Husserl’s Living WorldJune 26, 2021
In Ideen II, Husserl presents a layered ontology on the one hand, and on the other hand reveals the naivety of such an ontology. Rather than separating the “material” and “cultural” layers of things, he describes cultural things as permeated by cultural meanings down to their most “natural” features (Hua IV, pp. 236-9).
In this period, he makes a distinction between “living body” (Leib) and “body as object” (Körper). We will see how important this distinction is for Merleau-Ponty, who followed Husserl, while discussing Merleau-Ponty. The body is not just an object among objects, as the Cartesian tradition thinks, but a being that perceives and feels the world and itself. Through the body, Husserl attempts to consider how the surrounding world is “pre-given” to consciousness. During this period, this reflection on the body is simultaneously accompanied by a reflection on intersubjectivity. Is intersubjectivité first of all intercorporéité?
How intersubjectivity can be grounded is the subject of the fifth Cartesian Meditations. In this period, Husserl emphasizes that the meaning of objectivity presupposes intersubjectivity. To say something is objectively valid is to suggest that other minds can ascertain its truth. If this were not possible, it would not be possible for two people to talk about the same object using language and to determine a truth together. If he could not do this, there would be neither a common life, nor sciences, nor institutions. Of course, objective validity is not all about intersubjectivity and language. The ground for two people to realize the same truth about an object is the immutable laws of the object. However, for such a collective experience to occur, the presence of other minds is required.
Well, how do I know there are other minds? The consciousness of another is never given to me as directly as my own scientist. According to Husserl, a match occurs between my living body and someone else’s body given to me in my field of perception. Ali is standing there by the door, while I am sitting here in the chair by the table. It could be me standing there by the door, it could be him sitting here in this chair. In this case, being able to put myself in someone else’s place and someone else in my place is something I do with my living body. Through this coupling, I present the other to my consciousness, not only as a living and perceiving body like mine, but also as an alter ego. Husserl calls this apprezentation. So I think of it as an ego, a consciousness. Husserl thus thinks that he has transcended solipsism. His attempt to rethink the body in a phenomenological way and to transcend the body as a mere object played an important role in grounding intersubjectivity. Discussions about the notions of “body” and “intersubjectivity” are also useful themes to clarify the notion of “lifeworld”, which can be considered the key to Husserl’s third period thought.
Solipsism asserts that only my consciousness and its contents exist, that other minds cannot be proven to exist. Other people’s bodies, gestures, words, relationships with them, etc., may be just mirages, fictions, dreams of my mind. Husserl claims to have transcended solipsism.
Our life world is the world of things that we experience in the first person. Science, on the other hand, tries to explain things from a third-person perspective. Meanwhile, objects are detached from their relation to subjectivity and are considered as static structures. Whereas the world of objects of science has its roots in the world of life. The reason we use the root metaphor here is to suggest a process of formation. There is a formation on the basis of the objectivity that we think of as static. If the world of life is primary, how did the world of objects of science come from the world of life? For example, in ancient times, people believed that the earth was flat and located at the center of the universe. Copernicus and Galileo conclusively demonstrated that this understanding was scientifically incorrect. From the point of view of objective science, the earth is any of the thousands of planets in the universe. However, according to Husserl, this humanistic, scientifically incorrect, of Antiquity contained a fundamental truth about our experience because, from the point of view of our experience, the world we live in is flat, fixed, and central. This is not a claim about the science of astronomy, but a claim showing the origin of our life world. Husserl seeks an answer through genetic phenomenology to the question of what kind of relationship there is between the world of life and the world of science. Static phenomenology describes the experience in a structured way by taking the object as a guide. On the other hand, genetic phenomenology examines the formation of this structurality in subjective meaning-making processes. What meanings must already be established in order for an entity to be experienced with a particular meaning? This question includes both Experience and Judgment.