Cont Philos Rev (2011) 44:1–21 DOI 10.


Challenging the transcendental position: the holism of experience
Claude Romano

Published online: 15 March 2011 Ó Presses Universitaires de France 2011

Abstract Taking the problem of perception and illusion as a leading clue, this article presents a new phenomenological approach to perception and the world: ‘‘holism of experience.’’ It challenges not only Husserl’s transcendentalism, but also what remains of it in Heidegger’s early thought, on the grounds that it is committed to the skeptical inference: ‘‘Since we can always doubt any perception, we can always doubt perception as a whole.’’ The rejection of such an implicit inference leads to a relational paradigm of Being-in-the-World that differs from Heidegger’s on many points. Keywords Holism Á Heidegger Á Husserl Á Skepticism Á Evenemential hermeneutics

Phenomenology has had no other task than the elucidation of the problem of the world, or rather what Husserl called its ‘‘enigma’’ (Ra ¨tsel), that is, its paradoxical mode of givenness, its remarkable transcendence with respect to consciousness, qua all-enveloping, all-inclusive horizon—the ‘‘horizon of all horizons.’’ This ambiguous mode of givenness, oblique and elusive, was first approached on the basis of a fixed philosophical framework—that of transcendental thought. To the question of the phenomenological status of the world, of how this phenomenon (if it can be called a ‘‘phenomenon’’) is given, Husserl answers by tracing this mode of givenness back to the constitutive operations of a pure ego. However, varied the answers subsequently surfacing within the phenomenological movement have been,
Translated by Michael B. Smith, Berry College ( C. Romano (&) ´ Universite Paris Sorbonne (Paris IV), Paris, France e-mail:



C. Romano

they all have a ‘‘family resemblance.’’ In Heidegger, for example, though the whole idea of constitution has been abandoned, the Dasein nevertheless remains, by its finite ontological project, ‘‘world-forming’’ (Weltbildend), and thus the world remains a characteristic of its transcendence, a moment of its unitary ontological structure, Being-in-the-World. In the following reflections I would like to attempt to outline, not so much a new answer to the problem of the phenomenological status of the world or a new solution to its ‘‘enigma,’’ as a new framework in which to be able to formulate this problem itself. I call this framework ‘‘holism of experience.’’ ‘‘Holism’’ comes from the Greek to holon, the whole. As a first approach, let us consider that a holistic conception rests on the adage according to which ‘‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.’’ A holism of experience thus applies this same adage to experience as such—and to the world in that it forms the ‘‘milieu’’ of all experience. An experience is only an experience if it fits into the entirety of experience, which is not the simple sum of its parts.

1 The transcendental position and the problem of skepticism In a sense, the approach I propose is not new. It was anticipated many times by authors as varied as Dilthey, James, Bergson, Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty, to name a few. Thus, for example in Der Aufbau der geschichtlichen Welt in den Geisteswissenschaften, Dilthey tries to shed light on the phenomenon of the unity of life (Lebenseinheit), which he also refers to as ‘‘connectedness of life,’’ Lebenszusammenhang. This sort of unity, such as a biography, for example, tries to recapture, resides in a meaningful connection between the parts and the whole of that life itself: ‘‘Life and what is re-experienced manifest a special relationship of parts to a whole, which is that of the meaning of parts for the whole.’’1 ‘‘The category of meaning designates the relationship of parts of life to the whole as rooted in the nature of life.’’2 In other words, life is a meaningful totality to the extent that each of its parts contains meaning only in virtue of its being a part of the totality of life. It is the totality of life that primordially possesses the characteristic of being endowed with meaning—which the parts of that life possess only by derivation. The phenomenon of life can, therefore, only be apprehended in the perspective of a holistic conception in which the whole is not reducible to the sum of its parts. In phenomenology stricto sensu, it is probably Heidegger who, in the wake of Dilthey, most clearly validated such an approach. As early as in 1919 he rejected an ‘‘atomizing analysis (atomisierende Analyse)’’3 as an approach to the phenomenon of life, and recommends a ‘‘structural analysis (Strukturanalyse)’’4 that does justice to the holistic constitution of the experience of life as such. This idea links Heidegger’s first conceptuality, elaborated in the framework of a ‘‘hermeneutics of factical life,’’ to that of fundamental ontology. The ontological structures of Dasein
1 2 3 4

Dilthey (2002, p. 249); id. (1992, p. 229). Dilthey (2002, p. 253); id. (1992, pp. 233–234). Heidegger (1999, p. 61) [Below Heidegger’s Gesamtausgabe is abbreviated GA #, p. #]. Ibid., p. 5.


certain beliefs can only have meaning if other beliefs also have meaning. Hence we can characterize a holistic system as being a system whose parts do not possess at least some of their properties unless other parts of the system possess the same or other properties. the Sein zum Tode. Although it is possible to find in phenomenology (and outside of it) cases that anticipate a holistic-oriented approach to our experience (or to what might better be termed our primary and primordial openness onto the world).) that do not consist of a sum of elements. Its originality cannot be said to have been singled out in the least. even by the authors who have adopted and thematized it. for example). The bringing out the individual structural moments is a purely thematic accentuation and as such always only an actual apprehension of the whole structure in itself. it remains nonetheless the case that this approach has hardly been conceptualized in a rigorous manner as such.Challenging the transcendental position 3 are in each case total. since a belief is compatible or incompatible with other beliefs. 157). Heidegger (1992. mental holism (Descombes). p. ‘‘The determination of Dasein as being-in-the-world is a unified and original one…. can be derived from certain other ones. then.’’6 All the originality of the phenomenology of Sein und Zeit resides in the light it sheds on structural totalities (the In-der-Welt-sein. and in reality without having a system of beliefs. certain parts of the system only possess at least some of their properties if other parts possess the same or other properties (complementary properties. the implications and critical significance of that approach with respect to the transcendental dispensation that has prevailed in phenomenology even after Husserl have scarcely been noted. p.’’5 The different ‘‘moments’’ of that structure that can be distinguished through analysis only have meaning against the background of the indecomposable unity of that structure taken as a whole. with which it bears logical relations. GA 20. that constitutes the force and critical potential of a holism of experience? First of all. there is no such thing as an isolated belief. conceptual holism (Sellars). A holism of beliefs stipulates that it is impossible to have a belief without ipso facto having many others. and are not reducible to a string of ‘‘lived experiences’’ having the mode of existence of subsistence (Vorhandenheit). #]. Let us pause to consider the example of beliefs. (1986. These properties can be qualified as ‘‘holistic’’ to the extent that a belief only possesses them within a whole. etc. and most importantly. and itself plays an inferential role in the acquisition of new beliefs. but certain beliefs cannot be true unless others (their negations) are false. 211. What is it. be verifiable. impossible to break down into elements: ‘‘Being-in-the-World is a structure which is primordially and constantly whole. how can a holism be characterized more specifically? Many versions of holism have flourished in contemporary philosophy: epistemological holism (Duhem-Quine). and consequently whose parts only possess 5 Heidegger (1962. In a holistic system. In other words. and intervene in reasoning) unless there are other beliefs possessing the same properties. p. 225) [Below Heidegger’s Being and Time is abbreviated BT. 180) [Below Heidegger’s Sein und Zeit is abbreviated SZ.. 6 123 . semantic holism (Wittgenstein). a holism of beliefs and interpretation (Davidson). Thus. [This basic constitution] is still always wholly there as itself…. the Mit-sein. #]. A belief cannot possess the properties it does (have meaning. id. p. p. p.

