Aurélien Djian: Husserl et l’horizon comme problème

Husserl et l’horizon comme problème: Une contribution à l'histoire de la phénoménologie Couverture du livre Husserl et l’horizon comme problème: Une contribution à l'histoire de la phénoménologie
Aurélien Djian
Presses universitaires de Septentrion

Reviewed by: Julian Lünser (Erasmus MasterMundus Europhilosophie: Charles University Prague/Université Toulouse-2-Jean Jaurès)


Aurélien Djian’s monography with the title Husserl et l’horizon comme problème sets out to render a systematic account of the concept of the horizon in the framework of Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology. It seeks to both show in what sense the horizon is crucial to such a transcendental phenomenology, which according to Djian is necessarily a constitutive phenomenology, and to describe the historical development of the horizon in its interplay with the general framework of this transcendental phenomenology. In this way the unity, the particularity and the importance of this concept in constitutive phenomenology will appear.

The work, published in 2021, is built upon the author’s doctoral thesis from 2017 with the title L’Horizon comme Problème. Within his doctoral thesis Dijan also refers to the concepts of horizon in Heidegger, Gadamer and French Phenomenology (Levinas, Henry, Marion), while the focus of this monography lies exclusively on Husserl. The relevance of such a study, analyzing exclusively Husserl’s understanding of the horizon, stems, as Djian notes in the introduction, from the general lack of large-scale systematic works attempting to understand the Husserlian horizon. The only exception Djian mentions is Salius Geniušas‘ The Origins of the Horizon in Husserl’s Phenomenology. Djian characterizes Geniušas’ book as one that attempts to show the compatibility between the Husserlian and the hermeneutic horizon, thus distinguishing it from his own endeavor. However, there is indeed one more systematic work on Husserl’s concept of the horizon to be found – namely, Roberto Walton’s Intencionalidad y Horizonticidad („Intentionality and Horizonality“). Most probably, Djian was unaware of this study as it was published in Spanish and has not been translated yet. Nonetheless, Djian’s work constitutes a long-needed complementation to the still underresearched topic of Husserl’s concept of the horizon, even without referring to Walton’s book.


As a whole, the book is divided in two parts: While the first part is dedicated to the first appearance of the concept of the horizon in Husserl’s writings, even independent of the term `horizon´ itself, and its subsequent generalization, the second part of the book investigates different interactions between the emergence of the horizon and several phenomenological operations, such as the phenomenological reduction, the eidetic variation and the intentional analysis. The two focal points of this study, the emergence of the concept of the horizon and its consequences regarding the main operations in phenomenology, allow Djian to reasonably and systematically limit the scope of the investigation: Within the introduction to the second part Dijan himself points out the need of further analyses, concerning every specific horizon that corresponds to each of the different constitutive correlations, that remain excluded from this study.

The author presents his main thesis in the introduction: Namely, that the concept of the horizon plays a central role in Husserl’s constitutive phenomenology, as it is necessary for the constitution of a synthetical unity of sense in a manifoldness (Djian speaks of multiplicité, the original Husserlian term is Mannigfaltigkeit) of consciousness. To characterize this constitutive phenomenology that implies the need for the horizon, Dijan takes the concept of phenomenon to be key, understanding phenomenology hence as „a universal eidetic science of the correlations of the phenomenon“ (16). As he acknowledges, such a conception of phenomenology excludes Husserl’s work before the so-called transcendental turn, marked by the systematic introduction of the phenomenological reduction and first developed publicly and systematically in The Idea of Phenomenology from 1907. That is, Djian presents the concept of the horizon as central to Husserl’s constitutive phenomenology, and its hypothetical role in any prior phenomenology remains excluded from his study.

Accordingly, he depicts to what extent it is possible to speak of a distinctly constitutive phenomenology within the first chapter. To this end, he maps out the central argument of The Idea of Phenomenology, which presents such a constitutive phenomenology for the first time. By means of this, the synthesis of a manifoldness of consciousness can be described, hence constituting the unity of sense of the intentional object. This is then the crucial innovation that will require the concept of the horizon.

However, the term `horizon´ does not appear in The Idea of Phenomenology, nor does it appear in Thing and Space, i.e. the lectures that were introduced by The Idea of Phenomenology. Still, Djian argues in chapter 2 that there are two other terms that already contain the concept of the horizon within Thing and Space: Namely, the concepts of improper apparition [Uneigentliche Erscheinung] and halo [Hof]. The improper apparition refers to the empty intention by which the subject means [meinen; viser] something more than is properly perceived, hence operating the intentional unity of the thing. Such an intentional unity is at the same time a temporal unity, given that this meaning intention includes that which just passed and that which is now to come. The halo, on the other hand, refers to the empty intention that describes the possible, motivated by the empirical types of the correlation between kinesthesia and perception. In this way, both halo and improper apparition are necessary to constitute the actual and possible identity of the thing, and manifest at the same time the surplus of empty intentions that qualifies any external perception as inadequate.

The notion of the horizon itself appears only in Ideas I. This is, however, not the only important event that Dijan describes in the third chapter. Rather, while the concept of the horizon only appeared locally in Thing and Space, as its validity was limited to external perception, that is, to the constitution of the thing, Djian argues that a generalization and a systematization of the horizon can be observed in Ideas I. The generalization consists of the elevation of the horizon to become a universal structure of pure consciousness. How exactly does this elevation manifest itself? First, by means of the horizon of temporality, in which it is the horizon that enables succession and simultaneity; and second, by means of the horizon of inactual (inaktuell; inactuel) intentionality. This leads to the systematization of the horizon, as every non-accomplished intentional lived experience [Erlebnis; vécu] is now grouped under the title `horizon´. In this way, any lived experience can become the horizon of any other cogito, given that they are connected horizonally in the same flux of experience. However, Dijan distinguishes this broader sense of the concept of horizon from a narrower sense, the functional horizon, which is limited to those horizons that belong to the same synthetic unity.

In the second part of the book, stretching from chapter 4 to 6, the author studies the methodological repercussions of such a generalization of the horizon. The first of these repercussions are the diverse interactions between horizon and reduction, studied in three parts in chapter 4. The first argument characterizes the horizon as that which motivates the critique of the Cartesian path to the phenomenological reduction, a critique which results in the psychological path from First Philosophy. Concretely, the problem lies in the horizonally implied habitual validities, which in their totality can be apprehended as the horizon of the world, given that they render a reduction in various steps, as in Ideas I, impossible: for in any partial reduction, some of these natural validities remain functional. Conversely, it is precisely the horizon that makes it possible to become conscious of the totality of my flux of consciousness, and hence to reduce it in its entirety. In a similar manner, the world as horizon is that which is reduced in the path through the lifeworld as developed in the Crisis. Subsequently, turning to the eidetic variation, Djian argues that in its genetic form, as described in Experience and Judgement, it is related in various ways to the horizon: First, the style of the object can only be seized thanks to the horizons that prescribe its system of possible variations. Second, the eidetic variation is an attempt to detach the pure possibilities of the eidos from its co-determining world horizon. Third, to intuit all those possible, but amongst each other incompatible, properties of the eidos is only possible thanks to horizonality.

