Alfred Schuetz 1945

On Multiple Realities

Source: Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 5, No. 4 (June, 1945), pp. 533-576;
Published: by International Phenomenological Society.

In a famous chapter of his Principles of Psychology William James analyzes our sense of reality.[1] Reality, so he states, means simply relation to our emotional and active life. The origin of all reality is subjective, whatever excites and stimulates our interest is real. To call a thing real means that this thing stands in a certain relation to ourselves. “The word ‘real’ is, in short, a fringe."[2] Our primitive impulse is to affirm immediately the reality of all that is conceived, as long as it remains uncontradicted. But there are several, probably an infinite number of various orders of realities, each with its own special and separate style of existence. James calls them “sub-universes” and mentions as examples the world of sense or physical things (as the paramount reality); the world of science; the world of ideal relations; the world of “idols of the tribe”; the various supernatural worlds of mythology and religion; the various worlds of individual opinion; the worlds of sheer madness and vagary.[3] The popular mind conceives of all these sub-worlds more or less disconnectedly; and when dealing with one of them forgets for the time being its relations to the rest. But every object we think of is at last referred to one of these sub-worlds. “Each world whilst it is attended to is real after its own fashion; only the reality lapses with the attention."[4] With these remarks James’ genius has touched on one of the most important philosophical questions. Intentionally restricting his inquiry to the psychological aspect of the problem he has refrained from embarking upon an investigation of the many implications involved. The following considerations, fragmentary as they are, attempt to outline a first approach to some of them with the special aim of clarifying the relationship between the reality of the world of daily life and that of theoretical, scientific contemplation.


(1) The natural attitude of daily life and its pragmatic motive.

We begin with an analysis of the world of daily life which the wide-awake, grown-up man who acts in it and upon it amidst his fellow-men experiences with the natural attitude as a reality. “World of daily life” shall mean the intersubjective world which existed long before our birth, experienced and interpreted by others, our predecessors, as an organized world. Now it is given to our experience and interpretation. All interpretation of this world is based upon a stock of previous experiences of it, our own experiences and those handed down to us by our parents and teachers, which in the form of “knowledge at hand” function as a scheme of reference. To this stock of experiences at hand belongs our knowledge that the world we live in is a world of well circumscribed objects with definite qualities, objects among which we move, which resist us and upon which we may act. To the natural attitude the world is not and never has been a mere aggregate of colored spots, incoherent noises, centers of warmth and cold.

Philosophical or psychological analysis of the constitution of our experiences may afterwards, retrospectively, describe how elements of this world affect our senses, how we passively perceive them in an indistinct and confused way, how by active apperception our mind singles out certain features from the perceptional field, conceiving them as well delineated things which stand out over against a more or less inarticulated background or horizon. The natural attitude does not know these problems. To it the world is from the outset not the private world of the single individual, but an inter-subjective world, common to all of us, in which we have not a theoretical but an eminently practical interest.

The world of everyday life is the scene and also the object of our actions and interactions. We have to dominate it and we have to change it in order to realize the purposes which we pursue within it among our fellow-men. Thus, we work and operate not only within but upon the world. Our bodily movements kinaesthetic, locomotive, operative-gear, so to speak, into the world, modifying or changing its objects and their mutual relationships. On the other hand, these objects offer resistance to our acts which we have either to overcome or to which we have to yield. In this sense it may be correctly said that a pragmatic motive governs our natural attitude toward the world of daily life. World, in this sense, is something that we have to modify by our actions or that modifies our actions.

(2) The manifestations of man’s spontaneous life in the outer world and some of its forms.

But what has to be understood under the term “action” just used? How does man with the natural attitude experience his own “actions” within and upon the world? Obviously, “actions” are manifestations of man’s spontaneous life. But neither does he experience all such manifestations as actions nor does he experience all of his actions as bringing about changes in the outer world. Unfortunately the different forms of all these experiences are not clearly distinguished in present philosophical thought and, therefore, no generally accepted terminology exists. In vain would we look for help to modern behaviorism and its distinction between overt and covert behavior, to which categories a third, that of subovert behavior, has sometimes been added in order to characterize the manifestation of spontaneity in acts of speech. It is not our aim to criticize here the basic fallacy of the behavioristic point of view or to discuss the inadequacy and inconsistency of the trichotomy just mentioned. For our purpose it suffices to show that the behavioristic interpretation of spontaneity can contribute nothing to the question we are concerned with, namely, how the different forms of spontaneity are experienced by the mind in which they originate. At its best, behaviorism is a scheme of reference useful to the observer of other people’s behavior. He, and only he, might be interested to consider the activities of men or animals under a relational scheme of reference such as stimulus-response, or organism-environment, and only from his point of view are these categories accessible at all. Our problem, however, is not what occurs to man as a psycho-physiological unit or his response to it, but the attitude he adopts toward these occurrences and his steering of his so-called responses – briefly, the subjective meaning man bestows upon certain experiences of his own spontaneous life. What appears to the observer to be objectively the same behavior may have for the behaving subject very different meanings or no meaning at all. Meaning, as has been shown elsewhere,[5] is not a quality inherent to certain experiences emerging within our stream of consciousness but the result of an interpretation of a past experience looked at from the present Now with a reflective attitude. As long as I live in my acts, directed toward the objects of these acts, the acts do not have any meaning. They become meaningful if I grasp them as well-circumscribed experiences of the past and, therefore, in retrospection. Only experiences which can be recollected beyond their actuality and which can be questioned about their constitution are, therefore, subjectively meaningful. But if this characterization of meaning has been accepted, are there at all any experiences of my spontaneous life which are subjectively not meaningful? We think the answer is in the affirmative. There are the mere physiological reflexes, such as the knee jerk, the contraction of the pupil, blinking, blushing; moreover certain passive reactions provoked by what Leibnitz calls the surf of indiscernible and confused small perceptions; furthermore my gait, my facial expressions, my mood, those manifestations of my spontaneous life which result in certain characteristics of my hand-writing open to graphological interpretation, etc. All these forms of involuntary spontaneity are experienced while they occur, but without leaving any trace in memory; as experiences they are, to borrow again a term from Leibnitz, most suitable for this peculiar problem, perceived but not apperceived. Unstable and undetachable from surrounding experiences as they are, they can neither be delineated nor recollected. They belong to the category of essentially actual experiences, that is, they exist merely in the actuality of being experienced and cannot be grasped by a reflective attitude. Subjectively meaningful experiences emanating from our spontaneous life shall be called conduct. (We avoid the term “behavior” because it includes in present use also subjectively non-meaningful manifestations of spontaneity such as reflexes.) The term “conduct” – as used here – refers to all kinds of subjectively meaningful, experiences of spontaneity, be they those of inner life or those gearing into the outer world. If it is permitted to use objective terms in a description of subjective experiences – and after the preceding clarification the danger of misunderstanding no longer exists – we may say that conduct can be an overt or a covert one. The former shall be called mere doing, the latter mere thinking. However the term “conduct” as used here does not imply any reference to intent. All kinds of so-called automatic activities of inner or outer life-habitual, traditional, affectual ones – fall under this class, called by Leibnitz the “class of empirical behavior.” Conduct which is devised in advance, that is, which is based upon a preconceived project, shall be called action, regardless of whether it is an overt or covert one. As to the latter it has to be distinguished whether or not there supervenes on the project an intention to realize it – to carry it through, to bring about the projected state of affairs. Such an intention transforms the mere forethought into an aim and the project into a purpose. If an intention to realization is lacking, the projected covert action remains a phantasm, such as a day-dream; if it subsists, we may speak of a purposive action or a performance. An example of a covert action which is a performance is the process of projected thinking such as the attempt to solve a scientific problem mentally. As to the so-called overt actions, that is, actions which gear into the outer world by bodily movements, the distinction between actions without and those with an intention to realization is not necessary. Any overt action is a performance within the meaning of our definition. In order to distinguish the (covert) performances of mere thinking from those (overt) requiring bodily movements we shall call the latter working. Working, thus, is action in the outer world, based upon a project and characterized by the intention to bring about the projected state of affairs by bodily movements. Among all the described forms of spontaneity that of working is the most important one for the constitution of the reality of the world of daily life. As will be shown very soon the wide-awake self integrates in its working and by its working its present, past, and future into a specific dimension of time; it realizes itself as a totality in its working acts; it communicates with others through working acts; it organizes the different spatial perspectives of the world of daily life through working acts. But before we can turn to these problems we have to explain what the term “wide-awake self,” just used, means.

(3) The tensions of consciousness and the attention to life.

One of the central points of Bergson’s philosophy is his theory that our conscious life shows an indefinite number of different planes, ranging from the plane of action on one extreme to the plane of dream at the other. Each of these planes is characterized by a specific tension of consciousness, the plane of action showing the highest, that of dream the lowest degree of tension. According to Bergson these different degrees of tension of our consciousness are functions of our varying interest in life, action representing our highest interest in meeting reality and its requirements, dream being complete lack of interest. Attention à la vie, attention to life, is, therefore, the basic regulative principle of our conscious life. It defines the realm of our world which is relevant to us; it articulates our continuously flowing stream of thought; it determines the span and function of our memory; it makes us – in our language – either live within our present experiences, directed toward their objects, or turn back in a reflective attitude to our past experiences and ask for their meaning.[7]

By the term “wide-awakeness” we want to denote a plane of consciousness of highest tension originating in an attitude of full attention to life and its requirements. Only the performing and especially the working self is fully interested in life and, hence, wide-awake. It lives within its acts and its attention is exclusively directed to carrying its project into effect, to executing its plan. This attention is an active, not a passive one. Passive attention is the opposite to full awakeness. In passive attention I experience, for instance, the surf of indiscernible small perceptions which are, as stated before, essentially actual experiences and not meaningful manifestations of spontaneity. Meaningful spontaneity may be defined with Leibnitz as the effort to arrive at other and always other perceptions. In its lowest form it leads to the delimitation of certain perceptions transforming them into apperception; in its highest form it leads to the performance of working which gears into the outer world and modifies it.

The concept of wide-awakeness reveals the starting point for a legitimate,[8] pragmatic interpretation of our cognitive life. The state of full awakeness of the working self traces out that segment of the world which is pragmatically relevant and these relevances determine the form and content of our stream of thought: the form, because they regulate the tension of our memory and therewith the scope of our past experiences recollected and of our future experiences anticipated; the content, because all these experiences undergo specific attentional modifications by the preconceived project and its carrying into effect. This leads us immediately into an analysis of the time dimension in which the working self experiences its own acts.

(4) The time-perspectives of the “ego agens” and their unification.

