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Idealistic Studies

Volume 39, Issue 1/3, Spring/Summer/Fall 2009

James R. Mensch
Pages 1-9
DOI: 10.5840/idstudies2009391/39

The Phenomenological Status of the Ego

For phenomenology, the study of appearances and the ways they come together to present a world, the question of the ego presents special difficulties. The ego, itself, is not an appearance; it is the subject to whom appearances appear. As such, it cannot appear. As the neo-Kantian, Paul Natorp expresses this: “The ego is the subjective center of relation for all contents in my consciousness. . . . It cannot itself be a content and resembles nothing that could be a content of consciousness.” Husserl will wrestle throughout the whole of his career with the issue of how to handle phenomenologically an ego that cannot be considered as a content of consciousness. In this article, I will outline the stages of his journey toward resolving this question.

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