Remarks on Aesthetic Intentionality: Husserl or Kant

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  • This article was downloaded by: [Computing & Library Services, University ofHuddersfield]On: 07 October 2014, At: 01:42Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH,UK

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    Remarks on AestheticIntentionality: Husserl or KantDanielle Lories aa Universit de Louvain , BelgiumPublished online: 20 Aug 2006.

    To cite this article: Danielle Lories (2006) Remarks on Aesthetic Intentionality:Husserl or Kant, International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 14:1, 31-49, DOI:10.1080/09672550500445103

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  • International Journal of Philosophical Studies

    Vol. 14(1), 3149

    International Journal of Philosophical Studies

    ISSN 09672559 print 14664542 online 2006 Taylor & Francishttp://www.tandf.co.uk/journals

    DOI: 10.1080/09672550500445103

    Remarks on Aesthetic Intentionality: Husserl or Kant

    Danielle Lories

    Taylor and Francis LtdRIPH_A_144493.sgm10.1080/09672550500445103International Journal of Philosophical Studies0967-2559 (print)/1466-4542 (online)Original Article2006Taylor & Francis1410000002005DanielleLorieslories@rispucl.ac.be

    Abstract

    It is sometimes claimed that Husserls writings provide an inspiration forconsidering art today. More specifically we ask here whether Husserlsdescription of aesthetic attitude is rich and original. The comparisons he drawsbetween the aesthetic attitude and the phenomenological attitude always aimto clarify the phenomenological attitude and thus take it for granted that thetypical features of the aesthetic attitude are well known. In this way Husserlpresupposes and retrieves the teaching of Kant, although in certain workingnotes he clarifies and intensifies the formal and reflective characteristics ofKants description of the aesthetic judgment.

    Keywords:

    aesthetics; phenomenology; epoche; neutralization; imagination; disinterestedness

    It is well known that nowadays there are essays in aesthetics about modernand contemporary art which try to interpret the rather sparse and brief indi-cations on the topic in Husserls texts, and want to find therein relevantideas in order to understand art today. In the following pages I look againat the Husserlian excerpts most often appealed to in this respect. My aim isto assess the fertility of Husserls inspiration for contemporary aesthetics inthe light of the Kantian roots of these texts, which provide the outlines of aphenomenology of aesthetic experience.

    I shall endeavour first to show that the famous letter to Hofmannsthaland the often-cited passage in

    Ideen I

    , 111 confine themselves to definingthe aesthetic attitude in Husserlian vocabulary by retrieving the featureKant named

    disinterestedness

    or

    favour

    . Secondly, although it will be impos-sible here to demonstrate systematically the phenomenological relevance ofKants text, I will try to evoke that relevance by comparing excerpts fromthe third

    Critique

    with several working notes in which Husserl seems toprovide the closest description of the aesthetic attitude. Those notes wereclearly written in the same spirit as the letter and the passage in

    Ideen I

    mentioned above. They refer to an analogy, not an identification, betweenthe aesthetic and phenomenological attitude; but, because HusserlsD

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  • INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHICAL STUDIES

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    description is more refined, the difference is more obvious, and it isexpressed in terms which, however typically Husserlian and phenomenolog-ical they may be, also depend closely on two topics which were major issuesin Kants

    Analytic of the Beautiful

    :

    form

    and

    reflection

    . I will suggest thatHusserls writings, in spite of their phenomenological originality, commentupon the two features emphasized and developed by Kant and specify themas features of an intentional consciousness. And it is perhaps thanks to thisphenomenological presentation that these two characteristics appear sorelevant to current aesthetics.

    Let me consider, first of all, the letter of 12 January 1907 to Hofmannst-hal,

    1

    where Husserl made a very explicit comparison between the aestheticattitude and the phenomenological attitude:

    This method [the phenomenological one] requires the taking of astand towards all objectivity which essentially leads away from thenatural stand; and which is closely related to the stand and attitudeinto which your art, as a

    purely aesthetic

    one, leads us with regard tothe objects represented and the whole surrounding world.

    And he immediately adds the following clarification:

    The intuition of a purely aesthetic work of art is carried out byrigorously excluding any existential stand of the intellect, and anystand of the feeling and the will, which presupposes such an existen-tial stand. Or better: the work of art puts us (forces us, so to speak)into a purely aesthetic state which excludes taking those positions.The more a work of art resounds with the existential world, or themore it is vitally attracted by that world, the more the work of artby itself demands an existential stand, [] the less is the workaesthetically pure.

    Husserl insists that taking into account the existence of things that stand infront of us is an attitude of mind which is

    the exact opposite of the attitude of mind in purely aesthetic intuitionand in the corresponding state of feeling. But it is no less the exactopposite of the purely phenomenological attitude of mind, in whichalone can philosophical problems be solved. For the phenomenologi-cal method also demands a rigorous exclusion of every existentialstand.

    2

    Husserl maintains with great clarity a close relatedness betweenphenomenological contemplation (

    Schauen

    ) of the cognitive phenomenaand aesthetic contemplation in pure art: I contemplate, and my research

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  • REMARKS ON AESTHETIC INTENTIONALITY: HUSSERL OR KANT

    33

    is focused on contemplating (purely aesthetically, so to speak). In its veryprinciple, phenomenological contemplation, like aesthetic contemplation,excludes any position of existence. And the motivation of the comparison isquite clear: the aim is to make someone who undoubtedly has an intimateand profound knowledge of the

    purely aesthetic

    able to appreciate, on thebasis of this knowledge and this familiarity, and by analogy, what is meantby the phenomenological attitude and the

    pure seeing

    that it makes possible.Husserl gives an elementary lesson in phenomenology and, as a goodteacher, he relies on what he knows to be familiar to the person he is writingto. The incorrigible and flawless professor!, he says about himself (as akind of excuse) and adds: he cannot open his mouth without giving acourse.

