Phenomenological comparison: Pursuing Husserl's "time consciousness" in poems by Wang Wei, Paul Celan and Santoka Taneda

Yi Chen, Boris Steipe

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“Time-consciousness” (Zeitbewusstsein) constitutes the core of Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology. Extending from a project of reviving the comparative method, we develop Husserl’s phenomenological analysis of time as a method of literary comparison. Three views of time set the stage: the quatrain “Luán’s Fall” (⟪欒家瀨⟫) by the eighth-century Chinese poet Wang Wei, a stanza from the poem “Etched off‌” (Weggebeizt‌) by Paul Celan, the quintessential post-war poet in German language, and the haiku “Walking, on and on” (歩きつづける…) by the Japanese itinerant monk and free-verse haiku pioneer Santoka Taneda. What makes these poems relevant is not merely their superficially shared theme of time, but an intrinsic affinity, manifested in different poetic “time-objects” (Zeitobjekte), to the very notion of time-consciousness. Through poetic analysis in the context of Husserl’s philosophy of time-consciousness, these poetic experiences, embodied in a phenomenological concept of “walking,” emphasize time as being.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-259
Number of pages19
JournalComparative and Continental Philosophy
Issue number3
Early online date8 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sep 2017


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