Site Map

Dr. Louis N. Sandowsky



Phenomenology and Existentialism





Course Schedule



Lecture One: The Horizon[s] of Phenomenology


Edmund Husserl: the father of modern phenomenology. The meaning of phenomenology (phenomenon and logos). Consciousness freed from its box. The concept of intentionality and the emphasis on the outside-itself nature of consciousness. Resolution of the quasi-problem of dualism.


Photocopy of Jean Paul Sartre’s essay on intentionality (from J.B.S.P.).



Lecture Two: The Method of Phenomenology


Phenomenology as a methodological conception. The meaning of the epoché and the different forms of phenomenological reduction. What is at stake in a methodological form of critique that seeks to avoid taking up any presuppositions? Unlike the Cartesian procedure of systematic doubt, which takes up an antithetical position, the phenomenological reduction is inaugurated in order to avoid taking up any positions at all. The themes of cutting, suspension, and transvaluative return.



Lecture Three: Husserl and Sartre (Part One)


The concept of intentionality and its appropriation within existentialist discourse. Sartre’s discourse on consciousness as Being-for-itself (Être pour soi) in Being and Nothingness. Phenomenological ontology and the question of the Ego. The Transcendence of the Ego: Sartre’s polemic against Husserl’s phenomenological egology.



Lecture Four: Husserl and Sartre (Part Two)


The futural orientation of Sartre’s existentialism and its negative grasp of the role of the past. The concept of Bad Faith is the lens piece through which Sartre views the past. Husserl’s concept of sedimentation and the discourse on the multifaceted dimensions of ego-functioning give the authentic and affective nature of the past its due. The ego as substrate of habitualities: a nexus of negotiation between past and future, which gives an abiding style. The ego as Monad and destiny.



Lecture Five: Sartre’s Nausea


Being and Nothingness is a kind of elaborate footnote to Sartre’s novel, Nausea (1939).


1.         The nauseous response to the in-itself as a primordial disclosure of primary ontological phenomena.

2.         The question of biography and autobiography: the meaning of the past.


These themes unearth the contrast between living and reflecting. For Sartre, it is only upon reflection that a sequence of events can assume the aspect of an adventure. Adventures only come into existence through storytelling. Death is an essential component of the constitution of adventures. They must have an end. Events and circumstances that can take on the appearance of an adventure, in the telling, are often simply unpleasant experiences at the time. Adventures are narrative forms that are comfortably situated after the events that they report. To be presently experiencing what one may later call an adventure (prior to its end or resolution) is to be in a state of anxiety or to be in the state of benumbment that accompanies living-in one’s situation without distance. Pre-reflexive life just is. Reflection is recuperation of the significance of what has become dead time. Through reflection, life becomes ideal – and safe. The in-itself impresses itself upon us in our pre-reflexive mode of being. It is earthy and base. It simply is. At the level of reflection, the in-itself becomes clothed in significance and generality, where what is seen is a mere product of storytelling. The story is a kind of lie, but it is also the midwife of meaning. The in-itself knows nothing of meaning. The dead subject of biography also knows nothing of meaning because it cannot be in-itself-for-itself. It is now merely an objectified in-itself-for Others. However, this is also to say that the deceased for-itself remains in excess of the history that is written about it.


The recognition of the malleability of the significance of the past, since one can always relate to it in another narrative form (to deconstruct it), is that which restores hope. Recognition of freedom is equiprimordially the recognition of responsibility. To embrace contingency is to accept one’s role as author in the writing out of one’s life.



Lecture Six: Existential Psychoanalysis and Freudian Psychoanalysis


“Some Elementary Lessons in Psychoanalysis,” Sigmund Freud; Being and Nothingness, Sartre; The Divided Self, R.D Laing. Psychoanalysis as deconstruction. What is at stake in the attempt to establish a dialogue between Freudian psychoanalysis – which manifests certain essentialist orientations – and that of an existentialist order?

The theoretical incompatibility between Husserlian phenomenology and Freudian metapsychology. If consciousness is always consciousness of something, then how can the concept of an unconscious be accommodated in phenomenological thought? The deconstruction of psychoanalytic metapsychology.



