25 Jun 2009

The Unity of Husserl's Beer, Husserl, para 315-325, Supplementary B1 to: On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time

[Quotations tabbed.]

The Unity of Husserl's Beer

Edmund Husserl

On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time

B: Supplementary Texts


Seefelder Manuscripts on Individuation

No. 36

On the Seefeld Reflection. The Typical, the Mathematical, and the Unity of the Temporal Object

Paragraph 315

We look at the brown beer bottle as sun falls. Slowly the brown turns to black. We want to determine precisely what qualifies for brown itself, and for any possible shade of it. We want to know, how much can a brown color vary before it is no longer brown? In other words, what are the limits of being brown? In a sense, we want to know a limit-concept. It is like in mathematics where we would draw precise differentiations between quantities.

So consider the bottle’s brown turning to black. We think that it was brown for the first hour. When it began, it was brown. Right up to its limit of changing to black, it was also brown. Both of them are types of brown. So if we consider the first brown’s type and the last brown’s type, they as types are exactly equal. Then we wonder, in what way are they both brown in their own individual ways? In other words, to what extent may brown vary before it is not brown? By putting together these two sorts of comparisons, we derive the limit concept of brown. This tells us what brown is universally and essentially. It also tells us the range of possible concrete instantiations whose types, as types, are all the same: brown.

The brown – what is it really? Is it the species? Then we would have to ask: How is the “species” related to the mathematical and typical occurrences making their appearance here? Obviously the concept presupposes the same process of mathematization; exactly and logically understood, it is a mathematical limit-concept. We do indeed distinguish between what is the same in type, by which we mean total equality of type, and equality of type in different “respects”; we then acquire, as limit-concepts, the exact equalities and the exact universal or essence, the concrete or abstract universal or essence – all understood exactly and logically. (264d)

So by considering the limits of brown’s variation before it is not brown, we have treated it mathematically and logically, the same way we would draw a determinate line after a certain quantity to section off distinct areas. But then we consider how the brown is found during certain determinate extents of time. We do not experience the brown as being made-up of an enormous series of instants. Rather it is a flow. So when we take-up the mathematical attitude, we further reduce these already mathematized ideas again.

But we reduce these ideas again in the mathematical attitude. That is to say, concrete parts correspond to the temporal division; specifically, concreta that have or are a mathematical extent of time and a mathematical extent that is filled. And the mathematization here stands in contrast to what is exactly the same in temporal form and what is exactly the same in temporal filling. (264-265)

So one logical type, brown, spans a long series of moments. The whole type brown is a limit-concept, because it determinately excludes what is not brown from being typical of it. But we might further mathematize the type, and consider each point along the continuum of the bottle being brown, each moment on its own. There is no change of brown in any instant, because there is no time through which it could alter. So the brown to be found in any one instant also determinately excludes the variations that do not belong in that instant. In this way, we further obtain limit-concepts.

The division in infinitum leads to indivisible points of time as limits, and these points have “no magnitude”; they are mathematically indivisible as magnitudes (they are just points) and have their magnitude in this punctuality. The punctual filling belongs to these points as corresponding limit-concept – that is to say, as the species of what fills a point; and this punctual residuum of the concretum breaks down, as every extended concretum does, into its abstract “moments,” into the different species of color, intensity, extension, or whatever else may come into consideration in connection with the contents in question. (265a.b, boldface mine)

Paragraph 316

Husserl will now explain what the brown is not.

1) The brown is not a species.

We previously considered a species to be something under a more general type. We noted two kinds. One we find by looking at what qualifies to satisfy brown and what we exclude from brown. This way we determined brown as a species of color. Or we look at each instant of it being brown. In that sense each instantaneous instant of its variation is one concrete ‘species’ of the more general type brown.

Husserl says that the brown is neither of these types of species.

