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Subjectivity and Lifeworld in Transcendental Phenomenology

Sebastian Luft

Publication Year: 2012

The purpose of the text is threefold: 1] to contribute to the renaissance of Husserl interpretation around a) the continuing publication of Husserl's manuscripts and b) his unpublished manuscripts; 2] to account for the historical origins and influence of the phenomenological project by articulating Husserl's relationship to authors before and after him; 3] to argue for the viability of the phenomenological project as conceived by Husserl in his later years. In regard to the last purpose, Luft's main argument shows that Husserlian phenomenology is not exhausted in the Cartesian (early) perspective, which is indeed its weakest and most vulnerable perspective. Husserlian phenomenology is a robust and philosophically necessary perspective when taken from its hermeneutic (late) perspective. And the ultimate point Luft makes in the text is that Husserl's hermeneutic phenomenology is distinct from other hermeneutic philosophers, namely, Cassirer, Heidegger and Gadamer. Unlike them, Husserl's focus centers on the work the subject must do in order to uncover the prejudices that guide his/her unreflective relationship to the world. In making his argument, Luft also demonstrates that there is a deep consistency within Husserl's own writings-from early to late-around the guiding themes of: 1] the natural attitude; 2] the need and function of the epoché; and 3] the split between egos, where the transcendental self (distinct from the natural self) is seen as the fundamental ability we all have to inquire into the genesis of our tradition-laden attitudes toward the world.

Published by: Northwestern University Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-xii

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pp. 3-33

We are now in the seventh decade after the death of Edmund Husserl (1859–1938), the founder of phenomenology, and 150 years after his birth. Now is the time to look back and venture a certain assessment, and there are reasons why this time gap was necessary for a proper view and evaluation of his work. If Gadamer is right that to be a classic requires ...

Part 1: Husserl: The Outlines of the Transcendental-Phenomenological System

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pp. 35-182

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1. Husserl’s Phenomenological Discovery of the Natural Attitude

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pp. 37-51

Among the great themes of Husserl’s phenomenology—such as intentionality, the reduction, transcendental subjectivity, intersubjectivity, the lifeworld—one generally does not consider Husserl’s notion of the natural attitude.1 After all, was it not Husserl’s whole intention as a philosopher to overcome the...

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2. Husserl’s Theory of the Phenomenological Reduction: Between Lifeworld and Cartesianism

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pp. 52-82

Anybody attempting to give an account of Husserl’s method of the phenomenological reduction finds oneself in an ungratifying position. After all, this theme has been one of the main topics in more than sixty years of Husserl research.1 Furthermore, this topic has been so dominant in Husserl’s self- interpretation...

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3. Some Methodological Problems Arising in Husserl’s Late Reflections on the Phenomenological Reduction

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pp. 83-102

For some years now the phenomenological reduction has enjoyed a significant popularity both in phenomenological circles and within other philosophical orientations inspired by phenomenology. This is largely attributable, at least initially, to interest coming out of France, but which in the meantime has affected...

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4. Facticity and Historicity as Constituents of the Lifeworld in Husserl’s Late Philosophy

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pp. 103-125

There is no doubt that “world” is the fundamental theme of Husserl’s late phenomenology. Starting from his earlier analyses of thing- perception from around 1905 and his characterization of the “world of the natural attitude” in Ideas I of 1913, the concept of world is progressively expanded and finally thematized...

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5. Husserl’s Concept of the “Transcendental Person”: Another Look at the Husserl–Heidegger Relationship

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pp. 126-158

It is fair to call the Husserl–Heidegger relationship the classic topic of phenomenology. It was at the heart of the phenomenological debate even before the publication of Heidegger’s groundbreaking Being and Time (1927) and has received attention again in recent phenomenological scholarship.1 Many philosophers...

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6. Dialectics of the Absolute: The Systematics of the Phenomenological System in Husserl’s Last Period

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pp. 159-182

This chapter’s title indicates three central concepts: dialectics, the absolute, and system. It is especially the notion of system that indicates the goal of this chapter: namely, to bring together these three notions in a systematic coherence in order to elucidate the character of Husserl’s late philosophy. Such a task...

Part 2: Husserl, Kant, and Neo-Kantianism: From Subjectivity to Lifeworld as a World of Culture

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pp. 183-291

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7. From Being to Givenness and Back: Some Remarks on the Meaning of Transcendental Idealism in Kant and Husserl

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pp. 185-206

In a letter to Cassirer written in 1925, Husserl refl ects on his philosophical journey. Influenced in his early development by his teacher Brentano and his school, he was initially “adverse to Kant” and “unreceptive to the genuine sense of Kant’s philosophy.” After forging his method of the phenomenological...

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8. Reconstruction and Reduction: Natorp and Husserl on Method and the Question of Subjectivity

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pp. 207-234

Paul Natorp’s influence on the development of Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology, especially on the transcendental reduction and genetic method in Husserl, has been vastly underestimated. Husserl’s contemporary, Natorp (1854–1924) was an exact observer and critic of Husserl’s philosophical development...

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9. A Hermeneutic Phenomenology of Subjective and Objective Spirit: Husserl, Natorp, and Cassirer

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pp. 235-267

In the introduction to the third and last volume of his Philosophy of Symbolic Forms of 1929, entitled “Phenomenology of Knowledge,” Ernst Cassirer remarks that the meaning in which he employs the term “phenomenology” is Hegelian rather than according to “the modern usage of the term” (1954/ III, vi). What sense...

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10. Cassirer’s Philosophy of Symbolic Forms: Between Reason and Relativism: A Critical Appraisal

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pp. 268-291

This chapter pursues the double task of (a) presenting Cassirer’s Philosophy of Symbolic Forms as a systematic critique of culture and (b) assessing this systematic approach with regard to the question of reason versus relativism. First, it reconstructs the development of his theory to its mature presentation in his...

Part 3: Toward a Husserlian Hermeneutics

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pp. 293-307

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11. The Subjectivity of Effective History and the Suppressed Husserlian Elements in Gadamer’s Hermeneutics

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pp. 295-331

In this chapter, I am making essentially two claims: one is rather exegetical, the other systematic. The first, exegetical point is to show that there are genuine Husserlian elements in Gadamer’s philosophical hermeneutics that are usually overlooked or not treated as such—that is, as genuine Husserlian. This is to say...

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12. Husserl’s “Hermeneutical Phenomenology” as a Philosophy of Culture

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pp. 332-356

Scanning the multitude of texts from the vast amount of Husserl’s writings of the 1920s and ’30s—the period of his work of interest here—one cannot help but be struck by the multitude of themes with which Husserl was wrestling in these last years of his life: certainly the well- known theme of the method of the transcendental reduction...


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pp. 357-424


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pp. 425-442


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pp. 443-450

About the Author

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pp. 451-464

E-ISBN-13: 9780810165335
Print-ISBN-13: 9780810127432

Page Count: 464
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: New
Volume Title: 1