The Intentionality of Psychologically Pure Consciousness

  • Burt C. Hopkins
Part of the Contributions to Phenomenology book series (CTPH, volume 11)


In Chapter Three of my study of Husserl’s phenomenological account of intentionality, I will be concerned with bringing into relief the phenomenally peculiar non-positing, but nevertheless “objectivating” intentionality of psychologically pure consciousness. Husserl’s account of the “absolute being” of this intentionality is in my view importent for the following reason. The uncovering of this psychologically pure phenomenological residuum emerges in his analyses as the requisite for uncovering the horizonal intentionality of worldly apperception. I will try to show that it is the mundane efficacy of the non-actional intentionality of the latter which Husserl finds needs to be bracketed and suspended in order to effect the phenomenological reduction of psychologically pure consciousness to transcendentally pure consciousness. My discussion of the world phenomenon and its non-actional intentionality is intended then to prepare the way for the discussion, in Chapter Four, of precisely what it is in this state of affairs that leads him to formulate and execute the transcendental reduction.


Natural Attitude Perceptual Object Pure Consciousness Phenomenological Account Open Horizon 
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  1. The apparent absurdity of a ’qualified‘ absolute is mitigated by attending to the non-positional, or non-ontological (in the sense specified by Husserl’s phenomenological clarifications), ‘matters themselves’ involved in Husserl’s account of the problematic at issue. What is at issue in the designation ‘absolute’ is not the posited status of entities or the Being of entities; rather, the issue is the mode of givenness, i.e., the phenomenal manifestation, of that which is uncovered by the intentionality of pure phenomenology’s methodological reflections. This claim becomes controversial when it is submitted to Heidegger’s phenomenologically ontolOgical critique, since it is his contention that this ‘non-positional mode of givenness’ is nevertheless phenomenally determined by an understanding of Being (Seinsverstltndnis) that remains concealed in Husserl’s thinking. See §§ 51–54 below for a discussion of Heidegger’s critique, and §§ 101–107 for my assessment of its merits.Google Scholar
  2. The failure to attend to these phenomenal issues involved in Husserl’s account of “constitution,” leads to the importation into his formulation of the problematic the foreign issue, of whether the constituting capacity of consciousness “creates” the object and or the object’s intelligibility. However; what is clearly at issue for Husserl is not a productive act on the part of consciousness, but rather, the reflective unfolding of meaning or intelligibility already in some sense there in the prephenomenal experience, and as such (i.e., as “prephenomenal”) not thematically accounted for. The task of accounting for this “pregiven” meaning, such that, the manner in which that which is given in experience is manifested in terms of its intelligibility as such, is what is at issue then for Husserl under the heading of “problems of constitution.” For the homologies of Husserl’s phenomenologically reflective formulation of this task and Plato’s account of Socratic anámnesis, see my article “On the Paradoxical Inception and Motivation of Transcendental Philosophy in Plato and Husserl,” in Man and World, 24, (1991), pp. 27–47.Google Scholar
  3. Hereafter in this chapter; unless otherwise stated, all references to “essences” are to the uncovering of “constitutional essences” within the psychologically reduced methodological context discussed above.Google Scholar
  4. Edmund Husserl, Ideen zu einer rein en Phänomenologie und phltnomenologischen Philosophie. Zweites Buch: Phätnomenologische Untersuchungen zur Konstitution, ed. Marly Biemel (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1952). English translation by Richard Rojcewicz and Andre Schuwer; Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy, Second Book: Studies in the Phenomenology of Constitution (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1989).Google Scholar
  5. In the sense of ‘positing’ explicated above.Google Scholar
  6. In the sense of ‘positum’ explicated above.Google Scholar
  7. Viewed within the context of the history of philosophy, Husserl’s phenomenological uncovering of the horizon of the world amounts to a novel discovery. Two considerations must be firmly borne in mind in order to appreciate the novelty of this discovery. The first concerns the fact that what is meant by this term is most emphatically not the totality of known or existing objects of nature (beings, ta onta, in the broadest conceivable sense), and nor the formal unity and/ or structure of interconnection among “worldly” (in this sense) objects. Indeed, it is only when the posited sense of these notions of the world are phenomenologically clarified that the ‘world-horizon’, in the sense here at issue, can even become a philosophical issue. And it is precisely this state of affairs that leads to the second consideration, viz., that philosophical access to the problem domain designated by the term “world-horizon,” has as its indispensable prerequisite the phenomenologically psychological reduction and clarification of pure (again in the phenomenologically psycholOgical sense here at issue) consciousness. Inasmuch as the phenomenal status of the world figures prominently in Heidegger’s ontological critique of Husserl’s account of intentionality (see §§ 62, 82–83 below), this status, and access to this status, deserves careful consideration.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Burt C. Hopkins
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophySeattle UniversityUSA

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