Husserl’s Concept of the Vorwelt and the Possible Annihilation of the World

in Research in Phenomenology
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In this paper I explore a curious phenomenon discussed in Husserl’s later manuscripts under the name “pre-world.” This notion arises in the context of his ongoing development of a genetic phenomenology, i.e., a phenomenology that is concerned with the dynamics of conscious life, concerning both the generation of new meaning for consciousness and new dimensions of conscious life. The pre-world is one such dimension. I explore it here in two stages. First, I consider the initial unsavoriness of the very idea of a pre-world, whose metaphysical implications are suspect, on the surface. Nevertheless, I show that the pre-world puts the subject in contact with reality in a very special sense that should remedy this worry. Second, I show how the notion of the pre-world re-opens Husserl’s thought of the possible annihilation of the world from Ideas i. In fact, it explains the possibility, by revealing its experiential ground.

Husserl’s Concept of the Vorwelt and the Possible Annihilation of the World

in Research in Phenomenology



  • 1

    See Sebastian LuftPhänomenologie der Phänomenologie: Systematik und Methodologie der Phänomenologie in der Auseinandersetzung zwischen Husserl und Fink (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers2002) 192–93. Husserl makes this clear also in Hua Matviii: 223–24. For bibliographic details for Husserliana (Hua) references see Abbreviations list at end of this essay; Hua citations give volume number followed by first the German and where available after the forward slash the English translation page numbers.

  • 2

    Anna Pugliese“Triebsphäre und Urkindlichkeit des Ich,” Husserl Studies 25 no. 2 (2009): 141–57here 142.

  • 4

    D. ZahaviHusserl’s Phenomenology (Stanford: Stanford University Press2003) 48.

  • 19

    See A. Steinbock“Affection and Attention,” Continental Philosophy Review 37 (2004): 21–43.

  • 22

    Concerning this idea see Christian LotzFrom Affectivity to Subjectivity (New York: Palgrave MacMillan2007) 43–48.

  • 25

    James GibsonThe Ecological Approach to Visual Perception (New York: Psychology Press1986).

  • 27

    On this point see Robert Sokolowski“Husserl on First Philosophy,” in Philosophy Phenomenology Sciencesed. Filip Mattens Hanne Jacobs and Carlo Ierna (Dordrecht: Springer 2010).

  • 29

    On this notion see HeldLebendige Gegenwart: die Frage nach der Seinsweise des transzendentalen Ich bei Edmund Husserl entwickelt am Leitfaden der Zeitproblematik (Dordrecht: Springer1966) and James Mensch Husserl’s Account of Our Consciousness of Time.

  • 30

    L. RodemeyerIntersubjective Temporality: It’s about Time (Dordrecht: Springer2006) 34 and Tetsuya Sakakibara “Phenomenology in a Different Voice: Husserl and Nishida in the 1930s” in Philosophy Phenomenology Sciences 680–81.

  • 31

    L. Rodemeyer“Developments in the Theory of Time-Consciousness: An Analysis of Protention,” in The New Husserled. D. Welton (Bloomington in: Indiana University Press 2003) 125–55 here 141–43 and Rodemeyer Intersubjective Temporality: It’s about Time 97–98. Sakakibara’s analysis suggests this as well; see Sakakibara “Phenomenology in a Different Voice” 683–84 and “Reflection upon the Living Present and the Primal Consciousness in Husserl’s Phenomenology” in On Time: New Contributions to the Husserlian Phenomenology of Time ed. D. Lohmar and I. Yamaguchi (Dordrecht: Springer2010) 251–71here 260–61 265–66.

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