ARON GURWITSCH PDF

Publisher Page. In his Vienna Lecture of , Edmund Husserl argues that the emergence of philosophy from the surrounding world of the Greeks marks the primal phenomenon of Spiritual Europe, which puts in place the ideal of science as the infinite task of reason. For the replacement of the rational, thinking subject with a naturalistic psychology threatens to make senseless the teleology of Europe. The resultant reorientation of science, in which the role of the constituting intellect can be radically clarified, allows the rationality of the task of knowledge to be regained. For Husserl, the European identity of phenomenology was not to be understood in terms of geographical or ethnic boundaries but rather in spiritual terms, as the infinite demand of reason.

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Publisher Page. In his Vienna Lecture of , Edmund Husserl argues that the emergence of philosophy from the surrounding world of the Greeks marks the primal phenomenon of Spiritual Europe, which puts in place the ideal of science as the infinite task of reason.

For the replacement of the rational, thinking subject with a naturalistic psychology threatens to make senseless the teleology of Europe.

The resultant reorientation of science, in which the role of the constituting intellect can be radically clarified, allows the rationality of the task of knowledge to be regained. For Husserl, the European identity of phenomenology was not to be understood in terms of geographical or ethnic boundaries but rather in spiritual terms, as the infinite demand of reason. Nevertheless, it is only because of the antecedent constitution of a European spiritual sphere that the peculiar methods and aims of phenomenology have a meaning and motivation.

The possibility of phenomenological investigation is therefore bound up, at least for Husserl, with the spiritual crisis and progress of Europe. But is phenomenology essentially European, so that descriptive science has meaning only within a living tradition of rational inquiry?

In that case, the universalizing tendency of the European scientific interest would rightfully be considered as the endogenous force driving phenomenological investigation. Or, alternatively, is phenomenology only accidentally European, so that reflective analysis as a method of philosophizing was merely codified in the German university but is in principle amenable to non-European interests? If that were so, the particular content of a phenomenological analysis might be given exogenously by a surrounding world that is not essentially European.

The historical examination of the phenomenological movement in North America has the potential to clarify how these two seemingly heterogenous pictures of phenomenology — one of the expansion of a European cultural sphere to new lands and persons, the other of the absorption of way of seeing that is enjoyed by diverse subjects who bring their own interests and concerns to the enterprise — can be reconciled. Lester Embree and Michael D. The remainder of the introduction provides an admirable discussion of the centrality of the New School in introducing phenomenological approaches not only in philosophy but also in the social sciences, a role that has been unwittingly downplayed in previous histories If Embree is right, it seems that the book proposes to investigate an important site of transference between European constitutive phenomenology and post-war American intellectual culture.

However, in my view, the book does not offer such insight, since it fails to present a philosophically unified picture of phenomenology as it was practiced during the Golden Age, and of the American phenomenological movement that stemmed from that allegedly fertile soil. This failure is due to the fact that both the interests and methods of phenomenological investigations presented in the book are largely unrelated to one another. As a result, the book reads more like a compilation of phenomenologists and their projects than as a unified treatment of the period in question.

The book is split into two sections, the first on the teachers of phenomenology at the New School during the Golden Age, the second on students who graduated from the program under their tutelage. Far from insisting that unintended consequences not consciously grasped by the individual actors who cause them are covertly in the minds of those actors, Schutz can attribute the spontaneous orders cited in social scientific explanations to the conscious activity of the theorist.

Though we have been told that New School phenomenology is to be understood as a continuation of the Husserlian theory of science, that concern seems to be absent from this essay. The chapter on Werner Marx is arguably even less helpful for understanding the New School stage of phenomenology. True — it ends with opposed characterizations of traditional, Aristotelian ontology as fundamentally theological and thus as leading to a teleological conception of philosophy, and the phenomenological conception of Lebenswelt Moreover, the date of the essay is never given, and one wonders what bearing, if any, his views might have had on the development of American phenomenology.

The chapters on Gurwitsch, Mohanty, and Seebohm are also unmotivated, given the stated purpose of the volume. Seebohm taught at the New School from to and his essay, on the human sciences, was apparently composed in Though Seebohm was by all accounts a kind colleague and considerate teacher, he was absent during the Golden Age. One wonders whether he should have been included in the volume at all.

Though it is possible that such anachronistic inclusions might still contribute to our understanding of what made the New School stage of American phenomenology distinctive, one finds nothing in the book itself to justify such a view.

The fact that the figures included attended conferences, offered courses, and gave talks on a variety of issues and figures, does not by itself offer any insight into American phenomenology, except by suggesting that the movement if there was one was thoroughly integrated into the routines of American academic life.

Judging by these diverse contributions, it seems that the teachers at the New School were unified neither in their method nor in their doctrine but were simply rather successful merchants in the post-war American marketplace of ideas. The second part concerns the students during the Golden Age and has roughly the same format, though I will focus primarily on the essays. This misses the opportunity to include unpublished work by Natanson or some of the Schutz-Natanson correspondence, which is cited here but never discussed in detail.