Chapter 5 tries to establish the relation between horizon and intentional analysis, arguing that it is precisely the horizonal constitution of objectivities that prescribes the need for the intentional analysis. Hence such an intentional analysis, while not yet named as such, would already appear in Ideas I, namely to develop a classification of the sciences. This recognition is subsequently enlarged to also include the shared objective world.

Finally, in chapter 6, Djian argues that it is the generalization of the horizon that challenges the theory of the evidence of reflection from Ideas I. This theory was founded upon the idea that the sphere of consciousness was given adequately and hence apodictically. However, as the horizon is also functional in the case of immanent lived experiences, for they are given in a manifoldness of temporal phases, strictly speaking the sphere of consciousness is inadequately given too. Following the author, this recognition leads Husserl to amend his notion of apodicticity in the Cartesian Meditations: Rather than adequate evidence, it is the impossibility of thinking its non-existence that qualifies something as apodictical. In this way, apodicticity stops being the point of departure and becomes a telos, which is to be reached in infinity after having traversed the transcendental domain and having performed a critique of transcendental knowledge.


It is certainly well-justified to attempt to undertake a study like this: The Husserlian concept of the horizon is clearly underresearched, given its important role in Husserl’s phenomenology. In this context, Djian’s approach to the problematic is indeed reasonable: As within most other investigations of Husserl’s phenomenology, he had to face the impossibility of looking through all Husserlian manuscripts, due to their enormous number. In this sense, to limit the study by focusing on the relation between horizon and constitutive phenomenology was a good choice, and the secondary effects of this constitutive role of the horizon on different key operations of phenomenology are well-suited to underscore the relevance of the horizon. Therefore, Djian’s book has the merit of being a systematic and valuable study of the horizon, even without being all-encompassing.

Furthermore, this book is well-structured and clearly written. All important methodological choices are indicated and justified. In addition, it is easily accessible even to readers that are not very familiar with Husserl, which is by no means obvious: The relevant Husserlian concepts are explained and documented through references to the original texts, a decision that has, at the same time, the disadvantage of sometimes quite lengthy excurses into topics that are scarcely related to the horizon (for example, the precise explanation of how to distinguish pure, descriptive, material essences from all other kinds of essences in chapter 4).

In the context of this close reading of Husserl, one could, however, ask why there is so little discussion of secondary literature in this investigation. How can this approach be justified? First of all, as Djian indicates it himself, there has been comparatively little work on the concept of the horizon in Husserl’s phenomenology. Additionally, the literature that is available and accessible in English is at least included in the bibliography, with the possible exception of the work of Aron Gurwitsch, who mostly develops his own account in The Field of Consciousness, but does make some comments on Husserl too. In any case, the only in-depth discussion in the study relates to Geniušas’ The Origins of the Horizon in Husserl’s Phenomenology, which without doubt provides the most relevant available commentary.

Before scrutinizing that particular discussion, it is still necessary to examine further how well justified it is to use so little secondary literature: For there is a lot of more general research on Husserl that relates to the different topics addressed by Djian, even without referring specifically to the horizon. For example, Djian does not discuss Kern’s description of the ways into the reduction even though the horizon is identified as one of the factors leading to the abandonment of the Cartesian path. A possible answer could be that, as Djian indicates, the work is meant to be an internal study of the horizon; that is, a study limited to the way the concept develops in Husserl’s own thought. This justifies the exclusion of other philosophers that have worked on their own concept of the horizon. But it remains questionable if this legitimizes Djian’s preference of a close reading of Husserl, as opposed to an examination of secondary literature dedicated to Husserl: For of course, those approaches are not exclusive to one another. A further disadvantage of this omission of most of the secondary literature is a presentation of Husserl’s thought as too unambiguous: Rather than opening the space for different possible interpretations of Husserl and the reasons that led him to change his conceptual framework, Djian imposes the impression that everything relevant has been explained and that his is the only possible understanding; even though Djian’s reading of Husserl is reasonable, and I generally support it, it would have been preferable to show what issues are more or less contested within the relevant literature.

With regards to Djian’s discussion of Geniušas, there remain several issues. Djian is correct in giving it a prominent position, since Geniušas’ study is the only other attempt of an extended and systematic understanding of Husserl’s concept of the horizon that is accessible in English: Hence he discusses Geniušas‘ approach in both the introduction and the conclusion, in addition to a small content-related discussion at the end of chapter 3.

In the introduction, Djian mostly aims to show in which way his approach differs from Geniušas‘, so as to prove the relevance of his study. Djian claims here that the aim of Geniušas is to demonstrate the compatibility of the Husserlian and the hermeneutic horizon, as developed by Hans-Georg Gadamer in Truth and Method. He continues to argue that Geniušas‘ account is thus based on the introduction of a problem that actually remains extrinsic to Husserl’s phenomenology; in contrast, Djian’s own account would have the merit of investigating the question of the horizon intrinsically. This argumentation is continued in the conclusion of the book: There, Geniušas‘ supposed thesis, namely that hermeneutic and Husserlian horizon are compatible, is refuted. According to Djian, this is because the horizon in Husserl’s account depends on the framework of constitutive phenomenology, while Gadamer relegates the importance of any subjectivity. Djian concludes that Geniušas is only able to confirm his thesis because he assimilates the Husserlian horizon to the hermeneutical one, hence „only discovering in Husserl what one has put there“ (277).

This strong critique goes far beyond the necessity of justifying the difference of his own approach in regard to Geniušas‘ study. In addition, in my opinion, Djian’s account seems to misrepresent Geniušas argumentation. While it is true that Geniušas refers to Gadamer and the hermeneutic horizon, particularly to justify the relevance of his study, he does so in a reasonably critical manner: In Geniušas’ book, Gadamer is introduced because he is part of the general philosophical context in which the horizon appears. In addition, Geniušas attempts to put the Husserlian and the hermeneutic horizon in dialogue. This dialogue, mostly carried out in chapter 9 of The Origins of the Horizon in Husserl’s Phenomenology, confronts Husserl’s transcendental and genetic concept of the horizon with Gadamer’s, to finally not only distinguish them but to show how hermeneutics could be enriched by considering subjectivity, for in this way it would become possible to account for the origins of the horizons. In this way, instead of assimilating Husserl’s concept of the horizon to Gadamer’s, Geniušas is pointing out the specificity of the Husserlian horizon to criticize the narrowness of the hermeneutic concept. Now, it is true that following Geniušas, the specificity of Husserl’s horizon goes beyond its constitutive function for intentional objects: He argues that the horizon can only be understood properly as a genetic phenomenon and mostly aims at showing the crucial significance of the world-horizon, which he distinguishes from the horizons of objects. But such a thesis is not necessarily incompatible with Djian’s own project, and a direct discussion of these claims would have been very interesting – however, they remain unthematized, as Geniušas work is set aside too quickly. Similarly, both Geniušas and Djian put forward their own theses on the antecedents that led Husserl to the development of the concept of the horizon: As we have seen, Djian tries to show that the concept is already present in Thing and Space, while Geniušas traces its seeds back to the problem of indexicality in the Logical Investigations. This issue, too, is not addressed or discussed by Djian.

