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Welton - Husserls Phenomenology of the Lived Body

Welton - Husserls Phenomenology of the Lived Body

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Published by Philip Reynor Jr.

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Published by: Philip Reynor Jr. on Aug 31, 2011
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06/27/2014

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BLACKWELLREADINGSINCONTINENTALPHILOSOPHY
SeriesEditor:SimonCritchley,University
0/
Essex
EachvolumeinthissuperbnewseriesprovidesadetailedintroductiontoandoverviewofacentralphilosophicaltopicintheContinentaltradition.Incontrasttotheauthor-basedmodelthathashithertodominatedthereceptionoftheContinentalphilosophicaltraditionintheEnglish-speakingworld,thisseriespresentsthecentralissuesofthattradition,topicsthatshouldbeofinteresttoanyoneconcernedwithphilosophy.Cuttingacrossthestagnantideologicalboundariesthatmarktheanalytic/Continentaldivide,theserieswillinitiatediscussionsthatreflectthegrowingdissatisfactionwiththeorganizationoftheEnglish-speakingphilosophicalworld.Editedbyadistinguishedinternationalforumofphilosophers,eachvolumeprovides
a
criticaloverviewofadistincttopicinContinentalphilosophythrougha
mix
ofbothclassicandnewly-commissionedessaysfrombothphilosophicaltraditions.TheBody
EditedbyDonnWelton
ForthcomingRace
EditedbyRobertBernasconi
TheReligious
EditedbyJohnCaputo
TheBody
ClassicandContemporaryReadings
Editedandintroduced
by
DonnWelton
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2
SOFT,SMOOTHHANDS:HUSSERL'SPHENOMENOLOGYOFTHELIVED-BODY
DonnWelton
Onemust,asfaraspossible,makescienceocular.
M.A.Petit(1797)
EinblossaugenhaftesSubjektkiinntegarkeinmerscheinendenLeibhaben.
Husser!(1912-16)'
Weareoftenamused,sometimessaddened,bywhatposteritydoeswiththeworksofagreatphilosopher.Manytimestheappropriationsarefaithfultotheintentionsoftheoriginalthinker,oratleastwecanrecognizethearchitectonicoftheoriginalinthereconstructionsofthosewhofollow.Inothercasestheyarenothingshortofatotaldistortion.Butoftenwhatwefindareappro-priationsof
parts
ofaphilosopher'sthought,oftenthosepartsthatwerenotcentral
to
thethinker'sownvisionofphilosophy.Themarkofagreatphilosopher,werealize,isthatinforginganewpathheorshesetsthesurroundingworldablaze,andwecometoseemuchthat,whilemarginaltohisorherconcerns,neverthelessremainedindarknessuntilsparksflewfromhisorherpen.NodoubtHusser!workedontheideaofthebod/inseveraldifferenttexts.Thefirstplaceseems
to
behis1907lecturesentitled"DingundRaum."J
After
writing
ldeenI,
Husser!returnstothequestionin1912inhiseffortstoworkoutregionalontologies.Whatwenowhaveas
ldeenII,
atextwewillconcentrateoninthisstudy,containshismostfruitfulinsightsonthebody."FinallytherearewhatisknownastheDmanuscripts,scatteredtextsthatwerecomposedafter1920andaslateas1932.
5
