in aller Kürze und mit teilweise auffälligen Wiederholungen – bedingt durch seine Erblindung (10) – im Stil eines Vortragenden der Thematik der Selbstwerdung gerecht zu werden. Zwar wirken seine Formulierungen an einigen Stellen gedrängt und verlangen nach mehr Ausführlichkeit, jedoch sind seine Überlegungen bereits detaillierter in seinem opus magnum, dem „System der Philosophie“, angelegt und in zahlreichen Büchern weiterentwickelt. Schmitz spürt dem, was andere Philosophen wie selbstverständlich voraussetzen – dass sich der Mensch „immer schon“ in einer Welt vorfindet – akribisch nach, indem er auch den Zugang zur Welt auf der Basis strenger, phänomenologischer Begriffe beleuchtet.

Dabei scheinen seine Überlegungen in die Nähe eines Idealismus zu rücken, wenn er die Zeit stets an die Leiblichkeit knüpft und auch die Entstehung der Welt an eine explizierende Person gebunden ist. Betroffenheit wie auch die Explikation der Person sind fundamentale Bestandteile der Weltentstehung im obigen Sinne, weshalb „Selbstwerdung“ auch immer Weltwerdung mit meint. Es wäre jedoch voreilig, Schmitz´ Weltbegriff als eine Form des traditionellen Idealismus zu deuten, von dem er sich nämlich explizit abgrenzen möchte. Den „naiven Idealismus“, der den Geist des Menschen in der Rolle des „Weltbaumeisters“ übertrieben haben soll, will Schmitz mit seiner Konzeption gerade überwinden. (108) Schmitz schreibt dem Menschen keine Schöpferqualitäten zu,[1] gesteht aber ein, dass die Person durch „eigene Zusätze“ wie im bereits erwähnten Uhrengebrauch die Welt „vervollständigen“ oder zu ergänzen versucht. (108) Daneben muss auch klar sein, dass bei der Explikation der Person keine Welt aus dem Nichts konstruiert wird, denn die explizierte Bedeutsamkeit ist immer primär[2] und liegt bereits „chaotisch mannigfaltig“ vor, ist aber ohne die Leistung der Person noch nicht vereinzelt, weshalb sich Schmitz´ Konzeption auch gegen ein konstruktivistisches Weltverständnis richtet. Dass etwas existiert, ist damit nicht vollständig an die Explikationsleistung der Person gebunden.

Dass die Person aus der Weltwerdung nicht wegzudenken ist, kann sich auch auf das Philosophieverständnis des Autors zurückführen lassen. Philosophie definiert dieser von Beginn seines Schaffens an als „Sichbesinnen des Menschen auf sein Sichfinden in seiner Umgebung“.[3] Einen objektiven oder distanzierten „Blick von Nirgendwo“, wie Schmitz mit Rückgriff auf Thomas Nagel formuliert (20f.), der gänzlich unabhängig von einer Person besteht, sucht man bei diesem „Sichfinden“ des Menschen vergeblich, denn affektives Betroffenensein des Leibes oder fragendes Explizieren in einer bestimmten Situation sind unhintergehbare Bestandteile des menschlichen Lebens. Schmitz fundamentaler phänomenologischer Anspruch, diese Facetten der Lebenserfahrung herauszustellen, spiegeln sich gerade in seinem Weltverständnis wider, dass sich auch deshalb unvereinbar mit dem Naturalismus von diesem unterscheidt.

