James McGuirk
From the time of his earliest phenomeno-
logical writings, Edmund Husserl took the task
of grounding the natural and human sciences
to be one of his leading missions. While oppo-
sition to naturalism and psychologism spurred
his thinking, this in no way implied an anti-sci-
entific strand in his philosophy. Rather,
Husserl felt that the sciences fell into incoher-
ence when they attempted to understand them-
selves in terms of their own positivity such that
they failed to bring out the issue of meaning-
constitution which is a sine qua non of their
very existence. Whether it be through the no-
tion of intentionality simpliciter or the notion
of lifeworld, Husserl’s whole philosophic ca-
reer can be seen as the attempt to mine the ori-
gins of the production of scientific knowing. In
the context of this attempt, Husserl’s
phenomenological reduction is to be under-
stood as seeking to trace and lay bare the con-
stituting sources that make the scientific en-
deavor meaningful such as will provide
science and scientists with a coherent sense of
the true import of their endeavors. As such,
while Husserl certainly understood his
phenomenological insights as relativizing (by
grounding) the mundane sciences, he also un-
derstood this relativization as heralding a new
Enlightenment that was as much for the benefit
of scientists as philosophers. Husserl’s faith in
the capacity of phenomenological insight to
enter and positively transform the mundane
sphere was not one shared by all of his follow-
ers however.
In what follows, I wish to explore
this matter in relation to the treatment of the
phenomenological reduction in the thought of
Eugen Fink and Martin Heidegger.
On the face of it, there could not be two
more di fferent i nt erpret at i ons of t he
phenomenological reduction than those found
in Fink’s Sixth Cartesian Meditation,
on the
one hand and Heidegger’s Sein und Zeit,
the other. While Fink claims that a thorough
unfolding of the reduction leads back to a “re-
gion” of pre-being (Vor-sein) in which all hu-
man possibilities, including those of knowing
and speaking, are ultimately constituted,
Heidegger insists that, at bottom, the reduction
discloses Dasein’s Being-in-the-world as the
ground behind which it is impossible to in-
quire. Thus, while Heidegger insists that the
performance of the reduction must ultimately
be understood as a human possibility, Fink
wants to claim that the entire sphere of human
possibilities and all concern with the meaning
of being is to be understood against the horizon
of the pre-being to which transcendental sub-
jectivity ultimately refers. And yet, I would
suggest that there is at least one point of con-
tact between Heidegger and Fink which has to
do with the capacity for communication be-
tween the phenomenological and mundane
spheres. I will argue that while Heidegger in no
way wishes to endorse Fink’s radical break be-
tween the transcendental and mundane
spheres—in fact he attempts precisely to bring
them closer to one another by avoiding all talk
of a constituting ego pole—his version of the
reduction as explored in the phenomenon of
anxiety leads to a disruption in which the
insights garnered from the transcendental
sphere struggle to be heard in the sphere of
mundane existing.
Phenomenological Reduction and the Split
in Transcendental Life
Let us begin with a brief consideration of
Fink’s text and its implications for continuity
between the transcendental and mundane
spheres. The Sixth Cartesian Meditation was
written as part of a much greater co-operative
project between Fink and Husserl in which the
Cartesian Meditations, delivered as lectures in
Paris in 1929, were to be reworked as a more
comprehensive introduction to Husserlian
The text itself, described as
“a sketch of a transcendental theory of
method” sets itself the task of bringing to light
problems that are “latent in Husserl’s phenom-
enology” (SCM 1). Specifically, Fink is after
the development of a “phenomenology of phe-
nomenology” (SCM8) as an investigation into
the horizon against which the very activity of
phenomenologizing is to be understood. In an
article written one year after the drafting of the
Sixth Cartesian Meditation, Fink frames this
discussion in terms of a defense of Husserlian
transcendental subjectivity against its misrep-
resentation in neo-Kantian circles.
The cen-
tral thrust of this discussion comprises a clari-
fication of certain unclear positions presented
in the first book of Husserl’s Ideas—partly
Husserl’s own fault according to Fink (SCM
101, 108)—that lead to the impression that
Husserl’s phenomenological reduction is es-
sentially an “absolutization” of the imma-
nence of consciousness. Fink’s defense pro-
ceeds through a thorough discussion of the
true terminus of the unfolding of the reduction.
In the Sixth Cartesian Meditation, the debate
with neo-Kantianism is sidelined but the gen-
eral thrust is the same; namely, to raise the
question of how transcendental subjectivity
and the reduction itself is to be understood
The most serious of the problems latent in
Husserl’s phenomenology, according to Fink,
is the absence, in Husserl’s published writings,
of a constructive phenomenology. The notion
of constructive phenomenology is contrasted
here with a regressive phenomenology while
the two of these together comprise the full
scope of the phenomenological reduction.
While a regressive phenomenology is an in-
quiry into the constituting structures of tran-
scendental life, including discrete acts as well
as deeper strata such as temporality and em-
bodiment, that are responsible for world con-
stitution, constructive phenomenology refers
to “the totality of all phenomenological theo-
ries that in motivated constructions go beyond
the reductive givenness of transcendental life”
(SCM11). Thus, while Husserl’s own writings
are replete with examples of regressive analy-
ses into intentional constitution, they are des-
perately lacking in investigations into “tran-
scendental questions about the ‘beginning’
and ‘end’ of world-constitution, both
egological and intersubjective” (SCM 11).
Constructive phenomenology, as Steven
Crowell has noted, entails, then, the attempt to
move beyond the priority of intuitive
givenness as found in the “principle of all prin-
ciples” of Ideas I in order to engage with the
type of speculative questions that are sug-
gested by the practice of phenomenology but
which cannot be answered from within that
But if we are to lay bare these constructive
questions of phenomenology, we must make
the transcendentally constituting subject itself
the theme of an investigation rather than sim-
ply its action of world-constitution (SCM 13).
Only thus can phenomenology complete or
come back to itself. In pursuit of this task, Fink
maintains that the splitting of the ego
(Ichspaltung) that is featured in Husserl’s writ-
ings between its natural attitude and the tran-
scendentally constituting instantiations will
not suffice. Fink suggests, then, a three-way
splitting of the ego
as (1) the ego captivated by
the world of the natural attitude, (2) the ego as
constituting the world transcendentally, and
(3) the ego as phenomenologizing onlooker
whose focus rests on the activity of transcen-
dental constitution.
His transcendental theory
of method or phenomenology of phenomenol-
ogy takes place from the point of view of the
third of these egos and is concerned not with
world-constitution itself but of the being to-
gether of transcendental subjectivity and
world-constitution as a whole. And again, this
is not understood as a new reduction but only
as a proper unfolding of the reduction (SCM6)
or a leading back through transcendental life to
the origins of world-belief.
Essentially what
occurs here is that mundane existing and tran-
scendental world-constitution are thought to-
gether and placed under epoché from a third
position (the phenomenologizing onlooker)
that is suggested but never discussed in
Husserl’s theory of the reduction.
One of the most noteworthy aspects of
Fink’s enterprise is the meaning of this leading
back for the question of being. Picking up on a
suggestion from Husserl himself, Fink main-
tains that the phenomenological reduction,
properly understood, leads beyond the scope
of the question of being to where being itself is
In his dismay at the direction
taken in Heidegger’s Sein und Zeit, Husserl
sought t o cl ari fy t he meani ng of t he
phenomenological reduction by insisting that
even the sense “human being” is transcenden-
tally constituted such that Heidegger’s funda-
mental starting point in Dasein’s Being-in-the-
world is a naïve anthropology that has not yet
entered into the reduction.
This claimis unfortunate both because it in-
troduces an unnecessary ambiguity into the
sense of what it means to be human and also
because inasmuch as Husserl intends the sense
“human being” to refer to the empirical, mun-
dane ego, it represents a deep misunderstand-
ing of what Heidegger intended in the use of
the word Dasein. Regardless, Fink seizes upon
this line of thought in Husserl to make it the
cornerstone of his own meontology. The point
of this is to stress the separation between the
transcendental and mundane spheres. If the
Ideas gave the impression of an “absolutiza-
tion” of the immanence of consciousness, then
it could easily be misinterpreted as making an
essentially psychological point about the na-
ture of mental activity. As such, it could be
read as asserting a new psychologism that de-
rived meaning from the mental processes of
the thinking subject living in the natural world.
