Husserl, the Monad and Immortality

  • Paul MacDonald


In an Appendix to his Analyses Concerning Passive and Active Synthesis dating from the early 1920s, Husserl makes the startling assertion that, unlike the mundane ego, the transcendental ego is immortal. The present paper argues that this claim is an ineluctable consequence of Husserl’s relentless pursuit of the ever deeper levels of time-constituting consciousness and, at the same time, of his increasing reliance on Leibniz’s model of monads as the true unifiers of all things, including minds. There are many structural and substantive parallels between Leibniz’s monadic scheme and Husserl’s later views on the primal ego, and these points of convergence are laid out step by step in this paper. For both theorists, the monad is a self-contained system of being, one “without windows”; a monad’s experiences unfold in harmonious concatenations; a monad is a mirror of its proximate environs and comprises multiple perspectives; the unconscious is a repository of potential activation; and, most importantly of all, a monad knows no birth and death and hence is immortal. In his very last years, Husserl proposed a third ego level, below (or beyond) the mundane ego and transcendental ego - the primal ego. It is neither psychical nor physical; it permits the transcendental ego to carry out its constitutive activities, including the mundane ego’s birth and death in time; it is always in a process of becoming, and so it can never be in a state of only “having-been”, that is, dead: and hence the primal ego’s enduring cannot itself ever come to an end. Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology, Volume 7, Edition 2 September 2007

Author Biography

Paul MacDonald
Department of Philosophy, Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1445-7377
print ISSN: 2079-7222