to get a sense of the type of problem—or challenge even—to which a holism of experience has as its vocation to respond.4 C. and oneiric experiences. as Husserl would say). Romano these properties within the whole of which they are parts. emotive.’’ does indeed open onto the world itself. what is true of perceptive experience also applies to what that experience is the experience of: the world. remembered. as simple experiences of consciousness. be formulated a parte objecti: the characteristic for a thing’s being perceived is itself dependent on the cohesion of that thing with its surroundings. and that they put us in 123 . Coherence applies to beliefs or propositions. In fact. an experience in the originary sense. unless it presents a structural cohesion with other experiences that are themselves perceptions. Among these experiences. which possesses primarily the aforementioned property of cohesion. some open onto the world itself: These are classically called ‘‘perceptions. Thus. We now understand what a holistic conception of belief means. then. or in affective dispositions.’’ A holism of experience maintains that the property of being a perception is a necessarily holistic one. unless it is integrated with the whole of perception. be perceived. if it presents a structural cohesion with the system of perceptive experience in toto. and in order to be able to become one. The latter consists in a set of structural invariants (spatiotemporal ones. the skeptic asks. Indeed. but that cohesion is first a characteristic of the whole.’’ do indeed relate to objects outside us. A perception possesses a cohesion with other perceptions if. and in virtue of the relations they bear to the other parts of the system. through their succession. a certain number of structural invariants are preserved—those. imaginary. our ‘‘perception. in turn. This problem is that of knowing what permits us to assert that our primary experience of things. We begin.e. ‘‘representations’’ or ‘‘ideas. This property of cohesion is not coherence in the logical sense.. An experience is a perceptive experience if and only if it blends in seamlessly with the whole of the perceptive experience—that is. These still preliminary formulations only bear on the experience in its first and originary sense: ‘‘perception. of the world itself. to the point of orienting and conditioning phenomenology’s entire approach to the problem (or the enigma) of the world. for example. that is. I leave this problem aside. The same holistic principle can.’’ In no case are they to be construed as excluding the possibility that other holistic aspects can be found in other modalities of experience—in memory. for example. including not only experiences in the strong and ‘‘original’’ sense—those in which the thing itself is given in praesentia (leibhaft. Only a whole endowed with structural cohesion (a world) can be perceived. What assurance do we have that our perceptions. we can reformulate the holistic principle that is at work in perception by saying that an experience cannot possess the property of being a perception. cohesion applies to phenomena. which are only ‘‘experiences’’ in a modified sense (and sometimes in the ‘‘as if’’ modality). and it is only to the extent that it is blends seamlessly into a world that a thing can. which make possible the manifestation of the identity of an object through space and time and in changing perspectives. but also affective. This difficulty was posed to phenomenology historically in the wake of skepticism. before being a characteristic of one of its given parts. i. in any case. But what does a holism of experience mean? Let us take the concept of experience in its broadest sense. for example) that underlie all variation of phenomena. that is.

But. which includes within it all the real transcendences) with the domain of real existences ad extra. at the time of his transcendental turn. as the horizon of its constitutive operations. Until we have understood the role played by that inference in the economy of transcendental phenomenology. this consciousness from now on includes the world as a noematic correlative. through the transcendental turn. 7 Boehm (1959. Thus. Before confronting this difficulty head on. to immanence in the intentional sense. the evidence of which remains forever ‘‘presumptive. affecting a punctual perception—which reveals itself by that very fact not to be a perception— is always thinkable.’’ that is. despite the ‘‘breakthrough’’ of intentionality beyond a philosophy of representation. Husserl continues to contrast the domain of absolute givenness (that is. As R. was undeniably affirmative. subject to skeptical doubt. skepticism with respect to the ‘‘outside’’ world rests on the following inference. Cartesian doubt is at once rejected (because it ends up in a mundane ego) and confirmed in its rights by transcendental phenomenology. the pre-transcendental distinction of Cartesian origin between givens really immanent in consciousness (hyletic and noetic data) and really transcendent givens (external objects) is at once transcended and paradoxically conserved under the transcendental dispensation. But just because a punctual illusion. 123 . the absolutely given. This is attested not only by the hypothesis of the annihilation of the world as presented in section 49 of the Ideen I. p. More precisely. It goes without saying that every perception may turn out to be illusory after the fact. which he thinks of in the first phase of his thought as real immanence. must we conclude that a generalized illusion is also thinkable? Husserl’s response to this question. that entire conceptuality rests on the separation between a realm of absolute certainty—the ego and its cogitationes—and another one that is subject to doubt—the realm of transcendent objects. Boehm notes. Since we can always doubt any particular perception. Husserl continues to maintain that the external world can collapse into illusion at any moment. but also the basis of the entire transcendental problematics of Husserl. 486). like Descartes’ before him. let us note that the inference underlying skepticism’s doubt about the existence of the world is not only an ingredient of Descartes’ hyperbolic doubt. but also by the transcendental mode of conceptualization as a whole. we can always doubt perception as a whole. Since a local doubt—and a local illusion—are always possible. Must we accept this inference? It is precisely this question that it is the role of holism to answer. before enlarging that immanence. phenomenology attributes ‘‘a new meaning to these terms [immanence and transcendence]’’ while at the same time ‘‘a parallel use of these same terms in the traditional sense (of ‘‘real’’ immanence and transcendence) will prove indispensable and be retained.Challenging the transcendental position 5 contact with the world itself? Reduced to its hard nucleus. Indeed. a general doubt—and a general illusion—are also possible. and that transcendental consciousness alone is exempt from doubt. we will have no way of making a positive or negative evaluation of phenomenology’s ultimate characterization of the world. the things of nature.’’7 And since these concepts are enrooted in the ‘‘doubt’’ approach.

