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The Philosophy of Husserl

Burt C. Hopkins
Copyright Date: 2010
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    The Philosophy of Husserl
    Book Description:

    Hopkins begins his study with Plato's written and unwritten theories of eidê and Aristotle's criticism of both. He then traces Husserl's early investigations into the formation of mathematical and logical concepts, charting the critical necessity that leads from descriptive psychology to transcendentally pure phenomenology. An investigation of the movement of Husserl's phenomenology of transcendental consciousness to that of monadological intersubjectivity follows. Hopkins then presents the final stage of the development of Husserl's thought, which situates monadological intersubjectivity within the context of the historical a priori constitutive of all meaning. An exposition of the unwarranted historical presuppositions that guide Heidegger's fundamental ontological and Derrida's deconstructive criticisms of Husserl's transcendental phenomenology concludes the book. By following Husserl's personal trajectory Hopkins is able to show the unity of Husserl's philosophical enterprise, challenging the prevailing view that Husserl's late turn to history is inconsistent with his earlier attempts to establish phenomenology as a pure science. Contents: Introduction Part I Descriptive Psychology 1. Investigation of the Origin of Number 2. Investigation of the Origin of Logical Signification Part II Cartesian Transcendental Phenomenology 3. Investigation of the Origin of Objective Transcendence 4. Investigation of the Origin of Subjective Transcendence Part III Historical Transcendental Phenomenology 5. The Crisis of Meaning in Contemporary European Science 6. Historical Investigation of the Phenomenological Origin Part IV Husserl and his Critics 7. Fundamental Critiques of Transcendental Phenomenology 8. A Husserlian Response to the Critics

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-9480-7
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
    Burt C. Hopkins
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. PROLEGOMENON: Husserl’s turn to history and pure phenomenology
    (pp. 1-20)

    Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) is the indisputable founder of the method of scientific research called phenomenology. Husserl’s phenomenology is unarguably the source of one of the two major philosophical orientations of the past century, what today goes by the name of “continental philosophy”. Some seventy years after his death and over a hundred years after the publication of his first major work, however, the scientific significance of phenomenological research remains a matter of dispute and its relation to philosophy, let alone continental philosophy, a matter of intense philosophical debate.

    The goal of this book is to introduce the beginner to Husserl’s...

  6. I. Plato’s and Aristotle’s theory of eidē
    • ONE Plato’s Socratic theory of eidē: the first pillar of the ancient precedent to pure phenomenology
      (pp. 21-33)

      A precise exposition of Plato’s account of theeidērequires that its dialogical mode of presentation be respected and therefore its origin inlogosbe acknowledged. Respecting the former yields the extremely important discovery of two discernibly different accounts of theeidēin the dialogues, accounts that nevertheless compose a unified whole. Acknowledging the latter reveals a whole that is unified neither theoretically nor practically, but in a manner that then, as now, can only be termed “dialectically”, through (dia)logos.

      Plato’s first, and most obvious, account of theeidēis discernible in the Socratic elenchi (refutations) of interlocutors who...

    • TWO Plato’s arithmological theory of eidē: the second pillar of the ancient precedent to pure phenomenology
      (pp. 34-59)

      The dialogues’ second account of theeidēis neither readily apparent nor Socratic. In place of the dramatic figures of the philosopher Socrates and various non-philosophers, the figure of the unnamed philosopher from Elea (the “Stranger”) and the accomplished mathematician Theaetetus pursue to its end – to be sure in the presence of and at the initiative of Socrates – the “right use” of thetechnēproper to counting and calculation for redirecting the whole soul to the source of being and truth. In other words, they complete in deed what is merely prescriptive in the Socratic account of the...

    • THREE Aristotle’s criticism of Plato’s theory of eidē: the third (and final) pillar of the ancient precedent to pure phenomenology
      (pp. 60-82)

      Aristotle’s dispute with the Platonic account of theeidētakes issue with its “separation” of the “beinghood” (ousia) belonging to agenosfrom the multitude of single things that are encompassed by it. For Aristotle, the answer to the question “Why do things look the same?” is not because there is aneidosof a highest rank, thegenos, that encompasses everything that is, but because each one of the things that are is generated in some material (bulē) by aneidoswhose proper mode of being is “being-at-work (energeia)”¹ on it. The “beinghood” of things caused by the perpetual...

