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Annihilation of the world?

Husserl's rehabilitation of reality

Shigeru Taguchi

pp. 163-177

The thought experiment of the "annihilation of the world" performed in Ideen I has often been criticized as an illustration of Husserl's one-sided idealism. Although Husserl himself later moderated his claim, he continued to refer to the same sort of thought experiment in his lectures and manuscripts. This suggests that the "annihilation of the world" has a specific role in Husserl's phenomenological thinking. In fact, such a role can be elucidated by accurately interpreting the context and the intention of the thought in question. First, the "annihilation of the world" should be placed in the context of examining givenness on the basis of the theory of "evidence." Second, this experiment tries to work out the most fundamental essence of "reality." Husserl makes it clear that the real thing and the real world could not be as they are without such structural regularities that are lived through by our motivated, intending life-process. Contrary to its appearance, the idea of the "annihilation of the world" does not intend to degrade the world in contrast to consciousness. It is true that Husserl uses the term "absolute consciousness" to signify the most elemental field to which all objectivities and the process of their constitution can be reduced. However, such a terminology is comprehensible if the term "consciousness" is selected to secure the access to the phenomenological "things themselves," which could never reveal themselves as phenomena if we did not live through them. The examination of the possibility of "world-annihilation" can help us to rehabilitate the true actuality of the real world by illuminating the essential role of the subjective agency in the world-constitution. If we categorically repudiate this kind of insight, the notion of the world might lose its reality and degenerate into an abstract ideality. It can be shown that what makes the world real and steadfast is nothing other than the "Vernunftgewalt," the growing rational force of the self-organizing order of our experience.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-55340-5_9

Full citation:

Taguchi, S. (2017)., Annihilation of the world?: Husserl's rehabilitation of reality, in R. Walton, S. Taguchi & R. Rubio (eds.), Perception, affectivity, and volition in Husserl's phenomenology, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 163-177.

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