ROBERT WELSH JORDAN

BEING AND TIME: SOME ASPECTS OF THE
EGO'S INVOLVEMENT IN HIS MENTAL LIFE
[1]

This essay was published in Phenomenology: Continuation and Criticism. Essays in Memory of Dorion Cairns, (Phaenomenologica 50) (The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1973) 105-113. Emendations are enclosed in angle brackets and are of the same color as this introductory note: <like this>; they attempt to correct errors and omissions that were noted in the meantime. The first of these indicates a quite important and very common error, one to which Husserl himself was not entirely immune.

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The most obvious cases of ego-involvement in conscious life are those which Husserl calls conscious acts or cogitationes.[2] They are the most obvious cases because they are the ones in which the ego explicitly involves himself in some way; they exhibit the character of being engaged in by the ego or having been engaged in by him. This ego-quality or character belongs demonstrably to every conscious process in which the ego engages or lives. In the ego's conscious life, the life to which his, her, or its acts belong, there also occur mental or intentive processes in which the ego does not or did not engage, and these Husserl calls passive or non-actional processes as contrasted with the active or actional processes characterized by ego-engagement.

The ego does not engage in all the mental processes occurring in his life, but it is only insofar as the ego does engage that we may speak of any particular process as having only one object or a definite set of objects. It is characteristic of acts that <in so far as they are forms or modalizations of belief (in so far as they are doxic) so that their objects or noematic cores are taken ontically in contrast to axiotically or telically> they objectivate.[3] This is not simply to say that the ego engages in all those and only those mental processes having definite objects, nor is it to say that the objects of conscious processes in which <106> the ego does not engage are a confused, undifferentiated manifold. Rather, it is only by virtue of ego-engagement that "something" is the object of an intentive process. To the extent that the ego is engaged in a <doxic> conscious process, the process becomes an act, and there belongs then to the objective sense of this act a "this" which is the object or one of the objects of the act.[4]

Engaging in a mental process, the ego busies himself with something intended to in that process. Objectivating may also be understood as thematizing.[5] More precisely, objectivating is only one specific kind or way of thematizing. But it is the basic way of <doxic> thematizing in the sense that it is so to speak the sine qua non of <doxic> thematizings on which all others are founded, without which no other kind of <doxic> thematization occurs. Like all other "doxic" thematizings, objectivatings always have to do with the object in some modality of being.[6] Let us say the ego engages in a perceiving, a seeing perhaps of the flyswatter with which he means to kill a fly: doing so involves his thematically grasping and positing the objective sense of his seeing; it is a "this" and more; it is in fact just the thing he was looking for, namely, the flyswatter. The seeing involved here will, in the normal case, have the quality of a simple believing. This believing is a character of the act of perceiving, i.e., of the noesis, and is what Husserl calls a doxic thetic character or positional character. The object of an act having the thetic character "believing" may be said to have the positional character "something that is." The object of a disbelieving would have the character "something that is not." Believing in and disbelieving in and, indeed, all modalities of believingness are doxic. thetic characters of acts, and all acts having such characters will be what we have called objectivatings.

The ego, having engaged in a <doxic> mental process and thus posited objectivatingly an intentional objective sense belonging to that process, may go on to objectivate the thetic character of the act or noesis. The objective or noematic correlate of this further objectivating would be the believedness of "something that is," <107> The disbelievedness of "something that is not," the uncertainty of "something that may be or may not be," and so forth.

It would be a serious error to go on from here to assert that the being-sense of a noema is simply its believedness and is exhausted by its simple believedness. For, even if it could be shown that "believingness" is a thetic quality universal to all acts that are positings, i.e., that the thetic character "believedness" is objectivatable in principle for each "something that is" ; still, the believing which is an act's thetic character is inherently characterized as believing in the intentional object of that act with just that objective sense which it has for the consciousness of it. The object with its objective sense is the theme of the act. The manner in which the ego is directed toward the theme — believingly, disbelievingly, liking it, disliking it, loving it, hating it, shaping it, using it, etc. — is the thesis. The theme and the thesis do not arise separately in order then to be linked externally, not even in those cases in which the ego is passively affected.[7] The object, its objective sense, and its noematic thetic character or characters would, therefore, all have to be included in anything which could legitimately be called the "being-sense" of the noema of the specific act in question. This is precisely the composition of what Husserl calls the act-thesis or positum.

