Friday, July 24, 2015

“Directedness” in Husserl’s Intentionality

The main feature in Edmund Husserl’s  intentionality is “directedness”. It can be defined as a line of communication between the active observing agent, or intentional starting faculty with the observed object. Or to put it in a more normative way of inquiry in philosophical terminology, it is the interactive process between the subject and the object. Husserl tried to formulate some foundation for this relation and process. Is this possible to accomplish as a highly desired and reliable, accurately-describing/analyzing, “ rigorous”, systematic philosophical “structure” of thought, in the formulation of Directedness, as well as Intentionality, and Phenomenology as a whole in the same manner of construction— as Husserl wished ? I doubt it. Now, if in the stream of consciousness, the observing agent/faculty itself carries within itself changing elements as well as enough unknowns— to the least, and at the same time the observed object contains , at least, as much unknowns, or variables, how is this possible ? Right there, we can see how that line of communication may falter, dwindle, and can not connect, becomes problematic, then evaporates and vanishes before any truthful, solid founding structures can be established. Similar to one area regarding the presentation of imagined object, (*), if you are trying to paint a real horse, but many times, the images of an imagined horse, without manes, or nose, or, tail keep popping out in mind, how can you be successful producing any horse ? There is a possible scheme for structuring certain (transcendental) intentional acts, and as a matter of fact many, and the (transcendental) desired objects by what can be called as intuitively-formed objects the Husserlian way, but they will be only the products of each and any individual, and in (many) instances do not share any common traits. 

All systems of Truth can only be assessed as structure/building/construction founded upon the residues of lived experience, a skeleton of "Absolute Truth", as Giả Danh (Vietnamese term for “ False Name, carrying “fooling” representational characteristic”, having value only nominally, for name-designating’s sake ). It means : Only on the insubstantial, flimsy foundation of language and mental reconstruction, do they have their truths on the quasi-real and “half-true” levels. That’s the belief of true, “authentic” Buddhists, to use a trendy term from 70-80 years ago. But they do have their own usefulness for daily existence and many ranges in certain types of experience.

But if looking at these endeavors of Husserl with the “Consciousness Observation and Analysis”, an extensive Buddhist “phenomenological” approach, originally from India of century I on,  from the “School of Contemplation on Mind-Body” vijñaptimātravādin (Duy Thức tông,  ), we may observe some proximity (**) there, and put them in perspective. If Husserl’s intention was to found some fundamental building schema for learning how the constitution of Mind and Body shows aletheia (ἀλήθεια- unconcealment, truth ), and I tend to believe so,  then what was presented by Husserl deserves serious examination as a “new” Western approach to do philosophy. I would like to term it : new “eidetic” (***) way-of-looking-into-and-building-logos, to the  “Philosophy of Consciousness"— to use the Greek sense and way of expressing philosophizing attempt and work.


1.    Speaking of thinking on imagined “object” of thought, such as Pegasus, or Unicorn, some Indian yogis, “meditation” practitioners did try to ponder upon a fragrance that can move against the wind.

2. (*) Besides, that is : not mentioning other valid psychological discoveries which Psychology offers, related to the experience, as of the intentioned objects in the stream of consciousness, which resound what Herman Asemissen questions and Don Welton agrees: “ Asemissen has described this problem with clarity and force: “ Without the corporeality of body (Lieblichkeit) the sensations are absolutely nothing. The body (Leib) is the medium of their being. In that Husserl bracketed the body in the reduction in order to gain the pure ego and pure consciousness as the proper domain of phenomenology, he, at the same time, without knowing it, also bracketed the sensations…Just as the pure ego does not have a body, so it does not have and can not have sensations. And just as the body is not an immanent content (reel) of consciousness, so neither can the sensation be such. Husserl’s talk of sensations, after bracketing the body as a content of pure consciousness is not a phenomenological discovery.” 
Herman Asemissen, Strukturanalytische Probleme der Wahrnehmung im der Phanomenologie Husserl. Kantstudien Erg. H. (Cologne, 1957), 73:34.

3. (**) Toward 1905-1907 , Husserl’s contemplation did move to have some proximity with the sastra analyzers in the vijñaptimātravādi  school to think upon “ time consciousness”, and “genetic phenomenology”

"Based on this analysis, Husserl could explain various layers of constitution; he showed not only how temporal objects are constituted in our mental acts, but also how these mental acts themselves are constituted. In addition,if we shift our attention from the object of the partial intentions to these intentions themselves we realize that they are all part of one and the same consciousness; in other words, they form one stream of consciousness.
Thus, the stream of consciousness, Husserl argued, is constituted
by the totality of these partial intentions. Consequently, we can find three levels of constitution in Husserl’s account of time consciousness: the object of the episode, partial intentions, and the stream of consciousness.
(1) The things of experience in objective time. . . (2) the constituting appearance manifolds of various levels, the immanent units in pre-empirical time; (3) the absolute, time-constituting stream of consciousness. (Husserl, 1991, p. 77)8

This period is marked by some major developments of Husserl’s philosophical
position. In 1905 he started to elaborate the phenomenological
reduction.This development, which is often described as Husserl’s ‘transcendental turn’,the outset of his ‘transcendental phenomenology’, marks, as Ströker points out,“a borderline between two different, although closely related, meanings of the Husserlian concept of constitution” (Ströker, 1993, p. 105).

The aim of genetic phenomenology was to give an account of how we
constitute objects towards which we are directed by analyzing the components
out of which our experiences are built. Husserl did that by going back
to his analyses of the temporal structure of consciousness, arguing that
both the mental act and its object are constituted from the partial intentions
that belong to one’s stream of consciousness: retentions, protentions,
and primal impressions. Each of these partial intentions is directed toward
some object,like the tone of a melody. The object itself, the melody, is constituted
by the series of partial intentions that are directed toward a series of
tones. The act of hearing the melody, on the other hand, is also constituted
by these partial intentions. It consists of all those partial intentions that are
directed towards the same object, namely the melody.” 
(Wolfgang Huemer)

4. "eidetic": a term Husserl loved to use to denote the very accurate. He repeatedly mentioned: eidetic truths, eidetic seeing, eidetic cognition, eidetic universality, and eidetic sciences etc. In that sense and aim , he wanted to lay ground and work out the basics for his philosophy, which he liked to call "the Rigorous Science of Philosophy". ( IPPPPP1- pp 5-32)




1. Husserl, Edmund. Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to Phenomenological Philosophy, First Book. Trans. F. Kersten. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. 1983. Print.  (IPPPPP1)

2. Moran, Dermot. Introduction. Logical Investigations. By Edmund Husserl. Trans. J.N. Findlay. London:Rutledge. 2001. Print.

3. Varga, Peter. Brentano’s Influence on Husserl’s Early Notion of Intentionality.

4. Jacob, Pierre, "Intentionality". The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2014 Edition), EdwardN. Zalta (ed.), URL =<>.

5. Huemer, Wolfgang. Husserl and Haugeland on Constitution. Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers. 2003. Print

6. Bodhisattva Vasubhandu, Thirty Verses of the triśikā-vijñaptimātratāsiddhi-kārikā (Duy Thức Tam Thập Tụng , 唯識三十頌 ). Trans.  HT. Thích Thuyền  Ấn. Saigon: Vạn Hạnh Buddhist University. 1972.

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