    3

    Readers who are familiar with Husserls texts will very quickly make alink between this comparison and some other excerpts, among which arethe passages in

    Ideen I

    where Drers engraving

    Knight, Death and theDevil

    is evoked. And consequently they will also make a link betweenthis comparison and what Husserl calls there the neutrality modifica-tion.

    4

    What is the topic of 111 of

    Ideen I

    , where that example is to befound? The issue in question is the differentiation between phantasy(

    Phantasie

    ) and the neutrality modification introduced in 109 andalready distinguished from

    assuming

    (

    Annehmen

    ) and

    supposing

    (

    Ansatzen

    ) in 110. The question is delicate, for phantasy itself is in facta neutrality modification. More precisely stated, Husserl writes, univer-sally

    phantasying

    is the

    neutrality modification

    of

    positing presentiation

    ,and therefore of memory in the widest conceivable sense.

    5

    Actually, theneutrality modification is defined as abstaining from any positing in acertain way it completely annuls, completely renders powerless everydoxic modality to which it is related

    6

    and so neutralizes every kind ofbelieving so that neutralized positings are essentially differentiated by the fact that

    their correlates do not contain anything positable, anythingactually predicable

    and so in no respect does neutralized consciousnessplay the role of a believing for what is intended to.

    7

    The correlate of

    Phantasie

    , by contrast, is compatible with positing acts, as for example inthe case of the portrait of somebody one knows to be or to have beenalive.

    8

    The example of Drers engraving is intended to make all of thisclearer. In this context, Husserl uses the phrases aesthetic contemplation(

    sthetischen Betrachtung

    )

    9

    and

    purely aesthetical

    [comportment] (

    reinsthetisch verhalten

    ).

    10

    Two neutralizations are evoked successively, andonly the second offers a mere picture (

    blosses Bild

    ).

    11

    The first modifica-tion makes it possible to make the transition from a normal perceptionthe correlate of which is the

    physical thing

    ,

    engraved print

    in its port-folio to a perceptive consciousness in which within the black, colorlesslines, there appear to us the figures of the knight on his horse, death,and the devil, but in such a way that

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    we do not advert to these in aesthetic contemplation as Objects; werather advert to the realities presented in the picture more preciselystated, to the

    depictured

    realities, to the flesh and blood knight, etc.

    12

    In this consciousness of the picture there is already a neutrality modifica-tion: this

    depicturing picture-Object

    is present to us

    neither as existing nor asnot existing

    , nor in any other

    positional modality

    .

    13

    But there is a second neutrality modification in the consciousness of theimage. About this second modification, Husserl says, a few lines later,

    Likewise the

    depictured

    too, when we comport ourselves

    purelyaesthetically

    and take the same thing again as a mere picture [

    blossesBild

    ] without imparting to it the stamp of being or non-being, of beingpossible or being deemed likely, or the like.

    This was still possible in relation to the flesh and blood knight mentionedabove, even though his

    picture

    , a colourless figure, was already a

    neutralized

    perceived. This time the picture (

    Bild

    ) is a

    pure

    one, no longer referring toanything as existing or not existing.

    14

    From this example, by considering what it tells us about aestheticattitude, we may conclude that in aesthetic intentionality,

    phantasy

    presen-tiates a

    pure

    picture by carrying out a neutralization of the perceived thing,the painting (or in our case an engraving and it is possible to deal similarlywith what is perceived by the spectator in a theatre), and anotherneutralization, bearing on what, if anything, is

    depictured

    , the topic of thepicture. The aesthetic consciousness does not posit either the existence orthe non-existence of the painting. Rather, as Husserl writes, there isconsciousness of it as existing, but as quasi-existing in the neutralitymodification of being.

    And it is the same for the possible

    depictured

    thing, presented in thepicture. Thus, this paragraph from

    Ideen I

    closely approximates not onlywhat was said in the letter to Hofmannsthal, but also what was conveyed inscattered remarks on this topic which appear quite early in Husserlswritings and notes. The phenomenal content of a painting, he writes in the

    Fifth Investigation

    , with its painted figures etc., remains, e.g., the same,whether we regard these as representing real objects, or allow them toinfluence us aesthetically without positing anything.

    15

    And later, in notes from 19214:

    Either the depicting act is a thematic one directed towards what isdepicted, or on the contrary my attitude is the aesthetic attitude, andeven though I may be convinced that the depicted exists and has suchand such properties, there is in the aesthetic attitude an exclusion ofall thematic positional accomplishment of this.

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  • REMARKS ON AESTHETIC INTENTIONALITY: HUSSERL OR KANT

    35

    And then:

    Aesthetically I am not interested in effective reality, I am not orientedtowards effective reality.

    16

    It is a permanent feature that, in Husserl, the aesthetic attitude is set apartfrom all positing of existence. But then how is it possible to develop ourreflection on that basis? I believe that two points need to be made in thisregard.

    Aesthetic Attitude and Phenomenological Attitude

    The first point concerns the two texts I have already mentioned the letterto Hofmannsthal and 111 of

    Ideen I

    . Both of these passages bring togetheraesthetic attitude and phenomenological attitude. It is clear in both cases.Indeed, as Paul Ricur says, in a footnote to his French translation of 109on the neutrality modification, this new modification which

    abstains frompositing

    is what the

    epoche

    carries out.

    17

    I believe he is right in thinkingthat this is confirmed a little later by the following lines:

    Everything [every kind of believing] has the modifying parentheses,closely akin to that of which we have spoken so much before, andwhich is so important for preparing the way to phenomenology.

    18

    So that in 111, when a kinship between this neutrality modification andphantasy in its aesthetic use is emphasized in the example of Drersengraving, it might well be thought that we are dealing again with the paral-lelism of phenomenology and aesthetics brought to the fore in the 1907letter. All the more so since the close proximity of phantasy and neutraliza-tion which is stressed here accounts for what Husserl previously announcedwhen he evoked the extraordinary profit that can be drawn from examplesprovided by art, and especially [] poetry, because, he added, feigning[

    Fiktion

    ]

    makes up the vital element of phenomenology as of every othereidetic science

    .

