For two consecutive years during the pandemic, the gPHEN Summer School lay dormant, but returned in August 2022, when the 3rd Research School in Genetic Phenomenology took place at the GSSR/IFiS PAN in Warsaw. A wide variety of scholars gathered to discuss Husserl’s 1939 Experience and Judgment, a posthumous work edited by Landgrebe that is still to receive much belated attention. The event was organized by Jagna Brudzińska (Cologne / Warsaw), Alice Pugliese (Palermo) and Lanei Rodemeyer (Pittsburgh), and featured keynote lectures by leading scholars, project workshops with student presentations, two book presentations and a roundtable discussion.
Husserl’s book is subtitled “Investigations into the Genealogy of Logic.” At the center of logic in its historical development stands the predicative judgment (apóphansis). Yet Husserl believed that logic ought to be built from the ground up, not top down; hence, that predicative judgments must be grounded in a pre-predicative level of experience. It is the interplay between implicit and explicit, latent and patent experience that draws the interest of philosophers and psychoanalytic thinkers alike, and which gave this Summer School its unique mix of researchers.
After a warm welcome by A. Rychard and D. Facca of the IFiS PAN, JAGNA BRUDZIŃSKA delivered the opening lecture on “‘Experience and Judgment’: Its Genesis and Position on Husserl’s Path, and its Significance for the Future.” Brudzińska emphasized that despite Landgrebe’s redaction work, Experience and Judgment (or EJ) is to be considered an authentic work by Husserl himself; not only that, it is also the book in which his late genetic phenomenology comes to full fruition. Brudzińska drew thematic connections to the C-Manuscripts (Hua Mat. VIII) and the Grenzprobleme (Hua XLII) that had stood at the focus of gPHEN’s 2018 and 2019 editions, respectively. Like these works explicitly are, the analyses of EJ are implicitly committed to uncovering the life-worldly embeddedness of intentionality and pre-predicative processes of drive and instinct.
Director emeritus of the Husserl Archives in Cologne DIETER LOHMAR then proceeded with a lecture on “The Genesis and Function of Types: A Key Concept of Genetic Analysis in ‘Experience and Judgment.’” The notion of type in Husserl can be regarded, to recall Lohmar’s succinct formula, as “the phenomenological concept of concept.” Types are what guide the choices, interpretations and syntheses that we perform in perception. They operate with recourse to prior experience, and thereby allow us to perceive the unknown in light of the known. Using examples ranging from apes that distinguish unripe from ripe bananas to people whose phobia inhabits the world with dogs and their sharp teeth, Lohmar showcased the flexibility of the concept of type for describing a wide range of perceptual phenomena. Furthermore, the personal use of types is deeply informed by the norms and history of the intersubjective community, which points towards the necessity of a co-constitutive rather than merely egological theory of types.
If Monday’s lecture introduced us to the familiar world of type-guided perception, Tuesday’s opening lecture by Penn State’s NICOLAS DE WARREN – “Perforations of the World: The Origins of Negation and Existential Modalization in ‘Erfahrung und Urteil’” – would be devoted to the breakdown of familiar structures. De Warren chose to amplify the thesis in EJ that “negation” is to be considered a pre-predicative, non-verbal discovery. The experience of negation points to an absence at the heart of our engagement with the world. Experiences of absence and disappointment are what motivate the act of speaking as a way to counter such loss of meaning. We speak about the world because we experience in negation the ways in which the world doesn’t show up. By the same token, the world wants to come to speech, showing us what it is lacking. From this outlook, philosophy is the endeavor of giving voice to the world.
There is, therefore, a tension and not just a harmony between “experience and judgment”; between what can be sensed intuitively and what can be stated explicitly; for language does not merely explicate the implicitly given, but constitutes a restorative response to the rupture of the world. The Husserl who wrote Experience and Judgment slowly morphs into the Husserl of the Kaizo articles, and is now winking at the existentialists who sit in the front row to not just hear him speak, but to read between the lines.
Tensions continued to build in Tuesday’s final lecture by LANEI RODEMEYER, titled “What about Synesthesia?” Rodemeyer identified a tension not between language and world but within sensory experience itself. She began her lecture by distinguishing three levels of association in Husserl: reproductive association in active constitution, motivated association in passive synthesis, and the primordial association of the hyletic flow. Synesthesia, as Rodemeyer argues, can be understood in terms of an experience of heterogeneous associations on the level of hyletic flow; but this runs counter to Husserl’s strategy in EJ of taking homogeneity as the basis of all association. The many kinds of synesthetic experiences that are known to empirical psychology today thus pose an important challenge to genetic phenomenology, and urge us to rethink the importance of homogeneity versus heterogeneity in the formation of associative patterns.