There is only one question of content which Djian does discuss in detail with Geniušas: Namely, how to interpret Husserl’s distinction between background and horizon in the case of the arithmetic world in §28 of Ideas I. Here, Djian quotes Geniušas as saying that Husserl does not provide an explanation of this distinction, in order to argue that this is why Geniušas introduces the extrinsic, “hermeneutic“ concept of the limit to establish a distinction between horizon and background. Djian then refutes Geniušas’ approach, arguing that „Husserl gives all the indications in this paragraph […] to allow the reader to propose a purely internal explanation of the distinction in question“ (122-123). Namely, he argues that it is the connection (connexion) between the objectivities of a same world – in this case, the arithmetic world – that justifies to speak of a horizon. This is how Djian justifies the distinction from the background which refers to other worlds that are only co-present to the extent that they appear to the same subject, without having any relation to each other if we abstracted from the subject. That is, according to Djian the concept of the horizon at play here is its strict, functional definition.

Now, comparing this argumentation with Geniušas‘, the actual differences between both approaches seem insignificant. When discussing §28 of Ideas I, Geniušas introduces the notion of the horizon as a limit in order to argue that the horizon is what is necessary for an objectivity to appear, while backgrounds and halos can be lost. This is true, as Geniušas argues here, because in Husserl the horizon has to be understood in its constitutive, functional, in its transcendental dimension: The horizon is the structure which co-determines the sense of the objectivity in question, in this case the arithmetic objectivities, and can hence be distinguished from background and halo. Thus, in both commentaries, the specific, functional relation between the arithmetic objectivity in question and its arithmetic world is highlighted in order to justify Husserl’s distinction between horizon and background. However, once more it remains questionable if Djian’s way of representing Geniušas‘ argumentation is reasonable; and additionally, the opportunity for a more interesting discussion of the specific similarities and differences between both approaches is missed again.

Having developed these two major points of critique, the little discussion of secondary literature, and the misleading representation and critique of Geniušas‘ The Origins of the Horizon in Husserls Phenomenology, there persist a few more, less relevant, remarks I would like to make before concluding this review. Rather than evaluating what Djian did write, these remarks point at topics which could have been addressed here in order to enrich the discussion. Therefore, they are in no way direct criticisms of Djian’s text; instead, they aim at showing the possible points of continuation of the study of the Husserlian horizon.

First of all, there is a series of analyses in Djian’s book that are very relevant, but that could have been further developed. This holds true, for example, for the claim in chapter 3 that the horizon as universal structure of pure consciousness makes reflection possible (107). This proposition is only developed very concisely in a footnote, and is not addressed further within chapter 6, which deals with the evidence of the reflection (whilst Roberto Walton dedicates a whole chapter to this question in Intencionalidad y Horizonticidad). Furthermore, it is possible to point out that within chapter 5, the specific mode of operation of the intentional analysis is not fully developed. While the role the horizon plays in the preparation of the intentional analysis becomes clear, it is not shown in detail how the intentional analysis can be understood as a clarification of the horizons. Finally, the very intriguing argument at the end of chapter 6, namely that the horizon works as one of the factors to transform the apodicticity of transcendental knowledge into a telos, could have been developed in more detail and particularly called for a discussion of secondary sources.

One more topic that could have been discussed in more depth is the relation between horizon and Husserl’s theory of intropathy [Einfühlung]. The book touches upon this relation twice: First, in the discussion of the different cases of intentional implication in chapter 4, and second, in the enlargement of the intentional analysis to the shared world at the end of chapter 5. In chapter 4, Djian presents the different cases of intentional implication as described by Husserl in First Philosophy, namely phantasia, memory, expectation, image-consciousness and intropathy, to then argue that the horizonal consciousness is a kind of intentional implication too. He distinguishes it from the other cases by arguing that the intentional implication is always actual [actuel; aktuell], with the exception of horizons and intropathy. Now, to differentiate these two cases, he states that while horizons are susceptible to be fulfilled, the acts of intropathy are not. Later, in chapter 5, the question of the constitution of the alter ego is presented: Djian repeats here that the appresentation of the alter ego is not a synthetic unity in a manifoldness of my lived experiences, and hence is not constituted by means of the horizon; for what is appresented with the other’s lived body is not susceptible to be fulfilled. It is only by implying the potentialities of perceiving the world from there rather than here, that the horizon plays some role in the associative function permitting to understand the alter ego as similar to me, thus enabling its constitution.

One can ask here if it really is that compelling that the constitution of the alter ego is not mediated by the horizon structure. To be sure, the appresented content of the other’s consciousness is indeed not susceptible to fulfilment. But while Husserl does not speak explicitly of horizons in the Fifth Cartesian Meditation (including the parts where he distinguishes the apperception of the thing from the apperception of the other), he does speak of the apperception of the alter ego: And how could the other be apperceived, if not as a unity in a manifoldness of actual and potential lived experiences – only with the particularity, that many of the potential lived experiences can never become actual if the other is to remain other? The point here is not to show that it is indeed necessary to speak of a horizonal apperception of the other; instead, it is enough to raise awareness to the fact that such an interpretation of Husserl seems possible and that Djian’s discussion of the question is not exhaustive.

Finally, there remains one last remark before concluding. The relation between the horizon as a possibly persistent secret link to the world and the two new paths into the phenomenological attitude is well developed in chapter 4 and highly relevant. However, one could have also taken a more critical perspective: For instance, Djian shows correctly how Husserl uses the horizon in the process of the psychological path in First Philosophy in order to be able to seize the totality of the ego’s stream of consciousness, and submit it to the epoché at once. But it remains unclear in Husserl, and equally in Djian, how the risk of still co-functioning hidden validities is averted: for a horizonal seizing of “the universe of all objectivities, which ever had validity for me” (Husserl 2019, 361) seems scarcely enough to discover, reflect on, and abstain from all the possible hidden validities. In a similar fashion, Husserl seems to simply claim the possibility of a universal epoché in the Crisis. Still, Dijans decision to refrain from a discussion of these critical questions is most likely justified by his methodological decision to give an internal account of Husserl’s thought, without adding his own critical perspective.


