The Problem of Anonymity in Natanson and Schutz

Tomas Dacosta

In the introduction of the third volume of Alfred Schutz’s Collected Papers, first published in 1966, Aron Gurwitsch suggests: “It would be of interest to compare Schutz’s analysis of conduct in everyday life – socially determined because socially derived – with Heidegger’s interpretation of the anonymity of ‘das Man’ in Sein und Zeit, § 27” (p. xvii). In his brief article from 1975 “Th e Problem of Anonymity in Gurwitsch and Schutz”, the former PhD student of Schutz at the New School for Social Research in New York Maurice Natanson makes reference to Gurwitsch’s idea, however, without any intention to carry out the comparison, takes Heidegger as point of departure for an analysis of what he considers to be, in Schutz’s thought, a most productive notion than “relevance” or “typifi cation”, namely: “anonymity”. According to Natanson, Heidegger characterizes anonymity – in form of “das Man” – as an aspect of the moving away of the self from its “original” possibilities. In Heidegger, what begins as a structural analysis of the anonymity of the social world ends as a rejection of the life-world in its mundane everydayness. However, a phenomenological understanding of social reality as grounded in anonymity and at the same time not committed with Heidegger’s perspective is, for Natanson, possible, as the structural analysis of the social world developed by Schutz in Der sinnhafte Aufbau der sozialen Welt shows. Schutz sees in the anonymous a feature of the social experience – not of existence in the sense Heidegger’s, but as a moment of the interplay between immediate experiencing of others and social typifications that takes place in daily life. In several of his writings and in his later book of 1986 Anonymity, Natanson radicalizes the status of this “feature”: according to him, in the anonymous order of the social world we fi nd the grounding structure of the everyday world. The article reconstructs the development of the concept of anonymity in the works of Alfred Schutz and of its appropriation by Maurice Natanson, suggesting the possibility of an phenomenological analysis of the anonymous character of the social world as an alternative to the analysis of intersubjectivity and collective intentionality.


Keywords: Anonymity · Maurice Natanson · Alfred Schutz · Life-World · Intersubjectivity · Everydayness

Przejdź do wersji polskiej

Currently read volume

The journal founded by Leszek Kołakowski, Bronisław Baczko and Jan Garewicz appears continuously since 1957.

Instytut Filozofii i Socjologii PAN Archiwum Warszawskiej Szkoły Historii Idei Bibliografia Filozofii Polskiej The Interlocutor Wydawnictwo IFiS PAN Polskie Towarzystwo Filozoficzne
© Archiwum Historii Filozofii i Myśli Społecznej 1957-2010.