The Problem of the Non-Empirical Ego: Husserl and Kant
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I shall deal in this essay with a subject that has a long and contentious history in the tradition of transcendental philosophy. This is the distinction between the empirical and the pure or transcendental ego. To avoid terminological disputes I shall refer to the latter simply as the non-empirical ego. Insofar as I deal here with textual formulations of the distinction I shall refer to Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, where the distinction originates historically; and to Husserl’s phenomenology, in which, among recent versions of transcendental philosophy, this distinction plays the greatest role. But my purpose is less to interpret texts than to get at ‘the thing itself’, to use Husserl’s expression. Like others I felt the correctness of the distinction when I first read these texts; so I began to take it for granted, make use of it, speak of it and draw consequences from it without directly testing it. But when I began to reflect, I slowly realized that I hardly understood what was meant by it. Then I encountered more recent forms of transcendental argumentation, such as those of analytic philosophers, who either explicitly reject the distinction or get along perfectly well without it. All this prompts me to attempt the following critical examination.
KeywordsNatural Attitude Intentional Relation Bodily Property Pure Reason Transcendental Phenomenology
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