Lecture Seven: Husserl on Temporality


On The Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time. Edmund Husserl. The lectures that constitute this text explore the deepest levels of intentional phenomenology. Husserl asks how the living-through of ‘succession’ is possible. By means of a discourse on the intentional structures of the temporal intertwining that constitutes the living-present (lebendige Gegenwart) as a tri-horizonal nexus of retentions, protentions and primary impressions, Husserl demonstrates that even the linearity of time has to be constituted. The name of the horizon that constitutes it is Primordial Flux. For Husserl, the name actually refers to a region for which names are lacking. The temporal inquiries resolve Hume’s problem concerning the continuity of experience and provide a rich resource for a phenomenological account of some of the more exotic phenomena implicated in Einsteins’s theory of relativity. The use of the expression ‘internal time’ is not to invoke the temporality of a kind of Cartesian form of solipsism by separating it from an external form of time. It refers to the subjective counterpart to objective time: the inside of the outside. Husserl’s text is a phenomenologically descriptive account of the experiential / temporal phenomena in their intentional interplay that cosmology seeks to explain in causal terms.


Photocopy of Book 11 of St. Augustine’s Confessions and a photocopy of John Brough's selected edition of Husserl’s discourse on time consciousness (Husserl: Shorter Works).



Lecture Eight: Heidegger and the Concept of Time


Being and Time, The Concept of Time, and the essay “Time and Being” (from On Time and Being) Martin Heidegger. Dasein (Being-there) and temporality. The finitude of Dasein – death as comportment towards one’s ownmost possibilities. The fundamental structure of Dasein is Temporality (Zeitlichkeit) as care (Sorge). The shift from the question of Being to that of time and the shift from time (Zeit) to temporality (Zeitlichkeit) according to the transcendental orientation of Temporalität. Time-space and the fourth dimension of absolute time. The disappearance of time as we usually know it. The problem of transcending the conceptual frames that organize our discourse about time.



Lecture Nine: From Space and Time to the Spacing of Temporal Articulation (Part One)


The first part of this theme examines the historical background to contemporary phenomenological-existential analyses of lived temporality. It is a deconstructive exercise in establishing how a more phenomenological mode of orientation resolves some of the paradoxes that infect discourse on time. Zeno’s paradox of Achilles and the Tortoise provides the starting point for a discussion on the ways in which Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, and Derrida have extended Husserl’s phenomenological studies on temporality. Their forms of discourse undermine the conception of time in which it is thought to be constituted from discrete moments and point the way to a transmutation of the bi-polarity of space and time into the more chiasmic intertwining of time-space or temporal-spacing. This is the phenomenological correlate to Einstein’s discourse on spacetime.



LectureTen: From Space and Time to the Spacing of Temporal Articulation (Part Two)


Being and Time, Heidegger; Being and Nothingness, Sartre.


The phenomenological analysis of Zeno’s paradox of Achilles and the tortoise performed the role of providing a strategic means of entry to the history of Western discourse on temporality and the structurality of the present. What follows is an examination of the central core of phenomenological and existential analyses of time. Husserl, Heidegger, and Sartre share a fundamental perspective on the structure of temporality, which is rooted in the theory of intentionality. The Living Present overflows itself. It is the stage of the ekstatic horizon of Being in which beings play out their life performance[s].


Their respective forms of discourse all demonstrate the untenability of objective conceptions of time, which define (and thus reduce) it to a matter of linear successivity – as constituted by a continuum of discrete moments. The Living Present is not an extensionless boundary (point) between being and non-being, existence and non-existence, or time and the non-temporal. It is the theatre of the interplay between that which is, that which was, and that which is not yet – the horizon in which the ecstatic dance and the mournful song of Being and non-Being come into play.



Lecture Eleven: Merleau-Ponty and Chiasm


The Introduction to Phenomenology of Perception, “The Primacy of Perception” and The Visible and the Invisible. The intertwining of immanence and transcendence. The essential transcendence of signification and the lived immanence of that which is given. The concept of chiasm as Ineinander, the flesh. Chiasmic time. Intentionality and the lived-body – motility.


