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International Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 59, Issue 3, September 2019

James L. Taylor
Pages 321-339
DOI: 10.5840/ipq2019716136

Husserl’s Reduction and the Challenge of Otherness

This paper contends that, even though Husserl demonstrated that consciousness intends objects in the world rather than mental representations, he ultimately failed to provide a convincing account of how the ego constitutes itself and other egos. By reconfiguring consciousness as an operation rather than as a container, Husserl opened consciousness to the world and thereby overcame previous solipsistic frameworks. But despite his attention to the “things themselves,” his fidelity to another maxim—that all sense-bestowing activity be traced back to the operations of the ego—prohibited him from fulfilling his goal of describing otherness accurately. This paper examines the tension between Husserl’s desire to describe phenomena and his mandate to constitute phenomena, to show that both cannot be accomplished simultaneously. If phenomenology is to come to terms with the challenge of otherness and describe self and other adequately, the demand that self and other be constituted within the ego must be relinquished.