Husserliana [abbreviated below as Hua] 1. whereas knowledge of the world remains always subject to doubt. the ‘‘cogito’’ as self-evident. [‘‘Streichen wir das reine Bewusstsein. Hua 1. 246–247. thanks to intentionality. so streichen wir die Welt.’’8 The twofold primacy (epistemological and ontic) of the ego with respect to the world leads to making subjectivity the locus of primary truths that are absolutely exempt from doubt. The ego. 21). 3). regardless of whatever change of orientation he may impart to them.. p.’’]. He does not raise the least question about the validity of a generalized doubt. id. given to itself in absolute self-evidence. See also Husserl (1973.6 C.. 10 11 123 . This epistemological disparity between ego and world is extended into an ontic disparity: consciousness constitutes a self-sufficient (selbststa ¨ndig). SZ.’’9 there remain troubling structural analogies that raise the delicate question of the degree to which these undertakings have truly gone beyond what has hitherto served as our frame of reference. adherence to the skeptical inference ends up in an epistemology of absolute foundations in virtue of which transcendental phenomenology can offer a foundation for all the sciences. id. lending themselves to a transcendental philosophy. p. BT. p. and the only one knowable apodictically. 202. 3. because he continues to consider the ‘‘doubt’’ approach itself. its being is a dependent one.’’ he was fond ¨ of saying in his Gottingen seminars. even though ‘‘the ambiguities of the concepts of immanence and transcendence’’ (to borrow Boehm’s expression once again). p. ‘‘then we exclude the world. for example. be they a priori or empirical. remains tributary to the Cartesian approach. 1). and its end product. In other words. 2. slightly modified—Tr. Even in the undertakings that resolutely break with phenomenology understood as ‘‘twentieth-century Cartesianism. to clear the path toward a non-Cartesian conception of the pure ego in its relationship to the world. whereas the world exists only relatively to consciousness. are abandoned in favor of a conception of In-der-Welt-Sein that strips Dasein of all interiority and divests the being to which it relates of all exteriority—even though Heidegger asserts with the utmost clarity that ‘‘the question of whether there is a world at all… makes no sense…’’10 so that ‘‘the skeptic… does not need to be refuted’’11. Husserl (1998. p. 229. p. ` The epistemological primacy of the ego vis-a-vis the world. and taking precedence over truths merely derived from the other sciences. Romano Husserl. p. in sum. BT. is the first entity knowable in principle [en droit]. SZ. ‘‘If we exclude pure consciousness. There is good reason to recall the radical dependency of Husserl’s transcendental position on the skeptical idea of a generalized doubt. p. In Sein und Zeit. namely that ‘‘the true resolution of the problem of the reality of the external world lies in the understanding of the fact that this is in 8 9 Ingarden (1975. absolutely self-enclosed sphere. 3. despite the fact that he attempts. 271 [trans. even though he seems to reject the entire problematics underlying Husserl’s neo-Cartesian perspective by reasserting what he had been saying since 1919. pp. 43.]. Three affirmations flow directly or indirectly from that idea: 1.

’’13 Heidegger writes. the initial Cartesian shackles. that makes all within-the-world discovery of entities possible.’’19 The world that belongs to the ontological constitution of Dasein as beingin-the-world is not. the emphasis has shifted from a primary and exemplary entity to the being of that entity. the ‘‘world’’ (in a derivative sense) in which Dasein exists 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 GA 56/57. but rather the tracing of the being of these entities back to the understanding of being that belongs to the exemplary existent.’’ Dasein. He says. 216). p. p. I am then first of all asserting something that belongs to its essence (Wesen) and I thereby disregard whether the being of such a nature factually (faktisch) exists or not. BT. so that Dasein. rather. 169). p. the Erschlossenheit. 92. Dasein. in the sense of ‘‘the well-understood concept of the ‘subject. GA 26. BT. 255–256. ‘‘There is world only and as long as Dasein exists. p. which no longer betokens the tracing of entities as a whole back to a privileged entity.14 which by the same token makes that being into ‘‘‘that which is transcendental’ for every entity. but ‘‘ontico-ontological’’ for the formulation of the question of being. This generates an idealism of a new kind. exists or not in fact. and consequently of all the corresponding sciences: ‘‘the ontico-ontological condition for the possibility of any ontologies. or. BT. then.Challenging the transcendental position 7 any case not a problem. 217. but this shift has only loosened. the comprehension of being in it—remains the condition of the (quasi-transcendental) possibility of appearing of the world and of entities as a whole. it exists.’’’17 Dasein as Being-in-the-World: ‘‘The world is something Daseinish…. GA 24. SZ. p. Heidegger (1988. p. p. as in Husserl. p. It is there. pp. Heidegger (1988. p. and this is the case—paradoxical as it may seem—regardless of whether that entity. p. is the condition of possibility of all the regional ontologies. Heidegger asserts that skepticism’s problem is an absurdity. but rather an absurdity (Widersinnigkeit).’’16 It is true that. holds the originary opening. not broken. insofar as it possesses a comprehension of being. that the world is ‘‘subjective’’ through and through. First of all. On the contrary. According to a new version of Descartes’ ‘‘tree of philosophy. 34. 166). 170). GA 24. SZ 13. 308. with fundamental ontology.’’18 The world in the ontological sense is thus nothing but a moment of the ontological constitution of that entity. Heidegger (1984.’’15 What comes of all this is a primacy of Dasein that is no longer simply ontic. 212. 123 . GA 24. for example. he continues to maintain certain themes that might lead us to believe that the skeptic’s problem is well posed. 241. Heidegger (1988 p. but he does not say for what reason. p. as is the being-there [Da-sein] that we ourselves are. p.’’ and makes of this ontological transcendentalism the ‘‘only correct possibility for a philosophical problematic. ‘‘If I say of Dasein that its basic constitution is being-in-theworld. SZ. in other words. 251. which only de-centers it in appearance. and whether there does or does not exist a ‘‘world’’ (in a derived sense) in which this entity exists in fact. 237. by its comprehension of being. 208. Dasein.’’12 it is quite easy to detect troubling similarities that remain between his conceptuality and that of Husserl.

that is. It is not insignificant that the reduction. qua ontological determination. no more than its existence (Existenz). the broad outlines of which we have begun to bring into view. because he was unable to give ¯. What is it that makes the problem of skepticism an ill-posed one? Let us return to the case of perception. he conceives of Being-in-the-World in a way that remains symptomatically ambiguous. by fiat. What is it that makes the inference ‘‘since one can always doubt any particular perception. But in philosophy the forceful fiat never has as much force as the patient resolution of a problem in the form of sound argumentation. as will be stated in the Grundbegriffe der Metaphysik. even if we were victims of an illusion. a ten-storey building standing before us in the flesh can very well be perceived—we may even say that its perception is its being given in the flesh (leibhaft)—and it should be added that this would still be the case. that transcendental procedure par excellence. But he is wrong not to take seriously the reasons that must lead us not to take this problem seriously.’’ But then the world has become twofold. to impose a new paradigm. despite his advances and revolutionary intuitions. The ‘‘subjective’’ world of the ontologically well-conceived subject remains a ‘‘configuration’’ (Bildung) of the latter. a positive formulation of what makes the skeptical problem a false one. albeit a discreet and largely implicit one. remains largely a prisoner of Husserl’s (and thereby. for he attempts to free himself from transcendental theses without leaving the problematic framework in which these theses are set. no more than the facticity of that entity (Faktizita is ¨t) reducible to its factuality (Tatsa ¨chlichkeit). This eidetic difference is no less valid for perception than for the other intentional modalities. Instead he says nothing about them. and thus remains bogged down in a post. it is the always open possibility that the world may dissolve into an illusion that obliges us to maintain an unbridgeable eidetic difference between the being of the cogitatio and that of its cogitatum—between the experiences given in indubitable immanence and the objects in the world which may or may not correspond to them. in the economy of fundamental ontology. one can always doubt perception as a whole’’ illegitimate? On Husserl’s view. and the one in relation to which the skeptical problem is meaningless is no longer the one focused on by the skeptic through the expression of his doubt. 2 What does the holism of experience mean? Heidegger is certainly right not to take the skeptic’s problem seriously. partially at least. Anxiety remains analogous to an epoche Heidegger. Let us then attempt to confront directly the problem Heidegger leaves partly unresolved. From all appearances it would seem that Heidegger was content here. signifies its reality (Wirklichkeit) in such a ‘‘world. Romano or does not exist de facto.8 C. Thus. is able to continue to play a role. of Descartes’ and Kant’s) transcendental perspective.or crypto-transcendental conceptuality rather than trying to understand the openness to the world that is inherent in all true experience—and essentially so. ‘‘The foregoing 123 . even in the absence of a ten-storey building in the world. declares Husserl. the In-der-Welt-sein. without dwelling on the reasons that make it necessary. in resolving the difficulty.