We start by making a distinction that refers to actions in general, covert and overt ones, namely between action as an ongoing process, as acting in progress (actio) on the one hand, and action as performed act, as the thing done (actum) on the other hand. Living in my acting-in-progress I am directed toward the state of affairs to be brought about by this acting. But, then, I do not have in view my experiences of this ongoing process of acting. In order to bring them into view I have to turn back with a reflective attitude to my acting. I have, as Dewey formulated it once, to stop and think. If I adopt this reflective attitude, it is, however, not my ongoing acting that I can grasp. What alone I can grasp is rather my performed act (my past acting) or, if my acting still continues while I turn back, the performed initial phases (my present perfect acting). While I lived in my acting in progress it was an element of my vivid present. Now, this present has turned into past and the vivid experience of my acting in progress has given place to my recollection of having acted or to the retention of having been acting. Seen from the actual present in which I adopt the reflective attitude my past or present perfect acting is conceivable only in terms of acts performed by me. Thus I may either live in the ongoing process of my acting, directed toward its object, and, then, I experience my acting in the Present Tense (modo presenti); or I may, so to speak, step out of the ongoing flux and look by a reflective glance at the acts performed in previous processes of acting in the Past Tense or Present Perfect Tense (modo praeterito). This does not mean that-according to what was stated in a previous section- merely the performed acts are meaningful-but not the ongoing actions. We have to keep in mind that-by definition-action is always based upon a preconceived project, and it is this reference to the preceding project that makes both the acting and the act meaningful. But what is the time structure of a projected action? When projecting my action, I am, as Dewey puts it,[9] rehearsing my future action in imagination. This means, I anticipate the outcome of my future action. I look in my imagination at this anticipated action as the thing which will have been done, the act which will have been performed by me. In projecting I look at my act in the Future Perfect Tense, I think of it modo futuri exacti. But these anticipations are empty and may or may not be fulfilled by the action once performed. The past or present perfect act, however, shows no such empty anticipations. What was empty in the project has or has not been fulfilled. Nothing remains unsettled, nothing undecided. To be sure, I may remember the open anticipations involved in projecting the act and even the protentions accompanying my living in the ongoing process of my acting, But now, in retrospection, I remember them in terms of my past anticipations, which have or have not come true. Only the performed act, therefore, and never the acting in progress can turn out as a success or failure.

What has been stated so far holds good for all kinds of actions. But now we have to turn to the peculiar structure of working as bodily performance in the outer world. Bergson’s and also Husserl’s investigations have emphasized the importance of our bodily movements for the constitution of the outer world and its time perspective. We experience our bodily movements simultaneously on two different planes: Inasmuch as they are movements in the outer world we look at them as events happening in space and spatial time, measurable in terms of the path run through; inasmuch as they are experienced together from within as happening changes, as manifestations of our spontaneity pertaining to our stream of consciousness, they partake of our inner time or durée. What occurs in the outer world belongs to the same time dimension in which events in inanimate nature occur. It can be registered by appropriate devices and measured by our chronometers. It is the spatialized, homogeneous time which is the universal form of objective or cosmic time.

On the other hand it is the inner time or durée within which our actual experiences are connected with the past by recollections and retentions and with the future by protentions and anticipations. In and by our bodily movements we perform the transition from our durée to the spatial or cosmic time and our working actions partake of both. In simultaneity we experience the working action as a series of events in outer and in inner time, unifying both dimensions into a single flux which shall be called the vivid present. The vivid present originates, therefore, in an intersection of durée and cosmic time. Living in the vivid present in its ongoing working acts, directed toward the objects and objectives to be brought about, the working self experiences itself as the originator of the ongoing actions and, thus, as an undivided total self. It experiences its bodily movements from within; it lives in the correlated essentially actual experiences which are inaccessible to recollection and reflection; its world is a world of open anticipations. The working self, and only the working self, experiences all this modo presenti and, experiencing itself as the author of this ongoing working, it realizes itself as a unity. But if the self in a reflective attitude turns back to the working acts performed and looks at them modo praeterito this unity goes to pieces. The self which performed the past acts is no longer the undivided total self, but rather a partial self, the performer of this particular act that refers to a system of correlated acts to which it belongs. This partial self is merely the taker of a rôle or – to use with all necessary reserve a rather equivocal term which W. James and G. H. Mead have introduced into the literature – a Me. We cannot enter here into a thorough discussion of the difficult implications here involved. This would require a presentation and criticism of G. H. Mead’s rather incomplete and inconsistent attempt to approach these problems. We restrict ourselves to pointing to the distinction Mead makes between the totality of the acting self, which he calls the “I,” and the partial selves of performed acts, the takers of rôles, which he calls the “Me’s.” So far, the thesis presented in this paper converges with Mead’s analysis. And there is, furthermore, agreement with Mead’s statement that the “I” gets into experience only after he has carried out the act and thus appears experientially as a part of the Me, that is, the Me appears in our experience in memory.[10]

For our purpose the mere consideration that the inner experiences of our bodily movements, the essentially actual experiences, and the open anticipations escape the grasping by the reflective attitude shows with sufficient clearness that the past self can never be more than a partial aspect of the total one which realizes itself in the experience of its ongoing working. One point relating to the distinction between (overt) working and (covert) performing has to be added. In the case of a mere performance, such as the attempt to solve mentally a mathematical problem, I can, if my anticipations are not fulfilled by the outcome and I am dissatisfied with the result, cancel the whole process of mental operations and restart from the beginning. Nothing will have changed in the outer world, no vestige of the annulled process will remain. Mere mental actions are, in this sense, revocable. Working, however, is irrevocable. My work has changed the outer world. At best, I may restore the initial situation by countermoves but I cannot make undone what I have done. That is why from the moral and legal point of view – I am responsible for my deeds but not for my thoughts. That is also why I have the freedom of choice between several possibilities merely with respect to the mentally projected work, before this work has been carried through in the outer world or, at least, while it is being carried through in vivid present, and, thus, still open to modifications. In terms of the past there is no possibility for choice. Having realized my work or at least portions of it, I chose once for all what has been done and have now to bear the consequences. I cannot choose what I want to have done.

So far our analysis has dealt with the time structure of action – and, as a corollary, with the time structure of the self – within the insulated stream of consciousness of the single individual, as if the wide-awake man with the natural attitude could be thought of as separated from his fellow-men. Such a fictitious abstraction was, of course, merely made for the sake of clearer presentation of the problems involved. We have now to turn to the social structure of the world of working.

(5) The social structure of the world of daily life.

We stated before that the world of daily life into which we are born is from the outset an intersubjective world. This implies on the one hand that this world is not my private one but common to all of us; on the other hand that within this world there exist fellow-men with whom I am connected by manifold social relationships. I work not only upon inanimate things but also upon my fellow-men, induced by them to act and inducing them to react. Without entering here into a detailed discussion of the structure and constitution of social relationship we mention just as an example of one of its many forms that my performed acts may motivate the other to react and vice versa. My questioning the other, for instance, is undertaken with the intention of provoking his answer, and his answering is motivated by my question. This is one of the many types of “social actions.” It is that type in which the “in-order-to motives” of my action become “because motives” of the partner’s reaction.

Social actions involve communication, and any communication is necessarily founded upon acts of working. In order to communicate with others I have to perform overt acts in the outer world which are supposed to be interpreted by the others as signs of what I mean to convey. Gestures, speech, writing, etc., are based upon bodily movements. So far, the behavioristic interpretation of communication is justified. It goes wrong by identifying the vehicle of communication, namely the working act, with the communicated meaning itself.

Let us examine the mechanism of communication from the point of view of the interpreter. I may find as given to my interpretation either the ready-made outcome of the other’s communicating acts or I may attend in simultaneity the ongoing process of his communicating actions as they proceed. The former is, for instance, the case, if I have to interpret a signpost erected by the other or an implement produced by him. The latter relation prevails, for instance, if I am listening to my partner’s talk. (There are many variations of these basic types, such as the reading of the other’s letter in a kind of quasi-simultaneity with the ongoing communicating process.) He builds up the thought he wants to convey to me step by step, adding word to word, sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph. While he does so, my interpreting actions follow his communicating ones in the same rhythm. We both, I and the other, experience the ongoing process of communication in a vivid present. Articulating his thought, while speaking, in phases, the communicator does not merely experience what he actually utters; a complicated mechanism of retentions and anticipations connects within his stream of consciousness one element of his speech with what preceded and what will follow to the unity of the thought he wants to convey. All these experiences belong to his inner time. And there are, on the other hand, the occurrences of his speaking, brought about by him in the spatialized time of the outer world. Briefly, the communicator experiences the ongoing process of communicating as a working in his vivid present.

And I, the listener, experience for my part my interpreting actions also as happening in my vivid present, although this interpreting is not a working, but merely a performing within the meaning of our definitions. On the one hand, I experience the occurrences of the other’s speaking in outer time; on the other hand, I experience my interpreting as a series of retentions and anticipations happening in my inner time interconnected by my aim to understand the other’s thought as a unit.

Now let us consider that the occurrence in the outer world – the communicator’s speech – is, while it goes on, an element common to his and my vivid present, both of which are, therefore, simultaneous. My participating in simultaneity in the ongoing process of the other’s communicating establishes therefore a new dimension of time. He and I, we share, while the process lasts, a common vivid present, our vivid present, which enables him and me to say: “We experienced this occurrence together.” By the We-relation, thus established, we both – he, addressing himself to me, and I, listening to him, – are living in our mutual vivid present, directed toward the thought to be realized in and by the communicating process. We grow older together.

So far our analysis of communication in the vivid present of the We-relation has been restricted to the time perspective involved. We have now to consider the specific functions of the other’s bodily movements as an expressional field open to interpretation as signs of the other’s thought. It is clear that the extension of this field, even if communication occurs in vivid present, may vary considerably. It will reach its maximum if there exists between the partners community not only of time but also of space. that is, in the case of what sociologists call a face-to-face relation.

To make this clearer let us keep to our example of the speaker and the listener and analyze the interpretable elements included in such a situation. There are first the words uttered in the meaning they have according to dictionary and grammar in the language used plus the additional fringes they receive from the context of the speech and the supervening connotations originating in the particular circumstances of the speaker. There is, furthermore, the inflection of the speaker’s voice, his facial expression, the gestures which accompany his talking. Under normal circumstances merely the conveyance of the thought by appropriately selected words has been projected by the speaker and constitutes, therefore, “working” according to our definition. The other elements within the interpretable field are from the speaker’s point of view not planned and, therefore, at best mere conduct (mere doing) or even mere reflexes and, then, essentially actual experiences without subjective meaning. Nevertheless, they, too, are integral elements of the listener’s interpretation of the other’s state of mind. The community of space permits the partner to apprehend the other’s bodily expressions not merely as events in the outer world, but as factors of the communicating process itself, although they do not originate in working acts of the communicator.

Not only does each partner in the face-to-face relationship share the other in a vivid present; each of them with all manifestations of his spontaneous life is also an element of the other’s surroundings; both participate in a set of common experiences of the outer world into which either’s working acts may gear. And, finally, in the face-to-face relationship (and only in it) can the partner look at the self of his fellow-man as an unbroken totality in a vivid present. This is of special importance because, as shown before, I can look at my own self only modo preterito and then grasp merely a partial aspect of this my past self, myself as a performer of a rôle, as a Me.

All the other manifold social relationships are derived from the originary experiencing of the totality of the other’s self in the community of time and space. Any theoretical analysis of the notion of “environment” – one of the least clarified terms used in present social sciences – would have to start from the face-to-face relation as a basic structure of the world of daily life.

We cannot enter here into the details of the framework of these derived relationships. For our problem it is important that in none of them does the self of the other become accessible to the partner as a unity. The other appears merely as a partial self, as originator of these and those acts, which I do not share in a vivid present. The shared vivid present of the We-relation presupposes co-presence of the partners. To each type of derived social relationship belongs a particular type of time perspective which is derived from the vivid present. There is a particular quasi-present in which I interpret the mere outcome of the other’s communicating – the written letter, the printed book – without having participated in the ongoing process of communicating acts. There are other time dimensions in which I am connected with contemporaries I never met, or with predecessors or with successors; another, the historical time, in which I experience the actual present as the outcome of past events; and many more. All of these time perspectives can be referred to a vivid present: my own actual or former one, or the actual or former vivid present of my fellow-man with whom, in turn, I am connected in an originary or derived vivid present and all this in the different modes of potentiality or quasi-actuality, each type having its own forms of temporal diminution and augmentation and its appurtenant style of skipping them in a direct move or “knight’s move.” There are furthermore the different forms of overlapping and interpenetrating of these different perspectives, their being put into and out of operation by a shift from one to the other and a transformation of one into the other, and the different types of synthesizing and combining or isolating and disentangling them. Manifold as these different time perspectives and their mutual relations are, they all originate in an intersection of durée and cosmic time.

