Excised notes and rantings for my final essay.
The epoche is stubborn here. “By my living, by my experiencing, thinking, valuing, and acting,” Husserl writes, “I can enter no world other than the one that gets its sense and acceptance or status in and from me, myself.” It seems that I have no claim to judge the Nazi experience as false beyond that fickle falsity which is constituted by me; when I cease to posit the Nazi experience as false, it indeed ceases to be false, because ‘false’ has only the meaning I constituted it as. The epoche, then, puts all experiences on equal footing, and neuters the capacity of one experience to claim itself to be truer or more right than another experience.
Husserl’s epoché, then, is thoroughly coated in normative doubt… but he denies this. What is the ethical hazard here? Lonergan can help us conceptually understand what is happening. Implications doubtful question remains, “[why] should the meditating ego engage in the epoché?” Husserl’s
Bernard Lonergan: you cannot play so fast and loose with truth. Phenomenology is fundamentally data structured by insight, insight as ‘getting the point’, as a general structure of inquiry. It cannot reach backwards and grasp an unstructured data, because there is always the meditating ego there to make judgements. We can conceptualize this immanence within a more general claim that Bernard Lonergan makes…
First, we must establish the normative claim of the epoche. Which is that the epoche is itself good, it reconciles disagreement. Therefore, ethical experience imbues every touch in the epoche. Lonergan: but he doesn’t really do this! He cannot account within himself for the truth of the epoche. Animal faith – but he leaves it untouched. So what are some concrete results of this? How can we get out of the epoche? Well, it is unclear at the moment. But it must do an ethical self reflection. So in fact we cannot ever escape doubt, the principle mode of normativity. For when I come across something in which the normativity expresses itself, I doubt it. Any practice of the epoche can never merely accept what is given to it in experience. It must always continue to doubt by any ways necessary, to confront the normativity which is immanent to its every experience. Max Scheler and the intuition of the ethical under the epoche: mere feeling. But the problem with this is that it still adheres to the problem of reproducing naivete within itself. And we need to be able to get out of it. The normative claim of the epoche In every way What is the normative claim of the epoche?
Is it so? What is the epoche? An attempt to account for everything. The ethical claim precedes the ontological. Every being which we experience is firstly experienced as a normative question. There is no mere “How does this appear to me” without the question of “Should it appear to me”. What is the normative criterion? The epoche remains itself naïve because it can’t account for its own ground. At every moment in which I confront the being which is given to me in experience, I am confronted with the normative force of why shall I do it? The epoche is a claim to truth. Husserl is suggesting that by turning inwards towards the things themselves we can really access things as they are. Therefore, there is a sort of normative claim in the epoche: that it leads towards the good, that it directs us away from misdirection, trivial disagreement, falsity. And in fact this normative claim imbues every experience under the epoche. But what is the ethical reality of this epoche? And how or why does that matter? The residual naivete of the epoche: it cannot account for its own normative claim, and this is a claim which is the prerequisite for the ontological claim to begin with. Is there a kind of ethical abandonment in going into the epoche, consigning yourself to this state of immanence in which you can never fully get back to knowing the other, looking at the other as other, a shutting out of the other by entering the epoche, which makes you unresponsive in any sort of intelligible way, a reversion back to the natural attitude, but not as a philosophical grounded ethical position? In what sense does the ethical precede the ontological? Immanent normativity of being as anticipating the good, which is going to be operative in even doing the epoche. Can’t shut off knowledge and such, and really push it. Kind of puts it in ethically scolding terms, cutting yourself from otherness, do you know why you are doing this, and is it worthwhile? What is the ethical purpose of this? Can it be done ethically? Maybe it needs to be modified to be made more expansive, to include the normativity which is behind the doing of it in the first place? Can you do an epoche / critical phenomenology which accounts for the desire to do the phenomenology in the first place, which is inescapably ethical, even if it is not of practical significance immediately, it has a larger ethical horizon in which it is located? Exploit Lonergan’s insistence on two things – naïve animal faith, which maybe you can successfully differentiate, from an ethic of responsibility. Why do the epoche? Is it worthwhile? Is it an ethical act to do this? Whatever we want to call it, epoche or not, it needs to be able to account for the norms in which it is undertaken in the first place. Phenomenology should account for everything that appears, including the appearance of the normative criterion set up in doing the epoche. Yeah – we are looking to account for the full range of phenomena which include the ethical immanent criterion which are present in taking the epoche, so perhaps the epoche is not enough for us to do phenomenology with, as presented by Husserl – ultimately ethical normativity and ethical self-transcendence, affirming the worthwhileness of the other as other. The epoche remains itself naïve because it can’t account for its own ground. STAY FOCUSED! Just stick with Husserl and his demand that he answer your question, and bring in Lonergan’s point. Playing fast and loose, not accounting for being ethically irresponsible, furthermore, not doing the proper phenomenology, failing to account for all the phenomena.