Husserl (1997. illusory perceptions would be unthinkable. Hua 3. but certain cases can raise formidable difficulties. and Glaubhaftigkeit.e. talk of a perception whose object did not exist would indeed be countersensical.’’ or with ‘‘hallucinating’’ an object (such that ‘‘to perceive that p’’ implies ‘‘p. Husserl (1982. constitutes a descriptive characteristic of all perception. There must be an element common to perception and illusion on the basis of which they are differentiated. given the abyss of meaning separating the absolute being of the cogitatio from the ‘‘dubitable’’ being of the real thing ad extra. in which ‘‘perceiving’’ is contrasted with ‘‘being the victim of an illusion. p. which. if we are to believe the founder of phenomenology. p. Deferring to ordinary usage. whether the thing thus given (in the flesh) exists or not? How can a perception open up for us the thing itself in the flesh without that thing’s existing in any way? Husserl maintains that it must be possible to distinguish between the object given in the flesh qua intentional correlate of the act of perception and the real object. the persistence of that which stands there in it in the mode of presence in the flesh.1. we must affirm that a perception may have no object (in the sense of a res existing in the world) without ceasing thereby to be a perception.Challenging the transcendental position 9 characterization’’ [Leibhaftigkeit]. Hua 16.’’21 Not every departure from ordinary usage constitutes in and of itself a philosophical ‘‘error. 123 . 13). ‘‘not p). 12). the belief bestowed on an object when it exists and which must be withdrawn from it in the case of an illusion: The former is ‘‘fundamental and essential to perception as such. 15. on the contrary. 16. p.22 20 21 22 Husserl (1997.’’20 But in Husserl’s view. because the skeptical argument is valid. which applies to all perception regardless of whether or not it is marred by illusion.’’ while ‘‘to hallucinate that p’’ implies. these criteria are two in number.’’ let alone ‘‘nonsense’’. Hence the search for additional criteria that would make it possible to distinguish between true corporeal givenness and an illusory corporeal givenness. p. In that case. which may or may not correspond to it. ‘‘is not to be understood in the sense that there would pertain to the essence of every perception as such the existence of the perceived Object. p. Hua 16. it must be possible to talk about the perception of something. namely givenness ‘‘in the flesh. in authorizing the use of ‘‘illusory perception’’). In other words.’’ while the latter ‘‘can either supervene or be lacking.’’ without that thing existing in any way. p. 320. Perception is a positional consciousness whereas the consciousness of an illusion replaces the ‘‘thesis’’ of consciousness with a ‘‘counter-positing’’ (Gegenthese). he specifies. among other things. in view of the fact that the latter is in principle subject to a generalized doubt.’’ Leibhaftigkeit. i. Is it really possible to isolate within perception a ‘‘nucleus’’ common to ‘‘true’’ and to ‘‘illusory’’ perception (since Husserl’s innovation consists.. about its mode of givenness ‘‘in the flesh. Husserl maintains a fundamental and irreducible difference between Leibhaftigkeit. 1. 332). For Husserl.

or to the experience and the pseudo-experience. Moreover. Despite his break with psychologism. a status that is entirely different for the objects that emerge through them: They are really immanent givens. It can be nothing other than a mental intermediary. and the illusion to a perception that conflicts with itself. 57. a ‘‘phenomenon’’ that is neutral with respect to that distinction and that is present in consciousness regardless of whether the object that appears exists or not. really transcendent property of that object. while the discordance.10 C. 123 . and blue as an objective. perception may be said to be reducible to an illusion that constantly confirms itself. Romano 2. whereas their objects are transcendent. but green. this ‘‘phenomenon’’ must be logically distinct from the object that appears. and that element is supplied by the Abschattungen. Obviously these two criteria are of a piece: A doxic modality of belief is attached to a concordant flux of silhouettes. Husserl constantly slips back into its well-worn passageways. constantly confirming and corroborating one another in the unity of an experience—illusion a flux of discordant silhouettes.’’23 Let us call this conception ‘‘conjunctive’’: It claims that one and the same experience could just as well be a perception as an illusion. and reality. a ‘‘coherent dream. Perception and illusion differ as to the mode of linkage of the adumbrations or silhouettes (Abschattungen) through which the object appears: Perception is a flux of concordant silhouettes. As a result of this common element. Let us suppose that it is legitimate to distinguish between blue as a pure immanent content of my present perception of the vase. Identical immanent givens or Abschattungen can at one moment underlie authentic perceptions. further. Hua 1. p. whereas the first alone is indubitable. Indeed. depending on how it is coordinated with other experiences. 17). By coming closer or by changing the lighting I may discover that the vase is not blue. while in the second they ‘‘explode’’ in conflict. let us suppose. And indeed in Husserl the Abschattungen do retain. In the first case they confirm and corroborate one another. which are truly immanent to consciousness. even after the transcendental turn. but they inhabit consciousness regardless of whether the perceived object exists or not. to adopt Husserl’s Leibnizian formulation. A conjunctive conception of perception rests on a non-eliminable remnant of psychologism or mentalism. The conflict between incompatible appearances brings about the crossing-out of my 23 Husserl (1973. depending on how they are linked or coordinated with one another. that the second can always turn out to be illusory. once there is an element (the Abschattung) common to both the apparition ‘‘in person’’ and the merely seeming appearance. the outburst of a conflict between concurrent appearances brings about a doxic neutralization at the conclusion of which the object is no longer given as anything but a ‘‘mere appearance. the conjunctive conception of perception he defends does not even succeed in truly accounting for the difference that exists between a perception and an illusion. exposing the emptiness of their object through the outburst of a conflict. Illusion is a contradicted or crossed-out reality.’’ There is therefore an element common to both the actual apparition and the mere appearance. p. and at another support mere appearances.

