|dc.description.abstract||It is our intention in the course of the development of this
thesis to give an account of how intersubjectivity is "eidetically"
constituted by means of the application of the phenomenological reduction
to our experience in the context of the thought of Edmund
Husserl; contrasted with various representative thinkers in what H.
Spiegelberg refers to as "the wider scene" of phenomenology. That is
to say, we intend to show those structures of both consciousness and
the relation which man has to the world which present themselves as
the generic conditions for the possibility of overcoming our "radical
sol itude" in order that we may gain access to the mental 1 ife of an
Other as other human subject. It is clear that in order for us to
give expression to these accounts in a coherent manner, along with
their relative merits, it will be necessary to develop the common features
of any phenomenological theory of consdousness whatever. Therefore,
our preliminary inquiry, subordinate to the larger theme, shall
be into some of the epistemological results of the application of the
phenomenological method used to develop a transcendental theory of
consciousness. Inherent in this will be the deliniation of the exigency
for making this an lIintentional ll theory. We will then be able
to see how itis possible to overcome transcendentally the Other as
an object merely given among other merely given objects, and further,
how this other is constituted specifically as other ego.
The problem of transcendental intersubjectivity and its constitution
in experience can be viewed as one of the most compelling,
if not the most polemical of issues in phenomenology. To be sure,
right from the beginning we are forced to ask a number of questions
regarding Husserl's responses to the problem within the context of
the methodological genesis of the Cartesian Meditations, and The
Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology. This
we do in order to set the stage for amplification.
First, we ask, has Husserl lived up to his goal, in this connexion,
of an apodictic result? We recall that in his Logos article
of 1911 he adminished that previous philosophy
does not have at its disposal a merely incomplete
and, in particular instances, imperfect doctrinal
system; it simply has none whatever. Each and
every question is herein controverted, each position
is a matter of individual conviction, of the interpretation
given byaschool, of a "point of view". 1.
Moreover in the same article he writes that his goal is
a philosophical system of doctrine that, after the
gigantic preparatory work. of generations, really be-
. gins from the ground up with a foundation free from
doubt and rises up like any skilful construction,
wherein stone is set upon store, each as solid as the
other, in accord with directive insights. 2.
Reflecting upon the fact that he foresaw "preparatory work of generations",
we perhaps should not expect that he would claim that his
was the last word on the matter of intersubjectivity. Indeed, with
'Edmund Husserl, lIPhilosophy as a Rigorous Science" in Phenomenology
and theCrisis6fPhilosophy, trans". with an introduction by
Quentin Lauer (New York.: Harper & Row, 1965) pp. 74 .. 5.
2Ibid . pp. 75 .. 6.
the relatively small amount of published material by Husserl on the
subject we can assume that he himself was not entirely satisfied with
The second question we have is that if the transcendental reduction
is to yield the generic and apodictic structures of the relationship
of consciousness to its various possible objects, how far
can we extend this particular constitutive synthetic function to
intersubjectivity where the objects must of necessity always remain
delitescent? To be sure, the type of 'object' here to be considered
is unlike any other which might appear in the perceptual field. What
kind of indubitable evidence will convince us that the characteristic
which we label "alter-ego" and which we attribute to an object which
appears to resemble another body which we have never, and can never
see the whole of (namely, our own bodies), is nothing more than a
cleverly contrived automaton? What;s the nature of this peculiar intentional
function which enables us to say "you think just as I do"?
If phenomenology is to take such great pains to reduce the takenfor-
granted, lived, everyday world to an immanent world of pure presentation,
we must ask the mode of presentation for transcendent sub ..
jectivities. And in the end, we must ask if Husserl's argument is
not reducible to a case (however special) of reasoning by analogy,
and if so, tf this type of reasoning is not so removed from that from
whtch the analogy is made that it would render all transcendental intersubjective
2. HistoticalandEidetic Priority: The Necessity of
The problem is not a simple one. What is being sought are the
conditions for the poss ibili:ty of experi encing other subjects. More
precisely, the question of the possibility of intersubjectivity is
the question of the essence of intersubjectivity. What we are seeking
is the absolute route from one solitude to another. Inherent in
this programme is the ultimate discovery of the meaning of community.