    19

    We might therefore ask whether this close kinship may serve to overcomeor compensate in a certain way for the absence or lack of developed reflectionon art and aesthetics in Husserl. Although he devotes little attention toaesthetic intentionality,

    20

    what he says, inevitably and abundantly, about thephenomenological necessity of bracketing, of carrying out the

    epoche

    , couldprovide a guideline for a phenomenological inquiry into the aesthetic or artis-tic experience. However, two closely linked objections to such a project canbe raised.

    21

    First, the comparison itself, as it is presented by Husserl, manifestsits own limits. This is clear in both the instances considered above. In

    IdeenI

    , as already pointed out, what is at stake in 111 is a very likely confusion [to]

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    be guarded against, namely the confusion of the

    neutrality modification

    which prepares the

    epoche

    with

    phantasy

    that is the

    neutrality modifi-cation

    of positing presentiation.22 It is, Husserl writes a bit later, of funda-mental significance not to confuse them.23 The question can be raisedwhether in 111 Husserl succeeded in clearly distinguishing between thetwo,24 but the significance the distinction has for him cannot be doubted. In112 he goes back to the distinction, calling attention to its radical characterin order to emphasize still more sharply this decisive point of difference.25

    He then points out a very distinctive feature: as presentiation; the phantasymodification is reiterable (there are phantasies at no matter what levels: phan-tasies in phantasies), while reiteration of the operation of neutralizationis, by virtue of its essence, excluded.26 No matter how difficult Husserls textmay be,27 it must be acknowledged that he asserts here a difference which heclaims to be radical between the bracketing characteristic of phenomenolog-ical consciousness and the operation by virtue of which a mere picture is givento aesthetic consciousness. Moreover, overvaluing the significance of thekinship, speaking of one attitude as the same as the other, or restricting thephenomenological attitude to the aesthetic attitude all raise difficult prob-lems for the phenomenologist, problems of which commentators are wellaware. For example, Franoise Dastur reminds us (referring especially, it istrue, to the crucial appeal to fiction in 70) that this kinship brings with it thethreat that the ideality of appearing might vanish into the realm of fiction,and she insists that it is necessary to protect [] philosophical purity againstpoetical contamination.28 While pointing out as well that it is not absurd []to assert that the aesthetic realm is the locus where the phenomenologicalreduction in some way spontaneously takes place, another commentatornevertheless adds: it must not be hidden that this kind of identificationbetween art and phenomenology is not without difficulties29 and observes ina footnote that Fink firmly maintained the technical distinction between theneutrality of phantasy and the neutrality resulting from reduction.30

    Nevertheless, it is not my purpose here to deal with the difficultiesencountered in thinking of the status of the phenomenological attitudealong these lines. Let us rather go back to the limits Husserl himselfimposed on the comparison. These are already set forth in the letter of Janu-ary 1907: aesthetic contemplation opens the way to aesthetic enjoyment;phenomenological contemplation opens the way to properly philosophicalknowledge. If both the artist and the phenomenologist are indifferent to theexistence of the world when they consider it from their respective points ofview, the latter considers it in this way in order to search for its meaning andto grasp it in concepts, while the former appropriates it in an intuitivemanner in order to discern forms and materials that can nourish creativeaesthetic configurations.

    The limits of the comparison are therefore as precise and clear as is theclose kinship. The limits are actually so narrowly defined that the only thing

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  • REMARKS ON AESTHETIC INTENTIONALITY: HUSSERL OR KANT

    37

    these Husserlian parallels reveal about the aesthetic attitude is that it doesnot posit anything either positively or negatively: the only feature revealedis the indifference towards the existence of the world, indifference that canaccompany pleasure (zu geniessen). Why are the limits of the comparison sonarrow? It is not only because in fact the phenomenological point of viewand the aesthetic one are essentially divergent (a more refined phenomeno-logical description will confirm this), but also because the purpose of thecomparison is to shed some light on the phenomenological attitude with thehelp of the aesthetic attitude, and not vice versa. Therefore it is not reallyuseful in this context to carry out a more extensive examination of theaesthetic attitude. This is too obvious to deserve additional comment.Writing to Hofmannsthal, Husserl does not and cannot claim to teach himanything about art or aesthetics. As I pointed out above, he can only assumethat this realm is known to the poet, in order to convey to him a general ideaof the unknown phenomenological realm, and in order to arouse his interestby calling attention to the kinship between the two realms.

    As for Ideen I, it cannot be denied that what is at stake throughout thebook is the articulation of what phenomenology is all about rather than aserious discussion of aesthetic experience. The brief allusions to fiction(70), to a visit to the art gallery in Dresden (100), and to the aestheticcontemplation of Drers engraving (111) are there only in passing andare used as examples to illustrate the phenomenological notions which arethe main object of the authors attention. The goal is always to cast somelight on the phenomenological by means of the aesthetic, not the reverse. Itseems to me, therefore, that in these passages Husserl is far from proposinga phenomenological description of aesthetic experience as such. The sameis true of the Logical Investigations. In saying this, am I maintaining thatnothing is to be found in Husserls writings that can be helpful for under-standing the aesthetic consciousness? No, I am not. I want to concede thatthere are Husserlian fragments which are very useful with regard to thisissue. But my point is that emphasizing the analogy between aestheticconsciousness and phenomenological epoche is not the most fruitful way toread Husserls remarks on the topic.

