Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Husserl's theory of the Other (1)

In the Cartesian Meditation, Husserl presented his theory of the other and the othernss. Bridging the gap between the self and the other was a very important issue for Husserl, because his phenomenology was often mistook as solipsistic. Though his attempt does not seem very successful, I think it is still worth reading in order to think over the current problem of the other mind.

First of all, the other person shows up in my perceptual field as a body ('Körper'). At this phase, the other is not yet a 'person' but a mere body that is material and objective. Then it is apprehended as a living body ('Leib'), receiving its 'liveness' transferred from my body. My own body is the only animate organism in my phenomenologically-reduced world. It is my body that provides the other body with meaning. Husserl writes as following:

Let us assume that another man enters our perceptual sphere. Primordially reduced, that signifies: In the perceptual sphere pertaining to my primordial Nature, a body is presented, which, as primordial, is of course only a determining part of myself: an "immanent transcendency". Since in this Nature and this world, my animate organism is the only body that is or can be constituted originally as an animate organism (a functioning organ), the body over there, wich is nevertheless apprehended as an animate organism, must have derived this sense by an apperceptive transfer from my animate organism, and done so in a manner that excludes an actually direct, and hence primordial, showing of the predicates belonging to an animate organism specifically, a showing of them in perception proper.
[Husserl, E (1988). Cartesian Meditation. London: Kluwer Academic. pp.110-111.]