All in all, Djian’s study constitutes one more, valuable piece in the precise understanding of Husserl’s thought. Notwithstanding the lack of discussion with secondary sources, its analyses are well-justified and help to develop a more comprehensive and accurate notion of Husserl’s concept of the horizon, as well as of its influence on the development of Husserl’s thought. Furthermore, the accuracy of Dijan’s main thesis of the central role of the horizon in constitutive phenomenology can now be estimated: It has become clear, that the horizon is crucial for the constitution of objectivities and thus plays a major role in Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology, hence underscoring the relevance of the concept for Husserl. However, the strong interpretation of this thesis, namely that Husserl’s concept of the horizon has to be understood as limited to the context of the constitution, excluding any other possible dimensions of the horizon, remains unproven: For such a task, it would have been necessary to discuss the different appearances of the term in different Husserlian texts in more detail to actually show how they all refer back to the constitutive role of the horizon.


Geniusas, Saulius. 2012. The Origins of the Horizon in Husserl’s Phenomenology. Contributions to Phenomenology 67. Dordrecht: Springer.
Gurwitsch, Aron. 2010. The Field of Consciousness: Theme, Thematic Field, and Margin. ed. Richard M. Zaner. 1st ed., Volume III. The Collected Works of Aron Gurwitsch (1901-1973). Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands : Imprint Springer.
Husserl, Edmund. 2019. First Philosophy: Lectures 1923/24 and Related Texts from the Manuscripts (1920-1925). transl. Sebastian Luft and Thane M. Naberhaus. Collected Works / Husserl, Edmund, XIV. Dordrecht: Springer.
Walton, Roberto J. 2015. Intencionalidad y Horizonticidad. Bogotá: Aula de Humanidades.

Erik Norman Dzwiza-Ohlsen: Die Horizonte der Lebenswelt

Die Horizonte der Lebenswelt: Sprachphilosophische Studien zu Husserls 'erster Phänomenologie der Lebenswelt' Couverture du livre Die Horizonte der Lebenswelt: Sprachphilosophische Studien zu Husserls 'erster Phänomenologie der Lebenswelt'
Phänomenologische Untersuchungen, Band 37
Erik Norman Dzwiza-Ohlsen
Wilhelm Fink
Hardback $193

Reviewed by: Matías Graffigna (Göttingen Universität)

Dzwiza-Ohlsen’s book presents us with a thorough, systematic study of Husserl’s phenomenology along two axes of problems: on the one hand, it reconstructs—and argues for—a developmental history of the central phenomenological concept of lifeworld in Husserl’s works, following Manfred Sommer in tracing its roots back to a first “Göttingian” conception. On the other hand, the study focuses on language and particularly on Husserl’s theory of essentially occasional expressions (OE) from the Logical Investigations (LI, Hua XIX-01), which, further reconstructed, developed and complemented by the author, comprises a fundamental tool of analysis for the structure and levels of the lifeworld, both in its first Göttingian manifestation and in its mature “Freiburgian” form. The book thus proceeds in a zig-zag manner between, on the one hand, an exegetical and historical reconstruction of Husserl’s intellectual development, and a conceptual, critical analysis of the different problems related to the lifeworld, horizon-intentionality and OE on the other, consequently arriving at the main thesis of the work: that the concept of lifeworld in Husserl’s intellectual history represents a continuous development and reveals in all stages the idea of an occasional horizon.

The first section reconstructs the path from the LI to the Ideas (Hua III, IV and V), starting with an analysis of OE as “lifeworldly disturbances” [lebensweltliche Störungen] to pure logic. OE are known in the analytic literature as indexical expressions, such that vary their meaning according to the context of the utterance: “here”, “now”, “I” are typical examples. According to Dzwiza-Ohlsen, the LI are marked by a stark focus on pure logic and particularly on a logical conception of truth as apodictic and immutable, which renders Husserl’s analysis of OE, as Husserl himself would later claim, an “act of violence” [Gewaltstreich] against pure logic. The core of the argument is that, while OE are essentially situated and context-sensitive, pure logic does not admit of such variability and therefore Husserl lacked the appropriate theoretical tools to successfully analyze them. Though both theses are true, it is not quite clear that the context of the LI would prevent an interesting analysis of the OE. The author relies for this thesis on two premises, which are, in my opinion, a bit too strong.

First (28), he takes—following Derrida—Husserl’s analysis of expressions in solitary life (LI, §8) to be an anticipation of the phenomenological reduction and elevates it to the status of a methodological principle. Dzwiza-Ohlsen ends up criticizing Husserl for violating this “methodological restriction”: “Husserl analyses occasional expressions within a conversational situation […] and thus violates one of his central methodological premises, namely the reduction to solitary life” (35). So even though Husserl does analyze OE within communicative contexts, Dzwiza-Ohlsen criticizes that analysis on the ground of violating a methodological restriction. Arguably, there is no such methodological restriction in LI, but in any case, since the solitary life is not explicitly presented by Husserl as a methodological principle, it would fall upon Dzwiza-Ohlsen to make the case for such an interpretation, which he does not do. Given that Husserl does not declare himself beholden to such a restriction, as the case analyzed by the author and many others show, I do not see this claim as justified.

The author’s second premise is that the LI only present a logical notion of truth and, therefore, are unable to account for the truth of perception-based statements about individual objects: “For the appropriate interpretation [of OE], he would have needed a concept of truth that could apprehend the concrete, such as individual objects, people and their relations in events, insofar as he is reflecting on the conditions for reference. Because he does not do this, the determination of their empirical significance remains a riddle” (38-9). But we do not find in Dzwiza-Ohlsen’s analyses any mention of §§ 9-14 of the first LI, where Husserl presents his conception of reference and of meaning-fulfillment, or of § 5 of the sixth LI, appropriately titled “Perception as significance-determining act”, or of § 39, where Husserl presents four different conceptions of truth.

After arriving at the conclusion of OE as lifeworldly disturbances to pure logic, Chapter Two presents OE as a framework to interpret the history of the Husserlian conception of the lifeworld. The author makes use of Karl Bühler’s theory of language, introducing the notion of a ‘here-now-I-’ system of orientation under the rubric of “origo”. This term, sometimes used in pragmatics, stems from the Latin for “origin” and designates the point of reference for a given speaker. The OE are divided into four classes: spatial, personal, temporal and others. Together with Husserl’s original conception of OE in the LI, the theoretical tools presented by Bühler open the door for an exhaustive and example-rich analysis of the different classes of OE. Dzwiza-Ohlsen’s analysis of each class culminates in a general analysis (§ 7), where OE are defined as situated, context-sensitive, horizon-dependent and praxis-oriented. OE are no longer seen as somehow faulty or incomplete, but their possible vagueness and variability are vindicated as elements that necessarily belong to our everyday communication practices and, to that extent, as essential for our relation to the lifeworld.