    Husserlian Aesthetics and Kantian Phenomenology

    Indeed, the obvious conclusion of the previous section leads me to mysecond point. Since Husserls comparisons do not comprise a precisephenomenological description of the aesthetic attitude, if they are to makesense they have to presuppose such a description, and let parts of it showthrough and be recognizable. From what transpires in this regard we mayconclude that the description of the aesthetic consciousness presupposed byHusserl is nothing other than the Kantian description. This is far from beinga novel conclusion: it has been recognized by many commentators, ever

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    since Sartres reflections on the topic. On the example of the engraving in111 of Ideen I, Sartre wrote in LImagination: What is important toHusserl here is that the thesis or positing of existence underwent aneutrality modification, and he adds in a footnote: He wants above all toshow that, in the aesthetic contemplation, the object is not posited as exist-ing. His descriptions refer for the most part to the Critique of Judgment.31

    Moreover, in a footnote to a short working manuscript that the editors datearound 1906, and that distinguishes between aesthetic attitude on the onehand and theoretical and practical attitude on the other, Husserl himself(dealing with aesthetic enjoyment and defining it as an enjoyment whichleaves existence out of account and is essentially determined by the way ofappearing) refers laconically to Kants aesthetics: siehe Text und KantsLehre.32

    In brief, the disconnection of existence, the neutralization of any posi-tional modality, and the rigorous exclusion of any existential stand that ischaracteristic of the purely aesthetic attitude are only different names more phenomenological names, perhaps, certainly more Husserlian forthe Kantian notion of disinterestedness.33

    What is at stake in Kantian disinterestedness if not the bracketing, theexclusion of any existential positing of the thing considered? I am wellaware that by making this suggestion I am taking a risk: I could be blamedfor adopting the attitude Kant himself denounced in the pages entitledber eine Entdeckung, nach der alle neue Kritik der reinen Vernunftdurch eine ltere entbehrlich gemacht werden soll.34 Be that as it may, I amconvinced that the phenomenological description of aesthetic experience inboth passages discussed above is nothing other than a comment on Kantiananalysis: it presupposes it, it leans on it, and it translates it into phenomeno-logical terms. In defence of my interpretation, I can only say here that whatit needs is a rereading of Kant, a rereading which must be well aware of itsdebt to the phenomenological if not always Husserlian point of view, andwhich must acknowledge that Kant himself was really attentive to the Sacheselbst.

    More precisely, I want to suggest here that Husserls own scatteredremarks are an invitation to reread the Critique of Aesthetic Judgment as aphenomenology of the aesthetic attitude. And to the extent that one istempted to search for some clues in Husserl in order to understand modernor contemporary art better, one should avoid assuming too quickly thatKantian aesthetics is a traditional way of thinking that should be rejectedbecause of its radical inadequacy with regard to the contemporary artisticscene and its fragmented character. In short, one of the significant featuresof the Husserlian texts that are examined here is that they compel us to readKant again, without construing him as moving towards either subjectivisticreductionism or idealism. The Kantian approach in terms of reflective judg-ment allows justice to be done more effectively than is commonly thought

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  • REMARKS ON AESTHETIC INTENTIONALITY: HUSSERL OR KANT

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    today to the singularity of creations, to the event character of art, andtherefore to that radical or essential plurality of contemporary art that is sooften emphasized. But since a detailed and systematic phenomenologicalreading of Kants text is not possible here, and since my major issue isHusserls texts (and not Kants), I will confine myself to several remarksorganized in terms of the light Husserl sheds in working notes on Kantsdisinterestedness and thus on his formalism, on the one hand, and on therole of reflection in the aesthetic attitude, on the other hand. In other words,in the following sections my aim is to suggest that Husserls most importantremarks on aesthetics are to be considered as kinds of footnotes to KantsCritique of Aesthetic Judgment quite important footnotes, however, whichallow us to go far deeper into the issue. And I will focus on only the twopoints I have just mentioned, though I think that much more can be said indefence of my thesis. Kantian themes will only be an Ariadnes threadamong Husserls notes.

    Favour or Aesthetic Interest

    As well as the comparisons between the artist and the phenomenologistconcerning the bracketing of the question of being or not being, some ofHusserls notes enrich the phenomenological description of the aestheticattitude in ways that confirm Kants Analytic by emphasizing that disinter-estedness is far from being a negative characteristic. This was expressed bythe word favour that Kant assigned to what he also called the only freeliking; by the same token, Husserls remarks invite us to re-examine theformal character of that liking which is linked to the beautiful.35

    It is well known that the specificity of the aesthetic judgment is firstcharacterized by Kant in negative terms: since it has neither the objectivitynor the impartiality that are the features of the cognitive or theoretical judg-ment, the aesthetic judgment is only subjective. As it does not depend uponan interest that would link it with a desire and/or a technical or moral end inwhose fulfilment one could be interested, the aesthetic judgment isdistinguished from the utility judgment, from moral judgment, and fromjudgment about the agreeable. Positively, however, not to be governed byinterests or by concepts prior to the contemplation of something amounts toa liberation of the object in its way of presenting itself to us. We free theobject from conceptual and theoretical yokes as well as from the ends thatwe have in mind, and thereby do justice to what presents itself, just as itpresents itself so to speak in its spontaneity. Heidegger has taught us in hisown style how to rule out the mean and negative reading of disinterested-ness: the misinterpretation of interest, he wrote in Nietzsche I, leads tothe erroneous opinion that with the exclusion of interest every essentialrelation to the object is suppressed. The opposite is the case. Precisely bymeans of the devoid of interest the essential relation to the object itself

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    comes into play. The misinterpretation fails to see that now, for the firsttime, the object comes to the fore as pure object and that such comingforward into appearance is the beautiful. The word beautiful meansappearing in the radiance of such coming to the fore.36

    It is not relevant here to elaborate on the differences between Husserlsphenomenology and Heideggers thought. My point is that, in his own wayand in a different vocabulary, Husserl in his working notes had called atten-tion to something significant concerning aesthetic consciousness, somethingthat invites us to go back again to Kants text from a point of view similar toHeideggers. Let me pick out several excerpts among the most significant inthis respect:

    We distinguish: interest in the appearing (of what there is actually anintuition; an intuition which, however, is of the thing), interest in thething [Sache].37

    Then:

    Clear awaking of the object-consciousness, although the interest doesnot concern the object as a member of the actual world, according toits objective properties, relations, etc., but precisely the appearingonly.38

    And still more explicitly in a later note (1921 or 1924, according to theeditors):

