By Rudolf Bernet
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Extra info for An introduction to Husserlian phenomenology
I7 But of greater relevance to our topic is the fact that embodiedness implies that the event is a counterpart of human work. Sartre has not yet accepted the Marxist primacy of labor,18 much less developed a praxis-centered philosophy. But he is aware of the inertia and passivity to which embodiedness exposes the historical agent: “If Cromwell had not had a gallstone . . yes, but if one had only known how to cure him” (NE 53). Though the body generates contingency and hence ambiguity in Sartre’s emerging theory, lack of a phenomenology of the body makes Heidegger’s many references to historicity abstract in comparison with the reflections of Sartre and Foucault, where embodiedness predominates.
But it will not do so easily. As he admits, “the profound ambiguity of historical research lies in the need to date this absolute event, that is to say, to place it in human perspectives’, (hW299; F 363). So the possibility of multiple interpretations arises from the “for-others” character of the event, that is, from its availability to and assumption by consciousness. But its status, as initself and simultaneous, accounts for its factical condition. The event joins that line of ambiguous phenomena and “metastable” conditions that populate Sartrean thought, symptomizing a basic tension in his own work and perhaps in the human condition as well.
Though scarcely an Annaliste, S a m e was aware of the pivotal role of the historical event as well as its problematic nature. Early in the Notebooks he muses: “Perhaps History is an unsolvable problem but one that is posed in ever better ways” (NE 27). The chief source of this insolubility is the ambipiy of the historical event, which, as we have seen, had already disturbed Sartre in his Diaries. ” l o This basic ambiguity stems from several interrelated considerations. HumanReaLy. First of all, ‘the historical event is a human, not a natural, phenomenon.
An introduction to Husserlian phenomenology by Rudolf Bernet