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Compiled by Anthony Harrison-Barbet


HUSSERL

(1859 — 1938)

 

PHENOMENOLOGY

Edmund Husserl was born into a Jewish family in Prosnitz, Moravia. He was educated at the Gymnasium in Olmitz and then studied physics, mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy at the Universities of Leipzig, Berlin, and Vienna. After gaining his doctorate in 1882 he studied further in Vienna under Brentano, subsequently becoming a Privatdozent at Halle. From 1906-16 he was ausserordentlicher professor at Göttingen, where he established the Phenomenological movement (though his relationships with his colleagues were often strained). He moved to Freiburg as full professor in 1916 and remained there until his death, having retired from teaching in 1928.

 

ONTOLOGY AND METHOD

[1] [gen 1] Two preliminary points should be made. (1) Husserl was not a systematic philosopher in the sense that he sought to construct a system after the manner of, say, the German idealists. But closely integrated with his epistemology and his philosophy of language there is a carefully worked out ontology grounded not in vacuous speculation but — as he saw it — firmly rooted in experience. (2) His philosophy was always undergoing development. As he himself put it, "I am a perpetual beginner". But while his thought often seems to have passed through a number of stages, much recent scholarship has tended to show that many of the ideas supposedly introduced in his later writings were present, implicitly if not explicitly, in early work.

Husserl's phenomenology grew out of his early attempts to analyse and clarify the concepts of mathematics and logic [see Logical Investigations I, 1st edn]. He initially espoused a 'psychologistic' approach, but he gradually came to reject this and instead held the view that statements of mathematics and logic are necessary truths, associated with deductive inference, and constituting an a priori 'science' (Wissenschaft), that is, field of knowledge; whereas statements of psychology are concerned with facts or events, are causal or probable, and grounded in inductive arguments [a]. Mathematics as a formal axiomatic system is part of formal or symbolic logic, but both together belong to 'pure logic', by which he understood a systematic structure of laws and theories grounded in quasi-Platonic ideal categories of meaning [b]. This concept is closely connected with that of intentionality, by which he meant approximately 'directedness'. Husserl said that the experiences of our mental life (perceiving, imagining, judging, and so on) are episodic acts of consciousness, mental or cognitive acts. Such acts both have a 'content' and are 'intentional' — in the sense that they 'intend', are directed towards some 'object' [c], even if in some instances, such as hallucinations, there is no external object. (Similarly physical actions can be intentional.) Husserl regarded intentionality as constituting a relation between the subjective agent and the object and also supposed it to be a kind of function or quality of the agent's act to perceive, imagine, and so on, in a particular way. Initially he distinguished between the intended object, that is, the referent, or what we 'mean', and the content of the mental act — in effect its 'sense' (though he said that Sinn and Bedeutung in German are actually synonyms) [LI, 13]. Entities which have referents are expressions, and these include names and sentences. The referents of sentences are 'states-of-affairs'. And he argues (i) that expressions can have different senses and yet refer to the same object, and (ii) that a give word with the same sense can refer to different referents. He made a further distinction between the real content and the ideal content. The 'real' content consists of 'matter' (that which makes the act a presentation [Vorstellung]) and 'quality' (that which makes the act a certain type — such as a judgement, or a question). The 'ideal' content, however, is a 'species', an ideal entity, of which, Husserl says, the real content is an instantiation [d]. (In the intentional mode of 'signifying', logic and mathematics are concerned with special sorts of meanings — 'ideal singulars', which include 'nominal' meanings as objects of acts of presentation, 'sentential' meanings, and 'states of affairs' intended by acts of judgement.)

[2] Underlying this early account of language and mental acts is a commitment to an ontology (what there 'is'). And throughout the first decade of the twentieth Husserl was seeking to develop a general 'realist' 'transcendental phenomenology' which (1) would comprehend all aspects or modes of conscious experience; (2) would thereby reveal a formal ontology of fundamental categories; and (3) would constitute "philosophy as rigorous science" [see the essay of this title]. Such a 'science' would facilitate the placing of both the natural and the human sciences on a firm basis, under the unifying category of the understanding [a], which would take account of the constitutive and explicative role played by 'subjectivity' in our experience while avoiding the errors of other contemporary approaches to philosophy. Thus he attacked (1) materialism and reductionalist phenomenalism (the analysis of physical objects exclusively in terms of sensory impressions and ideas, and not to be confused with his own method of reduction); (2) 'scientist' theories, such as positivism and naturalism, which take it for granted that there is an objective world but fail to ask the question whether knowledge of it is possible, and which, Husserl argued, lead to scepticism; (3) 'historicism', which had originally impressed him but which he now found to be inconsistent in that cultural relativists assumed the existence of absolute truths in the very process of denying them. (4) speculative idealism and generally irrationalist philosophies [b].

