Robert Welsh Jordan
<The essay which follows was first presented at the concluding International Research Seminar in Phenomenology, Professor J. Huertas-Jourda, Chairman, as part of the Collegium Phaenomenologicum of Monteripido, Italy on
What I shall present here is a very general concept of world-consciousness. This will be introduced by reviewing some very basic Husserlian conceptions. Such a review seems important since its conclusions concerning world consciousness will disagree with those drawn by very able phenomenal. Either I am wrong or they are wrong, and one reason for my being here is to test my views concerning who is which.
Once the basis has been laid, specific issues will be raised concerning who all or what all the transcendental ego is, what the stream of consciousness is in relation to the transcendental ego, and what the world and consciousness of being in the world is like. In particular, any actual simple (protodoxic) certainty will be denied to the consciousness of things within the world, to that of being in the world and even to the consciousness of the world itself. Any protodoxic or simply certain consciousness arises originally in the consciousness of aspects of being in the world itself, i.e. in internal perceptions, such as the consciousness of seeing, hearing, liking, wanting, etc. Through these ways of being conscious, the protending of potential adequate givenness – with its protended correlative doxic certainty – for intended <189> objects not yet adequately given is made possible. Moreover, the denial of simple certainty with regard to the world or to the ego’s being in the world does not at all entail a denial of rationality, e.g. a denial either of the principles of contradiction or of excluded middle. What it does entail is a rejection of what has been called the principle of bivalence.
The difficulty which many — and, at least for two decades after Husserl's death, most — readers have experienced in taking the so-called transcendental ego seriously as being in the world stems largely from Husserl’s characterization of the transcendental ego as the all-inclusive unity, a unity containing the universe of actual and possible worlds and even that of all objects. The trouble with this characterization is that the reader tends to understand the includedness of these universes within the ego as genuine inherence and so tends to take the ego’s or transcendental consciousness’ being the “substrate” for all mundane beings and for all objects as if this were a whole-part relation. Such an interpretation misconceives the relation of world to consciousness and to the ego – as if it could be meaningful to ask, “Where does the world exist?” or, “Of what is the world a part?” and then to give as answer, “In the ego,” or “As a part of the ego.” This indicates that intentionality has been misunderstood and threatens a miscomprehension of Husserl’s entire phenomenology.
Moreover, the interpreter will, having so far misunderstood things, now face the question, “What sort of entity is this ego?” If it is something individual then the whole world along with all other alleged egos exists in this one as a part of him: solipsism. The other horn of the dilemma proceeding from the misinterpretation is to declare the transcendental ego to be ideal, universal and non-individual so that the self-same world can be part of each of a plurality of transcendental minds. The first horn of the dilemma requires that the transcendental ego who is there conceived to be individual nevertheless be denied actuality <191> since he must include worlds that are merely possible. The other horn asserts that, however actual and individual the mundane or psychological ego maybe, the transcendental ego is either something universal or a field of universals.
Now this interpretation and the dilemma it involves is a phantom proceeding from a mind oppressed by centuries of philosophical tradition into embracing Bunthorne’s dictum: “The matter doesn’t matter/ if it’s only idle chatter/ of a transcendental kind. it assumes without the least justification and in fact contrary to virtually all the evidence–that the inclusion of the intentional object in the consciousness of it is intentional only so long as consciousness is taken to be psychological or mundane but is genuine immanence when consciousness is uncovered in its transcendental status. Such a conceit so far as the subject matter is concerned is and always was nonsensical or, more accurately, countersensical, material absurdity. Yet it is nonsense whose historical origin from Husserl’s writings is very understandable indeed; it was in fact almost inevitable. How, after all, in terms of the German tradition, was a philosophy to be understood that revived the concept of universal essences and called itself transcendental? How, if not as a philosophy for which the individuality of consciousness and of its actual and real objects is aufgehoben, when properly or transcendentally understood, into a field of interrelated ideal universals and forms?