  7. II. From descriptive psychology to transcendentally pure phenomenology
    • FOUR Origin of the task of pure phenomenology
      (pp. 83-95)

      Husserl’s pure phenomenology is driven by the goal of making philosophy a rigorous science. By “science” he understood a method of research capable of generating possible true and false propositions on the basis of evidence. By “rigorous” science he understood a science that had advanced to the point of being in the possession of a methodology whose basic concepts and criteria for distinguishing true from false propositions were sufficiently demonstrated to permit an ongoing research agenda available to and embraced by a community of researchers. And by “evidence” he understood the legitimizing source of scientific and philosophical concepts in an...

    • FIVE Pure phenomenology and Platonism
      (pp. 96-109)

      The account of the origin and development of Husserl’s pure phenomenology so far has identified two important contexts for grasping as a “task” the significance of both his formulation of its method and the achievement of its goals. First, his realization of the shortcomings of a more or less orthodox adherence to the principles of Brentanian descriptive psychology for providing an adequate account of the concept of number formation generated the task of reforming these principles in a manner appropriate for the investigation of the ideal meanings that are operative in mathematics and pure logic. Second, his realization that even...

    • SIX Pure phenomenology as the transcendental-phenomenological investigation of absolute consciousness
      (pp. 110-124)

      The ambiguity of the status of the intentional object, as both the immanent content of the act of intentionality and as this act’s extra psychic and therefore transcendent referent, is resolved in one bold stroke with Husserl’s formulation of the phenomenological reduction. The reduction accomplishes this by radicalizing pure phenomenology’s methodical commitment to presuppositionlessness, a commitment that, as we have seen, is realized by the restriction of phenomenological description to that which appears as the reflected and therefore immanent content of phenomenological reflection. The phenomenologically reductive radicalization of pure phenomenology’s methodical commitment and reflective character has three reciprocally founded moments:...

    • SEVEN Transcendental phenomenology of absolute consciousness and phenomenological philosophy
      (pp. 125-138)

      In addition to these five characteristic and enduring basic elements of Husserl’s initial philosophical self-interpretation of the significance of the transcendental reduction, other aspects of his initial self-interpretation are either modified or significantly recast in the course of his phenomenology’s development. The revision and correction of previous claims is consistent with Husserl’s self-understanding of phenomenology as rigorous science. Thus, in contrast to the cognitive pretension of a philosophical system, which is to endure fundamentally without change throughout time, Husserl understood phenomenological cognition to take place in concrete research devoted to specifically phenomenological problems, and to produce cognitive claims that are,...

    • EIGHT Limits of the transcendental-phenomenological investigation of pure consciousness
      (pp. 139-147)

      Husserl’s account of the unity of the lived-experiences that belong to the pure Ego in accordance with the primal form of consciousness, however, encounters a limit in the scope of the givenness of this unity to and by the pure “regard” of its (the unity’s) reflection by the pure Ego. The essential incompleteness of the evidence in which the immanent contents of any lived-experience is given, which, as noted earlier, is a consequence of its mode of synthetic connection as a flux, means that “by essential necessity this whole connection isnevergiven or to be given by a single...

  8. III. From the phenomenology of transcendental consciousness to that of monadological intersubjectivity
    • NINE Phenomenological philosophy as transcendental idealism
      (pp. 148-155)

      The third and next to last of the four stages in the development of Husserl’s phenomenology, as previously mentioned, has two guiding clues: the Cartesian-inspired idea of first philosophy and that of the function of the passive constitution of meanings and their hidden intentional accomplishments in the constitution characteristic of all meaning and being. Under the guidance of the idea of first philosophy Husserl reinterprets the very meaning of transcendentally pure phenomenology as transcendental philosophy. Phenomenological science, as the science devoted to the concrete explication of transcendental consciousness and the fixing of the eidetic laws governing its absolute being, is...

