Paideia pp 287-297 | Cite as

Nature and Life in the Later Husserl: Instinct and Passivity

  • Robert D. Sweeney
Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 68)


The theme of Husserl’s breakthrough to nature and life in his later work is challenging and multifaceted. One aspect of considerable interest is that of animality as revealed by a focus on instinct. It is an issue that takes on more centrality and even urgency today because of heightened concern for the environment that we share with the non-human animal. Traditionally, of course, our picture of sharing the world with animals of other species has an escape clause, viz., rationality or language, by which we claim to transcend this realm — a claim that some consider valid and others not. In other words, the continuity (or discontinuity) between humans and other animals, particularly in the light of evolution, can be seen as a major aspect of the unity of life and one that centers on the nature and role of instinct.


Analogical Transfer Transcendental Subjectivity Genetic Phenomenology Escape Clause Passive Synthesis 
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  1. 1.
    Nam-in Lee, Edmund Husserl’s Phanomenologie der Instinkte (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1991), pp. 3–13. Henceforth referred to as PI.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    This summary has been assisted immeasurably by the article “Passivité et Phenomenologie genetique” by Bruce Begout, Natalie Depraz, Mattheiu Mavridis et Shin Nagai, in Alter,(1994)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    This is an as-of-now unpublished manuscript. Henceforth referred to as HI.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Understandably, Mensch has avoided the aporias associated with Husserl’s theory of time: e.g., the conflict between continuity and difference in simple sound; the problem with complex sounds and other “retentions”; the question of overlap between retention (primary recollection) and memory (secondary recollection); and the implicit issue of historical time. Cf. Paul Ricoeur, Time Narrative III (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), chapter 2.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Natalie Depraz, “Ya-t-il Une Animalite Transcendentale?”, Aler (1994). Henceforth referred to as AT.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    At one point in her essay, Depraz suggests that Heidegger may have influenced Husserl. But in later discussions about the article, a comment is made that Max Scheler should be considered an influence. Scheler did, indeed, treat instinct at some length in Man’s Place in Nature (New York: Noonday, 1961), pp. 14–33. This is not the place for a detailed comparison, but it might be noted that Manfred Frings, The Mind of Max Scheler (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 1996), refers to Scheler’s treatment of science as “sublimai phenomenology” in dealing with drive, instinct, etc. (see Chapter vi). In general, Scheler’s approach emphasizes stricter divisions between levels of instinct and behavior, etc.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Paul Ricoeur, Freedom and Nature (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1966), pp. 87–88 and passim. Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Paul Ricoeur, Oneself as Another (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992 ). Henceforth referred to as OA.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert D. Sweeney
    • 1
  1. 1.John Carroll UniversityUSA

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