Person – Subject – Organism- An Overview of Interdisciplinary Insights
Edited By Anton Vydra
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...
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