He initially studied phenomenology at the University of Copenhagen. In , he also became Professor of Philosophy at University of Oxford. Philosophical work[ edit ] Zahavi writes on phenomenology especially the philosophy of Edmund Husserl and philosophy of mind. In his writings, he has dealt extensively with topics such as self, self-consciousness, intersubjectivity and social cognition. He is co-editor of the journal Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences.

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Page numbers refer to the reviewed work unless otherwise indicated. In particular, it is an attempt to show that Husserl avoids a variety of positions have been levelled at him as criticisms and which are, one assumes, perhaps seen as out of touch with contemporary trends in Anglophone philosophy, i. Interestingly, Zahavi does not attempt to show that one should reject any of these positions for their own reasons.

This remains implicit. But I doubt that it will serve to bring anyone into the Husserlian tent that does not already have some affinity with it. Thematically, the book has a cyclical character, and questions which are raised early on are returned to as the work unfolds; the central debates are interwoven throughout the work. Zahavi also shows his expertise concerning well known commentaries on Husserl from canonical figures like Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty, and a wealth of other Husserlian interpreters.

Of course, this approach assumes that Husserl philosophy is internally consistent. Anyone familiar with the Fifth Meditation, for example, will know that Husserl struggled to bring about this consistency. An alternate method that Zahavi employs in dealing with an interlocutor is to provide a sample of excerpts drawn from a variety of Husserlian texts wherein Husserl explicitly disavows the position in question, or endorses an alternate position, i.

This second method is certainly enough to establish that Husserl believed that, on a certain rendering, he did not subscribe in a straightforward way to some of the positions he was reproached with i. Husserl did not always get around to paying these promissory notes out, and this raises a methodological hurdle for Zahavi.

Metaphysics and Phenomenology, Part 1. The question which drives this investigative theme is whether or not Husserlian phenomenology can contribute to metaphysical discussions. As Zahavi outlines, for the author of the Investigations, the term metaphysics denoted a science which clarifies the presuppositions of the positive sciences. Metaphysics is, in this sense, the meta to physics. As Husserl is interested in the foundation of all sciences, pure and a priori ones included, he thus sees his project as superseding the metaphysical one.

In this sense, Zahavi shows that Husserl saw phenomenology as meta-metaphysical, as various quotes from the Logical Investigations attest. However, Zahavi shows that not everyone has seen Logical Investigations this way. Various interpreters have seen it as a realist manifesto. This reading is motivated by the strong rejection of representationalism which is contained in the Investigations—the reasoning being that, if Husserl is not an intra-mental representationalist, then he must be a metaphysical realist.

In response Zahavi claims that this reading ignores one of the key distinction of the Investigations—that between intentional objects which happen to exist in the spatio-temporal nexus, and those that do not. This purely descriptive distinction refers only to modes of givenness, and is indicative of the manner in which the Investigations avoid metaphysics Zahavi similarly rejects an idealistic interpretation of the Investigations.

For example, he discusses Philipse interpretation, which claims that Husserl identifies the adumbrations of an object with the immanent sensations via which these adumbrations are given to us and argues that, as all objects are given via adumbrations for Husserl, all objects are thereby reducible to our immanent sensations.

Therefore, Husserl must be some sort of phenomenalist like Berkeley. Zahavi argues that Philipse ignores that Husserl distinguishes between differing parts of a perception, some of which are properties of the object itself, others of which are immanent sensations, and refers to both unfortunately as adumbrations. So, Zahavi shows that, if we are talking about the descriptive project contained in the Investigations, then Husserlian phenomenology is indeed metaphysically neutral, in the sense that it does not take a realist or idealist position on the existential status of physical objects.

This problem is compounded by the fact that some of the claims about his own work are where Husserl spends some of his largest banknotes. Zahavi agrees that Husserl does not always seem to view his own project clearly or consistently. On the one hand, Husserl seems to claim to restrict his analyses in Logical Investigations to the noetic and immanent psychic contents in certain parts.