Fink, though, like Husserl, wants to stress that
transcendental subjectivity is precisely not in
the world because it is world-constituting. But
this implies, in a way that Husserl did not al-
ways give due attention to, that “being” is to be
conceived as the positing of what is existent
such that it is meaningful only in the context of
world-constitution itself. Since the point of
view of the phenomenological onlooker lies
outside of this entire process, it cannot be
meaningfully discussed in the language of be-
ing. As such, a reduction of the very idea of be-
ing is called for according to Fink (SCM71). It
is precisely here that Fink goes beyond the let-
ter of the Husserlian corpus in order, he thinks,
to fulfill its spirit. He insists that the
transcendental subject cannot be considered
“existent” since what is existent is what is
constituted. Thus,
The t heor et i cal exper i ence of t he
phenomenological onlooker ontifies the “pre-
existent” life-processes of transcendental sub-
jectivity . . . (by lifting) the constitutive con-
struction-processes out of the condition of pre-
being (Vor-sein) proper to themand for the very
first time objectivates them. (SCM 76)
Thus, in the phenomenology of phenomenol-
ogy, we must speak of the transcendental sub-
ject as though it were existent since the lan-
guage of being constituted anonymously in the
mundane realm before the performance of the
reduction is the only language that is available
to us.
This “as though” structure leads inevitably
to the conclusion that natural language or the
language of the everyday is fundamentally in-
capable of expressing transcendental insights
because natural language knows only the vo-
cabulary of being. Thus, along with its encom-
passing of the idea of being, the reduction must
also extend over language (SCM 93) and
knowing (SCM 139). The situation of tran-
scendental subjectivity cannot be expressed
literally or even by analogy since analogy too
operates within the realm of the ontic and so
cannot reach beyond itself to capture the “non-
ontic” meanings of the transcendental (SCM
90). The best we can hope for, in fact, is a
rather peculiar analogy between transcenden-
tal meaning and the analogy that holds in natu-
ral language (SCM 91) but even here, tran-
scendental meaning is in constant rebellion
(SCM 89) against the form of its expression
which causes it inevitably and always to fail to
express what it intends. As Fink notes,
Phenomenological sentences can therefore
only be understood if the situation of the giving
of sense to the transcendental sentence is always
repeated, that is, if the predicatively explicative
terms are always verified by phenomenologiz-
ing intuition. (SCM 92)
Phenomenological insight, that is, cannot be
reported but must be enacted. This has impor-
tant consequences for both the possibility of
self-understanding of the phenomenologist
and also for the possibility of communicative
re-entry into the mundane sphere after the per-
formance of the reduction.
Fink discusses the
problem of communication under the heading
of the secondary enworlding of transcendental
subj ect i vi t y (SCM 99). The pri mary
enworlding is, of course, the world-constitut-
ing action that takes place as the formation of
the natural attitude which proceeds anony-
mously until it is rescued and disclosed to itself
in the phenomenological reduction. By con-
trast, secondary enworlding refers to the ne-
cessity of re-entry into the mundane sphere in
which the phenomenologist must express him-
self in the natural community of life in which
he stands (SCM 99). Not unlike the prisoner
released fromhis shackles in Plato’s Republic,
the transcendental phenomenologist is con-
fronted with the daunting task of announcing
and communicating transcendental insights in
the mundane sphere (SCM 101) in a way that
will be both intelligible to non-phenomenolo-
gists and adequate to these insights them-
selves. This proves, of course, to be an impos-
si bl e t ask because upon re-ent ry t he
phenomenologist enters again the horizon of
human possibilities in which everyday en-
gagements as well as mundane sciences hold
sway (SCM104). But this entire horizon of the
humanly possible is precisely constituted by
transcendental subjectivity. The reduction is
an “unhumanizing” (SCM 120) process in
which the human subject itself is shown not to
be the phenomenological subject but a consti-
tuted meaning within the field of transcenden-
tal subjectivity such that the truths acquired in
the reduction are untranslatable into the
mundane sphere.
There are two important points worth
stressing here. The first is simply that there is,
of course, no question of an actual re-entry into
the mundane sphere in the way Fink discusses
it here. That is not the point. The point is rather
that the proper unfolding of the reduction has
revealed a deeper stratum of subjectivity that
resists integration into our ordinary self-un-
derstanding as reflecting human beings. Be-
yond the notions of what is constituted and acts
of constituting, the “phenomenologizing on-
looker” is suggestive of a dimension of subjec-
tivity that observes world constitution but
without any active interest in it. And since this
“onlooker” stratum lies outside of the realm in
which ordinary senses of language and being
are operative, it cannot be understood by re-
turning to these senses, even in modified form.
The second point, which is crucial, has to do
with the ambiguous sense of the word “mun-
dane” in the Sixth Cartesian Meditation. At
one level, there is something enormously un-
controversial about Fink’s claimthat transcen-
dental insight cannot be expressed in mundane
language since this is entirely in accord with
Husserl’s notion that transcendental phenom-
enology is a foundational science that lies be-
hind the mundane sciences as the condition of
their possibility. In other words, phenomenol-
ogy is concerned with the acts and structures
that accomplish what is objectivated in the
mundane sciences. From a different perspec-
tive, this is also Heidegger’s point about the
distinction between ontic and ontological
senses in which the former are only possible
through the latter. Both are concerned with the
discovery of a ground in subjectivity that con-
ditions the possibility of the manifestation of
worldly objects or states of affairs such that
they stress that the dynamism of subjectivity
must not be reified or inscribed into the terms
of that which it enables or we risk losing the
sense of what subjectivity most essentially is.
Yet, when Fink speaks of the impossibility of
expressing transcendental insight in the mun-
dane sphere he means something more than
this. He means that transcendental subjectivity
cannot be thought of as a res to be sure but he is
also suggesting that what is uncovered by the
reduction at its most searching level is an
aspect of subjectivity that is at odds with any
and all sense of the meaning of human
The “mundane” as such denotes not only
the epistemological sphere of human knowing
but also the existential sphere of human being.
Fi nk even goes so far as t o say t hat
phenomenologizing is not a human possibility
(SCM 118) which is to say that phenomeno-
logizing is not, in any sense, a perspective that
is available to the human scientist. In second-
ary enworlding, the insights gained in the re-
duction must by necessity take on the appear-
ance of a human attitude (SCM 113) such that
they appear to represent a contribution to the
discussion of the origins of meaning. But this
appearance is in fact a perversion of the true es-
sence of phenomenological insight insofar as
it means appearing as a part of that which, as a
whole, it has constituted (i.e., the domain of
the human). As Fink puts it,
Performing the reduction means for man to rise
beyond (transcend) himself, it means to rise be-
yond himself in all his human possibilities. To
express it paradoxically, when man performs
the phenomenological reduction (un-human-
izes himself), he carries out an action that “he”
just cannot carry out, that does not lie in the
range of his possibilities (SCM 120).
Fink insists on placing every understanding
of being, the use of language and all that is or
can be an object of knowledge in the domain of
the constituted with the result that the reduc-
tion that discloses the being-together of consti-
tuted and constituting must lead us into “the
darkness of something unknown, something
with which we have not been previously famil-
iarized in terms of its formal style of being.”
It leads us into the “monstrous solitude of tran-
scendental existence” (SCM 99) which, inas-
much as it constitutes all forms of human dis-
course, simultaneously shuts off all possibility
of human communication about what is
discovered here.
This construal of the reduction in terms of
the “onlooker” consciousness and the sense of
the term “mundane,” marks a development of
the Husserlian project that is, at the same time,
a break with that very project. This can be seen
in the fact that, while largely supportive of
Fink’s enterprise,
Husserl seems very un-
comfortable with Fink’s conclusions, espe-
cially concerning the purported “unhumanity”
of phenomenologizing. Thus, in the footnotes
to the Sixth Cartesian Meditation, Husserl in-
sists that the reduction must not be understood
as a break with the human but as that which en-
ables “a new, higher humanity” (SCM 130).
Thus, the reduction breaks through the dogma-
tism of the natural attitude but in such a way
that it provides “a new worldly sense” which
“gives (the phenomenologist) as man in the
world new tasks” (SCM 130). Steven Crowell
is surely right, then, to describe Fink’s as a
gnostic phenomenology insofar as it seems to
entail a knowing that cannot really know or, at
least, can never say what it knows. And
Crowell’s suspicion is largely confirmed by
the fact that Fink ends the Sixth Cartesian
Meditation with a (Hegelian) meditation on
the terminus of phenomenological inquiry as
the Absolute which is subject, object and style
of knowing of phenomenological research
(SCM 133ff.).
