19 Jun 2009

Eureka! I've Intuited It!, Husserl, para 10, Supplementary B1 to: On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time

[The following is summary. My commentary is in brackets. Image credits given below. My deepest gratitude to ihpics and www.math.nyu.edu]

Eureka! I've Intuited It!

Edmund Husserl

On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time

B: Supplementary Texts

I "On the Introduction of the Essential Distinction between 'Fresh' Memory and 'Full' Recollection and about the Change in Content and Differences in Apprehension in the Consciousness of Time"

No. 1 "How Does the Unity of a Process of Change that Continues for an Extended Period of Time Come to Be Represented?
Intuition and Re-presentation"

Paragraph 10

Previously we discussed two senses of the term intuition. We have intuitions when we perceive something for some extent of time. It appears to us. So it is a phenomenon. Husserl grounds his broader scientific project primarily in the study of phenomena and the way our consciousness is involved in their appearances. What he finds is that our senses give us information about the world around us. Imbedded in this data are similarities and homogeneities. We look. Here and there is green. In the middle is a long pillar of brown. This sense data carries with it similarities. They associate and assimilate with each other. In this way, the tree becomes constituted. So the world has some regularity to it. Parts unify. They synthesize together into an object, for example, a tree. In one sense, we have an intuition of the whole tree. But in another sense, we had a series of lesser intuitions of all the tree’s parts, of its leaf-bunches, branches, trunk, and so on.

But normally people would consider our perception of the whole tree to be the intuition. Perhaps from an initial glance, the thing we see could be either a bush or a tree. So we have not yet had the full intuition of the object yet. We walk around it. During each moment of our inspection we have smaller intuitions of the parts. Because they are a part, they indicate (or represent) the whole. Yet still we have not intuited the object as a tree. So these smaller intuitions represent the tree not as something that is presented to us. But we know from its parts that it must be something. So the object is represented to us but not as something that is presently there. Husserl calls them nonpresentative representations.

So we continue to inspect the object’s other parts and sides. Eventually we will finally realize that we are looking at a tree, and not a bush. When we have that realization, we will also be having one of these lesser intuitions. So as soon as we reach that point, both the narrower and the broader forms of intuition will coincide. We will intuit both the whole tree and as well whatever smaller part we are currently examining at that moment. “Intuition” in its ‘normal’ sense is this awareness of the whole object and not just its unsynthesized parts.

in the continuum of alterations that each moment of the intuition undergoes when the standpoint is varied, there is, in the given case, a phase in which the moment most satisfies our interest. The corresponding standpoint is the “normal” one; and the moment forms a part or, as determination of the whole, a feature in the ideal synthesis of the object. All other phases serve as indices for the normal one. (146b, emphasis mine)

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.

Black and white Archimedes image was obtained gratefully from:

And the color image was obtained gratefully from:

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