    • TEN The intersubjective foundation of transcendental idealism: the immanent transcendency of the world’s objectivity
      (pp. 156-173)

      In the second stage of Husserl’s phenomenology, the distinction (as we have seen) between the empirical Ego and pure Ego is made. To the being of the former the “index of existence” that characterizes all the objects given in the natural attitude remains inseparable, while to the being of the latter this index has been annulled subsequent to the phenomenological reduction. The result of this reduction is the “merely intentional” being of the essentially empty pure Ego. In Husserl’s third stage of phenomenology, the discovery of the pure Ego’s concreteness complicates considerably the phenomenological status of the Ego. Husserl speaks,...

  9. IV. From monadological intersubjectivity to the historical a priori constitutive of all meaning
    • ELEVEN The pure phenomenological motivation of Husserl’s turn to history
      (pp. 174-180)

      The fourth and final stage of Husserl’s development is contained in two fragmentary texts on history and phenomenology written in his last years,¹ texts that unmistakably link the meaning of both the crowning achievement of the Enlightenment (the new science of mathematical physics) and the crowning achievement of his own life’s work (the rigorous science of transcendental phenomenology) to the problem of their historical origination. It is striking that in the years following the original publication of these works and their republication in the 1954Crisisvolume edited by Walter Biemel, commentary on them has almost universally passed over what...

    • TWELVE The essential connection between intentional history and actual history
      (pp. 181-186)

      Husserl’s account of how the eidetic possibility of an object’s intentional unity contains the sedimented history of its own constitution is guided by two limits that are bound up with and therefore indicated by this possibility. These emerge in his critical analysis of the universal eidetic form of the intentional genesis of each such object’s unity, that is, in the analysis of internal temporality. The first limit concerns the general substratum of consciousness that the continuous modification of the retentional consciousness approaches, and beyond which the “prominence [Abgehobenheit]” (CM, 80) of the object flows away. The second limit concerns the...

    • THIRTEEN The historicity of both the intelligibility of ideal meanings and the possibility of actual history
      (pp. 187-191)

      In the foregoing we have indicated that for Husserl the transcendental enquiry into the problem of the intentional history of the categorial formations of the meaning making up an object’s identity reveals the essential necessity of its involvement in a history in the usual sense of the term. That is, the transcendental enquiry into the intentional history of the categorial unity of an object discloses an essential connection between the origin of this unity and its historical development within natural time.

      For Husserl the connection between the problem of enquiry that underlies historical reflection and intentional history is established when...

    • FOURTEEN Desedimentation and the link between intentional history and the constitution of a historical tradition
      (pp. 192-203)

      Husserl’s phenomenological enquiry into the transcendental constitution of the origins of the ideal formations proper to mathematical and scientific objects reveals that the evidence of all the meaning formations belonging to a science such as geometry presupposes the link between intentional history and actual history. This link is established by Husserl on the basis of the following considerations. (i) The ideal intentional units at issue in these significant formations are the product (das Erwirkte) of an “accomplishment” that arises in their “anticipation” (Vorbabe) (OG, 367/356), not in their “retention”. (ii) The accomplishment of what is anticipated means evidence to the...

    • FIFTEEN Transcendental phenomenology as the only true explanation of objectivity and all meaningful problems in previous philosophy
      (pp. 204-215)

      For Husserl, philosophy, as the universal science of what is, has but one goal: intuitive knowledge of what is. As we have seen, both what in the world the formalized meaning formations of mathematical physics refer to, and therefore make intuitable, and how in the world this reference and corresponding intuition is possible, are obscure on Husserl’s view. He traces this obscurity to the fact that the formalized meaning in modern mathematics is made possible by the progressive “emptying of its meaning” (Crisis, 44/44) in relation to the “real” (Crisis, 35/37), that is, to the intuitive givenness of the things...

