Central and East European
Society for Phenomenology

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Vasily Sesemann's theory of knowledge, and its phenomenological relevance

Dalius Jonkus(Vytautas Magnus University)

pp. 93-110


In his philosophical research, Vasily Sesemann proved that the natural sciences were not the sole domain of knowledge. He criticized Neo-Kantian philosophy and argued that the subject of knowledge could not be an abstract scientific mind. Cognition involves direct intuition. The knowing subject acts directly in the world, which is why knowledge is always related to attitudes. A person knows himself not as a theoretical object, but as a non-objectifiable, personal life. Therefore, man must follow not only reflective knowledge, but also pre-reflective self-consciousness. The knowledge that an incarnate and worldly, agential subject can be connected not only to conscious activity, but unconscious activity as well. Sesemann rejected the Neo-Kantian reduction of being into logical thinking. He argued that rationality is always related to irrationality, and pure knowledge is related to attitudes. I first discuss how Sesemann understands intuition and criticizes the naturalistic account of scientific knowledge. I then analyze how Sesemann's theory relates knowledge to attitudes. Finally, I discuss the genesis of knowledge as the transcendence of one's point of view and how objectifying knowledge is related to linguistic expression and in this context argue that Sesemann's analysis of knowledge is similar to Husserl's genetic phenomenology.

Publication details

Published in:

Płotka Witold, Eldridge Patrick (2020). Early phenomenology in Central and Eastern Europe: main figures, ideas, and problems, Springer, Dordrecht.

Pages: 93-110

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-39623-7_6

Full citation:

Jonkus Dalius (2020). Vasily Sesemann's theory of knowledge, and its phenomenological relevance, in W. Płotka & P. Eldridge (eds.), Early phenomenology in Central and Eastern Europe, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 93-110.