Speaker: Prof. S.Tagore (NUS)
Date and Time: Thursday, July 5, 2018; 17:30-19:00
Venue : Seminar room no. 8; (Research Bldg No 2)
Title: Husserl, Lebenswelt, Culture
This paper concerns the rather difficult concept of the life-world (lebensewelt) that Husserl developed in some length in the Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology. I wish to understand in these remarks the cultural world in terms of the life-world. Husserl primarily develops the life world concept in relation to a science-world and a mathematics-world. His main point in this regard indicates that the scientific-mathematical process is a regional vocation that works itself out against a pre-given world-structure wherein common-life is lived out:
Science is a human spiritual accomplishment which presupposes as its point of departure, both historically and for each new student, the intuitive surrounding world of life, pre-given as existing for all in common.
The stress is on singularity positing a unitary life-world shared by all in common. Under the sign of singularity, worlds are not yet emergent in multiples wherein cultures are situated. Values in general, motivated by cultural forms, inclusive but not exhausted by science-mathematics, are enabled by the life-world against which their structures are constituted. The argument here is this: as a matter of fact, cultures are plural, thus if life-world is conceived under the sign of singularity, it must be pre-given to values as such and not just to scientific value alone, assuming that values are taken to be co-extensive with culture. World-regions—one Galilean another Mahlerian (as examples)—are governed by their own teleologies and are framed against the original structure of the unitary life-world. Just as the life-world (in David Carr’s translation) is the “meaning-fundament” of the natural science so is it of musical expressions, indeed any cultural expression whatsoever. According to this construal, plurality of worlds presupposes the pre-given (vorgegeben) structure of the singular lifeworld. Running against such a construal Føllesdal observes that in the earlier lectures on Phänomenologische Psychologie (1925), Husserl appears to endorse the plurality of life-worlds:
We do not share the same life-world with all people, not all people “in the world” have in common with us all objects which make up our life-world and which determine our personal activity and striving even when they come into actual association with us, as they always can (to the extent that, if they are not present, we come to them and they to us).
Thus the question: are there many life worlds, each naming a particular cultural horizon, or is the life-world singular? I wish to address this question first and then proceed to deploy the obtained result to provide the grounding for an ethics of cosmopolitanism.