Chapters Three to Five provide a further, in-depth analysis of OE mediated by a “triple jump” (69): (1) temporally, from the LI to 1907; (2) methodologically, from a logic-oriented phenomenology to the first considerations for a transcendental phenomenology as the basis of universal knowledge and (3) content-wise, by presenting the first concrete descriptions of lifeworldly situations within the natural attitude. Thus, Chapter Three focuses first on the spatial class of OE by drawing on Husserlian materials going back as far as the early, mathematical studies on space from 1894. It then moves to the Main Pieces [Haupstücke] (Hua II/XVI) and the lectures on Thing and Space (Hua XVI), where we find the first descriptions of the phenomenological reduction and an explicit thematization of the natural attitude as the terminus a quo of phenomenological philosophy: our world-experience as a reference point for phenomenological description and source for all eidetic analyses. Here Dzwiza-Ohlsen sees “the correlate of the natural attitude named by its later name: the lifeworld” (81). § 1 of Thing and Space, in which Husserl offers a very detailed description of the “natural spiritual-disposition” [natürliche Geisteshaltung], is offered by Dzwiza-Ohlsen as a clear anticipation of what would later be named the lifeworld.

Chapter Three concludes with further analyses of spatiality based mainly on the constitution of perceptual objects, which is taken as a point of departure for the analysis of our experience of reality and, in turn, of the lifeworld itself. The relation between intersubjectivity (as the source of objectivity) and perception marks the passage to Chapter Four, where the personal class of OE (such as personal and possessive pronouns) are analyzed in connection with empathy, motivation and the social world. Basing primarily on the Fundamental Problems of Phenomenology (Hua XIII), the close relation between the spiritual world, our “deictic” experience of our environment and, primarily, other human beings, is revealed as central. Dzwiza-Ohlsen proposes to understand our experience within the natural attitude as a kind of “index”, leading to an eidetic ontology of the lifeworld. The important point the author argues for is that our lifeworldly experience in the natural attitude already makes certain concepts available which can later be more rigorously or scientifically clarified. But the task of clarifying them in their lifeworldly being is precisely the task of phenomenology and the ontology of the lifeworld.

Chapter Five closes Section One of the book with the remaining class of OE: the temporal indexicals. The analysis of these is understood as the key for a theory of empirical meaning (as opposed to the theory of ideal meaning of the LI). The analyses are based on the Lectures on inner Time-Consciousness (Hua X), going through the innovations of the 1908 Lectures on Theory of Meaning (Hua XXVI), arriving finally at the revised sections of the LI (Hua XX/2) and Ideas I. An in-depth analysis of temporality allows the author to describe an “occasional horizon of empirical reference” (148), which together with a theory of meaning for empirical objects, aims to complement the otherwise logically one-sided conceptual elaborations of Husserl in the LI.

The terrain is thus set for Section Two: early and late phenomenology of the lifeworld. The Göttingian early concept of lifeworld is located in Ideas II (Hua IV), where concepts such as “social world”, “cultural world”, “surrounding world” and especially “communicative world” serve as candidates for an early version of the concept of lifeworld. The author focuses on the intersection of three dimensions to analyze this early concept: (i) phenomenological analyses of constitution; (ii) regional ontology, with a special focus on nature and spirit; and (iii) the theory of attitudes. Thus, the early concept of lifeworld is to be phenomenologically analyzed via constitutive performances within the region of spirit and in the corresponding personal attitude. An interesting, critical point raised by the author concerns how to understand the relation between the natural and the personal attitudes. While it is clear that the naturalistic (as opposed to the natural) attitude and all other scientific ones imply an active change and an abstraction of the objects and corresponding regions being thematized, both the natural and personal attitudes are those in which we typically find ourselves in our daily lives. All scientific attitudes also imply a reference to the natural attitude and to our experience within the lifeworld. If the natural and personal attitudes are not to be conflated, then the personal must imply a specific focus on, precisely, personal elements of the lifeworld.  The personal attitude abstracts from certain elements that appear in the natural attitude so as to make salient what is properly personal.

In Section Two, Chapter Two, the differences between the early and late conception of the lifeworld are explicitly treated. According to the author, the core difference is that the late conception “has less to do with a phenomenology of the lifeworld, but rather with a critical theory of the historical misdevelopment [Fehlentwicklung] of the sciences departing from the lifeworld” (242). For Dzwiza-Ohlsen, Husserl’s project in the Crisis (Hua VI) consists in analyzing the crisis of European humanity, science and culture through a teleological history, but lacks “detailed phenomenological descriptions and constitution-analyses of our natural, personal attitude within our cultural lifeworld” (249). Dzwiza-Ohlsen extracts and reconstructs seven desiderata for a science of the lifeworld according to Crisis (247-8), which he sees as better realized—“more detailed and universal” (253)—in the phenomenology of the lifeworld found in Ideas II than in the theory of the lifeworld presented in Crisis.  This is because the descriptive results of Ideas II hold true in any world, even if there were no science at all, while the Crisis project is dependent both on the analysis in Ideas II and on the existence of a science that can be diagnosed as being in crisis and offered a therapy through self-reflection [Selbstbesinnung] and teleological orientation. Thus, the basic thesis of Crisis can only be properly understood against the background of an analysis of persons living in the natural and personal attitude within the spiritual lifeworld. And such analysis is precisely what we find in the early conception of the lifeworld.

This main point of comparison could profit from some further argumentation by the author, since many questions remain open: by stating that the project of Crisis is not really a phenomenology, what conception of phenomenology does the author assume? Phenomenology is an eidetic science and Crisis presents us with countless eidetic analyses of the a priori structure of the lifeworld and of its being a ground for sense and experience, and not “just” the reconstruction of the history of science. In the third section of the Crisis, Husserl aims to develop precisely an ontology of the lifeworld that is previous to and independent of science. This ontology is the one that explains how it is that science can emerge on the basis of our experience, and how it remains always tied to it. On the other hand, the question arises: is the project of Ideas II focused exclusively on offering “situated” descriptions within the natural attitude? Is it not the attempt to clarify the constitutive performances foundational to the distinction between natural sciences and the humanities? In this regard, it is therefore not clear at all that the analyses offered in Ideas II would hold true in a world without science.

The Section Two, Chapter Three deals with the “skipped nature-concept of the lifeworld” (255). While Husserl’s analyses of the constitution of natural objects in Ideas II focus almost exclusively on these objects as conceived from the perspective of natural science, Dzwiza-Ohlsen claims that the constitution of these objects should also be phenomenologically clarified for the personal and natural attitudes within the lifeworld, which mainly means including not only the theoretical, but also the evaluative, practical and aesthetic attitudes. Thus, Husserl “skipped” a “nature-concept” that accounts for our natural (as opposed to theoretical) experience of nature, where nature is understood as the correlate of our personal, spiritual, lifewordly experience and not as the correlate of natural science. The chapter closes by going deep into the analysis of our experience in the natural attitude, with its focus on natural objects. Aesthetics, praxis, will and feelings are analyzed as essential elements permeating our daily life and the way in which we experience the world.