    Consideration of a landscape, a theory aesthetically [] the aestheticconsideration requires the exclusion of theoretical interest, the theo-retical attitude must yield to the aesthetic one. But I can return to theaesthetic attitude; I can consider effectiveness as though it were apicture [Bild].39

    And a little later:

    Therefore what is essential for the aesthetic attitude is not phantasyeither, but the attitude focused upon what is aesthetically interesting,the objectivity in its how.40

    For contemporary readers, Husserls vocabulary perhaps has the advantageover Kants negative phrases that it eliminates more explicitly any confusionbetween aesthetic disinterestedness and any kind of indifference in thebroad sense towards the thing offering itself to intuition. And since thequestion about the existential positing of what is presented is ruled out,41 itis precisely the interest in a narrow and Kantian sense that is put aside. But

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    in this way what has found a place appears clearly: the interest in the appear-ing, in the appearing only, that is to say in the object in its how, in its way ofappearing rather than in its what, either actually or not: I can consider actualeffectiveness as if it were a picture, that is to say without any questionabout its being or not being, and therefore with an interest only in its way ofappearing, in the how of its being-in-front-of-me. And that is why, whereasall feeling of actuality in relation to an appearing object goes through theappearance,

    it is quite different with the aesthetic feeling, which does not movethrough the appearance, but is oriented towards the appearance, andtowards the object only for the sake of the appearance.42

    Disinterestedness is not to be confused with lack of interest; on the contrary,it takes into consideration what the usual interests normally overlook: theway the thing appears, its own way of giving itself. The Husserlian way ofsaying this is an invitation to interpret in this sense the Kantian thesis thatbinds the beautiful with the form, to the exclusion of matter.

    What is excluded as matter from pure aesthetic feeling by Kant is not onlythe bodily and sensuous character of the liking of the agreeable, or the patho-logical character of empirical emotions and feelings, but also the actualityof the thing (the actuality to which are attached the various interests, utili-tarian, moral, or pleasure-related); and even as Husserl understood andclearly stated its reality in the sense of the Husserlian Sache is excluded,to the extent that interest in the Sache and interest in its appearing areopposed to one another. Indeed, in the text just quoted, after excluding theconsciousness of actuality, Husserl also excludes from the aesthetic attitudethe emotional reaction which is possible in the presence of a spectacle evenif the actuality of what is being dealt with is no longer an issue:

    In phantasy, I have before my eyes a man who murders another man;I react to that with a position of horror, etc. [] The position-takingshere are material [sachliche], they are directed to the objects, eitherexperienced [erfahrenen] or phantasied, and they remain the same aslong as the objects and their objective interconnections remain thesame for consciousness.43

    Just as Phantasie provides a quasi-perception, so quasi-feelings can alsobe experienced. These are actual feelings: they are really experienced andconnected with the objects provided by quasi-perception: the murder sceneis horrifying, even as a mere phantasy (in a non-positing presentiation),because emotional life is sensitive to what appears, to the object, the Sache,rather than to its way of appearing which is not considered. The situationis quite different from the aesthetic point of view.44

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    But the same objects are given in consciousness according to distinctmodes of appearing (Erscheinungsweise), modes of objectivation. That theobject appears in this or that orientation is the very same for the objective(sachliche) position-taking which is directed towards the object, towardsthis identical object, and which values it. But aesthetically it is not the verysame.45 Each object, as it is given to consciousness, is given consciously in amode of appearing, and then the mode of appearing can be the mode whichdetermines an aesthetic comportment, one mode determining an aestheticpleasure, the other mode determining an aesthetic displeasure, etc.46 HereHusserl provides elements allowing a very open interpretation oneperhaps relevant to contemporary art an interpretation of form which isthe only relevant factor of beauty in the third Critique. Is not the judgmentof taste based on nothing but the form of purposiveness of an object or,Kant adds significantly, of the way of presenting it [Vorstellungsart] themere form of purposiveness, insofar as we are conscious of it, in the presen-tation by which an object is given to us?47 The aesthetic pleasure is linkedto the mode of presentation of the object and to the awareness we have ofit. Likewise, when Kant uses the phrase the purposiveness of the form,48

    he means that what presents itself or is represented must not materiallyfulfil any expectation or desire and that the liking is aesthetically pure oncondition that it is linked only to the way the object presents itself, to itsform and not to its content.49 What allows us to speak of beauty, whatappeals to the aesthetic attitude, is the form in the sense of the way thething presents itself, the organization and the modalities of its appearance,in contrast with what is thus given to be seen, here a manifold of sense-data,in contrast with the agreeable or meaningful content of this form: Theposition of existence, Husserl writes, does not found the aestheticconsciousness, as it does where joy, love, etc. are at stake.50 Moreover, thesame passage is extremely clear on the following point: bracketing theactual effectiveness of what is being dealt with is not essential to consider-ing it from the aesthetic point of view. The positing of existence is simplynot a founding element; what is essential is that aesthetic feelings aredetermined by the mode of appearing. Husserl puts it this way: If, forexample, I consider nature aesthetically, it remains for me this definiteactuality. I do not, however, live in the consciousness of actuality.51

    John Brough has made helpful comments on this topic in a paper I havealready mentioned. Two points in particular deserve to be recalled here. First,Brough explains that the artist is interested in the image-object aesthetically,that is, simply as it appears. And he emphasizes: this interest extends evento those features of the image-object that do not depict aspects of the subject,such as bold brush work, or the aesthetic effect of marble.52 This is theinterest in the appearing and not in the thing. This is focusing upon theobjectivity in its how. Secondly, commenting on Husserls notes on theatre,Brough writes about the best way of understanding Husserls Schein:

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    Schein in the case of theatrical presentation might be rendered better[better than by illusion] by show, as in show business. A show is amatter of sheer appearance, of a closed world that is not taken asactual but simply as something to be seen and heard. The show ispublic, of course, not something playing in ones private phantasy.Rooted in real human beings and stage sets and sounds and light, it isprecisely a perceptual fiction. Now Husserl suggests that somethinglike this is going on in all works of art they all present, not perceivedreality, but a show: Thus art, in fact, offers us an infinite wealth ofperceptual fictions53

