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Reflections on the Foundation of the Relation between the A Priori and the Eidos in the Phenomenology of Husserl

  • Theresa Pentzopoulou-Valalas
Chapter
Part of the Martinus Nijhoff Philosophy Texts book series (MNPT, volume 2)

Abstract

To compare the a priori and the eidos in the phenomenology of Husserl is to close oneself in a circle, to enter into a labyrinth the end of which is the same as the point of departure. For the eidos is truely a priori and the a priori is essentially eidetic. There is thus an identity of terms that an explicit note of Husserl appears to found de jure.1 It is, however, an identity of two notions which must be grasped in a different movement of thought. In Husserlian language: one cannot intend the a priori in the same way that one intends the eidos.

Keywords

General Essence Ideal Object Individual Object Pure Possibility Phenomenological Sense 
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References

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    “Any ‘objective’ object, any object whatever (even an immanent one), points to a structure, within the transcendental ego, that is governed by a rule. As something the ego objectivâtes, something of which he is conscious in any manner, the object indicates forthwith an universal rule governing possible other consciousnesses of it as identical—possible, as exemplifying essentially predelineated types. And naturally the same is true of any ‘imaginable’ object, anything conceivable as something intended. Transcendental subjectivity is not a chaos of intentional processes. Moreover, it is not a chaos of types of constitution, each organized in itself by its relation to a kind or a form of intentional objects. In other words: the allness of objects and types of objects conceivable for me—transcendentally speaking; for me as transcendental ego—is no chaos: and correlatively the allness of the types of the infinite multiplicities, the types corresponding to types of objects, is not a chaos either: noetically those multiplicities always belong together, in respect of their possible synthesis. That indicates in advance a universal constitutive synthesis, in which therefore all actual and possible objectivities (as actual and possible for the transcendental ego), and correlatively all actual and possible modes of consciousness of them, are embraced.” We quote the whole passage. CM, E—pp. 53–54, F—p. 46, G—p. 90.Google Scholar
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    CM, E—p. 137, F—p. 116, G—p. 164. “Tracing the essence of such constitution and its egological levels, we made visible an Apriori of a completely novel kind, namely the Apriori of constitution. We learned to distinguish, on the one hand, the self-constitution of the ego for himself and in his primordial own- essentialness and, on the other hand, the constitution of all the aliennesses of various levels, by virtue of sources belonging to his own essentialness. There resulted the all-embracing unity of the essential for belonging to the total constitution accomplished in my own ego—the constitution as whose correlate the Objective existing world, for me and for any ego whatever, is continually given beforehand, and goes on being shaped in its sense-strata, with a correlative Apriori form style. And this constitution is itself an Apriori.”Google Scholar
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    “In this inquiry, the variation of the necessary initial example is the performance in which the ‘eidos’ should emerge and by means of which the evidence of the indissoluble eidetic correlation between constitution and constituted should also emerge.” FTL, E—p. 247, F—p. 331, G—p. 219.Google Scholar
  48. 47.
    This correlation is nothing but the noetic-noematic correlation, the cogito and the cogitatum qua cogitatum. Cf. FTL, E—p. 262, F—p. 349, G—p. 231.Google Scholar
  49. 48.
    “It thus becomes evident that an ontic Apriori is possible, as a concretely full possibility, only as the correlate of a constitutional Apriori that is concretely united with it, concretely inseparable from it.” FTL, E—p. 248, F—p. 333, G—p. 220. We understand here in what sense it is necessary to comprehend the concrete a priori to which Husserl so often refers. The concrete a priori designates the concrete unity of the ontic a priori and the constitutive a priori.Google Scholar
  50. 49.
    The Husserlian theory of essence is expounded in paragraphs 1–16 Í Ideas. We are referring here to the work of Iso Kern, Husserl und Kant, pp. 55–62. Cf. also E. Levinas, La théorie de l’intuition dans laphénoménologie de Husserl (Paris: Félix Alean, 1930), pp. 142–174; Eng. trans. A Orianne (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1973).Google Scholar
  51. 50.
    “The essence (eidos) is a new kind of object. Just asthe given of individual or experiencing intuition is an individual object, the given of eidetic intuition is a pure essence.” Our translation. Ideas, E—p. 49, F p. 21, G p. 14 (pp. 10–11 in 1913 ed.)Google Scholar
  52. 51.
    “But, precisely with this coinciding, what necessarily persists throughout this free and always-repeatable variation comes to the fore: the invariant, the indissoluble identical in the different and ever again different, the essence common to all, the universal essence by which all ‘imaginable’ variants of the example, and all variants of any such variant, are restricted. This invariant is the ontic essential form (a priori form), the eidos, corresponding to the example, in place of which any variant of the example could have served equally well.” FTL, E—p. 248, F—p. 332, G p. 219.Google Scholar
  53. 52.
    APS, Beilage XVII, p. 403.Google Scholar
  54. 53.
    This is what Levinas shows very clearly in La théorie de l’intuition. “The individual object,” he writes, “is an indispensable base for the perception of essence. The mode of existence of the ideal object directs us, in some way, to the individual object, implying a relation to it. But the existence of the individual object does not play the role of a premise in eidetic knowledge. It is independent of the ‘actuality’ of the individual objects,” p. 156.Google Scholar
  55. 54.
