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Schutzian Research

Volume 8, 2016

Jochen Dreher
Pages 121-137
DOI: 10.5840/schutz201687

Symbolic Reality Construction
A Bridge between Phenomenological Individualism and Pragmatic Realism

The particularly significant theory of the symbol of Alfred Schutz is based on a combination of the two perspectives of phenomenological individualism and pragmatic realism. This theory on the one hand explains processes of symbolic meaning constitution from a phenomenological viewpoint, specifically following Edmund Husserl. On the other hand it demonstrates the functioning of symbols through pragmatic social action, which is relevant for symbolic reality construction. The paper elaborates both perspectives within the Schutzian theory of the symbol with reference to diverse interpretations of Franz Kafka’s novel The Castle. It outlines the decisive capacity of symbols to overcome and harmonize diverse and often contradictory meanings that are expressed and at the same time united by the symbol itself.