The Yearbook on History and Interpretation of Phenomenology 2013

Person – Subject – Organism- An Overview of Interdisciplinary Insights

by Anton Vydra (Volume editor)
©2014 Thesis 203 Pages


The main topic of the volume encompasses three areas of phenomenological research: person, subject, and organism. These three topics are interrelated in various ways. On the one hand, the question is Husserlian phenomenology of personhood and subjectivity, and on the other hand, it is a broader problem including epistemological, ontological and biological approaches. Those great traditional and contemporary themes of subjectivitiy and intersubjectivity, concepts of person, community and interpersonality, questions of humanity, value and biological status of human beings all became part of Edmund Husserl’s focus. The contributors intend to show that a number of inspiring and unexplored questions arose from these thematic areas, questions which are related to various specific and interconnected fields of study.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Introduction (by Anton Vydra)
  • Operatively functioning subjectivity: Toward a history of the received interpretation
  • References
  • Recollection, Perceptual Phantasy, and Memorials: A Husserlian Proposal
  • §1. Recollection and pictorialization
  • §2. Recollection and Perceptual Phantasy
  • §3. Perceptual Recollection?
  • References
  • The Limits of Communication: A Phenomenological Account of Indication and Expression in Response to Derrida
  • References
  • Husserl on Type, Animal Life, and Cross-Species Morality
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Type and Pairing
  • 3. Pairing and the Animal
  • 4. Interspecies Influence
  • 5. Interspecies Moral Orientation
  • 6. Conclusion
  • References
  • Individuality and Incorporation: Renewing the Concepts of ‘Life’ and ‘Biological Organism’
  • Introduction
  • 1. “Extended criticality”: symmetries breaking and randomness at the basis of the variability and singularity of living organisms
  • 2. ‘Collaborative interactions’ and ‘symbioses’: a new painting of ‘biological organism’
  • References
  • Dissatisfied Life: Philosophy of the Living in Canguilhem and Merleau-Ponty
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Is the Normal Subject identical with the Healthy Subject?
  • 3. The ‘Narrowed Milieu’ and Privileged Behaviour
  • 4. Conclusions
  • References
  • Heideggers Humanismuskritik und der gegenwärtige Transhumanismus
  • 1. Beweggründe für Heideggers Humanismuskritik
  • 2. Das nicht-anthropozentrische Menschenkonzept
  • 3. In der Falle des Transhumanismus?
  • 4. Schlussfolgerung
  • Literatur
  • Self Shock: The Phenomenon of Personal Non-identity in Inorganic Subjectivity
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Merleau-Ponty’s Integrated Temporal Horizons
  • 3. Merleau-Ponty’s Temporal Selfhood
  • 4. Deleuze’s Temporal Synthesis
  • 5. The Third Synthesis of Time
  • 6. Conclusion
  • References
  • Cruelty and Melancholy: The Stones of Roger Caillois
  • I
  • II
  • III
  • IV
  • V
  • VI
  • References

| 7 →

List of Abbreviations

The list of abbreviations used in the following contributions

| 9 →


I would like to write a few words about the new yearbook, about its aims and why we have decided to publish it. The idea of The Yearbook on History and Interpretation of Phenomenology came from the Center for Phenomenological Studies which is part of the Department of Philosophy at Trnava University (Slovakia). The Center joins a group of researchers focusing on several aspects of phenomenology and its history, as well as phenomenological interpretations of various fields of science, art and religion. Some crucial questions have emerged in our cultural milieu of the Central Europe which interest us in our work and which we intend to discuss within the broader context of science.

