A critique on Derrida’s critique on Husserl concerning the metaphysics of presence


Special questions about being in Husserl have been raised by what he
says about the noema. The noema was introduced by Husserl to account for those differences between acts of consciousness which fall in the dimension of appearance. Concretely considered, the noematic consists of certain «non independent» particulars, the noematic «moments,» which, «idealiter gefasst,» are universals (qualities, relations) that make up the qualitative structures of, precisely, appearances. Thus, HusserI introduces the noematic as a distinctive domain of entities on the basis of characters, qualities, «predicates» which belong to «the object as such» and nothing else, by means of which it uniquely is to be described (Ideas 1,258,260,283-284,
289) . He remarks: «These predicates [of «the object as such»] .. . are
evidently not given though such reflection [on our acts of consciousness].
We grasp what concerns the correlate [of the act] as such through the
glance being turned directly on the correlate itself. We grasp the negated,
the affirmed, the possible, the questionable, and so forth, as directly
qualifying the appearing object as such» (305). «These are characters which we find as inseparable features of the perceived, fancied, remembered, etc., as such» (266). They can belong, as properties, neither to the real object nor to the reelle act, and hence must be part of another domain , that of the irreelle. Yet for the irreele, the noematic, as well as for all else that is, to be is simply to be subject to, to actually have, relevant properties or relations.
This view of the being of beings, of the univocity of being, is essentially
the same as that of Hermann Lotze, from whom Husserl most likely learned it.7 In the Twentieth Century essentially the same view has been held by Bertrand Russell and C. J. Ducasse. It is the indispensable keystone to a viable ontology, in my view. It correctly preserves the ancient dictum:
Diversum est esse et id quod est. That which exists is not identified with its own being. But, on the other hand, the having of qualities remains «something» in its own right, a characteristic type of relational structure.
Moreover, it can (indeed must!) be discussed in its own right-as the
«Being of beings» will in any case most certainly be, as is proven by who
better than Heidegger and Sartre and Derrida-without endless caveats,
through «X’d out» terms and otherwise, to the effect that one can’t really do what one is doing.
More importantly, the being of beings is regarded, on Husserl’s view, as
logically independent of independence, as well as of «thinglikeness»
generally. That an entity is dependent or non-thinglike has no implication
for its being or not-being as such, or for the «degree» to which it is or is
not. This includes dependence upon consciousness. Whatever is dependent on consciousness exists-though that does not settle any of the difficult questions as to what does or does not depend on consciousness (or language, if that is not the same thing)-and there is no reason in the nature of being, as Husserl understands it, that requires all that exists to be known or cognized or mentally intended . Objects of all kinds are, for him, «relative» to knowledge or consciousness, in the sense that their essences include how they are to be known, if they are known, whereas there is no similar relativity of consciousness to the world or to realms of non-worldly objectivities such as numbers. But, except for the obvious exceptions in the cultural or «spiritual» realm, the world and other realms of which we are conscious might well be, and be what we know them to be, if consciousness were in fact totally eliminated from reality or being.
For our present discussion it is most important to say that being as
Husserl understands it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with
presence. Neither spatial, temporal nor intentional («mental») presence is
required for being in general-though in the specific case of noematic
moments (not their qualities, however) Husserl does hold that to be is to be perceived, which is yet not the same as saying that the being of the
noematic moment is identical with its being perceived.

For Husserl, something can be and yet be present in none of these senses. It may be that all entities are present in some or several senses, but that will not follow from what it is for them to be.

DALLAS WILLARD / Is Derrida’s View of Being
Rationally Defensible?


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