The Primacy of the Present: Metaphysical Ballast or Phenomenological Finding?

In: Research in Phenomenology


In this paper I argue that the primacy of the present in Husserl’s philosophy is not an unquestioned ballast inherited from the tradition of metaphysics but rather a genuinely phenomenological discovery. First, I explore the present of things and argue that the phenomenological primacy of the present in this domain should be understood in terms of what Husserl calls “affection.” Strictly speaking originary affection and associative syntheses (as the most basic phenomena for the givenness of things) can only take place in the present or starting from the present. Second, I consider the present in the egological sphere and analyze its primacy for both the transcendental and the personal ego. Finally, I move to the experience of the other and argue that only the perception of the other’s body in the present gives rise to an authentic empathic experience as the experience of the other’s governing in his own body.

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