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Phenomenology 2010

Volume 4, 2011

Selected Essays from Northern Europe

Kristina S. Montagová
Pages 11-50

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Die vielfältigen Gestalten des Urbewussten bei Husserl

In this text I deal with the theme of the ‘primal conscious’ (das Urbewusste) in Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology. The ‘primal conscious’ or ‘primal consciousness’ (die Ur-Bewusstheit) characterizes those ways of experience and consciousness which represent in some way an intermediate level between the non-conscious, on the one hand, and the act-intentional, objective conscious experiences, on the other,. In the first part three basic forms of the primal conscious are distinguished and illustrated with the help of concrete examples. In the second part I offer a—merely sketched—historical-phenomenological reconstruction of the development of Husserl’s analyses of primal consciousness. Nevertheless, the systematic-phenomenological point of view remains foremost also in this part of the text. In the first part I differentiate three basic forms of the primal conscious: (1.) consciousness of the immanent, retentional-primal-impressional-protentional streaming alteration of the experiences (= the immanent, retentional-protentional time-consciousness), (2.) the pre-thematically or non-thematically affective consciousness (= the pre-apperceptive consciousness and experience) and (3.) the consciousness of the execution of acts (= the „accompanying“ executive consciousness, „the internal consciousness“ or also „the consciousness along with“ especially in early Husserl). The differentiating criteria between the pre-apperceptive and apperceptive consciousness are attention, and the synthetic activities of the subject, i.e. its differing attentional activity and its execution of certain syntheses. It is common to all forms of the primal conscious experiencing that it is a non-thematic, non-act-intentional kind of (self)consciousness of the experiencing—and of that, what is being experienced, though not of that, what objectively appears—, which is indeed already fully determined—with regards to content, time, and emotional character. In the second part of the text it will be shown that Husserl wrestled with the theme of the primal conscious for over four decades and that, after several essential transformations and numerous terminological modifications, he gradually arrived at a conception whose development can be traced back through his writings. However the differentiation of the concept of the primal conscious—as undertaken above—namely, offering an extensive examination of all these phenomena under the concept of the primal conscious can be found only implicitly in Husserl’s writings.

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