To achieve his ideal of 'scientific rigour' in his phenomenology Husserl combined his account of intentionality with what he called the method of transcendental-phenomenological reduction [see Idea of Phenomenology and Ideas I]. This method was grounded in the activity of 'bracketing' (epoché) [first worked out in 1905; see Ideas I, 27]. In a non-reflective mode we accept our mental experiences as relating to, or being about the world. However, we can reflect philosophically and raise the question whether or not these objects which we 'intend' and suppose to exist actually do exist. In bracketing our experiences we suspend belief in the actual existence of intended objects — be they physical objects, persons, minds, propositions, or meanings. (This is not, however, intrinsically a 'sceptical' position) [c]. We are thus led back ('re-duced') to the intrinsic experiences themselves. This is what Husserl means when he says he wants to get "to the things themselves" (zu den Sachen selbst) — a 'thing' being an intuition (Anschauung), namely, that which is immediately given to us in experience, be it sensory or otherwise, as a consequence of which we can see what the designating word or expression for the thing actually signifies [see, for example, Logical Investgns, I, ch. 2, 21; see also II, part 1, passim]. Through an imaginative consideration or intuition of how appearances of things might be varied we can then come to discover 'eidetically' their 'invariant general structures', that is, the essences (Wesen) of things. Intuition for Husserl is a kind of non-empirical pure seeing — not like the seeing or perceiving of physical objects but more like the gaining of insight into or apprehension of what is directly given to thought in a mental act [d]. A description of both these structures and the consciousness which 'intends' them can then be attempted. Husserl's rigorous phenomenological philosophy is thus an eidetic science; and while descriptive it is not to be thought of as a descriptive psychology which is concerned with cognitive processes as such [e]. But in Cartesian Meditations [39-40] he in fact talks of it as a "phenomenology of genesis through which [alone] the ego becomes understandable", the problems of phenomenology being reduced to the title "the (static and genetic) constitution of objectivities of possible consciousness".

[3] Husserl's ontology, initially set out in the Logical Investigations and then in Ideas I, was more systematically developed in Ideas II and III. He distinguished three realms: of Essence, Fact, and Meaning.

(1) The realm of Essence. This is a realm of 'ideal' entities, which are necessary, non-spatial and non-temporal. This realm contains formal essences and material essences [a]. The study of formal essences is the field of formal ontology; and this applies to formal essences or categories of all objects or entities constituting the world — individuals, properties, states of affairs, events, as well as linking categories such as truth and identity. Together with formal logic, which is concerned with linguistic categories (name, predicate, statement, for example) and meaning categories (concepts, propositions), formal ontology makes up Husserl's Logic in a wide sense — as a unifying science of interconnected necessary truths [b]. Material essences belong to the field of material ontology. And both formal and material ontology, as well as mathematics and logic, are what Husserl calls the eidetic sciences. Material essences are allocated to three regions — Nature, Living-World (Spirit, Geist, Humanity), and Consciousness (each of which of course has its own formal essence). These regions are the highest genera in Husserl's structure: they contain species and sub-species in hierarchical dependence. Thus, Nature as the highest material species contains the essences Material Thing, Plant, Animal; humanity contains the species of Cultural Entities, for example, ideas, values, books, works of art, and so on, as well as of course human persons; while Consciousness includes such species as Perception, Belief, Judgement, Imagination.