In parts of Ideas 1 Husserl again seems to endorse the claim that only the immanent sphere is totally evident and therefore fair game for phenomenology investigation. However, in both works, he clearly begins to analyse the noematic components of intentional experiences.

Zahavi finishes the section on the Investigations by questioning whether one should react to the metaphysical neutrality contained therein as either liberating or constricting, but then adds the embracing and diplomatic remark that it might be both, or neither, depending on the metaphysical question under discussion. He adds that Husserl began to acknowledge that, if metaphysics is taken in the sense of more than an addendum to physical sciences, then perhaps it might be of relevance to the phenomenologist.

Metaphysics and Phenomenology, Part 2. These sorts of analyses almost always end up straw manning Husserl, and Zahavi is right to correct them. Zahavi shows that a similar account is provided by certain Merleau-Ponty commentators. Zahavi pinpoints that the inaccuracy of these accounts lies in their characterisation of the epoche and the reduction leading to solipsism and internalism Indeed, for Husserl, it is only because phenomenology begins form the reduced ego that it can, eventually, give an accurate and expansive characterisation of the constitutive activities of consciousness and the existence of transcendental entities.

The reduction is, on this reading, not an internalist shift. Zahavi will later also emphasise that, in fact, for Husserl just as the ego is the precondition for the constitution of the lifeworld, the transcendental ego is just as equally constituted by its factical engagement. Zahavi discusses that two prominent commentators, Crowell and Carr, both assert that the transcendental project is concerned with issues that have to do with meaning.

On this rendition, because meaning is a concept which transcends being, transcendental phenomenology is thus unconcerned with reality—and metaphysics. Contra Crowell and Carr, Zahavi argues that the latter Husserl does embrace metaphysical issues. He uses two strategies to make this claim.

Zahavi explicitly avoids one of the ways that Husserl spelled out the claim that phenomenology did metaphysics i.

It is therefore surprising that an argument Zahavi makes is that Husserlian phenomenology is relevant to metaphysics in this sense because, if phenomenology had no metaphysical implications, then it could not reject both realism and idealism so unequivocally.

The odd thing is that that Zahavi has just argued that, because Husserl rejected both of these positions in the Investigations, the early descriptive project is metaphysically neutral. For Husserl, the phenomena is the thing, but taken non-naively. So, questions concerning the existence of the thing-in-itself can be referred to our account of the rational experience of objects in the world.

The possibility of this experience, however, must be a real and motivated one, and belong to the horizon of an actually existing consciousness. It must not be a purely empty and formal possibility. Put another way, the world and nature cannot be said to exist unless there is an actual ego which also exists that can, in principle at least, experience this world in a rationally coherent way. And so, as a result, we can deny the possibility of a mind independent and in principle unknowable reality, and we can also deny any form of global scepticism.

Ontological realism and epistemological idealism are both false. I was left a little uncertain how this position is any less neutral than the one advocated for in the Logical Investigations. One is left wondering what evidence Husserl could possibly be referring to, and therefore why we ought to accept this enigmatic claim.

In fact, towards the end of the work, Zahavi shows that he is aware of this objection. A comprehensive appraisal of his philosophical impact would certainly have to engage in a detailed study of the lifeworld, intentionality, time-consciousness, affectivity, embodiment, empathy, etc. Such small change can only be rendered by a close examination of the things themselves, however.

Internalism vs. Externalism, Part 1. The fourth chapter aims to situate transcendental Husserlian phenomenology within the context of the internalism vs. Zahavi strategy, as he states 82 , is not to argue for the East coast interpretation he considers this issue settled, has addressed it in earlier books Zahavi, , and provides references for the works he considers decisive on this issue.

