27 January 2009

Existential Musings, III

This is likely our last selection from Husserl before we move on to Heidegger. I'm not sure that all of it comes from the same document (Dr. Levenson did a lot of cutting and pasting on his photocopy), but at least some of it is from Husserl's Cartesian Meditations.

“if what belongs to the other’s own essence were directly accessible, it would be merely a moment of my own essence.” I think this is trying to get at the idea that we cannot perceive anything directly from any point of view but our own … which begs the question of how we know for certain that any point of view but our own actually exists.

“what is appresented by virtue of the aforesaid analogizing can never attain actual presence, never become an object of perception proper.” Similar to the previous point: if another’s point of view exists, we will never be able to perceive it directly. We can only perceive apparent results of that point of view, and infer its existence. However, if Husserl wants to build a certain foundation for knowledge, this sort of inference requires an awful lot of assumptions.

“I, as the primordial psychophysical Ego, am always prominent in my primordial field of perception, regardless of whether I pay attention to myself and turn toward myself with some activity or other.” In most cases, I would tend to agree, but I know of at least one exception. Push-hands. You cannot do push hands well while being aware of ‘I’. Instead, all of your focus is on your partner, your partner’s movements, your partner’s balance. In that instance, when push-hands is happening correctly, there is no ego. There is only the moment and the movement. After a good exchange, the ego can come back and analyze it, so it is in the background somewhere, recording data, but it is not “prominent in my primordial field of perception.” There is no conscious awareness; there is only the movement and the response. Somewhere underneath the ego, there is something that is aware, but it is not the ego: the ego is continually surprised by the resulting exchanges. Don had a student who became supremely frustrated with this; he’d say things like, “But I wanted to do it!” To me, that misses the point entirely. While absorbed in the ego, one cannot be completely aware of and one with the moment.*

“my animate bodily organism (in my primordial sphere) has the central ‘Here’ as its mode of givenness; every other body, / and accordingly the ‘other’s’ body, has the mode ‘There’.” Brings to mind a zen quote: “The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there.” ~ Yasutani Roshi

* And suddenly it dawns on my why the concept of a "personal god" makes no sense at all to me. In order to have a personal god, the ego, the personality, must be prominent, and that requires such a god be unaware of the actual moments. I suspect "all-powerful" would be the rallying cry for those who object, yet that, too, is an idea of ego. When the ego is the least of that-which-is-myself, why should I take seriously a god who seems to consist only of ego?

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