(2) The realm of Fact — of concreteness, spatiality and temporality [c]. Each and all of the essences are, according to Husserl, instantiated in this realm as (a) individuals (which are made up of instances of species, qualities, relations — all these being dependent entities which he calls moments); (b) states-of-affairs; (c) events and experiences [c]. Whereas essences belong to the ideal realm, instantiations are concrete. All form the subject matter of the empirical sciences: physics, chemistry, and biology study Nature; the social sciences deal with the Human or Living-World; while phenomenology is the science of Consciousness and Intentionality. A given human individual can be investigated within Nature by reference (a) to its physical body and soul moments; (b) within the region of Living-World in terms of its Living Body and Human 'I moments'; while (c) in the region of Consciousness the 'self' can be treated phenomenologically as the 'Pure I' or Transcendental Ego [d].

(3) The Realm of Meaning (Sinn) [e]. Belonging to this realm (which, like the realm of essences, is ideal) are the contents of intentional experiences or acts. These are the subject matter of phenomenological reflection. They include the 'senses' of all essences — individuals, predicational senses of species, qualities, relations; and also propositions and senses of states-of-affairs. Husserl makes it clear that meanings or senses are not themselves essences; they exist rather, it would seem, as a function of human consciousness interacting with raw matter (hyle) and the realm of essences. They have some kind of reality and are regarded as temporal but non-spatial. In this later stage of Husserl's thought meanings or 'senses' (Sinne) are no longer considered as species [see sec. 1d] but as contents of intentional acts of consciousness; and this includes both linguistic and non-linguistic acts. Already [Lectures 1908] he had distinguished between the noesis, or noetic 'moment' of an act, and its noema. The noesis is what he had previously termed the real content. The noema is the intentional content [e], that is, not the abstract object which we suppose to be the real object of intentionality but the 'object-as-intended meant precisely as meant'. Intentional objects, in addition to having sense, are also accorded a 'thetic' aspect which determines what type of experience it is — whether perceptual, judgemental, orectic (that is, appertaining to desire), and so on.

[4] In his later work [Cartesian Meditations and Crisis of European Sciences] he modified his phenomenological method further. While formerly it was a description of a separate realm of being [see sec 2] he now regarded it as a reflection and description of what he called criteria for the 'coherence' of our experiences. Knowledge of these criteria gives us a further condition for the definition of 'phenomenon' and the making of statements about phenomena understood by reference to the 'appropriateness' of intentional acts, that is, whether it is congruous to perform certain kinds of actions in a particular situation (putting food out for a god, for example), or to believe certain sorts of statements (they may be non-sensical). In general it is an empirical matter to determine whether purposive actions or acts about intentional objects are or are not adequate. But Husserl also says that although individual acts may be coherent they may not collectively constitute a coherent series in that a given action or belief may occur in a different context from another in the sequence. So he now suggests that a further job of phenomenology is to undertake an 'intentional analysis' to clarify the relations between acts; and he sees this as being revealed through what he calls 'horizons' of intentional acts. If a statement can provide a criterion of coherence in this way, then it is a statement about a phenomenon or phenomena. Phenomenology thus ceases to be concerned with providing foundations for the various mathematical and empirical sciences and becomes more 'critical' (in a roughly Kantian sense), in that 'reflection' is now directed towards identifying and uncovering the necessary conditions for adequacy and coherence [a]. And Husserl goes even further still in suggesting that the primary function of the phenomenological method is to investigate what he calls the life-world (Lebenswelt). This is the world we are perceptually acquainted with and live through. It is also now seen to be the 'world' from which the physical sciences originate and on which they are dependent. Indeed if we are to acquire scientific knowledge an understanding of the Lebenswelt is a prerequisite [b].

 

PSYCHOLOGY/ PHILOSOPHY OF MAN

[5] In his early Logical Investigations Husserl had rejected the concept of an ego which is its own object, which, as it were, constitutes itself, or one which is pure or substantial, and a noumenal 'thing-in-itself'. He dismisses also the crude empiricist notion of the self as but a set or series of phenomena ('bundles of perceptions'). However, in the second edition he postulated a 'pure' ego which is not only empirical (as embodied) but also 'transcendental', in the sense that its 'essence' is 'instantiated': we apprehend it in the cogito as the subject of our thinking by means of our application of the phenomenological reduction — in the performance of an intentional act. And it would seem also from the second edition (and from Ideas I) that this transcendental ego or pure consciousness — whose existence Husserl regarded as indubitable — is now seen as the foundation of the world of experience, all other things existing relative to it [a].

