David Carr

Charles Howard Chandler Professor of Philosophy,
Emory University, USA

Born in 1940, Professor David Carr received his B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees at Yale University , U.S.A. , completing his doctorate there in 1966. Among his teachers were George Schrader, Wilfred Sellars and Richard Bernstein. He also interrupted his studies at Yale to spend a year each at the Universities of Heidelberg and Paris, where Hans-Georg Gadamer, Karl Löwith, Dieter Henrich and Paul Ricoeur were among his teachers. After completing his degrees he taught at Yale for ten years. He then taught at the University of Oklahoma and the University of Ottawa, Canada, before moving in 1991 to his current position at Emory University , Atlanta, Georgia . He was chair of the Department of Philosophy for six years and was named Charles Howard Candler Professor of Philosophy in 2000.

Professor Carr has held visiting positions once at Washington University , St. Louis , and twice at the New School for Social Research, New York City , where he was Werner Marx Visiting Professor in 1990. He has also taught at the University of Wuppertal and held a research position at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research, University of Bielefeld . He has been invited to lecture across the U.S. A. and Canada , a s well as in Germany , France , Italy , Sweden , Finland , Japan and China . He is a former Executive Secretary and Board Member of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy, U.S.A. , and serves on the editorial boards of the philosophical series published by Indiana University Press and Northwestern University Press, and by Springer Verlag.

Among Professor Carr’s publications are four books, a number of edited or co-edited collections, and the English translation of the major work of the late Husserl, The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology. He is also the author of numerous articles published in English, German and French. A collection of his essays has been translated into Japanese, and one of his essays into Chinese.

Professor Carr’s research, publication and teaching have been devoted to various aspects of Husserl’s philosophy and to phenomenology un general . He is particularly attentive to the philosophy of history. The latter inquiry has led him to explore the nature of narrative, and has thus intersected with literary theory, Hegel’s phenomenology, and analytic theories of history. Another of his research interests falls on the nature of transcendental philosophy, both in Husserl and in Kant.

Professor Carr’s association with the Chinese University of Hong Kong dates back to the first international conference on phenomenology organized by the Department of Philosophy in 1996 and a second international conference in 2000. As the fifth laureate of the Tang Chun-I Visiting Professorship, Professor Carr will offer a public lecture entitled “Historical Experience, Historical Being,” a four-week graduate seminar on “Phenomenology and History,” and a staff seminar in the Department of Philosophy on “History in Husserl’s Crisis : Phenomenology and the ‘Idea of Europe’.”

Historical Experience, Historical Being

Monday, 7 November 2005
16:30 – 18:30 (Tea reception at 16:00)
Cho Yiu Conference Hall, University Administration Building, Central Campus, CUHK

In This paper I want to outline my view of a distinctly phenomenological approach to history. Philosophy has traditionally approached history with metaphysical and epistemological questions. The phenomenological approach differs from both the metaphysics of history and the epistemology of historical knowledge. Its question is not What is history? or How do we know history? but rather What is it to be historical? What is it like to exist historically? What does it mean to be historical? Dilthey wrote that “we are historical beings first, before we are observers [ Betrachter ] of history, and only because we are the former do we become the latter. ..The historical world is always there, and the individual not only observes it from the outside but is intertwined with it [ in sie verwebt ].” Phenomenologists want to know what it means to be a “historical being,” in Dilthey’s sense, and in what sense we are intertwined with history. Thus they are asking questions about historical experience and historical being . In this essay I want to take up these questions, and sketch an answer to at least some of them. After that I shall make a few remarks about how they might relate to the standard metaphysical and epistemological questions.

Phenomenology and History

4 November 2005 – 25 November 2005 (every Friday)
14:30 – 17:15
UCC 114 (Rm. 114, T.C. Cheng Building, United College)

What does phenomenology, considered as a method, approach or tradition in philosophy, have to say about history? Philosophers of history have developed theories of the historical process, of historical existence, and of historical knowledge. Does phenomenology contribute to a philosophical understanding of these three elements? After some discussion of Hegel’s phenomenology, and its relation to his philosophy of history, we examine Husserl’s early writings on temporality and the phenomenological method. Then we turn to Husserl’s late works, The Crisis of European Sciences, the Vienna lecture and the “Origin of Geometry.” Finally, Heidegger’s concept of historicity, from Being and Time, will be examined.


First session (4 Nov.) : Hegel: Phenomenology of Spirit : Introduction; Ch. 4, 4A
Introduction to the Philosophy of History, ch. 1-4

Second session (11 Nov.): Husserl: Ideas I, Part II ch. 1-2
On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time (selections)

Third session (18 Nov.): Husserl: The Crisis of European Sciences, Part I, II; Vienna lecture; “Origin of Geometry”

Fourth session (25 Nov.): Heidegger: Being and Time, selections from part I; part II, ch. 5


Carr, David: Phenomenology and the Problem of History

Carr, David: Time, Narrative and History

Dilthey, Wilhelm: Selected Works, vol. III: The Formation of the Historical World in the Human Sciences

Dodd, James: Crisis and Reflection

Hegel, G.W.F.: Phenomenology of Spirit

Hegel, G.W.F: Introduction to the Philosophy of History

Heidegger, Martin: Being and Time

Husserl, Edmund: Ideas: Introduction to Pure Phenomenology

Husserl, Edmund: The Crisis of European Sciences

Husserl, Edmund: Cartesian Meditations

History in Husserl's Crisis: Phenomenology and the "Idea of Europe"'

Monday, 21 November 2005
16:30 – 18:30
Conference Room (Multi-purpose room), New Asia Ch’ien Mu Library

Husserl’s late and somewhat fragmentary text, The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology , has many facets. It is notable, at least in comparison with Husserl’s earlier work, for its preoccupation with history. But how is this preoccupation with history to be understood? Does it constitute a philosophy of history, and if so in what sense? How does it compare with other approaches to history? Husserl’s approach is, I think, very hard to classify. He advocates a historical approach to epistemology in general and to the philosophy of science in particular. He deals with the history of science, and of geometry; he devotes a long discussion to the history of philosophy; and he tries to develop the “philosophical-historical idea of Europe.” He puts forward some very interesting but extremely difficult reflections on his own historical method of investigation. Does any of this qualify as philosophy of history in any recognizable sense? In this paper I want to take up these questions, working toward an understanding of Husserl’s “philosophical-historical idea of Europe.” As an epigraph I have used an enigmatic reference by Husserl to China , which I think will help us understand this idea

‘”. . . some . . . ” Weltanschauung” (which might as well be Chinese, in the end) . . ‘. (1)

(1) Edmund Husserl, The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology, tr. D. Carr (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1970) p. 71.