Time-Consciousness and Historical Consciousness
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If we wish to reflect philosophically on history, one of the things we need to do is consider the nature of our awareness of the past. Husserl’s 1905 lectures, The Phenomenology of Internal Time-Consciousness, 1 are one of the most brilliant examples of phenomenological analysis, and he deals with just that topic. It is true that Husserl is concerned there with our consciousness of our individual pasts in memory, and that the historical past is usually thought of as that past which lies beyond our individual experience, the past of others. Nevertheless, I think our best clue to a phenomenological clarification of historical experience is to be found in those lectures — a better one, actually, than what Husserl says explicitly about history in his later works, and a better one, in my opinion, than what most phenomenologists have said about it. But what Husserl offers us is no more than a clue — or a series of clues — and in order to appreciate them we have to attend to certain aspects of what he says and be prepared to extend and revise his theory in important ways. One of those, of course, must be concerned with getting beyond our individual pasts to the past of others. But that is only the last step.
KeywordsVisual Field Historical Past Historical Event Historical Inquiry Secondary Memory
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- 1.Edmund Husserl, Zur Phänomenologie des inneren Zeitbewusstseins, Husserliana 10 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1966); transl. J.S. Churchill as The Phenomenology of Internal Time-Consciousness ( Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1964 ).Google Scholar