Life-world—A Conceptual OverviewV. C. Thomas
Pondicherry University, PondicherryFrom a general phenomenological perspective, man’s Crisis consists in this that he has forgotten his assigned role to be a guide to creation. Instead of being guru to creation, he thought of himself as the lord of creation, and he has assumed the role of a dictator. Right from the beginning of his phenomenological enterprise, Husserl demanded a return to things, zu den Sachen selbst, i.e. to let things speak for themselves and man shall listen to them empathetically with an open heart and sympathetically with liberal attitudes. Unfortunately, man began to interfere in the affairs of things and animals right from the beginning of creation because he thought of himself as the lord of creation and master of animals and began to interpret them form his frame work of language, from the perspective of cause and effect relation, from the stand point of mathematics, and it means that he began to understand them from the perspective of abstraction and representation. Regrettably, by doing this man loses his innocence, diminishes his simplicity and weakens his relations to things and animals. Hence the crisis is for all who accept the primordiality of abstraction and the primacy of representation, no matter whether he is a European or an Asian or an African.The person who articulated the abstract and representational point of view most emphatically was indeed an eminent and a great scientist, Galileo Galilei (1564—1642). He was awestruck by the Greek notion of pure geometry, a science of exact and objectively valid knowledge of objects that enabled Galileo to overcome the subjective relativity of what appears, what is experienced. The terrible and the dreadful conclusion which Galileo makes out of this is that: the exact and objectively valid knowledge of the real world can be attained by treating everything about the world as an example of geometrical relation or geometrical object. Thus, he makes a paradigm shift from the ordinary, everyday understanding of geometry to the scientific and objectively valid notion of objects, applicable both to primary and secondary qualities. Philosophically translated, Galileo’s fundamental claim is to be is to be measurable/ calculable. This is the ontological claim of Galileo in and through his mathematical procedures proceed. Husserl’s strong criticism against Galileo is directed not so much against Galileo’s mathematical procedure but against his mathematically rooted ontological claims.Against this claim of Galileo, Husserl points out that the intuitively given world is a world of sense experience and it is the prescientific world. And this world is the horizon of all our perceptions, horizon of every attitude of ours. The basic contention regarding horizon is this: the known leads us to the unknown, what is now unknown will reveal itself and manifest itself to us as something valuable provided we make an effort to discover it. We start our pilgrimage to the unknown from what is known to us for the unknown constitutes the horizon of the known. There is an unquestionable and irrefutable relationship existing between the known and the unknown and the unknown will reveal itself provided we make an attempt to discover the secrets of the unknown.In other words, the world cannot be experienced the way I experience different things, rather, in and through the experience of things, the world is perceived or grasped. This means that the world cannot be an object of our experience, I perceive or grasp the world, the horizon of all things that I experience. In the experience of individual things, the world is co-present for the world is co-perceived as the horizon of things that I experience. This contention enables Husserl to say that the world (and for that matter the horizon) is pre-given, i.e. unless and until the world already exists, an object of experience cannot exist, or cannot be given. And, from that perspective, as Heidegger puts it, the world is a priori as well.After having made so far a clear elucidation of the notion of life-world in contrast to science and scientific phenomena, Husserl now creates some sort of confusion by bringing in a new position which I would call Husserl’s second position with regard to the notion of life-world. He holds that in our life- world there is also science, scientists and scientific theories as cultural facts. This means that science and scientists, the creators of science, as cultural facts, are part of the life-world. Science and scientists arise and flow into the life-world, they add themselves to the composition of the life-world.To conclude,
No. World of Science Life-world 1 Science operates on with abstraction, Life-world is the concrete-fullness from where/which this abstraction is derived. 2 Science constructs superstructures, Life-world provides the material out of which the construction arises. 3 Scientific entities preclude availability to sense intuition, Life-world is a field of intuition, it is the universe of what is intuitable in principle. It is the domain of original self-evidence (to which the scientists must return to verify their theories). 4 Science explains what is given, The life-world is the locus of all given-ness. 5 There is the mediated character of scientific entities, Life-world exhibits the character of immediacy. 6 World of science is founded on life-world, Life-world is prior to all science, prior to all theories, not only
historically but also epistemologically.
7 The world of science is a world of abstraction.
Life-world is primordially a world of perceived bodies. The things perceived have their perspectival character having both inner and outer horizons.