This latter position has led to the questionable characterization of Husserl's philosophy as idealist — as contrasted with a realist interpretation according to which there are objects existing independently of mind and to which we have direct access. He denied he was a subjective idealist in the Berkeleyan sense, but he accepted that his philosophy could be described as transcendental idealism, though this phrase too is ambiguous. Nevertheless he was already aware of difficulties with his account — which would seem to attribute an independent existence to the transcendental ego as separable from the empirical self. Indeed, at times he seemed to regard the transcendental ego as if it were an independent entity which would remain in existence even if the whole world (and thus including one's empirical self) were to be destroyed. He therefore came to modify his thesis and redefined the transcendental ego, arguing that it is correlative to the world rather than having an absolute existence. This view was already implicit not only in Cartesian Meditations but also in the earlier unpublished Ideas II, and was eventually fully articulated in his Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Philosophy. Similarly the phenomenal world itself became the correlate of the "intersubjective community" of individuals instead of being that which exists in a transcendental phenomenological reduction of a given individual [b].

Husserl's developing positions in relation to the transcendental ego and the phenomenal world (to which the body belongs) are reflected also in his account of freedom. He initially argues that consciousness is causally detached from the world [Ideas I, 49]. But he later [Ideas II] supposes that the body is in some sense already integrated into the the world's causality in so far as it is itself a self-motivating mover; or [Crisis, 62] that the ego experiences itself as a 'living body', that is as a system of organs which it activates — Husserl talks of the ego as acting through the body's 'holding-sway' over its surroundings. Freedom is thereby intrinsic [c].

[6] His final position [in Crisis] would seem to be approximately as follows. An actual, concrete, individual human being is a free, that is, self-motivating unitary organism but it is considered as having different 'aspects', that is, conceptually abstractable dependent 'moments' which are instantiations in the realm of fact of the three regions of essences [a]. Thus, (1) in Nature we have the animate organism studied by natural science (a) as physical body or material thing (Krper) and (b) as psychological ego; (2) in the Life-World man is treated as actively engaged in the social-cultural world of human relations, ethics, the arts, religion, and so on as (a) concrete 'soul' and 'living-body' (Leib), and (b) the social 'I' or 'mundane ego', characterized by 'spirituality'; (3) as Consciousness there is the ideal essence — the pure or transcendental ego itself, which Husserl considered to be the subject of experiences, dispositions or 'habitualities', intentional acts and actions. His transcendental ego is neither a thinking substance in which thoughts inhere nor the stream of thoughts themselves. And it is therefore neither substantial nor separable in the Cartesian manner [b]. He argued further (from 1909) that the transcendental ego as such is not spatio-temporal (consisting of separate 'past', 'now', and 'future' apprehensions of time as such — the view he had held from 1901-7) but is to be conceived of as a 'flow' which is itself the source which constitutes temporality itself [c].

 

THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE

[7] [See especially Logical Investigations II, vi; Ideas I, iv.] In what ways are things known? Husserl made the following distinctions.

(1) Within the realm of Fact we know the material things and events belonging to the realm of Nature, including ourselves and other people (as 'moments' of physical body, psyche or soul) by means of sensory intuition and the constituting consciousness. The objects, Husserl says, are prescribed by the sense or meaning content of intentional experience, that is through noemata. The notion of a thing 'in itself' is therefore superfluous [Ideas I, 47] [a]. Our knowledge of others as living bodies, their activities and experiences, is gained through an understanding of their rational and emotional motivations; and this requires empathy. This is fundamental to the human sciences [b]. He also says that we can have original intuitions of values in the world which then inform our motivations [c]. The pure or transcendental ego, however, as instantiation of the essence Pure Ego, is not directly intuitable, but qua subject of consciousness is reached through transcendental reflection [d].

(2) All essences — instantiated in the three realms of fact, life-world and consciousness — are known through eidetic intuition and eidetic variation [e].

(3) Meanings or senses (the actual noematic contents of experiences) and also acts of consciousness are known through the bracketing process and then phenomenological reduction [f].

It would therefore seem to follow that knowledge of the empirical self or ego as such and within the realm of fact (the 'pure I' moments) can be known only as a complex series of the noemata themselves and thus through phenomenological reflection. Husserl also says that we as egos can be aware of our experiencing (as contrasted with our awareness of the intentional contents — the noemata of experience): he calls this 'apperception' [g]. (This is not to be confused with perception which is directed towards the intentional object as prescribed by the sense or meaning aspect of the noemata.)