Ethical Chaos Under Husserlian Heaven: The Sartrean Break
“Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent.” – Mao Ze Dong
“Any spatiotemporal being exists for me; that is to say, is accepted by me in that I experience it, perceive it, remember it, think somehow, judge about it, value it, desire it…” – Edmund Husserl, Cartesian Meditations
“Perhaps we shall also have to hold in check other coloured peoples who will soon be in their certain prime, and thus preserve the world, which is the world of our blood, of our children and of our grandchildren.” – Heinrich Himmler
Husserl’s epoché exposed a new world of philosophical reflection: in radically embracing experience as the sole apodictic basis for philosophy, the meditating ego “eliminates a number of troublesome dualisms… [and] replace(s) them with the monism of the phenomenon” . In this eliminating gesture, however, Husserl has stripped himself naked against the biting wind of ethical relativism which those so-called “troublesome dualisms” provide some minimal shelter from. Under the epoché, the ego withholds judgement from experienced phenomena: the shimmering of the water across the sea cannot be said to be less ‘real’ or ‘true’ than hardness of the wooden table – both are given in experience. Problems begin when we exit the natural domain to the ethical: an ego’s experience of the dirty perversion and licentious greed of the Jew cannot be said to be less ‘real’ or ‘true’ than that ego’s alternative experience of the complex humanity of the Jew – both would be given to the ego in experience. As such, everything under Husserlian heaven is in utter chaos: every accepting of experience under the epoché is imbued with this ethical hazard. I argue that Sartre’s ontology of nothingness works towards resolving this ethical crisis by allowing the meditating ego to pass judgement on its experience of the world, and points us towards an ethical attitude which does not commit the ethical relativism of the epoché but which also does not revert to the naivety of pre-phenomenological ethics.
Let us begin by understanding the epoche in Husserl’s terms. The epoche requires a “universal depriving of acceptance, this ‘inhibiting’ or ‘putting out of play’ of all positions taken toward the already-given Objective world.” This, in turn, allows me as the meditating ego to “acquire… my pure living, with all of the pure subjective processes making this up, and everything meant in them, purely as meant in them.” To the colloquial demand “get your head out of your ass,” Husserl would retort: “my ass is the world.” Husserl is concerned primarily with the experiencing of the natural world, and the epoche indeed appears to be a useful tool to examining the perception of objects and subject-objects. I need not question whether I am really seeing the table before which I sit, but rather describe the table as I am aware of it and my awareness of my awareness of the table. In doing so, I uncover how I constitute an infinite object from finite appearances, perceive the eidos of objects by identifying the invariance in imagined free variation, and so on. But the set of questions considered in focusing on the natural world as such spans a very limited range of our experience of ‘the’ world. Every experience of being in the world acquires an ethical and political character. When I see a swastika, I do not merely experience lines arranged with rotational symmetry, and therefore it would be ridiculous to fixate on ‘natural world’ questions of how I perceive a unity of geometric structure out of isolated parts, etc. Rather, I experience a Nazi symbol representing zealous nationalism, genocidal anti-Semitism, and the bloody engineering of a false Aryan utopia. But the Indian Buddhists experience a symbol of spirituality whose virtuous presence has long outlived its recent corruption. Nazis experience pride and righteous revenge upon those that have deprived them of a just livelihood. The epoche is stubborn here. “By my living, by my experiencing, thinking, valuing, and acting,” Husserl writes, “I can enter no world other than the one that gets its sense and acceptance or status in and from me, myself.” It seems that I have no claim to judge the Nazi experience as false beyond that fickle falsity which is constituted by me; when I cease to posit the Nazi experience as false, it indeed ceases to be false, because ‘false’ has only the meaning I constituted it as. The epoche, then, puts all experiences on equal footing, and neuters the capacity of one experience to claim itself to be truer or more right than another experience. Thus, when we buy into the (Husserlian) epoche, we are forced to bear the cost of ethical relativism – or, perhaps more adequately, ethical silence – which is, for me, too high a price.
