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Chapter IV: Chapter IV: Phenomenological Quest for the Inter-subjective Dimensions of Transcendental Subjectivity

5.2. Historicity in Husserl’s Analysis

Husserl in 1923 in his lectures on ‗First Philosophy‘ discussed about history where he separated history and systematic philosophy and placed the history of philosophy as an introduction to the systematic aspect. But, at the same time Husserl here did not form history as an integral part of the things-in-themselves. He started doing that with the Crisis of the European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology published in 1936. In his Crisis Husserl gives utmost importance to history and started to emphasis it very seriously and thematized it in a different way which can be regarded as a new approach of Husserl‘s phenomenology (Stroker, 1997). Dermot Moran here gives credit to Fink who according to him, influenced Husserl to recognize the contribution of Hegel in order to understand the history of consciousness (Moran, 2012).

Husserl in his Crisis emphasizes the fact that we are historical beings; this is particularly true for the philosophers as according to him,


We as philosophers are heirs of the past in respect to the goals which the word

―philosophy‖ indicates, in terms of concepts, problems, and methods. What is clearly necessary (what else could be of help here?) is that we reflect back, in a thorough historical and critical fashion, in order to provide, before all decisions, for a radical self-understanding: we must inquire back into what was originally and always sought in philosophy, what was continually sought by all the philosophers and philosophies that have communicated with one another historically (Husserl, 1970a, p. 17-18).

Thus, with the introduction of history in phenomenology, various new questions have been raised like what will be the status of Husserl‘s transcendental phenomenology or whether history brings a new path in Husserl‘s phenomenology by taking a break from the earlier one.

The most important point at this juncture is to analyse what Husserl meant while he talks about ―history‖ in his phenomenology. The question in this regard is what does one mean by the history of the experience of the world? And whose history is this? By history Husserl here is not talking about the ‗factual history‘ or ‗external history‘ of the experience of an individual or a group/community of people (Crowell, 2009). Rather Husserl here talks about the ‗inner history‘ or ‗historicity‘ disclosed by transcendental reduction which he regarded as the ‗transcendental historicity‘ (ibid). Historicity according to Husserl is therefore refered to as ―interested in the laws of genesis of consciousness, insofar as it, whether as individual or group-consciousness, lives into a world and forms (―constitutes‖) this world through its passive and active intentionalities‖ (Luft 2011, p. 114). Moreover, Husserl says:

history is the domain of habit, the sedimented, tradition, the intersubjective, the social, the communal, -- life lived according to settled norms and values.

Human activities cohere together into traditions and shape specific cultures with their own particular way of developing and unfolding (which Husserl usually calls ‗historicities‘) (Moran, 2012 p.142).

In this regard it is necessary to mention here that Husserl while talking about ―history‖ he was aware of the importance of intersubjectivity. The crucial point here is that though Husserl talks about ―history‖ in his Cartesian Meditations but, history as Husserl analyzed in his Cartesian Mediations is different from the understanding of history in the Crisis, where history means the ―history‖ of transcendental intersubjectivity. Husserl maintains that,


The historical world is, to be sure, first pregiven as a social historical world.

But it is historical only through the inner historicity of the individuals, who are individuals in their inner historicity, together with that of other communalized persons (As cited in Husserl, 1970a, p. 372).

Thus, if history according to Husserl has to be the history of transcendental intersubjectivity then methodically it must have to overcome the transcendental reduction. So, now it is necessary to analyse how in Husserl‘s phenomenology the relation between history and transcendental phenomenology could be understood.

According to Husserl, the world cannot be constituted other than a historically structured transcendental community of subjects. Therefore, Husserl before the publication of Crisis in an unpublished manuscript in 1932 says that "the world thus bears within itself an essential historicity prior to the question of factual history ....‖ (As cited in Ströker 1997, p.

221). Thus, historicity according to Husserl could not be understood as factual history but, as a formation of transcendental historicity and this can be obtained through phenomenology by questioning back from the pre-given world. For Husserl, ―history is from the start nothing other than the vital movement of the co-existence and the interweaving of original formations and sedimentations of meaning‖ (Husserl, 1970a, p. 371). By transcendental historicity Husserl means an a priori condition that makes historical living possible. By apriori condition Husserl talks about various sedimented layers like cultural, historical, genetic etc. which constitutes a meaningful background by making life possible historically (Moran, 2012). By historicity, Husserl means here the historical orientation, trajectories, horizons of pasts and destinies in history of the human communities or socialities (ibid). Historicity for Husserl is not sense constitution but sense sedimentation. It means how human groups have been constituted and lives out across various interchanges and transmissions of the generations.

According to Husserl, each and every community or groups whether social or cultural has its own historicity or structural way of evolving its history and its relation to the future (ibid).

Therefore, Husserl in his Crisis talks about European civilization and the richness of its heritage.

But, the most crucial point here is that the analysis of historicity is not possible without talking about temporality. As it is a fact that each and every historicity has its own


stages of development. As history takes place in time e.g. in ‗era‘, ‗epoch‘ etc. historicity too develops alongwith a temporal horizon. But, at the same time it should also be noted that by temporality Husserl here is not talking about the objective time or clock time. So, what temporality is that is necessary to understand here and how both historicity and temporality complement each other and shapes tradition that is also another topic to discuss further.