(1991) Human Studies 14 (2-3).

"Paramount reality" in Schutz and Gurwitsch

Elizabeth Kassab

pp. 181-198

Both Schutz and Gurwitsch describe reality as having a manifold character: Schutz speaks of "multiple realities" and Gurwitsch of "orders of existence". Both hold that one realm of reality has a privileged status compared to the others: common everyday experience. However, in spite of this apparent convergence in their views, a closer reading of their various works reveal the important difference in what they understand under "common everyday experience".For Schutz, it is the world of social action, characterized by him as "paramount reality" because of the constitutive processes of the experiences of time, space, sociality and meaning involved in action. For Gurwitsch, the realm of common everyday experience represents the counterpart and the origin of the constructed realm of science: therein lies its status of "paramount reality". But what it really refers to is not ordinary experience, as most of his statements suggest, but pre-predicative experience, wherefrom the categories of the natural sciences, namely space and time, originate. Gurwitsch speaks of this pre-predicative experience, which he also calls primordial experience, as being essentially perceptual experience. However, he limits perceptual experience to sensory perception, leaving out the symbolic, social and action-related components of perception and becomes thus inconsistent with his adherence to the dismissal of the constancy hypothesis in his field theory of consciousness. The dismissal of the constancy hypothesis implies the recognition of the appresentational structures involving symbols, action and Others as inherent components of every perception. Schutz disagrees with Gurwitsch's reduction of the life-world Erlebnisse to sensory perception and this issue becomes the core of their debate on the phenomenon of "paramount reality".

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/BF02205602

Full citation:

Kassab, E. (1991). "Paramount reality" in Schutz and Gurwitsch. Human Studies 14 (2-3), pp. 181-198.

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