Is the epoche really silent on ethical experience, which indeed is all experience? The immediate objection is as such: the epoche remains open, and the meditating ego indeed can experience ethical judgement. The problem, however, is not that the epoche does not allow the meditating ego to make ethical judgements, but rather that it does not have a way to do so in its structure. Can we be sure that a Nazi will, through philosophical reflection under the epoche, conclude that their project is somehow wrong? The question of the epoche’s ethical structure is this: will the epoche provide the ego with the means to pass ethical judgement on their experience, or will it rather serve as a mirror which merely reflects the ego’s predilections and intuitions (a movement which can hardly be called ethical)? Here, the openness of the epoche is a problem rather than a virtue. The epoche is not relativist: relativism would allow multiple ethical judgements to be posited but deny the superiority of any one over another, whereas under the epoche this latter denial is absent. The epoche actively silences: under the epoche, the Nazi may declare to the Jew behind the barbed wires of the concentration camps, “you are not a subject deserving of existence in our world, and I do not need to contemplate the possibility that you may be, because indeed the world is our world as we constitute it.” Those stories of German citizens who quietly sheltered Jews in their homes become contingencies in the sinister mirror of the epoche. The epoche becomes a useful tool for the political to silence the ethical realm. Sartre tells us that nothing is a mode of being; feminism that the personal is a domain of the political; Critical Race Theory that silence is a mode of violence. No position in the vast field of thought can be neutral, all are polarized: as forces sweep across this plane, all nonzero directionalities react, and zero directionalities positively affirm the force. The epoche cannot be acquitted of its silence.
To assist with understanding the question of the epoche’s ethical structure, we can refer to Bernard Lonergan, who observes that the epoche has a fundamental ambiguity. This ambiguity stems from its lack of distinguishment between avoiding a “spontaneous orientation upon the really real” and “suspend[ing] one’s judgement.” While the epoche appears to accomplish the former without much trouble, the latter is more complex: “One cannot play fast and loose with what one knows to be true. One cannot turn rationality off and on as one pleases.” Phenomenology, Lonergan writes earlier, is the “presentation of data structured by insight”: the epoche commits an epistemic fetishism in claiming that it accesses the raw data of experience when it really ‘comes too late’ and instead receives this data as structured by insight, a receiving of virgin data after its penetration by insight. The epoche is ostensibly a tool of uncovering the truth, in that it reconciles the fundamental (possibly subjective) ambiguity of dualisms which naively locate truth in the natural world ‘out there’. However, the problem of making “your criterion of truth the manifest” is that this truth is clouded again by the first ambiguity. One seeks to know things as they really are by examining into one’s noetic-noematic relationships, but then seeks too to somehow withhold passing the very judgement which structures this relationship. There is a whiff of Derridean differance here, in which the ambiguity of the judgement is erased and the traces of this erasure are erased too via the positing of the absolute judgement. Thus, H. J. Pos argues that one can never return from the epoche: once we set forth the notion that we have suspended the really real, no amount of experiencing or constituting meaning will return us to the really real. There is a normative force of judgement here which commands something like the really real, something like judgement: something like a truth caught in between turning away from ethical relativism (naïve attitude) and turning off rational judgement in itself. So it is a question of what is really immanent in the epoche, phenomenologically. What can transcend? What is immanent? In Lonergan’s dualism, avoiding this “spontaneous orientation of the really real” amounts to a sort of ethical emergence or awareness, in which I take myself back from a pre-phenomenological conception of behavior (I do this because I am powerful, etc. – animal morality, which is to say, no morality at all). But we don’t really see the mirror above us: and so we think we see the sky, but what we really see is ourselves – we haven’t really suspended our judgement. So in this space between animal morality and the ceiling of our absolute posited judgement (you can’t just turn off rationality) is the mirror of the epoche, which allows you to make the world as you see fit in a mirror of walls. What Pos means when he says that you cannot return from the epoche is that this ambiguity leaves you there: trapped in mirrors, like you pointing at your mirror. This is the ethical problem: the epoche ends up as a mirror. Pos says you cannot escape the epoche: and indeed you cannot, because there is this fundamental ambiguity here, this fundamental mirror. What is it about mirrors? Mirrors are a map between the finite and the infinite. And this is precisely what Sartre grasps. Which is that we can object to the ethical quietude; the normative force commands us outside of the infinite. The thing is that our experience becomes redoubled upon us, finite, infinite; and we realize that nothing separates us from the infinite, nothing can escape the epoche: really, nothing. So Sartre is concerned not really with “finite vs the infinite” but more in “the infinite within the finite”, in that nothing really separates the finite from the infinite; the mirror itself is really kind of false, you have a positivity of negativity to confront