The following passage did not, after all become accessible until the publication in 1954 of Husserliana VI:
The much lamented specialization (in the sciences) is not in itself a lack, since it is a necessity within universal philosophy, just as the development of an art like method is necessary in every discipline. What certainly is portentous, however, is the separation of the art of theory from philosophy. However, though <192> the specialized scholars dropped out, there remained among them and alongside them philosophers who continued to treat the positive sciences as branches of philosophy; thus the statement is still valid that objectivistic philosophy did not die out after Hume and Kant. Alongside this runs the line of development of transcendental philosophies, and not only those derived from Kant. For there must be added to this a series of transcendental philosophers who owe their motivation to a continuation, or in the case of
Similar passages in preceding portions of the Crisis volume had been published only in 1936. Moreover, except for a fairly clear statement in the brief “Introduction” to his Ideas, Husserl did not make clear to his readers that a sharp distinction is to be drawn between phenomenological reduction, whether psychological or transcendental, and eidetic reduction. But if that distinction is not sharply drawn then eidetic reduction, instead of being understood as an abstractive further reduction of the phenomenologically reduced subject matter will be misunderstood as coinciding with phenomenological reduction so that transcendentally reduced consciousness will inevitably be taken as a field of formal and material “essences.” <193> All of this makes the misinterpretation in question very understandable. Luckily for the things themselves and for Husserl’s actual view of them it is not thereby made true. Nonetheless the misinterpretation in question has its own school, including, for example, David Carr who writes in a footnote to his translation of The Crisis,"But world-consciousness, as the general structure or form of experience, is precisely what cannot be transformed.”
Carr’s statement is offered as the basis for his alteration of a passage in the Crisis text which Biemel had reconstructed. Biemel’s reconstruction of the manuscript read, “Of course I am free to [transform] world consciousness fictively." While Carr insists, for the reason cited, that the phrase “the factual details” be substituted for “world- consciousness.” The plausibility of Biemel’s reconstruction can now be easily established by consulting the recently published Husserliana XV. There Husserl states quite clearly that the world is variable fictive and that any fantasied variation of detail in the world would indeed be a variation of the world. Its factual details are constituents of the world so that a fictive variation of them is a fictive variation of the world. How anyone should ever have come to think differently would be difficult to understand were it not for schools of thought like the one into which Professor Carr was just inducted. Carr’s statement clearly identifies what it calls world-consciousness with the general structure or form of experience and it can be true only if there is some consciousness which is general and there is some general form or general structure which can be consciousness. <194> Neither condition can be met. The mode of being of general forms is ideal and that is not the mode of being of any part, whether abstract of concrete, of consciousness: “Every genuine constituent of the cognitive phenomenon, this phenomenological particular, is also particular; and so the universal, which certainly is no particular, can not be really contained in the consciousness of the universal.”
The relation of the exemplifying individual to an essence of which it is in instance is not to be confused with a whole-part relation. “No lengthy disquisition,” writes Husserl, “is needed to indicate that the subject's of an individual–under an essence (a process which has a different character according as we are dealing with an infima species or with a genus) is not to be confused with the subordination of an essence under its higher species or under a genus." Neither consciousness itself nor any of its parts is in ideal essence; it is through and through individual.