Seine Konzeption ist aber auch kaum mit dem Weltverständnis des „Neuen Realismus“ vereinbar wie ihn Markus Gabriel prominent zu begründen versucht und der sich damit ebenfalls gegen die Vorherrschaft des Naturalismus behaupten will.[4] Schmitz´ Buch „Gibt es die Welt?“[5] kann zumindest dem Titel nach als unausgesprochene Antwort auf Gabriels zuvor erschienenes Werk „Warum es die Welt nicht gibt“ gelten, aber auch anderweitig stellte er immer wieder Bezüge her. (51f.)[6] Gabriel richtet sich gegen die These, dass es eine Welt als absolute Totalität geben könnte, weil man stets unfähig ist, diese vollständig zu beschreiben.[7] Stattdessen will er im Rahmen seiner „Sinnfeldontologie“ zeigen, dass Gegenstände in unzähligen „Sinnfeldern“ vorkommen und das die Rede von Existenz bedeutet, dass etwas in einem solchen „Sinnfeld“ „erscheint“.[8] Im Vergleich zu diesem Ansatz bekämpft auch Schmitz einen Weltbegriff, der traditionell als einheitliche und absolute Totalität postuliert wird, verwendet dabei aber grundsätzlich andere Mittel. Dass es primär Gegenstände sein sollen, welche ein Sinnfeld ausfüllen, muss für Schmitz aufgrund seines phänomenologischen Anspruchs befremdlich wirken. Denn er will primär gerade nicht von bloßen Gegenständen ausgehen, sondern von ganzheitlichen Situationen, aus denen erst sekundär einzelne Bedeutsamkeit und nicht vordergründig Gegenstände individuiert werden. Daher müsste für ihn auch anstatt vom „Erscheinen“ von der „Explikation“ die Rede sein, die eng an die Leistung der Person und der Selbstwerdung gebunden ist, aber in Gabriels Überlegungen kaum eine Rolle spielen. Während dieser in seiner Ontologie den Weltbegriff verabschieden will und deshalb auch das „Zur-Welt-Kommen“ des Menschen nicht im Blick hat, versucht Schmitz´ das traditionelle Weltverständnis durch ein neues zu ersetzen. Bei allen Unterschieden zwischen den Autoren verfolgen aber beide immerhin eine gemeinsame Absicht: Denn neben der Kritik am Naturalismus richtet sich Gabriels philosophisches Vorhaben auch gegen einen radikalen Konstruktivismus[9], weshalb eine Verständigung zwischen den Autoren nicht von vorneherein auszuschließen, sondern vielmehr ertragreich sein kann.

Schmitz versucht in seinen Beiträgen zur „Geschichte der Selbstwerdung“ und der damit einhergehenden Weltentstehung, sowohl den Realismus als auch den Idealismus hinter sich zu lassen. Weder die Person noch die Welt sind einfach statisch vorhanden, wenn die erstere immer wieder durch spürbare Erfahrungen auf sich aufmerksam wird, um letztere erst durch Sprache für sich und andere ersichtlich zu machen. Unter Berücksichtigung der Lebenserfahrung vermag Schmitz es so, stufenartig die Geschichte der Selbstwerdung und damit auch die Grundlagen der Person aufzuzeigen.

[1] Hermann Schmitz, Wozu philosophieren? (Freiburg/München: Karl Alber, 2018), 94.

[2] Hermann Schmitz, Adolf Hitler in der Geschichte (Bonn: Bouvier, 1999), 27.

[3] Hermann Schmitz, System der Philosophie Bd. 1: Die Gegenwart (Bonn: Bouvier 2005 [1964]), 14.

[4] Vgl. Markus Gabriel, Sinn und Existenz (Berlin: Suhrkamp 2016), 89-94.

[5] Für den Bezug zu Gabriel vgl. Hermann Schmitz, Gibt es die Welt? (Freiburg/ München: Karl Alber 2014), 21, 26.

[6] Vgl. zum Beispiel Hermann Schmitz, Ausgrabungen zum wirklichen Leben (Freiburg/München: Karl Alber 2016), 245.

[7] Eine Möglichkeit, dies zu beweisen, entwickelt Gabriel mit dem „Listenargument“. Vgl. Gabriel, Sinn und Existenz, 45ff.

[8] Vgl. z.B. Gabriel, Sinn und Existenz, 163f., 173f., 183f.,191f., 193f.

[9] Vgl. Gabriel, Sinn und Existenz, S. 34f., 174f.