Redoubling of naivete in the epoche – Lonergan – the totality of knowing is to see everything which should be seen Husserl’s notion of eidos is really a kind of purified empiricism Notion of an object in itself or the eidos is in fact not anything to do with what Plato understand about ideas, but the totality of possible looks, naïve infinity at that point Even in the epoche, there is a radical naivete because of animal real too: seeing everything there is to be seen and nothing that isn’t there Ideal of the object as an infinite horizon of looks which persists in the epoche The Husserlian gambit to get us out of eidetic intuition is itself haunted by a naïve animal faith which Husserl had tried to bracket A lot of what Husserl is saying about eidos is indistinguishable from what Leibniz says about substances, it is God alone who perceives all sides of a thing at once. Husserl has an anthropromophizing of faith Animal faith is not only about the world as really there but also how one comes to know it – one comes to intuit it, eidetic intuition An object is an intelligibility which is not the totality of looks, but what is understood by insight and then affirmed by a rational judgement, which is what you see beginning in Plato – another realm beyond what is merely sensed. Plato still has a little bit of an extroversion here too – he has forms as supersensible, beyond what is merely sensed, beyond that of an object which we could know if we could intuit all possible looks in an instant. Aristotle has beyond Plato’s extroversion wrt the forms. Act of sensing and insight and judgement – knower and the known are a single reality Whereas in Husserl arguably retains a certain naivete even despite the epoche but it’s tied to the very thing which gave rise to the need for the epoche. Ethical judgment and action is not a matter of getting from in here to out there, but about self-transcendence: going beyond what I am now towards something more. Whether or not something I judge is more than me is a separate question. Being is divided from within. When you posit a difference, it doesn’t transcend consciousness but is preserved within consciousness. More to the Husserlian story Lonergan thinks you can know the object before you judge it – a sort of rubber stamp that just comes after the fact and merely governs what is given, not really a constitutive role for judgement in Husserl, not constitutive of the object itself. The dog running is a report on what is given in evidence. For Lonergan that fails to understand how it is suspicious of the known. It is also on its own ters almost pointless, why bother with the report if the object is already known immediately? Experience is where all the action is, what is this about the report? Judgement is the culmination of one increment of knowledge, without which the object is not actually known yet. Set of issues in Husserl when it comes to do with residual naivete, eidos as a totality of looks, evidence as the pre-predicative givenness of the object, and an after the fact radicality of what is already given in judgement, and therefore an overlooking of other operations which mediate being to us, such as through questions.
Is there a kind of ethical abandonment in going into the epoche, consigning yourself to this state of immanence in which you can never fully get back to knowing the other, looking at the other as other, a shutting out of the other by entering the epoche, which makes you unresponsive in any sort of intelligible way, a reversion back to the natural attitude, but not as a philosophical grounded ethical position? In what sense does the ethical precede the ontological? Immanent normativity of being as anticipating the good, which is going to be operative in even doing the epoche. Can’t shut off knowledge and such, and really push it. Kind of puts it in ethically scolding terms, cutting yourself from otherness, do you know why you are doing this, and is it worthwhile? What is the ethical purpose of this? Can it be done ethically? Maybe it needs to be modified to be made more expansive, to include the normativity which is behind the doing of it in the first place? Can you do an epoche / critical phenomenology which accounts for the desire to do the phenomenology in the first place, which is inescapably ethical, even if it is not of practical significance immediately, it has a larger ethical horizon in which it is located? Exploit Lonergan’s insistence on two things – naïve animal faith, which maybe you can successfully differentiate, from an ethic of responsibility. Why do the epoche? Is it worthwhile? Is it an ethical act to do this? Whatever we want to call it, epoche or not, it needs to be able to account for the norms in which it is undertaken in the first place. Phenomenology should account for everything that appears, including the appearance of the normative criterion set up in doing the epoche. Yeah – we are looking to account for the full range of phenomena which include the ethical immanent criterion which are present in taking the epoche, so perhaps the epoche is not enough for us to do phenomenology with, as presented by Husserl – ultimately ethical normativity and ethical self-transcendence, affirming the worthwhileness of the other as other. The epoche remains itself naïve because it can’t account for its own ground. STAY FOCUSED! Just stick with Husserl and his demand that he answer your question, and bring in Lonergan’s point. Playing fast and loose, not accounting for being ethically irresponsible, furthermore, not doing the proper phenomenology, failing to account for all the phenomena.