Through his development of constructive
phenomenology, Fink has insisted upon the es-
sential irreality of the transcendental subject
because the world of the everyday down to its
grammatical and ontological architecture is
placed on the constituting/constituted side of
the transcendental phenomenological equa-
tion while the “onlooker” stratumof subjectiv-
ity, to which the reduction finally points, lies
beneath or beyond the mutually implicative
structure of the constituted and constituting.
The phenomenological reduction, as such, is
presented as an “awakening” from “the age-
old sleep of being-outside-itself” (SCM 113)
of transcendental subjectivity. All of this
leaves the reader of the Sixth Cartesian Medi-
tation with a powerful sense of the unreality of
the everyday world which takes on the flavor
of a dream world whose constitution can be
witnessed by a subjectivity that can never ap-
pear within the world but which yet sees
through its illusions. There is no question of
phenomenological insights re-entering the
mundane sphere in order to illuminate, as the
realization of a human self-understanding
based on a higher transcendental level of re-
flection, since the self-understanding gained
by the reduction is one that places subjectivity
finally outside of the domain of the human. As
such there are only two possibilities for the
communication between phenomenologist
and non-phenomenologist: (1) that the
phenomenologist express his insights as “ap-
pearance truths” within the realm of mundane
science and knowing such that they radically
fail to express what they really intend; or (2)
that he leads the non-phenomenologist into
performance of the reduction which, to be
sure, offers genuine insight but only at the cost
of permanently divesting the everyday of its
Facticity or Meontology?
According to Steven Crowell, Heidegger’s
own phenomenology developed partly
through a skepticism concerning the meontic
tendency that while full-blown in Fink’s text,
was often suggested in the writings of
From the earliest appearance of the
reduction in 1907
through to later texts,
Husserl persistently understands the reduction
and the epoché that precedes it as acquiring
“my pure living, with all the pure subjective
processes making this up, and everything
meant in them, purely as meant.”
the field of givenness of this pure living in-
cludes the ego’s apperception of itself as hu-
man being living in the world and this as a con-
stituted sense. Thus, while we have seen that
Husserl was skeptical of some of the conclu-
sions drawn in Fink’s unfolding of the reduc-
tion, it remains true that in presenting the “hu-
man” as a constituted sense, Fink was
developing a Husserlian position. This ques-
tion of the transcendental subject’s existence
in the world as phenomenological datum be-
came, famously, the breaking point in the rela-
tionship between Husserl and Heidegger.
Heidegger it was senseless to speak of human
being as a constituted sense, as a thing among
things in the world when, in fact, phenomenol-
ogy was properly understood as the way in
which factically existing Dasein raises and ex-
plores the question of meaning and therefore
of Being that defines its own way of being (SZ
§7). As is well known, then, Heidegger consid-
ered the existing Being-in-the-world of Dasein
to be the proper starting point of phenomeno-
logical work and not a sense behind which we
should seek to burrow. To seek to get behind
existing Dasein, for Heidegger, implies a be-
trayal of the promise first offered by the phe-
nomenology of the Logical Investigations.
But if this is so, how can we speak of a
phenomenological reduction in relation to the
work of Heidegger as we are attempting to do
her e? Hei degger ’s i nsi st ence on t he
primordiality of Being-in-the-world of Dasein
is suggestive of a phenomenology without re-
duction to the noetic-noematic structures of
consciousness in favor of one in which the
motto “to the things themselves” involves at-
tention not to the conscious life of the subject
but to it’s way of existing. Furthermore, no-
where in Sein und Zeit is the notion of
reduction mentioned.
In spite of this, there is more than enough
evidence to justify speaking of a reduction in
relation to Heidegger. For example, in a lecture
course from the summer semester of 1927,
Heidegger explicitly employs the notion of the
reduction. He even acknowledges adopting the
literal wording of Husserl’s reduction, albeit
without the latter’s substantive intent.
That is,
he rejects Husserl’s understanding of the re-
duction as leading back to the transcendental
life of consciousness in which things and per-
sons are constituted, preferring to define the
reduction as follows:
For us, the phenomenological reduction means
leading phenomenological vision back fromthe
apprehension of a being, whatever may be the
character of that apprehension, to the under-
standing of the being of this being.
In terms of phenomenological method, here,
reduction proves to be inadequate such that it
must be augmented by a phenomenological
construction (konstruktion) which brings the
being of beings into view in a free projection
(GA 24 30/BPP 22) and a phenomenological
destruction (destruktion) in which the con-
cepts used to lay hold of the meaning of being
in the tradition are deconstructed down to the
sources fromwhich they were first drawn (GA
24 31/BPP 23).The complex tripartite nature
of Heidegger’s understanding of phenomeno-
logical method in this text is beyond the scope
of the present investigation though it seems
clear that what is at stake is the addition of a
principle of hermeneutics (konstruktion) and a
principle of historicality (destruktion) to the
Husserlian edifice. What is interesting,
though, is the fact that he seems willing to use
the language of reduction at all in relation to
his phenomenological thinking. Yet given that
it is present here in a lecture course presented
after the writing of Sein und Zeit, is it not rea-
sonable to assume that the reduction is also
present in Sein und Zeit itself, even if it not
named as such?
At a first glance, it might be tempting to
think of Heidegger’s insistence on the ontic
priority of the ontological question—namely,
the irreducibility of factically existing
Dasein—as a way of conceptualizing the re-
duction insofar as it bars the way to and there-
fore takes the place of the “onlooker” con-
sciousness in Fink. However, Heidegger’s
insistence on the priority of Dasein and the on-
tological question in §7 of Sein, und Zeit, for
example, is not intended to do any more than
lay out in advance the conditions in which the
practice of phenomenology is meaningful. In
itself, it is a rather vague and indefinite starting
point which does not enable us to move out of
the natural attitude and into the phenomeno-
logical (in Husserl’s terms) or anything analo-
gous to this move. For Husserl, the reduction is
a happening which opens the way to philo-
sophical insight so if there is a reduction in
Sein und Zeit, it must at the very least fulfill
this minimum requirement. What is offered in
§7 of Sein und Zeit prefigures, to be sure, the
answer Heidegger will give regarding the situ-
ation of the clearing of being in the structures
of existing Dasein, but it does not yet tells us
how this answer will properly be brought into
According to Rudolf Bernet, there are in
fact two reductions evident in Sein und Zeit;
one that takes place within inauthentic existing
and another which enables authenticity.
first of these, says Bernet, has to do with the
various ways in which the tool world draws at-
tention to itself by being unready-to-hand
(Unzuhanden). Thus, when a tool becomes un-
usable (unverwendbar), obtrusive (Aufdring-
lich), or obstinate (Auffässig), it reveals the re-
lational totality of the tool world which until
such an occurrence was concealed by its famil-
iarity (PR 260). The second reduction is car-
ried out in the mood of anxiety (§40) in which
Dasein is called out of its “lostness” in das
Man and brought “before itself” (SZ 182; BT
226; PR 264). These reductions have in com-
mon that they both reveal the phenomenon of
worldhood but while the first discloses the
worldhood of the world (as intersubjective
phenomenon one might say) the second dis-
closes the irreplaceable singularity of Dasein
as Being-in-the-world. At stake in the reduc-
tion, then, is not the “pure conscious life of the
but precisely Dasein’s individuated
Being-in-the-world in terms of its ownmost
possibility for being (Ausgezeichnete Mög-
Anxiety and the Phenomenological
Let us look more closely at the second of
these reductions.
The sections of Sein und
Zeit that deal with anxiety are among the dens-
est of the work and yet they are absolutely cru-
cial to Heidegger’s overall project inasmuch
as, even beyond the four major existentialia
(Befindlichkeit, Rede, Verstehen and Verfallen-
heit), anxiety discloses Dasein to itself in the
most primordial of manners.