In this respect what is true of consciousness is true of the ego as well. Forms that are ideal essences are eidetic singularities without Ingarden's content. The ego—whether considered as formal polar unity of those subjective processes which have been, which are, or which may be self-given or as the substrate of habits—is individual through and through. The unity is that of just these individual processes and cannot be that of any others; the substrate is the individual form of just these habits and cannot be that of any others. So far as the world is concerned, it, too, as a polar unity or system of poles, is not any ideal essence whether formal or material, and this will be true whatever other characteristics may be truly predicated of it. Husserl conceives its unity to be analogous to the polar unity <195> of other objects. Just as a fictive variation of an ego, a fantasied ego, cannot be numerically identical with the reflectively perceived ego, so a world that is “varied” fictive, a fantasied world cannot be identified with the world actually apperceived. Thus, each fictive variation of the world is a world numerically different from the actual world and from every other fantasied world. Since Husserl distinguished sharply between fictive variations and real changes, that every fictive variation of the world is a different world does not mean eo ipso that every new event in an apperceived world results in a numerically different world. Every new event in the apperceived world does in a certain sense result in a new world; every such change occurs in a newly achieved world. But the ground for this must be sought in the manner of being peculiar to apperceived unities of presented and non-presented characteristics. What would remain “unbreakable” despite world variations are the ideal essences embodied in each variation, the formal and material essences of which each variation is an instance. But these are precisely not as the world or any world is or can be. Once it is realized that the world is to be thought of neither as something general nor as a species nor as a form, we can begin to conceive a world which would include as genuine constituents those ideal essences which are exemplified in its individual members without being parts of them; and we can do so without implying that the world is a part of its own extension. This is so despite the fact that what is called “world” would then include the formal universals instantiated in any world as world; for no concrete world can be identified with any ideal and formal essence. If it is possible to extend the concept of world in this way then a meaning of world would have been uncovered which is not very remote from the “wording” in which Heidegger’s <196> four world regions — earth, mortals, heavens, gods — are given in harmonious synthesis. These might correspond respectively and at least roughly to:
1. The solipsistic world as the primordial ground for the constitution of
2. The world as a world intended by a plurality of subjects, including other persons;
3. The region of ideal ontological essences;
4. The region of ideal axiological essences.
Be that as it may, such a conception of world would make possible the conception of a unity which could no longer be called a world at all, viz., the openly infinite manifold of essentially possible worlds. If, as Husserl maintains, this universe of possible worlds is included intentionally in the transcendental ego then it, too, must be a unity synthetically generated by the transcendental functioning of the “ego”. One more and ultimately inclusive unity should be mentioned since I shall eventually be saying something about Husserl’s conception of non-being, and non-being would be included in the unity of all objects.
If we now concentrate upon an individual monad, a single mental life and ego, belonging to the constituted multiplicity of subjects, there is one and only one ego who lives in this life and constitutes it, and that ego is transcendental. With respect to that life he functions in various ways: as the synthesizing function by which the stream of his life is constituted, as the unity of the constituted stream, and as the substrate of habits.
In his peculiarly transcendental function, he is the “all embracing synthesis of internal time,” occurring in the living or flowing present. Within <197> this flowing present all of his past temporal appearances are intentionally included by virtue of retentional consciousness. The ego in his transcendental status, viz., the synthesis of internal time, generates the unity of the stream in the flowing present, as it has done in each retended now phase and as it will in any future phase of the stream. The protending of future phases in the flowing now is itself an achievement of associative synthesis among the “contents” of the now phase and the “contents” of retended phases. That associative synthesis is involved in the basic identifying synthesis. The transcendental ego thus temporalizes himself, making himself exist as the unity of the stream of consciousness. Moreover, he cannot do otherwise so long as what is given in the flowing present makes the synthesis in question possible. The same synthesis by which the stream of consciousness is generated generates the consciousness of the actual and of possible worlds. In achieving the actual world, the ego constitutes his stream of consciousness as a part of that world. The field for the ego’s spontaneous and voluntary activities is the now actual world and those possible worlds which he is able to project in such a way that when actualized each such world would be intended as a more or less “harmonious” extension of the present world. This spontaneous consciousness whether doxic, affective, or conative can occur only through the mediation of conscious processes belonging to his stream. Spontaneous consciousness of objects in the world occurs through his engaging in processes occurring in the stream. All actional consciousness is a modalization of “passive” consciousness. In each such spontaneous act the ego is busied with, is interested in something having to do either noematic or poetically with the mental processes in which he is said to engage, and it is through such engagement that he becomes what Husserl calls the substrate of habits.
The ego is able to exist at all only by a peculiar sort of achievement whereby he temporalizes himself continuously as the unity <198> of what is and what has been given in each flowing present. Through his synthetic functioning, the ego can be said to achieve his own existence as the unity of the stream. Herein lies the chief danger in referring to this transcendental functioning as “the ego,” for the unification cannot be achieved as a spontaneous act, and such a spontaneous self-production,” a production through spontaneous volitions is strongly suggested by Husserl’s use of the word “ego.” Only an ego in the narrower and more usual sense of the word, viz., an ego who engages Spontaneously in conscious processes and who has therefore “taken possession” of them and has developed habitual ways of executing its spontaneous acts, can be said to have chosen to be in the world. For the ego, even in the broad sense of the term, to exist as a stream of consciousness is to exist as consciousness of an actual world.