In and by our social life with the natural attitude they are apprehended as integrated into one single supposedly homogeneous dimension of time which embraces not only all the individual time perspectives of each of us during his wide-awake life but which is common to all of us. We shall call it the civic or standard time. It, too, is an intersection of cosmic time and inner time, though, as to the latter, merely of a peculiar aspect of inner time – that aspect in which the wide-awake man experiences his working acts as events within his stream of consciousness. Because standard time partakes of cosmic time it is measurable by our clocks and calendars. Because it coincides with our inner sense of time in which we experience our working acts, if – and only if – we are wide-awake, it governs the system of our plans under which we subsume our projects, such as plans for life, for work and leisure. Because it is common to all of us, the standard time makes an intersubjective coordination of the different individual plan systems possible. Thus, to the natural attitude, the civic or standard time is in the same sense the universal temporal structure of the inter-subjective world of everyday life with the natural attitude, in which the earth is its universal spatial structure that embraces the spatial environments of each of us.

(6) The strata of reality in the everyday world of working.

The wide-awake man with the natural attitude is primarily interested in that sector of the world of his everyday life which is within his scope and which is centered in space and time around himself. The place which my body occupies within the world, my actual Here, is the starting point from which I take my bearing in space. It is, so to speak, the center of my system of coordinates. Relatively to my body I group the elements of my surroundings under the categories of right and left, before and behind, above and below, near and far, and so on. And in a similar way my actual Now is the origin of all the time perspectives under which I organize the events within the world such as the categories of fore and aft, past and future, simultaneity and succession, etc.

Within this basic scheme of orientation, however, the world of working is structurized in various strata of reality. It is the great merit of G. H. Mead[11] to have analyzed the structurization of the reality at least of the physical thing in its relationship to human action, especially to the actual manipulation of objects with the hands. It is what he calls the “manipulatory area” which constitutes the core of reality. This area includes those objects which are both seen and handled, in contradistinction to the distant objects which cannot be experienced by contact but still lie in the visual field. Only experiences of physical things within the manipulatory area permit the basic test of all reality, namely resistance, only they define what Mead calls the “standard sizes” of things which appear outside the manipulatory area in the distortions of optical perspectives.

This theory of the predominance of the manipulatory area certainly converges with the thesis suggested by this paper, namely, that the world of our working, of bodily movements, of manipulating objects and handling things and men constitutes the specific reality of everyday life. For our purpose, however, the otherwise most important distinction between objects experienced by contact and distant objects is not to be overemphasized. It could easily be shown that this dichotomy originates in Mead’s behavioristic basic position and his uncritical use of the stimulus-response scheme. We, on the other hand, are concerned with the natural attitude of the wide-awake, grown-up man in daily life. He always disposes of a stock of previous experiences, among them the notion of distance as such and of the possibility of overcoming distance by acts of working, namely locomotions. In the natural attitude the visual perception of the distant object implies, therefore, the anticipation that the distant object can be brought into contact by locomotion, in which case the distorted perspective of the objects will disappear and their “standard sizes” reestablished. This anticipation like any other may or may not stand the test of the supervening actual experience. Its refutation by experience would mean that the distant object under consideration does not pertain to the world of my working. A child may request to touch the stars. To the grown-up with the natural attitude they are shining points outside the sphere of his working and this holds true, even if he uses their position as a means for finding his bearings.

For our purposes, therefore, we suggest to call the stratum of the world of working which the individual experiences as the kernel of his reality the world within his reach. This world of his includes not only Mead’s manipulatory area but also things within the scope of his view and the range of his hearing, moreover not only the realm of the world open to his actual but also the adjacent ones of his potential working. Of course, these realms have no rigid frontiers, they have their halos and open horizons and these are subject to modifications of interests and attentional attitudes. It is clear that this whole system of “world within my reach” undergoes changes by any of my locomotions; by displacing my body I shift the center O of my system of coordinates and this alone changes all the numbers (coordinates) pertaining to this system.

We may say that the world within my actual reach belongs essentially to the present tense. The world within my potential reach, however, shows a more complicated time-structure. At least two zones of potentiality have to be distinguished. To the first, which refers to the past, belongs what was formerly within my actual reach and what, so I assume, can be brought back into my actual reach again (world within restorable reach). The assumption involved is based upon the idealizations, governing all conduct in the natural sphere, namely, that I may continue to act as I have acted so far and that I may again and again recommence the same action under the same conditions. Dealing with the universal role of these idealizations for the foundation of logic and especially pure analytic Husserl calls them the idealizations of the “and so on” and of the “I can do it again,” the latter being the subjective correlate of the former.[12] To give an example: By an act of locomotion there came out of my reach what was formerly “world within my reach.” The shifting of the center O of my system of coordinates has turned my former world in the hic into a world now in the illic.[13] But under the idealization of the “I can do it again” I assume that I can retransform the actual illic into a new hic. My past world within my reach has under this idealization the character of a world which can be brought back again within my reach. Thus, for instance, my past manipulatory area continues to function in my present as a potential manipulatory area in the mode of illic and has now the character of a specific chance of restoration. As this first zone of potentiality is related with the past, so is the second one based upon anticipations of the future. Within my potential reach is also the world which neither is nor ever has been within my actual reach but which is nevertheless attainable under the idealization of “and so on” (world within attainable reach). The most important instance of this second zone of potentiality is the world within the actual reach of my contemporaneous fellow-man. For example, his manipulatory area does not – or at least does not entirely[14]coincide with my manipulatory area because it is only to him a manipulatory area in the mode of the hic, but to me in the mode of the illic. Nevertheless, it is my attainable manipulatory area which would be my actual manipulatory area if I were in his place and indeed will turn into an actual one by appropriate locomotions.[15]

What has been stated with respect to the manipulatory area of the contemporaneous fellow-man holds good quite generally for the world within your, within their, within someone’s reach. This implies not only world within the other’s actual reach, but also worlds within his restorable or attainable reach, and the whole system thus extended over all the different strata of the social world shows altogether all the shades originating in the perspectives of sociality such as intimacy and anonymity, strangeness and familiarity, social proximity and social distance, etc., which govern my relations with consociates, contemporaries, predecessors, and successors. All this cannot be treated here. It has to suffice for the purpose in hand to show that the whole social world is a world within my attainable reach, having its specific chances of attainment.

Yet the specific chances of restoration, peculiar to the first, and of attainment, peculiar to the second zone of potentiality, are by no means equal. As to the former we have to consider that what is now to me a mere chance of restorable reach was previously experienced by me as being within my actual reach. My past working acts performed and even the actions which in the past I had merely projected pertained to my world then within actual reach. On the other hand, they are related with my present state of mind which is as it is because the now past reality was once a present one. The anticipated possible reactualization of the once actual world within my reach is, therefore, founded upon reproductions and retentions of my own past experiences of fulfillments. The chance of restoring the once actual reach is, then, a maximal one. The second zone of potentiality refers anticipatorily to future states of my mind. It is not connected with my past experiences, except by the fact that its anticipations (as all anticipations) originate in and have to be compatible with the stock of my past experiences actually at hand. These experiences enable me to weigh the likelihood of carrying out my plans and to estimate my powers. It is clear that this second zone is not at all homogeneous but subdivided into sectors of different chances of attainment. These chances diminish in proportion with the increasing spatial, temporal, and social distance of the respective sector from the actual center O of my world of working. The greater the distance the more uncertain are my anticipations of the attainable actuality, until they become entirely empty and unrealizable.

(7) The world of working as paramount reality; the fundamental anxiety; the epoché of the natural attitude.

The world of working as a whole stands out as paramount over against the many other sub-universes of reality. It is the world of physical things, including my body; it is the realm of my locomotions and bodily operations; it offers resistances to overcome which requires effort; it places tasks before me, permits me to carry through my plans, and enables me to succeed or to fail in my attempt to attain my purposes. By my working acts I gear into the outer world; I change it, and these changes, although provoked by my working, can be experienced and tested both by myself and others, as occurrences within this world independently of my working acts in which they originated. I share this world and its objects with others; with others, I have ends and means in common; I work with them in manifold social acts and relationships, checking the others and checked by them. And the world of working is the reality within which communication and the interplay of mutual motivation becomes effective. It can, therefore, be experienced under both schemes of reference, the causality of motives as well as the teleology of purposes.

As we stated before, this world is to our natural attitude in the first place not an object of our thought but a field of domination. We have an eminently practical interest in it, caused by the necessity of complying with the basic requirements of our life. But we are not equally interested in all the strata of the world of working. The selective function of our interest organizes the world in both respects – as to space and time – in strata of major or minor relevance. From the world within my actual or potential reach those objects are selected as primarily important which actually are or will become in the future possible ends or means for the realization of my projects, or which are or will become dangerous or enjoyable or otherwise relevant to me. I am permanently anticipating the future repercussions I may expect from these objects and the future changes my projected working will bring about with respect to them.

Let us make clearer what is meant by “relevance” in this context. I am, for instance, with the natural attitude, passionately interested in the results of my action and especially in the question whether my anticipations will stand the practical test. As we have seen before, all anticipations and plans refer to previous experiences now at hand, which enable me to weigh my chances. But that is only half the story. What I am anticipating is one thing, the other, why I anticipate certain occurrences at all. What may happen under certain conditions and circumstances is one thing, the other, why I am interested in these happenings and why I should passionately await the outcome of my prophesies. It is only the first part of these dichotomies which is answered by reference to the stock of experiences at hand as the sediment of previous experiences. It is the second part of these dichotomies which refers to the system of relevances by which man with his natural attitude in daily life is guided.

We cannot unfold here all the implications of the problem of relevance, upon one aspect of which we have just touched. But in a word we want to state that the whole system of relevances which governs us with the natural attitude is founded upon the basic experience of each of us: I know that I shall die and I fear to die. This basic experience we suggest calling the fundamental anxiety. It is the primordial anticipation from which all the others originate. From the fundamental anxiety spring the many interrelated systems of hopes and fears, of wants and satisfactions, of chances and risks which incite man with the natural attitude to attempt the mastery of the world, to overcome obstacles, to draft projects, and to realize them.

But the fundamental anxiety itself is merely a correlate of our existence as human beings within the paramount reality of daily life and, therefore, the hopes and fears and their correlated satisfactions and disappointments are grounded upon and only possible within the world of working. They are essential elements of its reality but they do not refer to our belief in it. On the contrary, it is characteristic of the natural attitude that it takes the world and its objects for granted until counterproof imposes itself. As long as the once established scheme of reference, the system of our and other people’s warranted experiences works, as long as the actions and operations performed under its guidance yield the desired results we trust these experiences. We are not interested in finding out whether this world really does exist or whether it is merely a coherent system of consistent appearances. We have no reason to cast any doubt upon our warranted experiences which, so we believe, give us things as they really are. It needs a special motivation, such as the upshooting of a “strange” experience not subsumable under the stock of knowledge at hand or inconsistent with it to make us revise our former beliefs.