But if Heidegger’s discussion of anxiety is
to be treated as a way into the phenomeno-
logical reduction, one of the first points to note
is the fact that the reduction is here understood
more in terms of an undergoing than a volun-
tary act of reflection as is so often the case with
Husserl. Heidegger’s use of reduction then, to
the extent that it is legitimate to speak of this, is
placed firmly in the context of the attunement
(Befindlichkeit) of Dasein. In the Fundamental
Concepts of Metaphysics lectures of 1929/30,
Heidegger says that attunement is the “funda-
mental way in which Dasein is as Dasein”
the sense that Dasein’s Being-in-the-world
with entities and with others is always given
through some mood or other that is determina-
tive of Dasein as existing. To exist as subject is
to be attuned and it is crucial for Heidegger
that the investigation of subjectivity can only
be fruitful as long as it remains phenomeno-
logically attentive to this attuned nature of
Dasein’s “being-here.” As such, Heidegger
would be in principled opposition to Fink’s di-
alectical speculations that start at the point at
which the subject ceases to show itself. But if
the subject is always attuned in some way or
other, on what basis do we consider anxiety a
privileged attunement? More importantly,
how does it bear upon the problem of the way
back into the realmof mundane acting after the
performance of the phenomenological reduc-
In §40 of Sein und Zeit, Heidegger de-
scribes anxiety as the basic state-of-mind of
Dasein, because “in anxiety, Dasein gets
brought before itself through its own being, so
that we can define phenomenologically the
character of the entity disclosed in anxiety”
(SZ 184; BT 228). In anxiety, one feels “un-
canny” (SZ188; BT233), a sense which points
to a peculiar relationship with entities and the
world inasmuch as worldhood itself becomes
conspicuous. Dasein is literally “not at home”
(Unheimlich) with itself in anxiety in the sense
that that the familiarity of the world of every-
day comportments is disturbed and dis-
Heidegger maintains that “that in the
face of which one has anxiety is Being-in-the-
world as such” (SZ 186; BT 230), which is to
say that it is not the obtrusiveness of this or that
entity that emerges, or even the world of enti-
ties in itself as relational totality, but Dasein’s
very being in the world that is obtrusive. In
other words, anxiety reveals Dasein to itself in
terms not of what is encountered but in terms
of the possibility of encounter. The bewitching
hold of the determinative is broken in this fun-
damental attunement such that Heidegger in-
sists that both readiness-to-hand and entities
within-the-world sink away (SZ 187; BT 231)
and the world is encountered as “utter
insignificance” (SZ 187; BT 231).
The “falling away” of the world is, paradox-
ically, necessary for Dasein itself as the ground
of the manifestation of the world to come into
view inasmuch as Dasein is thrown back upon
itself and forced to see its average mode of be-
ing as a flight into the self of the “they” which
is a refusal to take up its “being free for the au-
thenticity of its being” (SZ 188; BT 232) as fi-
nite Being-in-the-world. But this is not the end
of the story since the notion of anxiety is, of
course, intimately tied to the discussion of
conscience that is taken up at §§55f. of Sein
und Zeit. In the call of conscience (Ruf des
Gewissens), as Heidegger understands it,
Dasein calls itself back from“lostness” toward
a resolute taking over of its being.
Heidegger is keen to develop the phenomenon
of conscience along ontological lines and to
avoid the traditional moralistic interpretation
of this phenomenon. We pervert the meaning
of the call of conscience, he says, if we inter-
pret it in terms of a debt or deficit in relation to
a moral law or even other Daseins (SZ §58).
The call does not come from without but from
within. It is Dasein itself that calls to itself in
the call of conscience and yet Heidegger is ea-
ger to point out here that this identity of caller
and called in the phenomenon of conscience is
not an empty formalism (SZ 277; BT 322). In
fact, the structure of this identity is highly
complex insofar as the call comes fromDasein
gripped by the mood of anxiety while it calls to
Dasein as lost in the “they” self which is “cap-
tivated by the world,” as Fink might put it. The
split between caller and called here is such that
Heidegger likens the call to an alien voice (SZ
277; BT 322) because what could be more
alien to the “they” self that lets itself be carried
along in the anonymous non-individuated
averageness of the everyday than “the self that
has been individualized down to itself in un-
canniness [Unheimlichkeit] and been thrown
into the nothing?” (SZ 277; BT 322). The call,
in other words, is a transcendence in imma-
nence, that addresses Dasein as “Guilty” (SZ
281; BT326) because, in its fallen, inauthentic
state of everydayness, lost in the “they,”
Dasein fails to “recognize itself” (SZ 277; BT
322) as singular and instead lives in a state of
“going along with things.” Everyday Dasein
reneges upon its potentiality for being because
everything is decided for it in advance.
When Dasein properly attends to the call, it
becomes radically individualized for the first
time such that it calls itself back from
“lostness” towards a resolute taking over of its
being. Heidegger insists that what the call re-
veals is the nothing of the world, or the onto-
logical “nullity” at the basis of Dasein’s being
(SZ283; BT329), which is to say that it reveals
no greater context into which the existence of
Dasein can be inscribed. Dasein must answer
for its own “being here” and this is why the call
does not report any event (SZ 277; BT 322)
since to have a content in this way would re-in-
scribe the call in the idle chatter (das Gerede)
of the “they.” Rather, the call summons by re-
maining silent, “nothing ensues” (SZ 279; BT
324), it has nothing to tell. Dasein is simply
confronted with the fact of its not being at
home in the world such that it is called out of
the immortal anonymity of the “they” and into
the radical individuality of its finite exis-
Put otherwise, anxiety and the call disclose
Dasein’s Being-in-the-world as a whole which
is to say that the world is bounded and dis-
closed as a meaning totality for Dasein. This is
not to say, of course, that Dasein and world are
separated fromone another in anxiety, but only
that the disclosure of Being-as-a-whole is an
ontological significance which cannot be
translated into ontic terms since the latter are
only possible within the world. This is why the
call has no content and compels no particular
Anxiety and the call of conscience
can properly be thought of as a phenomeno-
logical reduction inasmuch as the disclosure of
Dasein’s Being-as-a-whole is directly analo-
gous to the disclosure of transcendental sub-
jectivity that occurs in Husserl’s version of the
For Husserl, transcendental phe-
nomenology is not a science that stands along-
side other sciences (be they human or natural)
because these other sciences all make up the
content of the natural attitude. Transcendental
subjectivity, by contrast, discovers the natural
attitude and thus relativizes what was taken for
absolute by the natural attitude sciences. As
such, transcendental subjectivity is under-
stood as the ground on which all other sciences
ultimately derive their justification. Just as
Husserl insists that transcendental constitution
must not be read as offering a psychological
insight into the empirically living ego’s mental
process, Heidegger insists that the call of con-
science enjoins no particular engagement
since what it discloses is the very possibility of
engagement. The call has nothing to tell be-
cause it is an ontological and not an ontic dis-
It is important, however, for Heidegger to
avoid the impression that the uncanniness of
Dasein entails something prior to its Being-in-
The notion of the uncanny seems,
to all appearances, to entail a ground beyond
Being-in-the-world which makes the latter
possible. Were this the case, then Heidegger
would be closer to Fink’s notion of Vorsein
than he would like. Yet, Heidegger goes to
great lengths in the discussion of anxiety and
conscience to obviate any such impression.
The “not at home” nature of the Dasein in anxi-
ety that calls to the Dasein lost in the “they”
self does not lead to a turning away from the
world but is, in fact, a call to exist. This is be-
cause even though the call discloses nothing
specific, it discloses existence as a whole.
Thus, Heidegger says that
When the call is rightly understood, it gives us
that which in the existential sense is the “most
positive” of all—namely, the ownmost possibil-
ity which Dasein can present to itself, as a call-
ing-back which calls it forth into its factical po-
tentiality-for-being-its-Self at the time. To hear
the call authentically signifies bringing oneself
into a factical taking-action. (SZ 294; BT 341)
Thus understood, the uncanniness of the call
that individualizes Dasein draws it out of
inauthentic existing and inaugurates the possi-
bility of authentic existing. Again, there is an
analogy with Husserl here insofar as while
Husserl insists that the disclosure of the natural
attitude does not entail a turning away fromthe
natural attitude but a turn toward it as phenom-
so Heidegger claims that the disclosure
of Dasein’s inauthenticity in anxiety leads
only in a turning away from inauthentic exist-
ing and not existing as such. As Bernet notes,
“the Dasein that undergoes the disclosure of its
own being is very far from having broken all
ties with the world” (PR 265). Instead it en-
gages with its world for the first time in reso-
l ut e aut hent i ci t y. And r esol ut eness
(Entschlossenheit), as Heidegger says,
does not detach Dasein fromits world, nor does
it isolate it so that it becomes a free-floating “I.”
And how should it, when resoluteness as au-
thentic disclosedness, is authentically nothing
else than Being-in-the-world. (SZ298; BT344)
Here we see Heidegger clearly and explicitly
insisting that the reduction that leads us back
to the ground of all manifestation most assur-
edly enables a way back into the realm of con-
crete acting and existing. Elsewhere, he ex-
presses the same point by insisting that
philosophy’s true role is to bring the existing
subject to the point at which authentic acting is
demanded (GA 29/30 257/FCM 173). The
purpose of philosophy, then, is “not to de-
scribe the consciousness of man but to evoke
the Dasein in man” (GA29/30 258/FCM174).