Each of the continuously successive modes of temporal appearance of internal time is a world appearance. Each world appearance is, in the terms of the Lectures on Internal Time-Consciousness, an all at once of all at onces:
the all at once of the several sensuous fields
that of kinaesthetic sensations that of touching
that of smelling that of tasting that of seeing
that of hearing, etc.
the all at once of apperceiving with the beliefs it involves, including
the empathic ones,
the all at once of affective consciousness
that of conative consciousness
that of thematization that of retending
that of protending.
All of these with their noematic correlates are fused into a single all at once of the stream of consciousness which is integrated and fused with the retained all at onces, generating the stream as it has been and is intended, , , viz.,.,., as part of the single world that has been and is. That world is the noematic correlate of the synthesis by which it is achieved, a system of individual polar unities.
There is always a consciousness of the world as that in which I myself am. But the world is not there as a thing, does not affect me as things do, is not an object dealt with in a sense similar to that of my dealings with things. I am conscious of the world as world even though the world cannot become objective in the way an Object can, otherwise I could not survey the world reflectively, could not lift myself above simple straightforwardly directed life which always deals with things. Each thing we deal with in any way whatsoever, including ourselves when we reflect on ourselves, gives itself, whether we notice it or not, as a thing in the world, as a thing in the relevant perceptual field, the latter being merely a perceptual sector of the world.
Now the world as the ego is aware of it in this roughly characterized way is and can only be a unity of objects which are themselves given or presented with objects which are not themselves given or presented. Indeed each real thing is such a unity. That this is so means that as being in the world, the being of the transcendental ego is permanently in question; and, more than that, his being is radically contingent. Truth, as Husserl wrote in the VI. Logical Investigation, or what is true <200> is the objective correlate of evidence in the strict sense of the word, viz., self-givenness of what is believed in, including self-givenness of all its components. Even the world as it is now posited, as being and having been, is not true in the strict sense, to say nothing of the being of possible future worlds. There is no possibility whatsoever of overcoming the being in question either of the transcendental ego as being in the world or of the world itself; their apparent contingency is endemic to their manner of being and is not merely apparent, not something which might legitimately be considered simply a function of our ignorance perhaps removable by the discovery of some esoteric wisdom never known before or simply by the accumulation of further experience, perhaps by more systematic attempts or by the concurrence of some plurality of methods whose results will eventually show us that “In the real world, and in natural experience one depends upon a preexisting reality.” Granted that the “absolute” or transcendental ego can exist only as being in the world and that he constitutes the world as does any transcendental ego and that there can be no other world than the world which is itself given and that the world is not in any sense a component of the transcendental ego and granted that no self-givenness of the world could occur if what is presented to the ego’s impressional consciousness did not occur in such a way that his impressional consciousness can be integrated with retended before all at onces so as to make possible the anticipation of possible future worlds — granted all this his potentiality to be in this self-given world could terminate at any time without that world’s ever having been at all. <201> And the awareness of this possibility is involved in the awareness of death as one of death’s possible meanings; it has nothing whatever to do with imagining death as a factual possibility, being the awareness not of a possible event in the world but rather that of an idea far worse than the worst thing he can imagine.
If the being of any object is the correlate of an ideal evidence in which not only the believed in but all its parts are themselves given then the world is the correlate of the ideal evidence in which not only the world but all its parts would be themselves given. And now entertain with Husserl and Heidegger the following consideration.
In one-sided fashion we have hitherto favored the case of self-evidence, the act described as one of total coincidence. But, turning to the correlated case of conflict, we encounter absurdity, the experience of the total conflict between intention and quasi-fulfillment. To the concepts of truth and being the correlated concepts of falsehood and non-being then correspond. The phenomenological clarification of these concepts can be carried out without particular difficulty, once all foundations have been prepared. The negative ideal of an ultimate frustration would first have to be exactly circumscribed.
