• Søren Overgaard
Part of the Phaenomenologica book series (PHAE, volume 173)


In the preceding discussion of the world and intra-worldly entities, other subjectivities remain conspicuously absent. This is by no means because Husserl and Heidegger have nothing to say about intersubjectivity, but rather because other subjects are precisely subjects, and thus demand a separate discussion. Still, the best way to introduce intersubjectivity is to return briefly to the phenomenon of world. In both Husserl and Heidegger, the phenomenon of world is intimately connected with intersubjectivity.1


Apple Tree Chapter Versus Transcendental Subjectivity Transcendental Subject Mundane Object 
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  1. 1.
    See Klaus Held, “Das Problem der Intersubjektivität und die Idee einer phänomenologischen Transzendentalphilosophie,” p. 29, and Günter Figal, Martin Heidegger: Phänomenologie der Freiheit, p. 135.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See, concerning this, Dan Zahavi, Husserl und die transzendentale Intersubjektivität, pp. 32–40, and Manfred Sommer, “Fremderfahrung und Zeitbewußtsein. Zur Phänomenologie der Intersubjektivität.”Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    This is precisely the realization that necessitates, in Husserl’s eyes, the introduction of the so-called “primordial reduction.” It is not because I initially find myself as a solipsistic subject that it becomesGoogle Scholar
  4. necessary for the phenomenologist to reduce to the “sphere of ownness” — indeed, if I were a solipsistic subject, such a reduction would be impossible (and, if it were possible, utterly pointless) — but because I discover a noematic world completely permeated with intersubjectivity. On this point, cf Søren Overgaard, “Epoché and Solipsistic Reduction.” Another question is whether Husserl’s “primordial reduction” is possible, whether one can imagine a “world” that is not shared with others. For an argument that one cannot, see James G. Hart, The Person and the Common Life, pp. 184–186.Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    Emmanuel Levinas, albeit without explicitly mentioning Heidegger, criticizes this approach in his book Totality and Infinity. When one approaches the other through his work, so Levinas objects, one “has penetrated into his interior, but in his absence. He has been understood like a prehistoric man who has left hatchets and drawings but no words” (p. 181). This, according to Levinas, amounts to startling or surprising the other (p. 178), instead of addressing him or her face to face (cf. pp. 182–183). A similar criticism is found in Michael Theunissen’s Der Andere, where Heidegger is charged with considering the other Dasein only to the extent that it “can be read off the ready-to-hand [entities]” (p. 172; similarly, Bernhard Waldenfels, Das Zwischenreich des Dialogs, p. 241). Whether or not this is a trenchant critique of Heidegger (and it may not be), it certainly seems not true of Husserl. In volumes XIV and XV of the collected works, there are several manuscripts dealing with the act of “turning towards the other” in genuine dialogue (cf. Hua XIV, pp. 166–168, 211; Hua XV, pp. 471–479; and Søren Overgaard, “On Levinas’ Critique of Husserl”).Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    The expression “co-world” or “with-world” (Mitwelt) is one Heidegger uses from very early on, together with the expressions “environing-world” (Umwelt) and “self-world” (Selbstwelt) (cf., e.g., GA 58, pp. 33, 56; GA 59, p. 59; GA 61, p. 94). In the summer of 1925, Heidegger explicitly criticizes this terminology, because, as he now says, it gives the false impression that the other Dasein has an intramundane mode of being (GA 20, p. 333). As the term Mitwelt is used in Sein and Zeit, however, it clearly gives no such impression. Here it only refers to the world, not to the other Dasein as such — it refers to the world precisely as one I share with others. The term Mitdasein (that Heidegger himself introduces as the better alternative in 1925 — cf. ibid.) is reserved for the being of the others.Google Scholar
  7. 6.