The brown is not the species, either the punctual species that belongs to the points of an extent of time (the points of the duration) or the species of the concrete duration-filling, which is apprehended in mathematization as the continuous fusion of the punctual series in their order conforming to the points of the duration. (265c)

2) The brown is not the concrete individual.

There are two senses in this context for what the concrete individual would be.

a) the brown of the individual punctual phase of the broader continuum of its appearance.

b) the continuum of the brown moments.

The brown endures even when the concrete continua of it come to an end. And, the continuum of brown alters gradually throughout its extent. However, the brown remains identically the same from point to point.

The brown as punctual phase of the duration does not endure, and the continuum of brown-moments in the continuum of time-points does not endure; the temporal extent is rather filled out in a definite order with the punctual fillings: precisely point by point. The temporal extent is not properly called duration with respect to these fillings. The brown endures and is extended throughout this time and in its duration continually the same – throughout all points and through all fillings of these points, which as temporally different are themselves different. I can divide the temporal extent, the time of the enduring, and each part then has its fillings; but not only the part, throughout the part’s temporal extent, which says again that the same thing, the same color, exists throughout all the filling contents (265c.d)

Paragraph 317

The species brown that fills the extent alters through its course. Yet, the brown remains the same. Each point in the concrete brown’s extent presents a different variation of brown. Because they change, and because the brown stays the same, we cannot say that these fillings are the brown. However, the brown presents itself by means of such fillings.

What we call the one brown, namely, the one something that is changing, is here precisely not the brown filling and the time-point but something that presents itself in the brown filling, so to speak – something identical that is the same in ever new fillings and is what it is only as existing in such ordered temporal fillings. (266a)

Paragraph 318

The brown is the unity that appears throughout the continuous manifold of its appearance(s).

The brown, one could say, is the one and self-identical something that “appears” in the continuous and manifold brown-“appearances” (in the filling of the time-phases) and that as “unity of appearance,” also runs throughout the concrete parts of the filled duration. We have a continuous consciousness of unity whose correlate is an unbroken unity, an identity in the continuity of time, something identical in the continuous flow of time and in the continuous flow of what fills time. (266c, emphasis mine)

Consider if the extent during which we saw the bottle was interrupted by distractions. Then there would be some number of concrete continuous unities. But these do not add up together to make one complete unity. Rather, these multiple unities presuppose the unity that they each instantiate. [otherwise there would be no grounds for us unifying the manifolds in that manner.]

Paragraph 319

Say we have divided unites of brown as we noted above. Still, the brown remained the brown even during those breaks when it was not appearing. Hence it was continuously brown through a broader more encompassing extent of time.

The brown of this and the brown of that part of the extent of time are different, since they belong to different extents of time; but since they continuously fill one extent of time in a certain way, in the “one object” that endures, one and the same thing that lasts throughout this entire extent of time. (266-267)

Paragraph 320

There are two sorts of filling. Each point of time is filled with some variation of brown. The continuum of points as well is filled with the continuum of variation of brown. These continua may be separated by breaks, but are still filled with brown. However, there is something that endures not only during these multiple fillings, but also in between. Such a unity continues throughout all time, whether appearing at some given time or not.

I said, “fill in a certain way.” Namely, in one sense we have a filling for each point of time and for each extent of time; and what fills the extent of time is the continuous sum of what fills the points of time belonging to this extent and also the sum of what fills the partial extensions belonging to any disjunctive division. In the other sense, we call that which endures and only manifests itself or appears in the filling, that which continues to exist (lasts) throughout the multiplicity of filling and also appears as filling time, as continuously existing in time, as precisely lasting in time – that, we say, is what we call the unity of the temporal object. (267a.b)

Paragraph 314

What belongs to the possibility and constitution of such an abiding object (of something real in time)? A continuum of time-fillings; more clearly: What we find necessary to unity in our example is that the brown does not pass over into another brown discontinuously, or certainly not into a blue, etc. If it did, there would no longer be any transition on hand at all. (367d, 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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