Husserl, Edmund

views updated May 21 2018

Husserl, Edmund

Early philosophical works

Later works




Edmund Gustav Albrecht Husserl (1859-1938), German philosopher, was born in Austrian Moravia (now part of Czechoslovakia), the son of a prosperous Jewish merchant. Husserl was a competent but not distinguished student, apparently introspective and slow to mature, and interested almost exclusively in mathematics and astronomy.

Following his secondary education in Vienna, he studied mathematics and science from 1876 to 1878 at the University of Leipzig, where he attended lectures by Wilhelm Wundt. He then went to Berlin to study mathematics and there developed his first scholarly interest in the philosophy of mathematics and in philosophy more generally. Returning to Vienna, he took his doctorate in 1882, with a dissertation entitled “Beiträge zur Variations-rechnung” (“Contributions to the Theory of the Calculus of Variations”).

He served for a short time as assistant to the mathematician Weierstrass at Berlin, and then he returned again to Vienna, where he came under the most important influence of his career, that of the philosopher-psychologist-priest Franz Brentano. Husserl’s phenomenology is descended from Brentano’s “psychognosy,” which is based on the concept of intentionality and on the classification of “psychical phenomena.” In 1887 Husserl went as Privatdozent to the University of Halle—he had studied there earlier under the psychologist Carl Stumpf—and stayed there until 1901. He then became a professor at the University of Gottingen, and finally, from 1916 until his retirement in 1929, he taught at the University of Freiburg. He continued to live in Freiburg, teaching informally and writing, until his death. Although as a young man he had been converted to Protestantism, the Nazi regime defined him as a Jew; he was deprived of most honors and recognition in his final years, and only the heroic efforts of the Franciscan monk Hermann van Breda made it possible to save many thousands of manuscript pages written by Husserl in a private shorthand. These writings have since become the property of the Husserl Archives at the University of Louvain in Belgium.

Early philosophical works

Husserl’s turn from mathematics to philosophy came as a result of the combined influences of Brentano and the logician Bernard Bolzano. His first work, Philosophie der Arithmetik (1891), which he dedicated to Brentano, contains his independent discovery of the concept of form-quality (Gestalt-qualität), commonly associated with gestalt theory, but, more important for Husserl’s development, it represents his first attempt at probing the foundations of his discipline. However, as the mathematician Gottlob Frege showed, Husserl’s argument was mere “psychologism,” and as a consequence of this critique Husserl undertook the first of the fundamental re-examinations that were to characterize his subsequent intellectual career.

In 1900 and 1901 he published the two volumes of his Logische Untersuchungen, which contain a brilliant extension of two concepts he owed to Brentano: the idea of intentionality—that it is characteristic of psychic activity to be directed toward an object—and the idea of the self-evident and therefore infallible character of psychic data. Husserl asserted that both poles of the intentional act, its intending as well as its object, must be conceived as aspects of consciousness. He put aside the question of an object’s reality as not of legitimate concern—a philosophical tactic to which he gave the name “reduction.” Thus in one fundamental move he eliminated the question of whether the object of the act of consciousness is “real” and revealed consciousness itself as a source of objectively valid data on which universal philosophical principles can be based. This Husserl proceeded to demonstrate in the field of logic.

The transcendental reduction

Having stated the major theses of his program for developing a pure phenomenology as the science of all sciences, Husserl took the further step, in his 1904-1905 lectures, The Phenomenology of Internal Time-consciousness (1928), of attempting a formal account of the fundamental structures of consciousness. [SeeTime, article onpsychological aspects.] The first phenomenological reduction had involved a suspension of the “natural attitude” toward the object of consciousness. In addition, Husserl now proposed a transcendental reduction that would “suspend” or “bracket” (einklammern) psychological experiences themselves. In this way he hoped to discover elemental structures that would resemble the abstract entities of mathematics, but with a transcendental rather than an empirical ego as nuclear principle. In another series of five lectures, delivered in 1907, Die Idee der Phänomenologie (see Husserliana, vol. 2), Husserl further systematized his method for achieving apodictic knowledge by claiming that intuition permits the immediate grasp of general essences. The latter, as objects of consciousness, are constituted in and by the transcendental ego, which thus becomes the source and agent of meanings in one’s world. Thus sense data construct appearances, appearances construct things, and perception and imagination construct identities.

Program for phenomenology

In a manifesto and program, issued in 1911 as an essay entitled “Philosophy as Rigorous Science,” Husserl argued that the merely contingent and factual data of the empirical sciences have to be replaced by essential structures which are revealed by the phenomenological reduction. Only by building from below in this manner can the sciences be provided with an absolute and objective basis. In the same year, on the urging of his students, Husserl began to plan a phenomenological journal, and when the inaugural volume of the Jahrbuch für Philosophie und phänomenologische Forschung appeared in 1913, it contained what was to become the first volume of his Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie (see Husserliana, vols. 3-5). This was the closest to a systematic exposition of his thought that he ever produced, but of the three volumes only the first appeared in his lifetime. Its translation, Ideas (see [1913] 1952), was for many years the only rendering of his work in English, with the exception of a brief article in the Encyclopaedia Britannica (14th ed., 1929). In Ideas there is presented a full statement of the phenomenological reduction, here called by the Skeptics’ term epoché, as well as extended analyses of reality, idealism, essences, and the structure of consciousness.

