Sunday, January 28, 2018
3:AM interviews Dan Zahavi on phenomenology.
Husserl only started to realize the challenge of intersubjectivity fairly late. His commitment to methodological solipsism, his trenchant idealism, and his disregard of the role of embodiment, however, seriously impeded his efforts and ultimately meant that his attempt to develop a phenomenology of intersubjectivity failed. By contrast, later phenomenologists such as Heidegger, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty all realized the significance and importance of intersubjectivity from early on. As might already be clear, I consider this a misinterpretation. Were one to pick an outsider in that quartet, I would pick Heidegger. One commonality between Husserl, Sartre and Merleau-Ponty is that they all emphasize the fundamentally embodied character of intersubjectivity. This is a difference to Heidegger, who has little to say about embodiment. Another difference is that all three are keenly interested in dyadic face-to-face relations (Husserl and Sartre admittedly more than Merleau-Ponty), whereas Heidegger again tends to dismiss the significance of such dyadic relations. What we find in Heidegger by contrast is not only an insistence on the formative character of tradition and historicity, but also an emphasis on the extent to which our being-in-the-world is as such characterized by a being-with-others regardless of whether there de facto are others present or not. The other phenomenologists are to various degrees prepared to accept this claim, but they would still insist on the importance of the concrete encounter with the other and claim that this encounter fundamentally affects and transforms our being-in-the-world.
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