The Foundation of Phenomenology: Edmund Husserl and the Quest for a Rigorous Science of Philosophy

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These volumes offer extensive discussions both of Husserl's account of the intuition of others in 'empathy' as well as analyses of social acts and communal forms of intentionality. In these texts Husserl struggled to explicate the full sense of his transcendental problematic.

Thanks to recent publication of Hua 34 and 35, I have been able to make use of Husserl's writings from the Twenties, works composed in that long period between the publication of Ideen I in and FTL in My approach in the book is both chronological and thematic. In chapter 1, I describe Husserl's life and intellectual development. He began as a theorist of knowledge, interested specifically in mathemat- ics and logic as modes of knowledge to be investigated by descriptive psychology, which he broadened into, first, eidetic and, later, tran- scendental phenomenology. In chapter 2, I offer an overview of his con- ception of philosophy as sense-clarification.

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Chapter 3 charts Husserl's development from his first 'psychological' investigations into the nature of number to his 'breakthrough' to phenomenology in LU. Chapter 4 offers a relatively detailed tour through LU, with particular attention paid to the emergence of phenomenology in that work. Chapter 5 departs from the chronological approach to explore the essential structures of consciousness in a more composite way, draw- ing from across Husserl's oeuvre, emphasizing the consistency of his descriptions of conscious acts throughout his career.

Here I give a brief exposition of his understanding of the noema, the object as intended, or sense, but I shall not dwell on it because, despite the extensive com- mentary it has generated, it does not play a great role in his writing after Ideen I. His late work took an idealist turn and focused more on the transcendental ego, intersubjectivity and the life-world, and so chapter 6 focuses on central themes of Husserl's mature philosophy: namely, his transcendental idealism.

More and more in his mature writings, Husserl made the philoso- phizing self a major theme: not just the self of everyday 'natural' ex- periences, not just the anonymous transcendental ego that functions to give the world its 'being-sense' Seinssinn , but also the self who delib- erately philosophizes, the 'detached spectator' whose self-critical self- awareness marks a new and higher possibility for humankind. Finally, I conclude with a brief overview and assessment of Husserl's achievement and influence. He published only sporadically, and generally avoided philo- sophical conferences since, in his view, they did not produce genuine philosophizing , and made few trips outsid.

Even his most devoted students considered his lectures to be interminable mono- logues, lost in intricate detail he reminded one hearer of a mad watch- makd , although he obviously had charisma and conveyed authority such that, as his Freiburg student Gerda Walther recalls, at the lecture podium he seemed like an Old Testament prophet? While he could write clearly and fluently as in Krisis , much of his output consists of notes - complicated, private musings not intended for pub- lication. As we shall see in chapter 2, he had a profound, even grandiose sense of the mission of philosophy, and sought always to lead 'the philosophical life'.

But he also had constantly to struggle against deep uncertainty and depression to gain the longed-for 'clarity' that obsessed, him. S He attended a local school for three years , and then transferred to the LeopoldsHi. He was an unexcep- tional student, albeit with an aptitude for mathematics,6 and he graduated in June with solid but unspectacular results. Indeed, his own classmates were somewhat surprised when he announced his intention to study astronomy at university.

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He took philosophy lectures from the renowned philoso- pher and psychologist Wilhelm Wundt , lectures that, at the time, made little impression. He also attended phi- losophy lectures, given by Friedrich Paulsen and Johann Eduard Erdmann - but again they made no great impres- sion. He earned his doctoral degree in with a purely mathematical dissertation on differential calculus, 'Beitrage zur Theorie der Variationsrechnung' 'Contributions to the Theory of the Calculus of Variations' , supervised by Leopold Konigsberger , a disciple of Weierstrass.

In the summer of he returned to Berlin to assist the ailing Weierstrass, but soon became restless, and in October began a year's military service. On his discharge from the army, he moved to Vienna, where his friend Masaryk was now Privatdozent. Masaryk recommended that Husserl attend the lectures of the former Catholic priest Franz Brentano, who was causing quite a stir with his new approach to psychology.

