23 Jun 2009

There’s No Point to the Now-Point, Husserl, para 84-85, Supplementary B1 to: On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time

[The following is summary.]

There’s No Point to the Now-Point

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. 12

The Evidence of Time-Consciousness

Paragraph 84-85

Paragraph 84

Previously Husserl explained that the current now-instant is like a mathematical ideal limit. It is there when we examine it in mathematical terms. But phenomenologically we do not experience such instants. The now stretches out a little from this ideal limit. Thereby the past and future overlap with it somewhat.

This applies to our actual experiences of phenomena.

What is “given” to perception is necessarily something temporally extended, not something with the character of a mere point in time. (173bc, bold and underline are mine)

Now if we think about perceptions more abstractly, we could think of what is essential to them, even if we do not experience it. What we find is that indeed there is theoretically such an ideal limit at the now-point that completely excludes the past and future, and that does not extend [presumably]. This pure inextensive and discrete now point is not something given to us in our experiences, but our phenomenal experiences seem to suggest that such a point would be inherent to the structure.

to the essence of perception, as far as its temporal character is concerned, there does belong the necessary privilege of a “now” and a gradual gradation towards the now, a kind of relation of ascent and intensification in the direction of the zero-point; and in the opposite direction, a blurring into indistinctness, which, however, does not essentially appear as such. (173c)

Paragraph 85

Husserl explains more this pure discrete ideal-limit now-point from the perspective of our perception’s essence. Say we are in the C-now-point. That means the B-now-point immediately precedes it. The B-point is no longer now.

Hence B does not have the character of the now and in this position cannot have it. Now and before evidently and essentially exclude one another. (173c)

Yet consider this as well. We are currently experience now-point B. C has not yet happened. But we have evidence of B right there as it gives itself to us in its fullest presence. It is what is meant in our consciousness. Ideal-limit now-point-C will then take B’s place. B then no longer is present. It has moved into the past. As it passes over into the past, we represent it in our phantasy-memory. B as actual becomes B as represented. But the B of our representation is the same B that in fact actually was present a moment ago. Likewise, we expect a future time-point-D to arrive. [It is pre-presented in some way similar to the just-past ideal-limit now-point. This future point will come into full presence then pass out as well, all while being the same D.] Hence even though a now point changes its status as it passes in and out of presence, it remains continuously and identically the same.

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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