Phenomenology has taught us the concept of phenomenological epoché, the suspension of our belief in the reality of the world as a device to overcome the natural attitude by radicalizing the Cartesian method of philosophical doubt.[16] The suggestion may be ventured that man with the natural attitude also uses a specific epoché, of course quite another one, than the phenomenologist. He does not suspend belief in the outer world and its objects but on the contrary: he suspends doubt in its existence. What he puts in brackets is the doubt that the world and its objects might be otherwise than it appears to him. We propose to call this epoché the epoché of the natural attitude.[16a]


In the beginning of this paper we referred to William James’ theory of the many sub-universes each of which may be conceived as reality after its own fashion, whilst attended to. James himself has pointed out that each of these sub-universes has its special and separate style of existence; that with respect to each of these sub-universes “all propositions, whether attributive or existential, are believed through the very fact of being conceived, unless they clash with other propositions believed at the same time, by affirming that their terms are the same with the terms of these other propositions”;[17] that the whole distinction of real and unreal is grounded on two mental facts-"first, that we are liable to think differently of the same; and second that, when we have done so, we can choose which way of thinking to adhere to and which to disregard.” James speaks therefore of a “sense of reality” which can be investigated in terms of a psychology of belief and disbelief. In order to free this important insight from its psychologistic setting we prefer to speak instead of many sub-universes of reality of finite provinces of meaning upon each of which we may bestow the accent of reality. We speak of provinces of meaning and not of sub-universes because it is the meaning of our experiences and not the ontological structure of the objects which constitutes reality.[18] Hence we call a certain set of our experiences a finite province of meaning if all of them show a specific cognitive style and are – with respect to this style – not only consistent in themselves but also compatible with one another. The italicized restriction is important because inconsistencies and incompatibilities of some experiences, all of them partaking of the same cognitive style, do not necessarily entail the withdrawal of the accent of reality from the respective province of meaning as a whole but merely the invalidation of the particular experience or experiences within that province.

What, however, has to be understood under the terms “specific cognitive style” and “accent of reality"? As an example let us consider again the world of everyday life as it was defined and analyzed in the preceding chapter. This world is certainly a “sub-universe” or “finite province of meaning” among many others, although one marked out as ultimate or paramount reality for the reasons mentioned in the last section. If. we recapitulate the basic characteristics which constitute its specific cognitive style we find (1) a specific tension of consciousness, namely wide-awakeness, originating in full attention to life; (2) a specific epoché, namely suspension of doubt; (3) a prevalent form of spontaneity, namely working (a meaningful spontaneity based upon a project and characterized by the intention to bring about the projected state of affairs by bodily movements gearing into the outer world); (4) a specific form of experiencing one’s self (the working self as the total self); (5) a specific form of sociality (the common intersubjective world of communication and social action); (6) a specific time-perspective (the standard time originating in an intersection between durée and cosmic time as the universal temporal structure of the intersubjective world). These are at least some of the features of the cognitive style belonging to this particular province of meaning. As long as our experiences of this world – the valid as well as the invalidated ones – partake of this style we may consider this province of meaning as real, we may bestow upon it the accent of reality. And with respect to the paramount reality of everyday life we, with the natural attitude, are induced to do so because our practical experiences prove the unity and congruity of the world of working as valid and the hypothesis of its reality as irrefutable. Even more, this reality seems to us to be the natural one, and we are not ready to abandon our attitude toward it without having experienced a specific shock which compels us to break through the limits of this “finite” province of meaning and to shift the accent of reality to another one. To be sure those experiences of shock befall me frequently amidst my daily life; they themselves pertain to its reality. They show me that the world of working in standard time is not the sole finite province of meaning but only one of many others accessible to my intentional life. There are as many innumerable kinds of different shock experiences as there are different finite provinces of meaning upon which I may bestow the accent of reality. Some instances are: the shock of falling asleep as the leap into the world of dreams; the inner transformation we endure if the curtain in the theater rises as the transition into the world of the stage-play; the radical change in our attitude if, before a painting, we permit our visual field to be limited by what is within the frame as the passage into the pictorial world; our quandary, relaxing into laughter, if, in listening to a joke, we are for a short time ready to accept the fictitious world of the jest as a reality in relation to which the world of our daily life takes on the character of foolishness; the child’s turning toward his toy as the transition into the play-world; and so on. But also the religious experiences in all their varieties – for instance, Kierkegaard’s experience of the “instant” as the leap into the religious sphere – is such a shock as well as the decision of the scientist to replace all passionate participation in the affairs of “this world” by a disinterested contemplative attitude. Now we are able to condense what we have found into the following theses:

(1) All these worlds – the world of dreams, of imageries and phantasms, especially the world of art, the world of religious experience, the world of scientific contemplation, the play world of the child, and the world of the insane – are finite provinces of meaning. This means that (a) all of them have a peculiar cognitive style (although not that of the world of working with the natural attitude); (b) all experiences within each of these worlds are, with respect to this cognitive style, consistent in themselves and compatible with one another (although not compatible with the meaning of everyday life); (c) each of these finite provinces of meaning may receive a specific accent of reality (although not the reality accent of the world of working).

(2) Consistency and compatibility of experiences with respect to their peculiar cognitive style subsists merely within the borders of the particular province of meaning to which those experiences belong. By no means will that which is compatible within the province of meaning P be also compatible within the province of meaning Q. On the contrary, seen from P, supposed to be real, Q and all the experiences belonging to it would appear as merely fictitious, inconsistent and incompatible and vice versa.

(3) For this very reason we are entitled to talk of finite provinces of meaning. This finiteness implies that there is no possibility of referring one of these provinces to the other by introducing a formula of transformation. The passing from one to the other can only be performed by a “leap,” as Kierkegaard calls it, which manifests itself in the subjective experience of a shock.

(4) What has just been called a “leap” or a “shock” is nothing else than a radical modification in the tension of our consciousness, founded in a different attention à la vie.

(5) To the cognitive style peculiar to each of these different provinces of meaning belongs, thus, a specific tension of consciousness and, consequently, also a specific epoché, a prevalent form of spontaneity, a specific form of self experience, a specific form of sociality, and a specific time perspective.

(6) The world of working in daily life is the archetype of our experience of reality. All the other provinces of meaning may be considered as its modifications.[19] It would be an interesting task to try a systematic grouping of these finite provinces of meaning according to their constitutive principle, the diminishing tension of our consciousness founded in a turning away of our attention from everyday life. Such an analysis would prove that the more the mind turns away from life, the larger the slabs of the everyday world of working which are put in doubt; the epoché of the natural attitude which suspends doubt in its existence is replaced by other epochs which suspend belief in more and more layers of the reality of daily life, putting them in brackets. In other words a typology of the different finite provinces of meaning could start from an analysis of those factors of the world of daily life from which the accent of reality has been withdrawn because they do not stand any longer within the focus of our attentional interest in life. What then remains outside the brackets could be defined as the constituent elements of the cognitive style of experiences belonging to the province of meaning thus delimited. It may, then, in its turn, obtain another accent of reality, or, in the language of the archetype of all reality, namely the world of our daily life – of quasi-reality.

The last remark reveals a specific difficulty for all attempts at describing those quasi-realities. It consists in the fact that language – any language – pertains as communication kat exochin to the intersubjective world of working and, therefore, obstinately resists serving as a vehicle for meanings which transcend its own presuppositions. This fact leads to the manifold forms of indirect communication some of which we will meet later on. Scientific terminology for instance, is a special device to overcome the outlined difficulty within its limited field. We have to deny ourselves embarking here upon the drafting of a thorough typology of the many realities according to the principles just outlined. We are especially interested in the relations between the provinces of the world of daily life and the worlds of the sciences, especially of the social sciences and their reality. We cannot, however, work out this problem with all its implications in a single step. We shall, therefore, proceed by stages and start with confronting the world of working with two typical examples of other finite provinces of meaning, namely the world of imageries and the world of dreams. Based upon the results of our analyses of the cognitive style of these two provinces, we shall investigate the structure of the world of scientific contemplation.


Under this heading we shall discuss some general characteristics of the cognitive style peculiar to a group of otherwise most heterogeneous finite provinces of meaning, none of them reducible to the other. This group is commonly known as that of fancies or imageries and embraces among many others the realms of day-dreams, of play, of fiction, of fairy-tales, of myths, of jokes. So far philosophy has not worked upon the problem of the specific constitution of each of these innumerable provinces of our imaginative life. Each of them originates in a specific modification, which the paramount reality of our daily life undergoes, because our mind, turning away in decreasing tensions of consciousness from the world of working and its tasks, withdraws from certain of its layers the accent of reality in order to replace it by a context of supposedly quasi-real phantasms. For the problem in hand a fugitive survey of what all these worlds have in common has to be sufficient. Living in one of the many worlds of phantasy we have no longer to master the outer world and to overcome the resistance of its objects. We are free from the pragmatic motive which governs our natural attitude toward the world of daily life, free also from the bondage of “interobjective” space and intersubjective standard time. No longer are we confined within the limits of our actual, restorable, or attainable reach. What occurs in the outer world no longer imposes upon us issues between which we have to choose nor does it put a limit on our possible accomplishments. However, there are no “possible accomplishments” in the world of phantasms if we take this term as a synonym of “performable.” The imagining self neither works nor performs within the meaning of the aforegiven definitions. Imagining may be projected inasmuch as it may be conceived in advance and may be included in a hierarchy of plans. But this meaning of the term “project” is not exactly the same in which we used it when we defined action as projected conduct. Strictly speaking the opposite holds good, namely, that the projected action is always the imagined performed act, imagined in the future-perfect tense. Here we are not particularly interested in investigating whether all or merely some or no form of our imaginative life may be qualified as “action” or whether fancying belongs exclusively to the category of mere thinking. Yet it is of highest importance to understand that imagining as such always lacks the intention to realize the phantasm; it lacks in other words the purposive “fiat.” Using the language of Husserl’s Ideas[20] we may say that all imagining is “neutral,” it lacks the specific positionality of the thetic consciousness. However we have to distinguish sharply between imagining as a manifestation of our spontaneous life and the imageries imagined. Acting may be imagined as a true acting and even working within the meaning of our previous definitions; it may be imagined as referring to a preconceived project; as having its specific in-order-to and because motives; as originating in choice and decision; as having its place within a hierarchy of plans. Even more: it may be imagined as endowed with an intention to realize the project, to carry it through, and may be fancied as gearing into the outer world. All this, however, belongs to the imageries produced in and by the imagining act. The “performances” and “working acts” are merely imagined as performances and working acts, and they and the correlated categories bear, to borrow Husserl’s term, “quotation-marks.” Imagining itself is, however, necessarily inefficient and stays under all circumstances outside the hierarchies of plans and purposes valid within the world of working. The imagining self does not transform the outer world. But how? Does not Don Quixote gear into the outer world if he attacks the windmills, imagining them to be giants? Is not what he does, determined by motives valid within the world of working, namely, his in-order-to motive to kill the giants and his because-motive to live up to his mission as a knight which involves the duty to fight bad giants wherever they are met? Is all this not included in the hierarchy of Don Quixote’s life-plans?

