Skip to main content

The De-Naturalization of Imagination: Husserl, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty

The CEU Campus
Monday, February 27, 2017, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

There is a common expectation that phenomenology has a connection to the imagination. However, many of the common assumptions, on which the that expectation rests, reflect serious misunderstandings regarding the nature of phenomenology; and yet, they still touch upon some of its key tenets. I therefore start by clarifying some of these misunderstandings insofar as they are directly relevant to a proper understanding of the important role the imagination has played in the history of phenomenology. I then present Husserl’s groundbreaking investigations and advance my reading of the most important contribution he, in my view, made to phenomenological research on the imagination: what I call his ‘denaturalization’ of the imagination. In a third section I detail some of the most decisive ways in which Sartre and Merleau-Ponty depart from Husserl’s approach. I give an account of how both, in their distinct ways, build upon Husserl’s earlier work and also reject some of its tenets. Not being able here to present more than a few facets of the rich history of phenomenological treatments of the imagination, I single out Sartre and Merleau-Ponty as the two most well-known contributors after Husserl.  Both of them significantly advanced phenomenological research on the imagination and radically widened its role. Their new impulses not only changed the trajectory of that history but also aided its diversification.

The talk will be livestreamd at