restricted access THREE: Logic and Alterity
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L o g i c a n d A l t e r i t y 4 9 49 THREE Logic and Alterity O ne of the permanent factors driving philosophy is the puzzle presented by our embodiment. Our consciousness is embodied. We are its embodiment; we are that curious amalgam that we try to describe in terms of mind and body. Philosophy has sought again and again to describe their relation. Yet each time it attempts this from one of these aspects, the other hides itself. From the perspective of mind, everything appears as a content of consciousness. Yet, from the perspective of the body, there are no conscious contents. There are only neural pathways and chemical processes. As Locke and Leibniz realized early on, we may search the brain as thoroughly as we wish; within its material structure, we will never find a conscious content.1 Both perspectives are obviously one-sided. We are both mind and body; we are determined by our conscious contents and our physical makeup. Husserl’s Logical Investigations takes account of this fact in speaking of the real and ideal determination of the subject.As embodied beings, we are subjected to real causal laws. Such laws, insofar as they relate to our mental contents, take these as determined by the contents temporally preceding them.2 As engaged in mind, we are also subject to the ideal laws of “authentic thought.” These are nontemporal, logical 5 0 H i d d e n n e s s a n d A l t e r i t y laws governing “the compatibility or incompatibility of mentally realizable contents.” In Logical Investigations, the problem of the mind’s relation to the body comes to a head in these two determinations . How can the same set of mental acts be subject to both causal and logical laws? How can a causally determined subject grasp an apodictically certain set of logical relations? As Theodor DeBoer puts this question, “on the one hand, these acts are empirically necessary and determined; on the other hand, an idea realizes itself in them through which they claim apodictic validity. How can both these views be combined?” (DeBoer 1966, 589). To answer this question, I shall pursue a somewhat unusual path. My response will conjoin the early and the latest stages of Husserl’s career. Thus, having raised the problem of the dual determination of consciousness in the context of the Logical Investigations, I shall look to his Origin of Geometry to find a solution. Between the two works, there is, of course, a turn in Husserl’s thinking — a turn marked by his introduction of the phenomenological reduction. The reduction opens up the question of the constitution of the ideal and real; we are tempted to see these categories not as determining factors of consciousness, but rather as determined by consciousness. We take them as structures that consciousness itself constitutes through its various acts. Consciousness, thus, appears as independent , rather than as determined, while the real and the ideal appear as correlates to its unconditioned acts of positing. Such a view, when pursued to the end, would take the whole question of the ideal and real determination of consciousness as an example of the naive, “natural” attitude — an attitude toward the world that the reduction suspends. This view, I think, ignores two points. The first is that Husserl’s career can be understood as a motivated path. By this I mean that it is guided or motivated by certain persisting problems — chief of which is that of understanding how objectively valid knowledge can be possible.3 Both the Logical Investigations’ positing of the ideal determination of consciousness and the Origin of Geometry’s account of the constitution of ideality are stages along L o g i c a n d A l t e r i t y 5 1 this path. The movement to a later stage is motivated when an earlier solution is seen as one-sided or partial.This occurs when the solution raises problems that it cannot answer in its own terms. The ensuing movement does not involve a rejection of the earlier solution; rather, it results in an increase in our understanding of what it involved.4 It is precisely such a transformed understanding of the real and the ideal that I want to relate by turning to the Origin of Geometry. My second point is that the phenomenological reduction, unless we give it an inappropriate...


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