Retention (philosophy)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The concept of retention , coined by Edmund Husserl , describes the ability of the consciousness to hold onto not only the current perceptions flowing to it but also perceptions of the immediately preceding moment. Husserl also calls this function “primary memory”.

Retention with Edmund Husserl

Husserl describes this function of consciousness using the example of listening to music: Without the previous notes, it is not possible to recognize a motif or theme in the music. Through the retention, the previous auditory impressions are kept in the consciousness and connected with the instantaneous impressions. Phenomenologically , retention is therefore not a remembering, which presents a situation from the past and thus already viewed it with a certain distance, but a kind of remembering objectification, updating of an aspect that is past but extends into the present.

Husserl sees in this aspect a necessary distinction from actual memory. Another type of memory is déjà vu , for example .

Retention with Ernst Cassirer

Ernst Cassirer uses Husserl's concept of retention in connection with his cultural-philosophical approach of a philosophy of symbolic forms . Cassirer defines the human being as a symbolic being , which, like other animals, does not relate to its environment through a stimulus-reaction scheme, but through symbols . In the course of cultural history, symbols are contingently formed material signs, sensual forms with a meaning. The shaping process in which symbols are formed is essentially dependent on retention, because only that which persists for a certain period of time can be sensually detached from an amorphous connection with its environment. For example, a tone is only perceived as such because it persists over a certain period of time and there is no random and rapid change in noises (as is the case with noise).

Cassirer describes the overall process of symbolization as the formation of conciseness . It consists of several moments:

  • Recognition (recognition)
  • Presentation ( presence of the physical-sensual.)
  • Retention (The experience remains in consciousness for a certain period of time.)
  • Representation (The relation that connects the representational and the represented: for Cassirer it is a fundamental achievement of consciousness and takes place as a constant movement between the two.)

See also


  • Edmund Husserl: Texts on the phenomenology of inner time consciousness . ISBN 3787305971

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Oswald Schwemmer : Ernst Cassirer. A philosopher of European modernism. Berlin, 1997, p. 89ff.