Anne Devarieux: L’Intériorité Réciproque: L’hérésie biranienne de Michel Henry, Jérôme Millon, 2018

L’Intériorité Réciproque: L’hérésie biranienne de Michel Henry Book Cover L’Intériorité Réciproque: L’hérésie biranienne de Michel Henry
Anne Devarieux
Jérôme Millon
Paperback 30.00 €

Husserl in a New Generation. A conference presented by the Department of Philosophy, Kent State University, September 15-17, 2017

Gina Zavota, Deborah Barnbaum

On September 15-17, 2017, the Department of Philosophy at Kent State University held the Husserl in a New Generation conference in Kent, Ohio, USA. The lead organizers were Professor Deborah Barnbaum and Associate Professor Gina Zavota, both of Kent State University. This was the second in a series of “In a New Generation” conferences hosted by Kent State University’s Department of Philosophy; the first, Sellars in a New Generation, took place in May 2015. The aim of this conference was to revisit Husserl’s most significant contributions to a wide range of philosophical subfields, highlighting both their relevance to the questions that philosophy faces today and the important role they have played in the evolution of a wide range of academic disciplines.

The conference featured two invited keynote presentations and five additional invited talks, as well as three faculty papers and seven graduate student papers selected through anonymous peer review. As a result, the conference showcased the work of both eminent and emerging Husserl scholars at all stages of their careers.

The first day of the conference consisted of a graduate workshop where six graduate students presented their research. In the morning session, Justin Reppert, from Fordham University, showed how Husserl’s multiplicity theory [Mannigfaltigkeitslehre] can offer insight into a variety of important questions in the philosophy of mathematics in “Husserlian Contributions to the Epistemology of Mathematics.” Andrew Barrette, from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, discussed Husserl’s treatment of questioning in “The Socio-Historical Emergence and Operation of Questioning in Edmund Husserl’s Work,” in order to lay the groundwork for a larger project in which he will demonstrate that questioning is an essential moment in the history of reason. Anthony Celi, from Duquesne University, argued in “Logic and the Epoché: Questioning the Necessity and Possibility of Bracketing Logic in Husserl’s Ideas I” that Husserl’s reduction of logic in Ideas I is neither necessary for arriving at the phenomenological attitude nor even a legitimate possibility within a larger philosophical context.

In the afternoon session, Mohsen Saber, participating via Skype from the University of Tehran (Iran), explained in “Finitude and/or Infinitude? Husserl on the Teleology of Perception” that the teleological process of perception can be characterized both as finite and as infinite. Emanuela Carta, from Roma Tre University (Italy), argued that Husserl’s notion of pure essence [eidos] plays a functional role in his phenomenology and does not rule out the possibility of other types of analysis that are not eidetic. Colin Bodayle from Duquesne University closed out the day’s presentations with “Husserl on Object Collision,” in which he discussed the ways in which Husserl, Heidegger, Hume, and Graham Harman approach the question of how and whether inanimate objects can “touch” or encounter each other. Most of the main program presenters, as well as many other attendees, were in the audience during the graduate workshop, making for particularly rich and productive discussions after each of the presentations.

The main program spanned the second and third days of the conference and featured a total of eleven speakers.

Rudolf Bernet, Emeritus Professor, KU Leuven (Belgium)

“Husserl on Imagining What is Unreal, Quasi-Real, Possibly Real, and Irreal”

The second day of the Husserl in a New Generation conference began with the first keynote talk, given by Emeritus Professor Rudolf Bernet. In his talk Bernet explored the essential difference in imagination between intentional acts of pure phantasy and acts which represent an object by means of an image or a sign. The pure phantasy of an unreal or quasi-real intentional object, he argued, can be further distinguished from perceptive phantasies and from the act of remembering the real object of an actual past perception. The opposition between what is real and what is unreal in phantasy loses further significance, Bernet argued, when one moves to the consideration of how imagination relates to the objects of a possibly actual experience. Imagined unreal objects can, indeed, become real objects which lend themselves to an actual perception. However, it is because they are not taken to really exist that objects of phantasy most easily lend themselves to an eidetic variation and to an insight into the essential constituents or ‘essence’ of a certain type of object and of their intentional experience. It is through their contribution to an insight into the real and ideal conditions of possibility of different forms of intentional acts that acts of phantasy best show their potential for Husserl’s entire philosophical project. Imagination or fiction becomes, in Husserl’s own words, the “vital element of phenomenology.”

