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This distinction is clearly articulated by Steven Crowell, who also argues that associations are not intentional (2013, pp. 135–140). Crowell does not present this as a faithful reading of Husserl, however, but rather as a critique of his genetic project.
Husserl expresses it very clearly in the first lines of section 39 of Cartesian Mediations: “The universal principle of passive genesis, for the constitution of all objectivities given completely prior to the products of activity, bears the title association. Association, it should be, clearly noted, is a matter of intentionality descriptively demonstrable as that, in respect of its primal forms, and standing, in respect of its intentional performances, under eidetic laws. Owing to these, each and every passive constitution is to be made understandable -- both the constitution of subjective processes, as objects in immanent time, and the constitution of all real natural objects belonging to the Objective spatio-temporal world.” (Hua I. Husserl (1973), p. 82/80; my emphasis).
The point here is simply that associative relations (of contrast, similarity, and so on) do not fall from the sky; they are rather based on our experience of the transcendent world, whence the connection Husserl sees to hold between full-fledged intentional experience and what goes on in immanent consciousness.
In my essay on “The Role of Concepts in Perception in Husserl and McDowell” (2011), I was too quick to infer the pre-conceptual nature of experience from the intentional continuity that holds between the constitutive layers of experience.
The following footnote seems to suggest just that: “What I thus call ‘non-intentional’ is not fundamentally different from what other scholars have called ‘preintentional’.” (p. 90)
Thanks to Corijn van Mazijk, Hanne Jacobs, and Daniele de Santis for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of this review.
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Doyon, M. Van Mazijk, Corijn: Perception and Reality in Kant, Husserl, and McDowell. Husserl Stud (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10743-020-09267-6