  10. V. The unwarranted historical presuppositions guiding the fundamental ontological and deconstructive criticisms of transcendental philosophy
    • SIXTEEN The methodological presupposition of the ontico-ontological critique of intentionality: Plato’s Socratic seeing of the eidē
      (pp. 216-231)

      Heidegger’s critique of Husserl’s formulation of phenomenology takes its bearings from both the last phase of the first stage of its development and from the entirety of its second stage. Heidegger presents his critique as stemming from phenomenology’s most basic principle, the “return to the things themselves”, and thus as a “phenomenological” critique. As such, his critique purports to be an immanent critique, in the precise sense that it claims to show that when taken on its own terms as a phenomenology guided by the principle of philosophical radicalism, Husserl’s formulation of phenomenology falls short of its stated intention. Heidegger’s...

    • SEVENTEEN The mereological presupposition of fundamental ontology: that Being as a whole has a meaning overall
      (pp. 232-245)

      We have shown that Heidegger’s critical interpretation of Greek ontology, especially Plato’s, is limited by his employment of Husserl’s discovery of categorial intuition as his guide. Because Heidegger’s critique engages the early stages of Husserl’s development, before history became a positive thematic concern of Husserl’s phenomenology, we shall defer discussion of the implications of the limits exposed here of Husserl’s early thoughtvis-à-visthe Greek origins of philosophy until our discussion of the transcendental criticism of the criticism of phenomenological cognition. What needs to be discussed now is the other side of Heidegger’s critique: that Husserl’s reflective and eidetic method...

    • EIGHTEEN The presupposition behind the proto-deconstructive critique of intentional historicity: the conflation of intrasubjective and intersubjective idealities
      (pp. 246-253)

      Derrida’s pre- or proto-deconstructive work focuses above all on opposing Husserl’s concept of intentional history to empirical history, to the history that falls under Husserl’s transcendentalepochēand is therewith “bracketed” and “put out of play”. Indeed, in order to highlight this opposition, Derrida speaks of intentional history as “transcendental historicity” (Derrida [1978] 1989: 121). Derrida characterizes this opposition by drawing attention to the role Husserl assigns to language generally and written language pre-eminently in the constitution of the historicity of the objective meanings at stake in “transcendental historicity”. For Derrida, the phenomenological condition of possibility belonging to Husserl’s early...

    • NINETEEN The presupposition behind the deconstruction of phenomenology: the subordination of being to speech
      (pp. 254-263)

      As we have seen, Derrida’s pre- or proto-deconstructive critique of phenomenology credits Husserl’s phenomenology with posing a question about the relation between meaning and fact that it alone (presumably alone among philosophies) can pose, even though it is incapable of providing the answer. The question concerns their “primordial” unity, and Derrida maintains that neither an account limited to meaning nor one limited to facts can by itself answer this question. Neither, however, can both types of an account answer it together, because to answer the question of the unity of meaning and fact would be tantamount to eliminating their difference....

  11. EPILOGUE: Transcendental-phenomenological criticism of the criticism of phenomenological cognition
    (pp. 264-272)

    As we have seen, Husserl’s call for a phenomenological criticism of the criticism of phenomenological cognition occurs within the context of the third stage of the development of his phenomenology, and it refers to the critical reflection on the presuppositions that inform the “naïveté of apodicticity” belonging to the “Cartesian” character of this stage of his phenomenology. This naivety, characterized by Husserl as the methodically necessary limit of the “first” phase of phenomenological cognition to determine the scope and limits of phenomenological evidence at the expense of attending to its mode of givenness, is, as we have also seen, addressed...

  12. CODA: Phenomenological self-responsibility and the singularity of transcendental philosophy
    (pp. 273-274)

    Husserl’s methodical reliance onreflectionfor philosophical purposes is clearly out of fashion. Apart from the enduring negative influences of the hermeneutical critique of consciousness and phenomenology’s deconstruction, the main reason for this is rooted in the assumption that reflectionper se, and therefore phenomenological reflection, is somehow a pejoratively modern, specifically Cartesian, phenomenon. Thus Husserl’s careful description of the difference between modern inner perception asintrospectionand phenomenological reflection as animmanentbut in no wayinner– in contradistinction toouter– perception remains unreflected today. And it does so in direct proportion to the prevalence of the...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 275-282)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 283-286)
  15. Index
    (pp. 287-290)