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Article

The Process of Sense-Formation and Fixed Sense-Structures: Key Intuitions in the Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl and Marc Richir

Russian Studies in Philosophy. 2016. Vol. 54. No. 1. P. 48-61.
Translator: B. Damaré.

The article analyzes some key motives of both classical German phenomenology (focusing on Edmund Husserl) and contemporary French phenomenology (focusing on Marc Richir). The theme of sense-formation, a recurring thread throughout Husserl's entire body of work, serves as a discussion starting point.

A special emphasis is put on one of Husserl's posthumously published texts from 1933, in which he distinguishes between the open process of sense-formation [Sinnbildung] and the closed sense-structures [Sinngebilde]. The “phenomenon” to which phenomenological philosophy refers here is not a “pre-given thing” yet, but rather the horizon in which its sense is shaped. This fundamental intuition is crucially important for the project of “nonstandard” phenomenology, which Richir is developing in the context of Francophone philosophy. Drawing equally from Maurice Merleau-Ponty’ phenomenology of language, Richir refers to “the sense that creates itself.” In this way, he is continuing to develop one of the key intuitions of phenomenological philosophy, which Husserl establishes by distinguishing between the living process of sense-formation and the “fixed [static]” sense-structures.

Based on this fundamental distinction, phenomenological philosophy is described as one of the tools of modern humanities rather than a highly specialized philosophical doctrine closed into itself. The author demonstrates that the conceptual pair of Sinnbildung/Sinngebilde may be used for analyzing both philosophical works and literary texts.