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Edmund Husserl

During this time he was assistant to the psychologist Carl Stumpf and engaged in an intensive study of mathematics and logic. In Philosophie der Arithmetik Halle Husserl proposed the thesis of psycholo gism, namely, that the structure and principles of mathematics were reducible to psychic acts and the content of psychic acts. The publication of Logische Untersuchungen, 2 v.

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The first volume of this work gave public expression to Husserl's rejection of his earlier thesis of psychologism. The six studies of the second volume were preliminary studies in phenomenology concerned with the meaning of meaning and the theory of knowledge. In appeared the famous essay entitled "Philosophie als strenge Wissenschaft," Logos — 11 — , in which Husserl criticized both naturalism and the historicism of Weltanschauung philosophy in his attempt to establish philosophy as a strict science.

Part one of volume one was the first volume of Husserl's major work, commonly referred to as Ideen I, although he was never well enough satisfied with the two subsequent volumes to allow their publication in his lifetime. Here he worked out many of the detailed techniques of phenomenology. In the truncated article on phenomenology in the Encyclopaedia Brittanica 14th ed.

Such a science of pure consciousness would be the pure phenomenology announced in the title of Ideen I. In Formale und transzendentale Logik Halle Husserl attempted to solve the problem of idealism through a careful phenomenological investigation of the mind's activity constituting its own ideating acts and the study of that constitution in the very moments of their genesis.

Thus a "genetic phenomenology" was to lead to "transcendental phenomenology," that is, one that would transcend the purely ideal limitation of the individual subject. The chief purpose of these lectures was to escape from idealistic solipsism. In them Husserl maintained that the transcendental ego enters into partnership with an intersubjective community by "pairing" itself off against another ego; through empathetic understanding of the whole transcendental intersubjective community, the first ego is in community with the second. Husserl's Jewish family background served as the grounds for political harassment during his last years, and so he withdrew quietly to a Benedictine monastery to be near a former student; there he died, silently aware of the transcendence of God.

It has been difficult to assign Husserl's significance in the phenomenological movement. He was slow to publish his own manuscripts — H. Van Breda has gathered all of Husserl's papers into the Husserlian Archives at the University of Louvain — and, at times, he openly rejected the work of his closest followers.

The original spirit and methodology of phenomenology remains strong in Continental thought, not only in philosophy, but also in literature, psychology, psychoanalysis, sociology, and theology.

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Bibliography: Works. Gesammelte Werke Husserliana The Hague — v. Cartesian Meditations, tr. Edmund Husserl , — The Hague , centenary commemoration. The Hague One of the most significant and prolific philosophers of the late nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, Edmund Gustav Albrecht Husserl is widely known for his development of several forms of phenomenology.

As a student, Husserl attended Franz Brentano 's — lectures on descriptive psychology or psychognosy at the University of Vienna, which inspired him to undertake his own intensive investigations in the introspective structural analysis of the contents of thought.


Throughout his later period, Husserl explored the implications of these findings for a variety of traditional philosophical problems in logic, philosophy of mathematics, philosophical psychology, and philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and theory of knowledge. Husserl was born in Prossnitz Prostejov in Moravia, which now is part of the Czech Republic and was then a garrison town of the Austrian Empire. He studied astronomy, physics, and mathematics at the Universities of Leipzig and Berlin with the famous mathematicians Karl Weierstrass — and Leopold Kronecker — He also attended lectures in philosophy by Wilhelm Wundt — and Tomas Garrigue Masaryk — , a student of Brentano's.

After , Husserl began attending lectures by Brentano, and decided to devote his continued studies to philosophy. This work, reflecting Husserl's developing interests in logic and philosophy of mathematics from an intentionalist point of view, was revised as Husserl's first major publication, Philosophie der Arithmetik: Psychologische und logische Untersuchungen Philosophy of arithmetic: psychological and logical investigations , appearing in In this early phase of his philosophy, Husserl was under the influence of Brentano's thesis of the immanent intentionality of all psychological phenomena, according to which every thought intends an object that is literally contained within the thought.

