I’ve decided to reinvigorate my (so far lame) attempts at keeping a blog to keep in touch and crystallize ideas I’m tackling in my endless undergrad. Just to clarify before we get too far; Transcendental objectivity isn’t something I think we can really talk about, it would probably best be expressed as a limit or integral approaching infinity (anyone wanna propose a describing function?).
I’ve wriggled my way into my first philosophy course (ever) on the topics of Existentialism and Phenomenology. Feeling completely lost on how to tackle a philosophy paper I’ve gone for the age old tactic of compare and contrast, and tackled Husserl’s Cartesian Meditations as item number one. I’ve only done my initial read-through of the dense little treatise, so please be forgiving.
Transcendental subjectivity is something Husserl goes on at length about in his exposition of phenomenology. In trying to understand it I’ve broken it down initially into the two obvious and very fundamental parts; transcendence and subjectivity. From what I can garner of subjectivity in this context it does not mean a complete non-objective stance, more recognizing the inherent intentionality of any act of observing performed by an ego (cogito, monad?). Husserl makes some mention of intentional psychology as the first to rise above simple positivism in science, and what comes to mind from my limited (intro) psychology, is generally the concept of reactivity, that the observer alters the observed by the act of observing.
Transcendence is a word and concept we are all familiar with, but as with anything considered philosophically, cannot be taken at simple face value. From what I can garner this concept of going beyond relates to the idea of horizons of perception as defined in the a priori structures of consciousness proposed by Kant and criticized by Nietzsche and others. My reading of Husserl is that he is along the same lines as Nietzsche – my paper will compare the two – in rejecting the necessity of any pre-existing forms to define the experienced world.
The title of this post, Transcendental Objectivity was meant partially to pique (irk?) Eric into reading this (did it work?), and hopefully providing a useful criticism, but also to tackle an idea by contrasting it with an opposing one.
In talking about Heidegger (in youth a devote follower of Husserl’s philosophy) yesterday in class, and particularly his concepts of Dasein (broadly ego or self), world, time, death and being towards it, I came to personal – and as of yet unsupported – conclusion that ‘authentic existence’ for Heidegger is obtained by continually grappling with the idea of our own death. Philosophically I don’t know if we can really understand the idea of a world where we as an individual does not exist.
So briefly before I run out of energy and just yammer on, transcendental objectivity would be a definition of our entire self, the complete answer to Heidegger’s question “What is the meaning of Being?” Because our Being is a continual process, even thinking about what we are can alter or possibly add to it. Transcendental subjectivity is the best we can do in approaching this answer. Potentially, if we could go on thinking just one moment after we had died, we could understand in that moment the entirety of our being and achieve transcendental objectivity (Waking Life, anyone?). Obviously this lays opens many questions regarding the moment of death, theories of mind and a plethora of others I’m most certainly missing. I’d love for any comment or contribution on the parts of others, perhaps it’s even a topic for the absurdium?