The third and final section of the book is a “concluding meditation” about Husserl’s contributions regarding the language, structure and truth of the lifeworld and of science in his late period. These fundamental dimensions of the lifeworld are now presented in an integrated fashion, making use both of Husserl’s own earlier analyses presented in this book as well as the scheme of OE. Thus, we learn that the structure of the lifeworld is situated in an intentional-horizon that is both typical and occasional; that the language we use is correlated with this typicality and occasionality, allowing us to express ourselves in relevant, situated ways; that truth is understood in reference to a notion of normality that emerges from the different communities, meaning that what matters in the lifeworld is the optimal realization of goals rather than an accurate description of an external reality. For this last purpose, our natural, lifeworldly language is said to be perfectly well suited.

Finally, in the “concluding meditation”, lifeworld and science are contrasted following the foundational thesis of the Crisis, and the notion of truth is treated in its own right for each domain. The objective truth of science rests upon intersubjective agreement which takes place in the praxis of the lifeworld and especially communicative praxis. Communicative praxis is disclosed as a condition of possibility for science and objective truth or, as the author says, “supra-occasional truth” (296).

Dzwiza-Ohlsen deals with several fundamental and significant problems in phenomenology from both a historical, reconstructive perspective and from a philosophical, critical attitude. The book offers rich analyses for those interested in the concept of lifeworld and its historical development, but is also to be noted for bringing the dimension of language to the foreground. The analyses of OE, abundant in examples, and its subsequent application to the diverse elements treated in the book, results in an in-depth phenomenological and historical description of one of Husserl’s most important philosophical contributions: the notion of lifeworld.

Hans-Helmuth Gander: Self Understanding and Lifeworld: Basic Traits of a Phenomenological Hermeneutics

Self-Understanding and Lifeworld: Basic Traits of a Phenomenological Hermeneutics Couverture du livre Self-Understanding and Lifeworld: Basic Traits of a Phenomenological Hermeneutics
Studies in Continental Thought
Hans-Helmuth Gander. Translated by Ryan Drake and Joshua Rayman
Indiana University Press
Hardcover $65.00

Reviewed by:  Douglas Giles (University of Essex)

Gander’s declared aim in Self Understanding and Lifeworld is to build on the untapped potential of Heidegger’s hermeneutical phenomenology of the lifeworld and the self-forming experience of reality. The book is a long and closely argued exploration of how a human being develops an understanding of oneself as a self within a social lifeworld.

Gander spends perhaps a little too much time beating the dead horse of the Cartesian self but he does correctly emphasize the importance of the self not as a self-certainty but as a fluctuating play of unfolding human experiences in the historical world. The historicity of the individual is important to Gander, who focuses on the self-understanding as a to-and-fro between present experiences and progressive-anticipatory self-confirmation. To the contrary, Gaander says, the human self is historicized, meaning that the self cannot be identified as an ahistorical transcendent ago, but needs to be conceived as a historical self in the current of history. As human individuals, our task is to have to incessantly identify our self from within our self within the lifeworld.

Gander’s primary task in Self Understanding and Lifeworld is to set forth a phenomenology of the human self that describes what it means to be a unified human self in the current of life history. In response to the philosophical need to critically discuss self-understanding within the lifeworld, Gander argues that the Husserlian conception of the phenomenology of consciousness is inadequate for answering the problem of history in the hermeneutics of the self-understanding of human beings in the world. Each of us, Gander says, is what we are only through what we have become, and thus, the hermeneutical question of the self-understanding takes shape in Heidegger’s project of a hermeneutics of facticity.

In Part One, Gander interprets the human being’s facticity as similar to the writing and reading of a text. Gander’s analogy is to compare self-understanding with understanding a text. Our knowing is an interpretation, including our knowing of ourselves, allowing us, Gander argues, to compare the understanding of our self with the understanding of a text. The move Gander makes here is one with which the reader may or may not agree, and the reader may or may not find Gander’s defence of it—a blending of Dilthey, Foucault, and Gadamer—convincing. In short, if I understand Gander correctly, his argument is that in a text, there is a space in which the writing subject disappears and since a human being’s self understanding is a historical consciousness—a kind of text being written and read—we as a knowing subject of our self-understanding disappears. The textual analogy rests largely on seeing the historicity of the individual as a kind of reading of the individual’s cultural traditions. We enter into the text (the “book of the world”) of our tradition and in reading and interpreting that text, our individual self-persuasion forms itself. Gander says that “the human self- and world understanding underlies and forms itself from out of the force field of the particular historical-cultural tradition.” (55) That individuals develop their understandings of self and world from their cultural tradition is uncontroversial, but whether we gain philosophical understanding of this process by applying the textual analogy is open to question. Gander’s argument is certainly plausible, but it is not clear that it is an advance on other philosophical approaches.

Regardless of how we view the self-formation of the human self, we are left with the problem of the lifeworld. This is a philosophical problem because the constitution of the self and the possibility of self-experience are connected to the self’s history in the world. Gander turns to the problem of the lifeworld in Part Two. The field of reality, Gander says, opens itself to the philosopher in the language the philosopher speaks and the meaning of its concepts which are set out in historical context. The approach needed, therefore, is a hermeneutical interpretation of concepts that is related to human situatedness in everyday experience. (79-81) Gander then enters a lengthy exposition against Descartes’s philosophical method and the self-certainty of the self within Descartes’s method, little of which will be new to the reader.

When Gander returns to the problem of the lifeworld, he observes that life and thus the lifeworld can no longer be considered something over and against the subject as in Descartes. (116) He then turns to Husserl’s discussion of the lifeworld, interpreting Husserl’s task as a project of “lifeworldly ontology.” (140) Gander adopts Husserl’s task, but also finds Husserl’s approach wanting. The individual’s facticity in the world is carried out in the historical and cultural horizons of the lifeworld. The “concrete lifeworld” is a variable, changing historical-social-cultural world and the lifeworld is more than a mere preliminary to the transcendental sphere of reason. For this reason, Gander says we must take leave of Husserl’s narrow approach to a theory of perception and begin anew the task of an ontology of the lifeworld as outside the transcendental horizon. Gander criticizes Husserl as bypassing the factically concrete lifeworld in its historicity in favor of what Gander calls “an intended final sense by means of the transcendental epoché…[and] takes the sting out of his diagnosis.” (163) By claiming the singularity of the lifeworld, Husserl, Gander says, cuts himself off from existentiell factical contingent experience and the plurality of lifeworlds. At no point does there arise a central perspective from which the human relation to self and world, therefore, Gander rejects Husserl’s approach, adopting in opposition the approach that “the ground of the natural lifeworld, with the experiences of contingency encountered everywhere and at each moment, remains a significant, indeed a necessary corrective against intellectual flights of thinking.” (167)

