Nature's Suit

Nature's Suit: Husserl's Phenomenological Philosophy of the Physical Sciences

LEE HARDY
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Ohio University Press
Pages: 272
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hhn8x
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  • Book Info
    Nature's Suit
    Book Description:

    Edmund Husserl, founder of the phenomenological movement, is usually read as an idealist in his metaphysics and an instrumentalist in his philosophy of science. InNature's Suit, Lee Hardy argues that both views represent a serious misreading of Husserl's texts.Drawing upon the full range of Husserl's major published works together with material from Husserl's unpublished manuscripts, Hardy develops a consistent interpretation of Husserl's conception of logic as a theory of science, his phenomenological account of truth and rationality, his ontology of the physical thing and mathematical objectivity, his account of the process of idealization in the physical sciences, and his approach to the phenomenological clarification and critique of scientific knowledge. Offering a jargon-free explanation of the basic principles of Husserl's phenomenology,Nature's Suitprovides an excellent introduction to the philosophy of Edmund Husserl as well as a focused examination of his potential contributions to the philosophy of science.While the majority of research on Husserl's philosophy of the sciences focuses on the critique of science in his late work,The Crisis of European Sciences, Lee Hardy covers the entire breadth of Husserl's reflections on science in a systematic fashion, contextualizing Husserl's phenomenological critique to demonstrate that it is entirely compatible with the theoretical dimensions of contemporary science.

    eISBN: 978-0-8214-4470-2
    Subjects: Philosophy, General Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. IX-X)
  4. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. XI-XII)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-10)

    In an article titled “Husserl’s Phenomenology and Scientific Realism” Joseph Rouse notes that “those philosophers of science at all familiar with Husserl tend to associate him with views akin to instrumentalism, which has been largely discredited today; he is therefore thought to be of historical interest at best.”¹ It is not difficult to find evidence in support of this statement. In his comments on a paper by John Compton, for instance, Ernan McMullin refers to Husserl’s orientation in the philosophy of science as “broadly instrumentalist.”² This orientation was due, McMullin surmises, to the fact that “Husserl shared the generally positivist...

  6. Part One: Husserl’s Phenomenological Philosophy of Science

    • CHAPTER ONE THE IDEA OF SCIENCE IN HUSSERL AND THE TRADITION
      (pp. 13-39)

      My chief task in this chapter will be to outline the contours of Husserl’s conception of the basic structure and defining characteristics of scientific knowledge. In doing so, I will first attempt to locate this conception within the tradition of philosophical reflection on the nature of science, taking Aristotle and Locke as key representatives of this tradition. I will then indicate the main features of Husserl’s understanding of empirical science. Finally, I will take into consideration certain passages from Husserl’s later works in which the traditional conception of science is explicitly converted into a regulative Idea, together with the implications...

    • CHAPTER TWO HUSSERL’S PHENOMENOLOGY AND THE FOUNDATIONS OF SCIENCE
      (pp. 40-74)

      In the preceding chapter I argued that Husserl appropriated the classical idea of science from the tradition and that he retained this idea throughout the course of his philosophical development. We noted, however, that in the course of that development Husserl converted the idea of science from a universal in the traditional sense to an Idea in the Kantian sense. The former would admit of genuine instantiation on the part of some sciences; the latter can only be approximated sub specie aeternitatis by any science.

      To locate Husserl’s conception of scientific knowledge within the classical tradition of reflection on the...

  7. Part Two: Evidence and the Positing of Existence in Husserl’s Phenomenology

    • CHAPTER THREE TRUTH, EVIDENCE, AND EXISTENCE IN HUSSERL’S PHENOMENOLOGY
      (pp. 77-101)

      The first two chapters of this study provided a general orientation in Husserl’s phenomenological philosophy of science. In this and the following three chapters, I will address the more specific question of the compatibility between Husserl’s phenomenology and a robust appreciation of the theoretical dimension of the physical sciences. I will pose this question in terms of the distinction that has been drawn between the empirical and theoretical components of the physical sciences. On this distinction, empirical science remains within the domain of the observable. It seeks to identify and determine exact functional covariations of observable physical phenomena. The formulations...

    • CHAPTER FOUR EVIDENCE, RATIONALITY, AND EXISTENCE IN HUSSERL’S PHENOMENOLOGY
      (pp. 102-126)

      In the preceding chapter on evidence and truth, I suggested that while an occurrent case of evidence does not make the corresponding proposition true, it does make us justified in believing that the corresponding proposition is true. Evidence is that experience whereby a proposition can acquire the sense of being true such that we are justified in making it the object of our assent. Thus a consideration of Husserl’s conception of the relation between evidence and truth leads us directly to a consideration of the relation between evidence and justified belief.

      The major statement of Husserl’s theory of justification is...

  8. Part Three: The Problem of Theoretical Existence in Husserl’s Philosophy of the Physical Sciences

    • CHAPTER FIVE PHYSICAL THINGS, IDEALIZED OBJECTS, AND THEORETICAL ENTITIES
      (pp. 129-162)

      Henry Pietersma once remarked that much of the secondary literature on Husserl is both confused and confusing.¹ This is especially the case with respect to Husserl’s alleged “instrumentalism.” As I pointed out in the introduction, there is little agreement on the question of whether Husserl was an instrumentalist. Moreover, scant attention is paid to the particular sense of his instrumentalism on the part of those who hold that he was an instrumentalist. As an unfortunate but inevitable result, Husserl’s stated position on the epistemic nature and status of the physical sciences has been subject to one misunderstanding after another.

      In...

    • CHAPTER SIX CONSCIOUSNESS, PERCEPTION, AND EXISTENCE
      (pp. 163-194)

      In the preceding chapter I argued that Husserl’s instrumentalism, being an instrumentalism of scientific laws, is entirely consistent with a realistic interpretation of scientific theories. It was not Husserl’s intent in theCrisisto deny that theoretical entities exist, but rather to deny that idealized objects are real. At the conclusion of that chapter, I claimed that Husserl’s law-instrumentalism did not—and could not, in itself—decide the ontological question pertaining to the extent of the real. It merely claims that those ideal objects whereby the real is determined with exactness and objectivity are not genuine members of the physical...

  9. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 195-208)

    Our study of Husserl’s phenomenological philosophy of the physical sciences has been governed by two overriding considerations: the question concerning the epistemic status and existential import of scientific theories; and the reception of Husserl’s philosophy of science in the anglophone secondary literature. Besides giving a general exposition of Husserl’s phenomenology as it bears upon the question of science through a close examination of the primary texts, we have also addressed specific positions attributed to Husserl in the secondary literature. A number of those attributions to which we devoted most of our attention not only detract from the prima facie plausibility...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 209-230)
  11. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 231-244)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 245-249)