Just as the being or the adequate givenness characterizing some objects of consciousness is, when transferred to other objects, canceled as an actuality yet not canceled as a possibility so, in any conscious life in which what is itself given conflicts with the consciousness of absolute unity and so requires differentiation and the consciousness of the previously meant unity as not being, the consciousness of the object as non-being is carried over to all other objects. These other objects if they are self-given cancel <202> the sense non-being. Yet in the case of the non-given objects the sense, “in conflict Or to be in conflict (non-being or future non-being) with what is self-given” is indeed not confirmed as actually given. But is there anything to prevent the possibility of its not being or not becoming actual from haunting each non-given part, of the actual world and the whole of each future would as well? It turns out that the only antidote to an object’s being infected with the possibility of non-being is its self-givenness:
Does evidence, the adaequatio viewed immediately afford eo ipso truth in the full sense? Truth is after all definitive validity. But having the object itself, i.e., experience, can conflict with further experience, modalization can set in…It has already become doubtful whether there is a definitively valid truth behind every judgment…Must there be for every question an answer to be found? Its definitive answer, and one that is there before it is found?…Every judgment, so we think, has as its norm as intrinsically valid truth whether we already are aware of it and will attain it or not…But are there not many profound difficulties concealed in such an intrinsic truth…Must, for example, every judgment about the future have a definitive truth or falsity? Must its truth or falsity be decided in advance…What can be asserted by the alleged axiom that every such belief is verifiable either positively or negatively? Surely not just that the bare possibility of the one or the other belongs to the essence of any such believing and that when the one is assumed to be actualized the other possibility would thereby be canceled…that every belief be verifiable in the sense that it is in the usual meaning of the terms either valid or invalid, as is claimed in the traditional principle of excluded middle…that surely entails: Whether verification can or cannot be carried out…it is already decided eo ipso, advance and so for all future consciousness, be it actual or possible, whether the judgment is to be verified [bewährbar ist] or whether it is not to be verified [entwährbar ist]…Consider now the sphere of our external experience…Here the question arises: Is it an essential law which can be extracted from the essence of the intentionality of experience that every belief has its possibilities of verification or falsification decided in advance?…Certainly whenever a fulfillment occurs the belief’s validity is decided…To clarify the essence of truth or of validity is to clarify this “intrinsicality”, and with respect to it there are perhaps basic and essential differences; it is indeed of a sort that is basically and essentially different for mathematical and other essential truths from what it is in the case of truths such as those of experience.
Actually being in the world and the actual world itself are indeed achievements of the transcendental ego, but they are precarious achievements. Moreover, the ego as actual being in the world does protend possible worlds. Some such protended worlds are such that components of them will be themselves given in and through processes then occurring in his stream of consciousness. On the condition that he intend himself as part of a community of subjects and so protend a life world which is Objective, he will also be capable of projecting possible worlds no part of which would be itself given in a stream of consciousness which is his. Now, if there is anything at all to what Being and Time has to say about these matters, such possibilities are if not dreaded then feared; the ego is inclined to flee from them into exclusive preoccupation with his praxis within the world. The praxis towards which typically he flees, his typical style of volitional thematization will be one in which he cares about the protended worlds primarily as worlds in which he would continue to exist. If worlds in which he would not exist are in some way dreadful, more dreadful still is the prospect of no world at all, the possibility of there being nothing, no thing at all rather, than any world at all.