    Imagination and Reflection

    In the last excerpt from the third Critique quoted above, the word reflectionappeared, a term which, as everyone knows, has considerable significance inKants aesthetics. Husserls Spring 1912 notes, quoted above, likewise seemto suggest a way of understanding the Kantian description of the reflectiveplay between imagination and understanding at the core of aestheticappraisal, and at the same time they also seem to emphasize the complexityof this interplay.54 Towards what, Husserl asks, is the aesthetic consciousnessoriented? In other words, how can we understand the kind of appearanceliable to determine aesthetic pleasure or displeasure?55 He replies as follows:

    To live in the aesthetic consciousness is nevertheless to take a position,to value aesthetically. When I read a drama, I must, to be sure, beturned towards the persons, actions, etc., which are set forth. But if Iwere merely comporting myself in considering them and taking aposition towards them (even a modified one), that would be preciselynothing more than any other phantasy whatsoever.56

    Before going any further, it must be noted that in this text too what is atstake is the similarities and differences between the aesthetic attitude andthe phenomenological attitude. What is of interest for me here, more thanthe implications for phenomenology itself of this repeated comparison, isthat the closeness seems this time to force Husserl in order to avoid acomplete identification to go deeper into the analysis of the aestheticconsciousness. What has to be clearly shown in this case is the differencebetween any Phantasie, any not-positing presentiation, and the aestheticattitude, of which we already know that the feeling specific to it is not linkedto the Sache presented for example, the murder but to the modalities ofits being presented. Husserls text goes on:

    But the mode of appearing is the bearer of aesthetic feeling character-istics. I do not live in them, I do not reflect upon the way of appearing.

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    The appearance is appearance of the object, the object is object of theappearance. Away from living in the appearing I must go back tothe appearing and conversely, and then the feeling becomes alive: theobject, no matter how unpleasant it may be in itself, no matter hownegatively I may value it, receives an aesthetic colouration for the sakeof the mode of appearing, and the return to the appearing brings thegenuine feeling to life.

    The specifically aesthetic feeling is the result of reflection, of reflection onthe kind of appearance the modality of appearance. The reflection in thiscase consists in the consciousness moving between the mode of appearingand what appears, between what appears and the way it appears. This iswhat vivifies the aesthetic feeling, which therefore is less linked to the unre-ality specific to the way an object is given in a non-positing presentiationthan it is to the differentiation/indissociability between what is given and themodality of givenness. As Marc Richir writes, the appearance alone or theobject alone is unable to awaken the aesthetic feeling [] it arises then inthe mode of appearing that flashes phenomenologically between the appear-ing and the object.57

    As soon as the object retrieves its aesthetic worth in that way, so to speakthrough its mode of appearing, it must be acknowledged moreover that thecontent of the object itself is not without aesthetic meaning:58

    It is not indifferent whether it is an emperor or not, whether it is anoutstanding or an ordinary destiny. Is it a matter of evoking effects inthe soul (awe, dedication)? But there is something else: the matter iseach objectivity which motivates an existential joy or, if phantasied, aquasi-joy. In itself this joy is not aesthetic. But the aesthetic pleasurewhich depends on the mode of appearing can bind itself to this joy (asactuality) and the whole has the character of an eminent aesthetic joy[]. But the interplay between actual joys or quasi-joys [] and painsand other actual position-takings is itself a major piece of the actuallyaesthetic joy. Consequently it also belongs to the mode of appearing.59

    In the comings and goings from the object to its modality of appearing andvice versa, even the feelings or quasi-feelings that relate to the content of theobject are able to play a role in the aesthetic pleasure, but only as far as theyare, as it were, integrated with the mode of appearing (in Kantian terms, inso far as they are able to raise themselves above the matter to which theynormally belong in order to become form, to become part of the form) canthey take part in reflection, and by virtue of it, in the mode of appearing.60

    The reflection that goes from the object, from its content, even perhapsfrom its being posited and from the feelings it arouses in all these respectsto its mode of appearing, and vice versa, this reflection is such that the modes

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    of appearing contain in themselves [] the emotional reactions that areobjective [sachlich], but also, when relevant, the doxic position-takingsthat found them.61 Here it can be seen which Kantian themes are reappro-priated. Husserl reappropriates, on the one hand, the reflection without endthat aims to endure as such, according to Kants analysis of the pure aestheticjudgment (12). That reflection is here phenomenologically described in itscomplexity. On the other hand, Husserl reappropriates the disinterestednessor indifference with respect to the being or not-being, and he qualifies it withsubtlety. His description accounts for the life, for the animation specific tothe form (to the mode of appearing, taken in an extremely singularized sense:specific to this thing), which is the only thing that can be said to be beautiful.

    It is, I think, in this description of the reflection specific to the aestheticjudgment that the main interest of a phenomenology of the aestheticattitude that can be found in Husserl resides. By describing the doublemovement that vivifies the aesthetic feeling and gives the object its aestheticcolour or tone, Husserl discards the interpretations of the Kantian form thatconsider it to be empty (which it never was!): the form acquires here theconsistency of feelings of an emotional matter but sublimated feelings,feelings raised to the rank of form, as they are integrated in the mode ofappearing that is to say to the properly aesthetic, which therefore canevoke Aristotelian katharsis.

    Universit de Louvain, Belgium

    Notes

    1 Edmund Husserl, Briefwechsel. Band VII: Wissenschaftlerkorrespondenz, ed.Karl Schuhmann, Husserliana Dokumente III, 7 (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1994),pp. 1336. My translation.

    2 Ibid.3 Ibid.4 Edmund Husserl, Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenome-

    nological Philosophy. First Book: General Introduction to a Pure Phenomenol-ogy, trans. F. Kersten, Edmund Husserl: Collected Works, Vol. II (The Hague,Boston, Mass., and London: Nijhoff, 1982), example, p. 261 (German edition(hereafter G.), p. 226).