    APS, p. 213.Google Scholar
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    “Presented here is not a mere external analogy but, rather, a radical commonality. Also, eidetic intuition is an intuition, just as the eidetic object is an object. The generalization of the concepts ‘intuition’ and ‘object,’ which belong together correlatively is not an arbitrary idea, but, rather, is one compellingly required by the nature of things (Sachen).” Our translation, ¡deas, E p. 49, F pp. 21–22, G—pp. 14–15 (p. 11 in 1913 ed.).Google Scholar
  57. 56.
    “…the intuitive grasping and positing of essences does not in the least imply the positing of an individual existent; pure eidetic truths do not in the least contain assertions concerning facts. Therefore, one cannot infer from eidetic truths alone any truths concerning facts.” Our translation. Ideas, E p. 51, F p. 25, G—p. 17 (p. 13 in 1913 ed.).Google Scholar
  58. 57.
    “…as a result, no eidetic intuition is possible without the free possibility of turning one’s regard to a ‘corresponding’ individual and becoming conscious of it as example - just as, conversely, no intuition of an individual is possible without the free possibility of performing ideation and by this directing the regard to the essence which is exemplified in the individual seen. However, this does not alter the fact that both kinds of intuition are in principle different.” Our translation. Ideas, E—p. 50, F—p. 23, G—pp. 15–16 (2. 12 in 1913 ed.).Google Scholar
  59. 58.
    Ricoeur remarks quite correctly that essence is the pure signification which is fulfilled in eidetic intuition. Ideas, F p. 18, n. 5. Essence is thus the correlate of each individual fact.Google Scholar
  60. 59.
    In the sixth Logical Investigation, Husserl identifies the essence and the general. Categorial intuition which grasps the general is an act founded on empirical intuition; thus is constituted a new sphere of objectivities “given in themselves and sustained by fundamental acts.” Our translation.Google Scholar
  61. 60.
    “The material a priori,” writes M. Dufrenne, “is not material solely through its content, but also according to its mode of presence.” La notion d a priori (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1959 ), p. 107; Eng. trans. E.S. Casey ( Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1966 ).Google Scholar
  62. 61.
    See LI, E—p. 792 (Vol. II, paragraph 48), F—p. 136 (Tome 3), G—p. 152 (Band III). “Categorical acts are characterized as founded acts.”Google Scholar
  63. 62.
    “Eidetic intuition could not be a criterion for the a priori, their evidence is not primarily logical, it is first of all sensuous.” Dufrenne, p. 118. Our translation.Google Scholar
  64. 63.
    CM, E—pp. 71–72, F—pp. 60–61, G—pp. 105–06.Google Scholar
  65. 64.
    Ideas, E—p. 50, F—p. 23, G—p. 16 (p. 12 in 1913 ed.).Google Scholar
  66. 65.
    CM, E—pp. 83–84, F—p. 70, G—p. 117.Google Scholar
  67. 66.
    Here it is necessary to understand the concrete a priori in the sense of the universal concrete life of the transcendental ego. We then see that Husserl entirely constituted an a priori system distinguishing within the a priori different levels. We pass, in effect, from the a priori of sensible intuition, which is the a priori of nature which surrounds us, to the constitutive a priori, that is to say, to the a priori of phenomenon, finally arriving at the higher level, the a priori of idealizing acts. Cf. CM, E—p. 146, F—p. 125, G—p. 173.Google Scholar
  68. 67.
    It is in the fourth Meditation that this idea of pure possibilities enclosed in the transcendental ego, itself a pure possibility, is thrown into relief: “To me as the meditating ego, guided by the idea of a philosophy as the all-embracing science, grounded with absolute strictness, a science I took as a tentative basis, it becomes evident after these last considerations that, first of all, I must develop a purely eidetic phenomenology and that in the latter alone the first actualization of a philosophical science—the actualization of a ‘first philosophy’-takes place or can take place. After transcendental reduction, my true interest is direct to my pure ego, to the uncovering of this de facto ego. But the uncovering can become genuinely scientific, only if I go back to the apodictic principles that pertain to this ego as exemplifying the eidos ego: the essential universalities and necessities by means of which the fact is to be related to its rational grounds (those of pure possibility) and thus made scientific (logical). It should be noted that, in the transition from my ego to an ego as such, neither the actuality nor the possibility of other egos is presupposed. I phantasy only myself as if I were otherwise; I do not phantasy others. In itself, then, the science of pure possibilities precedes the science of actualities and alone makes it possible as a science. With this we attain the methodological insight that, alone with phenomenological reduction, eidetic intuition is the fundamental form of all particular transcendental methods (that both of them determine, through and through, the legitimate sense of a transcendental phenomenology).” CM, E—p. 72, F—p. 61, G—p. 106. We quote the whole paragraph.Google Scholar
  69. 68.
    Bachelard, p. 265.Google Scholar
  70. 69.
    “The ‘phenomenological self-explication’ that went on in my ego, this explication of all my ego’s constitutings and all the objectivities existing for him, necessarily assumed the methodic form of an a priori self-explication, one that gives the facts their place in the corresponding universe of pure (or eidetic) possibilities.” CM, E—p. 84, F—p. 71, G—p. 117.Google Scholar
  71. 70.
    Ibid., E—p. 88, F—p. 74, G—pp. 120–21.Google Scholar
  72. 71.
    Thus is realized what Husserl called the “.. ‘unfolding’ of the universal Logos of all conccivable being.” CM, E—p. 155, F—p. 132, G—p. 181.Google Scholar
  73. 72.
    Ideas, E—p. 157, F—p. 190, G—p. 138 (pp. 109–110 in 1913 ed.).Google Scholar
  74. 73.
    CM, E—pp. 83–84, F—pp. 70–71, G—pp. 116–17. “Transcendency in every form is an immanent existential characteristic, constituted within the ego.”Google Scholar

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