which. and that consequently an illusion and a perception can be indiscernible on all points while they are being experienced. The victim of a hallucination rarely ‘‘believes’’ in the existence of the object of the hallucination in the same way he or she believes in the existence of the perceived object. can be nothing but an interface between the world and us? In opposition to a conjunctive conception. but never both at once. strictly speaking.Challenging the transcendental position 11 earlier perception. And it is pointless to respond by arguing that my reasons for accepting the existence of the vase gradually take on more ‘‘weight’’ the longer the perception lasts: The tenth time I circle that object. 123 . In an experiment by Zucker24 that speaks eloquently to this issue. differing only by the way it is coordinated with other lived experiences. There is nothing in common between the true apparition in person and the mere appearance. if I do not know already at the present moment with certainty that what I have before me is a blue-colored vase. it can never rightfully be considered a perception. an in-depth description of which has been given to us by Erwin Straus and Merleau-Ponty. in the case of the latter. For if a perception can only legitimately be considered a perception for as long as it proceeds in a concordant manner. In truth the stumbling block for the conjunctive conception is an insufficient phenomenology of the illusion contrasted with perception. on the occasion of a presently lived experience. A male nurse is asked to stand at the same place. But in thus placing the difference between perception and illusion in the way the silhouettes are interlinked. in conceiving of illusion as a crossed-out and obliterated perception and of perception as a confirmed illusion. p. his height. 334). 24 Qtd. it is hard to see how I could end up discovering this. by Merleau-Ponty (1962. which propounds that the same lived experience can be both perception and illusion. here. his clothing. to postulate an element common to illusion and perception. Thus. and. the thesis of which is precisely that it is impossible. If we describe perception and the illusion in a phenomenologically adequate manner. we must propose a disjunctive conception. would somehow slip in between our openness onto things and those things themselves. being neutral with respect to this distinction. to determine whether it is a perception or an illusion. which affirms that an experience is either perception or illusion. Let us examine the typical case of hallucinations. its existence will be no more certain than the first time. He describes his general bearing. but only illusions of perception. In placing the perception/illusion distinction at the end of a confirmation process that is in principle infinite—endless—Husserl has merely endorsed the skeptic’s doubt. But doesn’t the error lie in the supposition of an element common to true apparition and mere appearance—those Abschattungen that. since the concordance of its silhouettes is always provisional. Either it is certain from the start or it never will be. dressed in a similar way. There is no need. there are no illusory perceptions. essentially exposed to the specter of illusion. it is a pure fictum that cannot be given in the same way as a real thing in the world. the schizophrenic patient thinks he sees a man posted regularly beneath his window. we have already yielded to skepticism on the essential point. we see that the modality of givenness of their object is as different as night and day: An apparent object is only apparently an object.

‘‘is. animals. in order for an illusion to pass itself off as being a perception doesn’t it have to be indiscernible from one during the moment of its being experienced. much less the presentation of an illusory object than the unleashing and letting run crazy.’’ Merleau-Ponty writes. From the circumstance of our being sometimes induced to err by a misleading appearance it is just as impossible to infer that this appearance is identical with a true apparition as it is absurd to conclude. that the two results. It has nothing of the regulated process through which the appearing thing is enriched with ever new determinations.’’ he writes. p. are equivalent.12 C.’’ shimmering glints and glimmers. to be thought of according to the same paradigm as the givenness of a real object in the world. One might be tempted to raise the objection that there must be an element common to perception and illusion. Of course a phenomenology of the illusion should give an account of the irreducible diversity of illusory phenomena. modified—Tr. and. but is manifested otherwise. The hallucination consists in ephemeral ‘‘phenomena. Hinton (1973). ‘‘The hallucinatory phenomenon is no part 25 26 Ibid.].’’25 The foxfire of the illusion is a fleeting upsurge—unstable. This task cannot be undertaken here. shivers. 123 . of a visual power which has lost any sensory counterpart. Putnam (1999) and McDowell (1998). and appears to be something it isn’t—but that does not make it homogeneous with perception. It is an appearance of givenness and not the givenness of an appearance. was probably defended for the first time by Merleau-Ponty in his Phenomenology of Perception. ‘‘It is someone else. ‘‘The illusory thing and the true thing. The patient immediately perceives the difference. This ‘‘disjunctive’’ conception of perception. See also Austin (1962). for as long as it does not give itself away as being an illusion? But that objection rests on a sophism. When we are dealing with identifiable ‘‘things’’—persons. plays us along. ‘‘The illusion of seeing. the correct and the incorrect one.26 and since adopted by such authors as Austin. and as it were on a different stage than that of the real world. Are we then such infallible creatures that we can make mistakes only in cases where it would be impossible to avoid doing so? Of course the illusion fools us. so to speak. lights and shadows that vanish almost immediately and do not give purchase for a true grasp: harbingers of a pseudopresence. Is it not part of the essential nature of appearance to fool us with respect to the true nature of what appears? Now. it should doubtless be added.’’ The fact is. The hallucination of an object should not be put on a par with its perception: It is a pseudo-givenness of an object and not the givenness of a pseudo-object. that is. therefore. the object of the hallucination has the appearance of a perceived object. 340 [trans. indeterminate. and McDowell. Putnam. ‘‘do not have the same structure’’. since the latter passes itself off as the former.. which extend from hallucinations in the strict sense to false judgments about true perceptions. the ‘‘thing’’ of the hallucination and the perceived ‘‘thing’’ are not things in the same sense.’’ he says. based on the fact we sometimes make mistakes in adding up numbers. Romano and to imitate that person’s bearing as closely as possible. sounds. The illusion is no more a false perception than the perception is a true illusion. and so on—these hallucinatory ‘‘things’’ present no more than a generic style and physiognomy. thus baptized by Hinton. not a presentation of objects—even fictive ones. ‘‘It is true that there is someone.

since all confirmation and information presuppose it. we come to the limits of the disjunctive conception. As Merleau-Ponty says. respectively). but not perception as a whole.’’27 What attests to this fact is that all illusions can only be pointed out as such in the context of the perceived world. At this point. that is to say… there is no definite pathway leading from it to all the remaining experiences’’. the world already possessed of structural cohesion. in order to think this through to the end. 339. not with other isolated perceptions. possesses an essentially holistic constitution. or to the apparition in person and the mere appearance. presupposes the perceived world. beyond all possible illusion. Experience in its original sense. The skeptical doubt founders when it is confronted with the fact that to be a perception is not a property that can be ascribed to a lived moment or an experience taken in isolation.e. 123 . against the background of a world possessing a structural cohesiveness. i. we must instead say: the world is what we perceive.. ‘‘We must not. Nevertheless. its coherence is prior to all presumption of truth or falsity. An illusory world would have to be able to manifest its artificial nature against a background of perceptive coherence.. 344. therefore. since it is ceaselessly confirmed. and will be superimposed on one another and assembled in such as way as to form a totality. and it alone counts for the victim.e. it is that alone on the basis of which something can be presumed to be illusory. It cannot be ascribed to the part unless it is first ascribed to the whole of which the part is part.Challenging the transcendental position 13 of the world. 342. Hence a necessary reversal: The world is not the correlate of an experience indefinitely confirmed—which. wonder whether we really perceive a world.. This is why the idea of an entirely illusory world has no meaning. we must abandon a certain number of ideas and even a whole framework of thought that Merleau-Ponty continues to consider established: that which makes of the ‘‘cogito’’ the 27 28 Merleau-Ponty (1962. but with perception as a whole. But perception cannot be so described. since each perception taken from this whole is only a perception to the extent that it possesses a cohesion with all the others—that cohesion being a property of the whole before becoming a property of the parts and making it possible to become a property of those parts. failing which they would not be able to be decried as such. thus it presupposes exactly what the skeptic wished to eliminate by that hypothesis: a coherent and real world. which in reality is but a first step in the procedure attempting to show the vacuity of the problem of skepticism. pp. might just as easily not be confirmed—but that which has no need of confirmation.’’28 The world is not presumed to be true as long as its coherence is confirmed. neither a ‘‘synthesis’’ of lived moments always ideally isolable nor a ‘‘flux’’ of such moments. As long as we are content with asserting that there is no neutral sense of appearing that is common to both perception and illusion.’’ an illusion. Being an illusion is precisely not being inscribed within a unified and unshakable world. but it has the value of reality. i. we continue to assume that our perceptive experience could be adequately described as made up of ‘‘building blocks’’ that are always isolable in principle. because a perceptive ‘‘error. We can doubt any perception. ‘‘The hallucination is not a perception. Ibid. or a hallucination. it is to enter into conflict. xvi.