The act-thesis may be a very complex affair. It is fairly complex even in the case of our seen flyswatter. To see a flyswatter is to see something having many qualities and determinations that belong certainly to the act-thesis but are not themselves seen ; and at least some of these are, strictly speaking, not seeable at all. The flyswatter's tactile properties, the feel of its handle, its heft and balance, its suitability for killing flies, even its having been manufactured may all belong to the act-thesis of a fly- swatter seeing along with those qualities that are genuinely seen. That this is so and is possible at all is an outcome of what Husserl calls "internal tradition" in the Analyses of Passive Synthesis and what he later calls "internal historicality" in "The Origin of Geometry."[8] <108>

With the phrases "not themselves seen," "not seeable," "genuinely seen," and "strictly given," we have been referring to a further moment in the full noema of any act, one that is of crucial importance for anything that is to be called the being-sense of the noema. This moment is the manner or way in which the "something" is there for the ego, and Husserl calls it the "mode of givenness," the "mode of appearing," and occasionally "the How of the object's mode of givenness."[9] Heidegger appears to refer to the same thing when he speaks of the "uncoveredness of what is" or "what is in the How of its uncoveredness."[10]

In the act of flyswatter seeing of which we have been speaking, the seen determinations are genuinely or originarily given : they are given directly and "in person" to the ego; they are there in person for him. Now, the determinations we mentioned that are not genuinely given are no less there for the ego than are the originarily given ones ; they belong, as we said, equally to the thesis of the act in question. Indeed, when he sees a flyswatter with which he means to kill a fly, the sense which what he sees has of being a suitable means to this end will be far more relevant to the ego's prime interest than the seen and therefore originarily given color of the thing.

Non-genuine, non-originary manners of givenness are still ways of being there for the ego, and each determination not genuinely given has nevertheless its "mode of appearing," its specific way of being there for the ego. If the object in question be a familiar one and if and only if it be individually familiar, then some of its non-originarily intended determinations will be there memorially for the ego. There will be at least a passive or automatic retrotentive consciousness of them. But — as seems obvious and as we have been maintaining — these selfsame determinations may very well belong to the thesis of an act in which the ego is not at all engaged in remembering but rather in perceiving, an act in which he is busied with something seen rather than remembered. The thesis or positum of such an act is not just "something that <109> was" and is also not just "something that has been." Nor, in any normal case, are the moments of objective sense divided up into some that were and some that are. The thesis of a perceiving may involve, and normally does involve, the object's having been, being now, and continuing to be and its having, in all of these temporal modalities, non-originarily as well as originarily intended determinations. Moreover, all this may be so even if the object in question is not individually familiar so long as it is an object of a familiar kind.

Nevertheless, it is quite inconceivable that — or, as might be more aptly said, how — there could belong to the theme of any act, the objective sense of any noema, any non-originarily intended determination which is not in some way there already for the ego. This character of being there already for the ego indicates involvements of the ego with his mental life which, although having to do with engagement and the formation of act-theses, seem — at least at first glance — to involve far more than merely being interested in and paying attention to something. Husserl himself, however, seems inclined to regard these further involvements as less obvious intricacies of ego-engagement. His view entails a much broadened and extended conception of interest.

