10 July 2006

Erg + Wittgenstein + Husserl

[And you thought gitmo was bad.]

I've began erging again. (An erg is the technical name for a rowing machine.) It's great. If I didn't live in the desert, I'd be out on the water instead, though. The erg is a modern torture machine. (In a good way, that is.)

Wittgenstein and Husserl, in their respective final books, each quote that famous line of Faust, Part I,
In the beginning was the deed.

and I find this very interesting. I lack relevant citations, but I wonder at a few things. In the Crisis, Husserl uses the line to describe the phenomenological reduction--i.e., in the beginning is the deed: You just do the reduction. The reduction is the catalyst for all phenomenological investigations. (What is the reduction?)

Wittgenstein uses it to give a sense to his particular (anti)epistemology. Rather than look at thoughts or language, there is in the beginning the deed. To see intention watch a cat stalking a bird; to see a piece of knowledge, watch a man getting out of bed.

[Warning: elliptical argument ahead.]

Two very different philosophers whom I find to have startling similarities. Their later thought has happy, accidental coincidences and some seemingly intentional correspondences. Of course, Husserl's whole project is at odds with Wittgenstein's: An historical project is nowhere near what Wittgenstein would ever want to do.

But if you strip bare the notion of Husserlian consititution, what are you left with but a Wittgenstinian worldview?