That this route needs be lIabstract" requires some explanation.
It requires little explanation that we agree with Husserl in
the aim of fixing the goal of philosophy on apodictic, unquestionable
results. This means that we seek a philosophical approach which is,
though, not necessarily free from assumptions, one which examines
and makes explicit all assumptions in a thorough manner.
It would be helpful at this point to distinguish between lIeidetic ll
priority, and JlhistoricallJpriority in order to shed some light on
the value, in this context, of an abstraction.3
It is true that intersubjectivity is mundanely an accomplished
fact, there havi.ng been so many mi.llions of years for humans to beIt
eve in the exi s tence of one another I s abili ty to think as they do.
But what we seek is not to study how this proceeded historically, but
3Cf• Maurice Natanson;·TheJburne in 'Self, a Stud in Philoso h
and Social Role (Santa Cruz, U. of California Press, 1970 .
rather the logical, nay, "psychological" conditions under which this
is possible at all. It is therefore irrelevant to the exigesis of
this monograph whether or not anyone should shrug his shoulders and
mumble IIwhy worry about it, it is always already engaged".
By way of an explanation of the value of logical priority, we
can find an analogy in the case of language. Certainly the language
in a spoken or written form predates the formulation of the appropriate
grammar. However, this grammar has a logical priority insofar as it
lays out the conditions from which that language exhibits coherence.
The act of formulating the grammar is a case of abstraction.
The abstraction towards the discovery of the conditions for the
poss; bi 1 ity of any experiencing whatever, for which intersubjective
experience is a definite case, manifests itself as a sort of "grammar".
This "grammar" is like the basic grammar of a language in the sense
that these "rulesil are the ~ priori conditions for the possibility of
that experience. There is, we shall say, an "eidetic priority", or a
generic condition which is the logical antecedent to the taken-forgranted
object of experience. In the case of intersubjectivity we
readily grant that one may mundanely be aware of fellow-men as fellowmen,
but in order to discover how that awareness is possible it is necessary
to abstract from the mundane, believed-in experience. This
process of abstraction is the paramount issue; the first step, in the
search for an apodictic basis for social relations.
How then is this abstraction to be accomplished? What is the
nature of an abstraction which would permit us an Archimedean point,
absolutely grounded, from which we may proceed? The answer can be
discovered in an examination of Descartes in the light of Husserl's
3. The Impulse for Scientific Philosophy. The Method to
which it Gives Rise.
Foremost in our inquiry is the discovery of a method appropriate
to the discovery of our grounding point. For the purposes of our investigations,
i.e., that of attempting to give a phenomenological
view of the problem of intersubjectivity, it would appear to be of cardinal
importance to trace the attempt of philosophy predating Husserl,
particularly in the philosophy of Descartes, at founding a truly
IIscientific ll philosophy. Paramount in this connexion would be the impulse
in the Modern period, as the result of more or less recent discoveries
in the natural sciences, to found philosophy upon scientific
and mathematical principles. This impulse was intended to culminate
in an all-encompassing knowledge which might extend to every realm of
possible thought, viz., the universal science ot IIMathexis Universalis ll •4
This was a central issue for Descartes, whose conception of a universal
science would include all the possible sciences of man.