GiventhecentralvisionofHusserl'sthought,however,allthesetextsare"margins"-marginsasonlyHusser!couldwritethem,runningtoseveralhundredpages.
SOFT.SMOOTHHANDS
39
Husser!isnot,itmustbesaid,aphilosopherofthebodybutaphilosopherofconsciousness.Moreover,thelong-rangegoalofhisworkisnottodescribethesensuoustextureofincarnateexistence,buttoestablishtheautonomyandefficacyofreason.Yetinhiseffort
to
groundreason,hediscoversitshorizonalcharacteranditsdependencyontypesofconstitutionthatexceed,andtherebyescape,itsclosure;hisrelentlesspursuitofthesetypesshedssomuchlightonwhatwouldhaveotherwiseremainedconcealed.ThuswhileHusser!isnotaphilosopherofthebody,hisphenomenologyofthebody,thathiddensourceofnotonlythepresencebutalsothemeaningthattheperceptualworldhasforconsciousness,envisionswhatnootherphilosophyhadpreviouslyseen.GiventhisfactandgiventhetremendousimportanceofthisconceptforphenomenologistslikeSartre,Merleau-Ponry,Gurwitch,andErwinStrauss,itcomesasnosmallsurprisetorealizethatHusserl'sconceptofthebodyhasreceivedlittledirectanalysisinEnglish.Whileeverywhereassumedandoftenappropriated,theextensivecriticalanalysisnecessary
to
assessitsvaluehasbeenlacking."Thisisallthemoresurprisingsincehismostimportanttextonthebody,
Ideen
II,
hasbeenavailableforconsultationintheHusser!ArchivesinLouvainforsome55yearsandwasusedandnotedextensivelyinMerleau-Penry'sgroundbreaking
Phenomenology
if
Perception,
publishedin1945
7
ItwasalsooneofthefirstofHusserl'stextspublishedinhiscollectedworks,appearingsome45yearsago.Thisessay,andtheonefollowingbyElmarHolenstein,canthusbethoughtofastwoattempts
to
remedythesituation.Atthesametime,Idonotthinkofthisessayasprimarilyanhistoricalstudy.Rather,Iamafterarathernastyphilosophicalissue,atleastforphenomenolog-ists:howdoesoneunderstandtherelationshipbetweenanaturalscientificdescriptionofthebodyandaphenomenologicalcharacterizationofthebody?Isthereapointatwhichthesedescriptions,orthesebodies,ifitturnsoutthatwehavetwo,intersect?Areweleftwithanirreconcilabledifferenceingram-mars,orevenaconfrontationofkindsofbeingsthatcallsuponustorejectoneandaffirmtheother?Thisstatementoftheissueisquiteprovisional,forpartoftheproblemistoshowhowtheissueisgenerated.IproposetodothisinthefirstpartofthisessaybytracingHusserl'sownefforttocharacterizethebodyfromwithinwhathecallsthe"naturalattitude,"byplacingthischaracterizationinrelationtoDescartes,andbyaskinghowthepresenceofthingsindicatesthepresenceofthebodyaslived-body.Thesecondpartwillraisethequestionofaccess:what"phenomena"giveusapointofentryintoadescriptionofthelived-bodyinitsownterms,andhowarewethentoenvisionsuchabody?Thethirdpart,returningtoourproblem,willaskifthereisasenseinwhichwecanseethelived-bodyasapartofnatureandifwecanplaceitinrelationtoan"objective"descriptionofthebody.Finally,Iwillconcludebybrieflyreturningtoourstartingpointinthenatureofthingsanddeepeningourfirstdescriptions.
 