The title of The Yearbook comprises two basic terms: History and Interpretation. We would like to publish contributions about the history of phenomenology because phenomenology has its own specific development anchored in the texts of Edmund Husserl, his predecessors and followers, its distinctive themes and problems set within the frame of the philosophical and scientific discussions of their period. We are also open to inquiries about the interpretation of phenomenology and to different approaches towards understanding phenomenological research, its systematic and methodological insights and its possible contributions to contemporary discussions both about pure philosophy and within the context of more interdisciplinary research. We are open to broad discussions with other philosophical schools of thought and are interested in addressing our common themes

These two purposes are, of course, intertwined. We are convinced that investigations into historical aspects of phenomenology, with its multiple shifts and essential changes, will be valuable not only for us, but also for our readers. In the same vein we believe that it is important to keep clarifying our understanding of various phenomenological motivations and keep returning to the key phenomenological questions. It may seem sometimes that phenomenology belongs to history and is just an artifact from the past. However, phenomenology still presents new and vivid challenges to scientific research; it still poses new problems animating scientific discussion about the limits of science or the crisis of institutions. It opens the door to specific phenomenological theories inspired not only by phenomenological resources, but also by many non-phenomenological approaches. At the same time, phenomenology itself is often be challenged by other scientific disciplines forcing it to rethink, re-clarify or modify its own approaches. ← 9 | 10 →

In short, this new annual journal has specific intentions and goals, and offers a space for contributors to create an integrated unit together with other phenomenological journals oriented more exclusively towards either Husserlian phenomenology or various applications of phenomenology. We appreciate broad research in contemporary phenomenology and often participate in such projects. However, our intention is to create our own subset of phenomenological research in the belief that this will yield fruitful results and open new possibilities both in phenomenology and other scientific disciplines.

The main topic of this current issue encompasses three areas of phenomenological research: person, subject, and organism. These three topics are interrelated in various ways. On the one hand, we address the question of Husserlian phenomenology of personhood and subjectivity, and on the other hand, we address a broader problem including epistemological, ontological and biological approaches. Those great traditional and contemporary themes of subjectivity and intersubjectivity, concept of person, community and interpersonality, questions of humanity, value and biological status of human beings all slowly became part of Edmund Husserl’s focus. We intend to show that a number of inspiring and unexplored questions arose from these thematic areas, questions which are related to various specific and interconnected fields of study. It is up to the reader to decide whether we have been successful in this.

In conclusion, let me express our gratitude to Peter Lang Ltd. for including The Yearbook among its publishing activities. I would also like to thank all contributors, reviewers and editors. Our special thanks go to Jonathan Gresty for his help with proofreading this issue, to Aaron Fortune, and also to Prof. Dr. Dr. Georg Schuppener for his proofreading of German contribution. We are also grateful for the support of the VEGA grant-funded project no. 1/0272/13 by the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport in Slovak Republic.

Anton Vydra

| 11 →

Operatively functioning subjectivity: Toward a history of the received interpretation

Elizabeth A. Behnke


Husserl’s notion of functioning subjectivity (functioning intentionality, functioning I, functioning Corporeality) was taken up by subsequent phenomenologists and transformed into a received interpretation still effective today. The present essay traces the trajectory of this historical development across works by Fink, Merleau-Ponty, Brand, Held, and Mohanty, concluding that the assumption of an operatively functioning anonymity at the heart of subjective life may be one of the motivations leading some phenomenologists to collaborate with the project of the naturalization of consciousness. I close by identifying some further investigations needed to pave the way for a comparison between Husserl’s own rich notion of functioning subjectivity and the received interpretation.

Keywords: Husserl, functioning, operative, intentionality, anonymity

Husserl uses the term “functioning” (Fungieren, Funktionieren) as a noun, a verb, and an adjective (functioning subjectivity, functioning intentionality, functioning I, functioning Corporeality,1 etc.); although he seldom offers anything like a definition of it, this notion plays a crucial role in many of his descriptions and analyses. Subsequently, other phenomenologists appropriated and transformed this notion, turning it into a technical term with a life of its own. The purpose of this essay is to sketch some major “landmarks” in the efficient history2 of this transformation, beginning with a key passage from Formal and Transcendental Logic. My procedure, in other words, will be to offer a straightforward scholarly account, carried out within historical consciousness, of a chain of Husserl-interpretations pregiven to me in my own historical situation; the discussion not only of the scope and development of this notion in Husserl’s own writings but also of related issues arising from the standpoint of ← 11 | 12 → a methodologically guided hermeneutical consciousness3 must be reserved for other occasions.

