Studia Phaenomenologica

Volume 21, 2021

From Witnessing to Testimony

Burt C. HopkinsOrcid-ID
Pages 245-272

Image and Original in Plato and Husserl

I compare Plato’s and Husserl’s accounts of (i) the non-original appearance (termed phantasma in Plato and phantasm in Husserl) and (ii) the original with a focus on their methodologies for distinguishing between them and the phenomenological—i.e., the answer to the question of the what and how of their appearance—criteria that drive their respective methodologies. I argue that Plato’s dialectical method is phenomenologically superior to Husserl’s reflective method in the case of phantasmata that function as apparitions (the false phantasma/phantasm that is not recognized as such). Plato’s method has the capacity to discern the apparition on the basis of criteria that appeal solely to its appearance, whereas Husserl’s method presupposes a non-apparent primitive distinction between the original qua primal impression and the phantasm as its reproductive modification. On the basis of Plato’s methodological superiority in this regard, I sketch a reformulation of the Husserlian approach to appearances guided by the original interrogative context of Plato’s dialectical account of the distinction between true and false appearances, eikones and phantasmata.