Each sphere of phenomenal Being can be divided into three complementary, logical moments: There is the ego which is the act center, the reference point relative to which the acts is defined and determined as the act that it is; then there are acts themselves which are by nature intentional: They have a center from which they emanate and an end to which they are directed. Acts are cognitive acts in the case of human natural existence, such as perceiving, thinking, imagining, theorizing, philosophizing, etc. Each act in virtue of its intentional character is correlated with its intended object, its end; for instance the act of thinking is always directed at a thought; seeing is the seeing of what is seen, etc. There cannot be a seeing without there being something that is seen. The two, the act and the correlated end, are entangled moments; one cannot exist without the other. But the intended end of an act, the cognized object, is something already within the act. It is not something outside the act so that the act has to make contact with it; the act of thinking bears within itself the intended thought. The object seen is an object being seen; the object seen is in being as long as the seeing is in being. A cup seen cannot exist on itself and independently of the act of seeing within which the cup is disclosed.

Phenomena are the intentional correlates of cognitive acts. The phenomenon of “the cup seen” lies within the seeing of the cup and not outside it. In other words, the cognitive act doesn’t contact its objects as if from outside; the cognitive act constitutes its intentional object within itself. The totality of the intentional correlates of all cognitive acts is called the world. World though itself is not an object in the world is the logical horizon against which all objects of the world are cognized as intentional objects. World consists of intentional objects, that is, objects constituted within the temporal flow of cognitive acts. It is utterly meaningless to refer to the world as something outsides the sphere of acts within which it is constituted: Wherever there is ego there is act, and wherever there is act there is world. Ego-world polarity is bridged by acts; this polarity is imposed by the very nature of the acts.

The temporal flow of cognitive acts is called experience; we call it natural experience. There is a higher mode of cognition, transcendental cognition, whose center is not constituted as another object of the world, as empirical ego of the human person, but as the datum of all manifestations. If in the case of natural experience we designate the empirical ego as the act center, and the world as the intentional correlate of the acts, namely the cogitata; then in transcendental experience the ego-cogito of natural experience is the cogitatum, intentional object, of transcendental experience. Although empirical ego is constituted inside the world, the transcendental ego lies outside the world. Of course without transcendental experience natural experience is not possible since it is the transcendental ego for whom the many modes of cognition of empirical ego are known as its many modes, as thinking, perceiving, imagining, remembering, etc. The human person is known to himself through the temporal flow of cognitive acts. It is within his own cognition that man is exposed to himself as such. Insofar as man is something constituted within natural cognitive acts he belongs to the natural world; but this belonging is itself a transcendental constitution without which man would not be known to himself as the natural act center inside the world. World which is perceived by man as the horizon of all actual and possible experiences is nothing but the intentional correlate of transcendental ego’s constitutions; world has no substantial reality; it is nothing; it is made of the same stuff that dreams are made of. In other words, world is not something existent; it is something experienced. It is constituted within cognitive acts and cannot exist outside the temporal flow of acts that make world what it is.

The logical necessity of the Being of transcendental ego is explicated in Kant’s critical philosophy, though he didn’t consider this center as something to be experienced. Husserl, however, in a midsummer night bumped into the transcendental ego for the first time. It was then that he uttered “you fucking Kant” realizing that Kant was right all along.

5 thoughts on “Ego-Cogito-Cogitata

  1. Excellent and helpful account of Husserl’s Cartesian Meditations! It’s important to remember that others have other worlds and reasonable to imagine that there are infinite potentialities over the horizon. Maybe realizing we are dreaming will help us move forward. Have you happened to read Heidegger’s Being and Time?


    1. Not an account of Cartesian Meditations, though phenomenology nonetheless. Of Being and Time I read the intro and part 1 only but lost interest since Heidegger changed the original intention of phenomenology and focued only in life-world but adopted phenomenology as his philosophy. Of his works that I fully read is “What is called Thinking,” that’s it.


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