Volume 1, Issue 2, Autumn 2015
Embodiment and Umwelt: A Phenomenological Approach
This article reconstructs several aspects from Husserl’s phenomenology regarding the intentionality involved in embodied experience of a pre-given Umwelt. I argue that Husserl’s account of environed embodiment underlies and conditions his clarification of Natur (spatio-temporal materiality) and Geist (human cultural and historical achievements). This argument is situated in Husserl’s engagement of the 19th century debate between Wilhelm Dilthey and the Neo-Kantian Baden School concerning the methodological relationship between the natural sciences (Naturwissenschaften) and human sciences (Geisteswissenschaften). Husserl radicalized the debate between Dilthey and the Baden School by pluralizing Heinrich Rickert’s attitudinal characterization of concept formation and
clarifying and developing Dilthey’s notion of a life-nexus. Husserl’s approach allows for an identification of the belief modalities of the natural attitude that are operative in feeling sensations oriented toward embodied resolutions involved in bodily regulation. The pre-reflective bodily self-awareness involved in feeling sensations correlated with an Umwelt as a horizon of relevancy and familiarity is the constitutive ground of both Natur (spatio-temporal materiality) and Geist (human cultural and historical achievements) investigated in the respective domains of modern scientific rationality. This reconstruction of Husserl’s approach shows that, despite criticisms to the contrary, Husserl overcame a dichotomy between Natur and Geist through an identification of their common ground in environed embodiment.