Thursday, June 11, 2009

Privileging the Heideggerian Mode of Intentionality?

One limiting feature of existential phenomenology is its insistence that the fore-structure of our encounter with the world is only understanding. Now, it may be my naivete, but that claims sounds pretty much like Husserlian intentionality. It is, for me, one modality of intentionality we can take up. The sphere of our conscious life is more variegated than just that type of modality. All Heidegger does is privilege one modality of how we are aware of the world, and with Husserl one can get to the content of our experiences rather than just seeing the shape of consciousness rather than content.

For me, this exploration of the givenness of content cuts all the way down, and elucidates more of our experience than Heideggerians can hope to achieve. Of course, I think they have larger concerns than I know here about the transcendental motif. I would like to hear what others have to say on this point. Wink, wink, hint, hint:

In my reading of Heidegger, I interpreted being-in-the-world as the basic comportment of understanding, thinking this is a transcendental analysis--thus drawing more links to the indebtedness to Husserl than many Heideggerians acknowledge. Of course, this is a contentious area of exegesis and criticism. Heidegger's exploration of being-in-the-world is, as I know, not very content-oriented from the standpoint of the transcendental ego meditating on its own intentional awareness but Dasein looking back on its action-orientation in the world. However, I question this motif. Why deny the transcendental motif of the egological activity we're aware of for one type of intentional modality? What is so special about this type of intentionality that gives us a way to access the question of Being?


Khadimir said...

understanding is not our only encounter with the world

In our encounter with and being in the world, phenomena are disclosed. Disclosure is constituted by a four-fold of understanding, mood, language, and fallenness. Of understanding, the fore-structure is a Heideggerian version of Husserl's retension, protension, and immediate present.

content vs. shape of experience

Heidegger claims that the Kantian I-Think must be reconsidered, for the I has no content; it could be anyone. hence, much of his work in Being and Time allows him to articulate why Dasein has one "set of content" rather than another. That is, why Dasein inhabits this world rather than another, and how our world changes, e.g. my world as philosopher as opposed to soccer player. Per his novel fundamental ontology (of the present-to-hand vs. ready-to-hand), he is able to talk about activity; my activities as philosopher vs. soccer player lead to very different possibilities for encouters even in the otherwise same context. (I don't give a damn about the grass as a philosopher.) So, much of the point is not about this or that givenness, but why this given or that given,what is the relationship between the two, etc.

Heidegger vs. Husserl

Aside, being-in-the-world is a comportment of Dasein, for whom the world is disclosed. (Primally, Dasein's comportment is to existence.) The *for whom* is paramount for his hermeneutic phenomenology. As for indebtedness, Heidegger is building off of Husserlian phenomenology. Husserl is the bedrock for Heidegger, and anyone who disagrees cannot be taken seriously. Having said that, it is clear that Heidegger is "not very content-oriented from the standpoint of the transcendental ego..." Heidegger is in many ways repudiating Husserl on the issue of the I-Think, for while he explicitly rebukes Kant, there are many ways that the same is true for Husserl. Heidegger is less interested in intentionality insofar as it is strictly Husserlian.

A Leading Clue

Heidegger writes that the leading clue in the inquiry into being is that "Dasein's essense is its existence." One might recognize this as a play on Aquinas' On Being and Essence, where Aquinas claims that this is a fundamental truth only of God, the world-maker. Well, Heidegger's point--if I may butcher it--is that consciousness is dependent upon what it is conscious-of, existence, which is also dependent upon for whom it is disclosed. So, I experience differently on the soccer field not only because it is a soccer field and not an office of which I am conscious, but also because I am a soccer player for whom it is disclosed. The disclosure of the field differs because I have an intimate understanding of the field, but also of myself as soccer player, which also affects my activities, and possible activities and understandings, etc. This also affects affectivity (mood) and thought, speech, etc (~language).

Personally, I specialize in the "self-understanding" part; how existential conditions affect how one understands one's self (an existentiell per Robinson), which affects how one thinks, acts, experiences, etc, yet of which one is not necessarily aware. Existential phenomenology deals with more than the locus of attention, but also the what and how of attending. A secretary will attend to a soccer field very differently than a soccer player ... but that player will attend differently depending on whether a dog is being walked or cleats are being put on, etc. Given the relative fixity of the world, sociality, custom, etc., a lot can be learned about certain types of "self" wit this analysis.

Pre-Carbondale Philosopher said...


In this post, I will outline some thoughts that follow your points. I have numbered them accordingly for some semblance of organization.

1) I like equating Heidegger's critique of the transcendental apperception in Kant with Husserl. I think that must be right. I wonder where you see this critique occurring and whether or not we could get some textual support for this claim. Working this critique out with textual support might allow us to determine if the same critique against Kant works with Husserl. Do you have a particular case in point?

2) I remain unconvinced that the 'I' has no content, and how such a critique follows from the simple fact that Dasein inhabits this world, not any other. What is the implicit premise connecting these two points?

3) Dasein's comportment is its existence a la understanding. The fact that we are *aware of* the world occurs in that it is dislosed in one of the four-fold manners, but one of these is more primary (so it seems from my perspective). If we trace back how phenomena are disclosed whether as a mood, or a language, or that we are already underway, the fact remains that understanding would be necessary and sufficient for disclosure in all cases, but does it remain the same for the other modalities of disclosure in mood, language and fallenness? Thus, as I argue the point understanding is our basic intentionality of the world, and intentionality seems inscribed in understanding in ways that Heidegger falls right on it, even if he means to avoid it.