Pure desire to know, this notion of being which is the origin – all humans by nature desire to know. There is this thing which we do, thinking – which we always do. Why do we do the epoche? Husserl wants to know being, what is true and false, overcome illusory or incorrect or false philosophies, and arrive at the true ones. This isn’t bracketed in doing the epoche. And you can’t turn that off. Turn it off and you confirm it. Husserl is massively invested in science and moving past mere opinion and relativism to know being. And this is driving the project. As opposed to the animal faith that emerges (is constitutive to consciousness as an abiding waiting for the known), a resulting of the fact that we developed as animals before we developed as knowing. Mark points this out: the being that is known by animal faith isn’t really being, it’s not being as being, but being as the correlate of animal faith. But it’s only rationality which makes that distinction. To reflect on it and realize that it is a spontaneous orientation to one’s world, the organs by which we organize ourselves in the world – we can feel distention without fingers, and we can see it; but in order to see other distensions we have to move, so we can develop a spontaneous understanding, to do this is to do that. You can’t bracket the very ground of the epoche, which is the desire to know. Is Husserl making all these judgements all the place naively or critically? Is he saying that really to know is to have adequate evidence? That’s a judgement. What is truth except that which appears? Things with a sense of being – there’s more than one sense of being, there’s the animal notion of being, and a rational one, … Husserl does not adequately
Can’t shut off rational consciousness – also as a moral demand, is it worthwhile? Why do the epoche?
Maybe a basic point: where is the normativity insofar as we’re left in ethical quietism, we remain in the epoche, how are we to distinguish between the Jew as given to the Nazi and the Jew as it is? Nazi’s built-in offloading of responsibility onto the further and abdication of responsibility, how the epoche doesn’t …. Could be kind of basic, but like – in order to not get caught in the quietism of the epoche (and this is running parallel to what I’m getting at), not consigned to the ethical quietism in that it doesn’t specify what we do about how things appear to what would otherwise obviously be ethically monstrous perspectives. To avoid this quietism, should we want to? We need a phenomenology of freedom, according to which we can demand of the Nazi that they do not offload their freedom and responsibility… one can relate to the Big Other naively, and in so doing show their naivete in the constitution of the Fuhrer. The Fuhrer’s will which really is one’s will which one displaces and overlooks one’s own accountability in having constituted the Fuhrer as such and allows themselves to be constituted as the Fuhrer, or constituting the Fuhrer as constituting themselves without recognizing their own responsibility and therefore giving over to this naively posited Big Other. Responsibility for constituting the Jew and the Fuhrer as such – offloading of responsibility to the Jew also, but also to the Fuhrer. And it really could be that simple. The challenge is where is the normativity? Sartre is just giving something which isn’t there in Husserl, which is a kind of radical conception of freedom by which we can demand responsibility for ourselves in a way which just isn’t there in Husserl. Unless you posit a normative force you may find yourself in a world in which you’ve posited a world in which … not that Husserl couldn’t tell us that … make clear the non-normative character of a mere description of what appears. Permanent disruption of anyone’s readymade world – take responsibility for knowledge as such, and demands that you never offload your responsibility to the world that you’ve constituted. Constant source of disruption for the worlds that we have constituted for ourselves, whereas Husserl doesn’t really have that – gives us the tools for what Sartre makes possible. How do we offload freedom and constitute the Big Other as constituting you as not having freedom? The possibility of blowing that up?
The Nazi turns inwards, and they see: “Man makes himself man in order to be God”: he is the being through whom values exist. And they realize anguish, freedom – that I do not have to be a Nazi, and in fact Nazism requires a dogmatism and an elimination of doubt, a mode of sincerity; so the Nazi sees anguish; and in the Jew they see not the dogmatic thing but an anguished reflection of yourself, and that is the moment of ethical reflection: to realize that this mirror if you, yourself, the nothingness with which you have constituted the world. And you then may comment on the ethical impurity or falsity of your experience. Lacan: the husband’s jealousy is still pathological even if his wife really is sleeping around with other people. And we still stay within the epoche, in the sense that we have realized that nothing separates us from the other. The stages.