that is. namely in their claim to put us in relation with external things. Experience is not a synthesis of lived moments [ve that could be true or false taken in isolation. in any case. in the absence of its integration into the whole of perception. ´cus] are necessarily true qua lived experiences. an experience can continue to be an experience while at the same time having nothing corresponding to it in reality. but they these lived experiences [ve could turn out to be false from a different perspective. it makes no sense to attribute to an isolated experience the property of being a perception (and therefore also the property of not being a perception).14 C. that is. Something may be said to be ‘‘perceived’’ only if it emerges from a world endowed ´cus] with a structural cohesion. In short. there is no experience that is not ‘‘genuine. constantly self-correcting undertaking. before being a property of its parts. I am not an automaton rationale: my 123 . conferring on some of them a relation to objects. but radically holistic: The property of being perceived is a property of the whole. it is true that to have a belief presupposes having others with which that belief possesses logical relations. etc. It is the whole that deserves the appellation of ‘‘perception’’ properly so called. but they are always questionable with respect to their claim to open onto a world. but not all at the same time? That. But is not science rather a collective.’’ because it is not an experience unless it is integrated seamlessly within the totality of experience. Only a world endowed with structural cohesiveness is perceived (and is by that very fact a world) and only a thing that is integrated into such a world can be perceived. and therefore indubitable. such that each of its statements may be called into question. to revert to the example with which we began. of the epistemology of absolute foundations that claims to furnish knowledge as a whole with a fundamentum inconcussum. For all this. perception is a phenomenon that is not only holistic. Romano Archimedean point of all thought and all phenomenology. Or to speak in terms of ‘‘perception’’: An experience is only a perception if it is integrated into the whole of perception. indubitable truth is part and parcel of the Cartesian theory of science. The requirement of a primordial. I cannot have one belief unless I have a whole system of beliefs. is the Cartesian conception of knowledge that led Husserl to seek in the cogitationes qua cogitationes self-certifying ‘‘foundations’’ beyond all possible doubt. Thus. such and such a perception separated off from that totality is called perception only in a derivative sense. The truth is that an experience is only an experience if it is integrated in a coherent way to the whole of experience—if it possesses cohesion with experience as a whole. Thus. The false presupposition underlying the entire Cartesian tradition (with its ramifications in phenomenology) consists in maintaining that it is meaningful to attribute such a thing as truth or falsity to experiences considered in isolation. In this sense. illusion. Indeed. and on others not. On this view. But is it not part of the essence of an experience qua experience to put us in touch with the world? It is on this point that a holism of experience suggests a complete reversal of perspective. of the world.). being a perception is a property of a more holistic nature than being a belief. so that an experience that fails to meet this criterion is not a deceptive perception—it is not a perception at all (but a hallucination. Our experiences are evident in themselves. and therefore there is no experience unless it opens out onto the world as such.

Causal realism is a hybrid conception that rests on an endless confusion between the level of a pure description of apparition and a genetic explanation of its content. Perception does not just happen to be of the world: there is no perception but of the world. p.’’29 to use Merleau-Ponty’s formulation. one would be right to conclude that such realism is a failure. the only coherent position consists in maintaining that experience opens onto the world itself in the absence of any intermediary.’’ Ibid. for the simple and good reason that all causal relations are atomic while our experiential relation to the world possess a holistic constitution. The holism of perception inevitably ends up.30 Indeed it is absurd to claim to explain experience itself and its ability to put us into a direct relation with objects and events on the basis of the objects and events taken from that experience.’’ 30 Merleau-Ponty (1962. From the point of view of a pure description of the phenomena. See also BT. 49. Ibid. beliefs (pending my knowledge of which beliefs I will have to sacrifice in order to restore a coherent system). for example. at least provisionally.’’ which must be rigorously distinguished from a metaphysical realism—the latter being most often expressed in the form of a causal realism. and in most cases it does. a whole endowed with cohesion. that is. This is what makes of the skeptical problem that haunts phenomenology to the point of becoming entangled with a great many of its fundamental affirmations a problem that is irremediably ill posed. Here. is simply not a perception.Challenging the transcendental position 15 system of beliefs can have flaws in it. p. whereas the links of causality introduce a virtually infinite number of mediations between reality and us. There is a descriptive realism that in no way reduces our primary experience of the world to causal links of whatever degree of number and complexity. All my beliefs are not coherent. and on the basis of their causal relations to a subject. Experience is a giving of the thing itself without mediation of any kind. that does not emerge from a world endowed with structural cohesiveness. But with perceptions things are quite otherwise: A perception that does comport with the whole of perception. Indeed realism tries to explain Reality ontically by Real connections of interaction between things that are Real. ‘‘The return to perceptual experience… puts out of court all forms of realism. To perceive is essentially to perceive a world. The perception of the world presupposes its existence and is indissociable from it. can be applied. 363–364.. If to be a realist means to conceive of perception as ‘‘an event in the world to which the category of causality. descriptive realism is a consequence of the holistic approach to experience. with what might be called a ‘‘descriptive realism. 369). 29 123 . then. The intentional discourse is irreducible to a causal discourse. and not the other way around. On this point. but this does not keep them from remaining. and the relation of appearing is irreducible to an external relation. 251: ‘‘But what distinguishes this assertion [‘‘the external world is Really present-at hand’’] is the fact that in realism there is a lack of ontological understanding. But the difficulties in which such a realism gets bogged down are by no means inexorable. p.. pp. 207. that is. we must agree with Husserl’s antinaturalism. 47.

The capacity of perception can be possessed only by a ‘‘subject’’ who belongs to the world essentially as a body. The world cannot be the totality of the perceptible without a ‘‘subject’’ capable of perceiving (it). the perceived world. the one formed by a ‘‘subject’’ endowed with practical abilities and the world. the independent being of consciousness. The opening onto the world for the experiencing subject presupposes that the latter belongs to the world. And therefore it is equally impossible for openness. Already at the level of what we 123 . is not identical with it.. we must attempt to deepen the sense of this dual structural affiliation of a ‘‘subject’’ involved in a world and a world to which this ‘‘subject’’ is open. in which the ‘‘subject’’ and it alone would play the role of ultimate ‘‘condition of possibility. i. which constitutes the presupposition—never challenged—of the separation between two spheres of being. But the world is not only that in relation to which one sole capacity. perception. but in multiple practical and affective modes.’’ In order to understand being-in-the-world. Romano 3 The phenomenon of the world The reversal of the problem induced by holism destroys at its very root the possibility of the skeptical doubt. to be an ontological characteristic of Dasein minus the existence of a world to which it is open. is better apprehended in terms of ‘‘being-in-the-world. Erschlossenheit. But the crucial point here is the following: Such ability is only given to a ‘‘subject’’ that constitutively belongs to the world through its body and is situated and corporeally embedded in it. is exercised. A holism of experience can only lead to the pure and simple abandonment of the transcendental perspective that continues to be decisive up to and including the first Heidegger. but far more the totality of the perceptible or of the experienceable as such. To speak of the ‘‘perceptible’’ and the ‘‘experienceable’’ is to evoke a capability on the part of the subject: the capability of perceiving and experiencing. and for that reason it cannot be thought in the terms of a transcendental philosophy. bringing into play in each case specific modes of comprehension.’’ But the idea of being-in-the-world that is pertinent here. For the moment. Experience. while being free reformulation of the one developed in Sein und Zeit. as a totality that cannot be broken down into elements. and that capacity can be exercised only in relation to the world in which this ‘‘subject’’ is situated. Being-in-theworld is nowise a characteristic just of Dasein—or of Dasein taken in isolation: an ontological determination of that entity considered in itself.e. We do not relate to the world just within the perceptive register.16 C. The body’s belonging to the world is a necessary condition for the bestowal on the subject of a capacity of a certain kind—a capacity in virtue of which the world can in turn be qualified as the totality of the perceptible or the experienceable as such. we have limited ourselves to perception and its correlate. endowed with a specific ability. Being-in-the-world designates a structure that is both relational and holistic. The world is not only the totality of what is perceived. The world is rather that to which the manifold of capacities of a ‘‘subject’’ having a world is related. minus the world in which it is ‘‘factually’’ situated at birth. and thus underlies the entire transcendental account of things. Being-in-the-world is a structural characteristic of a system. and the dependent being of the world.