    Hence, Sartre’s observation that Heidegger’s account of intersubjectivity is modeled on the idea of a crew, rather than a situation of conflict (Being and Nothingness, p. 246), partly fits Husserl as well — even if Husserl emphasizes more than does Heidegger the transcendence of the other, and the possibility of “turning to the other,” face to face (cf. note 4 above). This claim can be substantiated by reference to the very frequent use of such expressions as Mitsubjekte, Mitmenschen, Miteinanderleben, and even Mitsein and Mitdaseiende in Husserl’s analyses of transcendental intersubjectivity (cf. Hua VI, pp. 166–167, 260; Hua VIII, p. 137; Hua IX, pp. 489–490; Hua XIV, p. 419; Hua XV, pp. 134–135, 163, 342, 386, 456). As Husserl declares, “against” is a mode of the (original) “with” (Hua XIV, p. 409). For more on the similarities and differences, agreements and mutual critiques, within the most significant French and German phenomenological accounts of intersubjectivity, see Dan Zahavi, “Beyond Empathy: Phenomenological Approaches to Intersubjectivity.”Google Scholar
  8. 7.
    Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness, pp. 181–185.Google Scholar
  9. 8.
    There are some remarks to that effect in Hubert Dreyfus, Being-in-the-World (esp. pp. 47, 141). It also seems implicit in comments made by Carl F. Gethmann (Dasein: Erkennen und Handeln, p. 27), Walter Biemel (”Husserls Encyclopaedia-Britannica Artikel und Heideggers Anmerkungen dazu,” p. 277), and even Emmanuel Levinas (Discovering Existence with Husserl, pp. 71, 106).Google Scholar
  10. 9.
    These motifs remind one of Fichte more than they do of Descartes. Indeed, it might be much more fruitful to compare Husserl’s phenomenological reduction with Fichte than with Descartes. Fichte’s idea that the philosopher should “abstract from being” in order to clarify the “ground of all being,” and his insistence that it is precisely the philosophizing ego, rather than the ego that the philosopher studies, that should undertake this abstraction, seem much more closely related to Husserl’s notion of the phenomenological reduction than does Cartesian doubt. Cf. Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Versuch einer neuen Darstellung der Wissenschaftslehre (1797/98), pp. 33–38.Google Scholar
  11. 10.
    The latter is in fact what Bernet argues in his article “Phenomenological Reduction and the Double Life of the Subject.”Google Scholar
  12. 11.
    Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, p. xiii. Cf. Merleau-Ponty, The Primacy of Perception, p. 49.Google Scholar
  13. 12.
    Kritik der reinen Vernunft, A 111.Google Scholar
  14. 13.
    In the VI. Cartesianische Meditation, Eugen Fink thus distinguishes between three egos (that are nevertheless one and the same): the mundane or human ego, the transcendental-constituting ego, and the phenomenologizing spectator (HuDo III1, pp. 45–46).Google Scholar
  15. 14.
    So Burt Hopkins argues. See his article “The Husserl-Heidegger Confrontation and the Essential Possibility of Phenomenology,” esp. pp. 138, 148, note 31. See, as well, Steven Crowell, “Does the Husserl/Heidegger Feud Rest on a Mistake?”Google Scholar
  16. 15.
    The mention of Gilbert Ryle here is quite appropriate. Although the positive message of The Concept of Mind is very different from the argument of the present study, some of Ryle’s negative points are very much in accordance with it. Ryle’s objections to the “dogma of the ghost in the machine” are not only that “[mien are not machines, not even ghost-ridden machines” (The Concept of Mind, p. 79), and that there are no ghosts (ibid., p. 154). In addition to that, he continuously returns to the observation that minds, according to the dogma, are themselves things or machines, only different sorts of things or machines. That is, the “ghosts” themselves are conceived “para-mechanically” (ibid., pp. 20–21, 62, 112, 177, 211). As Heidegger would put it, the idea of mental states is the idea of something with the being of presence-at-hand, and can therefore never make intelligible the human “being-in-the-world.”Google Scholar
  17. 16.
    Gethmann, Verstehen und Auslegung, pp. 247–248. See, too, Levinas, Discovering Existence with Husserl, p. 85: “In a certain sense intentionality is an Ausser-der-Welt-sein rather than the In-der-Welt-sein of consciousness.”Google Scholar
  18. 17.
    See Hua XXVII, pp. 164–165. The other main target is Max Scheler, whom Husserl even mentions by name (ibid., p. 180). For other places where Husserl criticizes (explicitly or implicitly) Heidegger’s allegedly “anthropological” phenomenology, cf. RB, pp. 13, 56; Hua V, p. 140.Google Scholar
  19. 18.