How then does intuition constitute knowledge? Knowing is itself a mental act which is realized in the relation between acts of thought and what he terms 'fulfilling intuitions' [Investigations II, vi]. The key term 'fulfilment' needs to be clarified. Suppose I am thinking about my pen (an intentional act of thinking). If I actually come to perceive the pen, here in front of me on the table, my thought is said to be fulfilled through this empirical or perceptual intuition. Knowledge is thus a mental state realized in our awareness of a relation between the act of thought and its fulfilling empirical intuition, a recognition of the identity of the object of thought and the object of perception [h].

Husserl allows degrees of knowing, three kinds of evidence or "originally giving" [Cartesian Meditations, 6] [i].

(1) Certainty. In everyday experience we perceive — feel surfaces, see trees, hear birds (though generally perception is more usually used to refer specifically to vision). In general we do not doubt either that we are having this experience or that. It is indeed the tree we are seeing, the bird we are hearing. Such experiences possess the characteristic of certainty. This is not to say that mistakes are not possible.

(2) Apodicticity. Apodictic evidence is stronger than certain evidence and is applicable to what is absolutely indubitable — in a way that our perception of the tree is not. For his criterion Husserl seems to be thinking here of something like Descartes' claim to have certain ("clear and distinct") knowledge of himself as a consciousness of thinking substance — though he does not subscribe to Cartesian metaphysics. (Earlier [see Logical Investigns I, 2nd edn, note to 6], however, he would seem to have regarded the cogito as only adequately self-evident.)

(3) Evidence is said to be 'adequate'. This seems to relate to the notion of fulfilment introduced in the Investigations [see sec. 7h ]. When we look at the tree we see particular aspects of it. However, perceptually the experience is open to further possibilities ('horizons', 'variations'): there is a back to the tree whose colour and shape we do not see at the moment but could do so if we moved round it. If we were in a position to perceive the totality of the possibilities, our intendings and meanings would be completely fulfilled and our knowledge would be said to be adequate. (Clearly this term does not have the usual sense of sufficiency.) Now if we apply these grades of evidence to each of the modes of intuition we find that not all standards are met. Perception, as just indicated, is not adequate; neither is it apodictic; but it is (usually) certain. Phenomenological reflection, however, in general satisfies all three criteria (though Husserl is not always consistent here, particularly in his analysis of our acts of consciousness in relation to the life-world).

[8] In Husserl's last writings [The Crisis in European Sciences; implicit also in Ideas II] it is the 'pre-given' living-world and our commonsense awareness of the external world of intersubjectivity that he takes as his starting-point; and it is from this, through phenomenological reduction, that philosophy is established as a rigorous science, the natural sciences can be constructed as an abstraction, and reconciliation between the natural and human sciences achieved [a].

 

CRITICAL SUMMARY

Although Husserl's philosophy was constantly undergoing change and development, there are a number of key features which are generally to be found throughout his writings: (1) his use of Brentano's modification of the medieval concepts of intentionality and 'intended' (as against 'material') objects'; (2) his method of 'bracketing' and transcendental-phenomenological reduction; and (3) the 'intuition' of essences. (His last period also saw the introduction of the influential concepts of the 'life-world' and coherence — though these too have been shown to have originated in in much earlier writings.) Nevertheless, his philosophy as a whole is inherently ambiguous; and much recent scholarship has centred on two interconnected issues: whether he should be regarded as a commonsense realist or as a transcendental idealist, and whether his epistemology should be understood in 'foundationalist' terms.

The relationship of his philosophy to Descartes is central in this dispute. Arguably a merit of Husserl's account of a transcendental ego as neither a thinking substance in which thoughts inhere nor the stream of thoughts themselves is that it avoids the problems raised by Descartes' cogito. And some commentators have argued that he goes beyond Descartes with his concept of intentionality as a nexus of noesis (act) and noema (content) (which leads to knowledge of the intentional object), his notion of eidetic reduction, and the intuition of ideal essences. It follows that he is a transcendental idealist in that (a) the physical world is constituted by the mind on a foundation of immanence (sensations as the phenomenal content of intentionally directed mental acts); (b) the constituting consciousness is the pure transcendental ego; (c) the empirical, psychological ego is the consciousness which is constituted by the transcendental ego and is part of the constituted world as a dependent moment of human nature. Thus, although his conception of consciousness and his foundationalist programme differ in some respects from Descartes', he remained a Cartesian. And certainly Husserl himself, at least in his earlier work, accepted the description of his philosophy as transcendental idealism, though he denied it was a subjective idealism in the way he supposed Berkeley's to be.