Animal morality: a sense of ethical relativism – there are moralities and ethical systems as they are there in themselves. The infinite.
Classical ethics – deontology, etc., acquire this character of at least claiming to be above human judgement; although it remains to be questioned if they really are.
Ethical relativism vs ethical quietude Sartre, I argue, understands this ambiguity: he addresses the collapsed dualism: infinite and finite, between appearances and the transcendent. What he finds is that there is nothing. The epoche is a reduction to the finite world at first, and the infinite must come after. But Pos tells us that we cannot return from the epoche. Because this is precisely the ambiguity. Avoiding animal faith is about overcoming living in a world of the naive finite: about ascribing in finite things a (non-infinite) reality, a thingness. And then, the infinite is what is posited absolutely in judgement: what permeates every possible experience of the finite one may encounter. So the epoche is caught between the finite and the infinite… “We need to be quite clear that our theory of the phenomenon has replaced the thing’s reality with the phenomenon’s objectivity, and that it founds this latter by appealing to the infinite.” The finite surpasses itself towards the infinite, always. But there is no return from the epoche. So we can’t really get ourself out of this quandary. There is no return from the epoche. We
Page 20, page 32 in PDF: “the epoche does not leave us confronting nothing.” But it precisely does confront us with nothing – our nothingness. A prescient remark, although he did not know it. On the contrary we gain possession of something by it; and what we acquire by it is my pure living, with all the pure subjective processes making this up, and everything meant in them, purely as meant in them” – but this somethingness precisely is nothingness, insofar as nothing is something as such. Nothing fulfills the finite towards the infinite. Precisely, it is nothing: nothing which is immanent in the epoche, ethically. In what sense do we confront nothing? This is how we can stay faithful to the epoche. Husserl is desperate to fill in the epoche with some sense of meaning. Because this question remains. If we are focused merely on the ‘objective world’, which is still a point of fixation…. We must begin with understanding the epoché in Husserl’s terms… [Use more quotes from Husserl to develop exactly what is being talked about.] Here comes the objection: We do not need to break out of the epoché, we can judge experience from within. But an intersubjective proof under Husserl’s terms demonstrates otherwise. There is no reason why we should believe that our ethical system is true under the epoche given that we recognize other subjects who develop ethical systems who are disharmonious with ours. [An intersubjective proof.] Under the epoché, we have reason for ethical doubt of ourself. But we are left purely with ourselves. The problem is that if the experience comes to me, there is no reason why I should doubt it. This is the crisis re-emerging. [Maybe have a separate paragraph on silence is violence] The epoché does not bar ethical experience. However, it does not enforce or guide it in any meaningful way either. It remains altogether silent on the issue of ethical judgement. Sartre shows us that nothingness is a mode of being, and Critical Race Theory that silence is a mode of a violence: the epoché cannot be acquitted of its silence in (un)ethical experience.
What is the challenge with the epoche? There is a fundamental ambiguity of being. The question is, what is the normative force of ethical judgement? It is not merely a question of being, but a necessity for judgement. Lonergan’s framing here is helpful: a fundamental ethical ambiguity. And this itself is an ethical hazard.
