21 Jun 2009

Melodies Lack Distinct Parts, Husserl, para 23, Supplementary B1 to: On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time

by Corry Shores
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Melodies Lack Distinct Parts

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 23

In previous paragraphs, we discussed how we unify partial intuitions into a whole intuition of a physical object. Husserl now discusses an object of another sort: a temporal object, like a melody. It has tonal parts, notes. Our awareness unifies them into one melody with its own characteristic identity. So the melody becomes something for us. It is a thing. It has objective unity. In physical objects, their part’s spatial contiguities and physical similarities indicated their unity. But in melodies, just “temporal succession belongs essentially to the unity’s content.” (153d)

Only in a determinate temporal flow does the continuous recognizing and the satisfaction of the intention occur. (153d)

Note these points as well. : The part of one spatial object resembles its neighboring part. But when we hear one note of a melody, any other one could possibly come next. There is no resemblance between notes like there are similarities between the parts of an inkwell.

missing here is the similarity of each part of the intuition noticed for itself with every other part. (153d)

Recall also that the front part of the inkwell suggests the back side and the internal parts. These other parts are not present to our awareness, but seeing one part does represent the whole object even in its absence. Hence it is what Husserl calls a nonpresentative representation. However, any one musical note would on those grounds represent every music composition that uses it, which does not lead to us identifying the whole melody from just one part.

missing as well is the identity of intention that lets each part appear as a representant of the whole. The melody is one, but it is not something known identically in all the partial apprehensions. Each partial apprehension apprehends just one part of the melody. (153-154)

However, with spatial objects, any one intention of the parts can

include in itself the intention of any other state whatsoever and can give rise to its revival and identification by chance and by choice. It is therefore given as identically the same in each stage, not subjectively, but objectively – that is, in the intention and the judgment. (154a, 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.

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