Sara Heinämaa, Professor, Academy of Finland, University of Jyväskylä (Finland)

“Variants of Bodily Subjects: Embodiment, Expression and Empathy”

In the second presentation of the morning session Professor Heinämaa explored Husserl’s distinction between two attitudes, the naturalistic and the personalistic, for the purpose of clarifying the embodied character of human beings and animals. She argued that we have to distinguish between several different senses of the lived body [Leib] in order to understand how human beings can relate to themselves and to one another. These senses are not free-floating formations but are constituted in complicated dependency relations. By explicating the relevant relations of dependency, she demonstrated that the human being (and the animal) as a psychophysical system is a dependent formation that rests on several more fundamental sense achievements, the most important of which include (i) the human being as an embodied person, (ii) the living being as another self, and (iii) the self as a bodily agent. By distinguishing these senses and studying their relations, Heinämaa argued that Husserlian phenomenology offers us powerful conceptual tools that allow us to understand the different ways in which human beings can relate to one another and to living beings more generally.

 Anthony Steinbock, Professor, Southern Illinois University – Carbondale

“The Modality and Modalizations of the Absolute Ought in Husserl”

The morning session concluded with Professor Steinbock’s exploration of the distinctiveness of the modality of the absolute ought in Husserl. To make his point, he first distinguished in Husserl the ought-modality in the practical, praxical , and personal spheres. He then addressed in detail the absolute (personal) ought as the manner in which the absolute value of the person is revealed and the modality peculiar to vocation, and he examined the call as loving. The absolute ought, he explained, is a revelatory givenness that is not a ‘must,’ a ‘shall,’ or a wish. It is also a dimension of freedom and is the insistence of the call to love, which constitutes me as a person in a loving community. Furthermore, it is given temporally as urgency and as ‘for always’ from the perspective of our finite existence. Steinbock concluded by suggesting five ways in which the experience of the absolute ought is susceptible to modalization. While only hinted at by Husserl, these moralizations could be organized in such a way as to provide further insight into Husserl’s notion of the absolute ought.

H.A. Nethery IV, Assistant Professor, Florida Southern College

“Yancy, Husserl, and Racism at the Level of Passive Synthesis”

Professor Nethery’s talk, the first of the afternoon session, examined the influence of Husserlian phenomenology on the work of George Yancy. Yancy argues that the field of experience for white folks is always already racialized, and mobilized through what he calls the white gaze. Yancy often recognizes that his work is phenomenological, and, as such, Nethery suggested that it would be useful to highlight the ways in which Husserlian phenomenology influences his work. Specifically, he argued that Husserl’s theories of internal time consciousness and passive synthesis are implicit within Yancy’s concept of the white gaze. He did not argue that Yancy’s work can be reduced to Husserl’s but rather showed the importance of Husserlian phenomenology within critical race theory and the fight against anti-black racism. He began with a brief analysis of the white gaze and the racialized field of perception for white folks using Yancy’s now famous elevator example. He then turned to the structures of internal time consciousness and passive synthesis and showed how the black body is constituted within white experience as delinquent through these structures. He concluded with a reading of the elevator example through the work done in the previous section of his talk in order to “fill out,” as it were, Yancy’s own initial descriptions.

Lanei Rodemeyer, Associate Professor, Duquesne University

“Affectivity and Perceiving Other Subjects: A Phenomenological Analysis of the Essential Role of Affectivity in Basic Empathy”

In her presentation, Professor Rodemeyer argued that while contemporary discussions of empathy often address our ability to experience the emotions of others, for Husserl (and certain other phenomenologists), an important aspect of the question of empathy entails our fundamental experience of other subjects as other consciousnesses. The notion of ‘affectivity’ is understood as an important component of perception at the level of passive synthesis by Husserl, she explained, but it can also be seen as an essential component of empathy. Although empathy is not the same activity of consciousness as perception, they overlap each other in important ways, especially through the structures of apperception and association. Given these connections, as well as Husserl’s discussions of affectivity, awakening, and animation or governance in many of his analyses of empathy, she maintained that affectivity is arguably an essential component of our basic experience of empathy — even if the term is not mentioned in Husserl’s most famous analyses of intersubjectivity in Cartesian Meditations.