Photocopies of selected working notes from Merleau-Ponty’s last, unfinished text, TheVisible and the Invisible.



Lecture Twelve: Phenomenology and Deconstruction


Jacques Derrida’s Introduction to Husserl’s “Origin of Geometry” and its flip-side, Speech and Phenomena. Deconstruction as a critique of the metaphysics of presence. Derrida’s dialogue with Husserl and Heidegger. The deconstruction of phenomenology and the phenomenology of deconstruction. The substitution of the expressions time and spatiality by, spacing, temporizing, tracing, arche-writing. Différance, as a quasi-concept and strategy, marks the erasure of the difference between temporality and spatiality through a discourse on the play of deferral and difference. The stratagem of différance and the erasure of the origin.


Photocopy of Derrida’s essay, “Différance” (Margins of Philosophy).



Seminar: The Myth of Sisyphus (The Human Condition)


What happens in that moment of resolve in the face of the futility of existence that makes Sisyphus actually return to his pointless task again and again? What does this say about the human condition at the beginning of the new millennium? Are we left with nihilism or something else?

Is the theme of the contingency of meaning and the consequent recognition of unbounded pluralism the signature of the death of truth?


What of hope?


Postmodernism: as endless reiteration or transformation? How can this be related to Husserl’s call for an eternal return to beginnings? What kind of epoché could inaugurate the evolution of a more meaningful and compassionate epoch?


Photocopy of The Myth of Sisyphus. Albert Camus.







The texts that are given in the General Bibliography below are key works for the themes that are adumbrated in this series of lectures. Take a look at some of them and see if you get some kind of feedback. The important thing is to gain some familiarity with the basic themes that are discussed here. To this end, any secondary text on phenomenology will be useful. Phenomenology is a notoriously difficult field when it comes to the availability of good introductions. Try to find some kind of introductory text to this field with which you feel comfortable. The situation improves when it comes to secondaries on the more popular field of existentialism. For the first few weeks of this course, the point is to develop a basic awareness of the principal themes in phenomenology that extend into existentialist writing. The book list will become more specific as we move into the latter sphere.





General Bibliography



Saint Augustine

Confessions. Trans. R.S. Pine-Coffin. Penguin.


Cairns, Dorion

Guide for Translating Husserl. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. 1973.


Camus, Albert

The Fall. (1957). Translated from the French (La Chute) by Justin O’Brien. Published by Alfred A. Knopf.

The Myth of Sisyphus. Penguin.


Derrida, Jacques

Edmund Husserl's "Origin of Geometry": An Introduction by Jacques Derrida. Translated with a preface and afterword by John Leavey, Jr. University of Nebraska Press. 1989. Copyright 1962 by the Presses Universitaires de France.

Margins of Philosophy. Trans. Alan Bass. The Harvester Press. 1982. Marges de la Philosophie. Paris: Les Editions de Minuit. 1972.

Speech and Phenomena. Trans. David B. Allison. [Preface by Newton Garner]. Northwestern University Press. 1973. Includes the essay “Différance.” La voix et le Phénomène. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1967.


Descartes, Rene

Discourse on Method and The Meditations. Translated with an introduction by F. E. Sutcliffe. Penguin.


Evans, J. Claude

Article: "Phenomenological Deconstruction: Husserl's Method of Abbau." The British Society For Phenomenology. Vol.21. No.1. January. 1990.


Heidegger, Martin

The Basic Problems of Phenomenology. Trans. Albert Hofstadter. Indiana University Press. 1982. [Based on the lectures of 1927]. Die Grundprobleme der Phänomenologie. Edited by Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann. Frankfurt: Vittorio Klostermann. 1975.

Being and Time. Trans. J. Macquarrie and E. Robinson (7th edition). Blackwell. 1962. Sein und Zeit Tubingen: Max Niemeyer. 1927.

Poetry, Language, Thought. Trans. Albert Hofstadter. (Copyright 1971 – Heidegger).


Hume, David

A Treatise of Human Nature. Analytical index by L.A. Selby-Bigge. Second Edition with text revised and notes by P.H. Nidditch. Oxford University Press.