Masaryk, a committed Christian, also encouraged him to read the New Testament, leading toHusserl's baptism in the Lutheran church in Vienna on 26 April Chronik, p. Thereafter he.

Introduction: A Working Definition

A close confidante of his final years, Sr Adelgundis Jaegerschmidt records him as saying: 'In my phenomeno- logical reduction I simply want to gather all philosophies and religions by means of a universally valid method of cognition. He wanted philosophy to emulate the kind of exact description practised by empiricists from Aristotle to Mill. In Psychology from an Empirical Stand- point he proposed a new strict science of psychology - descrip- tive psychology - as a classificatory science of mental acts and their contents based on the apodictic self-evidence of inner perception.

From the Scholastics, he took over the concept of intentionality, 'directedness to an object' die Richtung auf ein Objekt; PES 88 , as the chief charac- teristic of 'mental phenomena'. As he later claimed, he was also particularly stimu- lated by Brentano's attempted reform of Aristotelian logic,22 proposed in his lecture course. | The Foundation of Phenomenology (ebook), Marvin Farber | | Boeken

Husserl remained in contact with Brentano even after he left Vienna. Hussed always acknowledged the fundamental impor- tance of Brentano. For example, in his late Krisis he could write: This is the place to recall the extraordinary debt we owe to Brentano for the fact that he began his attempt to reform psychology with an investi- gation of the peculiar characteristics of the psychic in contrast to the physical and showed intentionality to be one of these characteristics; the science of "psychic phenomena", then, has to do everywhere with con- scious experiences.

In fact, it took Hussed many years to extract himself from the shadow of his teacher. As he wrote to his American student Marvin Farber: Even though I began in my youth as an enthusiastic admirer of Brentano, I must admit that I deluded myself, for too long, and in a way hard to understand now, into believing that I was a co-worker on his philoso- phy, especially, his psychology. But in truth, my way of thinking was a totally different one from that of Brentano, already in my first work, namely the Habilitation work of Many years later he would point to the deficiency in Brentano's conception of intentionality Brentano's discovery of intentionality never led to seeing in it a complex of performances Zusammenhang von Leistungen , which are included as sedimented history in the currently constituted intentional unity and its current manners of givenness - a history that one can always uncover following a strict method.

Hua 6: n. In other words, that intentionality really encapsulated the entire set of relations between subjectivity and every form of objectivity. Inspired by Brentano and Weierstrass, Husserl became increasingly conscious of the need for a clarification of the fundamental concepts of mathematics and logic. An important influence on Husserl at this time was the four-volume Wissenschaftslehre Theory of Science, by the neglected Austrian thinker Bernard Bolzano ,26 which con- tained new approaches to semantics and logic, and, in particular, defended the objective validity of logical meanings.

The mathematician Georg Cantor , another former student of Weierstrass, was a member of the examination committee. Meanwhile, on 6 August , he married Malvine Charlotte Steinschneider, who had also grown up in Prossnitz, the daughter of the schoolteacher and leading Jewish scholar of his day, Sigismund Steinschneider. Malvine followed Husserl into the Christian religion, being baptised on 8 July Chronik, p.

Their three children - a daughter, Elizabeth Eill, b. He would spend the following fourteen years there with no public salary, only lecture fees and fellowships,33 without promotion, isolated and exceptionally lonely, and, as he later confirmed to Dorion Cairns, suffering from a kind of intellectual depression. But in the main he immersed himself in his work, putting great stress on family life, according to his wife Malvine.

He lectured on a broad variety of topics. In fact, he was well versed in modern phi- losophy, although he called himself an 'autodidact' in this subject and depended heavily on secondary sources including Windelband and Cassirer. Husserl's first book, an expanded version of his Habilitation thesis, Philosophie der Arithmetik: Psychologische und logische Untersuchungen, appeared in He was already changing his mind about the view of mathematics expressed therein, and he abandoned the planned second volume on the nature of the calculus, even as the first volume was being printed.