The answer is that Don Quixote, acting as described, does not trespass the boundaries of the world of working. To him who is a fantast confronted with realities (as Eulenspiegel is a realist confronted with phantasms) there are no imagined giants in the reality of his world of working but real giants. Afterwards he will recognize that his interpretation of the object before him was invalidated by the succeeding events. This is the same experience we all have with the natural attitude if we discover that the distant something which we believed to be a tree turns out to be a man.[21] But then, Don Quixote reacts differently than we do in similar situations. He does not submit to the “explosion of his experience,” he does not acknowledge his delusion and does not admit that the attacked objects have always been windmills and never giants. To be sure he is compelled to concede the actual reality of the windmills to the resistance of which he succumbed, but he interprets this fact as if it did not belong to the real world. He explains it by the theory that, in order to vex him, his arch-enemy, the magician, must have transmogrified at the last moment the formerly no less real giants into windmills. And only now, by reaching this conclusion, has Don Quixote definitely withdrawn the accent of reality from the world of working and has bestowed such an accent upon the world of his imageries. Seen from the latter, the windmills are not realities but mere appearances, mere phantasms. The existence of magicians and giants and the transformation of the latter into windmills, incompatible as it may be with the natural attitude prevalent in the world of working common to Don Quixote and Sancho Panza and the barber, is very well compatible with Don Quixote’s other imageries in his finite province of private phantasms and, there, it is as “real” as anything. – Mutatis mutandis, similar analyses could be made with respect to other quasi-realities such as the magic world of primitive men or the make-believe world of children’s play, etc. If we transform this result into more general terms we find it corroborated by William James’ statement that “any object which remains uncontradicted is ipso facto believed and posited as absolute reality.” “If I merely dream of a horse with wings, my horse interferes with nothing else and has not to be contradicted. That horse, its wings, and its place, are all equally real. That horse exists no otherwise than as winged, and is moreover really there, for that place exists no otherwise than as the place of that horse, and claims as yet no connection with the other places of the world. But if with this horse I make an inroad into the world otherwise known, and say, for example, ‘That is my old mare Maggie, having grown a pair of wings where she stands in her stall,’ the whole case is altered; for now the horse and place are identified with a horse and place otherwise known, and what is known of the latter objects is incompatible with what is perceived in the former. ‘Maggie in her stall with wings! Never!’ The wings are unreal, then visionary. I have dreamed a lie about Maggie in her stall."[22] Husserl,[23] who has studied the problem involved more profoundly than any other philosopher, comes to the same conclusion. He distinguishes predications of existence (Existenzialprädikationen) and predications of reality (Wirklichkeitsprädikationen). The opposites to the former are the predications of non-existence, of the latter the predications of non-reality, of fiction. Investigating the “origin” of predications of reality Husserl concludes: “With the natural attitude there is at the outset (before reflection) no predicate ‘real’ and no category ‘reality.’ Only if we phantasy and pass from the attitude of living in the phantasy (that is the attitude of quasi-experiencing in all its forms) to the given realities, and if we, thus, transgress the single casual phantasying and its phantasm, taking both as examples for possible phantasying as such and fiction as such, then we obtain on the one hand the concepts fiction (respectively, phantasying) and on the other hand the concepts ‘possible experience as such’ and ‘reality’ ... We cannot say that he who phantasies and lives in the world of phantasms (the ‘dreamer’), posits fictions qua fictions, but he has modified realities, ‘realities as if’.... Only he who lives in experiences and reaches from there into the world of phantasms can, provided that the phantasm contrasts with the experienced, have the concepts fiction and reality.” From our analysis of Don Quixote’s conduct and the preceding quotation from Husserl we may derive another important insight. The compatibilities of experiences which belong to the world of working in everyday life do not subsist within the realm of imagery; however the logical structure of consistency, or, in Husserl’s terms, the predications of existence and non- existence, remain valid. I can imagine giants, magicians, winged horses, centaurs, even a perpetuum mobile; but not a regular decahedron, unless I stop – as I would have to do in full awakeness – at the blind juxtaposition of empty terms. Put otherwise: within the realm of imagery merely factual, but not logical incompatibilities can be overcome. The corollary of this last statement is that chances of attainability and restorability of factual situations do not exist in the same sense within the world of phantasms as they exist within the world of working. What is a chance in the latter is in the former what Roman jurists call a condition potestativa, that is, a circumstance which to bring or not to bring about is under the control of the party involved. The imagining individual masters, so to speak, his chances: he can fill the empty anticipations of his imageries with any content he pleases; as to the anticipating of imagined future events he has freedom of discretion. This remark leads us to the time perspectives of the world of imageries which is of highest importance for its constitution. In his admirable investigations relating to the dimension of time of phantasms Husserl[24] has pointed out that phantasms lack any fixed position in the order of objective time. Therefore phantasms are not individualized and the category of sameness is not applicable to them. The “same” phantasm may recur within the uninterrupted continuity of one single phantasying activity the unity of which is warranted by the continuity of inner time within which this activity occurs. But phantasms pertaining to different strands of phantasying activities or, in our terminology, pertaining to different finite provinces of meaning – cannot be compared as to their sameness or likeness. It is meaningless to ask whether the witch of one fairy tale is the same as the witch of another. For our purpose it is not necessary to follow Husserl into the depth of the problems of constitutional analyses here involved. Yet it is important to point out that the imagining self can, in his phantasies, eliminate all the features of the standard time except its irreversibility. It may imagine all occurrences as viewed, so to speak, through a time-retarder or through a time-accelerator. Their irreversibility, however, eludes any variation by phantasies because it originates within the durée which itself is constitutive for all activities of our mind and, therefore, also for our phantasying and the phantasms produced therein. Imagining, and even dreaming, I continue to grow old. The fact that I can remodel my past by a present imagining is no counter-evidence against this statement. In my imageries I may fancy myself in any rôle I wish to assume. But doing so I have no doubt that the imagined self is merely a part of my total personality, one possible role I may take, a Me, existing only by my grace. In my phantasms I may even vary my bodily appearance but this freedom of discretion has its barrier at the primordial experience of the boundaries of my body. They subsist whether I imagine myself as dwarf or as giant. Imagining can be lonely or social and then take place in We-relation as well as in all of its derivations and modifications. An instance of the first is the day-dreaming, of the second the mutually oriented intersubjective make-believe play of children or some phenomena studied by mass psychology. On the other hand the others and also any kind of social relationship, social actions, and reactions, may become objects of the imagining. The freedom of discretion of the imagining self is here a very large one. It is even possible that the phantasm may include an imagined cooperation of an imagined fellow-man to such an extent that the latter’s imagined reactions may corroborate or annihilate my own phantasms.


If full-awakeness is the name for the highest tension of consciousness which corresponds to full attention to life, sleep may be defined as complete relaxation, as turning away from life.[27] The sleeping self has no pragmatic interest whatsoever to transform its principally confused perceptions into a state of partial clarity and distinctness, in other words to transform them into apperceptions.[28] Nevertheless it continues to perceive as it continues to recollect and to think. There are the somatical perceptions of its own body, its position, its weight, its boundaries; perceptions of light, sound, warmth, etc., without any activity, however, of regarding, listening, attending to them, which alone would make the percepts apperceived; there continue, furthermore, the small perceptions, which, in the state of awakeness, by the very pragmatic orientation toward the tasks of life, remain indiscernible and ineffable – or as modern use likes to call them: unconscious. These small perceptions, escaping the censorship of the attention to life, gain high importance in the world of dreams. Although they do not become clear and distinct, but remain in a state of confusion, they are no longer concealed and disturbed by the interference of active, pragmatically conditioned attention. It is the passive attention, that is, the total of the effects exercised by the small perceptions upon the intimate center of the personality which alone determines the interest of the dreamer and the topics which become themes of his dreams. It is the incomparable performance of Freud and his school to have clarified this reference of dreamlife to the unconscious, although his concept of the unconscious itself (and also his theory that the mental apparatus is – “topographically” – composed of an Id, Ego, and Super-ego) misunderstands the basic character of intentionality of the stream of thought.[27]

The dreaming self neither works nor acts. This statement would be a mere truism had we not made a similar one with respect to the phantasying self. We have, therefore, to show briefly the principal modifications which the “bracketing of the world of working” undergoes in the provinces of phantasms on the one hand and in the province of dreams on the other. I submit that the worlds of imageries are characterized by what we called the freedom of discretion, whereas the world of dreams lacks such a freedom. The imagining self can “arbitrarily” fill its empty protentions and anticipations with any content and, strictly speaking, it is these fillings upon which the imagining self bestows the accent of reality. It may, as it pleases, interpret its “chances” as lying within its mastery. The dreamer, however, has no freedom of discretion, no arbitrariness in mastering the chances, no possibility of filling in empty anticipations. The nightmare, for instance, shows clearly the inescapableness of the happening in the world of dream and the powerlessness of the dreamer to influence it. All this, however, does not mean that the life of dreams is confined exclusively to passive consciousness. On the contrary, most of the activities of mind which Husserl calls the activities of intentionality (and which, of course, are not to be confused with intentional actions) subsist, but without being directed toward objects of the outer world of working and without being steered by active attention. Yet among these activities there are none of apperceiving and of volition. The life of dream is without purpose and project. But how can such a proposition be sustained, since Freud and his followers have taught us the predominant role of volitions and instincts within the world of dreams? I do not think that there is any contradiction. Actual volitions, actual projects, actual purposes, etc., do not exist in the life of dreams. What can be found of volitions, projects, purposes in dreams does not originate in the dreaming self. They are recollections, retentions, and reproductions of volitive experiences which originated within the world of awakeness. Now they reappear, although modified and reinterpreted according to the scheme of reference prevailing in the particular type of dream. We may consider the whole psychoanalytic technique of dream interpretation as an attempt to refer the contents of the dream to the originary experiences in the world of awakeness in which and by which they were constituted.

Generally speaking the world of working or at least fragments of it are preserved within the world of dreams as recollections and retentions. In this sense we may say that the attention à la vie of the dreamer is directed to the past of his self. It is an attention in the tense of the past. The contents of dream life consist primarily in past or past perfect experiences which are re-interpreted by transforming previously confused experiences into distinctness, by explicating their implied horizons, by looking at their anticipations in terms of the past and at their reproduction in terms of the future. The sedimented experiences of the world of awakeness are, thus, so to speak, broken down and otherwise reconstructed – the self having no longer any pragmatic interest in keeping together its stock of experience as a consistently and coherently unified scheme of reference. But the postulates of consistency and coherence and of unity of experience themselves originate in pragmatic motives in so far as they presuppose clear and distinct apperceptions. They, and even certain logical axioms, such as the axiom of identity, do not, for this very reason, hold good in the sphere of dreams. The dreamer is frequently astonished to see now as compatible what he remembers as having been incompatible in the world of his awake life, and vice versa. All this Freud and psychoanalysis have thoroughly studied, and our present intention is restricted to translating some of their results, important for the topic in hand, into our language and to giving them their place within our theory.

I may dream myself as working or acting and this dream may be accompanied frequently by the knowledge that, “in reality,” I am not working or acting. Then my dreamed working has its quasi-projects, quasi-plans, and their hierarchies, all of them originating in sedimented pre-experiences I had in the world of daily life. It happens frequently that the dreamed Me performs his work without any intention to carry it through, without any voluntative fiat, and that this Me attains results with either disproportionately great or small effort.

The time perspective of the world of dreams is of a very complicated structure. Aft and fore, present, past and future seem to be intermingled, there are future events conceived in terms of the past, past and past-perfect events assumed as open and modifiable and, therefore, as having a strange character of futurity, successions are transformed into simultaneities and vice versa, etc. Seemingly – but only seemingly-the occurrences during the dream are separated and independent of the stream of the inner durée. They are, however, merely detached from the arrangement of standard time. They have no position in the order of objective time. They roll on within the subjectivity of the inner durée although fragments of the standard time, which was experienced by the past self and has fallen to pieces, are snatched into the world of dreams. The irreversibility of the durée subsists also in dream-life. Only the awakened mind which remembers its dream has sometimes the illusion of a possible reversibility.

