Streaming Absolute Consciousness (Pure Ego) (Husserl)


Whatever could these things mean, things like Pure Ego and Absolute Consciousness, the that which is said to remain left over after the phenomenological reduction? I think I’m beginning to understand that what Husserl meant by this was nothing more and nothing less than “pure streaming consciousness” in which the ego remains self-identical.

“Let us reduce till we reach the stream of consciousness. In reflexion every cogitatio on being carried out takes the explicit form cogito…The Ego appears to be permanently, even necessarily there, and this permanence is obviously not that of a stolid unshifting experience, of a ‘fixed idea.’ On the contrary, it belongs to every experience that comes and streams past, its ‘glance’ goes ‘through’ every actual cogito, and towards the object. This visual ray changes with every cogito shooting forth  afresh with each new one as it comes, and disappearing with it. But the Ego remains self-identical” (156).

If I’m not mistaken, much of the criticism directed against Husserl has to do with presence and self-identity. But it seems to me, that presence and self-identity are not the foundation for streaming consciousness, but that streaming consciousness is the shifting foundation of presence and self-identity. In either case, absolute consciousness or pure Ego as understood by Husserl has nothing stolid, finished, or fixed about it.

Also consider this. In “pure experience,” the I, “I the man,” has been suspended no less than the world. “Apart from its ‘ways of being related’ or ‘ways of behaving.’ It is completely empty of essential components, it has no content that could be unraveled, it is in and for itself indescribable” pure Ego and nothing further” (214), but one that “conceals meaning within itself,” or rather what Husserl called “the gift of meaning,” as opposed to bundles of meaningless sensations (231, 232, 236).

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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3 Responses to Streaming Absolute Consciousness (Pure Ego) (Husserl)

  1. efmooney says:

    it is necessary to take seriously Husserl s otherwise odd declaration that feigning [ Fiktion ] makes up the vital element of phenomenology and thus that every philosopher must fertilize his or her fantasy through works of art and history as well as other areas and practices of human life. [Thought you might like this remark by Richard Zaner.]

    • zjb says:

      yes, yes, Ed. i’m going to get to this soon, Husserl on “Phantasie,” translated poorly as “fancy.”

      • efmooney says:

        I’ve been hunting for a good English rendering of “Phantasie” — reverie? It’s hard to get rid of the overtones of useless subjectivity, the debunker’s “that’s just a fantasy.”

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