    5 Ibid., p. 260; G., p. 224. On Vorstellung, Gegenwrtigungen, and Vergegenwrti-gungen, see, for example, Maria Manuela Saraiva, LImagination chez Husserl,Phaenomenologica 34 (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1970), especially pp. 20416; on 111,pp. 22638.

    6 Ideas, 109. On The Doctrine of the Neutrality Modification, see Marcus Brain-ards commentary in his book Belief and its Neutralization: Husserls System ofPhenomenology in Ideas I (Albany: SUNY Press, 2002), pp. 15780; on Ideas I, 111, see pp. 1646.

    7 Ideas, 109.8 See Saraiva, op. cit., p. 236: La neutralisation imageante nest pas purement et

    simplement la neutralisation dun acte mais elle accompagne un acte; elle ne

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    dtruit pas son mode de vise mais seulement le caractre dtre qui lui estattach la prsentification neutralise reste prsentification. And FranoiseDastur writes: On ne peut pourtant pas confondre purement et simplementmodification de neutralit et imagination parce que cela impliquerait que toutacte positionnel soit non imageant, ce qui ne permettrait pas de rendre comptede tous les cas o limage est la copie dun objet rel (Franoise Dastur, Husserlet la neutralit de lart, in La part de lil (Art et phnomnologie), 7 (1991),pp. 1929, p. 28). See Edmund Husserl, Logische Untersuchungen, V, 40, p. 491.Also, 27, p. 443, for the example of waxwork figures that are recognized asfigure-models of Napoleon, or of Bismarck.

    9 Ideas, 111, p. 262; G., p. 226; Hua III, 1, p. 269, 30. Betrachtung is used by Kantin the Critique of Judgment: see 2 and 12, for example.

    10 Ideas, 111, p. 262; G., p. 226; Hua III, 1, p. 270, 6.11 Ideas, 111, p. 262; G., p. 226; Hua III, 1, p. 270, 7.12 Ideas, 111, pp. 2612; G., p. 226.13 Ideas, p. 262; G., p. 226.14 In parallel with the levels of neutralization and the interest taken in the pure

    picture (or image) in this context, another distinction Husserl made elsewherecan be recalled, i.e. the distinction of three different objects in the image-consciousness: the physical image, the image-object, and the image-subject.In 111 of Ideas, for example, the physical image is the actually existingengraved print; the image-subject is what is depicted, that is the knight on hishorse, Death, and the devil; and the image-object is the object of the aestheticconsciousness, the mere picture, no longer referring to anything else. In HuaXXIII, p. 22, Husserl writes that the image-object truly does not exist, whichmeans not only that it has no existence outside my consciousness but also that ithas no existence inside my consciousness; it has no existence at all. In anothernote he uses a phrase quite similar to the one in 111 of Ideas quoted above: theimage is taken by me neither as existing nor as nonexisting (Hua XXIII, p. 385).I quote John Broughs translation in his paper Cuts and Bonds: HusserlsSystematic Investigation of Representation, Philosophy Today, 43 suppl.(1999), pp. 11523. On the three notions of image, see pp. 11819.

    15 Logical Investigations, trans. J. N. Findlay (from the second German edition)(London: Routledge & Kegan and New York: Humanities Press, 1970), Vol. 2,p. 646 (5th Investigation, 40) G., p. 491. Also: Often enough we understandnarrations without decision as to their truth or falsity. Even when we read novels,this is normally the case: we know we are dealing with aesthetic fictions, but thisknowledge remains inoperative in the purely aesthetic effect (ibid.) and HuaXXIII, p. 386 (Edmund Husserl, Phantasie. Bildbewusstsein, Erinnerung,Husserliana XXIII (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1980)).

    16 Hua XXIII, pp. 5856. My translation.17 Edmund Husserl, Ides directrices pour une phnomnologie et une philosophie

    phnomnologique pures, trans. Paul Ricur (Paris: Gallimard, 1950), 109, p.366.

    18 Ideas I, pp. 2589; G. p. 223. In Ricurs note: These lines testify that the anal-ysis is about the modification that made phenomenology possible.

    19 Ideas I 70, p. 160; G., p. 132.20 This should be qualified, especially because of notes we are going to examine

    later on.21 See, for example, Eliane Escoubas, LEpoch picturale: Braque et Picasso, in

    LEspace pictural (La Versanne: Encre marine, 1995), pp. 93128, especiallypp. 97ff. Also p 23: Lpoch phnomnologique [] constitue selon lui

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    [Husserl] le geste inaugural, toujours renouvel, de la pense et de luvrephilosophique comme de la cration artistique. Likewise, F. Dastur: Si Czannene peint rien dautre que la dflagration de ltre [] que la philosophie []a pour tche de penser, quoi dtonnant alors que le penseur et lartiste se rejoi-gnent dans la mme poch (Husserl et la neutralit de lart, La Part de lil(Art et phnomnologie), No 7 (1991), pp. 1929, p. 20).

    22 Ideas, p. 260; G., p. 224.23 Ideas, p. 261; G., p. 225.24 See Saraiva, op. cit., p. 238.25 Ideas, p. 262; G., pp. 2267.26 Ideas, p. 262; G., p. 227.27 See Saraiva, op. cit., p. 236. And Brainards explanation on this point: every

    iteration of a modification is based on a Being-object that is posited as existing.Since iteration presupposes Being and since Being presupposes belief, the factthat fantasy is iterable indicates that some mode of belief has not beenneutralized, which is to say: that fantasying consciousness is still, in some as yetindeterminate sense, positional consciousness. By contrast, the fact that theneutrality modification cannot be iterated follows from the fact that it eliminatesevery doxic modality, there is no belief and hence no Being left over to bemodified (Brainard, op. cit., pp. 1656).