Some of his critics at the time misinterpreted his adoption of an intentionalist standpoint with respect to the origin of number concepts, seeing it as an objectionable form of psychologism. Gottlob Frege — in particular complained of Husserl's efforts to construe the nature of objective mathematical entities and relations in terms of subjective psychological factors. Although Husserl had been critical also of Frege's logicism—the effort to reduce all of mathematics to pure logic—as mere empty formalism, Frege's objections seem to have struck home at some deep level, and Husserl soon came to renounce his early efforts to explain mathematical concepts by appeal to Brentano's intentionalist theory of mind.

In the foreword to the first edition of his major work, the Logische Untersuchungen Logical investigations, — , Husserl speaks of his "disastrous choice of terminology" in referring to the "psychological nature" of the collective combinations that constitute the conceptual foundations of arithmetic in his early theory.

By the time of the second revised edition of this two-volume work in , Husserl had undergone what many twenty-first-century thinkers lament while others celebrate as his transcendental turn. His philosophy from this time forward took on a more distinctively Kantian slant, meaning that he began to think of philosophy as directed toward the discovery of the presuppositions of experience that of necessity lie beyond what can be empirically known. Also in , Husserl published the three volumes of his Ideen Ideas , in which he outlined the main principles of his phenomenology.

For Husserl, Brentano first sowed the seed of Ideen in his lectures on descriptive psychology, which he also spoke of as phenomenology. This word in its original Greek meaning signifies a pause or halting in the pursuit of an activity.

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The ancient Skeptics applied the term to a suspension of belief due to the difficulties of attaining certainty in knowledge. Husserl advances a similar interpretation that he refers to as "bracketing the natural attitude. What Husserl claims to discover in the process is an infinitely receding series of time horizons involving the contents of psychological presentations, and concerning the potential for the thinking subject to act in response to what is perceived. As each horizon is attained another presents itself, posing an equally formidable purely descriptive phenomenological challenge. This led Husserl later in life to describe himself always as a beginner in philosophy, faced with a series of infinite tasks, as though nothing substantial had previously been achieved on which to build.

In his final years, Husserl concentrated on the problems of intersubjectivity, trying to understand how it is possible for different thinkers to be conscious of and refer in thought and language to the same object from a phenomenological standpoint. The natural attitude, with its assumption that the contents of consciousness correspond to real external things that are objectively causally interrelated as explained by empirical science and subject to natural scientific law, is once again the focus of Husserl's critical analysis, especially as it applies to psychology and sociology in his unfinished but powerfully insightful later work, The Crisis of the European Sciences Although Husserl did not directly exert an influence on popular European culture, his pioneering studies in phenomenology were of crucial importance to his student Martin Heidegger — in his existential phenomenology and ontology or theory of being, and to Jean-Paul Sartre — and Maurice Merleau-Ponty — and their followers.

Through these later writers, Husserl's impact eventually extended beyond academic philosophy to the modern tradition of existentialism in philosophy and literature. See also Brentano, Franz ; Frege, Gottlob. Husserl, Edmund.

Husserl, Heidegger & Existentialism - Hubert Dreyfus

Husserliana: Edmund Husserl —Gesammelte Werke. Dordrecht, —. Definitive ongoing edition of Husserl's collected works in German.

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Translated by David Carr. Evanston, Ill. Cartesian Meditations: An Introduction to Phenomenology. Translated by Dorion Cairns. The Hague, Translated by Fred Kersten. The Hague, — Translated by Dallas Willard.

The Phenomenological Movement : A Historical Introduction

Dordrecht, Bell, David. London, An introduction to Husserl's thought intended for beginning readers presupposing minimal prior familiarity with philosophy in the phenomenological tradition.

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Carr, David. Interpreting Husserl: Critical and Comparative Studies. Examination, among other interesting topics, of the concept of the transcendental ego in the later Husserl; explores the transitional periods in Husserl's thought throughout his career.

Rollinger, Robin D. Husserl's Position in the School of Brentano. Well-documented treatment of Husserl's philosophy in relation to Brentano's empirical psychology, psychologism, and immanent intentionality thesis, within the broader Brentano school in descriptive psychology and intentionalist epistemology. Smith, Barry, and David Woodruff Smith, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Husserl.

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Cambridge, U. Essays on Husserl's philosophy, including the theory of perception, knowledge, meaning and language, mereology or theory of part-whole relations, and philosophy of mathematics. Sokolowski, Robert, ed. Washington, D.