What is the immanent transcendence of Sartre? We must confront our dilemma: we must not commit to the naïve attitude while breaking out of the limitations of the epoche. This requires us to open up a new dimension to which a projection into the plane of the naïve attitude against the epoche lands us in the epoche. Precisely, what is the problem with the epoche? That there is a radical ambiguity. What is the problem with the naïve attitude? It is that we assert that we can really know things as they are rather than merely how they appear to us. Sartre confronts this immediately. Our passage out of the epoche while respecting it requires us to transition from the intuitive negative to the positive interpretation of the statement that “nothing escapes the epoche”. Pos observes that truly, nothing escapes the epoche. But it is precisely nothing as such which escapes the epoche, as Sartre himself was partially there to noticing. • What is the epoche, really, for Husserl? – do some more work on this front • What is Lonergan & Pos’ objection here? Really explicate its relevance to the ethical domain. But also show how it is distinctively different because of its ethical dimension. • Nothing can escape the epoche: the transition to nothing as such and the Sartrean introduction o It is precisely nothing which does not ‘restore meaning’ but which in fact gives meaning to the entire epoche itself. The being of ethical experience is conditional on a great negativity, a great void beneath it. • Queer phenomenology and a Sartrean ethical reflection o Broadening out to comment on analytic ethics, violence, and more
• The challenge is to not commit to the naïve attitude while breaking out of the epoche (while still respecting it). • What we have is the gnoseological (phenomenological) issue – Lonergan / Pos, when you enter the epoche you can’t get out – what is the fundamental ambiguity? For Lonergan this is an ambiguity of being, but it is maybe even more exigently a problem for ethics. Normative ethics demands an answer to what it is (so it relies upon being). Once we enter the epoche, then, we can never return to the land of the normative. • The question becomes, then, what is the immanence of the epoche which we can escape from? This is the Sartrean break: nothing breaks from the epoche. We should read it both ways: firstly, nothing breaks from the epoche, in that we still respect the necessity of the epoche. But secondly, identifying nothing as that very positive element which transcends the epoche, which gives us that way out. • Sartre and queer phenomenology o The question of gender o The question of violence o The trolley problem
Sartre against bad faith: embrace your nothingness and your potential, your inherent freedom. Queer phenomenology – a phenomenology of phenomenology Sartre on the homosexual: a sort of queer ethics, ethical anguish – a very attractive idea indeed. What the problem with the trolly problem is is that ethically it is the wrong question to limit ourselves to these two possibilities, go left or right. And indeed much of analytic ethics is how to choose from two totally deflated possibilities. Trolley problem: what is wrong about it is precisely the problem of the silence of the epoche. Analytic ethics does in fact make a similar move as the epoche… maybe? What we prescribe then Violence – should we commit acts of violence?
The ethical problems of the epoche: a close look at what the epoche prescribes. One might experience ethical right or wrong, but surely by intersubjective means we can see that another ego’s experiencing of themselves as right is not necessarily right my means. My constituting of Hitler as ethicallyw rong. eliminate a number of troublesome dualisms
- The epoche is a movement of ethical crisis. Under the epoche, the ego is placed under its own microscope, and it becomes the world, “I apprehend myself purely: as Ego, and with my own pure conscious life”. The phenomenological attitude of the epoche is to merely observe what is given without passing judgement on its truthhood-in-the-world, because you have become your operative world. But is this not a dangerous move? For a white supremacist, a black man may appear in their world as a menacing, dangerous creature; for an American in Vietnam, a villager as a Viet Cong spy
- Under the epoche, my experiencing of a black man as menacing is phenomenologically no less false than my experiencing of a black man as a complex creature. This equivalence is the ethical crisis of Husserlian phenomenology.
- Broad humanism along the lines of Schelerian intuition of the good is not satisfactory here. We merely need to examine history, both of the ‘world’ and of our own, to find that people do not intuit the values in an ethically meaningful sense.
- Sartre moves us out of this difficulty with the concept of bad faith. His resolution is that we do not fixate on the outside but rather look inside at why one perceives a black man as such-and-such. And one finds that one has taken on a particular consciousness, a consciousness of, in order to constitute the black man as such. Yet it is Sartre here who makes the unique ethical claim: that we should not merely accept our consciousness of as given, but in fact that we should pass judgement on this very acceptance, we should embrace our emptiness and our nothingness.
- But Sartre does not merely go out and posit the world as great and wonderful (i.e. a direct ‘anti-epoche’). He shows that we very much can pass judgement on our experience. And even though he begins from a Cartesian ego center, what is different is that he realized the ultimate ontological negativity of the void.
- Queer phenomenology, Sara Ahmed: How this sort of a liberatory Sartrean phenomenology does not need to be incompatible with a sort of intelligent identity analysis. And so part of what Sartre does is to destabilize the security of the epoche.
The naïve attitude and bad faith are the same? What is the nature of knowledge under the epoche? Ethical Irresponsibility and Falsity under the Epoche
The epoche can also be said to be the radical and universal method by which I apprehend myself purely: as Ego, and with my own pure conscious life, in and by which the entire Objective world exists for me and is precisely as it is for me. Anything belonging to the world, any spatlotemporal being, exists for me that is to say, is accepted by me in that I experience it, perceive it, remember it, think of It somehow, judge about it, value it, desire it, or the like
- As mentioned during our discussion, one could argue that many fundamental ethical questions can be considered as stemming in large part from the naive attitude – an all-too-quickly-posited belief in the absolute or universally given. a. Property – a libertarian view views property as naively universally given, but does not consider how one comes to constitute property as given b. Highly ‘purified’ ethical problems characteristic of analytic ethics – trolley problem, swimmers on a rock. In what sense might one be engaging in the naive attitude by even seriously thinking about these questions as substrates of ethical inquiry?
