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Life-World, Intersubjectivity and Culture

Contemporary Dilemmas


Elżbieta Hałas

This volume commemorates Richard H. Grathoff’s (1934–2013) contribution to interpretative sociology. Reconsidering the legacy of social phenomenology, it demonstrates the usefulness of concepts such as life-world, milieu and symbolic transcendence in the studies of sociocultural transformations.
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Tadeusz Szawiel: Life-World as an Object of Theory and as a Life-Horizon


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Tadeusz Szawiel

Life-World as an Object of Theory and as a Life-Horizon

Edmund Husserl stressed the pre-theoretical, pre-given character of the life-world when he wrote: “natural life can be characterized as a life naively, straightforwardly directed at the world, the world being always in a certain sense consciously present as a universal horizon, without however, being thematic as such” (Husserl 1970: 281). However, his very aim was the theoretical attitude in which the life-world (after epoche) was treated as an object of analysis. Husserl explained: “but special motives are required when one who is gripped in this world-life reorients himself and somehow comes to make the world thematic, to take up the lasting interest in it” (281). The aim of his investigations was to reveal the general structures of the life-world. In the final analysis, the life-world was only a step, perhaps the last step, toward his transcendental phenomenology.

The social sciences and humanities are especially exposed to the question of the “object-like” character of their subject matter. Philosophers have always drawn attention to the problematic character of objectification in the social sciences and humanities. Concepts such as the life-world, form of life, ethos were always conceived as horizontal concepts,1 which should preclude the idea of treating them as objects of reflection and subsequent analysis. Yet, these very concepts were always treated in the social sciences in an “object-like” manner as constituting areas of objects for analysis and investigation.

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