As against this view, some other scholars have claimed that Husserl's philosophy should not be interpreted in Cartesian terms at all. It has been suggested that in the admittedly later Cartesian Meditations — but implicit in earlier writings — he is concerned primarily with the working out of a phenomenology of one's experience of oneself and the natural world. It is mistaken to suppose that he raises apodictic certainty to the level of an ideal requirement. Husserl is not engaged in such a quest. He recognises degrees of evidence and knowledge, and allows that intuitions are revisable — revisability being also a feature of his concept of 'horizon'. On this interpretation, then, we can say Husserl was not seeking a foundation for knowledge in the phenomenal content of mental acts — still less in an absolute certainty such as was claimed by Descartes for his cogito (which, as Husserl correctly pointed out, did not meet Descartes' own apodictic requirements). It can been argued further that Husserl's notion of foundation was in any case ontological rather than epistemological, though there is (in Investigations VI) interaction between the two aspects in that acts of eidetic intuition are founded on lower-level acts involving sensory content. (They refer to what is called by some philosophers in the analytic tradition as sense-data or sensibilia.) Finally, one must have regard to the later shift towards an emphasis on the 'pre-given' life world and our commonsense awareness of the external world of intersubjectivity that Husserl takes as his starting-point. Perhaps then Husserl may be regarded correctly as a foundationalist in his theory of knowledge but that the nature of the 'foundations' changed from something approximating to what philosophers working in the earlier 'analytic' tradition termed sense-data or sensibilia to the something more like Wittgenstein's 'scaffolding' of ordinary discourse and experience. However, the tension between the two interpretations remains unresolved.

The precise status of Husserl's phenomenological statements (that is, the various 'conditions') has also been frequently questioned. (We may compare this with the similar problem encountered by the logical positivists' verification principle.) They are supposedly non-empirical and yet necessarily true a priori. It has been said that they cannot be a priori, because the conditions laid down for phenomena and intentional acts may not be universal. In a different culture it may not be possible within the corresponding limits and conditions to distinguish true from false statements. An alternative view, however, is that they may be taken to be a priori in so far as they are necessary as preconditions for the truth and falsity of statements about phenomena. What Husserl says in his Ideas for a Pure Phenomenology would seem to support such an interpretation (approximately Kantian).

Notwithstanding these conflicting views — perhaps indeed because of them — Husserl remains as one of the most significant thinkers of the twentieth century. As the originator of phenomenology he was a major influence on a large number of European philosophers — including Heidegger, Scheler, Ortega y Gasset, Jaspers, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Gadamer, and Ricoeur.

 

READING

Husserl: Logische Untersuchungen (Logical Investigations): Part I (Prolegomena to a Pure Logic), 1900; 2nd edn 1913; Part II (Investigations on Phenomenology and Theory of Knowledge), 1901; 2nd edn (i) 1913, (ii) 1913/22 (trans. J. N.Findlay); Die Idee der Phnomenologie (1907, published 1950) (The Idea of Phenomenology, trans. W. P. Alston & G. Nakhnikian); Philosophie als strenge Wissenschaft (1911) (Philosophy as Rigorous Science; in Q. Lauer, ed., Phenomenology and the Crisis of Philosophy); Ideen zu einer reinen Phnomenologie und phnomenologischen Philosophie (1913) (Ideas pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy: Book I trans. F. Kersten; Book II trans. R. Rojcewicz & A, Schuwer; Book III trans. T. E. Klein & W. E. Pohl); Cartesianische Meditationen (1929) (published 1950) (Cartesian Meditations: Introduction to Phenomenology, trans. D. Cairns); Die Krisis der Europischen Wissenschaften und die transzendentale Philosophie (1936) (The Crisis of European Philosophy and Transcendental Philosophy: An Introduction to Phenomenological Philosophy, trans. D. Carr). See also Husserl's article "Phenomenology" in the 1929 Encyclopedia Britannica. Selections from his writings with commentary are to be found in R. Solomon (ed.), Phenomenology and Existentialism.