In this sense, anxiety and conscience as enact-
ing the Heideggerian reduction not only lead
back from naïve everyday engagement to that
which makes such engagement possible but
lead forth into the possibility of authentic
engagement in light of its condition of
So there is a double movement in this pur-
ported Heideggerian reduction inasmuch as
the mood of anxiety and the call of conscience
constitute a “calling back” that “calls forth.”
This is, of course structurally identical to the
doubleness of reduction and construction that
were mooted but never properly explored in
the Grundprobleme lectures of 1927 (GA
24 29/BPP 22) in the sense that what is dis-
closed by the reduction is incomplete until it is
freely projected upon the horizon of what are
factically the possibilities of existing Dasein.
An analogy can also be drawn with the double
movement of the regressive and constructive
phenomenology described by Fink. And it is in
drawing this analogy that the discordance be-
tween these two approaches to the reduction is
most clearly flagged. While Fink’s construc-
tive phenomenology is explicitly designed to
explore the implications of the reduction be-
yond the domain of the given and therefore be-
yond any question of the actual existence of
the reflecting phenomenologist, Heidegger
crucially ties his constructive phenomenology
or the “calling forth” to the existential chal-
lenge to resolutely answer for oneself in be-
Transcendental Insight and
“Saving the Appearances”
It seems, fromall of this, that Heidegger has
very little in common with Fink’s notion that a
fully worked out reduction, which gives a
proper archaeology of the transcendental,
leads to a region of pre-being which cannot re-
enter the sphere of the mundanely existing in-
dividual. For Heidegger, not only can Dasein
bring the disclosure given in the reduction into
the world but it is as though this disclosure al-
lows it (Dasein) to properly be in the world for
the first time. The disclosure gives Dasein its
current factical situation and brings Dasein
into that situation (SZ 307; BT 354). Nor does
this disclosure result in an idealization of
Dasein’s existence but rather, it “springs from
a sober understanding of what are factically
the basic possibilities of Dasein” (SZ 310; BT
358). Thus, the reduction does not take us past
the human to a shadowy dimension of subjec-
tivity that constitutes it but leads us back to
what is most genuinely possible for a human
Here, as always, then, it was most certainly
Heidegger’s intention to use the reduction as a
way of bringing the irreducible facticity of
Dasein into viewas an antidote to the tendency
in Husserl to viewsubjectivity either as an em-
pirical datum or as ground anterior to the con-
stitution even of the meaning of being hu-
At stake here is not a subordination of
the transcendental to the existential but an un-
derstanding of the transcendental in terms of
the existential.
In what remains of this article, however, I
would like to investigate how successful
Heidegger’s intentions can really be in light of
what is disclosed in anxiety. It is my conten-
tion that the experience of anxiety involves a
radical isolation that perhaps makes Dasein’s
re-engagement with the world of the everyday
more problematic than Heidegger is suggest-
ing. If this is so, then Heidegger’s position, in
the cruelest of ironies, moves much closer to
Fink’s than initially appeared to be the case. In
his treatment of the matter, Rudolf Bernet
brings Fink and Heidegger close to one an-
other too but he does this by pointing to the fact
that, for both, the different dimensions of sub-
jectivity revealed in the reduction—Vorsein
for Fink and the radical isolation of anxious
Dasein for Heidegger—are not to be under-
stood as discoveries of the “real” nature of
subjectivity such as might supersede the sub-
jectivity of mundane existence but strata of the
one life of the subject.
Thus, for Heidegger,
what is revealed is the equiprimordiality of au-
thentic and inauthentic aspects of its subjective
existence in the sense that the reduction does
not dispel inauthenticity but reveals the impos-
sibility of being quit of it. Neither is authentic-
ity a state that can be definitively achieved but
calls for repetition (wiederholung) (SZ 308;
BT355) in the sense of a continuous attempt to
call itself back from fallenness and into
resolute existing.
Yet what can this really mean in practice?
Let us return for a moment to what in fact oc-
curs when Dasein is visited by anxiety.
Heidegger says that, in anxiety, the world “col-
lapses into itself; (it) has the character of com-
pletely lacking significance” (SZ 186; BT
231). We knowthat this does not mean that the
world disappears entirely, as was once sug-
gested by Husserl, but rather remains in obtru-
Furthermore, this collapse has to do
with all of Dasein’s ontic commitments (both
the ready-to-hand and the present-at-hand)
which are disclosed as inauthentic orientations
rooted in the world of the “they” self. The col-
lapse of significance discloses Dasein’s Being-
as-a-whole which is to say it discloses Da-
sein’s Being-towards-death or the fact that its
being is limited such that it must not simply
tarry along with the world but must decide the
meaning of its being. In turn, this gives sense to
the notion of anticipatory resoluteness (vor-
laufende Entschlossenheit) or the idea of act-
ing in anticipation of one’s death which, as
vorlaufende, is always ahead of itself such that
it discloses the essentially futural nature of
Dasein’s temporal structure. In this way, the
collapse of the world must be understood as a
modification of Dasein’s self in the sense that
it is not that the world disappears but that the
way I see myself in terms of the world has been
altered. In anxiety, I see myself in terms of
what is essential, which is to say that I amradi-
cally individualized as this finitely existing in-
dividual, here and now, for whom worldhood
is inalienable. I amreferred back to my factical
being here as the ground of my possibility to be
and which I cannot renege. Thus, anxiety
brings me before myself as the ground of my
possibility to be as well as the principle of my
responsibility to be.
In any case, Heidegger is aware of the diffi-
culty of uniting insight into the bounded (by
nothing) and limited nature of Dasein and res-
olute acting (SZ 302; BT 349)
but perhaps
this problem is deeper than he imagines for
how can the collapse of the world be rescued
and in what if any way is it like the world prior
to collapse?
When conscience calls, it pushes the world
of the “they” into insignificance (Bedeutungs-
losigkeit) (SZ 273; BT 317) in calling Dasein
forth to take over its own potentiality-for-be-
ing. This means, we have seen, that Dasein
“must qualify itself as Being-towards-death”
(SZ 306; BT 354) or act in the consciousness
of its own finitude. This does not, of course,
entail a new or second world but the same
world only now engaged from the standpoint
of individualized Dasein. The point is to inte-
grate what is communicated in anxiety into
acting but given that what is communicated is a
complete dissimulation of the world, it is diffi-
cult to see howthis is possible. Insight into the
wholeness structure of Dasein in Heidegger’s
analyses does not open the world as a field of
research as it had done for Husserl put
precisely pushes it into insignificance.
There are no answers to be found in the
world as such to the extent that there can be
nothing like what Husserl describes as the infi-
nite call of the world that ignites a striving that
marries the disclosive power of transcendental
subjectivity with the manifesting power of the
For Heidegger, there is no call of the
world but only the revelation of my finite being
here as given by the essential nullity of the
world. Of course, it was never Heidegger’s in-
tention to open a field of research with his ver-
sion of the reduction but it is difficult to see any
way back when the reduction stops me in my
tracks and discloses not the relative nature of
the everyday (or natural attitude) but its com-
plete insignificance. Nowhere is this clearer
than in Heidegger’s characterization of curios-
ity (Die Neugier) as an inauthentic moment in
which Dasein flees from itself. Curiosity, or
the desire to know how things are for the sake
of knowing itself, is the very essence of the sci-
entific spirit which seeks to transcend itself in
a joyful understanding of other being. In other
words, curiosity entails the openness of the
scientist to think about that which is remote
and not immediately connected with her own
existence. In this sense, curiosity is a mode of
the desire for truth that opens us to the question
of the truth of things. But this must be
inauthentic for Heidegger because “things”
have nothing to contribute and merely distract
from Dasein’s attempt to bring itself before it-
self in its wholeness structure.
Of course he is
right insofar as this is taken to mean that
Dasein must not understand its being as
“thing” being in the sense of being one of a se-
ries of possible objects of scientific research.
However, it seems that there lurks here an
equivocation between self-understanding in
the terms of scientific mind and scientific mind
per se. Heidegger becomes guilty of throwing
out the baby with the bath water here inasmuch
as it is not only the scientist’s self-interpreta-
tion but her very activity of seeking to know
howthings stand in the world that is character-
ized as inauthentic self evasion.
