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


Much discussion in the literature on Husserl and Heidegger revolves around the concept of world. It would not be entirely wrong to say that a significant part of that discussion was triggered by a famous passage in Sein and Zeit, in which Heidegger charges traditional philosophy with presupposing too little rather than too much when characterizing subjectivity. This passage, which occupies us through Chapter V, runs as follows:

If, in the ontology of Dasein, we “take our departure” from a worldless “I” in order to provide this “I” with an object and an ontologically baseless relation to that object, then we have “presupposed” not too much, but too little. (SZ, pp. 315–316, cf. p. 206)

How does Husserl react to this when reading Sein und Zeit? Having already read more than three hundred pages of the book that, as Gadamer suggests, must look ambiguous to him, sometimes articulating a transcendental phenomenology, sometimes criticizing the same,1 Husserl is suspicious that the charge is above all leveled at his phenomenology. In the margin of his copy of Sein und Zeit, Husserl notes: “objection ’worldless I‷ (RB, p. 37).


Outer Horizon Transcendental Subjectivity Universal Horizon Horizonal Intentionality Noematic Correlate 
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  1. 1.
    Gadamer, Wahrheit und Methode, D. 259n.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Heidegger’s own comment to p. 98 of Sein und Zeit, SZ, p. 442. Indeed, Günter Figal suggests that Descartes basically functions as a pseudonym for Husserl in Heidegger’s main work (Martin Heidegger: Phänomenologie der Freiheit. D. 18).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Timothy Stapleton simply declares that this charge is “undoubtedly correct” (Husserl and Heidegger: The Question of a Phenomenological Beginning, p. 101; cf. p. 103). Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann subscribes to the same view, but with an important qualification (Subjekt und Dasein, p. 65). See, too, Jean-Luc Marion, Reduction and Givenness, p. 97, and Lilian Alweiss, The World Unclaimed, p. 72.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Pierre Keller, Husserl and Heidegger on Human Experience, p. 17.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Keller, Husserl and Heidegger on Human Experience, p. 116.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Interestingly, however, the Cartesian Husserl would precisely say that his phenomenology or his theory of intentionality isn’t itself based on acts that need have no existing object, although it describes such acts in detail. While I perceive, for instance, it is absolutely indubitable that the act of perceiving exists, and thus the phenomenological act directed at the act of perceiving is precisely the one, for which an object cannot possibly be non-existent. But clearly, Keller is discussing the types of acts “dealt with” in Husserl’s theory of intentionality, rather than the ones in which phenomenologizing itself is effectuated.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Keller, Husserl and Heidegger on Human Experience, p. 116.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
  9. 9.
    It must be pointed out that there is one other way of reading Keller’s criticism. Let me quote the passage from p. 116 in full: “The nature of intentionality cannot be understood by abstracting from the existence of the very objects to which consciousness is directed in intentionality.” What if “existence” is used here as a synonym for “being,” or “mode of being”? Then the passage would reflect Heidegger’s view, as presented in Chapter III, Section 1, very well indeed. Apart from the question of why Keller then prefers to say “existence” (which in Heidegger generally means the mode of being specific to Dasein) rather than (mode of) being, it is not clear to me how introducing the notion of being, and understanding of being, involves a criticism or a rejection of “Husserl’s internalist interpretation of intentionality” (ibid., my emphasis), rather than, say, of Husserl’s blindness to the question of being. It seems to me that if “existence” here means “mode of being,” the question would be whether Husserl is not missing something in his account of intentionality, something essential to intentionality, viz. being. But this is not something, the absence of which turns Husserl’s account into an “internalist” account. Rather, it makes it an account that fails to reach the level of ontology. Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Keller, Husserl and Heidegger on Human Experience, p. 111; my emphasis.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    ” For a similar reply to Keller’s internalism charge, see Aiweiss, The World Unclaimed, pp. 4–21. See, as well, Dan Zahavi, “Husserl’s Noema and the Internalism-Externalism Debate.”Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    However, Steven Crowell argues convincingly that Heidegger shifts “toward a transcendental realistic perspective that is not supplemental to, but inconsistent with, the phenomenological project” (Husserl, Heidegger, and the Space of Meaning, p. 237) shortly after SZ (e.g., in the “metontology” of GA 26), and that SZ in fact already in an inconsistent way incorporates both exclusive perspectives. For Crowell’s argument in its entirety, see the cited work, pp. 222–243.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Jacques Taminiaux, “From One Idea of Phenomenology to the Other,” p. 34.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann, Subjekt und Dasein, p. 65; cf. pp. 54, 59. Similarly, Timothy J. Stapleton, Husserl and Heidegger, no. 69–70.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Cf. Ludwig Landgrebe, Der Weg der Phänomenologie, pp. 57–58.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Von Herrmann, Subjekt und Dasein, p. 65. Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Cf Timothy Stapleton, Husserl and Heidegger, p. 101. This is not, however, the argument of C. F. Gethmann. Gethmann is ready to grant that Husserlian transcendental subjectivity “has” a world, is “related” to a world, but maintains that it is worldless in the sense that it does not itself belong to the world; that it is not itself in the world (cf Verstehen and Auslegung, p. 247). In the next chapter and (especially) in Chapter VI, I return to the question of what it means when Heidegger emphasizes that Dasein is in-the-world.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    I use “horizonal” and “horizonally,” of course, because “horizontal” and “horizontally” have ctennite meanings that do not fully agree with Husserl’s notion of Horizontintentionalität. Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    For a fuller account of horizon and world in Husserl’s phenomenology, see Donn Welton, The Other Husserl, Part Three (pp. 329–392).Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    The English translation strikes me as slightly confusing here. Husserl asks whether there is still a difference between appearance and what appears, and thus whether there can still be the transcendence that is determined by that difference. And his answer, as the following quotation shows, is negative.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    It seems to me that Husserl does not always distinguish between inner and outer horizon in the same way. In Erste Philosophie II and Erfahrung and Urteil, for instance, the inner horizon is all that of an object that is not intuitively given (backsides and so forth) (Hua VIII, pp. 146–147; EU, p. 28), while it seems in Hua IX that unseen sides are located in the outer horizon, so that the notion of inner horizon refers to the possible, but not authentically intuitively actualized aspects of the properly manifest side (e.g., those aspects of the thing that would manifest themselves, were I to “move closer”) (Hua IX, p. 195). Perhaps the best thing is not to distinguish sharply between inner and outer horizon in the first place.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    See for instance Husserl’s own reflections in Hua IX, p. 96.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Cf. Donn Welton, The Other Husserl, p. 324 (cf. pp. 87, 326, 331–346). See, too, Burt C. Hopkins, Intentionality in Husserl and Heidegger, p. 276, note 7, and Anthony J. Steinbock, Home and Beyond, pp. 98–109.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    But is “horizon” not, in fact, a misnomer then? After all, Husserl wants to apply this concept to an infinite reality (Hua III/1, p. 57) an “infinite horizon,” but a horizon is a limit, it is the limit of that which I can see. That is true, but a horizon is not a rigid limit, it is precisely not a fence surrounding me, but something that moves with me wherever I go, something that continually signals to me that there is more to explore. Cf. to this Hans-Georg Gadamer, Wahrheit and Methode, p. 250. See, as well, Hua IV, p. 299, where Husserl points out that the “infinity” of the world should be understood to signify the openness of the world, and does not mean that it contains an infinite number of objects.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    In the words of Ludwig Landgrebe, the world is the possible “and-so-on” (”Undsoweiter”) of our experience (Der Weg der Phänomenologie, pp. 54, 185), a notion of world Landgrebe explicitly contrasts with the conception of world as a totality of entities (p. 185) (cf. Hua XV, pp. 200, 523). See also Klaus Held, “Das Problem der Intersubjektivität und die Idee einer phänomenologischen Transzendentalphilosophie,” pp. 18–19.