Intentionality and Referentiality. The problem of referentiality in Husserl's 'Zeitdenken'

Abstract

In the framework of Husserl's phenomenology, intentionality is regarded as the main feature of every act of consciousness. Our consciousness is directed towards objects immanent in it, however in a variety of epistemological functions and operations, such as sensory perception, judgment, cognition, volition, imagination, etc. Husserl uses the technical terms noesis and noema to designate the intentional acts of consciousness and their outcome in the constitution of objects in consciousness. At the same time, the persistence of a hyletic data is emphasized, which as pure sense data escapes the phenomenological reduction and remains as such a residuum in the consciousness. In my lecture I try to work out the clear implication of epistemological referentiality in the phenomenological basic notion of intentionality. Among other things, I rely on the conceptual history of intentionality, i. e. on the earlier theories of intentionality in the Middle Ages and the philosophical revival of this notion in the late 19th century by Franz Brentano. Referentiality defines itself as the referential access of consciousness to objects of sensory perception, judgment, cognition, etc., in which the objects form the final referents. In the phenomenological framework, intentionality refers to the intentional access of consciousness to objects irrespective of their consciousness-immanence or -transcendence. The analogy between intentionality and referentiality is therefore based on the act-character as well as the directionality of consciousness which suggests the characteristic attempt of consciousness to gain intentional-referential access to objects. The directionality of consciousness in every intentional act ultimately marks and confirms the referentiality i. e the referential access of consciousness to the object. Intentionality as intentional-referential access to objects becomes a problem, when the access of consciousness to the object proves to be inadequate. I try to show how this problem of referentiality inevitably arises in Husserl's phenomenology of inner time-consciousness, especially in his conception of a time-object (Zeitobjekt). The consciousness-immanence of a time-object, such as a melody, points to a problem, that the intertwining of the temporality of consciousness and that of time-object necessarily results in various aporias of time, as Paul Ricœur observes and discusses in detail in his seminal work Temps et Récit. Moreover, the residual persistence of hyletic data, that survives all phenomenological reductions, would establish an actual interface between consciousness and reality, as Jaakko Hintikka emphasizes in his essay The phenomenological dimension. The aporicity of time refers to the autonomy of time and, thereby, to the autonomy of time-object in its intentional in-existence in consciousness. The hyletic data as interface between consciousness and reality points to the necessary referential extension of consciousness to objects that are otherwise excluded in the context of phenomenology. From these and similar premises, I would like to demonstrate how the problem of referentiality in Husserl's philosophy of time inevitably presupposes a reversion of referentiality within the prevailing noesis-noema structure that underlies the consciousness-immanence of objects.

Author's Profile

Babu Thaliath
Jawaharlal Nehru University

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