What is the 'Ur-Ich' in Husserl?

CFS lecture by Shigeru Taguchi, Department of Philosophy and Ethics, Hokkaido University, Japan


In my talk, I will begin by providing a basic explanation of Husserl's concept of the Ur-Ich. Subsequently, I will suggest that this concept bears significant relevance to the recent reformulation of the concept of "We" in the existing literature. Notably, certain philosophers are investigating the notion of "We" as neither a singular entity nor a mere collection of individuals (e.g., Zahavi 2021, J Soc Ont). The structure of intersubjectivity, which cannot be reduced to either a homogeneous unity or a mere aggregation of individuals, inherently raises the issue of the Ur-Ich. It is precisely such an issue that Husserl wanted to address with this concept. Subjectivity and the ego cannot be seen as merely one among many—such a perspective would only reflect an external viewpoint. On the other hand, this doesn't mean that there is a trans-individual unity of "subjectivity in general." The true reality of the ego and the subjectivity we live through is prior to the establishment of the dichotomy between a trans-individual unity and the multitude of individuals. This kind of "obviousness," while straightforward, proves challenging to articulate in objective terms. Husserl's pursuit with the concept of Ur-Ich was precisely to elucidate this notion.