Husserl, Edmund

Cartesian Meditations. Trans. Dorion Cairns. Martinus Nijhoff. 1960. [Original German text – 1929]. Husserliana I [Hua]: Cartesianische Meditationen und Parisier Vortrage. Edited by S. Strasser. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1963. 2nd ed.

The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology. Trans. David Carr. Northwestern University Press. Hua VI: Die Krisis der Europäischen Wissenschaften und die Transzendentale Phänomenologie. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1962.

Experience and Judgement: Investigations in a Genealogical Logic. Revised and edited by Ludwig Landgrebe. Trans. James S. Churchill and Karl Ameriks. Introduced by J. S. Churchill and Lothar Eley. Northwestern University Press. 1973. – Erfahrung und Urteil. Edited by Ludwig Landgrebe. Hamburg: Classen. 1938.

Husserl: Shorter Works. Edited by Peter McCormick and Frederick Elliston. Foreword by Walter Biemel. Copublished by University of Notre Dame Press and The Harvester Press.

The Idea of Phenomenology. Trans. W.P. Alston and G. Nakhnikian. Martinus Nijhoff. 1950. [lectures of 1907]. Hua II: Die Idee der Phänomenologie. Edited by Walter Biemel. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1958.

Ideas: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology. Trans. W.R. Boyce Gibson. Collier/Macmillan. [first translation 1931] Original German text – 1913. Hua III.1: Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie: Erstes Buch. Edited by Karl Schuhmann. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1976. See also: Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy. First Book: Trans. F. Kersten. 1982.

The Phenomenology of Internal Time Consciousness. Edited by Martin Heidegger. Trans. J.S. Churchill. Indiana University Press. 1964. [Lectures of 1905-1910]. See also: On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time. Translated by John Barnett Brough. Kluwer Academic Publishers. 1991. Hua X: Zur Phänomenologie des inneren Zeitbewusstseins (1893-1917). Edited by Rudolph Boehm. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1966.


Kant, Immanuel

Critique of Pure Reason. Trans. Norman Kemp Smith. 1929 Macmillan. [Original German text – 1787].


Kockelmans, Joseph [editor]

Phenomenology: The Philosophy of Husserl and its Interpretation. Doubleday & Co. Inc. [Anchor Books]. 1967.


Landgrebe, Ludwig

The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl. Edited by Donn Welton [various translators] Cornell University Press. 1981.


Levinas, Emmanuel

The Theory of Intuition in Husserl's Phenomenology. Trans. Andre Orianne. Northwestern University Press. 1973. [First published in France – 1963].


Merleau-Ponty, Maurice

Phenomenology of Perception. Trans. Colin Smith. R.K.P. 1962.

The Primacy of Perception. Edited, with an Introduction by James M. Edie. Northwestern University Press. 1964.


Mohanty, J.N.

Edmund Husserl's Theory of Meaning. Martinus Nijhoff. 1969.


Murphy, Richard T.

Hume and Husserl: Towards a Radical Subjectivism. Martinus/Nijhoff. 1980.


Ricoeur, Paul

Husserl: An Analysis of his Phenomenology. Trans. E.G. Ballard and L.E. Embree. Northwestern University Press. 1967.


Sartre, Jean-Paul

Being and Nothingness. Trans. Hazel E. Barnes. Methuen. 1958. [Original French text 1943].

Existentialism and Humanism. London: Methuen, [1965].

Nausea. Trans. Robert Baldick. Penguin. [Originally published in 1938].

Sketch for a Theory of the Emotions. Trans. by Philip Mairet. Preface by Mary Warnock. Methuen. 1962.

The Transcendence of the Ego. Trans. Forrest Williams and Robert Kirkpatrick. Octagon. 1972. [Original French text, 1936-7].


Sokolowski, Robert

Husserlian Meditations. Northwestern University Press. 1974.


Wood, David

The Deconstruction of Time. Humanities Press. 1989.

Derrida: A Critical Reader. Edited by David Wood. Blackwell. 1992.

"Différance and the Problem of Strategy." [from Derrida and Différance.] Parousia Press. Edited by David Wood and Robert Bernasconi.1985.

Philosophy at the Limit. Unwin/Hyman.1990.