Contra Fink, Heidegger is most certainly to
be commended for his placement of the reduc-
tion in the context of existing Dasein. What is
more, his analyses of anxiety (and also of bore-
domin the Grundbegriffe lectures) are master-
ful examples of phenomenological analysis
which lay bare the way in which Dasein is
brought before itself in these specific attune-
ments. However, while the way back to the
grounding fundament of constitution may not
be in question the way forth certainly is. What I
mean is that while anxiety certainly brings
Dasein before itself as itself, it does so in a
quite specific way. As with phenomena such as
grief or falling in love—which interestingly
are less self-centered than those chosen by
Heidegger—anxiety brings me before myself
in a somewhat narrow way precisely because
what it discloses is my sheer factical, finite ex-
istence and nothing more. Now, it may appear
peculiar to seek to indict Heidegger on this
score given that the disclosure of Dasein as fi-
nite existence is precisely his point. Yet the
question is how exactly the realm of ontic en-
gagements is supposed to be illuminated by
this ontological disclosure. Heidegger is clear
that he intends precisely such an illumination
through his notion of conscience that calls us
to act in the light of our ownmost being but
since our ownmost being is disclosed in anxi-
ety and since anxiety is a mood that discloses
only to the extent that ontic engagements are
reduced to insignificance, this seems problem-
atic. In spite of Heidegger’s claims that it is Be-
ing-in-the-world as such that is given in anxi-
ety, it becomes clear that this grounding
stratum of subjectivity is not manifest through
Dasein’s mundane/ontic comportments but
only at their expense. Being-in-the-world as
such becomes visible not when the ontic realm
is relativized but when it is pushed into insig-
nificance by an attunement that brings me be-
fore myself as sheer existing. Thus, anxiety
initiates a loop of self-reference that is difficult
to break free fromand despite Heidegger’s de-
sire to think of insight into finitude as a motiva-
tion for concrete re-engagement in the world
of the ontic, it is not clear exactly how this in-
sight is supposed to motivate such action.
Finally, it is difficult to see how resoluteness
could entail anything other than contemplation
of one’s own death.
The problem can also be thought of in the
following way. We have seen that Heidegger
does not intend—as certain casual readings of
Sein und Zeit have often implied—to place
phenomenological vision of the fundamental
ontological question in opposition with the life
of ontic comportment. Rather he intends to
show precisely how the life of ontic comport-
ment is made possible through attention to the
ontic-ontological structures of Dasein’s being.
Thus, while we will always and inevitably fall
back into inauthentic “going along with
things” in the life of ontic comportment, such
inauthenticity is not to be defined as the es-
sence of the ontic life since Heidegger is
clearly making a case for the appropriation of
this life of ontic comportment in the light of the
ontological. And yet, there is an unfortunate
lack of description of what this renewed or re-
appropriated ontic sphere would actually look
like when seen with the new eyes that
phenomenological insight offers. Husserl, we
may recall, tended to situate his phenomenol-
ogy in the context of the adventure of reason
that was determinative of mankind’s being in
the world at both the mundane and transcen-
dental levels. As such, while the transcenden-
tal logic of phenomenology was most certainly
of a different order than the mundane logic as-
sociated with the life of ontic discovery, the
former was nevertheless to be understood as an
unfolding of what was implied in the latter.
Thus, subjectivity comes back to itself in a
sense inasmuch as the true import of ontic dis-
covery is revealed as subjective accomplish-
ment. This situation is more problematic in
Heidegger’s text as we have seen because he
simply does tend to describe the ontic realm
not as a realmof discovery that must be placed
in context but as a realm of almost mindless
coping that is swept away in phenomeno-
logical seeing. He does intend this realm to be
re-appropriated but this re-appropriation takes
the form of an almost primordial investiture
rather than a more thoughtful re-engagement
of what was already underway. Perhaps too
much of the substance of the ontic is lost, then,
in order for phenomenological seeing to
properly bring Dasein, as existential ground,
into view.
If this is the case, then it is perhaps attribut-
able to the phenomenon of anxiety itself as a
way into reduction insofar as giving Dasein to
itself “as a whole,” it precisely “traumatizes”
Dasein leading to the dissimulation of signifi-
cance in the world of the everyday. As such,
the chasmthat separates the world of everyday
acting from phenomenological seeing is thus
shown to be nigh on abyssal
such that to
phenomenologize involves more than simply a
Husserlian “shift of focus” between a natural
and a phenomenological attitude,
but rather
takes the form of a traumatized subjectivity
that retains the possibility to confront itself be-
yond its fallen everydayness but struggles to
bear witness to the disclosure given in
phenomenological seeing in the world of
concrete engagements.
It might be tempting here to respond to this
objection by saying that if this outcome per-
tains to Heidegger then it does also to Husserl
in the sense that the latter too would be in-
dicted as initiating a reduction that destroys
the possibility of meaningful engagement in
the world. I believe that this counter-objection
fails precisely because the reduction in Husserl
does not give transcendental subjectivity “as a
whole” in the way it does for Heidegger and it
is this latter that “traumatizes” Dasein leading
to the dissimulation of significance in the
world of the everyday. The reduction in
Husserl gives the natural attitude as and infi-
nite stream of possible experience and while
this stream is relativized and indexed to tran-
scendental subjectivity, it can stay in focus in
the terms of its own meaningfulness in a way
that is more problematic in Heidegger’s reduc-
tion. Anxiety does not point to the meaning-
fulness of the world but only to the finitude of
Dasein’s own being.
In this way, there is a schism in transcen-
dental life not so different fromthe one present
in Fink’s Sixth Cartesian Meditation. For both
Heidegger and Fink, there is initiated a prob-
lem of communication resulting from the per-
formance of the reduction. For Fink this is be-
cause the reduction leads us into a region of
pre-being which lacks the language to express
itself in the mundane sphere. There is no such
region of pre-being for Heidegger and yet the
riveting insight into the solitary nature of
Dasein also suggests a zero point in the reduc-
tion which cannot shed light on the world of
the everyday (in spite of Heidegger’s best ef-
forts). Rudolf Bernet is right, of course, to
point out that the phenomenological onlooker
and the Dasein in anxiety are strata of subjec-
tivity and not subjectivity itself in Fink and
Heidegger respectively, but this cannot alter
the fact that in leading back to these strata, the
reduction for both Fink and Heidegger leads to
a stratumthat disturbs the capacity of the mun-
dane or everyday world to be meaningful on its
own terms. For Fink, this is because the mun-
dane or ontic realm is completely dis-
analogous to the depths of the pre-ontic tran-
scendental realm while for Heidegger, the
reason is that all ontic commitments do not
simply show themselves as ontic but fall away
into irrelevance in the face of my ownmost
possibility of being.
Back to Husserl?
Does this mean that the phenomenological
reduction by definition undermines attach-
ment to the world of the everyday to the extent
that the “way back” becomes a problem? I be-
lieve that it need not and while this issue can-
not be explored in detail here, the solution to
this problem may lay partially, at least in the
esteemin which Husserl held the mundane sci-
ences. For Husserl, phenomenological insight
offers “the possibility of a new, higher human-
ity” (SCM 130)
as we have seen. Rather than
insisting on an absolute break between the fi-
nite knowing of the mundane sciences with the
infinite knowing of the transcendental (as Fink
does—SCM 140) or indeed, rejecting the in-
finity of experience for the experience of fini-
tude (as Heidegger does), Husserl suggests
that the natural sciences find their place in phe-
nomenology (SCM 109) by removing their
dogmatic blinders such that they realize the
value of their own work in the context of tran-
scendental constitution (SCM 115). Once
again, this limits the scope of mundane science
but it simultaneously elevates rather than de-
stroys its significance. The phenomenologist,
in Husserl’s mind, may often be alienated from
the self-interpretation of the non-phenomeno-
logist or the natural attitude scientist but he is
never alienated from this region as such. This
is less straightforward for Fink and Heidegger
who are both led, in their respective versions of
the reduction, to a solitary realm in which the
breakdown of our captivation with the world is
purchased at the price of this very world losing
its flavor such that we are condemned, like
Plato’s prisoner, to stumble blindly in a world
whose significance can no longer speak to us.
1. On the continuity between the transcendental and
the mundane, Eugen Fink notes that for Husserl,
“the ‘transcendental ideality’ of beings is not only
compatible with their ‘empirical reality’ but also the
latter is directly grounded in the former and is only
comprehensible with reference to it.” See Eugen
Fink, “The Phenomenological Philosophy of
Edmund Husserl and Contemporary Criticism,” in
The Phenomenology of Husserl, ed. and trans. R. O.
Elveton (Seattle: Noesis Press, 2000), 87. Hence-
forth, this article will be referred to as PHC.
2. Eugen Fink, VI. Cartesianische Meditation Teil 1:
Die Idee einer Transzendentalen Methodenlehre
(Husserliana Dokumente II), hrsg. von Hans
Ebeling, Jann Holl, and Guy van Kerckhoven
(Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1988); Sixth Cartesian Medita-
tion: The Idea of a Transcendental Theory of
Method, trans. Ronald Bruzina (Bloomington: Indi-
ana University Press, 1995). All future reference is
to the English translation. Cited as SCM.
