Philosophy & Husserl on intersubjectivity

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Philosophy & Husserl on intersubjectivity

According to Husserl, inter subjective experience plays a vital role in the constitution of the self as subjects that exist objectively, other experiencing object and the objective world governed by space and time. That’s why transcendental phenomenology tries to reconstruct the basic rational structures that enable constitutive achievements. From a first person perspective, intersubjectivity occurs when people undergo acts of empathy because an intersubjective experience is highly empathetic.

This is because it occurs in the course of person’s consciousness and conscious attribution of acts that are intentional and directed towards other subjects. This is happens when people put themselves in the shoes of others and studying this experience suing a phenomenological attitude calls for bracketing of beliefs in the existence of the very targets of a persons acts ascription through the experiencing subject and ask questions whether internal beliefs justify our underlying intersubjective experience (Carrs, 1999) .

Therefore it takes phenomenal investigation to expose these beliefs which are usually unconscious when the world is experienced in the natural attitude. One of the fundamental beliefs the Husserl uncovered is the expectation that any being that resembles and has similar mannerisms as myself always displays traits that are also familiar with mine which means that perception will be from an egocentric perspective.

This means a person would look at another and the things the other one does from their own perspective allowing them to go into other persons shoes and this beliefs lets one to ascribe intentional acts to others instantly without drawing an external inference or making an analogy to ones case. This means that the belief in question must be in tandem with the personal belief system because it forms part of the pre-given intentional background which is also referred to as the life word.

It is this life world that forms a basis where all acts ascriptions and all constuitive achievements tend to make sense initially before they get the ultimate justification. Husserl’s perception of the life world may be quite difficult but it is also very important. This perception can be approached in two different ways which are very compatible.

It can be thought in terms of belief and in terms of things like senses which are culturally or socially established. Restricting ourselves to just one experience as a subject can make the lifeworld look like a rational structure that underlies a natural attitude which means that if the subject’s lifeworld has beliefs against which they base their every day attitude towards themselves, it is the objective world that receives the utmost justification.

However, in principle, the beliefs that form a subject’s lifeworld are not immune to revision which means that Husserl is not an epistemological phenomenologist. What if people consider a single community of subjects within their common lifeworld or even the homeworld? This can be looked upon by first approximating the systems of senses and meanings which make up their common form of life as long as they conceive the world and themselves using parameters provided by this form of life.

Considering subjects that belong to different communities, their lifeworld can be looked upon as an overall framework of senses and meanings that give room for collective translations of their respective home worlds. One of the intuitive achievements based on this explanation of the lifeworld and the practice of act ascription is a person self image which becomes a fully fledged person who exists as an element that has physical and psychological spatio temporal order.

This self image is usually referred to as iterated empathy where one puts themselves into the shoes of another subject in a conscious manner that simulates them especially when the other person puts themselves into your shoes in return (Lauer, 1996). This way, one can make configurations wherereby for the other subject to manage to ascribe intentional acts upon you, he has to bodily identify with you as a full human being with flesh and blood and with the egocentric perspective having differences with their own

This creates a conclusion that ones egocentric perspective is just one of the many perspectives that are used in the theory of intersubjectivity and from all the other strange perspectives, one appears as a physical subject in the midst of others in that world dictated by space and time. This means that the criterion of subject vs. identity applies to oneself and others too meaning that there is one living human body with one experiencing subject.

However, Husserl does not want to deny that people ascribe to experiences especially the intentional experience like the animals. This is where the biggest problem and difficulty lies because there is a big bodily behavioral and bodily difference between human beings and animals. According to Husserl empathy also provides a background upon which practical, aesthetical and moral evaluations analysis of intercultural understanding can be given a critique which means that the foreign world can be constituted against a background of ones world or home world.

Husserl’s asserts that even the objective world that is governed by space and time, and which is a significant part of people’s daily lifeworld is also constituted intersubjectively the same is true for the spatio- temporal set up that is made up of objective time and space. This brings in a question of how an abstraction of the spatio temporal object which is different from the same notion because it does not make a presupposition of any other subject can manage to observe another object from its won perspective.

Husserl answers this question by arguing that for someone to put him or herself into the shoes of another subject and manage trio simulate their perspective upon the adjacent world dictated by time and space, one does not have to assume that that world is similar to their own though the conditions under which the subjects symbolizes the world should be different because they are based on an ego centric viewpoint. This means that all the spatio temporal objects that form ones worlds exist separately from ones subjective perspective and the specific experiences that one performs which must be part and parcel of an objective reality.

It also means that perceptual subjects are transcendent because in any particular moment, they portray a very large number of features that are could not be perceived or expected earlier and some manifest themselves after further observation. However, this does not mean that the objective world found in the intersubjective experience is completely separate from the aspects under which the world is represented. According to Husserl another condition that makes intersubjective experience possible is the assumption that the other subjects mould the world into objects just as oneself does.

This means that Husserl sticks to both Realist and idealist versions. Levinas critique For Husserl, the major philosophical question is the understanding of the link between contingent particular experience on one side and objective knowledge that is scientific on the other side meaning that one person’s intentional consciousness and the other person’s intentional consciousness are usually directed towards the same object (Cains, 1999). This means that the person that emerges fro Husserl analysis is just an alter ego meaning that the ego is me while the alter ego is the other.

This is a postulation that was rejected by Emanuel Levinas because the question of intentionality is basically ethical instead of being epistemological and he claims that intentionality is just a form of representation. Levinas critiqued Husserl’s assertion because according to him, the latter has defied the Cartesian account of consciousness as a holder of ideas. He claims that the intentional object is not the existing object because of the bracketing of the existence of the intentional object.

He claims that if experience is accounted for in terms of representation that is comprehended from this perspective, then the object of experience depends on consciousness and its from this point of view that it can be meaningful. Intentionality is therefore understood basically from an optical point of view where sight and light are involved. However according to Levinas, it is not what is seen that that speaks. For example, one can see a face but seeing it does not make if different from any other object.

The face of another person is however always viewed in relation to my own and that is where Levinas make a distinction between the autre and the autrui and the two words are borrowed from French. The two words mean other but in different context. This reduces the world of phenomenological consciousness which should be widened though analogies projected by the other however, the other breaks in on such a world creating disruptions. Levinas therefore disagrees with Husserl by claiming that the other is not placed on a horizontal axis as Husserl had claimed, it is actually placed on a vertical axis according to Levinas.

The other therefore addresses me and that address may not be verbal but that face will definitely speak to me about things which may not be there in the face that is on itself understood as an object of ones intentional consciousness List of references Cains, D, 1999, Formal and Transcendental Logic, The Hague: Nijhoff Carr, D ,1999, The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology. Evanston: Northwestern University Press Carl, D, 1980, Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy – Third Book: Phenomenology and the Foundations. Evanston:


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  • University/College: University of California

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