Formal and Transcendental Logic (originally intended as an introduction to Experience and Judgment4) was written in a few months at the end of 1928 and beginning of 1929,5 and was published in volume 10 of the Jahrbuch für Philosophie und phänomenologische Forschung (1929) as well as being printed separately. Although the notion of “functioning” can also be found elsewhere in this work, the initial moment of the trajectory I want to document is highlighted by Mohanty,6 who suggests that this may be the first time the term “functioning” appears along with “living” (lebendig) in Husserl’s writings (at least, we may add, in works Husserl published during his lifetime):

The living intentionality carries me, predelineates, determines my entire practical comportment […] even though as a living, functioning intentionality, it may be unthematic, undisclosed, and thus beyond my knowledge.7

Taken in its original context in §94 and in light of other references in the text to thematizing an intentional life that normally remains unthematic,8 this sentence can be taken as a concise description of the ongoing style of naive experience in everyday life, in contrast to a full transcendental phenomenological description of the nexus of subjective capabilities and intentional achievements brought to light by constitutive analyses. In other words, it is the task of phenomenology to make constituted sense comprehensible by explicating the actual and potential performances of my own conscious life and its constituting intentionality (Hua ← 12 | 13 → XVII, 241; cf. 249, 253f.). But in the natural attitude, no explication is needed—the world and its myriad things are simply “there” for me to be experienced, accepted as holding good, with this or that made thematic while the thematizing life itself remains hidden, unthematic, anonymous (Hua XVII, 38, 185). Thus in Formal and Transcendental Logic the notion of functioning subjectivity emerges through a contrast between experience as lived in mundane life and the transcendental experience of a phenomenological researcher who systematically inquires into the structures of the functioning intentionality sustaining mundane life (Hua XVII, 241). How are these matters initially taken up in the literature?

The first figure shaping what will become a particular way of understanding anonymous functioning was Eugen Fink, who was Husserl’s assistant from 1928 to 1937.9 A fuller treatment of this problematic would have to include Fink’s own philosophical approach to such matters, preserved in his manuscripts and now the topic of a major study by Ronald Bruzina;10 Fink’s Sixth Cartesian Meditation (a text with a significant efficient history of its own) is also relevant.11 Here, however, I will focus on his references to this notion in two essays published in the 1930s.12 Fink’s 1933 Kant-Studien article contrasts the natural attitude’s directedness toward the object that is present for it with Husserl’s ← 13 | 14 → method of intentional analysis, which lays bare “the entire functioning system of interpenetrating presenting and appresenting intentions, of interpenetrating anticipations and habitual acquisitions, etc.”13 as the undisclosed and “anonymous” basis upon which the object comes to givenness.14 In this way a region is opened up for phenomenological work,15 and the task is to thematize the living functioning of transcendental subjectivity16—a task rendered all the more difficult because constituting transcendental life is “concealed” by the psychic intentional life that is its mundanized form.17 Although Fink does not cite the passage from Formal and Transcendental Logic quoted above, he does refer to the latter work in other connections, and his presentation of living, functioning intentionality is consistent with the passage in question. But his 1939 article on the problem of Husserl’s phenomenology proved even more influential in disseminating and reformulating the question of functioning intentionality.18 Here Fink is concerned to frame the thematization of subjective life in terms of the question of being,19 and he addresses the “executive function” of consciousness in its experiential meeting with entities,20 seeking to bring to light the hidden yet effective intentional performances contributing to the seemingly simple “acts” whose correlates are “objects.”21 The following passage summarizes his point and serves as a “landmark” along the trajectory of the efficient history of this notion: ← 14 | 15 →

The task of intentional analysis is to uncover the hidden efficacy of the sense-filled modes of consciousness that are veiled by their own results. The theme of such analyses is functioning intentionality, the living sense-forming, sense-achieving, sense-transforming function of consciousness that conceals itself in being consolidated into the simple psychic unities of acts.22


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2014 (March)
Personhood Subjectivity Humanismuskritik Transhumanismus Dissatisfied Life Intersubjectivity
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 203 pp., 2 b/w fig.

Biographical notes

Anton Vydra (Volume editor)


Title: The Yearbook on History and Interpretation of Phenomenology 2013