Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New Husserl Themes: Farber Continued

On page 555, Farber writes:

Husserl views an active individual as being in relationship with other persons, who are experienced as psychophysical. The ethical subject, in referring his living-in-the-world to a norm, finds the others with whom he can cooperate. By means of empathy, the ethical subject recognizes that every other subject is given "in the orientation form of the alter," is given in the form of the "ego." The potentiality of this empathy is taken to be the presupposition of a common life in the sense of stages of social organization. The single subjects "in their freedom" and in their social acts direct this activity upon another ego, and thus arises a "connection of ego with ego, of many egos to polysystems, of real and possible activity" (p. 161). Living in this synthesis, every ego, as active ethically, makes its best possible contribution to others, and produces, in connection with other persons, a society in which the egos become a "synthetic pole" of social transactions. A person does not live a "solipsistic life," but rather a "common life, a double-personal and still a unified ethical life." One person has to consider everything that is a true value for another person; the self-satisfaction of his fellow men cannot be a matter of indifference to him. It is only in connection with the "interlaced" life of another person that one can evaluate his own life. Such a life is taken to be "obviously" of higher value than a solipsistic type of life, and is therefore "categorically demanded." There is "no life without love," and every life is just known along with a consciousness of love, a "Liebesdeckung," in Husserl's characteristic language. The highest form of life thus occurs in the pure "spiritual love and community of love."

A moral phenomenology would start in the same place as we encounter the other. Here, Farber explains that Husserl sees active individuals experience each other, that is, are given phenomenologically as empathy opens our potential to experience a common world shared with others. This point of contact is synthesis of this empathic recognition of Others in terms of a single subject acts in relation to another, and those other subjects all act in a shared public world. Ethical activity is, thus, world-producing. Out of our inter-acting, a human world arises (Hannah Arendt is coming to mind), and I find it interesting here that solipsism is mentioned. Husserl, apparently, denies our living a life without inter-actions. Such a life would be solipsistic whereas the true ethical life is a life constituted by various ethical subjects opening up to each other in a real communal sense.

At this mentioning of solipsism, I am wondering now if the Fifth Meditation can be read ethically and not epistemically? Think about it. The same conditions that recognize the Other in terms of empathy (intersubjectivity) would be in place for either ethics or some nascent phenomenology qua epistemology.

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