Gander expands on his claim that Husserl has neglected the historical and factical life in Part Three. And it is here that he gets to the main point of his book:

I experience myself only in the midst of the world—and that means in the midst of time and history—so this relatedness always already implicates the self-constituting experience of difference in its ontological presupposition. The self-relation generates and determines itself accordingly through and as difference, yet does not spilt in the Cartesian sense, but rather in that I experience myself qua difference as essentially open to the world; the self always already transcends itself beyond me to the understanding possible for me as historical horizon. (184)

Our finite self-relation is constituted by both transcendence and difference, Gander argues, and though our phenomenological approach to the problem of the lifeworld benefits from Husserl’s epoché, it also benefits from the early Heidegger’s critique of Husserl—specifically the former’s view to the structure of care. Gander sides with Heidegger in rejecting Husserl’s empty certainty and in accepting instead the understanding that science should be posited as knowing comportments of human beings. Human knowing is a specific mode of being in the world and taking this into account allows our phenomenological approach to include the unexpressed effective background beliefs that form humans’ presuppositional horizon. The proper things of philosophy, Gander concludes, following Heidegger, are not experiences of consciousness taken through the transcendental and eidetic reduction but the phenomena of the human ontological condition of the care for life. Heidegger grasps facticity, Gander says, as the existentiell situation of the individual—one’s own concrete, particular context of life. (196) Self-understanding is therefore experienced in one’s particular facticity within an historical horizon constituted by both transcendence and difference regarding one’s orientation to oneself and to the world.

Having argued for the preference of Heidegger over Husserl, Gander turns back to the issue of a hermeneutics of the self-understanding of human beings in the world. He begins by approaching the pretheoretical life. The human is enmeshed in factical life in such a way that the self as activity constitutes itself in the lifeworld. What we call “life” is known through and in a hermeneutically interpreting active knowing of the having of life itself. (212) Life in itself is always my own life and what it means to be a self is to experience the self-world that is there for us in every situation. Our phenomenological approach must look at the factical experience of life that is always lived out in a lifeworld which is centered in the self-world of comportment to oneself. (214) Gander’s hermeneutical ontology of facticity considers the world-relation as self-relation and constructs an historical ontology of our ourselves based on the conception that experience fundamentally refers to self-relation that is always already situationally related or bound. We make experiences only in situational connections, and situations create in themselves possibilities of experience for me.

Self Understanding and Lifeworld is perhaps longer of a book than it needs to be. One could also argue that it covers well-worn paths of material. As a contribution to Heideggerian studies, Gander’s book has value in how he relates several concepts in Heidegger to other twentieth century philosophers. Any writings concerning this subject matter are, almost by necessity, opaque and complex, and Self Understanding and Lifeworld is definitely those things. Gander’s differentiation of everyday experience as an historical life is a difficult read but worthwhile for the reader who is interested in new applications of Heidegger for the study of the self.

James Dodd: Phenomenology, Architecture and the Built World: Exercises in Philosophical Anthropology

Phenomenology, Architecture and the Built World: Exercises in Philosophical Anthropology Couverture du livre Phenomenology, Architecture and the Built World: Exercises in Philosophical Anthropology
Studies in Contemporary Phenomenology, 16
James Dodd
Hardback €110,00
viii, 298

Reviewed by: Kevin Berry (University of Pennsylvania)

James Dodd’s Phenomenology, Architecture and the Built World: Exercises in Philosophical Anthropology examines the built environment, as the artifactual composition of human involvement, from the perspective of phenomenological intentionality. From this perspective, “meaning,” as Dodd succinctly states, “is originally the accomplishment of the intentionality of lived experience” (57). Dodd’s formulation of the matter is most clearly expressed in chapter seven which directly explores, among other things, the topic of architectural meaning. The built environment is not a set of meanings inscribed upon buildings as if a “text to be deciphered,” but rather a series of existential paths open to inhabitants (199). As the material arrangement of human intentional involvements, the built environment is meaningful as “a sense of directedness” in “hodological form.” This seems to be the thesis of the text: an argument that phenomenology allows us to read the built environment’s meaning hodologically, rather than textually (215-216). In fact, that and how the world is given in meaningfulness is a large part of the “problematicity of knowledge,” the key issue in the text.

Though Dodd writes for philosophers, the text opens an equally important perspective for architectural historians. It points to the need to investigate architecture phenomenologically, a project which has suffered a legitimation crisis in the field of architecture since the late 80’s and early 90’s saw a rush of publications on the topic, the most notable being Questions of Perception. So many architectural theorists and historians in this tradition have used Heidegger, Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, and Hannah Arendt (the four main characters of Dodd’s text) without full awareness of the ontological critique of Cartesian conception of worldhood at the base of phenomenology. Architects, evoking these phenomenologists’ names, still read architectural meaning as being first of all a visual, or textual, matter. Architecture is not something we look at, or read, though. It is something we live in and, more precisely, are involved in. This insight, which Dodd’s text points out, would help bolster future attempts in architecture to apply phenomenology to the concept of architecture, the city, or the built environment.

The text has eight chapters set between an introduction and conclusion. Chapter 1, “Knowledge and Building” examines “the kind of knowledge operative in the activity of building,” tracing a philosophical argument in the historical debate between the architect and engineer as two distinct kinds of builders. Subsequently, chapter 2, “Building and Phenomenon” examines “the built as something encountered in experience” (8-9). The elegance with which the chapter titles interlock is impressive. Each has two key terms, displaying to the reader the flow of the argument; this can be seen in the word “Building” in first and second chapter titles. The flow continues: chapter 3, “Phenomenon and World” leads from Phenomenon to world. Chapters 4, 5 and 6 interlock concepts of “World” and “Thing,” chapter 6 flows from “Thing and Built Space,” into chapter 7, “Built Space and Expression,” and finally, chapter 8, “Expression and Presence.”

The chapter titles and section headings, while they reveal the flow of the argument, dissolve into one another, literally and figuratively. To this reader, one downside to this otherwise elegant structure is that it caused the text to read too fluidly, making it difficult to discern the main conclusions and objects of study, which are both architectural objects and philosophical texts. It is well written and the prose holds an impressive stride. The argument flows from one point to the next, with the reader often being led through illustrations of foundational ideas in phenomenological methodology. It is certainly not an introductory text, as Dodd states, but it holds a desire to continually return to the base of each problem. In short, it reads as an extensive phenomenological meditation, returning to questions of method as often as it turns to its objects of study. Dodd’s text rewards a patient reader.