In the broadest sense in which Husserl uses the word "interest," it is another expression for intentionality. In this sense, that the ego is interested in something means the same as "the ego is intentionally directed toward something." This is the "fundamental essence of all acts." What the ego is interested in is what we have called the theme of the act. Interest, in the broadest sense, means that the ego, by virtue of the act in question, is continuously and consciously with [bei] his theme and with whatever pertains to his theme in the course of its determination. Husserl even refers to the theme as the ego's aim [ and as his telos though he clearly does not mean to imply here that the ego purposefully creates his theme ex nihilo as it were.[11]

On the contrary, the ego, in his acts, is busied with, is interested in, something having to do either noetically or noematically with the mental process in which he is said to engage. The ego, in his acts, is interested in, turns to, and busies himself with something that calls to, stimulates, or appeals in some way to <110> him. What he turns to and grasps has appealed to or stimulated his interests. That this is so means that the ego's interest — in the broadest sense — comes into play only through the mediation of the conscious process in which he engages. Fundamentally, interest is only his being intentionally with something intended to in his mental life. Not that the ego is interested only in his mental life but the only things there to stimulate his interest and the only things there for him to grasp and objectivate are things that are there in some way for consciousness. The ego is involved in some way with whatever stimulates or appeals to him. Appealing to or stimulating ego interest is a character of the noematic mode of appearing and is a character which must, in each case conceived to precede actual engagement, actual thematization by the ego of what stimulates him, since the appeal to the ego is precisely an appeal for his interest and advertence.

Analysis of the noema of any act or cogito shows that, in every case, the manner of givenness belonging to this noema includes the theme's having been given in some modality, having been there in some manner, not just for "consciousness" but for the ego as well prior to the ego's specific turning to and objectivating of it. Having stood out within a field and called for attention belongs to what Husserl calls the subjectively relative mode of appearing just as much as does the object's being grasped, used, judged, enjoyed, etc. In this way, the cogitatum itself evinces an involvement of the ego in conscious processes that are not yet acts in which the ego spontaneously does something. That is to say, the cogitatum itself evinces an involvement of the ego in conscious processes that are not yet cogitationes.[12]

The ego's being intentionally directed toward his theme or themes, his being intentionally with or among them, involves also his being with whatever pertains to a theme in the course of its further determination. This refers us to an explicitly temporal dimension of ego "interest." Here, inter esse, being between, refers in effect to the way in which the ego lasts, to internal tradition, and is intimately involved in the reciprocal relation of originary and non-originary manners of givenness: <111>

The ego's being intentionally with the object is ambiguous, depending upon whether the being-with is an anticipation or an actuality. The latter is genuine being An actus is anticipative so long as it lacks any fulfilment, if it brings actualizing intentional actuality with it intrinsically, then it is anticipative insofar as it does not yet actualize.[13]

What this and the "reciprocal relation of originary and non-originary manners of givenness" mean will take some explaining.

Originary givenness is intuitive givenness. It is also adequate givenness with respect to some moment or moments of the noematic objective sense.[14] Non-originary givenness is, in every instance, a modification of originary. This being so, non-originary givenness of any object or of any moment of objective sense necessarily points back to that originary node of which the non-originary is a modification.[15] Indeed, the adjective "originary" is meant to convey that givenness of this sort originates or at least makes possible a range of other ways of being conscious of the same thing and of other things of the same kind.

Its pointing back to originary givenness means that non-originary givenness carries with it an implicit rule for bringing what is not itself given to self-givenness. Non-originary givenness thus involves the projecting of potential originary givenness. That moments of sense which are not genuinely given nevertheless are there for the ego and belong to the noema means that non-originary givenness points forward to an originary givenness which would be the same in kind as that to which it points back.

In the objective sense of the noema of an act, whatever is there for the ego without being given originarily nevertheless has its mode of originary or genuine givenness even though it is not yet actually given in the manner characteristic for objective senses of its kind. The self-givenness of what belongs to the act-thesis without being given originarily is a projected futurition. Here, self-givenness is pending; it is anticipated or protended self -givenness of something posited as being now. This means that, by virtue of the ego's historicality, the being-thesis of his acts in- <112> cludes a dimension that is pending, that is yet to be verified and established.[16]

Analysis of the full, concrete noema thus reveals the ego to have a transcendental status. For, without the ego and his historicality, no intentional object, no synthetic unity of originarily and non-originarily presented determinations is conceivable. And this means that, without the ego in this pre-objective and pre mundane sense, no intramundane ego, no ego within the world, is given since every such intentional unity is there for the ego only by virtue of his own internal historicality.