After this “systematic disorganization of the senses,” logic was called upon on Wednesday to create order out of chaos. Whereas the lecture by MIRJA HARTIMO of the University of Helsinki – “Logic: Formal, Transcendental, and Genetic” – aimed to guide us through the bigger edifice of Husserl’s logic, GEORGE HEFFERNAN of Merrimack College decided to focus in on “The Concept of ‘Evidenz’ in Husserl's ‘Erfahrung und Urteil’ and ‘Formale und transzendentale Logik’”; but both lectures shared a concern for bringing that other late great work, 1929’s Formal and Transcendental Logic (or FTL), to the forefront of the discussion.
In order to explain the relation between EJ and FTL, Hartimo argued, it is proper to distinguish not only formal logic and transcendental logic but also the additional notion of a genetic logic. Husserl’s ambitions in formal logic go far beyond the Aristotelian paradigm, and aim essentially at accommodating the diversity of mathematical truth in a single framework (mathesis universalis). This innovative approach to formal logic in turn informs Husserl’s critical attitude towards Kant. Although Kant was right in trying to situate formal logic in a broader account of cognitive experience, he preserved rather than scrutinized the Aristotelian paradigm he had inherited. Husserl’s reinterpretation of transcendental logic in FTL is then supplemented, finally, by the genetic logic in EJ where the transition is made from predicative to pre-predicative cognition. EJ is therefore to be regarded as a crowning achievement in Husserl’s oeuvre and as the final systematic step in a radical justification of the sciences.
Heffernan likewise stressed the thematic unity of FTL and EJ, and drew attention to its unusual philosophical vocabulary. The concept of “evidence” is in many ways the red thread running through these two works, but it has an unorthodox meaning in Husserl that may easily go unnoticed. Husserl’s Evidenz should not be translated as “self-evidence,” as is commonly done, seeing as evidence is ultimately as much about the “given” as it is about the “givee,” i.e. the thing made evident. Nor is it perfectly safe, though essentially correct, to simply use the word “evidence” without any caveat: the physical “evidence” used in a court case, for instance, suggests a pure “givee” whose givenness in experience is but a secondary matter. Evidence, for Husserl, is nevertheless “said in many ways”: a core strength in Husserl’s late oeuvre lies precisely in its ability to describe the many varieties of evidence throughout different levels of experience.
Wednesday afternoon also saw a double book presentation featuring Jagna Brudzińska’s “Bi-Valenz der Erfahrung. Assoziation, Imaginäres und Trieb in der Genesis der Subjektivität bei Husserl und Freud” (2019) and Nicolas de Warren’s “A Momentary Breathlessness in the
Sadness of Time” (2018). On occasion of the recent Polish translation of the latter work, Tomas Šinkūnas (editor) and Filip Gołaszewski (translator) were invited to the stage. Whereas Brudzińska’s scholarly effort covers the “bi-valence” of perception and phantasy in Husserl and Freud, De Warren’s essay reads Nietzsche’s Zarathustra through the lens of his late mentor Krzysztof Michalski. Does the power of archaic wishes vis-a-vis the perception of reality, as described by Brudzińska, provide any comfort for De Warren’s diagnosis of an incurable “sadness of time”? Perhaps the common ground between these two impressive works might be found in Freud’s notion of the “work of morning” (Trauerarbeit), where phantasy and reality come together in a single process of creative recovery.
The themes of this book presentation anticipated Thursday’s and Friday’s ventures into more psychoanalytic territory. While Experience and Judgment represents a formidable analysis of the relation between pre-predicative and predicative experience, it leaves many wondering how these two layers might possibly relate to a third one, namely that of an unconscious that is, in its primary meaning, not experienced at all. The floodgates opened for a veritable “return of the repressed.”