<204> Heidegger is and was often admonished for having written nothing of ethical relevance. Rumor has it that his response on such occasions was ironic laughter, and one of the tragedies in the history of phenomenology and in particular for the history of Heidegger's influence [die Wirkungsgeschichte Heidegger's] was the death of Scheler immediately following the appearance of Being and Time. Who but Scheler would have understood the implications, so far as Angst is concerned, of the propositions: the non-existence of a good is itself an evil, and evils as such can be given only to an affectively negative consciousness of them, i.e. only through some modality of disapproval. Some such negative here called “dread” is the only genuine or originary or veridical consciousness emotional consciousness through which the potentiality of his no longer being in the world can adequately self-given to the transcendental ego. That whose non-being is an evil is something worth caring for, is itself something good. There could be no adequate self-givenness that being in the world as worth caring about which would not be dread of not being in the world. Yet if the possibility that no world at all be given, the possibility that no object at all be apperceived as being, the possibility that being no longer present itself to any cogitatio at all (die Möglichkeit daβ das Sein sich überhaupt dem Denken nicht mehr zuschickt)—if this possibility is more dreadful still than that of the transcendental ego’s no longer being in the world then the world is more to be cared for than is his being in the world. But what can this possibly mean, in more familiar terms? If the so-called absolute ego, the transcendental ego is a being in the world then, whatever else it means, there is indicated the possibility of a harmonious synthesis between the requirements of the world and the requirements of being in the world. The potentialities of the ego as being in the world are to be (ought to be) cared for in such a way that the potentialities of the world as such are cared for. As being in the world, the transcendental ego is the caretaker of the world; his praxis is to (ought to) conform to the requirements of the world as such, himself included. His praxis ought to conform to Schiller’s principle:
Das Leben ist der Güter Höchstes nicht.
Der Übel gröβtes aber ist die Schuld.
<Life is not the highest of goods,
But the greatest of evils is guilt.>
 Edmund Husserl, Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie, I. Buch. Allgemeine Einführung in die reine Phänomenologie (Husserliana
 See W.S. Gilbert’s “Bunthorne’s Song” from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience.
 Edmund Husserl, The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology, trns. David Carr (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1970), p. 195—cited hereafter as Crisis.; page 198 in the German edition, Die Krisis der europäischen Wissenschaften und die transzendentale Phänomenologie (Husserliana VI], ed. W. Biemel (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1954)—cited hereafter as Krisis.
 Crisis, p. 195.
 “Das Weltbewusstsein kann ich freilich fiktiv und in Freiheit umgestalten, aber diese Form der Generativität und Geschichtlichkeit ist, unzerbrechlich.” Krisis, p. 256.
 Edmund Husserl, Zur Phänomenologie der Intersubjektivität, Texte aus dem Nachlaβ (Husserliana XV] Dritter Teil: 1929-1935. Ed. Iso Kern (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1973), p. 39.
 Edmund Husserl, The Idea of Phenomenology, trns. W.P. Alston and G. Nakhnikian. (The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1973), p. 44 (p. 56 in the German edition, Die Idee der Phänomenologie (Husserliana II], ed. W. Biemel (
 Ideen I 33 (27) [Ideas I (Kersten) 27, Ideas I (Gibson) 73].
 Edmund Husserl, Phänomenologische Psychologie (Husserliana IX], ed. W. Biemel (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1962), p. 75 (p. 56 in Phenomenological Psychology: Lectures, Summer Semester, 1925. transcends. John Scanlon;
 § 18 in Edmund Husserl, Cartesianische Meditationen und Pariser Vortrqäge (Husserliana I), ed. S. Strasser (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1950) and in Cartesian Meditations, trns. Dorion Cairns (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1960), Sect. 18.
 Edmund Husserl, “Vorlesungen zur Phänomenologie des inneren Zeitbewusstseins” in Zur Phaenomenologie des inneren Zeitbewusstseins (1893-1917) (Husserliana X]. Ed. Rudolf Boehm (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1966) §38, p. 76ff. (p. 431ff. in the pagination of the first edition).
 Krisis, pp. 258f., Crisis pp. 255f.
 Krisis, pp. 254f., Crisis pp. 250f.
 Marvin Farber, Phenomenology and Existence. Toward a Philosophy within Nature (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1967), p. 125.
 Edmund Husserl, Logical Investigations, trns. J.N. Findlay, VI. Investigation, §39 “Evidence and Truth,” p. 769. Heidegger specifically cites this passage from the German, Logische Untersuchungen, Vol. II, Part II, p. 126) in Sein und Zeit (Tubingen: Max Niemeyer, 1957) p. 218, in. 1.
 Edmund Husserl, Analysen zur passiven Synthesis (Husserliana XI] ed. Margot Fleischer (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1966), p. 102ff. The translation is my own.
 The final words of Friedrich Schiller’s drama Die Braut von Messina.