This inclination towards a science upon which all other sciences
might be based waS not to be belittled by Husserl, who would appropriate
4This term, according to Jacab Klein, was first used by Barocius,
the translator of Proclus into Latin, to designate the highest mathematical
it himself in hopes of establishing, for the very first time, philosophy
as a "rigorous science". It bears emphasizing that this in
fact was the drive for the hardening of the foundations of philosophy,
the link between the philosophical projects of Husserl and those of
the philosophers of the modern period. Indeed, Husserl owes Descartes
quite a debt for indicating the starting place from which to attempt
a radical, presupositionless, and therefore scientific philosophy,
in order not to begin philosophy anew, but rather for the first time.5
The aim of philosophy for Husserl is the search for apodictic,
radical certitude. However while he attempted to locate in experience
the type of necessity which is found in mathematics, he wished this
necessity to be a function of our life in the world, as opposed to the
definition and postulation of an axiomatic method as might be found in
the unexpurgated attempts to found philosophy in Descartes. Beyond the
necessity which is involved in experiencing the world, Husserl was
searching for the certainty of roots, of the conditi'ons which underl ie
experience and render it pOssible.
Descartes believed that hi~ MeditatiOns had uncovered an absolute
ground for knowledge, one founded upon the ineluctable givenness of
thinking which is present even when one doubts thinking. Husserl, in
acknowledging this procedure is certainly Cartesian, but moves, despite
this debt to Descartes, far beyond Cartesian philosophy i.n his phenomenology
(and in many respects, closer to home).
5Cf. Husserl, Philosophy as a Rigorous Science, pp. 74ff.
But wherein lies this Cartesian jumping off point by which we
may vivify our theme?
Descartes, through inner reflection, saw that all of his convictions
and beliefs about the world were coloured in one way or another
... at the end I feel constrained to reply that there
is nothing in a all that I formerly believed to be
true, of which I cannot in some measure doubt, and that
not merely through want of thought or through levity,
but for reasons which are very powerful and maturely
considered; so that henceforth I ought not the less
carefully to refrain from giving credence to these opinions
than to that which is manifestly false, if I desire
to arrive at any certainty (in the sciences). 6
Doubts arise regardless of the nature of belief - one can never
completely believe what one believes.
Therefore, in order to establish absolutely grounded knowledge,
which may serve as the basis fora "universal Science", one must use a
method by which one may purge oneself of all doubts and thereby gain
some radically indubitable insight into knowledge.
Such a method, gescartes found, was that, as indicated above by
hi,s own words, of II radical doubt" which "forbids in advance any judgemental
use of (previous convictions and) which forbids taking any
position with regard to their val idi'ty. ,,7 This is the method of the
"sceptical epoche ll , the method of doubting all which had heretofor
6Descartes,Meditations on First Philosophy, first Med.,
(Libera 1 Arts Press, New York, 1954) trans. by L. LaFl eur. pp. 10.
7Husserl ,CrisiS of Eliroeari SCiences and Trariscendental Phenomenology,
(Northwestern U. Press, Evanston, 1 7 ,p. 76.
been considered as belonging to the world, including the world itself.
What then is left over? Via the process of a thorough and all-inclusive
doubting, Descartes discovers that the ego which performs the epoche,
or "reduction", is excluded from these things which can be doubted, and,
in principle provides something which is beyond doubt. Consequently
this ego provides an absolute and apodictic starting point for founding
By way of this abstention. of bel ief, Desca'rtes managed to reduce
the worl d of everyday 1 ife as bel ieved in, to mere 'phenomena', components
of the rescogitans:. Thus:, having discovered his Archimedean point,
the existence of the ego without question, he proceeds to deduce the 'rest'
of the world with the aid of innate ideas and the veracity of God.
In both Husserl and Descartes the compelling problem is that of
establ ishing a scientific, apodictic phi'losophy based upon presuppos itionless
groundwork .. Husserl, in thi.s regard, levels the charge at
Descartes that the engagement of his method was not complete, such that
hi.S: starting place was not indeed presupositionless, and that the validity
of both causality and deductive methods were not called into question
i.'n the performance of theepoche. In this way it is easy for an absolute
evidence to make sure of the ego as: a first, "absolute, indubitablyexisting
tag~end of the worldll , and it is then only a matter of inferring the
absolute subs.tance and the other substances which belon.g to the world,
along with my own mental substance, using a logically val i d deductive
8Husserl, E.;' Cartesian 'Meditation;, trans. Dorion Cairns
(Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, 1970), p. 24 ff.||en_US