This last remark reveals a serious difficulty for all dealing with the phenomena of the dream and also of the imagery. As soon as I think of them I am no longer dreaming or imagining. I am wide-awake and – use, speaking and thinking, the implements of the world of working, namely concepts – which are subject to the principles of consistency and compatibility. Are we sure that the awakened person really can tell his dreams, he who no longer dreams? It will probably make an important difference whether he recollects his dream in vivid retention or whether he has to reproduce it. Whatever the case may be, we encounter the eminent dialectical difficulty that there exists for the dreamer no possibility of direct communication which would not transcend the sphere to which it refers. We can, therefore, approach the provinces of dreams and imageries merely by way of “indirect communication,” to borrow this term from Kierkegaard, who has analyzed the phenomena it suggests in an unsurpassable way. The poet and the artist are by far closer to an adequate interpretation of the worlds of dreams and phantasms than the scientist and the philosopher, because their categories of communication themselves refer to the realm of imagery. They can, if not overcome, at least make transparent the underlying dialectical conflict.

We, within the modest limits of our purpose, have no reason to shrink back from the difficulty outlined. Our topic is to give an account of the specific cognitive style peculiar to the provinces of phantasms and dreams and to explain them as derivations from the cognitive style of experiencing the world of everyday life. We therefore, feel entitled to apply categories derived from this world to the phenomena of imagery and dream. Nevertheless, the dialectical difficulty involved has to be understood in its full importance, since we will meet it again in the analysis of the world of scientific contemplation. Then we shall have to study the specific device which science has developed for its overcoming, namely the scientific method.

Concluding the fugitive remarks on the realm of dreams, we want to state that dreaming – otherwise than imagining – is essentially lonely. We cannot dream together and the alter ego remains always merely an object of my dreams, incapable of sharing them. Even the alter ego of which I dream does not appear in a common vivid present but in an empty fictitious quasi-We relation. The other dreamed of is always typified, and this holds true even if I dream him to be in very close relationship to my intimate self. He is an alter ego only by my grace. Thus, the monad, with all its mirroring of the universe, is indeed without windows, while it dreams.


In restricting the following analysis to the world as object of scientific contemplation we intentionally disregard for the present purpose the many forms of contemplative attitudes which we frequently adopt amidst our working activities and which in contradistinction to the practical attitudes of working could also be called theoretical attitudes. If we “sit down” in a major crisis of our life and consider again and again our problems, if we draft, reject, redraft projects and plans before making up our mind, if as fathers we meditate upon pedagogical questions or as politicians upon public opinion-in all these situations we indulge in theoretical contemplation in the wider sense of this term. But all this contemplative thinking is performed for practical purposes and ends and for this very reason it constitutes rather an “enclave"[28] of theoretical contemplation within the world of working than a finite province of meaning.

Another type of contemplation which we intentionally disregard in the present chapter is the pure meditation which is not based upon a project to be brought about by application of operational rules, such as the religious meditation. We have to deal exclusively with scientific theory. Scientific theorizing – and in the following the terms theory, theorizing, etc., shall be exclusively used in this restricted sense – does not serve any practical purpose. Its aim is not to master the world but to observe and possibly to understand it. Here I wish to anticipate a possible objection. Is not the ultimate aim of science the mastery of the world? Are not natural sciences designed to dominate the forces of the universe, social sciences to exercise control, medical science to fight diseases? And is not the only reason why man bothers with science his desire to develop the necessary tools in order to improve, his everyday life and to help humanity in its pursuit of happiness? All this is certainly as true as it is banal, but it has nothing to do with our problem. Of course, the desire to improve the world is one of man’s strongest motives to deal with science and the application of scientific theory leads of course to the invention of technical devices for the mastery of the world. But neither these motives nor the use of its results for “worldly” purposes is an element of the process of scientific theorizing itself. Scientific theorizing is one thing, dealing with science within the world of working is another. Our topic is the first one but one of our chief problems will be to find out how it is possible that the life-world of all of us can be made an object of theoretical contemplation and that the outcome of this contemplation can be used within the world of working.

All theoretical cogitations are “actions” and even “performances” within the meaning of the definitions given hereinbefore. They are actions, because they are emanations of our spontaneous life carried out according to a project and they are performances because the intention to carry through the project, to bring about the projected result supervenes. Thus, scientific theorizing has its own in-order-to and because motives, it is planned, and planned within a hierarchy of plans established by the decision to pursue and carry on scientific activities. (This “action-character” of theorizing alone would suffice to distinguish it from dreaming.) It is, furthermore, purposive thinking (and this purposiveness alone would suffice to distinguish it from mere fancying!) the purpose being the intention to realize the solution of the problem at hand. Yet, theoretical cogitations are not acts of working, that is they do not gear into the outer world. To be sure, they are based upon working acts (such as measuring, handling instruments, making experiments); they can be communicated only by working acts (such as writing a paper, delivering a lecture); and so on. All these activities performed within and pertaining to the world of working are either conditions or consequences of the theorizing but do not belong to the theoretical attitude itself, from which they can be easily separated. Likewise we have to distinguish between the scientist qua human being who acts and lives among his fellow-men his everyday life and the theoretical thinker who is, we repeat it, not interested in the mastery of the world but in obtaining knowledge by observing it. This attitude of the “disinterested observer” is based upon a peculiar attention à la vie as the prerequisite of all theorizing. It consists in the abandoning of the system of relevances which prevails within the practical sphere of the natural attitude. The whole universe of life, that which Husserl calls the Lebenswelt, is pregiven to both the man in the world of working and to the theorizing thinker.[29]

But to the former other sections and other elements of this world are relevant than to the latter. In a previous section[30] we have shown that for man with the natural attitude the system of relevances which governs him originates in what we called the basic experience of fundamental anxiety. The theoretical thinker once having performed the “leap” into the disinterested attitude is free from the fundamental anxiety and free from all the hopes and fears arising from it.[31] He, too, has anticipations which, on the one hand, refer back to his stock of sedimented experiences and, on the other hand, to its special system of relevances which will be discussed later. However, unlike man in daily life, he is not passionately interested in the question, whether his anticipations, if fulfilled, will prove helpful for the solution of his practical problems, but merely whether or not they will stand the test of verification by supervening experiences. This involves in the well-understood meaning of the aforegiven definition a certain detachment of interest in life and a turning away from what we called the state of wide-awakeness.[32]

Since theoretical thought does not gear into the outer world it is revocable within the meaning of this term defined hereinbefore.[33] That means it is subject to permanent revision, it can be undone, “struck out,” “cancelled,” modified, and so on, without creating any change in the outer world. In the process of theoretical thinking I may come back again and again to my premises, revoke my conclusions, annihilate my judgments, enlarge or restrict the scope of the problem under scrutiny, etc.

The latter point has its corollary in the peculiarity of theoretical thought of being in a certain sense independent of that segment of the world which is within the reach of the thinker. This statement, of course, does not refer to the availability of certain data to which theoretical thinking may refer such as ultramicroscopic objects or the structure of the interior of the earth. As data they are-and in the latter case will probably forever remain-outside of our reach. But this does not prevent the building up of scientific theories concerning both sets of data. Biology and geology have developed methods to deal with them; they are for both sciences realities, although realities outside of our reach, realities ex hypothesis[34] But this is not the point we have in view with our statement. As we have seen,[35] the concept of “world within our reach” depends upon our body which is conceived as center O of the system of coordinates under which we group the world. In turning to the sphere of theoretical thinking, however, the human being “puts in brackets” his physical existence and therewith also his body and the system of orientation of which his body is the center and origin. Consequently, unlike man in daily life, he does not look for solutions fitting his pragmatic personal and private problems which arise from his psycho-physical existence within this peculiar segment of the world which he calls his environment. The theoretical thinker is interested in problems and solutions valid in their own right for everyone, at any place, and at any time, wherever and whenever certain conditions, from the assumption of which he starts, prevail. The “leap” into the province of theoretical thought involves the resolution of the individual to suspend his subjective point of view. And this fact alone shows that not the un- divided self but only a partial self, a taker of a role, a “Me,” namely, the theoretician, “acts” within the province of scientific thought. This partial self lacks all “essentially actual” experiences and all experiences connected with his own body, its movements, and its limits.

We may now sum up some of the features of the epoche peculiar to the scientific attitude. In this epoche there is “bracketed” (suspended): (1) the subjectivity of the thinker as man among fellow-men, including his bodily existence as psycho-physical human being within the world;[36] (2) the system of orientation by which the world of everyday life is grouped in zones within actual, restorable, attainable reach etc.; (3) the fundamental anxiety and the system of pragmatic relevances originating therein. But within this modified sphere the life-world of all of us continues to subsist as reality, namely as the reality of theoretical contemplation, although not as one of practical interest. With the shift of the system of relevances from the practical to the theoretical field all terms referring to action and performance within the world of working, such as “plan,” “motive,” “projects” change their meaning and receive “quotation marks.” We have now to characterize with a few words the system of relevances prevailing within the province of scientific contemplation. This system originates in a voluntary act of the scientist by which he selects the object of his further inquiry, in other words, by the stating of the problem at hand. Therewith the more or less emptily anticipated solution of this problem becomes the supreme goal of the scientific activity. On the other hand by the mere stating of the problem the sections or elements of the world which actually are or potentially may become related to it as relevant, as bearing upon the matter in hand, Are at once defined. Henceforth, this circumscription of the relevant field will guide the process of inquiry. It deter- mines, first of all, the so-called “level” of the research. As a matter of fact the term level is just another expression for the demarcation line between all that does and does not pertain to the problem under consideration, the former being the topics to be investigated, explicated, clarified; the latter the other elements of the scientist’s knowledge which, because they are irrelevant to his problem, he decides to accept in their givenness without questioning as mere “data.” In other words, the demarcation line is the locus of the points actually interesting the scientist and at which he has decided to stop further research and analysis. Secondly, the stating of the problem at once reveals its open horizons, the outer horizon of connected problems which will have to be stated afterwards, as well as the inner horizon of all the implications hidden within the problem itself which have to be made visible and explicated in order to solve it. All this, however, does not mean that the decision of the scientist in stating the problem is an arbitrary one or that he has the same “freedom of discretion” in choosing and solving his problems which the phantasying self has in filling out its anticipations. This is by no means the case. Of course, the theoretical thinker may choose at his discretion, only determined by his inclination, which is rooted in his intimate personality, the scientific field in which he wants to take interest and possibly also the level (in general) upon which he wants to carry on his investigations. But as soon as he has made up his mind in this respect, the scientist enters a preconstituted world of scientific contemplation handed down to him by the historical tradition of his science. Henceforth he will participate in a universe of discourse embracing the results obtained by others, problems stated by others, solutions suggested by others, methods worked out by others. This theoretical universe of the special science is itself a finite province of meaning, having its peculiar cognitive style with peculiar implications of problems and horizons to be explicated. The regulative principle of constitution of such a province of meaning, called a special branch of science, can be formulated as follows:

Any problem emerging within the scientific field has to partake of the universal style of this field and has to be compatible with the preconstituted problems and their solution by either accepting or refuting them.[37] Thus, the latitude for the discretion of the scientist in stating the problem is in fact a very small one.[38]

No such latitude, however, has been left as soon as the problem has been stated. It is a shortcoming of our precedent presentation of theoretical thinking that it represents an ongoing process in static terms. For a process it is, going on according to the strict rules of scientific procedure to describe the epistemology and methodology of which is not within our present purpose. To mention just a few of these rules: There is the postulate of consistency and compatibility of all propositions not only within the field of that special branch of science but also with all the other scientific propositions and even with the experiences of the natural attitude of everyday life insofar as they are safeguarded, although modified, within the finite province of theoretical contemplation; moreover the postulate that all scientific thought has to be derived, directly or indirectly, from tested observation, that is, from originary immediate experiences of facts within the world; the postulate of highest possible clarity and distinctness of all terms and notions used, especially requiring the transformation of confused prescientific thought into distinctness by explicating its hidden implications; and many others more.