    28 Op. cit., p. 23; see also p. 25: si la fiction est la voie daccs leidos, cela nesignifie nullement que leidos ne soit quune fiction. See also Marc Richir,Commentaire de Phnomnologie de la conscience esthtique, Revue desth-tique. Esthtique et phnomnologie, 36 (1999), pp. 1523, especially [pour]caractriser entirement lesthtique comme proprement phnomnologique[] le prix payer serait trs lourd, puisque ds lors, la phnomnologie neserait plus quun mode de pense en soi indiffrenciable de lesthtique, unesorte, pour le moins trs singulire, dart (p. 19), lesthtique [] nest encoreque du phnomnologique inchoatif (p. 23).

    29 Daniel Giovannangeli, Husserl, lart et le phnomne, in La Part de lil (Artet phnomnologie), 7 (1991), pp. 317, p. 36.

    30 See Eugen Fink, Vergegenwrtigung und Bild. Beitrge zur Phnomenologieder Unwirklichkeit, Jahrbuch fr Philosophie und phnomenologischeForschung, 11 (1930), pp. 239309; reprinted in Studien zur Phnomenologie19301939 (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1966), pp. 178.

    31 Jean-Paul Sartre, LImagination (Paris: PUF (Quadrige), 1981 (1936)), p. 150.About aesthetic indifference with regard to the existence of the object, see alsoJean-Paul Sartre, LImaginaire (Paris: Gallimard, 1940), p. 242.

    32 Hua XXIII, p. 145.33 It can be useful to recall Kants definition in 2 of Critique of Judgment: Interest

    is what we call the liking we connect with the presentation of an objects exist-ence. [] But if the question is whether something is beautiful, [] all [one]wants to know is whether my mere presentation [blosse Vorstellung] of the objectis accompanied by a liking, no matter how indifferent I may be about the existenceof the object of this presentation [so gleichgltig ich auch immer in Ansehung derExistenz des gegenstandes dieser Vorstellung sein mag]. [] In order to play thejudge in matters of taste, we must not be in the least biased in favor of the thingsexistence but must be wholly indifferent about it. Critique of Judgment, trans.Werner S. Pluhar (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1987), 2, my italics. The vocabulary ofBetrachtung that will be taken up again by Husserl is in the same paragraph inKant, and this contemplation is pure in der blossen Betrachtung as the Bildwill be in Husserl (Ideen I, 111). See above.

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    34 On a Discovery according to which all New Critique of Pure Reason would beMade Superfluous by an Older One. See especially the beginning, Ak. VIII, p. 187.

    35 I think that John Broughs analysis of the question: in Husserls view, can therebe art that is not depictive? confirms in its own way what I am going to say hereabout the topic of form (in Kantian terms), that is on appearance (in Husser-lian terms) in aesthetics. See John Brough, Some Husserlian Comments onDepiction and Art, American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, 66 (2) (1992),pp. 24159, especially the last section.

    36 Martin Heidegger, Nietzsche. Volume I: The Will to Power as Art, trans withnotes and an Analysis by David Farrell Krell (New York and San Francisco:Harper & Row, 1979), p. 110.

    37 Hua XXIII, p. 145.38 Ibid.39 Hua XXIII, p. 591.40 Ibid.41 On this point see also Hua XXIII, pp. 3867.42 Hua XXIII, p. 392.43 Hua XXIII, p. 388.44 See Marc Richir, Commentaire de Phnomnologie de la conscience esthtique,

    Revue desthtique (Esthtique et phnomnologie), 36 (1999), pp. 1527, espe-cially p. 17: Et Husserl en vient se trouver trs prs de Kant, dans la Critiquede la facult de juger, quand il poursuit en disant que ce qui est essentiel la prisedattitude esthtique est, non pas l objet (ou la chose, la Sache) qui apparat,mais son mode dapparition.

    45 Hua XXIII, p. 388.46 Ibid.47 Critique of Judgment, 11. My italics.48 Ibid., 13.49 This is clear from the example of colours in the next paragraph: If [] the mind

    perceives not only by sense the effect that these vibrations have on the excite-ment of the organ, but also by reflection the regular play of the impressions (andhence the form in the connection of different presentations), then color and tonewould not be mere sensations but would already be the formal determination ofthe manifold in these, in which case they could even by themselves be consideredbeauties (Ibid., 14).

    50 Hua XXIII, p. 391.51 Ibid.52 Brough, op. cit., p. 257.53 Ibid., p. 259; the author quotes Hua, XXIII, p. 519.54 On this point I follow Marc Richirs reading, op. cit.: les modes dapparition qui

    constituent la conscience esthtique sont extrmement complexes (p. 18).55 Cf. Hua XXIII, pp. 3889.56 Hua XXIII, p. 389.57 Op. cit., p. 18. In other words but with a similar meaning, I believe, J. Brough

    mentions two competing perceptual apprehensions, which can exist simulta-neously because of their being each of a different kind (op. cit., p. 250). Also:The image appears, but it conflicts with actual present. Now, this simultaneouspresence of the two apprehensions and the conflict it generates are essential tothe constitution of the image-object in its unique status as something thatappears perceptually without being an actual thing: It is therefore merelyimage; it is, however much it appears, a nothing (ein Nichts) (p. 250;Brough quotes Hua, XXIII, p. 46).

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    58 Il le serait, Richir writes, pour une phnomnologie, comprise partir de laphnomnalisation, qui na pas a priori prendre en compte telle ou tellesituation symboliquement code (op. cit., p. 19).

    59 Hua XXIII, p. 390.60 Richirs comment: Quelque chose des sentiments qui ne sont pas en soi

    esthtiques [] est surlev, par le mode dapparition (o apparat donc aussi dunon-esthtique), au niveau esthtique []. Et, par cette sublimation, [] lessentiments pathologiques sont transfigurs dans les modes dapparition esth-tiquement rflchis. And his conclusion: il ny a pas desthtique sans intriguehumaine des sentiments et des passions, sans leur mise en intrigue au niveau desmodes dapparition. Op. cit., p. 19.

    61 Ibid., p. 21. See Hua, XXIII, p. 391.

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