Studies

D. Bell, Husserl.

J. M. Edie, Edmund Husserl's Phenomenology: A Critical Commentary.

M. Natanson, Edmund Husserl: Philosopher of Infinite Tasks.

P. Ricoeur, Husserl: An Analysis of his Philosophy.

M. Russell, Husserl: A Guide for the Perplexed.

Collection of essays

B. Smith and D. Woodruff Smith (eds), The Cambridge Companion to Husserl.

 

 

CONNECTIONS

Husserl

 

[sec. 1; see also 2a] General transcendent phenomenology (meaning and reference)    Peirce [1d]

 

[1a] [Later] rejection of psychologism in mathematics and logic; necessary, a priori field of knowledge; psychology is only probable based on inductive arguments

   Kant

   Mill

   Brentano

Frege

   Russell

Merleau-Ponty

[1b]

[1a]

[1a 1d]

[1a]

[1f]

[1a]

 

[1b; also 3b] Formal maths part of formal logic; both part of pure logic — systematic structure of laws/ theories; 'ideal' categories of meaning

   Plato

   Frege

[1d]

[1b c 2b]

 

[1c; cf. 2c] Intentionality: mental life and physical action directed on object

   Brentano

Scheler

Jaspers

Heidegger

Sartre

   Searle

[1a]

[1c]

[3a]

[2e]

[1a]

[4b]

 

[1d; cf. 3c] Distinction between 'referent' and 'sense' ('content' — real as instantiation of the ideal species); sense does not determine reference

   Plato

   Aristotle

   Frege

[1c]

[4b]

[2e]

 

[2a e; cf. 8a] [Early] 'realist' transcendental phenomenology: philosophy as 'rigorous science'; 'descriptive' but not strictly cognitive descriptive psychology; natural and human sciences reconciled through the understanding

   Mill

   Dilthey

   Peirce

Jaspers

Ortega y Gasset

Heidegger

Merleau-Ponty

[1k]

[2a b]

[1d]

[1a]

[1a]

[1c 2d]

[1a]

 

[2b] Rejection of materialism, reductionism, positivism, naturalism, relativism, historicism, irrationalism, idealism

   [representative: ]

   Hegel

   Mill

   Dilthey

Ortega y Gasset

   

[1a c 9a]

[1k]

[1b]

[1a]

 

[2c; cf. 7f] Transcendental-phenomenological reduction; bracketing (epoché); not scepticism as such

   Pyrrho

   Descartes

   Santayana

Scheler

Schlick

Jaspers

Heidegger

Sartre

Merleau-Ponty

Ricoeur

[1b]

[1b]

[4b]

[1a 4c]

[1b]

[1a]

[1c]

[1a]

[1a b]

[1a 4c]

 

[2d; also 7e]. Back to 'things themselves': 'eidetic' discovery of general invariant 'structures', or 'essences'; 'intuition' as non-empirical apprehension of content of mental acts

   Plato

   Duns Scotus

   Hume

   Dilthey

   Brentano

   Santayana

Scheler

Schlick

Ricoeur

[1c]

[2c]

[1c]

[1c]

[1a]

[4a b]

[1e]

[1b]

[4a c]

 

[3a c e]

Three realms — Essence, Fact, and Meaning:

i Essence (ideal): contains formal and material essences

   Plato

   Peirce

   Frege

[1c]

[2a]

[2i]

 

[3b; also 1b] Formal ontology (concerned with formal essences) + formal logic + meaning categories makes up Logic (unifying science of necessary interconnected truths)

   Plato

   Frege

[1d 3a]

[2b]

 

[3c; cf. 1d] ii Fact: concrete, spatio-temporal, in which essences are instantiated (individuals, states of affairs, events/ experiences

   Plato

   Aristotle

[2c]

[4b]

 

[3d; see also 6a; cf. 2a 8a sec. 5] Human individual with reference to essences of Nature, Living-World, and Transcendental Consciousness

   Santayana

Jaspers

[4b]

[1b c]

 

[3e; see 7f; also 1d] iii Meaning: contents (real — noesis, and intentional — noema) of intentional experiences/ acts    Searle [1c]

