Forum Philosophicum

Volume 27, Issue 2, Autumn 2022

Selected Phenomenological Studies

Jarosław JakubowskiOrcid-ID
Pages 179-191

The Phenomenology of Initiative: Following Nabert

This article starts with the hypothesis that the measure of first-person experience of initiative is not, as it has been customary to believe, the present moment. Jean Nabert’s philosophy (and especially his early work titled L’expérience intérieure de la liberté) provides tools that make it clear that the sense of initiating action that one has in the present moment carries the stigma of illusoriness. If I experience initiative in the present moment, it means that I have taken part in an activity initiated before. Therefore, even though the very moment of initiating action remains unavailable to me, the measure of initiative experience should be sought not in the present but in the past. To this end, one needs to consider the genesis of motives propelling my action. In line with Nabert’s conception, these motives—manifesting themselves as some kind of representations—are grounded in actions that I have not completed. However, the fact that the initiative I demonstrate is conditioned by these unfinished actions does not imply that my actions so far make up, by definition, a harmonious arrangement. Nevertheless, all these actions coalesce in one history, embracing my “desire to be” that constitutes my existence.