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Friday, 13 May 2016

Husserl, the alter ego and the correlate

Been teaching Husserl's Cartesian Meditations with an eye on what matters to Levinas' criticism of the idea of an alter ego and another eye (prompted by the students very much into looking for variations of correlationism) on Meillassoux's conception of the correlate. Husserl posits a primordial sphere where there is nothing but the transcendental Ego's intentional acts, a sphere where anything else is accessed through my intentional acts and partly enable them to have the content they have (as intentional acts include that of having an evidence). This primordial sphere ensures that our access to noemata is apodictical and the world is bracketed in order for the objects of our thought to be safe. This sphere makes sure everything else appears to me as correlate of my intentionality. On the other hand, the other is to be described as a source of intentional acts, as the other cannot be anything but an alter ego. The other is a correlate of my intentional acts to whom I ascribe intentional acts (of a similar structure). The other appears as something that has an ontology drafted by my egology.

When it comes to the existence of objects beyond the intentional correlates, Husserl says many things but seems to conceive the idea that the independence of those objects is something that is itself accessible through my intentional acts (that give me evidence for their existence). The idea is powerful: the objects are out there because I experience them as being out there, because my intentional acts inform me of their presence beyond the sphere of my Ego - their independence follows from an egology. To be sure, if this works, it is an argument for realism: objects are there beyond noemata and noemata themselves reveal that. However, it is a full-blown correlationist way to conceive realism - independence is itself a correlate of my intentional acts. The problem is not the status of the objects beyond the ego - there could be res verae, but still they are within the correlate. (The similarities with Whitehead are worth remarking too, intentional acts are like prehensions - except correlationism is not so explicitly present because there is no egology, no primordial sphere of the ego and nothing is solely a correlate of my intentionality.)

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