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Nicolas de Warren examines not just a lesser-known text by Cassirer – Form and Technology – but also a symbolic form that has received little attention. This chapter reconstructs Cassirer's contribution to the animated debates about the value and dangers of technological power in Germany after the First World War. On the one hand, De Warren examines both the affinity and the differences between technical artefacts and language (as tools) and between technological and mythical consciousness (as magical), thus cutting out an indispensable role for the symbolic form of technology within the whole of human culture. At the same time, De Warren presents Cassirer's understanding of this form as indicative for his overall view of the relation between form and freedom, thus illustrating Cassirer's assessment of modern thought. Ultimately, technology is shown to have a moral status for Cassirer (only) in the sense that it strives toward the self-realization of human freedom.
The aim of this chapter is to understand how the themes of ordinary experience and common sense form a central vein in Husserl’s thinking, albeit in a way that cannot be directly identified with a philosophy of common sense, given its transcendental orientation. After a discussion of the formative influence of Avenarius’s notion of ‘natural conception of the world’ on Husserl’s thinking, this chapter examines Husserl’s contention that ordinary experience exhibits the taken-for-granted structured contours of any possible human experience. Husserl’s detailed descriptions of the various commonsensical ways in which we ordinarily experience the world are meant to showcase the richness of ordinary experience while also delineating in advance intentionality’s manifold structures that are to become the explicit theme of a phenomenological analysis of consciousness. In this manner, it is argued, Husserl ascribes a transcendental significance to ordinary experience in terms of what he dubs an ‘a priori of common sense’. The thrust of Husserl’s phenomenology of ordinary experience in the natural attitude sets up his later and more fully developed conception of the life-world as centred around the ‘presentness’ of the world that remains as elusive as it stands plainly there in all its obviousness.
After the demise of German Idealism, Neo-Kantianism flourished as the defining philosophical movement of Continental Europe from the 1860s until the Weimar Republic. This collection of new essays by distinguished scholars offers a fresh examination of the many and enduring contributions that Neo-Kantianism has made to a diverse range of philosophical subjects. The essays discuss classical figures and themes, including the Marburg and Southwestern Schools, Cohen, Cassirer, Rickert, and Natorp's psychology. In addition they examine lesser-known topics, including the Neo-Kantian influence on theory of law, Husserlian phenomenology, Simmel's study of Rembrandt, Cassirer's philosophy of science, Cohen's philosophy of religion in relation to Rawls and Habermas, and Rickert's theory of number. This rich exploration of a major philosophical movement will interest scholars and upper-level students of Kant, twentieth-century philosophy, continental philosophy, sociology, and psychology.
Husserl never originally produced a completed manuscript for the 1905 lectures “Phenomenology of Inner Time-Consciousness.” An entire lecture manuscript is not extant and many indications suggest that Husserl composed these lectures in an ad hoc fashion, patching together materials from earlier lectures and notes along with material newly written. The ad hoc nature of these lectures is furthermore apparent from the fact that Husserl may have even read directly to his students from his own notes from Brentano's “unforgettable” Vienna lectures of 1885/86. Over a period of years after 1905, Husserl subsequently incorporated newly produced manuscripts into the folder entitled “Zeitbewußtsein” containing the original bundle of lecture manuscripts. Husserl was in the habit of removing individual pages from his original lecture manuscript and replacing them with revised material. In 1917, Husserl entrusted this folder of manuscripts to his assistant Edith Stein with the expressed wish that she prepare the materials for publication – a request that granted Stein a degree of latitude to compose the envisioned work, but also placed on her the substantial burden of working out the details of what were often fragmentary and ever-changing analyses. Husserl's vision of his phenomenological movement contributed to this habit of parceling out individual domains of research to his assistants and charging them with the task of pursuing the intricacies of phenomenological investigations.
Problems that appear small are large problems that are not understood.
— Ramón y Cajal
Of the many ways in which there is truth to Husserl's confession, “without Brentano, I would have never written one word of philosophy,” his inheritance of distinguishing between addressing questions and handling problems is especially significant. More pronounced than in Brentano, this distinction is unmistakable in Husserlian phenomenology. On the one hand, substantial questions of philosophy, gathered around the axis of how knowledge is at all possible, feature prominently throughout Husserl's writings. In the 1905 lectures “On Inner Time-Consciousness” (hereafter: ITC lectures), for example, Husserl begins with a stirring evocation of Augustine's Confessions and the question quid est enim tempus that “nearly brought Augustine to despair.” As Husserl is quick to declare, despite “our modern age, so proud in its knowledge, we may still say today with Augustine: si nemo a me quaerat, scio, si quaerenti explicare velim, nescio” (Hua X, 3 ). In one broad stroke, the sweep of such a question opens a space for reflection; the question of time is decisively raised anew. On the other hand, Husserl attacks philosophical questions by handling specific problems that do not seem proportionate to the burden of the general questions they are meant to shoulder. Under the heading of the question of time, the investigations developed in the ITC lectures as well as in subsequent research manuscripts pursue a circumscribed set of issues, most importantly, the perception of temporal succession and the temporality of consciousness.
Under what obligation do I lie of making such an abuse of time?
— David Hume
An untimely provocation
Husserl was a philosopher who believed that the course of Western history could never forsake the idea of philosophy first ushered into the world with Greek thinking, even as he recognized that he came to philosophy in an historical epoch in which that unique window of human possibility was rapidly, and perhaps entirely, coming to a close. From the seminal Logical Investigations to the unprecedented Crisis of the European Sciences, Husserlian phenomenology struggled to define itself against the current of an age that unthinkingly abdicated a responsibility towards the highest perfection of reason in the name of a reason paradoxically called modern. Husserlian phenomenology is therefore best approached as an untimely provocation, the thrust of which is encapsulated in the charge that “the spirit of radicalism has been lost under the title of philosophy” (Hua VIII, 10). This call to radicalism takes on different forms. Its most visible banner is the motto “back to the things themselves” that commonly informs our view of Husserl's enterprise, to the extent that the generalized term “phenomenology” is often taken as synonymous with any invocation of lived experience and the “first person point of view” in contemporary philosophical discourse. The primary concern, however, that animates Husserlian phenomenology is neither “lived experience” nor “consciousness” as such, but a problem first broached in the Logical Investigations that continually defined, with increased sophistication and breadth, the center of Husserl's gravity, and to which he untiringly returned once again in the unfinished Crisis of the European Sciences: how is knowledge possible?