THOMAS ARTHUR MICHAUD, Marquette University


Perhaps the most critical problem which faces any phenomenology of intersubjectivity is solipsism. In fact, the emergence of existential phenomenology can be explained as a reaction to the perception that Husserlian transcendental phenomenology is solipsistic. This work examines the phenomenologies of Edmund Husserl, Alfred Schutz, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Stephan Strasser in terms of the issue of solipsism and the general import of their analyses for the phenomenology of intersubjectivity. After an Introduction which frames the course of study, Chapter II argues that Husserl's transcendentalism is indeed a solipsistic subjectivism. Husserl avers that an ego constitutes a world as an objective world through constituting it as an intersubjective world; a world which is meaningful not only for the ego itself, but also for others egos who objectively exist. I show, however, that there can be no valid objectivity for Husserl since his view that a subject's own transcendental ego is the only being whose existence can be indubitably affirmed precludes any justifiable affirmation of the objective existence of other egos. Chapter III shows how the approaches of Scutz and the existentialists, Merleau-Ponty and Strasser, dispel Husserlian solipsism since they affirm as given that human being is co-existence, being in an objective world-with-others. Still, I label Schutz's descriptions of intersubjective knowledge as "totalogically solipsistic" because in his view intended meaning has a private dimension which is unknowable by others. For Schutz, a subject can never know another's meanings qua the other's meanings, but a subject knows another only by projecting his private meanings as interpretations of his experience of the other. Chapter IV explicates Merleau-Ponty's overcoming of totalogical solipsism on the basis of his denial that intended meanings have a private dimension. However, I note that although he affirms human being is co-existence, he does not adequately describe the gentically original way in which a subject recognizes other subjects. Chapter V details Strasser's dialogal aproach, develops his description of the genetically original recognition of others, and concludes with a dialogal analysis of intersubjective morality.

Recommended Citation

MICHAUD, THOMAS ARTHUR, "THE PHENOMENOLOGY OF INTERSUBJECTIVITY: HUSSERL AND AFTER" (1982). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI8228837.