He eventually renounced the project in ,37 con- fessing to Stumpf that he had come to realize that the negative, irra- tional and imaginary numbers were not based on the cardinal numbers, and that he could no longer explain the whole of arithmetic in the manner originally intended, since he now understood that arithmetic was really a segment of formal 10gic. Part of his liberation came, as he himself records in his Personal Notes, when he was required to lecture on psychology in He read extensively in descriptive psychology, including dipping into the work of William James a personal friend of Stumpf , which 'yielded a few flashes of insight' EW, p.

His target was not just psychologistic logic, but also formal mathematical approaches, including that of Ernst Schroder, whose Vorlesungen aber die Algebra der Logik , synthesizing the work of Boole, E. Jevons and others, had sought to develop an extensionalist logic based on the emerging set theory.

Edmund Husserl 21 Schroder sought to develop a common calculus for reasoning in dif- ferent areas, but Husserl thought that this approach misunderstood the essential character of logic. In Husserl began corresponding with Gottlob Frege on various logical problems, including their different understandings of the rela- tionship between concepts and objects. In PA he had already discussed Frege's account of definition and identity in a critical manner, and in Frege in tum reviewed Husserl's PA in a penetrating but some- what intemperate manner.

He also rejects Twardowski's solu- tion: namely, that we must distinguish between a content with mental or intentional existence and an object, because again we have a false duplication of the object whether I merely think of Berlin or think of it as existing, it is the same Berlin to which I am referring, EW, p. In this article, as in his unpublished review of Twardowski's book, dating from the same period EW, pp. In the 'Intentional Objects' essay, Husserl already argues that 'truths, propositions and concepts are also objects'.

He distinguished the psychological com- ponents of a mental process part of the proper object of the empirical science of psychology from the unchanging, timeless, identical, ideal meanings and their intended objects, which are the focus of logic and ontology, respectively. Gradually, he came to recognize further phe- nomenological features of a lived experience, e.

An important problem that preoccupied him in the s and laid the basis of all his subsequent research was the issue of the relation- ship between two basic kinds of experience that seemed to divide up all mental life: namely, between those 'intuitions' Anschauungen that are fully 'filled' by the presence of the intuited object and what he initially called 'representations' Reprasentationen; n.

The Phenomenological Movement : A Historical Introduction

In PA, following Brentano, he had already distinguished between so-called authentic or genuine presentations the lower numbers and inauthentic or symbolic presentations of the higher concepts of arithmetic. In part, the answer must involve the careful study of the nature of genuine intuitions whose object is given directly, immediately and 'fully', as opposed to those representations Verge- genwartigungen where the objects are given mediately, indirectly and 'emptily'. Logische Untersuchungen Logical Investigations - the title echoes the subtitle of his first book - 'born of distress, of unspeakable mental dis- tress, of a complete "collapse'" was the result of this decade of hard, lonely work.

The first volume Prolegomena zur reinen Logik Prolegomena to Pure Logic was published independently in July ,43 followed by a second volume of six Investigations, subtitled Investigations in Phe- nomenology and the Theory of Knowledge, published in two parts in Husserl records that the Prolegomena originated from two lecture series given in Halle in the summer and autumn of Hua 12; 57 ;44 this was a devastating critique of logical psychologism and a defence of logic as a theory of science, reviving the Leibnizian notion of a mathe- sis universalis.

In his lectures he had already developed the insight that 'The first and principal foundation of all logic is the objective, that is, non-psychological theory of dependency relationships between sen- tences,.

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In fact, it had been Hermann Lotze , and specifically his interpretation of Platonic Ideas, that had helped Husserl understand Bolzano's 'propositions in themselves' Satze an sich as the senses of statements and not as mysterious kinds of things, and thus led him out of psychologism. We shall return to this topic in chapter 3. The Prolegomena was enthusiastically received.

Natorp reviewed it favourably in Kant- Studien, but opined that neo-Kantians would find little in it to be surprised about. Wundt accepted the Prolegomena's arguments against psychologism, but criticized Husserl's second volume as proposing an extreme 'logicism' and demanding a complete reform of psychology. Husserl, for his part, rejected Wundt's criticism as a complete misunderstanding of the work, saying that he neither advocated logicism in Wundt's sense nor said a word about the reform of psychology.

Husserl was sensitive to the widespread mis- understanding of his second volume. Not all comment was negative, however.