This, at least in part, is what Husserl means when he asserts that every kind of intentional unity can serve as "transcendental clue" for constitutive analyses. Constitutive analysis does not stop with what actually is present at hand in the thesis of the act being analyzed. It is rather an unveiling of intentional implications of what is present at hand. It may proceed, for example, "forward" from the single experience in question to the system of experiences predelineated in and through it as potentialities of the ego or "backward" toward the experiences of which the potentialities are projected modifications. Constitutive analysis of the "transcendental clue" shows that intentionality involves a coherence of functionings that are comprised, as a sedimented history, within the intentional unity currently constituted and its current mode of givenness.[17]

Constitutive analysis of modes of givenness shows the constitutive function of the ego. More particularly, this noematic trace of the ego's transcendental status is the reference of projected, anticipated, or protended self-givenness to the ego's internal historicality. The transcendentality of the ego — his having a status and a function by virtue of which an objective world is there for him — should not be allowed to obfuscate the basic and insurmountable conditionality of his constitutive functioning. The ego's having this or that object or object determination there for him in the world and, indeed, the being there for him of that world itself are subject to continual verification.

Non-originarily intended portions in the act-thesis of our flyswatter seeing are posited along with the originarily intended <113> portions. They may even be posited with the same simple certainty; but, to the extent that this is so, certainty harbors and conceals a radical conditionality. Every perceiving of "some thing" posits a "being" which refers beyond that perceiving to new and further new potential perceivings of the same object and may also refer to further cognitive, affective, and conative acts potentially built up upon these perceivings and having the same object. Moreover, the current perceiving refers to these predelineated potentialities as harmonizing, as agreeing synthetically in the selfsame object. If and when such a potentiality is actualized, the actualized originary givenness contributes a verification of being to the object ; and it does so by virtue of the new synthetic unity.

Synthetic unity of this kind is again inconceivable apart from the historicality of the ego. Moreover, non-originary modes of givenness carry with them — by virtue of the same historicality — rules for bringing the non-originarily intended to genuine givenness, and these rules are rules for verifying or nullifying anticipations and for verifying or nullifying along with them the projected being sense anticipated. Yet, verification and nullification, establishment and disestablishment of what is there for the ego is accomplished not by fiat of the ego but by the self-givenness, the self-presentedness of what is there for him.

Whether a given anticipation will be verified or quashed is not decided in advance: <">in the sphere of experience, the two possibilities remain open so long as no verifying has occurred.<">[18] The fulfilment <sic> or the nullification of which we have been speaking is no matter of fate or destiny — not, at least, if fate and destiny are always decided before the fact. But fulfillment and nullification are also not determined in advance <solely> by the ego — neither by his fiat nor by anything that the ego obscurely is "in himself." If phenomenology knows an ego, he, she, or it is never an absolute spirit having the force to actualize of itself whatever it potentially is.[19]

 

Notes

[1]This paper is a somewhat enlarged and revised version of that read by the author under the title "The Involvement of the Ego in his Mental Life" in the symposium "The Phenomenology of the Ego" held under the auspices of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy (SPEP )at Evanston, Illinois on October 23, 1969. <The Evanston symposium included presentations by Robert Stone, Lester Embree as well as my own. We latter two were denounced in a vociferous rant by Professor John Wild, who fancied himself Führer of SPEP. He may well have been that for all I know, but his diatribe included no specific criticism of my paper or of Lester Embree's; he did not, for example mention the error that I above attempt to correct in my emendations to pages 105-106. It seems to have had no point other than to carp that neither of us had addressed some favorite topic of his.>

[2]In the terminology developed by Edmund Husserl in his Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie. I. Buch, Allgemeine Einführung in die Phänomenologie (Halle a. d. S.: Max Niemeyer, 1913), § 35. This work is more generally available as Volume III of Husserliana: Edmund Husserl, Gesammelte Werke (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1950), a much changed and enlarged edition by Walter Biemel, whose "Textkritischer Anhang" nevertheless permits reconstruction of the text of the 1913 edition. Hereafter, this work will be cited simply as Ideen I; the page numbers given will be those of the 1913 edition which are printed in the margins of the Husserliana edition.

