The problem of multiple realities
Alfred Schutz and Robert Musil
Robert Musil's great novel,The Man Without Qualities, constitutes an entire world.1 This world has a vast multiplicity of facets, enough to keep a couple of generations ofGermanistenfully occupied, and certainly far too many to attempt even an overview here. There are facets of this world that clearly refer to the external, historical situation of the novel — Austria on the eve of World War I. But, from the beginning, there are dimensions of the novel's world that have nothing to do with this location in space and time. Indeed, as the novel develops, it is these dimensions that move into the foreground of attention and give the socio-historical events the quality of a largely ironic preamble. What Musil attempted in his gigantic work was nothing less than a solution of the problem of reality from the perspective of modern consciousness — a consciousness that, unlike most others who have talked about it, he not only posits but painstakingly describes. A central theme in this context is what Musil calls the "other condition" ("der andere Zustand") — another reality that haunts the reality of everyday life and the quest of which becomes the principal concern of Ulrich's, the novel's main protagonist. It is this theme that will interest us here.
Berger, P.L. (1970)., The problem of multiple realities: Alfred Schutz and Robert Musil, in M. Natanson (ed.), Phenomenology and social reality, Den Haag, Nijhoff, pp. 213-233.
This document is unfortunately not available for download at the moment.