The logic of science and the methodology of the special branches of science have established the rules which guarantee the operational procedure of the scientific performance and the testing of its results. The total of these rules sets forth the conditions under which scientific propositions and, in particular, the system of those propositions which form the respective special branch of science can be considered as warranted-or, in our language: the conditions under which an accent of reality can be bestowed upon the finite province of meaning in question. This leads us to an important distinction. As we have had to distinguish between the world of imagining and the world of imageries imagined,[39] now we have to distinguish between the theorizing cogitations and the intentional cogitata of such a theorizing. By their intentionality the latter refer to the one objective world, the universe within which we all live as psycho-physical human beings, within which we work and think, the intersubjective life-world which is pre-given to all of us, as the paramount reality from which all the other forms of reality are derived. “With the theoretical attitude the objects become theoretical objects, objects of an actual positing of being, in which the ego apprehends them as existent. This makes possible a comprehensive and systematic view of all objects, as possible substrates of the theoretical attitude.[39a] But unlike the world of phantasms which always lack any fixed position in the order of objective time[40] the intentional objects of theoretical contemptation, insofar as they are not “ideal objects of higher order,” have their well defined place within the order of objective (cosmic) time; and insofar as they are “ideal objects of higher order"[41] they are founded upon objects having such a place in objective time.[42] This statement, however, covers merely the time structure of the objects of theoretical thought and does not refer to the perspective of time peculiar to the process of contemplative theorizing itself. The theoretical thinker too lives within his inner durée, he also grows old, since his stock of experiences changes permanently by the emergence and sedimentation of new experiences. The theorizing self, therefore, has its specific form of the past, namely the history of its pre-experiences and their sedimentations, and its specific form of the future, namely, the open horizons of the problem in hand (the “project” of the ongoing theorizing) which refer to other problems to be stated afterwards and to the methods by which they may be solved. But the time perspective which the theorizing self lacks is the vivid present constituted with the natural attitude by the bodily movements as an intersection of the inner durée and the objective (cosmic) time. Consequently, it cannot share a vivid present with others in a pure We-relation and it stays even outside the different time perspectives of sociality originating in the vivid present of the We-relation. It does not, for this very reason, partake of the time structure of standard time, which, as we have seen, is nothing else than the intersubjective form of all the individual time perspectives including the vivid present of the We-relation as well as all of its derivations. Insofar as scientific activity goes on within the standard time (in working hours, according to time tables, etc.) it consists in acts of working within the world of everyday life which deal with science but not in acts of pure theorizing. Although the theorizing self does not know the time dimension of the vivid present, it has, nevertheless, a particular specious present,[43] within which it lives and acts. This specious present is defined at any moment by the span of the projects conceived. Its “fore” embraces the problems previously stated as projected tasks the solution of which is just in progress; its “aft” consists in the anticipated outcome of the ongoing theorizing activities designed to bring about the solution of the problem in hand. We have seen before that the theoretical thinker puts his physical existence and, thus, his body in brackets. He has no physical environment because there is no section of the world marked out as being within his immediate reach. We stated furthermore that the “actor” within the province of theoretical thought is never the “I” of the scientist as the unbroken totality of his personality but only a partial self, a Me. Now we have seen that the dimension of the vivid present and its derivation are inaccessible to the theorizing self. Consequently, it can never grasp – even not as a potentiality – the other’s self as an unbroken unit. All these statements can be summarized in a single one: The theorizing self is solitary; it has no social environment; it stands outside social relationships.

And now there arises with respect to the relationship between sociality and theoretical thought a dialectical problem similar to that which we encountered in our analysis of the world of dreams.[44] Here, however, it has a twofold aspect: (1) How can the solitary theorizing self find access to the world of working and make it an object of its theoretical contemplation? (2) How can theoretical thought be communicated and theorizing itself be performed in intersubjectivity?

Ad (1). As long as theorizing deals with objects which exist merely in objective time, as is the case in the sciences of nature and especially in those available for mathematical treatment, the dialectical problem in question does not become fully visible.[45] But the whole intersubjective world of working in standard time (therein included the working self of the thinker as a human being, his fellow-men, and their working acts) and even the problem how the existence of fellow-men and their thought can be experienced in natural attitude is a topic of theoretical contemplation. It is the actual principal subject matter – of the so called social sciences. But how is it possible that the solitary thinker, who with his theoretical attitude of disinterestedness stands outside all social relationships should find an approach to the world of everyday life in which men work among their fellow-men with the natural attitude, the very natural attitude which the theoretician is compelled to abandon? How is this possible, since all working acts occur within standard time, within the vivid present of the We-relation or forms derived from it, that is, within the very dimension of time of which, as we have seen, theoretical contemplation does not partake? Moreover, only in the We-relation, in which there is a com- munity of space and time (a common social environment in the pregnant sense), can man with the natural attitude experience the other’s self in its unbroken totality whereas outside the vivid present of the We-relation, the other appears merely as a Me, as a taker of a rôle, but not as a unity. How, then, can man in his full humanity and the social relationships in which he stands with others be grasped by theoretical thought? Yet, that all this is possible is the unclarified presupposition of all theoretical social sciences. Furthermore, the theoretical social scientist has to refer to his stock of pre-experiences of the existence of others, of their acting and working, and the meaning they bestow upon their acts and works. He has acquired these pre-experiences while living as a human being with others in the everyday world of the natural attitude, the same attitude which he had to bracket in order to leap into the province of theoretical contemplation. We have to face the difficulty here involved in its full earnestness. Only then will we understand that the theoretical thinker while remaining in the theoretical attitude cannot experience originarily and grasp in immediacy the world of everyday life within which I and you, Peter and Paul, anyone and everyone have confused and ineffable perceptions, act, work, plan, worry, hope, are born, grow up and will die-in a word: live their life as unbroken selves in their full humanity.

This world eludes the immediate grasp of the theoretical social scientist. He has to build up an artificial device, comparable to the aforementioned “indirect communication,” in order to bring the intersubjective life-world in view-or better, not this world itself, but merely a likeness of it, a likeness in which the human world recurs, but deprived of its liveliness, and in which man recurs, but deprived of his unbroken humanity. This artificial device-called the method of the social sciences-overcomes the outlined dialectical difficulty by substituting for the intersubjective life-world a model of this life-world. This model, however, is not peopled with human beings in their full humanity, but with puppets, with types; they are constructed in such a way as if they could perform working actions and reactions. Of course, these working actions and reactions are insofar merely fictitious, as they do not originate in a living consciousness as manifestations of its spontaneity; they are only assigned to the puppets by the grace of the scientist. But if, according to certain definite operational rules (to describe which is the business of a methodology of social sciences)[46] these types are constructed in such a way, that their fictitious working acts and performances remain not only consistent in themselves but compatible with all the pre-experiences of the world of daily life which the observer acquired with the natural attitude before he leaped into the theoretical province-then, and only then, does this model of the social world become a theoretical object, an object of an actual positing of being. It receives an accent of reality although not that of the natural attitude.

Ad (2). There is, however, another aspect of the dialectical problem involved which is not restricted to the question how sociality can be made the subject matter of theorizing but which refers in general to the sociality of theorizing itself. Theorizing-this term always used in the restricted meaning of scientific theorizing, and, therefore, excluding pure meditation- is, first, possible only within a universe of discourse that is pre-given to the scientist as the outcome of other people’s theorizing acts. It is, secondly, founded upon the assumption that other people, too, can make the same subject matter, with which I deal in theoretical contemplation, the topic of their theoretical thought and that my own results will be verified or falsified by theirs as theirs by mine.[47] Yet this mutual corroborating and refuting, approving and criticizing presupposes communication, and communication is possible only outside the pure theoretical sphere, namely in the world of working. In order to communicate my theoretical thought to my fellow-men, I have, therefore, to drop the pure theoretical attitude, I have to return to the world of daily life and its natural attitude-that same world which as we have seen remains inaccessible to direct approach by theorizing. This seems to be a highly paradoxical situation, similar to that which we encountered in our analysis of dream life where we found that only he who no longer dreams can communicate his experiences as a dreamer. This is just one form of the age-old problem which recurs in any type of pure meditation; it is the problem of indirect communication itself. To follow it from the beginning of philosophical thought up to our time would require the writing of a complete history of ideas. We, therefore, take just as an instance the particular form the problem has found in the latest phase of phenomenological theory. We find it in the first two of the three paradoxes besetting the phenomenologist, which Dr. Fink has developed in a now famous essay endorsed completely by Husserl as representing his own views.[48] Borrowing widely from Prof. Farber’s excellent presentation[49] we may sum up Fink – Husserl’s argument as follows: After having performed the phenomenological reduction the phenomenologist finds himself in the difficulty how to communicate his knowledge to the “dogmatist” who remains with the natural attitude. Does not this presuppose a common ground between them? This is the first form of the paradox. The problem involved is solved by showing that the phenomenologist does not leave the transcendental attitude and return to the natural one but that he places himself “in” the natural attitude as a transcendental situation that is seen through by him. The second paradox-called the “paradox of the phenomenological proposition,” which interests us especially – is based upon the first. It relates to the mundane world – concepts and language which are alone at the disposal of the communicating phenomenologist. That is why all phenomenological reports are inadequate because of the attempt to give a mundane expression to a non-worldly meaning and this difficulty cannot be met by the invention of an artificial language. Farber has criticized this argument to the point by showing that there is no “inner conflict” between mundane word-meaning and the indicated transcendent meaning itself.[50]

As we have shown, this problem is not a specific phenomenological one but far more general. It is more complicated in the sphere of transcendental phenomenology because of its concept of a plurality of transcendental egos, a community of monads, which, nevertheless, can communicate directly and immediately merely by the mundane means of bodily gestures in the broadest sense including language of any kind. It is, however, a serious question whether intersubjectivity is a problem of the transcendental sphere at all; or whether sociality does not rather belong to the mundane sphere of our life-world.[51] But the “paradox of communication” – the phenomenological as well as the mundane one with which the preceding analyses have dealt exclusively – exists only as long as we take what we called the finite provinces of meaning as ontological static entities, objectively existing outside the stream of individual consciousness within which they originate. Then, of course, the terms and notions, valid within one province, would not only, as is the case, require a through and through modification within the others, but would become therein entirely meaningless, comparable to coins of a peculiar country which cease to be legal tender when we cross the border. (But even then, to keep to this metaphor, we can exchange those coins for domestic currency of the new country.) The finite provinces of meaning are not separated states of mental life in the sense that passing from one to another would require a transmigration of the soul and a complete extinction of memory and consciousness by death as the doctrine of metempsychosis assumes. They are merely names for different tensions of one and the same consciousness and it is the one and same life, the mundane life, unbroken from birth to death, which is attended to in different modifications. We have said before, my mind may pass during one single day or even hour through the whole gamut of tensions of consciousness, now living in working acts, now passing through a day-dream, now plunging into the pictorial world of a painting, now indulging in theoretical contemplation. All these different experiences are experiences within my inner time; they belong to my stream of consciousness; they can be remembered and reproduced. And that is why they can be communicated in ordinary language in working acts to my fellow-man. We have mentioned frequently that working acts may be the “contents” of phantasms, of dreams, of theoretical contemplation. Why should not experiences originating in the finite provinces of phantasies, of dreams, of scientific theorizing become the contents of communicative-working acts? If children play together in their make-believe world, if we discuss with a fellow-beholder a work of art, if we indulge with others in the same ritual, we are still in the world of working connected by communicative acts of working with the other. And, nevertheless, both partners have leaped together from the finite province of meaning, called “world of everyday life,” into the province of play, of art, of religious symbols, etc. What formerly seemed to be a reality while attended to may now be measured by another yardstick and prove to be non-real or quasi-real but in the specific form of a present non-reality, whose reality may be restored.

