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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: January 2010

4 - The retention of time past


Ja am liebsten spreche ich selbst über Dinge, die noch nicht erledigt, vielmehr im Fluß begriffen sind.

— Husserl

An indirect approach

Husserl conceived of the ITC lectures as an initiation to the phenomenological problem of time-consciousness, not only for his students, but most of all for himself. As with many of his lecture courses, Husserl develops a path of thinking without any preconceived expectation of where it might lead. As Husserl remarks, “we want to follow [these problems] however far we can. Where we can proceed no further, we at least want to formulate clearly the difficulties and possibilities of interpretation; we want to make clear to ourselves where the genuine problems reside, and how to give them a conclusive formulation” (Hua X, xvii). Such an experimental approach allows Husserl to suspend the demand for conclusive results and polished arguments that a presentation in book form would necessarily have required. As Husserl candidly notes, “where I remain silent as an author I can therefore speak as a teacher [Worüber ich mich als Autor ausschweige, darüber kann ich mich als Lehrer darum doch aussprechen]” (Hua X, xvii). Subsequent writings on time-consciousness remained committed to exploring the “difficulties” and “possibilities of interpretation” that rapidly elevated the theme of time-consciousness to “the most difficult of all phenomenological problems” (Hua X, 276 [286]). Indeed, as discussed in chapter 3, despite significant progress, difficulties originally manifest in Brentano's original association still haunt Husserl's thinking, resurfacing in unexpected form within Husserl's own analysis.