3. Martin Heidegger, Sein und Zeit, 18 Aufl.
(Tübingen: Niemeyer, 2001); Being and Time, trans.
John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (Oxford:
Blackwell, 1995). Henceforth SZ; BT.
4. Adetailed history of the genesis and intent of Fink’s
text can be found in Ronald Bruzina’s excellent
“Translator’s Introduction” to Sixth Cartesian Med-
itation, vii-xcii. See also the same author’s Edmund
Husserl and Eugen Fink: Beginnings and Ends in
Phenomenology 1928–38 (New Haven: Yale Uni-
versity Press, 2004).
5. Eugen Fink, “The Phenomenological Philosophy of
Edmund Husserl.” This article, which originally ap-
peared in Kant Studien 38 (1933), 319–83, with the
title, ”Die Phänomenologische Philosophie
Edmund Husserls in der Gegenwärtigen Kritik,”
was a reworking of the Sixth Cartesian Meditation.
On this, see Bruzina’s “Translator’s Introduction,”
6. Steven Crowell, “Gnostic Phenomenology: Eugen
Fink and the Critique of Transcendental Reason,” in
Husserl, Heidegger and the Space of Meaning:
Paths Towards Transcendental Phenomenology
(Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2001),
253. Henceforth GP. According to Crowell, it is un-
clear whether the kind of investigation Fink has in
mind here can still be considered ‘phenomenology’
or whether it leaves phenomenology behind for the
sake of dialectic metaphysical speculation. This
question is pressing because the principle of all
principles was formulated precisely to avoid this
kind of speculation in favour of a return to a study of
conscious experience as it is in fact given.
7. On t he t hree-way spl i t , see Fi nk, “The
Phenomenological Philosophy of Edmund
Husserl,” 109–10, in addition to Sixth Cartesian
Meditation, 12–13.
8. This would seem to entail the possibility of an infi-
nite regress in the sense that a fourth ego would be
needed in order to reflect on the activity of the tran-
scendental onlooker. Fink, however, rejects this pre-
cisely because the onlooker does not constitute but
merely observes such that there is no ground upon
which a further distinction could be made. See Sixth
Cartesian Meditation, 26.
9. Fink, “The Phenomenological Philosophy of
Edmund Husserl,” 119.
10. I owe this insight to Steven Crowell who points to
Husserl’s confrontation with Heidegger at the time
of the Encyclopaedia Britannica article in which
Heidegger was uncomfortable with Husserl’s pre-
sentationof the human subject as a constitutedsense
whose being was to be thought of as naturally pos-
ited. On this see Steven Crowell, “Husserl,
Heidegger and Transcendental Philosophy: An-
other Look at the Encyclopaedia Britannica Arti-
cle,” in Husserl, Heidegger and the Space of
Meaning, 172. Henceforth HH.
11. On the notion of the appellation ‘human being’ as a
constituted sense, see, for example, Husserl’s
“Amsterdamer Vorträge” (“Amsterdam Lectures”),
i n Edmund Husserl , Phänomenol ogi sche
Psychologie, Hua IX, hrsg. von Walter Biemel (The
Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1968), 314. A translation
of this text can be found in Edmund Husserl, Psycho-
logical and Transcendental Phenomenology and the
Confrontation with Heidegger (1927–31), trans. and
ed. Thomas Sheehan and Richard E. Palmer
(Dordrecht: Springer, 1997), 224. Henceforth PTP.
This work is largely a translation of Husserliana IX.
On the notion that grounding phenomenology in hu-
man existence misses the point of the reduction, see
Husserl’s essay “Phänomenologie und Anthro-
pologie” (“Phenomenology and Anthropology”) in
Aufsätze und Vorträge 1922–37, Hua XXVII, hrsg.
von Thomas Nenon and Hans-Reiner Sepp
(Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1989), where he revealingly
states that:
It seems all too obvious to say to oneself: “I, this
human being (dieser Mensch), am the one who is
practicing the method of a transcendental alter-
ation of attitude whereby one withdraws back into
the pure ego . . .” But clearly those who talk this
way have fallen back into the naïve, natural atti-
tude. (Psychological and Transcendental Phe-
nomenology, 193)
12. With regard to the issue of self-understanding, it is
clear that the separation between the transcendental
and the mundane sphere is not, of course, absolute
given that natural language is part and parcel of the
world-constituting that is the very activity of tran-
scendental subjectivity. However, this constituting
goes on anonymously in the sense that it does not
know itself as constituting until the performance of
the reduction. The challenge for the theory of
method to show transcendental subjectivity to itself,
as such, is enormous because there are no appropri-
ate terms. Unfortunately, this issue is not one that can
be developed further in the present context.
13. Fink, “The Phenomenological Philosophy of
Edmund Husserl,” 120.
14. In his preface to the Kant Studien article (“The
Phenomenol ogi cal Phi l osophy of Edmund
Husserl”), which is very similar to the Sixth Carte-
sian Meditation in terms of content, Husserl states
that the article “contains no sentence which I could
not completelyaccept as my own or openly acknowl-
edge as my own conviction” (“The Phenomeno-
logical Philosophy of Edmund Husserl,” 71). This is
perplexing given Husserl’s obvious displeasure with
certain of Fink’s conclusions.
15. Fink’s claim that “Absolute science, towards which
phenomenologising is organised, is, as the actuality
of the being-for-itself of the Absolute, the system of
living truth in which it knows itself absolutely”
(Sixth Cartesian Meditation, 152) sounds extraordi-
narily Hegelian.
16. Crowell, “Gnostic Phenomenology,” 249.
17. It is generally agreed that the reduction first appears
in Husserl’s writings in the five lectures delivered at
Göttingen in 1907, which are published as Die Idee
der Phänomenologie: Fünf Vorlesungen, Hua II,
hrsg. von Walter Biemel (Dordrecht: Springer,
1973); The Idea of Phenomenology, trans. Lee
Hardy (Dordrecht: Springer, 1999).
18. See for example Edmund Husserl, Cartesianische
Meditationen und Pariser Vorträge, Hua I, hrsg.
von Stephan Strasser (The Hague: Martinus
Nijhoff, 1963), 60; Cartesian Meditations, trans.
Dorion Cairns (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff,
1973), 20. Henceforth Hua I/CM.
19. In a letter to Husserl from 1927, Heidegger states
that: “We are in agreement on the fact that entities in
the sense of what you call ‘world’ cannot be ex-
plained in their transcendental constitution by re-
turning to an entity of the same mode of being.” It
was Heidegger’s contention, of course, that
Dasein’s worldhood or Insein forms the ground of
what it can mean for an entity to be worldly
(Vorhanden) and he contended also that Husserl did
not understand this point. See Psychological and
Transcendental Phenomenology, 38.
20. Heidegger described the Logical Investigations as a
text that continued to captivate him even after the
publication of Ideas. See “My Way into Phenomen-
ology” in On Time and Being, trans. Joan
Stambaugh (Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
2002), 78. It is noteworthy alsothat when discussing
in detail the breakthrough concepts of phenomenol-
ogy in the 1925 lecture course Prolegomena zur
Geschichte des Zeitbegriffs, GA 20, hrsg. von Petra
Jaeger (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann,
1979), 34f.; History of the Concept of Time: Prole-
gomena, trans. Theodore Kisiel (Bloomington: In-
diana University Press, 1985), 27f., Heidegger re-
stricts himself to the notions of intentionality,
categorial intuition, and the a priori which are de-
veloped in the earlier work and makes almost no
mention of the Ideas. See also Sein und Zeit, 38; Be-
ing and Time, 62, where Heidegger says that his
Sein und Zeit investigation “would not have been
possible if the ground had not been prepared by
Edmund Husserl , wi t h whose Logi sche
Untersuchungen phenomenology first emerged.”
For a detailed discussion of the relationship be-
tween Heidegger and the Logische Untersuch-
ungen, see also Jacques Taminiaux, “Heidegger and
Husserl’s Logical Investigations,” in James Decker
and Robert Crease, eds., Dialectic and Difference
Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1985),
91–112, and leads inevitably to the sort of “gnostic”
move evidenced by Fink’s text such as would jettison
the very furniture by which living is known for the
sake of a flight into the kind of speculative forms that
are impossible, in principle, to experience.