The paradox of communication arises, thus, only if we assume that sociality and communication can be realized within another finite province of meaning than the world of everyday life which is the paramount reality. But if we do not make such an unwarranted assumption then science be- comes again included in the world of life. And, conversely, the miracle of symphilosophein brings back the full humanity of the thinker into the theoretical field.


1. Loc. cit., Vol. II, Chapter XXI, pp. 283-322.

2. Ibid., p. 320.

3. Ibid., pp. 291 ff.

4. Ibid., p. 293. 533

5. A. Schuetz, Der sinnhafte Aufbau der sozialen Welt., Vienna 1932, pp. 29-43, 72-93.

6. As to the “reflective attitude” cf. Marvin Farber, The Foundation of Phenomenology, Cambridge 1943, pp. 523 ff; also pp. 378 f; cf. furthermore Dorion Cairns: “An Approach to Phenomenology,” in Philosophical Essays in Memory of Edmund Husserl, ed. by M. Farber, Cambridge 1940; pp. 8 ff. The concept of “essentially actual experiences,” however, cannot be found in Husserl’s writings. Husserl’s view was that, as a matter of principle, every act can be grasped in reflection.

7. The presentation given above does not strictly follow Bergson’s terminology but it is hoped that it renders adequately his important thought. Here is a selection of some passages of Bergson’s writings significant for our problem: “Essai sur les données immédiates de la conscience” (1889), pp. 20 ff; pp. 94-106; “Matière et Mémoire” (1897), pp. 189-195; 224-233; Le rêve (1901) [in L'énergie spirituelle, pp. 108-111]; L'effort intellectual (1902) [ibid., pp. 164-171]; “Introduction A la métaphysique” (1903) [in La pensée et le mouvant, pp. 233-238]; “Le souvenir du present et la fausse reconnaissance” (1908) [L'energie spirituelle, pp. 129-137]; “La conscience et la vie” (1911) [ibid., pp. 15-18]; “La perception du changement” (1911) [in La pensée et le mouvant, pp. 171-175; pp. 190-193]; “Fantômes de vivants” et “recherche psychique” (1913) [L'énergie spirituelle, pp. 80-84]; “De la position des problems” (1922) [La pensée et le mouvant, pp. 91 ff].

8. With very few exceptions vulgar pragmatism does riot consider the problems of the constitution of conscious life involved in the notion of an ego agens or homo faber from which as a givenness most of the writers start. For the most part, pragmatism is, therefore, just a common-sense description of the attitude of man within the world of working in daily life but not a philosophy investigating the presuppositions of such a situation.

9. Human Nature and Conduct, New York 1922, Part III, Section III: “The Nature of Deliberation.”

10. Cf. G. H. Mead, Mind, Self, and Society, Chicago 1934, pp. 173-175, 196-198, 203; “The Genesis of the Self,” reprinted in The Philosophy of the Present, Chicago, 1932, pp. 176-195, esp. pp. 184 ff.; “What Social Objects Must Psychology Presuppose?,” Journal of Philosophy Vol. VIII, 1910, pp. 174-180; “The Social Self,” Journal of Philosophy, Vol. X, 1913, pp. 374-380. See also Alfred Stafford Clayton’s excellent book on G. H. Mead: Emergent Mind and Education, New York 1943, pp. 136-141, esp. p. 137. It is doubtless Mead’s merit to have seen the relations between act, self, memory, time, and reality. The position of the present paper is of course not reconcilable with Mead’s theory of the social origin of the self and with his (modified) behaviorism which induces him. to interpret all the beforementioned phenomena in terms of stimulus-response. There is much more truth in the famous chapter (X) of W. James’ Principles of Psychology, in which not only the distinction between Me and I can be found, but also its reference to bodily movements, memory, and the sense of time.

11. The Philosophy of the Present, Chicago 1932, pp. 124 ff.; The Philosophy of the Act, Chicago 1938, pp. 103-106, 121 ff, 151 f., 190-192, 196-197, 282-284.

12.Formale und Transzendentale Logik, ?74, p. 167.

13. The terminology follows that used by Husserl in his Meditations Carte’siennes ?? 53 ff.

14. In the face-to-face relation-and this is an additional peculiarity of this para- mount social relationship-the world within my reach and that within my partner’s reach overlap and there is at least a sector of a world within my and his common reach.

15. G. H. Mead in his essay “The Objective Reality of Perspectives,” reprinted in the Philosophy of the Present, comes to a similar conclusion; “Present reality is a possibility. It is what would be if we were there instead of here” (p. 173).

16. Cf. Farber, loc. cit., pp. 326 f.

16a. Although the point of view of the present paper differs in many respects from his I should like to call attention to Herbert Spiegelberg’s very interesting paper “The Reality-Phenomenon and Reality” in “Philosophical Essays” (op. cit.) pp. 84-105, which attempts an analysis of dubitability and dubiousness with respect to reality. According to Spiegelberg reality-criteria are the phenomena of readiness, persistence, perceptual periphery, boundaries in concrete objects, independence, resistance, and agreement.

17. James, Principles, Vol II, p. 290.

18. Cf. Husserl, Ideas, General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology, translated by Boyce Gibson, London-New York, 1931, §55, p. 168: “In a certain sense and with proper care in the use of words we may say that all real entities are ‘unities of ‘meaning’.” (Italics Husserl’s)

19. A word of caution seems to be needed here. The concept of finite provinces of meaning does not involve any static connotation such as if we had to select one of these provinces as our home to live in, to start from or to return to. That is by no means the case. Within a single day, even within a single hour our consciousness may run through most different tensions and adopt most different attentional attitudes to life. There is, furthermore, the problem of “enclaves,” that is of regions belonging to one province of meaning enclosed by another, a problem which, important as it is, cannot be handled within the frame of the present paper, which admittedly restricts itself to the outlining of a few principles of analysis. To give an example of this disregarded group of problems: Any projecting within the world of working is itself, as we have seen, a phantasying and involves in addition a kind of theoretical contemplation, although not necessarily that of the scientific attitude.

20. L.c., 306-312, especially §111, in particular the distinction between neutrality modification (in the strict sense) and phantasy.

21. This situation has been carefully analyzed by Husserl, Ideas, § 103 and in Erfahrung und Urteil, Prag 1939, pp. 99 f. and 370 f.

22. Principles of Psychology, Vol. II, p. 289.

23. Erfahrung und Urteil, § 74a, pp. 359 ff; cf. Farber, i.e., pp. 525 ff. It should be noted that the term “experience” is used here by Husserl in the restricted sense of Erfahrung.

24. Erfahrung und Urteil, §§39-42, pp. 195-214.

25. Cf. Bergson’s lecture “Mechanism du Rove,” 1901, reprinted in L'Energie spiituelle, pp. 91-116, esp. p. 111.

26. That sleep is a state of consciousness which is free from apperceptions distinguishes the world of dreams from the world of phantasms. The imagining self continues to apperceive but the scheme of interpretation it applies to what it apperceives differs radically from that which the wide-awake self applies to the same apperceptions in the world of working.

27. But Freud himself-in contradistinction to many of his followers – has especially admitted that his “mental topography” is in every respect open to revision and like the whole theoretical superstructure of psychoanalysis still incomplete and subject to constant alteration. (Cf. Freud’s article ‘Psychoanalysis” in Encyclopaedia Britannica, 14th ed., Vol. 18, p. 673.)

28. Cf. Supra footnote 19, page 554.

29. Cf. Husserl, “Die Krisis der Europäischen Wissenschaften und die Transzendentale Phänomenologie,” Philosophia, Vol. I, Beograd, 1936, pp. 124-129.

30. Cf. Supra page 550.

31. This does not mean that the fundamental anxiety is not the chief motive inducing human beings to start philosophizing. On the contrary, philosophy is one of the attempts – perhaps the principal one – to overcome the fundamental anxiety. An immortal Being – say an angel in the system of Thomas Aquinas – would not need to turn philosopher. But having performed the leap into the realm of theoretical contemplation the human being exercises a peculiar epoché from the fundamental anxiety, putting it and all its implications in brackets.

32. I hope that this statement will not be misunderstood as bearing any pejorative connotation. The term “wide-awakeness” as used in this paper does not involve any valuation whatsoever. By no means is it the writer’s opinion that life as such has a higher dignity than theoretical thought, a point of view advocated by certain so-called “philosophies of life,” especially modish in Germany.

33. Supra page 541.

34. In order to master or to influence these hypothetical realities we must, however, bring them within our reach. To give an example: The mere assumption that infantile paralysis is caused by an invisible virus of minute size which passes through the pores of earthenware filters may or may not be justified. But as long as this virus is outside of our reach-and, more precisely, outside our manipulatory sphere-we cannot prepare efficient measures to fight it-except an “antivirus,” no less invisible and no less outside of our reach.

35. Supra page 545 ff.

36. Needless to say, this form of epoche must not be confused with the epoche leading to the phenomenological reduction by which not only the subjectivity of the thinker but the whole world is bracketed. The theoretical thinking has to be characterized as belonging to the “natural attitude,” this term here (otherwise than in the text) being used in contradistinction to “phenomenological reduction.” As to the ambiguity of the term “natural” cf. Farber, i.c., p. 552.

37. As to the latter problem, cf. Felix Kaufmann Methodology of the Social Sciences, New York, 1944, Chapter IV.

38. We disregard here-as surpassing the purpose of the present study-the many interdependencies among all possible systems of questions and answers (the Aristotelian problem of a universal aporetic) and also the special problem of key-concepts, that is of concepts the introduction of which divides the formerly homogeneous field of research into parts relevant or not for the topic under consideration.

39. Supra page 556.

39a. Farber, l.c., p. 525.

40. Cf. Supra page 559.

41. Cf. Farber, l.c., pp. 457, 460, and Husserl, VI. Logical Investigation, §§ 47-48.

42. Cf. Farber, l.c., p. 49 1.

43. The particular problems involved in the concept “specious present” cannot be analyzed here. For the purpose in hand a reference to William James’ use of this term (Principles of Psychology, Vol. I, pp. 608 ff. and pp. 641 f.) has to suffice.

44. See Supra pages 562 f.

45. It appears, however, as soon as the scientific observer includes himself in the observational field, such as, for instance, in the famous Heisenberg principle of uncertainty. If this is the case, so-called crises in the foundation of the science in question break out. They are just one form of the general dialectical situation outlined in the text.

46. Cf. the present. writer’s paper, “The Problem of Rationality in the Social World,” Economica, London, May 1943, Vol. X, pp. 131-149, esp. pp. 143 ff.; and his before- mentioned book, esp. pp. 247-286.

47. Cf. Husserl, Formale und Transzendentale Logik. pp. 172-173, pp. 200-201, pp. 205-215, esp. 209 and 212.

48. Eugen Fink, “Die phänomenologische Philosophie Edmund Husserl’s in der gegenwärtigen Kritik” with a preface by Edmund Husserl, Kant-Studien, (Berlin 1933) pp. 319-383.

49. L.c., Chapter XVII B. esp. pp. 558 ff.

50. L.c., pp. 559-560. The third paradox called “the logical paradox of transcendental determinations,” the most important among the three (although not for the problems of the present paper) refers to the question whether logic is equal to the task of solving problems arising in the determination of basic transcendental relations.

51. Cf. the present writer’s “Scheler’s Theory of Intersubjectivity and the General Thesis of the Alter Ego,” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, (March, 1942) pp. 323-347, esp. 335-337.