Husserl on Passive Synthesis Essay

In this section Husserl compares the progressive perceptual process of an immanent object with that of a transcendent (i. e. spatial object), with special interest towards the Now phase of perception.

He quickly points out that immanent objects only have “. . . one possible way to be given in the original in every Now . . . ” which means during the duration of an experience of an immanent object, a color for example, the object is completely determined and the distinction between appearing and what appears is collapsed(ACPAC553).The reverse is true in the case of external perceptions of transcendent objects.

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As Husserl states, “. . .

the spatial object has infinitely many ways [to be given in the original] since it can appear in the Now, that is, in an original way from its different sides” (ACPAC553). This means a spatial object must necessarily appear from a side however, that side itself, which makes up the genuine content of the Now phase of perception, does not constitute the entire object.The sides exhibited point beyond themselves to other sides which remain as unfulfilled intentions of consciousness until in a new Now phase, in tandem with kinesthetic movements, these other intended determinations are fulfilled only to bring forth new empty intentions as part of, what Husserl calls, “empty horizons”.

From these initial descriptions of how immanent and transcendent objects exist for consciousness in perception Husserl formulates the following general principle: the sense in which we speak about any kind of object “. . . tems from perceptions as lived-experiences originally constituting sense, and therefore an objectlike formation “(ACPAC557). How we talk about certain kinds of objects is informed by and derived from the kind of sense-giving and sense peculiar to each kind of object. For example, on the one hand, it is impossible to conceive of an immanent object (i.

e. the color blue) with unfulfilled intentions, or being presented through apperception. How would you fulfill the pointing beyond, and what could it point beyond to? It doesn’t make sense to say, for example, “I will now flip over this blue to look at the other side of this blue. The sense giving, that is the ‘lived-experiences originally constituting sense’, and sense of an immanent object in which it is originally given in a Now phase are essentially the same. More accurately put, the immanent object is ‘purely grasped’ “. . . with its esse=percipi .

. . ” (ACPAC557).

On the other hand, it is likewise inconceivable that a spatial object be given through immanent perception (ACPAC556). Transcendent objects of external perception are never purely grasped since their mode of givenness is necessarily, as Husserl states, ‘inadequate’ (ACPAC556).What makes something spatial is precisely that it always has an “empty horizon” of possibility and unfulfilled ‘prefigured’ intentions for a conscious subject. The sense-giving and sense in each case are unique, yet in all cases of perception, as Husserl explains, “. .

. sense-giving and sense require one another essentially—and this concerns the essential typicality of their correlative structures” (ACPAC557). We are always already in any kind of perceptual process, constituting, through sense-giving acts, sense.This allows Husserl to speak to two central issues, first that perception is not simply interpretation, and second that the inexhaustible nature of transcendent objects of perception does not justify a ‘hasty skepticism’ (57). Many of the acts which take place in perception are pre-personal, and hence could not constitute a kind of interpreting.

For example, the fact that when I perceive the front of a laptop I do not take this perspective to consist of the whole laptop means that in the appearance there is co-given a pointing beyond to the other sides which I emptily grasp. This is not something I was ever taught nor do I choose to happen.It is an “accomplishment of consciousness” which is always already happening. A halo of possibility is engendered, surrounding spatial objects corresponding to my freedom to move and grasp it, in a unity, from different perspectives. The sense is, however, never fully given in an absolute way in the external perception of transcendent objects. This leads us to the issue of skepticism.

In external perception, according to Husserl, the accomplishment of sense-giving is never complete as there is a continuous bringing forth of intuitions which fulfill empty prefigured intentions of the object. ACPAC57) But this is not the only function of the sense-giving, the sense itself, Husserl says, “. . . is continually cultivated and is genuinely so in steady transformations, constantly leaving open the possibility of new transformations. “(ACPAC57) That is, the sense becomes enriched as it exists for a conscious subject, which makes perception an acquisition of knowledge. For although there is an ever changing sense exhibited through the external perception of a transcendent object, there is also the unified, what Husserl calls, “substrate x” which subsists through all the “flowing of sense” in whatever “How” mode it is presented.

This is the sense which becomes ever more determined and enriched. Spawned by this process is an unattainable idea which, according to Husserl, “lies in infinity”, and that is the idea of an absolute and determined transcendent object (ACPAC58). At best, for Husserl, we grasp in the flesh a “flowing-approximation” which acts as if it were the essence but only produces a partial intuitive fulfillment, partial precisely because it simultaneously ” . .

. also grasps into an emptiness that cries out for fulfillment” (ACPAC59).The possible problem, to paraphrase Husserl, which may lead to skepticism is whether or not in the process of determining a thing more closely there are always new empty horizons which stem from these determinations, hence rendering an object ever unfamiliar. This does not appear to take place in our lived-experience, in fact the genuinely exhibited features of objects which fulfill a former empty-intention do have moments, in Husserl’s words, that can achieve. . optimal givenness, and therefore its true self. “(ACPAC60).

Moreover, the determinability of an object is also informed by the interest of our thematic regard towards it. Given this relative standard more and more adequate knowledge can be attained, and certain appearances can in relation be determined as more or less optimal. Analyses Concerning Passive and Active Synthesis: Lectures on Transcendental Logic (Husserliana: Edmund Husserl Collected Works)