A Phenomenology of Having

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A Phenomenology of Having

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Title: A Phenomenology of Having
Author: Yu, Yang
Abstract: The term <italic>having</italic> easily triggers associations of <italic>possession,<italic> particularly that of <italic>material</italic> possession, which can in turn connote <italic>vulgarity.<italic> This sequence of ideas is so natural that it could have been the inspiration for Gabriel Marcel's <italic>Being and Having,<italic> and Erich Fromm's <italic>To Have or To Be,<italic> two books that reprimand the attitude of having in various aspects of life.In this dissertation, however, I attempt to reveal the philosophical significance of <italic>having</italic> by articulating a phenomenological understanding of it. Metaphysically speaking, I argue, <italic>having</italic> is no less important than <italic>being.</italic> Crucial to my argument are two distinctions: one between <italic>having</italic> and <italic>possession,</italic> and another between <italic>having</italic> and <italic>being.</italic>The two distinctions are developed in two steps, the first being my critical evaluation of the being-having dichotomy set up by Gabriel Marcel in his <italic>Being and Having.</italic> Marcel misidentifies <italic>having</italic> with <italic>possession,</italic> and his negative attitude toward <italic>having</italic> results from that misidentification. While I disapprove Marcel's being-having dichotomy, I accept the two eidetic moments of having he discovers in his study of having (the tension between <italic>within</italic> and <italic>without,</italic> and the distinction between <italic>the self</italic> and <italic>the other</italic>) and employ them in my study of Husserl. Turning to Edmund Husserl's <italic>Ideas I</italic> and <italic>Cartesian Meditations,<italic> I show that the two eidetic moments of having are operative in Husserl's methods of phenomenological epoch&eacute and transcendental reduction, and for this reason the two methods are the transcendental ego's means to achieve its self-evidence, that is, its self-having. The transcendental ego's self-having is then shown to be constitutive of being, and it also serves as both the <italic>arch&#275;;</italic> and the <italic>telos</italic> of Husserl's transcendental phenomenology. I conclude that Husserl's phenomenology can rightly be called a phenomenology of having because its subject matter, methodology, and terminology all can be understood in terms of having.I close the present dissertation by pointing out how a larger research project that aims at elucidating the topic of having in the history of philosophy (for example, in Plato and Aristotle's epistemology and metaphysics) can be carried out, and how this project could benefit greatly from Husserl's phenomenology.
Description: Degree awarded: Ph.D. Philosophy. The Catholic University of America
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1961/10146
Date: 2012-02-15


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