[3]Ideen I I, p. 244. <The German verb here is 'vorstellen', for which Cairns preferred 'to objectivate' as a translation where Husserl is using it to express a concept of his own. It is a term for which the nearest English equivalent varies widely depending upon whose use of it is being translated. When the use is Husserl's or Cairns' then it is crucial to keep in mind that to objectivate does not in all or even in most cases introduce difference where none was before — as the notion of "pure experience" seems to imply that it would in William James' work and the notion of "erleben" does in much of German thought going well back into the nineteenth century. What objectivating constitutes is simply the fact that there has come for some particular ego to be exigent doxic consciousness of something.  The something or other, whatever it may be, has become for that ego a "this". Moreover, for that ego's consciousness, whatever she encounters or anticipates encountering or has encountered or whatever she can be aware of in any way at all, will be for her, a something or other that can be objectivated since what that original objectivating constituted was an individual form for what she encountered, a case of a form so general that nothing whatsoever could exclude being a case of it. She will have a non-exigent doxic consciousness of the universal form as well as of some of its cases, and this will be so regardless of whether she does or does not ever objectivate either the form or any case of it as a case of it.>

[4]Ideen I , pp. 270—273. See also Edmund Husserl, Phänomenologische Psychologie, ed. Walter Biemel, Husserliana, Vol. IX (1962), P. 48!; cited hereafter as PP.

[5]Ideen I, p. 253. For a consideration of the complexity of thematization, see ibid., § 117 and PP., Appendix XXIV.

[6]Ideen I , § 103.

[7]PP. pp. 479—480, and Edmund Husserl, Erfahrung und Urteil, ed. Ludwig Landgrebe, 2nd ed. (Hamburg: Classen, 1954), § 17.

[8]Analysen zur passiven Synthesis, ed. Margot Fleischer, Husserliana, Vol. XI (1966), pp. 10f.; cited hereafter as PS. "Der Ursprung der Geometrie," published as "Appendix III" to Die Krisis der europäischen Wissenschaften und die transzendentale Philosophie, ed. Walter Biemel, Husserliana, Vol. VI (1954), pp. 365—386; see pp. 380f. See also Robert Welsh Jordan, "Husserl's Phenomenology as an 'Historical' Science," Social Research, 35 (1968), pp. 245—259.

[9]PP. 207.

[10]Martin Heidegger, Sein und Zeit, 8th ed. (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 1957), p. 218.

[11]]PP., 412.

[12]Edmund Husserl, Ideen zu elner reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie. II. Buch, Phänomenologische Untersuchungen zur Konstitution, ed. Many Biemel, Husserliana Vol. IV (1952), pp. 99f, and PP. pp. 479f.

[13]PP. p. 412, fn 1.

[14]Edmund Husserl, Logische Untersuchungen. II. B Elemente eine phänomenologischer Aufklärung der Erkenntnis Part 2, 3rd ed. (Halle a. d. S.: Max Niemeyer, 1922), pp. 118f. ; cited hereafter as LU II, 2.

[15]Edmund Husserl, Formale und transzendentale Logik (Halle a. d. S. : Max Niemeyer, 1929), 277; cited hereafter as FTL.

[16]PP. p. 356, and LU II, 2, § 36—39, referred to by Heidegger, loc. cit.

[17]FTL. p. 217.

[18]PS. p. 104 <(sic) pp. 105:6-8, 260>.

[19]Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's Werke, 3rd ed. by Marheineke et al., Vol. 9, Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Geschichte, ed. Eduard Gaus (Berlin: Duncker und Humblot, 1848); see "Introduction," pp. 13, 25, 45, 91, 98.