are of such a nature as to require a world to be able to be possessed and exercised: They are ‘‘world-involving. and address my practicable pursuits. through his body: They do not belong to a subject simpliciter. in the ‘‘psychic’’ domain. but rather flow forth from the system that the objects offered to perception form with a ‘‘subject’’ endowed with goals and abilities of various orders. it is because I have the capacity to entertain such projects and to go for a dip when the circumstances lend themselves to it. nor. If the sea winks from afar with its sempiternal virginal air. for me—because I possess corresponding abilities. The sea can only reveal itself in the distance as a call to go swimming if I have the capacity to dive in and swim. they are part of the very manner in which things declare and present themselves to us at first encounter. All these ‘‘living meanings’’ depend essentially on my goals. on the contrary. The sea that shimmers in the deep announces itself to me compellingly as a refreshing promise. Now we must emphasize that the meaning with which things manifest themselves to us are offered to our understanding as practical modalities of our ongoing transactions with them. consequently. but are manifested with determined meanings. scalable.’’ distinct from the one we have been using. Here a second acceptation of the term ‘‘holism. show themselves to me with a significance that is their very way of appearing to me and of manifesting themselves. inviting me in for a swim.. The world is presented as a manifold of opportunities. Here two distinct senses of the ‘‘possible’’ emerge. to ‘‘brute facts’’ as supplied by physics. They are capacities that can be possessed only by a subject who himself appears in situ. but is rather a characteristic of the system that a specific environment forms with a ‘‘subject’’ endowed with capacities of several orders.’’ the panoply of things.Challenging the transcendental position 17 commonly call ‘‘perception. and so on. And. Meaning is not the product of a Sinngebung. of possibilities offered to my repertoire of potential physical acts in virtue of which things acquire a meaning. such possibilities can only belong to things and give them the pre-linguistic meaning they have—always already. in virtue of an arbitrary and a-contextual assignment of meaning. Correlatively.e. and the world present a certain side of things that calls up possible paths of action. the granite ledges can only appear to me as climbable if I have the ability to keep my balance as I move across them. the granite ledges lining the sea’s steep shoreline call out to me as accessible. of a constitution of objectivity by successive 123 . This meaning is not conferred on them from the outside by a ‘‘subject’’ that would hold the key to it. and events are not simply manifested to us. consequently. within a world. and these capacities. it is not because I somehow already had it in my head to go swimming—otherwise such a project could never germinate. but to a subject-in-the-world. in turn.’’ as Charles Taylor would say. The appetitive vectors are not projected upon things arbitrarily. These trivial observations allow us to draw attention to a vital point: Things can show themselves to us with meaning. These meanings are not ‘‘added on’’ by consciousness to a neutral given that would be analogous. beings. comes to light. It is no longer just a question of asserting that every experience depends in its essence on the whole of the experience within which it has its place and which alone can make it an experience. only for a ‘‘subject’’ endowed with specific capacities. i. the meaning with which things present themselves to us beginning at the level of perception is a holistic characteristic of the system a ‘‘subject’’ forms with the world.

. Indeed. He is capable of acquiring capacities on his own. ‘‘cultural’’ possibilities. in order for it to be the existence that it is. as Husserl thought. This meaning emerges at the juncture of a world that takes on a certain look and a subject endowed with certain abilities. as is the case with certain higher animals. the way I understand myself.18 C. Human existence is such that it falls to us to choose it. as Kant would say. so that any refusal to decide in this case remains a kind of decision—in the form of a renunciation of all decision-making. I may or may not decide to go swimming. of relating to his existence itself sub specie possibilitatis. based on whether I am in the mood. These possibilities. and ‘‘existential’’ possibilities. Nor is it something freely conferred on the world in virtue of projects carried out by the work of a subject. I can ask myself a different sort of question: Assuming I feel like going swimming and the circumstances lend themselves to it. Romano strata. He sets ends for himself. standing before an accessible ocean in the mid-day sun. In truth. deciding on some particular action. with respect to the sort of person I aspire to be? Is lazing around in the sun all day worthy of me. or the sea. For to remain in a state of indecision is still a way of deciding about the type of individual we aspire to be. choices involving the sort of existence that seems desirable to him. inviting. It is a relational characteristic of an indecomposable totality. and to project ourselves into 123 . as when the same inlet may immediately make me think of Estaque a ´ la Cezanne or Derain. or. in virtue of which a piece of fruit looks tasty. or had I not better get to work? Is that the way I want to live? Is that what I want to do with my life? Thus. the amount of free time I have.e. He is capable of life projects that concern his idea of himself. putting it another way. but second order choices as well. man is not only capable of acquiring new capacities as a result of his experiences or his conditioning within a group. that we exist it in the first person in deciding on the sort of existence that seems desirable for us. something is possible in the existential sense if it is in agreement with a life project. such as whether or not swimming is allowed in that cove. man not only forms projects in the sense of plans conceived in advance and capable of reaching goals determined by his ‘‘nature’’—for example all the vital requirements he shares with other animals. This last requires our further attention. and thus the entirety of his existence as such. he not only makes first order choices. should I or should I not go swimming? Is it desirable or not.e. are of three orders: ‘‘natural’’ possibilities. The intrinsic characteristic of existential possibilities is that with respect to them we can never avoid the necessity of decision. of a particular and noteworthy nature. i. For example. The meaning that comes to light in things depends on the very manner in which a subject is able to approach them in light of his or her possible practices. But placed before that possibility. This means that he is capable of forming his own projects. or more precisely. Put more simply. i. with an existential project. and objective dimensions of the situation. existential possibilities may by defined as possibilities that appear to me to be compatible with the sort of person I aspire to be. rooted in capacities. and the way I view my own existence. it emerges from the system they form together. To exist as a human being is to exist in such a way that our existence is an issue from which we cannot escape.. or the person he aspires to be. Human existence is therefore such as to require.

