1. Intercorporeality and Intersubjectivity: A Phenomenological Exploration of Embodiment
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1  Intercorporeality and Intersubjectivity: A Phenomenological Exploration of Embodiment Dermot Moran 1  Phenomenology as an Eidetic Description of Ineinandersein and the Life of Spirit The phenomenological movement—especially as originally developed by Husserl and elaborated by Scheler, Heidegger, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty—has been responsible for the radical reconception of human existence that revolutionized philosophy in the twentieth century and is still being assimilated more generally in philosophy of mind and action, as well as in the cognitive sciences (see, e.g., Varela, Thompson, and Rosch 1999; Thompson 2010; Shapiro 2014). Edmund Husserl, in particular, focused intensively on a number of central themes, such as the intentionality of consciousness and the constitution of sense, the essential description of the a priori structures of consciousness (“the ABC of consciousness”), the essential structures of lived embodiment (Leiblichkeit), the nature of empathy (Einfühlung) and the experience of the foreign (Fremderfahrung), and finally the wider a priori structures of intersubjectivity (Intersubjektivität) and “sociality” (Sozialität). The mature Husserl aimed at nothing less than a holistic phenomenological description of the entire “life of consciousness” (Bewusstseinsleben) or “life of spirit” (Geistesleben), including human sociality, communalization, historicality, generativity, and life in culture and tradition. He wanted to describe human life in its rich intersubjective concreteness. Regrettably , phenomenologists who concentrate narrowly on the early Husserl of the Logical Investigations (1900–1901; Husserl 2001a) and Ideas I (Husserl 1977a)1 often overemphasize his focus on the individual life of intentional consciousness as reconstructed from within (and even on the structure of individual, atomistic lived experiences [Erlebnisse]) and tend to overlook Husserl’s original, radical, and fundamentally groundbreaking explorations of intersubjectivity , sociality, and the constitution of historical cultural life (which would later influence Heidegger and Schütz, among others). 1.  Hereafter the work will be cited as Ideas I, followed by the paragraph number (§), page number of the translation (2014b), and then the Husserliana volume number and page. 26 D. Moran In respect of this individualist misinterpretation, Husserl is often his own worst enemy, since he repeatedly and very publicly, for example, in his Cartesian Meditations (Husserl 1950, 1967; hereafter CM), compared his phenomenological breakthrough to subjectivity with Descartes ’s discovery of the ego cogito and modeled his phenomenological epoché, albeit with important changes of emphasis, on Descartes’s radical doubt. As a result, Husserl’s phenomenology has too often been designated a methodological solipsism that proceeds through individualistic introspection of conscious experiences, and Husserl’s wider explorations of social and cultural life have been passed over (and many of his original discoveries have been attributed to others, e.g., Heidegger and Gadamer). It is worth reminding ourselves, therefore, of the originality of Husserl’s meditations on the nature of the self, its embodiment , and its intercorporeal, intersubjective communal relations with others. In this chapter,2 then, I want to focus on Husserl’s mature reflections (i.e., as specifically found in his writings of the 1920s and 1930s) on the intentional constitution of culture, particularly as he understood it to relate to lived embodiment and, especially, the specific relations that hold between lived bodies, their Ineinandersein, Füreinandersein, or what Husserl calls in Cartesian Meditations “a mutual being-for-one-another” (ein Wechselseitig-füreinander -sein; CM, 129; Hua I, 157). As he puts it elsewhere, in the Crisis of European Sciences (Husserl 1970, 1962), Husserl approaches human subjects not only as having “subject being for the world” (Subjektsein für die Welt) but also as possessing “object being in the world” (Objektsein in der Welt; Crisis, 178; Hua VI, 182). How humans can be both in the world and for the world is, for him, the riddle of transcendental subjectivity. Human beings not only have a sense of the individual identity and continuity of the flow of consciousness but also have a sense of being involved with one another. Human beings unite in many forms of social and collective intentionality. But Husserl also writes of humans as possessing a “world-consciousness” (Weltbewusstsein). This world-consciousness is a very real and complex phenomenon. It allows human subjects not only to experience things from their individual points of view but also to participate in evolving historical cultural life. Yet few phenomenologists have explored Husserl’s conception of Weltbewusstsein, although it is, for him, a central component to human “being-in-the-world.” Human beings are, in the parlance of contemporary cognitive science, embodied, enactive, embedded, and “enworlded.”3 Human subjectivity, moreover, is always a cosubjectivity (Mitsubjektivität) with...


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