2022 – 2024: The Experience of Alienness: Between Responsivity and Transposability
Recenty, phenomenology proved to be a philosophical movement capable of bringing significant contributions to a wide interdisciplinary landscape. Beyond the ongoing debates concerning the various configurations and adaptations of the phenomenological method to different research fields, there is still a need to better grasp its the boundaries. We set out from the idea that one of these limit-phenomena is alienness (Fremdheit)–a phenomenon that challenges phenomenology regarding a wider perspective of the constitution of intersubjectivity, world, and community. We deal with the experience of alienness in three important moments of phenomenology: Husserl’s theory of intersubjectivity, Waldenfels’ criticism of it, and Heidegger’s early phenomenology. First, we aim to clarify the basic concepts of a phenomenology of alienness as the appear in Husserl’s works on intersubjectivity. In light of this, we discuss Waldenfels’ critical account, emphasizing the main disagreements regarding how Husserl understand the possibility or impossibility of the experience of alienness. We argue that a similar loss of experiential ground takes place with the arising of alienness in Heidegger formal-indicative phenomenological discourse. This is relevant for our project since Heidegger develops a methodology grounded on a notion of self-transposing (sich versetzen) radically different than Husserl’s concept of empathy (Einfühlung) and can shed light on new key aspects of the experience of alienness.
- Project director: Dr. Alexandru BEJINARIU
- Project title: The Experience of Alienness: Between Responsivity and Transposability
- Project code: PN-III-P1-1.1-PD-2021-0735
- Contract no.: PD 38
- Program: Postdoctoral research (PD) projects
- Financed by: UEFISCDI
- Period of Time: April 2022 – March 2024
- Funding: 249.964 lei
We will update this section soon.
In the first stage of the project (April 2022 – December 2022), Dr. Alexandru Bejinariu focused on the experiential grounds of Husserl’s polysemic concept of alien and proceeded following three main thematic lines:
1. A study of the role of experience in Husserl’s phenomenological approach to alienness
The research started from the way in which the theory of alien experience appears and is developed for the first time in Husserl’s thought in the first edition of his Logical Investigations (LI, 1900/01). This endeavour sheds light on an aspect of this theory that was mostly neglected until now in the literature, namely the relation between Husserl’s methodological framework of the LI and his account of our intuitive access to alien mental life. For this, we investigated the main traits of how Husserl establishes phenomenology as a scientific method aimed at elucidating logical concepts and the specific way in which he conceives the experience of the alien on the basis of indication in the frame of his more general goal of elaborating a theory of meaning.
2. The analysis of the fundamental concepts of the phenomenology of alienness in the context of Husserl’s theory of empathy
The main goal of this activity was to develop a new approach to the Husserlian theory of empathy (developed from 1905 onwards) from the until now obscure continuities between it and Husserl’s fundamental concepts that defined his phenomenology of alienness in his earlier account of LI. Although Husserl no longer conceives empathy in terms of indication, the results of our analysis of the indicative alien experience in the LI and how it functions on the base of association highlight a series of complicities between these accounts that can shed a new light on the development of Husserl’s thought. At the same time, this complicities reveal an important challenge that Husserl’s account of alien experience as an indication of the alien mind raises for the reductive method of LI. Some of the results concerning this issue were presented by the project director in his talk “Phenomenology as a science and the challenge of the alien,” at the Annual Conference of the Central and East European Society for Phenomenology: Phenomenology and Science, 13-15 September 2022, University of Padova.
3. An investigation into Husserl’s theory of anomality and liminal experiences as species of alienness
Bringing together the results of the former research lines, this final topic of our investigation approaches Husserl’s later thought and themes of his genetic phenomenology like habituality, typification and their relation to his mature theory of alien experience and the constitution of the norms that guide our relation with the other. We thus reframe our research questions in terms of the essential absence of the other in our primordial sphere. In this context, we investigated how the specific class of empathic presentification relate to other types of presentifications like memories, anticipations, or image consciousness. Regarding the latter, we studied in light of Husserl’s theory of image consciousness the fictitious liminal imagistic experience instantiated in Edgar Allan Poe’s Oval Portrait and identified what can be called the “alienness of image” as a species of the radical absence at the heart of alien experience. In this final activity of the stage, the project director participated with the talk “Stranietatea imaginii și imaginarea străinului” (“The alienness of the image and the imagination of the alien”) at the Annual Conference of the Romanian Society for Phenomenology: Imaginea ca problemă fenomenologică (The image as a phenomenological problem), 25-26 November 2022, Faculty of Philosophy, Bucharest, and submitted the paper “On Husserl’s Theory of Alien Experience in the Logical Investigations” for publication in the journal Philosophia (WoS – AHCI Q3).
Alexandru Bejinariu: “XXX”, submitted for publication at „xxx” (Web of Science).
- Alexandru Bejinariu: Sensations of Foreignness, at the Conference of the Nordic Society for Phenomenology Sensory Methodologies, 27-29 April 2023, University of Iceland.
- Alexandru Bejinariu, Stranietatea imaginii și imaginarea străinului, at the Annual Conference of the Romanian Society for Phenomenology: Imaginea ca problemă fenomenologică, 25-26 November 2022, Faculty of Philosophy, Bucharest;
- Alexandru Bejinariu, Phenomenology as a science and the challenge of the alien, at the Annual Conference of the Central and East European Society for Phenomenology: Phenomenology and Science, 13-15 September 2022, University of Padova.