We-Synthesis

Husserl and Henry on Empathy and Shared Life

in Research in Phenomenology
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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is threefold: (1) To show the basic contours of transcendental subjectivity in the later work of Edmund Husserl, especially the Cartesian Meditations and the Crisis, and in the strictly phenomenological work of Michel Henry, especially Material Phenomenology; (2) to highlight Henry’s radical critique of Husserlian intersubjectivity and show that such critique, while valuable in its intention, is ultimately misguided because it neglects the important contribution Husserl’s complicated vocabulary of lifeworld makes to the study of intersubjectivity; and (3) to point toward a phenomenological conception of intersubjective practice we may call the realm of we-synthesis that prioritizes the first-person perspective rooted in empathy, which enables meaningful engagement with the second-person perspective. Working in conjunction with Husserl and Henry on the phenomenological conception of shared life enables the recuperation of the fragile line between subjectivity and intersubjectivity.

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