For instance, it is hard to know what to subsume, exactly, under the concept (or, more accurately, figure) of the ‘labyrinth’ introduced in chapter 3, especially when the figure of the labyrinth plays such a pivotal role throughout the next two chapters, and not just in the subsections which have the word in their title. Edward Casey, Bernard Tschumi, and Indra Kagis McEwen are all employed in discussions of the labyrinth. The dense fabric this organization weaves is as impressive as it is demanding. Its conceptual complexity is not a point to be criticized, of course. My criticism here is much more limited. I can only say that the book is truly dense; at points, it seems overpopulated with insights. Signposts are needed to help distinguish major and just minor conclusions, as there are so many woven into each chapter. Internal to the argument, there are just four points I find disagreement with.

First, distinctions need to be sustained more thoroughly between the built environment, artifact, and architecture. Is the built environment to be understood as a composition of artifacts in this text? Or is it something over and above this, a whole greater than its parts? What is the difference between artifact and tool, or the difference between Heidegger’s equipmental totality and the idea of an artifactual totality (or composition) as it appears in the text? There seem to be many different ways of conceptualizing these key terms given the many theorists referenced.

Second, the attempt to rehabilitate phenomenology by creating what Dodd calls “classical phenomenology” by synthesizing Husserl, Heidegger, and Arendt, especially for a text which already copes with the workload involved in straddling multiple fields. The unresolved and irresolvable tension between Husserl, Heidegger, and Arendt is most apparent in chapter five, which asks the reader to jump from Husserl’s world of Abschattungen (adumbrations) – a topic already discussed in a previous chapter – to Heidegger’s world of Sorge (care)., by way of Steven Holl’s notion of parallax and Duchamp’s nude. This ten page section is certainly an impressive composition, and the illustrations are engaging, but the technical nuances in which Dodd engages often reveal the distance between these thinkers at those points in which they seem most closely related. I am sure Dodd recognizes that classical phenomenology is no monolith, and never could be, but the methodology of the text betrays a desire for it to be, especially chapter five.

Third, there is a set of competing ends operating in the argument. For instance, the reader is informed that the investigation is ultimately seeking “the development of a descriptive vocabulary for the analysis of built space” (50), but also that it is focused on “the problematicity of knowledge.” In the end, the latter concern appears to win, but the reader is still left wondering if the problem is ethical, concerned with developing a philosophical understanding of the built environment’s contribution to the meaningfulness of human existence, or epistemological, as the text more explicitly claims.

Again, it seems the latter wins. That this text on the built world begins with a chapter on “knowledge” is no accident. Dodd, it seems, asks philosophers to turn to the built environment, but only so they may turn back to questions of epistemology. This becomes clearer as the reader moves into the middle chapters, which grow increasingly epistemological, concerned with rethinking key concepts of intentionality, constitution, the epoché, and perception in light of the built environment. The text reads as an epistemological investigation with a special concern for the perceptual structures of meaning in the built environment. This is especially true in his example of an experience in Café Hawelka in Vienna (87). Descriptive analyses of European cafés are a staple of architectural phenomenology, and so the reader expects to be pulled into the built world, into living experience, but this does not happen. Rather, Dodd asks of perceptual experience in the café, “What does this entail?” and turns to a thorough excursus on Husserl’s notion of Abschattungen (90). Dodd concludes chapter 3 by drawing the conclusion from this that « in living through an experience, I fully inhabit the whole of experience at once » (93). In a way, this is just the epistemological issue at stake, and shows why phenomenology so often seems to spill over from epistemology into ontology. The café will return in the conclusion, this time as Sartre’s missing Pierre in Being and Nothingness (263-265).

My final point of criticism is that this is not a book on architecture, which it claims to be. The examples are never fully architectural. The phenomenological analysis of the way in which a pebble, in its material shape, holds cognitive indications concerning its uses and intentional possibilities, for example, is insightful, but this moment of analysis – one of the more important in the text – does not concern the architectural. Figures such as Eisenman, Tschumi and Le Corbusier do make appearances, as do some famous monuments and ruins, but they are always there for the elucidation of a concept and are not objects of study themselves. This leads me to ask, does Dodd actually discuss architecture at all? Regardless of how one answers this, as I indicated at the outset, this is a text architectural writers interested in philosophy must understand.

Perhaps Dodd’s intended philosophical audience explains why architecture remains conspicuously absent from the book. The ideas of phenomenology remain strongly in the fore, and artifacts often illustrate these, but architecture nowhere fully appears. Dodd’s decision to explain his argument through more typical environmental situations — sitting at a library, reading in a café, enjoying the view of a valley on a park bench, etc. — makes sense, because Dodd’s aim is to study the built environment not by applying concepts of Husserl and Heidegger to architectural objects, but by determining where, in the unique ontological picture of phenomenology, the built world fits. After all, most works of architecture populating the “canon” of architecture are built as perceptual experiences for the trained eye of the designer, and composed more for the attitude of disinterested aesthetic contemplation than the average inhabitant of day-to-day involvement. Architecture seems to be at odds with the idea of the built environment as a cultural setting, in this sense, or at least seems to bear an ecstatic, to use Heidegger’s term, relationship to it.

The title of Dodd’s text thus points out an issue. There seem to be two conceptions of architecture which need to be distinguished more carefully by those operating within the philosophy of architecture today: architecture as defined by the profession, its objects, and the discrete acts of professional architects designing individual buildings; and, second, architecture as understood anthropologically, as the act of arranging “the material-cultural world in which we are enmeshed,” as Dodd says so well, into a purposive whole (29). This second, anthropological conception of architecture, as an ontological condition of human communal existence in the material world, is the “architecture” of Dodd’s investigation.

Examining architecture’s significance, the way in which architecture means something to inhabitants in everyday, circumspective activity is an important and remarkably overlooked issue. Too much of architecture theory has acted as if architectural meaning only existed when architecture was looked at as a signifier or as an aesthetic object of disinterested contemplation. Dodd’s attempt to think architectural meaning in the foreground of human life, in the immediacy of the practically and socially absorbed activity of the occupant, that mode of experience in which the building is usually experienced and, somehow, understood, is a welcome addition. It seems phenomenology might have something left to contribute to this project, showing how the built environment needs to be thought through not as a cultural “objectification,” as recent sociological investigations of architecture have thought it, but as a material conception of Husserlian operative intentionality or transcendental subjectivity. (For an instance of such a sociology of architecture, see Silke Steets, Der sinnhafte aufbau der Gebauten Welt: Eine Architektursoziologie. Suhrkamp, 2015.)

It is surprisingly how little attention has been given to the connection between this broad conception of architecture and phenomenology, a tradition which so often thought in spatial, if not explicitly architectural terms – think of Heidegger’s illustration of the equipmental totality constituting worldhood in section 16 of Being and Time, or of the issue of “ego orientation” (152), both of which Dodd himself points to. Dodd’s work shows how phenomenology might offer a framework for studying the built world as a “cultural expression” in more complex terms than has been done so far. Phenomenology, Dodd shows, offers a way of thinking subjects’ interaction with artifacts’ meaningful structures in terms of operative intentionality.