40
DONNWELTON
1ThePresenceofThings
Thingsofnature,firstofall,arethingsofandforperception.Nature,intum,isa"sphereofmerethings
[blosseSachenj."s
Indescribingtheiressentialfeatures,Husser!reachesforthatveryideathatfirstgaverisetomodernscienceandsetsthephysicalthingincontrasttoanotherkindofobject,anobjectthatcanbethoughtofonlyasoutsidetherealmofnature:Descartesdesignatesextensionastheessentialattributeofmaterialthings-accordingly,itisalsosimplycalledcorporeal-overagainstpsychicorspiritualbeing,which,initsspiritualityassuch,hasnoextensionand,indeed,essentiallyexcludesit."Whenthoughtofasextendedintimeandspace,materialincomposition,andgovernedbyrigidlawsofcausality,thingsbowandfinallyassumeaposturethat
f
"0.
10
allowsustobecomethetrue"lordsandmasters
0
natureasescartesputIt.Theessencesofthingsbecomereducedtotheirmathematizablefeatures,theirmeasurablespatio-ternporalextension,theirgeometricconfigurations;thismeansthattheyarereducibletoquantity,for,asDescarteswasthefirsttoshow,geometrycanbereconstructedasalgebra.AtleastDescarteswasclearas
to
theimplicationsofthisapproach:thebody,asoneofthesethings,
."II.
k.hd"
,,12
isbroughtunderthe"rulesinmedicine.ItIStaen
in
anasacorpse.Butinwhatsensearesuchthingsactuallyseeninperception?Doesaphysicalcharacterizationdescribetheonlylegitimate,orthemostbasic,wayinwhichthingsarepresenttous?WhenIlookatabloomingroseorheartheplaintofanIndianfuneralsong,doIseeelectromagneticwaves650nanometersinlengthorlistentocompressionwavesbetween27and1,000cyclespersecond?DoInotratherseeabloomingroseandsometimesavelvetred,alivewithpassion?Do
I
notratherhearafuneralsong,andperhapsawailtremoringwithlostlove?Husser!isquiteclearthattheCartesiananalysisofnaturetakesthingsasthoughtheywerefreeofvaluesandvoidof"practicalpredicates.t'{''Thisanalysismustassumewhatdoesnotexist,namely,afree-standing,constitutingagentbeneaththepracticalagentengagedwithnature,"apure,'objectivating
1
f
kid
,,14
ego-subject'thatdoesnotcarryoutvaluejudgments
[Wertungen
0
anyn.Insteadofseeingitasthecorrelateofa"pure"mindoragent-assumedtobefreeofhumanvaluesonlysothatitsproducts,understoodasthey"really"are,mightassumethem-Husser!thinksofnaturephysicallycharacterizedasthecorrelateofaparticular
interest
broughttoitbythesubject.Theperceiveris"indifferent"towardstheobjectsthatappear;"it"hasnointerestintheirvalueorinpracticallychangingthem.Toputitpositively,"thissubjectvaluestheknowledgeofappearingbeing.,,15Thisisnotamatterofbaldconstruction
SOFT,SMOOTHHANDS
41
forwearestillspeakingofexperience,evenaformofvision.Butthisexperience,whichHusser!boldlycalls"theoreticalexperience,"!"introducesitsownvalue,thevalueofknowingsomething"asitis"and"howitis,"anditsownpraxis,theexperimentalprocedure.17Letmepausetosetupanideatowhichwewillreturninthethirdpart.Ifthephysicalbody,projectedbythecanonsofphysicalscience,wereamanifestgiventowhichwecouldcorrelateanindependentobjectivatingego,oranindependentlevelofconstitution,thenitspresencewouldbenotonlyconcretebutalsoabsolute,anditsrelationtootherentitiesdescribableonlyinitsownterms.Butifnot,ifthebodyasprobedbytheglovedhandofsciencearisesonlyincorrelationwithaspecificinterest,
then
wecanopenthequestionofhowitisrelatedtootherentitiesgiventhroughotherinterests.Butfornowletmereturntoaninventoryofthethingsofnature.Withthecorrelationbetweenphysicalthingandinterestestablished,we,intumingourattention
to
therangeofsuchthings,dofindanobjectthatispeculiar,anobjectthatisindeedathingandyetsomethingmore,anobjectthatintheverystyleofitsvisibilitysuggestsacertaininvisibility.Itisthissurplus,thisexcess,thatrequiresustointroduceasecondordertonature:Theobjectsofnatureinasecond,broadersenseare,whentakenintheir
full
concretion,animalrealities.Wemaycharacterizethemas
ensouled
bodies.
Here
wehavefoundedrealities,whichinthemselvespresupposematerialrealities,
the
so-calledmaterialbodies
as
theirfoundingstratum.Thesehave,andthisiswhatisnew,besidestheirspecificallymaterialdeterminations,yetnewsystemsofproper-ties,psychic[properties]....Inexperiencethenewpropertiesinquestionaregiven
as
belonging
tothebodyunderconsideration,anditispreciselybecauseofthemthatitiscalledlived-body
[Leib].18
Havingdiscoveredauniquesetofobjectsamongtheobjectsofnature,H
usser]
firstattemptstoclaritythemintermsofnature:Insofar
as
menandanimals
have
materialbodies,theyhavespatialityandmateri-ality.Butaccordingtowhatisspecificallyhumanandanimal,i.e.,accordingtowhatispsychic,[menandanimals]
are
notmaterial,and,accordingly,they,taken
as
concretewholes,
are
notmaterial
realitiesinthepropersense.
19
Thelivedbodythenisthatconcretewholewhichissimultaneouslymaterialandnotmaterial.Thischaracterizationofthelived-bodystrainstraditionalcategoriesandisquiteunsatisfactory,forheretheconceptisbutanamalgamofincompa-tibleelements.Husser!doesattempttoexplainhimselfMaterialthingsaredivisibleparalleltotheextensionbelongingtotheiressence.Menandanimalsarenotdivisible.Menandanimalsare
spatiallylocalized;
even

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