 

[4a; cf. 2c d] (Later) phenomenological method 'critical' — describes criteria, necessary conditions for adequacy and coherence of experience    Kant [1c]

 

[4b; cf. 8a] Phenomenological method to investigate Life-world

   Dilthey

Heidegger

Merleau-Ponty

Ricoeur

[2b]

[1c 2a]

[1a]

[4c]

 

[5a; cf. 3d 6b 7d] The self: rejection of notion of substantial, noumenal ego, and of empiricist 'bundles' view; 'pure' ego both empirical and 'transcendental' (qua -instantiation of essence), apprehended through phenomenal reduction in act of intentionality; ego as 'foundation' of world

   Descartes

   Hume

   Kant

   Brentano

Scheler

Jaspers

Heidegger

Gadamer

Sartre

Merleau-Ponty

Ricoeur

   Searle

[2a]

[2d]

[3b 5a]

[3b]

[4a]

[1c 3a]

[1c]

[1b]

[1c]

[1b c 2a]

[1a 5a 8f]

[2a g]

 

[5b] [Later] 'Ego' and phenomenal world as correlate of intersubjective community

   Dilthey

Jaspers

Gadamer

Sartre

[1b]

[5b]

[1b d]

[1c]

 

[5c] Freedom; the living body as self-motivating mover; reconciliation of freedom and causality?

   Descartes

   Kant

   Scheler

[3h]

[7a 10d]

[4b]

 

[6a; cf. 3d] [Final view] human being as unitary organism: different 'moments'/ instantiations in realm of fact as 3 essences

   Herder

   Dilthey

Scheler

   Davidson

   Searle

[1a]

[1a]

[4a]

[2b]

[2a g]

 

[6b; also 5a] Transcendental ego neither substance nor just stream of thoughts

   Descartes

   Hume

   Kant

   James

[2a]

[2d]

[3b 5a]

[2b]

 

[6c] Transcendental ego not spatio-temporal but 'flow' which itself is source of and constitutes temporality

   Kant

Scheler

Heidegger

Sartre

[3b]

[3c]

[3d]

[3a]

 

[7a] Knowledge of things, events, people (qua 'objects') from sensory intuition; no 'thing-in-itself' apart from constituting consciousness

   Descartes

   Hume

   Kant

   Hegel

   Brentano

Scheler

[2b]

[1c]

[2d]

[1a]

[2c]

[1c]

 

[7b; cf. 8a] Knowledge of others' actions, etc. by understanding of motivations through empathy; relevance to human sciences

   Dilthey

Scheler

Heidegger

Gadamer

Sartre

[3a]

[1g 5c]

[2g]

[1b]

[4a]

 

[7c] Intuitions of values; inform motivations Scheler [2b]

 

[7d] Pure transcendental ego not directly intuitable, only qua subject of consciousness via transcendental reflection

   Descartes

   Hume

   Kant

   Brentano

Merleau-Ponty

[2a]

[2d]

[3b]

[3b]

[1b]

 

[7e; also 2d] Essences known through eidetic intuition and variation

   Brentano

Ricoeur

[1a]

[4a]

 

[7f; also 3e; cf. 2c] Meanings (noematic content) and acts of consciousness (known through bracketing and phenomenological reduction)

   Hume

   Hegel

   Brentano

   Frege

[7f]

[5c]

[1a 2c]

[2i]

 

[7g] Apperception — awareness of our experiencing

   Leibniz

   Kant

[2d]

[3b]

 

[7h] Knowledge as mental state/ act realized in awareness of relation between act and its empirical 'fulfilling' intuition; identity of objects of thought and perception

   Aristotle

   Searle

[16e]

[2c]

 

[7i] Degrees of knowing and evidence: certainty, apodicticity, adequacy; 'non- foundational' account

   Descartes

   Brentano

[1b 2a]

[2c]

 

[8a; cf. 2a] The Life-world — pre-given: commonsense awareness of intersubjectivity starting point (via phenomenological reduction) for 'rigorous' philosophy, and reconciliation of natural and human sciences

   Dilthey

Scheler

Heidegger

Gadamer

Merleau-Ponty

Ricoeur

[1b 2a b]

[4e]

[2a 3c]

[1b d 3a]

[1a 1c 2a 3c]

[4c]