21. Martin Heidegger, Die Grundprobleme der
Phänomenologie, GA 24, hrsg. von Friedrich-Wil-
helm von Hermann (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio
Klostermann, 2005), 29; The Basic Problems of Phe-
nomenology, trans. Albert Hofstadter (Bloomington:
Indiana University Press, 1975), 21. Henceforth GA
22. Ibid. When Heidegger says here that “we are led back
from the apprehension of a being, whatever may be
the character of that apprehension” (my italics), he
means to stress that the Husserlian emphasis on the
constitution of noema through noetic, meaning-in-
tending acts is derivative of a more fundamental ori-
23. Rudolf Bernet, “Phenomenological Reduction and
the Double Life of the Subject,” in Theodore Kisiel
and John van Buren, eds., Reading Heidegger From
the Start: Essays in his Earliest Thought (Albany:
SUNY Press, 1994), 256. Henceforth PR.
24. Cartesianische Meditationen, 60/Cartesian Medita-
tions, 21.
25. For reasons of focus, it is best not to pursue discus-
sion of the first reduction identified by Bernet. In ad-
dition to drawing attention away from our central
purpose here, there are grounds to question the use of
the terminology of reduction in Bernet’s argument.
While he is certainly correct to point out that
unusability, obtrusiveness, and obstinacy drawatten-
tion to the phenomenon of the world, it is by no
means clear that there is a corresponding alteration
(Spaltung or ego-splitting in Husserl’s terms) in the
life of the subject brought about by this interruption.
Thus while Husserl’s reduction (and Heidegger’s
second reduction) entail both disclosure of the phe-
nomenon of the world and of a dimension of subjec-
tivity that was not previously accessible, Heidegger’s
first reduction entails only the first of these condi-
26. Martin Heidegger, Die Grundbegriffe der Meta-
physik: Welt-Endlichkeit-Einsamkeit, GA 29/30,
hrsg. von Friedrich-Wilhelm von Hermann (Frank-
furt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1983), 101;
Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics: World, Fini-
tude, Solitude, trans. William McNeill and Nicholas
Walker (Bloomington: Indiana University Press,
1995), 67. Henceforth GA 29/30/FCM.
27. For an analogous discussion of boredom, see Die
Grundbegriffe der Metaphysik, 207–08/Fundamen-
tal Concepts of Metaphysics, 137–38.
28. See also Die Grundbegriffe der Metaphysik, 216/
Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics, 143 on the
29. Heidegger’s discussion of the notion of the debt in
regard to conscience has to do with the fact that con-
science address Dasein as “Guilty” (Sein und Zeit,
281; Being and Time, 326). In German, the word for
guilt (Schuld) usually also has the connotation of a
debt that is owed to someone. Heidegger insists that
any ontic interpretation of the ontological import of
the call of conscience “perverts” the true meaning of
the call.
30. Because das Man is everyone and no one, it is not
Dasein (only a possible comportment of Dasein)
and so can neither be born nor die.
31. Heidegger’s understanding of conscience is remi-
niscent of the Socratic daimon which never en-
joined any particular action but only made itself felt
to reprove. See Plato, Apology 31d.
32. One important difference remains however, and that
is to do with the fact that while Husserl’s reduction
is an act of my freedom, the mood of anxiety and
even the call of conscience are events that are under-
gone by Dasein. To be sure, Heidegger discusses the
notion of ‘wanting to have a conscience’
(Gewissenhabenwollen) (Sein und Zeit, 270; Being
and Time, 314) as that which makes us open to the
communication of the call but there remains for all
that, a passivity in this version of the reduction that
has little analogue in Husserl’s discussion.
33. Of course the ontological disclosure of the call re-
lates precisely discloses the ontically existing
Dasein. It is at this point that the inseparabilityof the
ontic and the ontological in Sein und Zeit is most
clearly in viewin the sense that neither is explicable
without reference to this grounding centre point in
which they converge.
34. This is especially the case in relation to the German
Unheimlich which gives greater expression to
Dasein’s “not being at home” than “uncanny” can.
35. Edmund Husserl, Ideen zu einer Reinen Phä-
nomenologie und phänomenologischen Philoso-
phie: Erstes Buch, Husserliana III, hrsg. von Karl
Schumann (Den Haag: Martinus Nijhoff, 1976), 94;
Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a
Phenomenological Philosophy: First Book, trans.
Fred Kersten (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1983), 113.
36. It should be noted, furthermore, that this under-
standing of the reduction is more than simply a prin-
ciple of self-concern for Heidegger but actually
forms the basis of what might be called a proto-eth-
ics in his thought. Thus, he says that authentically
resolute Being-in-the-world is not a mere call to self-
concerned action but also makes possible an authen-
tic being with others (Sein und Zeit, 298; Being and
Time, 344). That is, the undergoing of anxiety allows
us to genuinely be with one another in a way that was
never possible in the amorphous anonymity of the
37. That is to say, Husserl’s distinction between the em-
pirical and transcendental egos tends to point to a
paradox in the relationshipof philosophizingand hu-
man existence in the sense that while the empirical
ego is often treated as a mere object of anthropologi-
cal or psychological study, the transcendental ego is
often, and certainly in Fink’s text, presented as tran-
scending the human. We have seen from Husserl’s
marginal notes on the Sixth Cartesian Meditation
that he did not, of course, intend the transcendental
ego to be read as escaping the domain of the human
but he struggled, at least as far as Heidegger was con-
cerned, to satisfactorily resolve this issue. It is in this
context that Heidegger’s identification of the tran-
scendental withexistingDaseinis tobe understood.
38. Here I ambroadly following Steven Crowell’s analy-
sis of the relation between Husserl and Heidegger.
According to Crowell, we misunderstand the
Husserl/Heidegger relation if we present it as involv-
ing a dispute over whether phenomenology should
be transcendental or ontological since the real ques-
tion that separates them is whether transcendental
phenomenology should be epistemological
(Husserl) or ontological (Heidegger). On this see
“Husserl, Heidegger, and Transcendental Philoso-
39. Bernet says that “there is no Dasein whose being
could epitomise authentic existence, no more than
there was a pure phenomenologising spectator for
Husserl and Fink” (“Phenomenological Reduction
and the Double Life of the Subject,” 266).
40. Ideas I §49. The meaning of the discussion “world
annihilation” or Weltvernichtigung is too complex a
matter to be discussed here. Suffice it to say that this
much maligned chapter of the Ideas was never meant
to suggest that the transcendental ego could survive
the actual annihilation of the world nor that con-
sciousness in isolationcould provide a Cartesianfirst
principle. Husserl’s point was simply to underline
the inconceivabilityof the manifestationof the world
in the absence of subjectivity. Admittedly, Husserl
could have been clearer in making this point. For
useful discussions of this point, see Rudolf Bernet,
“Husserl’s Concept of World,” in Arleen B. Dallery,
Charles E. Scott, and P. Holley Roberts eds., Crises
in Continental Philosophy (Albany: SUNY Press,
1990), 3–22, and also Søren Overgaard, “Epoché
and Solipsistic Reduction,” Husserl Studies
18 (2002): 209–22.
Bodø University College, Bodø 8049, Norway
41. Heidegger here asks rhetorically, “What can death
and the ‘concrete situation’ of taking action have in
42. On this issue of striving and the infinite call of the
world see, for example, Edmund Husserl,
“Erneuerung als Individualethisches Problem,” in
Aufsätze und Vorträge 1922–1937, 34.
43. This issue of Heidegger’s position regarding the sci-
entific enterprise is masterfully discussed by
Karsten Harries in “Truth and Freedom,” in Robert
Sokolowski, ed., Edmund Husserl and the
Phenomenological Tradition, (Washington, D.C.:
Catholic University of America Press, 1988),
44. Ibid., 147. Harries notes that Heidegger states that
science has “its source in authentic existence” but
correctly questions whether this claim is at all sus-
tainable in light of the identification of scientific ac-
tivity with inauthentic curiosity.
45. Søren Overgaard makes the point that the everyday
is bracketed more by Heidegger than by Husserl in
the sense that Husserl takes the concerns of the ev-
eryday more at face value. See Overgaard, Husserl
and Heidegger on Being in the World (Dordrecht:
Springer, 2004), 19.
46. See, for example, Edmund Husserl, “Inaugural Lec-
ture at Freiburg-im-Breisgau” (1917), trans. Robert
Welsh Jordan, in Husserl: Shorter Works, ed. Peter
McCormick and Frederick A. Elliston(Notre Dame,
Indiana: Notre Dame University Press, 1981), 13.
47. All reference to the Sixth Cartesian Meditation from
here on is to Husserl’s marginalia unless otherwise
48. Plato, Republic 517a.

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