Ellie Anderson, Visiting Assistant Professor, Pitzer College

“Irreducible Otherness: Ethical Implications of Intersubjectivity in Husserl, Derrida, and Stein”

Professor Anderson’s talk explored Derrida’s defense of Husserl contra Levinas on the question of the relation to the other. She argued that this defense indicates a preservation of the first-person perspective in deconstruction that has largely gone unnoticed. Moreover, it suggests the ways that Husserl’s phenomenology of intersubjectivity in the Cartesian Meditations provides a basis for ethical concerns of preserving the otherness of other beings. After exploring Derrida’s affirmation of Husserl, she turned to the ethical implications for the distinction between self and other that Husserl upholds in his writings on intersubjectivity. Taking Husserl’s approach in tandem with Edith Stein’s phenomenology of empathy, she showed how it is crucial to both of these views that the distinction between self and other be preserved. From a phenomenological perspective, there is no direct experience of foreign consciousness. Moreover, the intersubjective relation is, for Husserl and Stein, fundamentally embodied and affective — a notion that obviates stale accusations that Husserl is not a philosopher of the body. As a result, Anderson claimed, both Stein’s and Husserl’s approaches to intersubjectivity remain highly relevant in light of contemporary inquiries into empathy, and Derrida’s affirmation of Husserl’s view suggests the relevance of analogical appresentation for contemporary poststructuralism and response ethics.

 Donn Welton, Professor Emeritus, Stony Brook University

“The Actional Roots of Husserl’s Transcendental Theory of Perceptual Intentionality”

The final day of the Husserl in a New Generation conference began with the second keynote talk, given by Professor Emeritus Donn Welton of Stony Brook University. Welton’s presentation addressed two main issues essential to any unified theory of intentionality with transcendental ambitions. First, he asked whether Husserl’s “first” phenomenology of the structure of intentionality calls, from within itself, for a “second” on which it rests — one that nests the bodily movement essential to our experience of the world in our bodily actions in the world. Utilizing Husserl’s development of a genetic phenomenology and his account of intentionality, Welton argued that a deep transformation within Husserl’s theory of perception takes place with his “genetic” turn during the 1920s. Moving to the second issue, Welton asked whether there is a way in which the lived-body [Leib] can be transposed from a factual condition, introduced to account for shifts in point-of-view and the spatial configuration of objects, to a transcendental condition that characterizes the very being of intentional consciousness itself. In response, he outlined the expansion that takes place within the notion of the body once it is viewed as an agent of perceptual action, and not just a center of movement and orientation.

Gina Zavota, Associate Professor, Kent State University

“Escaping the Correlationist Circle: A Husserlian Approach to Meillassoux’s Ancestral Statements”

Professor Zavota began by noting that phenomenology is often characterized as a form of antirealist, idealist philosophy, with Husserl’s thought put forth as a particularly extreme example of these tendencies. In After Finitude, for example, Quentin Meillassoux identifies Husserl as an adherent of what he calls ‘correlationism,’ or the view that the world and the rational subject are mutually constitutive and cannot be known in isolation from each other. One significant problem with correlationism, according to Meillassoux, is that it offers no satisfactory way of interpreting ‘ancestral’ statements: those statements which refer to a time prior to the existence of humans and thus prior to any possible correlative relationship between being and thought. Zavota argued that Husserl does not fit Meillassoux’s definition of a correlationist, and that his thought is, at the very least, compatible with some forms of realism. Furthermore, by examining the Crisis and the unfinished text “Foundational Investigations of the Phenomenological Origin of the Spatiality of Nature: The Originary Ark, the Earth, Does Not Move,” Zavota showed that Husserlian phenomenology does, in fact, allow us to attribute meaning to ancestral statements and thus escapes what Meillassoux sees as a fatal flaw of correlationist philosophies.

Denis Džanić, University of Vienna (Austria)

“Husserl, Externalism, and Compensatory Individual Representationalism”

Denis Džanić, a graduate student from the University of Vienna, won the conference award for the best submission by a graduate student, and thus his presentation was included on the main program. After being presented with the award, Džanić gave his talk, in which he addressed the question of where Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology fits into the distinction between ‘internalism’ and ‘externalism.’ To do so, he used Tyler Burge’s critique of Husserl as presented in Origins of Objectivity. In that work, Burge reads Husserl against the backdrop of his notion of ‘Compensatory Individual Representationalism’, of which he takes Husserl to be a paradigmatic representative. Džanić stated that Burge’s analysis is emblematic of the strongly internalist reading of Husserl, which he maintained is principally uninformed and misguided. First, he argued that Husserl was not an individualist in Burge’s sense of the word, and hence not an internalist. More generally, he claimed that, while this in itself does not entail that Husserl was an externalist, his later phenomenology was founded on ontological and epistemological commitments fully compatible with a broad and systematic externalism.

