Retention and the Schema

  • James MenschEmail author
Part of the Phaenomenologica book series (PHAE, volume 197)


Among the topics of time consciousness, there is, perhaps, none so controversial as Husserl’s use of the schema to interpret our awareness of time. This schema of interpretative intention, contents-there-to-be-interpreted, and the resulting intentional object has been subject to continuous criticism. The reason for all this attention is not hard to see. At issue is how we are to understand our retention of just past time. This short term memory is the basis of our consciousness of extended time, but such time consciousness is fundamental for our apprehension of every temporally determinate object. Thus, the question of the schema concerns the very basis of Husserl’s theory of how we grasp our world. Although Husserl severely criticizes the schema, he never abandons it. In fact, we find him continuing to employ it in the C and B manuscripts on time consciousness from the 1930s. In this article, I show how Husserl applies the schema to our apprehension of time. This includes a crucial limitation he imposes on the schema with regard to the lowest level of such apprehension. I also examine how the schema determines what Husserl means by retention and, hence, temporal constitution. Having shown how his use of the schema overcomes the objections that have been brought against it, I describe the implications that thereby arise regarding the priority of appearing as such.


Intentional Object Primary Memory Temporal Object Ultimate Level Constitutive Process 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophySaint Francis Xavier UniversityAntigonishCanada

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