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

5.4. Husserl on Tradition and Culture


he centres these around the ―now‖ of my life and its experience, with its horizons of the past and future, and then calls for a ―parallel‖ way of looking at the life of society in its historically concrete unities, such as marriage, family, tribe, people, nation. It is only through the continuous life of such unities, from generation to generation, that tradition takes shape, and it is tradition that ―fills‖ historical time as the present and the past (Ströker, 1997, p. 233).

Therefore, Husserl‘s concept of historicity and temporality could be understood from broader perspective only which contributes in the formation of tradition and finally the Life-World.

Now, it is important to discuss what Husserl meant by the tradition and how it contributes to form the Life-World.


world, as a whole and in all its pageants, rises from Tradition‖ (As cited in Million 1991, p.

68). ―Thus phenomenology turns into a meditation on the traditional substantiality of cultural advances, in so far as this traditional substantiality is the very embodiment of their being historical‖ (Million 1991, p. 68).

Thus, Husserl talks about tradition, community, and culture in his philosophy and emphasizes for a normal community where each and every individual member of the society experiences other members as equal. Husserl gives various examples of such communities which include primitive cultures on the one way and the practical communities on the other. By primitive culture, Husserl meant the cultures of the Europe, China and India and by practical he talks about certain communities like scientists, artists, and religious believers. These according to him, are the normal communities as their members shared common and practical realities. Husserl described that the experiences shared by the members of a community is reciprocal and therefore he asserts that:

A human community, in which each [human being] experiences every other as a with-subject of the same world of experience in the sense that each has, in his or her own experience, direct or indirect access to all the realities of this world, is a normal community. Each [member] of such a community experiences the others and himself as normal. In this sense, the folk of

―primitive people‖ is normal in relation to their world, the one pregiven to them and accommodated in reciprocal acquisition of experiences (As cited in Heinämaa 2013, p. 92).

To understand this community feeling Husserl refers here the example of European culture or humanity and speaks of Europe as a ―spiritual shape‖ (Hopkins, 2010). But, by referring Europe Husserl here does not talk about Europe as it is understood geographically. He discusses this especially in his Vienna Lecture and Crisis. According to Husserl, European culture is that which gives birth to the western philosophy and the sciences emerged from Philosophy. For him, Europe refers to ―the unity of a spiritual life, activity, creation, with all its ends, interests, cares and endeavours, with its products of purposeful activity, institutions, organizations‖ (Husserl, 1970a, p. 273; vi 319). Husserl traces the origin of this spiritual Europe to the Ancient Greece in the seventh and sixth centuries B.C.E. (Hopkins, 2010).


According to Husserl, with the Greeks there has been emerged a new attitude toward the surrounding world, which can be regarded as the theoretical attitude (Hopkins, 2010; Moran

& Cohen 2012; Moran, 2012; et. all). ―The theoretical attitude is that of the impartial, disinterested, ‗non-participating spectator or what he came to refer to in short as the transcendental attitude, or simply theoria‖ (Moran, 2012, p. 46). As per Husserl‘s understanding this theoretical attitude is the true philosophical attitude and a breakthrough from the normal ‗natural attitude‘ (ibid). According to Husserl, Philosophy as a rigorous science depends upon self-conscious reflection and clarification. It begins its task with ‗self- experience‘ and ‗self-knowledge‘ and therefore, can be regarded as a paradigm of grounded knowledge (ibid). This is why Husserl regarded Philosophy as the harbinger of the very essence of the European rationality and especially Greek philosophy for its revolutionary innovative attitude and for providing re-orientation of the ideas of abstraction and infinity.

Theoretical attitude has a communal sense, an universal life-interest where men come closer to one another in order to work interpersonally and strives to bring about theoria and only theoria and finally a new Truth.

With the appearance of Greek philosophy and its first formulation, through consistent idealization, of the new sense of infinity, there is accomplished in this respect a thoroughgoing transformation (Umwandlung) which finally draws all ideas of finitude and with them all spiritual culture and its [concept of] mankind into its sphere (Husserl, 1970a, p. 279).

Thus, according to Husserl, the positive attitude which European culture had received from Greeks lost its meaning because of the process of theorization and mathematization tendency of modern objective sciences. The modern objective sciences without referring back to its origin started to interpret each and every sphere of life according to their convenience. But, technological advancements without ―spiritual‖ developments could lead toward massive disasters like the destructions of Hiroshima and rain forests (Buckley, 1992). Thus, the crisis occurred and the world had witnessed the devastating experience of the First World-War. The war as claimed by Pierra Trotignon generated a radical break of Europe from its twenty-five centuries old cultural and rational heritage which had been guiding Europe from its very origin (ibid). Thus, it can be said that crisis occurs when there is a tendency of forgetting the root or origin. European culture which tends to forget its Greek origin could be refered as an


example of forgetting our life-world which can be regarded the main reason behind all kinds of intellectual as well as ethical crisis of today‘s world. So, this is the time to discuss that lost sense of meaning of the life in the life-world by following Husserl.