Lastly, I want to insist this position is correct by noting your ending thoughts. First, you repeat that Dasein's essence is its existence, meaning that A) "consciousness is dependent upon what it is conscious-of, existence, which is also dependent upon for whom it is disclosed." Next, you say that A) is dependent on B) "for whom it is disclosed"

I think you disagree, but it seems very much that A) is intentionality, and context matters about the particular content, which is B). However, it is still the fact that A) determines B) as possible, and that B) is secondary--only constraining the possibilities that A) experiences.

As an existential phenomenologist, you would want to say that in thinking that A) determines B), I am limited in describing the whole range of phenomena beyond the "locus of attention." I operate within a limitation. This is the charge you would press most significantly, I feel.

Khadimir said...

An apology. I'm going to drop into Heidegger-speak through most of this. I still think that my answer is meh 'cause it's hard to not be obtuse and not butcher Heidegger in the attempt.

To begin, I would say that you operate in a limitation as you wrote at the end. With mere intentionality, almost none of the phenomena under discussion per Heidegger will make any sense. There is an entirely different methodology at work in Heidegger that is compatible with but wholly separate from Husserl's. They are not even talking about the same subject matter. I note that you haven't said anything about what is known as Heidegger's relational ontology. The significance of the concepts of the ready-to-hand and worldhood are crucial to comprehend what understanding does, and we haven't even mentioned that.

Now, to clarify, I am only speaking of the first division of Being and Time. The later stuff is doing something else entirely (on themes of language and discursivity, technology and enframement, effects of forgetfulness, etc.).

1) critiquing Husserl via Kant
In short, Husserl never completed an account of the subjectivity of the subject that includes sociality, culture, history, etc. Doing so radically rethinks phenomenlogy well beyond Husserl, especially as concerns temporality.

Heidegger forwards two critiques of Kant of note (45-46). First, Kant has no account of subjectivity. He treats the subject as neutral, which seems to be less of a problem given that he thought that the categories were static. Neither Husserl nor Heidegger think that. Husserl entered onto this subject at the end of his career, while Heidegger began his fame there. Husserl never had an adequate phenomenological study of the subject, for he did not enter that topic until completing his static studies, which are a prerequisite that Heidegger assumes.

That said, I don't find the subject of much interest.

2) on the content of the "I"
Of course the "I" has content. Neither Husserl nor Heidegger disagrees. However, the intimations that Husserl performs in, e.g. the Crisis are nothing compared to Being and Time (and nothing yet again to work done since). This must be a misunderstanding; the I has no content of its own for Kant.

Khadimir said...

First, all four irreducible factors of disclosure are always present; something is not disclosed in just one of them. Speaking of them separately is done for articulation via phenomenological reduction, and because each has its own structures and modalities as disclosed in disclosure.

Second, yes, Heidegger privileges understanding and temporality in Being and Time in the sense that he spends a disproportionate time on them. That I cannot deny. However, do not make too much of this. He spends much of his latter career on language, e.g. discursivity, but that does not suddenly become more important.

As for the want to make understanding and intentionality equivalent, they are the most similar aspects, but presuming equivalence is incorrect. Rather, it would be better to say that the intentionality makes an appearance in the fore-structure of understanding, but is subsumed and synthesized into an analysis that rethinks what it is, its place, and the implications, etc. In short, don't be reductive. Here's one of my favorite early passages on the subject.

“Dasein always understands itself in terms of its existence—in terms of a possibility of itself: to be itself or not itself. Dasein has either chosen these possibilities itself, or got itself into them, or grown up in them already. Only the particular Dasein decides its existence, whether it does so by taking hold or by neglecting. The question of existence never gets straightened out except through existing itself. The understanding of oneself which leads along this way we call ‘existentiell’. (33; 12-13)

Dasein is its world. It's not "conscious-of" it in any sense that Husserl would mean. Moreover, the world is not an object to be conscious-of for Heidegger. The term means something very, very different from commonsense notions. To be more technical, the world is a relational totality, not a thing.

Third, it appears that I need to make some implications explicit concerning the hermeneutic circle as formulated as "Dasein's essence is its existence." Lack of clarity on my part has lead to some unwarranted and invalid inferences being attributed to me in the "A) ... B)" discussion. I say, A)-> B) and B)->A), yet this is not a vicious circle. (There's a whole section just on that.)

To be simpler, the problem here is that we interact with the world in experiencing, and Heidegger is trying to articulate the invariant structures of human being (~ontological, understanding), the relatively invariant structures (~ontico-ontological, understanding as an English speaking American student), and the variant structures (~ontic, me typing this now).

So, if I must use As and Bs, A) disclosure is dependent upon the existential context, yet what is understood depends on the history of one's prior understandings B). Yet the history B) depends on the available existential contexts A). In neither case need intentionality be invoked, for it is not relevant to he discussion until we specify a specific context, understanding, history, etc. So, neither A nor B is primary.

Though Husserl does not have a hermeneutic circle, look at the latter half of the Crisis to see how he handles sociality, culture, history, etc.

Pre-Carbondale Philosopher said...

This is so fun. I -- like yourself have some pressing life details to iron out -- will get back to you on these points. There is a lot to consider.