Psychoanalyst and philosopher PATRIZIA GIAMPIERI-DEUTSCH (Krems, Vienna) set the debate going with a lecture on “Experience in the Psychoanalytic Treatment: The Analytic Relation, Therapeutic Alliance and Analytic Empathy.” She began by emphasizing that pre-predicative experience, as described by Husserl, is not a solitary affair but an intersubjective co-achievement in a shared life-world. Yet there are many phenomena known to psychoanalysis that challenge the notion of shared reality. Transference (Übertragung) in particular stands out as a phenomenon in which the patient’s capacity for reality-testing falters, so that attitudes and events of the past come to be repeated as a “past in vivo” in relation to the analyst. The analyst, conversely, seeks to forge a “therapeutic alliance” (Greenson) with the patient that can support the recovery of a shared reality.
The successful working alliance strikes a balance between intimacy and distance, and requires a subtle kind of professional empathy perhaps best described with the word “tact” (Ferenczi). With this exposition Giampieri-Deutsch offered a glimpse into many intricacies of psychoanalytic treatment technique. Her contribution was met with a detailed response by PAWEŁ DYBEL (Kraków / IFiS PAN), who warned against drawing too sharp a contrast between the irrationality of transference on the one hand, and the healthy working alliance on the other. It must be underlined that the “past in vivo” that is repeated in the transference is experienced by the patient as something real, and that it reveals a truth about the patient’s real history.
These topics were again addressed and expanded upon in the Friday morning lecture by HEINZ WEIß of Frankfurt’s Sigmund Freud Institute, “Receptivity is not Passivity: Some Notes on Experience, Judgment and the Analytic Attitude.” Starting with Husserl’s paradoxical statement in EJ that the phenomenological concept of “receptivity is in no way (...) opposed to that of the activity of the ego,” Weiß reflected on the significance of the activity of listening in the psychoanalytic context. The analyst may often resolve to simply “take in” what the patient has to say, using free-floating attention; and yet this strategy is vital to the success of the talking cure. Klein, and post-Kleinian thinkers such as Bion, would provide a theoretical complement to the significance of listening in the analytic situation. In Bion’s characterization of “containment,” the infant projects its raw, unsymbolized experiences into the mother, who “takes them in” and transforms them into dreamlike thoughts. Hence thinking is not a solitary process but results from the digestion of thoughts through the rêverie of another person.
In her response to this lecture, Brudzińska took on the challenge of processing such post-Kleinian adventures in thought within the framework of genetic phenomenology. Husserl’s analyses of the instinctive life of the primordial ego (Ur-Ich) support this view of a radical entanglement of self and others in the formation of experience. The experiential life of the individual is not a solitary affair, but always situated in a web of relations to other people; and
here it should be argued that we approach others not just with empathy but also with more instinctive, proto-empathic acts of imitation, introjection and identification.
The Summer School was then concluded with a roundtable discussion, in which the audience got a final chance to ask the lecturers questions about the many themes that were discussed throughout the week. How could a work subtitled “Investigations into the Genealogy of Logic” have provided the occasion for such varied discussions that stretch from the lofty heights of pure mathematics to the depths of the unconscious mind? It appears that Husserl’s philosophy has the necessary breadth to not only provide space for, but encourage investigations into all these areas. While phantasy, empathy or the instincts may not be the main focus of Experience and Judgment, the effort to understand logic from the bottom up, rather than top down, inevitably incorporates those elements that tradition had naively rejected.
Throughout the week, the different lectures on EJ were accompanied by various workshops where early-career researchers could present their ideas in smaller groups, allowing for a more intense discussion. Themes covered were “History, Social Spheres, Lebenswelt” (M. Atkinson, P. Battermann, P. Biswas, P. Sy, S. Jung), “Meaning Constitution” (S. Rocca, M. van Stokkum), “Psychoanalysis and Phenomenology” (E. Martinelli, Y. Wun, C. Quinn, T. Dojan) and “Empathy and Embodiment” (V. Visotchi, A. Safdary, M. Properzi).
With a program like this, there is no question that a bright future lies ahead for the format of the gPHEN Summer School. This Summer School was a challenging one for all participants, both because of the diversity of themes covered and because of the expertise of the participating scholars, but made sure that everyone could passively synthesize and then actively judge for themselves as to the unexplored potentials of Husserl’s late genetic phenomenology. The alternation between lectures and workshops – and not to forget the extracurricular program – ensured that every listener could participate and feel listened to, making for an intellectual atmosphere that was not only professional but also highly social. It is exchanges like these that keep Husserlian phenomenology alive with the central importance it deserves in the contemporary philosophical landscape, and which prepare the ground for future innovative research.