The Charioteer

"The charioteer of the human soul drives a pair of steeds, and one of the horses is beautiful, good, and formed of such elements, whereas the makeup of the other one is quite the opposite." -Phaedrus

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Location: Duquesne University, United States

A Blog For All and None. Consider it my narrative history of ideas. A place primarily to share and obtain feedback to my thoughts through my graduate career in philosophy. For philosophy is simply "thoughts that have been thought out."

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Intentenality in Early German Phenomenology

Richard Rorty, in one of his essays on Heidegger, viz., "Heidegger, contingency, and pragmatism," quotes a passage from Mark Okrent's book, Heidegger's Pragmatism that sparked my attention:

Husserl conceives of the fundamental form of intentionality as cognitive; Heidegger conceives of it as practical. As a result, Husserl thinks of the horizons in which beings are placed before us for our intuitive apprehension, whereas Heidegger thinks these horizons as fields of activity.

A comparison between Husserl and Heidegger is not as interesting to me as noticing how their phenomenological contemporary, Max Scheler, factors in. For his fundamental form of intentionality is not primarily cognitive nor practical, but rather, affective.

This may not mean much to the Husserlian nor the Heideggerian, but to the Schelerian, this is quite significant, primarily because of a simple point of Scheler's anthropology: "Man, before he is an ens cogitans [in this case, Husserl] or an ens volens [here, Heidegger], is an ens amans"(Selected Philosophical Essays, "Ordo Amoris," p. 110-11). Now, even if Scheler is right here, which I think he is, this fact alone does not guarantee Scheler's notion of intentionality all the more encapsulating, although it certainly raises the question. What would guarantee Scheler's affective notion of intentionality prime of place is if it can demonstrated to be more fundamental to, and encapsulating of, Husserl's and Heidegger's notions, as a correlative to Scheler's anthropology. If this can be demonstrated, it would serve also as a support of precisely this anthropological aspect.

I will certainly not attempt to spell all of this out in a blog post, which could be the topic of a long paper, but I will attempt to give hints here on how this can be done.

Concerning Husserl. He is always in the back of Scheler's mind, and no doubt is the source of much of Scheler's phenomenology. However, Husserl intellectual focus is certainly under Scheler's suspicious gaze. To narrow intentionality only to the cognitive realm would call Scheler's whole philosophy into question. Rather, I think that Husserl, too, could benefit greatly from a concept of intentionality in the realm of emotion. And I am thinking mostly of Husserl's Analyses of Passive and Active Synthesis (his lectures on transcendental logic) which attempt to uncover just why it is we choose one thing rather than another. This, I argue, cannot be done on the level of a theory of cognition, for logic only deals with neutrality.

Heidegger has much to learn from Scheler, and in fact already has. But he certainly did not take Scheler far enough into his philosophy. The only thing that comes close to what Scheler means by spiritual feeling is what Heidegger refers to as "mood" or "attestation." But these fail simply because if there is one part of our consciousness which is not intentional, I would certainly say mood. The cause of mood is always mediately there, and not immediately. That is, we always have to think back in past experiences or events as to why I feel some way; furthermore, mood seems to be much more of a "state" than an act. Whereas, Scheler's intentional feelings are "spontaneous acts" which are never "in something" or "about something," but loving and hating something!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

10th International Graduate Conference in Philosophy
University of Essex, 28th April 2007
"Two Hundred Years of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit"

Few texts in the history of European philosophy have been as provocative – or divisive – as the Phenomenology of Spirit, and few philosophers as influential as Hegel. The Phenomenology introduced a new method in philosophy; working through the analysis of shapes of human consciousness, the disclosure of their logical structures and immanent tensions, the description of their disintegration and their subsequent reconstruction. With the Phenomenology, history entered into philosophical reflection in an entirely new way. Hegel has been productively interpreted by thinkers from a diverse range of traditions. These appropriations – idealist, materialist, existentialist, socialist, political, economic – have remained immensely influential for social, ethical and political thought.