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    When Husserl says, in opposition to Kant, that the world is an object, viz. the “universal object” (Hua IX, p. 95; cf. Hua XXIX, p. 300), then he does not mean “object” in the same sense as when he speaks of individual objects. Husserl, as already noted, subscribes to the view that there is a “difference between the manner of being of an object in the world and that of the world itself’ (Hua VI, § 37, p. 146).Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Timothy Stapleton, Husserl and Heidegger, p. 109.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Some interpreters of Sein and Zeit emphasize that the important thing is not that a tool is used, but that it is used the proper way (cf. John Haugeland, “Heidegger on Being a Person,” p. 18; Mark Okrent, Heidegger’s Pragmtism, pp. 31–32, 46–47). Of course, there is a right way to use a hammer as a hammer, and a wrong way to use it, but the question is whether this is really an important point for Heidegger. I suspect that what Heidegger would find interesting is that Amazon Indians and Bushmen, too, would relate to a hammer as a tool, even if they did not use it specifically as a hammer. I suspect, further, that the interpreters who hold that Heidegger is really trying to direct our attention to what goes on when a hammer is used the “right way” (specifically as a hammer), are somehow misconstruing the ontological point that Heidegger is trying to make — that they are making an ontic point of it. More on this in Chapter VI.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    The German word Bewandtnis is close to untranslatable, as Ernst Tugendhat points out (Der Wahrheitsbegriff bei Husserl and Heidegger, p. 290n). But clearly, as Tugendhat indicates, Bewandtnis is here closely related to the “for what purpose” (Wozu) (p. 290). See Theodore Kisiel’s many suggestions for English equivalents in The Genesis of Heidegger’s Being and Time, p. 493. I am following Kisiel here, since I think “relevance” (for what purpose?) and “deployment” (putting something to use) preserve at least some of the connotations that Heidegger’s use of Bewandtnis carries, in a very plain and lucid manner.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Hubert Dreyfus suggests that we understand the relation between the notions of “referential whole,” “equipmental whole” and “involvement whole” (the latter being what I call a whole of “relevance”) in the following way: “The equipmental whole [...] describes the interrelated equipment; the referential whole its interrelations; and the involvement whole adds human purposiveness” (Being-in-the- World, p. 97). (I see no reason to disagree, and add only that “relevance” fully captures the element of “human purposiveness.”) While Dreyfus seems to think all of these wholes are (aspects of) the world, Paul Gorner, in “Heidegger’s Phenomenology as Transcendental Philosophy” (p. 25), argues for a sharp distinction between the referential whole and the whole of “relevance,” arguing that only that latter should be labeled “world.” I am inclined to agree with Dreyfus on this particular point.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Once again, Heidegger uses an important Husserlian term in his phenomenological description, viz. that of Weckung or wecken (literally “waking” or “arousing”). This is perhaps the key term in Husserl’s Analysen zur passiven Synthesis (Hua XI). Interestingly, in Heidegger’s lectures of the summer of 1925, he employs the equally Husserlian term “appresenting” (appräsentieren) in a similar context (GA 20, pp. 258–259).Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    See Otto Pöggeler, Der Denkweg Martin Heideggers, p. 208; and Hans-Georg Gadamer, “Die Wahrheit des Kunstwerks,” pp. 251–252.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Der Denkweg Martin Heideggers, p. 208. If Sein and Zeit displays a shortcoming on precisely this point, it is very surprising indeed given the remark Heidegger makes on p. 138 of that work: “Indeed, from the ontological point of view we must as a general principle leave the primary discovery of the world to `bare mood.’” For a careful analysis of Heidegger’s notion of “moods,” see Hans Ruin, “The Passivity of Reason — On Heidegger’s Concept of Stimmung.”Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    The expression is from Heidegger’s early Freiburg years. As early as in the so-called “war emergency semester” of 1919, the young Heidegger exhibits extraordinary terminological inventiveness, introducing to his students not only the phrase “it worlds” (es weitet) (GA 56/57, pp. 73, 88–89, 94), but other unusual expressions as well. For instance, the later Heidegger’s key term Ereignis appears as well — both with and without a hyphen (cf. ibid., pp. 69, 75, 78). Hans-Georg Gadamer, himself a student of the early Heidegger, therefore suggests that Heidegger’s much discussed “turn” or “reversal” (Kehre) should actually be understood as a return (Rückkehr) to his earlier intentions (Gadamer, “Erinnerungen an Heideggers Anfänge,” pp. 10–11) — a suggestion many Heidegger scholars welcome (cf. David Krell, Intimations of Mortality, pp. 98, 111; Theodore Kisiel, The Genesis of Heidegger’s Being and Time, pp. 3, 458; John van Buren, The Young Heidegger, pp. 137, 367).Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Already in Sein and Zeit, however, Heidegger mentions (though without elaborating on it) nature as something that “encompasses” us. Nature in this sense is neither something present-at-hand, nor is it ready-to-hand, Heidegger says (SZ, p. 211; GA 21, p. 314). Daniel Dahlstrom speculates whether this leaves open the possibility of a nature that somehow — being neither present-at-hand nor ready-to-hand — converges with Dasein (Heidegger’s Concept of Truth, p. 266). Judging from Heidegger’s Freiburg lecture course from the winter of 1928/29, quoted in the main text, Dahlstrom’s hunch appears to be close to the mark.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    See Richard H. Holmes, “The World According to Husserl and Heidegger,” p. 373, and Donn Welton, The Other Husserl, p. 347. Cf. also Welton’s article “World.”Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    This is indeed the interpretation Welton develops, using the Heideggerian notion of Verweisungszusammenhang (The Other Husserl, pp. 85, 332; “World,” p. 736). Heidegger uses this term, e.g., in SZ, pp. 87–88, 123; GA 20, pp. 252–253, 268. It might be objected that this is stretching Husserl’s conception of the world too far in the direction of Heidegger. But my point is simply that the Husserlian conception of world as horizon seems able to encompass that which Heidegger is trying to bring to light under the heading of Verweisungszusammenhang; i.e., I am claiming that the conception of world as horizon can be stretched in such a way, not that Husserl actually develops it along those lines.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    “[. . .] stets ist dabei die ganze Welt der implizite Hintergrund, der ständige Universalhorizont” (Ms. A VI 14 a. 19a).Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    “Dabei gehört wesensmässig zu jedem Tun, zu jeder Praxis ein `praktischer Horizont’, ein Horizont dessen, was ich in meiner horizontmässig bewussten Situation kann” (Ms. A VI 14 a, 24b).Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    “praktisch bin ich auf ein Ziel gerichtet als Ende eines praktischen Weges, und das liegt im Horizont als das praktische Woraufhin” (Ms. A VI 14 a, 25a).Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    “Was hier ’praktischer Horizont’ heisst, hat also innerhalb des Universalhorizontes `Welt’ eine Auszeichnung in der Weise der `Lebendigkeit”’ (Ms. A VI 14 a, 26a). Here it is also worth quoting the following passage from a manuscript to which Husserl himself attaches the remark “that is against Heidegger” (Das ist gegen Heidegger), and in which he explicitly mentions Heidegger more than once: “What comes first, or can come first, for an awakened theoretical interest? Is the structure of the practical environing-world, and the I or the we as practical, not something that comes very late here? — Although the practical world is doubtlessly the most concrete, in correlation with the practically interested subjectivity, living a practical life of consciousness” (Hua )(XXIV, p. 260). Certainly, not everything is opposed to Heidegger. As we emphasize repeatedly since Chapter I, Husserl is just as emphatic as Heidegger that the concrete world is mainly a “practical world.”Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    See Nam-In-Lee, “Edmund Husserl’s Phenomenology of Mood.” I base this entirely on Lee’s article, especially pp. 114–115. Notice the excellent quotations from the manuscript M III 3 II 1.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    The descriptive and hermeneutic power of the notion of “horizon” is perhaps greater than any of Husserl’s other key concepts (maybe even including “intentionality” and “lifeworld”). As Levinas writes in Totality and Infinity, “[s]ince Husserl the whole of phenomenology is the promotion of the idea of horizon, which for it plays a role equivalent to that of the concept in classical idealism” (pp. 44–45). In fact, “horizon” is not only an essential concept within what is normally regarded as the phenomenological movement. Where, for instance, would Gadamer’s Wahrheit and Methode — with its all-important idea of “fusion of horizons” — be without it?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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