Human Studies

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 341–352 | Cite as

Crossing the Finite Provinces of Meaning. Experience and Metaphor

  • Gerd SebaldEmail author


Schutz’s references to literature and arts in his theoretical works are manifold. But literature and theory are both a certain kind of a finite province of meaning, that means they are not easily accessible from the paramount reality of everyday life. Now there is another kind of referring to literature: metaphorizing it. Using it, as may be said with Lakoff and Johnson, to understand and to experience one kind of thing in terms of another. Literally metapherein means “to carry over”. Metaphorizing in this view is then a specific kind of border-crossing between different provinces of meaning. That poses two questions: 1. What means finiteness of those provinces of meaning, what kind of border crossings are possible? What is the ground for metaphorizing meaning? 2. Could this concept used for founding a theory of the constitution of the societal and of society, that overcomes the dichotomy of structure/agency? These questions will be answered with one example in view: Schutz’ report to Kaufmann of his first visit of Husserl describing his experience as feeling like Wilhelm Meister at the Society of the Tower. In a first step this metaphor is presented together with some crumbs of metaphor theory. In a second step these crumbs will be connected to Husserl’s concept of experience. After developing a short overview over Schutz’ “finite provinces of meaning,” the relation of experience, metaphors to the intersubjectivity of these provinces in their dependence from writing and printing is discussed.


Finite provinces of meaning Metaphors Experience Edmund Husserl Alfred Schutz Experience Social theory Media 


  1. Berger, P. L., & Luckmann, T. (1966). The social construction of reality: A treatise in the sociology of knowledge. Garden City/NY: Anchor Books.Google Scholar
  2. Dépeltau, F. (2008). Relational thinking: A critique of co-deterministic theories of structure and agency. Sociological theory, 26(1), 51–73.Google Scholar
  3. Eisenstein, E. L. (1979). The Printing Press as an Agent of Change. Cambrigde/UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Emirbayer, M. (1997). Manifesto for a relational sociology. American Journal of Sociology, 103(2), 281–317.Google Scholar
  5. Fuchs, S. (2001). Beyond agency. Sociological Theory, 19(1), 24–40.Google Scholar
  6. Gadamer, H. G. (1990). Wahrheit und Methode. Grundzüge einer philosophischen Hermeneutik. Tübingen: Mohr.Google Scholar
  7. Husserl, E. (1970). The crisis of European sciences and transcendental phenomenology. Evanston/Ill: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Husserl, E. (1973). Experience and judgement. Investigations in a genealogy of logic. Evanston/Ill: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Husserl, E. (1992). Formal and transcendental logic. Den Haag: Nijhoff 1969.Google Scholar
  10. Knoblauch, H. (1999). Metaphors, transcendence and indirect communication. Alfred Schutz’ phenomenology of the life-world and the metaphors of religion. In: Lieven, B., et al. (Eds.), Metaphor and God-Talk (pp. 75–94). Bern: Lang.Google Scholar
  11. Lacan, J. (1991). Das Draengen des Buchstaben im Unbewussten oder die Vernunft seit Freud. In: Jacques Lacan, Schriften II (pp. 15–55). Quadriga: Weinheim/Berlin.Google Scholar
  12. Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  13. Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (2003). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  14. Matthiesen, U. (1994). Standbein-Spielbein. Deutungsmusteranalysen im Spannungsfeld von objektiver Hermeneutik und Sozialphänomenologie. In K. Garz (Ed.), Die Welt als Text (pp. 73–114). Frankfurt/M.: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  15. Ricoeur, P. (1996). Die Metapher und das Hauptproblem der Hermeneutik. In A. Haverkamp (Ed.), Theorie der Metapher (pp. 356–375). Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.Google Scholar
  16. Ricoeur, P. (2004). Poetik und Symbolik—Erfahrung, die zur Sprache kommt. In L. Jaeger & B. Liebsch (Eds.), Handbuch der Kulturwissenschaften, Bd. 1: Grundlagen und Schluesselbegriffe (pp. 93–105). Stuttgart/Weimar: Metzler.Google Scholar
  17. Schutz, A. (1932). Brief an Kaufmann v. 20. Juni 1932. In: Alfred Schutz-Werkausgabe III.1 (pp. 361–363). Konstanz: UVK.Google Scholar
  18. Schutz, A. (1937). Das Problem der Personalität in der Sozialwelt. Bruchstücke. In: Alfred Schutz-Werkausgabe V.1 (pp. 91–176). Konstanz: UVK.Google Scholar
  19. Schutz, A. (1962). On multiple realities. In: Collected papers I. The problem of social reality (pp. 207–259). The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  20. Schutz, A. (1982). Life forms and meaning structure. London: Routledge & Kegan.Google Scholar
  21. Schutz, A., & Luckmann, T. (1973a). The structures of the life-world, Vol. 1. Evanston/Ill: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Schutz, A., & Luckmann, T. (1973b). The structures of the life-world. Vol. 2. Evanston/Ill: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Srubar, I. (1988). Kosmion. Die Genese der pragmatischen Lebenswelttheorie von Alfred Schütz und ihr anthropologischer Hintergrund. Frankfurt/M.: Suhrkamp Verlag.Google Scholar
  24. Srubar, I. (1994). Lob der Angst vorm Fliegen. Zur Autogenese sozialer Ordnung. In W. M. Sprondel (Ed.), Die Objektivität der Ordnungen und ihre kommunikative Konstruktion (pp. 95–120). Frankfurt/M: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  25. Srubar, I. (2003). Handeln, Denken, Sprechen. Der Zusammenhang ihrer Form als genetischer Mechanismus der Lebenswelt. In U. Wenzel, B. Bretzinger, & K. Holz (Eds.), Subjekte und Gesellschaft (pp. 70–117). Weilerswist: Velbrück Wissenschaft.Google Scholar
  26. Walsh, D. F. (1998). Structure/Agency. In C. Jenks (Ed.), Core sociological dichotomies. London: Sage.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für SoziologieErlangenGermany

Personalised recommendations