Time, history, and tradition
Consciousness, for Husserl, is both traditional and autonomous. The union of tradition and autonomy is seen perhaps most strikingly and most concisely in his essay "On the Origin of Geometry."1 Husserl points to the fact that "[t]he geometry which is ready-made..., from which the regressive inquiry begins, is a tradition. Our human existence moves within innumerable traditions. The whole cultural world, in all its forms, exists through tradition" (Hua VI: 366/354). But, Husserl reminds us, "everything traditional has arisen out of human activity, that accordingly past men and human civilizations existed, and among them their first inventors, who shaped the new out of materials at hand, whether raw or already spiritually shaped" (Hua VI: 366/355). Hence, anyone interested in a genuine understanding of the geometrical tradition can "reactivate" in a self-evidencing the sedimented meaning-formations at first taken for granted by us (Hua VI: 375/365). Such reactivation is a manifestation of what Husserl elsewhere calls "authentic thinking," i.e., actively thinking for oneself without reliance on passively preconstituted and sedimented meanings. However, this suggests that traditional thinking is inauthentic, that the traditional character of consciousness is something to be overcome. This suggests, in other words, that the traditional character of consciousness is accidental rather than essential. But this last suggestion is clearly inconsistent with Husserl's accounts of the essential temporality and historicity of consciousness.
Drummond, J. (2000)., Time, history, and tradition, in J. Brough & L. Embree (eds.), The many faces of time, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 127-147.
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