Now, 200 years after it was first published, how should we understand its legacy as an object of fascination, bewilderment and inspiration? The aim of this conference is not primarily to explore the structure, method, and content of this inexhaustible text. Rather, we invite papers which address the way in which the Phenomenology of Spirit has functioned as an inspiration, an example, and perhaps a warning for later thinkers. We are equally interested in papers which deal with topics from the fields of enquiry opened up by Hegel. We are particularly keen to receive proposals for papers on:

  • Philosophy’s relation to its own history
  • Recognition as an ethical and political category
  • Modernity and the problem of ‘Diremption’ (Entzweiung)
  • Religion and Enlightenment
  • Skepticism and Philosophical Knowledge
  • Marxist appropriations of Hegel
  • Critique of Transcendental Philosophy
The Department is able to provide those giving papers with limited financial assistance for travel and accommodation, but we encourage you to ask for travel grants from other bodies, e.g. home institutions. Papers should be suitable for a 30 minute presentation. Abstracts of 500 words should be sent in triplicate by 31st January, 2007 to:

Graduate Conference
Department of Philosophy
University of Essex
Wivenhoe Park
Colchester CO4 3SQ
email queries:

Thursday, January 11, 2007

New Link: 'The Husserl Circle'

I just updated my links of philosophical societies by including "The Husserl Circle." A list just wouldn't be complete without the society of "the master" (to some). Note, however, that the 37th Annual Husserl Circle meeting will take place in Prague at the end of April. Here is a blurb from the site:

Convenor's Letter,
October 6, 2006

"I am pleased to announce that 37th Annual Meeting of the Husserl Circle will take place in Prague, from Monday, 22nd through Saturday, 28th April 2007.
Should you wish to participate in the meeting by delivering a paper, the deadline for submissions is January 1, 2007. Papers should have a reading time of no more than 30 minutes (3000 words). Anyone wishing to submit a paper should send it (or a substantial abstract) directly to me (either by email attachment, airmail or fax) so that it is received by the deadline. Happily, the number of submitted papers has been growing with each meeting, but that also means that decisions may have to be made about which papers to include. Decisions will be announced by February 1, 2007.
As you probably know, the meeting is held in Prague to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth, and the 30th anniversary of the death, of the Czech philosopher Jan Patočka (June 1, 1907 – March 13, 1977). Parallel with the meeting of Husserl Circle, there will be an international conference the aim of which is to see to what extent the philosophical thinking of Jan Patočka is still alive and to gauge the scope of its influence on contemporary philosophy. Scholars who are interested in Patočka and acquainted with his work have been invited to come to Prague and present their views on the importance of his philosophy.
The whole event is being jointly organised by the Center for Theoretical Study and the Center for Phenomenological Research (both at Charles University and the Institute for Philosophy of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic), the Husserl Circle, the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna (IWM), and the Husserl Archive at the Ecole Normale Superieur in Paris. It will be held under the auspices of Prof. MUDr. Vaclav Hampl, C.Sc., Rector of Charles University and Prof. RNDr. Vaclav Paces, Dr.Sc., President of Czech Academy of Sciences.
The event shall consist of two parallel sections. One will be devoted exclusively to the work of Jan Patočka, with lectures held in English, French, or German. The other section will be the regular Annual Meeting of the Husserl Circle. Colleagues can freely switch between sections according to their concrete interest, as the lectures will be held in adjacent rooms in Carolinum, the main building of Charles University (, in the center of Old Town of Prague.

The logistic details concerning lodging and traveling shall be handled by a separate letter.

I look forward to seeing you in Prague in April 2007.


Ivan Chvatík, Convenor
37th Annual Meeting of the Husserl Circle"

Mailing Address:
Center for Theoretical Study
Jilska 1
100 00 Praha 1
Czech Republic
E-mail address:
Telephone: +420 221 416 927
Mobile phone: +420 608 849 585
Fax: +420 222 220 653