 Walter Hopp, Associate Professor, Boston University

“Metaphysical, Epistemic, and Transcendental Idealism”

The afternoon session of the third day began with Associate Professor Walter Hopp’s discussion of transcendental idealism and metaphysical realism. Hopp acknowledged that there are several textual and philosophical reasons to think that Husserl’s brand of transcendental idealism is incompatible with metaphysical realism about the natural world. However, he claimed, one major difficulty with this interpretation is that metaphysical anti-realism stands in tension with two other claims that enjoy significantly stronger phenomenological support. The first is that the natural world presents itself to us, in both thought and perception, as metaphysically real and largely independent, in both its existence and its nature, of our consciousness of it. Second, in accordance with Husserl’s “principle of all principles” (Ideas I, §24) this fact provides us with excellent and perhaps conclusive reasons to take the natural world to be metaphysically real. To solve this tension, Hopp suggested an interpretation of Husserl’s transcendental idealism that draws from several existing realist interpretations and that is consistent with metaphysical realism.

Chad Kidd, Assistant Professor, The City College of New York (CUNY)

“Re-examining Husserl’s Non-Conceptualism in the Logical Investigations

In the final presentation of the conference, Assistant Professor Chad Kidd began by acknowledging the recent trend in Husserl scholarship that takes the Logical Investigations (LI) as advancing an inconsistent, self-contradictory view about content of perceptual experience. Within the confines of the same work, these commentators claim, Husserl advances both conceptualist and non-conceptualist views about perceptual content. In his talk Kidd argued that LI presents a consistent view of the content of perceptual experience, which can easily be misread as inconsistent, since it combines a conceptualist view of perceptual content (or matter) with a nonconceptualist view of perceptual acts. Furthermore, the charge of inconsistency rests on a misreading of the passages in LI (specifically, in LI VI §4) where these commentators locate the core argument for nonconceptualism about perceptual content. Kidd took Husserl to be advancing a distinction between two varieties of non-conceptualism about perception, brought to prominence in recent literature by Richard Heck’s writings about non-conceptual content. One of these varieties concerns the nature of perceptual content, the other the nature of the perceptual act. Kidd argued that after certain important changes to Heck’s formulation are made, it can serve as part of a characterization of Husserl’s view of the nature of perceptual experience that exonerates it of the charge of inconsistency.

The Husserl in a New Generation conference attracted over 100 participants and attendees from throughout the United States and Europe, and from several different academic disciplines. Many commented that the event provided a unique opportunity to learn about new directions in Husserl scholarship in a welcoming, engaged, and philosophically pluralistic environment. Attendees also spoke of the openness of the participants to discussion and the exchange of ideas, and of the spirit of true collegiality that characterized the meeting. As the organizers, we are deeply grateful to all who were involved with the Husserl in a New Generation conference, and for the opportunity to explore the landscape of contemporary Husserl scholarship.

For videos of all of the main program presentations, please visit https://www.kent.edu/philosophy/husserl.

Report by Gina Zavota and Deborah Barnbaum

Elisa Magrì, Dermot Moran (Eds.): Empathy, Sociality, and Personhood: Essays on Edith Stein’s Phenomenological Investigations, Springer, 2018

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Contributions To Phenomenology, Vol. 94
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Springer International Publishing
Hardcover 96,29 €
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Roberto Walton, Shigeru Taguchi, Roberto Rubio (Eds.): Perception, Affectivity, and Volition in Husserl’s Phenomenology, Springer, 2017

Perception, Affectivity, and Volition in Husserl’s Phenomenology Book Cover Perception, Affectivity, and Volition in Husserl’s Phenomenology
Phaenomenologica, Vol. 222
Roberto Walton, Shigeru Taguchi, Roberto Rubio (Eds.)
Springer International Publishing
Hardback 96,29 €
XIII, 201