"A now not toto caelo a not-now": The "origin" of difference in Husserl, from number to literature

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This paper attempts to re-evaluate the bases of the "process" of "differentiation" with which Husserl identified the "aim" of phenomenological "analysis" itself. It traces the arc of Husserl's thinking from the early mathematical writings, Uber den Begriff der Zahl (1887) and Philosophie der Arithmetik (1891), to the posthumously published "Die Frage nach dem Urpsrung der Geometrie" (1939), relating these to Husserl's intervening "steps" toward the development of a comprehensive theory of perception, consciousness, "I" and "other, " and, underlying all these, temporality. The thesis of the paper is that Husserl's original understanding of "number" not as an independent means of identification but as a "concept" discernible only within a "collective" "group" of "'plural'" differing identities interrelated only by "the little [useful] word, 'and'" and unsubordinated to any single principle, is consistent with the overlapping theories of "interaction, " "exchange, " "reflection, " "representation, " "image-formation, " "protention" and "retention" by which he "describes" mental "acts" as well as the methods of "bracketing" and "framing" that make such descriptions possible by marking the presence of externality within "the analyzing activity. " The "question" of the transmissibility and reactivation of the self-identical "origin of geometry, " resolved ultimately for Husserl in the material form of "virtuality" it shares with all "intellectual products of world culture, " i.e., its "transtemporal" "sedimentation" in Schrift, relates directly, the paper concludes, to the historically contemporaneous origin of modern literary theory in Georg Lukacs's analysis of literature that, taking the "sedimentation" of time itself as its thing-like object, puts the very future of literature, as a mode of representing and thus extending both consciousness and history, at risk, and, finally, to Marcel Proust's turning of the tables on that prediction by rendering time instead the "lost" object of necessarily interminable "research, " very much in the mode of the differential, undelimitable investigations with which Husserl founds phenomenology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPhenomenology to the Letter
Subtitle of host publicationHusserl and Literature
Publisherde Gruyter
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9783110654585
ISBN (Print)9783110648386
StatePublished - Nov 23 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


Dive into the research topics of '"A now not toto caelo a not-now": The "origin" of difference in Husserl, from number to literature'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this