    Tugendhat suggests that Heidegger has no need to explicitly introduce the epoché, since he “stands within it” from the beginning (Der Wahrheitsbegriff bei Husserl and Heidegger, p. 263). This squares very well with our findings in Chapters I and III.Google Scholar
  20. 19.
    SZ, p. 439 (marginal note to p. 8). My emphasis.Google Scholar
  21. 20.
    Alweiss concludes from this that we “should never confuse Dasein’s existential structure of Being-inthe-world with the way in which a body is in space” (The World Unclaimed, p. 83). She takes this to mean that Heidegger must be describing a ”disembodied Dasein” (ibid., p. 87), and indeed that Sein and Zeit “throughout refuses to return to the body, sensibility, or any corporeality” (ibid., p. 124). What Alweiss seems to overlook completely is that Heidegger is precisely struggling to reveal how Dasein has a manner of being-in-the-world, which cannot be reduced to mere “onhandness” within the world, but which is nevertheless a very bodily and corporeal situatedness in the world. See the next section of the present chapter, as well as Chapter VI.Google Scholar
  22. 21.
    The systematic importance of this difference between the openness to one’s indefinite potential for being and particular options and projects is unfolded in great detail in Günter Figal, Martin Heidegger: Phänomenologie der Freiheit. Google Scholar
  23. 22.
    Though obviously not as an act, as something Dasein literally does. Cf. Heidegger’s subsequently added marginal remark to the quoted passage (SZ, p. 442).Google Scholar
  24. 23.
    The idea of exposedness that is quite naturally associated with the notion of “thrownness” is captured by Heidegger with the concept of Befindlichkeit (disposedness, affectivity) (SZ, p. 340). As facticity is related to affectivity, so being-ahead-of oneself is related to the existential of understanding, and beingamidst is related to “falling” (SZ, pp. 175, 336). Such three-part structures abound in Sein and Zeit. Google Scholar
  25. 24.
    As one recent commentator puts it, “while the traditional modern interpretation seems to adhere to a notion of subjectivity as a thing that is not in the world, Heidegger introduces an interpretation according to which subjectivity is a Being-in-the-world that is not a thing” (Einar Overenget, Seeing the Self, p. 2).Google Scholar
  26. 25.
    Obviously, I can also be kinesthetically aware of my moving or being moved without having chosen to do so. If someone pushes me, I am immediately aware that my limbs change position (although I by no means chose to move them), and similarly I am, or can be, aware of my breathing. On the basis of examples such as these, Husserl in one manuscript distinguishes between “foreign” or “compulsory” kinesthesia (someone pushes me), passive, but “allowed” kinesthesia (my breathing — which I could hold back), and “active” kinesthesia (I lift my glass to drink) (cf. Hua XIV, p. 447).Google Scholar
  27. 26.
    Dan Zahavi, Self-Awareness and Alterity, p. 95. My account of Husserl’s phenomenology of the body owes a great deal to Zahavi’s discussion (Self-Awareness and Alterity, pp. 91–109), as well as to Donn Welton’s article “Soft, Smooth Hands: Husserl’s Phenomenology of the Lived Body.”Google Scholar
  28. 27.
    For more on kinesthesia and their function in perception, see John J. Drummond, “On Seeing a Material Thing in Space,” as well as Ulrich Claesges, Edmund Husserls Theorie der Raumkonstitution. Google Scholar
  29. 28.
    See, regarding this, Ulrich Claesges, Edmund Husserls Theorie der Raumkonstitution, pp. 99–115. Google Scholar
  30. 29.
    In fact, it is a bit more complicated, as Dan Zahavi has reminded me. This is because, according to Husserl, the mundane subject is not the result of an isolated subjectivity’s self-mundanization, but rather the result of an intersubjective constitution. To myself, I am not an object in the world; but to others, I am a “subject-object” — and it is in and through identifying myself with the “object” I am for others, that I become an object in the world (Hua XIV, p. 86). But this has no consequences for the argument in the main text: subjectivity still enters the world as a constituted object.Google Scholar
  31. 30.
