24 Jun 2009

Continuities with Identities, Husserl, para 257-263, Supplementary B1 to: On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time

[I tab quotations.]

Continuities with Identities

Edmund Husserl

On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time

B: Supplementary Texts


Seefelder Manuscripts on Individuation

No. 35

The Unity of the Thing in Time as Something Identical in Change or Constancy

From Paragraph 257

A beer bottle: it’s brown. Still it is so. And still so now. And this brown thing remains a brown bottle for quite an extent of time.

But time passes ever. Why does our mind from one instant to the next perceive the bottle as being continually the same?

by what means do I have an indirect and transcendent knowledge with regard to this perception? I see a beer bottle that is brown, and I restrict myself to the brown in its extension, “just as it is actually given.” I exclude everything else that is merely meant and not given in the phenomenon. (245b)

And as we mentioned, we can distinguish different moments of the beer bottles appearing to us. Then we link them together as being appearances of one bottle that remains continuously the same.

I distinguish the appearances of the beer bottle; I make them into objects. I discover the interconnection of appearances; I meet with the consciousness of identity that runs throughout them. I find that I express this consciousness of identity in these terms: The beer bottle always appears; it appears as continually the same and as constantly determined in the same way. And in this process of appearing there are different appearances. The appearances are not the beer bottle that appears in them. They are different; the bottle is the same. The appearances are themselves objects. An appearance is something continuously identical. It endures “for a time.” Such and such parts and moments, held in memory, must be distinguished in this enduring appearance. (245) They again are objects; each is one and the same throughout its duration. This duration appears throughout the duration of the memory; the moment appears as having been continually identical. And so on. (246a)

Perception – Phenomenological Perception

Paragraph 259

The beer bottle remains the same despite its many appearances. So something must be transcendent.

I perceive – this brown content. It is something that endures. It is constantly the same. It covers a certain phenomenological extension. I saw it yesterday; I remember it today. It has lasted until today. Transcendence! (246d)

Husserl will just look at the bottle in one enduring glance. We find that the brown of the bottle also will become darker as night approaches. Nonetheless, it is still this brown despite its modifications.

Let us restrict ourselves to what is given – phenomenologically given – in the perception: the brown “now” seen in its duration, the brown. It endures. It continually covers the same extension. Now this brown itself changes: it becomes darker, its extension changes – the extension that it covers. (246-247)

Paragraph 260

We perceived the beer bottle during an extent of time. Within that duration were instantaneous moments of its appearing to us. Can the bottle’s brown be found in any one of those momentary phases? No, because the brown is what it is on account of its enduring across a multiplicity of moments. Only that way the brown endures. Within the momentary phase is something individual and unique.

What is the brown? Is it the species? No. Is it the individual, and is the individual a particular, a single case of the infirma species brown? But that concerns only the momentary phase. The brown as single phase of the duration does not endure; it is merely a phase. We have many individual phases. Each is something different. The many do not endure; on the contrary, one thing – the brown – endures. The brown endures, and I distinguish phases within its duration. This is an abstraction; in the strict sense I distinguish extended sections, partial durations. The brown endures in each of these extended sections, and it endures throughout them all. And the brown that there endures covers an extension, and this same brown is extended throughout all the parts of the extension. Separated extensions have “the same” brown; that is to say, in this case, browns that are perfectly alike. Separated durations have a like brown, a brown that belongs to the same identical species. The brown is not the infirma species; it is also not, so to speak, the mathematically exact single case of the infirma species – the individual moment, absolutely speaking. (247b.d)

Paragraph 263

So there are momentary phases while we observe the brown beer bottle. Each one on its own is an individual, and in it itself cannot be found the bottle’s brown. However, each moment contains a similarity with the others. They are all shades of brown. On the grounds of that similarity, they are all considered as part of the same flowing appearance of one same object.

If we “dissect” the temporal duration or if we dissect the phenomenon or appearance in its temporal aspect, we then see concrete parts that are themselves appearances of the same kind as the whole; and on the basis of this diversity (plurality), we see the perfect likeness of objects differentiated by the analysis: This brown and that one are “the same” – namely, perfectly alike. But if we reflect on the unity of the appearance, we see the identity; there exists a genuine consciousness of identity (a categorial consciousness) in which the brown stands before me as that which is meant in unity and self-identity.

In the one case, we have the continuous consciousness of unity, a consciousness that gives unity, something identical in the continuous flow of time.

In the other case, we have a consciousness that is broken up, divided into pieces. In the separation of the parts we have a plurality of unities. Each unity is a unity in the foregoing sense relative to the temporal continuity of each part. But these are distinct unities that do not join together to make up the unity of a whole. Instead, because these unities rest on the unity of continuous appearance and on the unity of a continuous consciousness of unity, the identical unity in differences is again produced. Since they belong to different extents of time, the brown of this and the brown of that part of the duration are different. But since they fill one extent of time continuously, there is one object that “endures”; it is one and the same thing that runs throughout that whole extent of time.

Paragraph 264

We can understand the continuously appearing brown as the extended brown, which “extends” throughout time but which is different from phase to phase. That is to say, the brown-extension is a unity divided with respect to time, and every part is a different part. The brown-extension is not the duration of an object; it does not endure. Rather, it is something identical that endures, something that stretches, as identical, throughout the temporal extension, which is constantly covered with one brown. The pervasive consciousness of unity or identity must not be confused with the entirely different consciousness of a whole made up of moments that continuously fall into sequence with one another in time. Living in the consciousness of identity, we constantly have one thing in the steady continuum, in the continuous flow of the temporal extension. The object [of the consciousness of identity] is not the extension but what is extended. Evidently we can then always make the extension itself into an object, divide it, and distinguish its parts. The continuity, is penetrated throughout by the unity of something identical. (249b.c)

Husserl, Edmund. On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time (1893-1917). Vol 4 ofEdmund Husserl: Collected Works. Ed. Rudolf Bernet. Trans. John Barnett Brough. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1991.

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