- Although this is certainly interesting and I may want to explore this secondarily, I am primarily interested in: How can, if at all, a notion of ethical (ir)responsibility and falsity of experience emerge under the epoche? a. The “scientific-objective” view (of the natural attitude) is important for making many ethical judgements. For instance, we can ‘look from above’ upon the Nazis and the Jews and speak from ‘the position above’ about the ethical abhorrence of the Nazis with respect to the Jews, and perhaps even ‘in themselves’. We do not speak from a position of ultimate subjectivity, but rather of an ‘objective ethical truth’. We might acknowledge the subjectivity of such a ‘position up above’, but this subjectivity has some kind of universality, because otherwise it would be one of many positions in a relativist multiverse with no particular legitimacy or weight. b. Marx’s philosophical assertion is that the experience of the proletariat reveals much of the social totality of capitalism than does the experience of the bourgeoisie, and therefore the former is “ethically truer” than the latter. Here, Marx employs the natural attitude and asserts the existence of a social universality or truth which is accessible by particularity / partiality. i. “There is no universality without particularity”, said my professor for a Marxist literary theory class c. However, under the epoche, this “scientific-objective” view is eliminated, and all we are left with is what is given in experience to the ego. It appears, then, that we have also lost the ethical judgment of such experience which, at least conventionally formulated, needs to be exterior to the subject to maintain its ethical legitimacy. i. For instance, the ‘ethical truth’ of the experience of the proletariat is independent of the proletariat’s subjective particularities; rather this very mode of subjectivity is necessarily already inscribed within (the truth of) social totality (and this is a pretty materialist reading). ii. For instance, it might appear then that we are using the same methodological approach to investigate the world-experience of the proletariat and the capitalist, of the Jew and the Nazi, of the colonized and the colonizer, etc. There is a good question to be asked: Under the epoche, in which we part with standard universal humanist assertions (‘man is inherently good’, etc.), can a Nazi come to believe that they are unethical? Or does the epoche inevitably lead to relativism? iii. Even a Schelerian intersubjective ethics requires an exteriority to the subject, in the sense that we need to posit a community of feeling as primary to the ethical experience / intuiting of the subject
- Work in identity-studies (gender & queer studies, Black studies, labor studies, etc.) often employ the phenomenological method to explore the lived experience of people under certain (subjugated) conditions. Side note: one could convincingly argue that W.E.B. Du Bois’ exploration of double-consciousness is a (proto-?) phenomenological investigation. However, I want to focus on a strict reading of Husserl. a. Such work is very interesting and reveals much, but it still relies upon the “scientific-objective” view // leaks into the naive view. b. There has been, as you mentioned, a lot of work on Heidegger’s ethical limitations. But I am particularly interested in Husserl as a ‘father of phenomenology’ – if, from his basic principles, we can read a possible ‘ethical judgment of experience’ under the epoche.
- I feel that one of the core tensions in this problem is between ego-as-constituting-world and ego-in-the-world; i.e. that the (transcendental) ego constitutes the world that itself (as the ‘material’ ego) resides in. a. What does it mean for the ego to carry out ethical judgment in an intersubjective world if all other-egos can only be recognized in analogy to the ego itself? b. Maybe even though ethical problems need to bracket from the natural attitude, the epoche does not provide us with a good answer either.
Bring in Sartre here? Sartre’s ethical system… he doesn’t in fact depart from the subject at all. From a Husserlian phenomenology. Ethical truth from Analyze Schelerian ethical system.
Intersubjectivity under the epoche – …
What is the epoche? A total suspension of belief in a noumenal or external world, and a focus only on observed phenomena.
In order to
Therefore as queer phenomenology demonstrates, a phenomenological ethics needs a broader historical introduction which breaks out of the epoche. It is not a naive attitude, but towards something else
My thesis: in order to make an ethical claim, we need to dilute the integrity of the epoche.
Bring in Queer Phenomenology, Sara Ahmed.