    Husserl calls sensations considered as functioning in perceptions of objects Empfindungen, and in order to stress the radically different function they have when considered as located in the body (in which case they present no object) he introduces the neologism Empfindnisse (Hua IV, p. 146). Google Scholar
  32. 31.
    This is, e.g., what Sartre argues in Being and Nothingness, p. 318.Google Scholar
  33. 32.
    Is there then, according to Husserl, no “there” that cannot possibly be made “here”? What about the stars in the sky? Husserl himself considers these things, and appears to reach the conclusion that the stars are precisely not mundane things, perceptually given things, in the same sense as apple trees and the like (Hua XV, pp. 262–263). As he writes in Manuscript E I 5: “Stars are not a type of reality such as birds.” “Sterne sind nicht ein Typus von Wirklichkeiten wie Vögel” (Ms. E I 5, 34a).Google Scholar
  34. 33.
    As Paul Ricouur says in his study of Husserl, the animate body that Husserl describes is a “quasireality” with “traits that almost cancel its intra-mundane status” (Husserl, p. 64). The crucial thing is precisely how to interpret this “almost.”Google Scholar
  35. 34.
    If the “transcendental body” is only a “pure” “inner-body,” then “it seems that all we have is a replication of Cartesian dualism in another register, for now it becomes not so much the mind-body problem as the body-body problem” (Donn Welton, “Soft, Smooth Hands: Husserl’s Phenomenology of the Lived-Body,” p. 48). See, too, Dan Zahavi, Self-Awareness and Alterity, D. 168.Google Scholar
  36. 35.
    Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, p. 139. Cf. The Primacy of Perception, p. 5. Google Scholar
  37. 36.
    Perhaps the real strength of Husserl’s account is not only and not primarily that it emphasizes the importance of the body as such, but rather that it stresses the importance of bodily movement. For a fruitful development of this Husserlian insight, cf. Maxine Sheets-Johnstone, The Primacy of Movement. Google Scholar
  38. 37.
    In the words of Daniel O. Dahlstrom, “Husserl’s account of the kinesthetic movements of the body clearly indicates a tangible level of transcendence that can be squared with neither a pure and isolated consciousness nor a sense of being as sheer presence — indeed, a level of transcendence, in relation to which, Heidegger’s talk of “being-in-the-world” or “being-there” has an oddly abstract, even gnostic ring” (Heidekger’s Concept of Truth, p. 164).Google Scholar
  39. 38.
    See, e.g., Hubert Dreyfus, Being-in-the-World, p. 137. See Alweiss, The World Unclaimed, for an elaborate critique of Heidegger’s refusal to discuss the body.Google Scholar
  40. 39.
    Heidegger seems to have considered the problem of the body extremely hard to come to grips with. In a 1966/67 seminar, he said: “The phenomenon of body is the most difficult problem” (GA 15, p. 236). For an argument that Heidegger’s thinking is very much concerned with the problem of embodiment, see Søren Overgaard, “Heidegger on Embodiment.” Other, and different, discussions of this important issue are found in David Michael Levin, “The Ontological Dimension of Embodiment”; and David R. Cerbone, “Heidegger and Dasein’s Bodily Nature.”Google Scholar
  41. 40.
    Thedore Kisiel reveals in The Genesis of Heidegger’s Being and Time (p. 293) that Heidegger had treated the problem of “corporeality” in great detail in the summer semester of 1924. The lecture course in question, bearing the title Grundbegriffe der aristotelischen Philosophie, unfortunately remained unpublished for almost ten years after Kisiel’s book saw the light of day. It was published in the summer of 2002.Google Scholar
  42. 41.
    Heidegger therefore even feels entitled to claim that the positive sciences “dream” (GA 24, p. 75), a remark that clearly anticipates Heidegger’s later contention that science does not think, and indeed cannot think (Was heißt Denken?, p. 4).Google Scholar
  43. 42.
    The interpretation, that it is an important difference between Husserl and Heidegger that Husserl wants to avoid “begging the question” while Heidegger does not (cf. Gethmann, Verstehen und Auslegung, p. 242), is therefore, in my view, too superficial.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Søren Overgaard
    • 1
  1. 1.Danish National Research Foundation: Center for Subjectivity ResearchUniversity of CopenhagenDenmark

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