He shows, instead, that if the East coast interpretation is correct, then Husserl is not so much of an archetypal internalist after all. According to Zahavi and the East coast interpretation, the noema is not an extraordinary i. It is not a concept, or a sense, or a propositional content. It is an ordinary object, but considered in an extraordinary phenomenological attitude. There is not an ontological difference between the object and the noema, but a structural difference only recognised post reduction.

Thus, the reduction does not shift our focus from worldly objects to intra-mental representational i. No, the reduction reveals that consciousness is correlated with worldly objects which themselves bear the content that is presented in intentional acts Zahavi then discusses that the West coast critique of the East coast interpretation would align Husserl with modern day disjunctivism, because of the trouble in accounting for non-veridical experiences like hallucinations.

In short, if perception is just of ordinary objects as the East coast interpretation maintains, and there is no internal representational mediator as disjunctivists agree , then what accounts for the difference between veridical and non-veridical experiences which seem indistinguishable?

Zahavi observes that Husserl distinguishes between two experiences which contain objects that seem the same, but are not. Thus, if I look at an object, and then the object is replaced unbeknownst to me as I close my eyes, then even though upon opening my eyes I think my perception is of the same object, Husserl makes a distinction between the two perceptions, because the object they intend are not identical.

Thus, an experience in which an existing object and a seemingly existing but hallucinatory object are given are not identical either, even if they seem so. This response is paired with the more experientially based point that hallucinations and perceptions do not, in fact, ever seem the same.

A perceptual experience is one which is given within a horizon that unfolds over time, and is intersubjectively verifiable. Hallucinations do not meet these experiential criterions Zahavi spends some time recounting various passages which are favoured by the East and West coast schools respectively.

Importantly, he says that grasping the transcendental rendition of the noema is predicated on a proper understanding of the transcendental aspects of the reduction.

It is the West coast, overly psychological reading of the reduction as an internalist form of methodological solipsism which leads them to an internalist rendering of the noema as an intra psychic representational entity.

At this point, Zahavi toys with the conciliatory idea that perhaps there is support for both the East and West Coast reading. However, perhaps this affords Husserl too much charity; I suspect an outsider to Husserlian phenomenology would conclude as much. If the reduction is seen clearly, and the distinction between objects in the world and noemata is partially collapsed, it cannot be maintained that the subject who intends a noema is cocooned in their own internal representational prison which is disjointed from the world.

Externalism, Part 2. In this section, Zahavi explores two crucial aspects to this problem: 1 understanding the constitutive relationship. My review will end with a discussion of these points.

The orld does not depend on one type of substance or another for its constitution. For Husserl, the world does not supervene or reduce to some other type of substance, but depends on being known. In the end of this discussion, Zahavi seems also suggests that there is an bidirectional constitutive correlation between consciousness and world , something he again suggests in latter passages concerning the factical embeddedness of consciousness section 4.

He mentions the notorious section 49, wherein Husserl claims that consciousness subsists after the annihilation of the world. Thus, if the world were annihilated, then intentional consciousness would cease, but if consciousness per se is divorced from intentional consciousness, then some form of consciousness could survive this cessation.

How can we reconcile this with an externalism that avoids affirming consciousness at the expense of the reality of the world? Zahavi is right that sometimes Husserl speaks of the absolute in this context. But this is not really the context in which the passage in question in Ideas 1 occurs. In section 42 and 44 of Ideas 1, Husserl explicitly connects modes of givenness i.

Note the phraseology: given as absolute.


Dan Zahavi: Husserl’s Legacy

Page numbers refer to the reviewed work unless otherwise indicated. In particular, it is an attempt to show that Husserl avoids a variety of positions have been levelled at him as criticisms and which are, one assumes, perhaps seen as out of touch with contemporary trends in Anglophone philosophy, i. Interestingly, Zahavi does not attempt to show that one should reject any of these positions for their own reasons. This remains implicit. But I doubt that it will serve to bring anyone into the Husserlian tent that does not already have some affinity with it.


Dan Zahavi


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