18 Jun 2009

Husserl, para 8, Supplementary B1 to: On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time

[The following is summary. My commentary is in brackets.]

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 8

Previously we spoke of a particular kind of experience. We are listening to a melody. But the musician quits playing before finishing it. We can sense what is missing. This is a feeling for the whole melody, because we have a sense for the remainder that never appeared. It is a feeling of incompletion. In a way, this feeling represents the whole melody. But it does not represent it as it would be in its full presentation. So Husserl calls them nonpresentative representations.

Now Husserl will explain more about this sort of representation. To do so, he will examine the orderly way that our intuitions carry-on in accordance with the melody’s actual movements.

If we want to explain these representations, the orderly connection of the intuitions that constitute the well-ordered and materially determined intuitional course of the melody will help us. (144c)

So first we follow the way that the melody continued to develop in our imagination, even after the musician abruptly ceased playing her instrument. Then, we go back through the stream of intuitions lying in the past.

Often melodies are smooth and the notes blend into each other. When we go back through the continuum, we do not recall the sounds as though we were playing a record-album backwards. And moreover, we cannot recall each particular note all by itself. Often they blur into each other to make up longer tonal blocks. We go back through this sequence of discrete tonal moments one-by-one.

The individual tones interested us during the actual production of the melody only as fundaments for the tonal forms based on them; and the composition of these forms, which are enveloped and entwined in one another, brought the unity of mutual ordering to the whole of the melody. Thus, even with a regard directed backwards, we are able to apprehend, or better, produce anew, only relatively independent parts or forms that single themselves out as units; we are thus able to return, not to the chain of individual tones, but to the chain of tone-formations that we met in the original experience. (144-145)

When we are familiar with a melody, our explication will involve this going one-by-one backward through the series of notes or tone-moments.

However, we might not be very familiar with certain parts of the melody, so when going back through it, we might find gaps in our sequence of intuitions.

So we see then that we are able to go back and make the previous notes explicit. We can do so, because each note affected us in a particular way. These affections are connected in a chain. To recall one affection is also to recall the one immediately leading up to it. And we might recall the intuitional sequence out of our own volition, or by some other cause. Either way, we do so by means of the inherent motivity in each affection that compels us to follow-over to the preceding one, and so on down the chain.

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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