Structures of the ‘Living Present’: Husserl and Proust

  • J. Huertas-Jourda


The mediate aim of this essay is to make good two related claims: that phenomenology in Husserl’s sense is adequate to the task of describing the most concrete structures of subjectivity; and that the universal may be apprehended directly through the concrete.


Mental Experience Temporal Objectivity Living Present Primary Perception Involuntary Memory 
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  1. 1.
    Brand, Gerd: Welt, Ich, und Zeit, Nach unveröffentlichten Manuscripten Edmund Husserls, Martinus Nijhoff, Den Haag 1955.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Diemer, Alwin: Edmund Husserl, Versuch einer systematischen Darstellung seiner Phänomenologie, 2te, verbesserte Auflage,Monographien zur Philosophischen Forschung, Band XV, Verlag Anton Hain, Meisenheim am Glan 1965.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Held, Klaus: Lebendige Gegenwart, die Frage nach der Seinsweise des transzendentalen Ich bei Edmund Husserl, entwickelt am Leitfaden der Zeiproblematik, Phaenomenologica, Martinus Nijhoff, Den Haag 1966.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Fieschi, Pascal: “Le Temps perdu est retrouve’,” in Proust, Collection Génies et Réalitiés,Hachette Paris 1965: “The dimensions of this study do not allow us to show the deep analogies between proustian ”eternity“ and Husserl’s ”living present“ which seems to us closer than all the others to the nunc stans of Boethius.” (p. 260)Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    The obvious differences between Husserl’s methodological conceits and Proust’s chosen mode of expression have discouraged beforehand further comparison of their results. Cf., for example, Florival, Ghislaine: Le Désir chez Proust, à lâ recherche du sens, Neuwelaerts, Paris-Louvain 1971: “It is quote evident that we shan’t find a parallel with Proust in Husserl. But we shall be happier in seeking either in the perspective of Hegel, or, in a completely different direction, in the line and following the method of Merleau-Ponty.” (p. 14) To be sure, the author notes Merleau-Ponty’s acknowledgement of his debt to Husserl for his method but to no further effect.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Proust, Marcel: A la Recherche du Temps Perdu,3 vols., Bibliothéque de la Pléiade, Gallimard, Paris 1954, I use “transcendent truths” as an adequate heading under which to include such disparate items as “extra-temporal being” (III, 871), `real but not actual, ideal but not abstract“… ”impressions“ (III, 873), ”the permanent essence “’ of things” (id), “our true self’ (id.) Cf. also: ”Only the imp’ression,…, is a criterion of truth, and because of that it alone deserves to be apprehended by the mind (l’esprit)…“. (III, 880); which is to be read in the light of: ”… one must attempt to interpret sensations as the sign of so many laws and ideas…“ (III, 879). The novel must ”restore generality“ to ”the love of an Albertine“ or of a Gilberte ”and give this love, the understanding of this love, to all, to the universal mind (l’esprit universel) and not to this (woman) or that one in whom this (self) or this other (self) we have been successively would wish to fuse.“ (III, 897) Whether the ”extra-temporal self’ bears any deeper resemblance to Husserl’s “absolute, timeless consciousness” (Husserl, Edmund: Zur Phdnomenologie des inneren Zeitbewusstseins, 1893–1917, Husserliana,Band X, Martinus Nijhoff, Den Haag 1966, p. 1l2[464] — the pagination in brackets is that of the original edition, as given in the margins in this one; the translation used here is that of James Churchill: The Phenomenology of Internal Time-Consciousness,Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1964) remains to be seen, as well as whether — and in what way — the curious proustian tandem “impression-essence of things” resembles the complex husserlian experiential datum “lived-experience — enacted noesis and corresponding noema.”Google Scholar
  7. 16.
    Husserl, E., op. cit.,cf. for example Sec. 11 et sqq. for “retention”, Sec. 16 for “primary expectation” (retention and protention), and Sec. 24 for “primordial protention”. Cf also the excellent article by John Brough,“The Emergence of an Absolute Consciousness in Husserl’s Early Writings on Time-consciousness,” in Man and World,vol. 5, No. 3, August 1972, pp. 298326; esp. Sec. 2, Time-consciousness as originary consciousness in a three-fold sense, pp. 300–3.Google Scholar
  8. 21.
    As put together for purposes of eventual publication by Edith Stein and published by Martin Heideggerin 1928 from texts dating as far back as 1893 and not later than 1910; the canonical edition of this text was prepared by Rudolf Boehm for the volume of Husserliana already mentioned in which are included some of the texts on which the published version was based.Google Scholar
  9. 22.
    Namely, the “self-constitution” of universal objects in “universal intuitions”, that is to say, the age-old problem of the actual apprehension by an agent limited in time and place of an object by essence independent of time and place. The outline of an answer is given in the VIth Logical Investigation (Husserl, E.: Logische Untersuchungen,Max Niemeyer Verlag, Halle a.d.S. 1922, Band II, Teil II, Sec. 52, pp. 161 sqq.) and within this outline the studies of the Lessons on Internal Time-consciousness provide the more concrete answer. (Husserl, E., op. cit., Husserliana,X, Sec. 45, pp. 96[448] sqq.).Google Scholar
  10. 25.
    I summarize here the path followed in the studies published as Erfahrung und Urteil,F. Meiner Verlag, Hamburg 1972.Google Scholar
  11. 54.
    Cf. in particular the IVth Cartesian Meditation and more especially Sec. 32 entitled “The Ego as Substrate of Habitualities,” (id., 100–1; Dorion Cairns Translation, pp. 66–7, Cartesian Meditations, M. Nijhoff, The Hague 1960 ).Google Scholar
  12. 61.
    Brée, Germaine: Du Temps Perdu au Temps Retrouvé, introduction â 1’oeuvre de Marcel Proust Société d’Editions “Les Belles Lettres”, Paris 1950, pp. 260–1.Google Scholar
  13. 69.
    A particularly compact example of this was used by Leo Spitzer as the basis for an analysis which results in the emphasis of the “intentional” aspect made visible thanks to the “detachment”, the “purification” involuntary memory allows. I am referring to the analysis of the sentence “Ce nom de Gilberte… plumet bleu de son chapeau.” (Proust, op. cit.,I, 394–5 reprinted in Les Critiques de notre Temps et Proust, Gamier, Paris 1971, pp. 40–3.Google Scholar

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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1975

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  • J. Huertas-Jourda

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