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Accounting for Imaginary Presence

Husserl and Sartre on the Hyle of Pure Imagination

Di Huang

Abstract

Both Husserl and Sartre speak of quasi-presence in their descriptions of the lived experience of imagination, and for both philosophers, accounting for quasi-presence means developing an account of the hyle proper to imagination. Guided by the perspective of fulfillment, Husserl's theory of imaginary quasi-presence goes through three stages. Having experimented first with a depiction-model and then a perception-model, Husserl's mature theory appeals to his innovative conception of inner consciousness. This elegant account nevertheless fails to do justice to the facticity and bodily involvement of our imaginary experience. Sartre's theory of analogon, based on his conception of imaginary quasi-presence as ‘magical’ self-affection, embodies important insights on these issues. Kinesthetic sensations and feelings are the modes in which we make use of own body to possess and be possessed by the imaginary object, thus lending it a semblance of bodily presence.