as such. Of course there are only opportunities for one who is capable of grasping them in the pursuit of goals. which contrasts man with other animals: the capacity of deciding about one’s entire existence as such. The world. we should insist on the fact that with the exception of these noteworthy possibilities that only ‘‘exist’’ to the extent that Dasein has always already projected itself into them. 248–249. ‘‘the configurer of the world’’ (Weltbildend). many possibilities that come to light for us in the world depend on our capacities. as a matter of fact) ‘‘made possible’’ by us. Insofar as comprehension is one of these practical capacities. are only meaningful in reference to the capacities of 31 Heidegger (1984. For example. and are subordinate to them. the world is ‘‘the totality of the essential intrinsic possibilities of Dasein. which still haunts fundamental ontology. these possibilities are certainly not all such that it would make sense to say of them that they are ‘‘configured’’ by Dasein—nor. But it does not follow that these possibilities are made possible by him. and no doubt first and foremost. a horizon of meaning. with a relational paradigm. it is also. but they are assuredly not made possible by them. facts or states of things that could be experienced and known. then. and notably on the universal space–time a priori which structures all experience: These possibilities of essence are obviously not (no more than are logical possibilities. GA 26. 123 . is definitely not a simple totality of objects. As Heidegger writes. and the world itself. and that I have called ‘‘existential possibilities.’’31 These possibilities are structured and hierarchized in keeping with a means-end relation. that Dasein is. but all ultimately depend on a general project of existence that defines me as such. The world is the structured totality of possibilities that are afforded us in light of our practical capacities of different orders. Indeed. Thus we have attained a concept of world such that it no longer makes sense to say that it is unilaterally ‘‘configured’’ by a Dasein. consequently. including the highest of them. If the world does indeed designate a universum of possibilities. Certain projects depend on others. but also what we can relate in the light of capacities of various orders that belong to us as human beings. The world as it presents itself to us from the point of view of a phenomenology is therefore not just the totality of the possible in the sense of the perceptible and the experienceable. in virtue of which all that is given to us by the world. the world is also a signifying context. On the contrary. a system of possibilities relative to capacities of several orders in light of which all that can be presented to the ‘‘subject’’ takes on a meaning—a system of possibilities that are subordinated to that noteworthy capacity the subject possesses of deciding by himself about his own existence. p. and—in the case of the human being—because he has given himself goals in determining his entire existence as such. 192). We must replace the transcendental paradigm.Challenging the transcendental position 19 it in order to give it an overall orientation in keeping with a fundamental project— because for a human being that is what it is to exist.’’ most of the possibilities are not configured by a ‘‘subject’’ but offer themselves to it in the form of a situation it has not desired or decided upon: They are opportunities that depend on the circumstances. Capacities and opportunities appear on the contrary as strict correlatives. all that can present itself to us perceptually depends on possibilities of essence.

1984. W. London: Oxford University Press. the possible per se as a whole—the world—is always suspended above the abyss of the event. from what I have called an ‘‘evenemential hermeneutics. Tubingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag. changing us through and through. 123 . and that belongs to the world by its very nature. Gesammelte Schriften. it is first and foremost that which wreaks havoc with my fundamental projects in light of which I understand myself and my own existence. consequently. ed. Gottingen. M. For this reason.L.A. Being and time (trans: John Macquarrie. The existential possibilities are not projected once and for all by a ‘‘subject’’ without moorings in the past. Les ambiguıtes des concepts husserliens d’’immanence’ et de ‘transcendance’. J. M. and we only belong to it to the extent that we are in it—only then can we attempt to grasp the following critical point. And since the possibilities that structure the world are interrelated and form a system. Dilthey. M. Princeton: Princeton University Press. in one of its aspects at least.’’ Of course an event first strikes certain possibilities and circumstances. such upheavals of existence strike the possible as such at its root: They overturn the world as such and no longer allow us to understand ourselves as ‘‘the same. for beings like ourselves. Heidegger. Der Aufbau der geschichtlichen Welt in den ¨ Geisteswissenschaften. to what ‘‘strikes us with powerlessness’’ in and through its very upsurge. 1992. Vulnerability to the event. More originary than the possibilization of the possible by the decrees of Dasein are the possibilities that precede it and are born of founding events. what strips me of my expectations and takes the ground from beneath my feet at the moment I least expect it.’’ References Austin. Sense and sensibilia. 1962. 1962. without a history. who are vulnerable to the event. and F. Rodi. it reconfigures the world itself at its birth. Sein und Zeit. Makkreel. it has been forever self-originating for us in inaugural events—beginning with the remarkable one of our birth. M. philosophique de la France et de l’e Dilthey. 1986. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. but in affecting specific possibilities. If. the phenomenological analysis of the world arises.G. since for us there are never any detached possibilities. 1959. thus appear more originary than all self-possibilization. ´ Heidegger. The world hangs in the balance in the event.20 C. Bd. R. we think of this mutual belongingness in virtue of which we are only in the world to the extent that we belong to the world. Teubner. 1988. Heidegger. it falls back onto the possible as a totality. the passibility qua immeasurable exposure to what goes beyond our powers. In The formation of the historical world in the human sciences. New York: Harper & Row. 7. R. and Edward Robinson). The metaphysical foundations of logic (trans: Michael Heim). ¨´ Boehm. always exposed to these critical transformations in which existence as such hangs in the balance. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 2002. Romano several orders of a ‘‘subject’’ that is itself in the world as a body. Revue ´tranger 84: 481–526. An event is not only what catches me unprepared and by surprise.Stuttgart: B. 229. ¨ Heidegger. Thus. W. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. The basic problems of phenomenology (trans: Richard Rojcewicz. and hence my possibilities in the existential sense— configuring them from beginning to end. and Andre Schuwer).

Oxford: Clarendon Press. Husserl. J. The threefold cord: Mind.M. defeasibility and knowledge. 1997. 123 . Bd. Metaphysische Anfangsgru ¨nde der Logik im Ausgang von Leibniz. E. M. 1994. 369–394. McDowell. 1998. M. Heidegger. 1982. An introduction to phenomenology (trans: Dorion Cairns). 1999. M. An inquiry into some ambiguities. Frankfurt a. Frankfurt a. Thing and space: Lectures of 1907 (trans: Richard Rojcewicz). Dordrecht: Kluwer. E.: Vittorio Klostermann. 1992. Merleau-Ponty. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Phenomenology of perception (trans: Colin Smith). Husserl. Gesamtausgabe. Bd. 1973. ´ Ingarden. 1997. Die Grundprobleme der Pha ¨nomenologie. On the motives which led Husserl to transcendental idealism (trans: Arnor Hannibalsson). Cartesian meditations. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Gesamtausgabe. 1973. 2007. 1962. History of the concept of time: Prolegomena (trans: Theodore Kisiel). 20.: Vittorio Klostermann. M.: Vittorio Klostermann. 1975. Putnam. Bd. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. J. H.Challenging the transcendental position 21 Heidegger. Experiences. New York: Columbia University Press. Ideas pertaining to a pure phenomenology and to a phenomenological philosophy (First Book. Frankfurt a. trans: Kersten. 26. Dordrecht: Kluwer.M. Husserl.: Vittorio Klostermann. 56/57. Gesamtausgabe. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.M. Bd. 24. In meaning. 1999. The Paris lectures (trans: Peter Koestenbaum). Criteria. E.M. knowledge and reality. M. M.). Dordrecht: Kluwer. Hinton. Zur Bestimmung der Philosophie. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. body and world. Heidegger. 1998. Frankfurt a. Heidegger. F. E. Heidegger. Husserl. Prolegomena zur Geschichte des Zeitbegriffs.M. R. Gesamtausgabe.

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