Volume 56, Issue 3, September 2016
Reason as Acquaintance with Background and the Performative Turn in Phenomenology
Husserl’s notion of “sense” has often been interpreted through a Fregean lens. I will show that Husserl saw it as an acquaintance with the background or horizon of perceptual objects. He understands reason (Vernunft) as prescribing rules for performance with regard to perceptual objects. Thus Husserl’s view has a wider scope of experience than Kant’s sense of it as a pre-reflective acquaintance with one’s environment. After Ideas I Husserl develops these notions as part of his theory of the intersubjective world. Heidegger takes over the insights of Husserl and brings out the performative turn inherent in phenomenology by critiquing Husserl’s orientation to theoretical perceptual experience. The reference of performative expressions is not determined by the contents but by performance. What is disclosed in the phenomenological notion of sense is the background against which human existence is to be understood.