Joyous Inquiry philosophy, literature, art, and other things i'm up to and working on, in cambridge, california, new york, princeton, and wherever else i may be
Tuesday, March 11, 2008 Intentionality: A Fundamental Idea of Husserl's Phenomenology
Here is what I think is an absolutely crucial, unbelievably (unbelievably!) brilliant text of Sartre's, in full, explaining and popularizing phenomenology. I'll make some remarks afterwards. In the meantime, hopefully this will get the text out there more, and help to save both it and Sartre from their current under-appreciated stature. At the very least, it still remains one of the most (if not the most) clear introductions to intentionality in Husserl, in my mind. This is a text everyone interested in philosophy should read. Who else could have explained its merits as a restoration of the horror and charm to things? Or the deficiency of other accounts which it corrects as the solipsism of a child kissing his own shoulder? Who else could have made you feel the operation of this idea within our everyday practices, precisely because of its theoretical sophistication, so viscerally that when we indeed think it, we react even bodily--becoming entranced, disgusted, or even dizzy with near-rapture? Who else, except Sartre?!
"Intentionality: A Fundamental Idea of Husserl’s Phenomenology" From The Phenomenology Reader, ed. Dermont Moran and Timothy Mooney (London, Routledge, 2002). Found online in Thomas Sheehan's notes for his Sartre course at Stanford. A translation (by Joseph P. Fell) of “Une idée fondamentale de la phénoménologie de Husserl: l'intentionnalité,” in Situations I (Paris: Gallimard, 1947)...Posted by Mike at 8:32 PM What is written about: Husserl, Sartre
Sinthome’s post also resonates with the recent discussion of Diane Elson’s work (here and here), in which I was exploring Elson’s take on the concept of “determination” in Marx’s work. Much as Sinthome mines concepts used to think evolution, Elson deploys metaphors from chemistry to try to move beyond thinking of structure as something that subsists separately to, and exists in an external causal relationship with, what is structured.
All of these discussions remind me again of one of my favourite characterisations of Marx’s work, from Paul Lafargue’s Reminiscences of Marx:
He saw not only the surface, but what lay beneath it. He examined all the constituent parts in their mutual action and reaction; he isolated each of those parts and traced the history of its development. Then he went on from the thing to its surroundings and observed the reaction of one upon the other. He traced the origin of the object, the changes, evolutions and revolutions it went through, and proceeded finally to its remotest effects. He did not see a thing singly, in itself and for itself, separate from its surroundings: he saw a highly complicated world in continual motion.
His intention was to disclose the whole of that world in its manifold and continually varying action and reaction.
Compare with Sinthome’s lovely description of:
capitalism as a heterogeneous multiplicity with a variety of different levels, often at odds with itself, spinning off in a variety of different directions, calling for nuanced and local analyses and strategies