The chapter on Thomas Luckmann is more substantial, including both a memoir and a essay, the main claim of which is that language could never be exhaustively explained by empirical science, since the presuppositions of the empirical sciences present philosophical problems that must be resolved within language What follows is a somewhat technical but certainly rewarding account of the polythetic constitution of the experience of a speaking other in the face-to-face situation In the course of this treatment, we are told that Wagner left an unfinished philosophical anthropology of the life world An excerpt from this work would have undoubtedly added value to the volume, by showing how Wagner came to understand a fundamental phenomenological idea late in his life.

Instead, the reader is offered nothing by Wagner himself. Beginning with the work of David Hume and Sir William Hamilton, the essay distinguishes depictive, feigning, and presentative functions of the imagination A phenomenological clarification of these aspects of imagining allows one to understand the double sense of imagination as an intentionality that makes present non-presentive objects and as a feigning intentionality In the activity of reading a novel, for example, one can attend to the feigned world of the fiction only by suspending the real world, in which one nevertheless continues to read.

The disjunction between the world of fiction and that of reality thus depends on a convergence between them, which itself is an achievement of feigning consciousness of the reader The upshot of this line of thought is the claim that the world disclosed in a work of fiction is autonomous but feigned, such that I can take responsibility for it, but never enter into it, as I do the actual world of everyday life Richard M. In the first case, after suffering a massive stroke, M.

In the fictional second case, after being bombed in the trenches of World War I, a soldier called Joe is rendered blind, deaf, and dumb, but nevertheless retains the ability to feel touch and to move his head. Though Schutz was correct in saying that I understand myself as a self by orienting myself to the other, he ignored how the other becomes attuned to me as another self Though this descriptive account is undoubtedly of some interest, the finest feature of this chapter is how it exhibits the work of reflective analysis to the reader.

Likewise, the analysis itself offers a compelling way into the question of how valuing intentionality is related to willing, believing, and experiencing.

This section is perhaps best understood as an invitation to the reader to engage such in reflective analysis, and thus to practice phenomenology itself. The distinction is worth making because, it seems, the possibility of beliefs being true depends in part on the possibility that human beings can authentically undertake responsibilities for our beliefs about the world.

This section would have benefitted from the addition of introductory paragraphs connecting it to broader philosophical concerns of commitment and epistemic normativity. However, it appears to be an excerpt from a longer work, in which its role is surely more perspicuous. Giuseppina C. Though her analysis is suggestive, it would have been strengthened by more description, both of the architectural site itself and of the constitution of that site as meaningful, instead of relying as it does on quotes from the great men of phenomenology, Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty.

This essay is very convincing and clarifies at least one respect in which constitutive and existential phenomenology are complementary rather than dissonant. However, it would have fit much better into the section on Natanson, in which his existential turn is one of the central issues.

Though it is plausible that it could be put to other uses, it seems that this would require further argument than is given here. The book ends there, without a conclusion, leaving at least this reader confused. What is this volume is meant to do? Is it primarily an historical work about phenomenology as it was practiced at the New School for Social Research from to ? If so, it fails to shed light on what phenomenological investigation looked like during that period: hardly any of the essays are from the era in question, and most of them are not reflective analyses.

Is it a collection of thematic essays illustrating a particular style of phenomenology? In that case, how are the essays connected with one another? The broad collection of topics — economics, value, architecture, and truth, inter alia — ensures that whatever else may be at stake, no single theme ties them together.

Or is the book an encomium, publicly honoring a generation of American phenomenologists? In that case, we should expect essays on a wide variety of topics, written as continuations of the work of Golden Age phenomenologists. Yet even here, the book provides few uniting features either methodologically or in terms of the figures cited. Though it focuses almost exclusively on Western European writers, the figures mentioned are so diverse in attitude and interest, it is hard to detect any unifying purpose in their work.

The absence of any suggestion of an answer within the book leads one to the conclusion that, although nearly all the essays are of interest individually, some offering masterful treatments of difficult topics, there is apparently no inner logic to the book itself. The promise of the book, to elucidate a Golden Age in American phenomenology, is a noble one. In failing to deliver on it, the book both misses the opportunity to shed light on an allegedly important moment in the history of phenomenology and shirks the task of clarifying the relation between the descriptive attitude of phenomenological analysis, the authority of phenomenology as a science, and its status as the product of a European spiritual sphere.

Consequently, the reader is not put in a place to reconcile the two competing images, one of the world phenomenological movement as the expansion of European culture beyond its continental limits, the other of the absorption of a way of seeing by diverse practitioners who bring their own interests and concerns to the enterprise. The nostalgia of the volume makes one wonder whether the Golden Age itself, rather than being a real movement or distinctive era in phenomenology, is nothing more than the myth of a more innocent and progressive post-war America.

Perhaps what the New School phenomenologists offered as gold and diamonds, turned out to be no more than copper and glass. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, , Studies in Phenomenology and Psychology. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.

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Gurwitsch, Aron (1901–73)

Access to the full content is only available to members of institutions that have purchased access. If you belong to such an institution, please log in or find out more about how to order. Aron Gurwitsch was a phenomenologist who produced important work on the structure of consciousness. He was concerned with how consciousness is organized, especially its invariant, formal structure. His main work, The Field of Consciousness , argues that consciousness is always structured in a three-fold pattern: theme, thematic field and margin. The theme is the focus of attention, the thematic field is the relevant context and the margin contains items merely co-present with the theme and its thematic field. Gurwitsch applied his philosophy of organization to wide-ranging issues, including social encounters, logic, culture and critiques of psychology.

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