In this workshop we plan to examine Edmund Husserl’s evolving conception of the life-world (Lebenswelt), the backdrop to human social activity and understanding, especially in relation to Jan Patočka’s notion of the ‘natural world’ and Heidegger’s conceptions of ‘being with’ (Mitsein) and ‘being-in-the-world’(In-der-Welt-sein) as developed in Being and Time. The life-world, for Husserl, is the never-to-be-renounced backdrop to human social activity and understanding, including the formalized practices of scientific inquiry. Earlier incarnations of Husserl’s concept of the life-world include the ‘natural, surrounding world’ (see, especially, Ideas I §§ 27-29) and the ‘natural concept of the world’. Husserl’s student Jan Patočka translated this concept as ‘natural world’ in his Habilitation thesis written in Czech in Prague in 1936.
Intersubjectivity and sociality are key constitutive features of the life-world, and therefore the workshop will focus on the phenomenology of sociality and its relation to more recent trends in social philosophy. The workshop will also explore a variety of phenomenological accounts of social reality as found in phenomenologists such as Heidegger, Reinach, Stein, or Merleau-Ponty and aim at their reassessment against the background of analytic social ontology or post-Frankfurt School social philosophy.
A unique feature of this workshop with be a critical discussion of the first translation into English (by Erika Abrams) of Patočka’s Habilitation thesis, The Natural World as a Philosophical Problem. This translation has been specially commissioned for the ARC project Judgement, Responsibility and the Life-World: The Phenomenological Critique of Formalism.