Later works

Husserl published no further large-scale work until 1929, when, under the title Formale und transzendentale Logik, he put together a full exposition of intentional, or structural, analysis, finally identifying his own metaphysical position as idealism. The problem inherent in this position—which he attempted, with unsatisfactory results, to resolve in his Cartesian Meditations (1931), based on lectures delivered at the Sorbonne—was to account, within idealist suppositions, for other, independent egos. By another name, this is the problem of inter-subjectivity, to which Husserl may have been drawn through the influence of his leading pupil and chosen successor, Martin Heidegger; or it may have been the events of a strident age that impelled Husserl to accommodate his thought to humanly significant issues.

The crisis of modern knowledge

Although he insisted that whatever is revealed of the “formations” of the world must be governed by necessities founded on essential structures of consciousness—as opposed to requirements dictated by empirical and contingent facts—he did during these years begin to develop an existentialist theme that was finally expressed in Die Krisis der europäischen Wissenschaften und die transzenden-tale Phänomenologie (see Husserliana, vol. 6), essays that were published posthumously. The “crisis” of the title refers to the tragically widening gulf between modern science, which grows ever more abstract and technical, and the Lebenswelt, or lived-world, that realm which stands as the all-encompassing horizon of our collective and individual life-worlds and in which science itself must be founded. Husserl thus appears to have come full circle in his thinking, from an initial absolutism and formalism, in which the absolutely given has its source in pure subjectivity, that “wonder of all wonders,” to a plea for founding the concerns of philosophy in man’s experience of his fellows. No resolution of the tension between these positions is to be found in Husserl’s writings, and so the concept of the Lebenswelt remains ambiguous, leaning on both transcendentalist and existentialist theses. Various solutions have since been offered by students of Husserl, notably by Heidegger in his conception of Dasein as ontologically conceived human existence, by Jean-Paul Sartre in his definition of consciousness as nothing else but the very acts of a human individual, and by Maurice Merleau-Ponty in his notion of consciousness as totally “engaged” through the meaning-bestowing acts of a “body-subject.”


Impact on philosophy

Husserl was not able to keep followers, and in the field of philosophy his legacy is an influence rather than a school. Heidegger, who succeeded Husserl at Freiburg (and then became rector of the university and consorted for a time with the Nazis), has moved steadily toward original ontological investigations and independent fame. In Heidegger’s work, as in that of some of the other major intellectual descendants of Husserl, one finds Husserl’s thought essentially transformed. Thus, Heidegger has become the fountainhead of a new therapeutic orientation known as existential analysis, largely through the interpretation of his work by the Swiss psychiatrist Ludwig Binswanger; Sartre has adapted the phenomenological method to his own purposes, as in his works on imagination, emotion, and “existential psychoanalysis” and Merleau-Ponty, who was explicitly and empirically a psychologist of behavior, of language, of perception, of child development, and of the lived body as epicenter of meaning, viewed phenomenology as an approach and a style rather than as an apodictic science.

At Göttingen in 1907, Husserl strongly influenced the Munich circle, but their taste was primarily for what he called “picture book phenomenology.” Of this group, Adolf Reinach, who was killed in World War I, made brilliant contributions toward showing the extent to which civil law is founded on natural law. Max Scheler, the most remarkable of the Munich circle and a friend rather than a pupil of Husserl, was perhaps the closest to psychology: even before the “existential” trend, he emphasized the person rather than consciousness, and he wrote on many topics of relevance to the social sciences—feelings and values, war, religion, social action, and interpersonal bonds.

In the United States, Husserl’s intellectual descendants also have departed from his philosophical position. Marvin Farber, a key figure both as expositor of Husserl and as editor of the quarterly Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, now espouses naturalism rather than phenomenology; Alfred Schutz, never actually a pupil of Husserl’s, was often at theoretical odds with him as he himself made original contributions to a phenomenologically oriented social science; and Herbert Spiegel-berg, author of the definitive historical survey The Phenomenological Movement (1960), has restricted himself to essentially scholarly pursuits and to effecting a rapprochement between phenomenological philosophy and psychological theory. Aron Gurwitsch has perhaps remained closest to Husserl, as in his book The Field of Consciousness (1957).

Phenomenology and sociology

Husserl’s influence on the social sciences seems to have been indirect, even diffuse, in part because of the programmatic nature of so much of his writing. He proposed to look for essences, directly given, which would be revealed in each discipline by methods unique to that discipline. In history, for example, intelligible unities were to be apprehended within an intuitively apprehended flow of world events. Although any direct influence should be ruled out, interesting parallels may be demonstrated between Husserl and sociologists in the French tradition, such as Durkheim, who have chosen to study society with man left in, as it were; or between Husserl and Max Weber, even though Husserl showed little of Weber’s broad interest in history; or even between Husserl and Howard Becker, particularly in the latter’s “interpretive sociology” of ideal types as true social structures from which predictions can be made. Husserl’s thinking is also consonant with that of George Herbert Mead, R. M. Maclver, and Florian Znaniecki, yet such relationships have not often been recognized; in Znaniecki’s Social Actions (1936), for example, a program that sounds quite Husserlian is expounded with no reference to phenomenology. The journal literature of the social sciences contains a number of studies that can be classed as descriptive phenomenology—or as intentional psychology, to use Scheler’s term. Such studies usually take the form of intuitive and impressionistic analyses of social structures. Husserl would have regarded these as essential. But in general it can hardly be said that the social sciences have found any important place for phenomenology as such.

Phenomenology and psychology

In psychology Husserl’s influence may be traced in a broad range of writings, both in theory and in research. In an often striking parallel to the phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty, although developed independently of it, Jean Piaget’s work stresses the significance for childhood development of the adaptive and assimilative processes of cognition. Alfred Adler’s marked similarity in method and attitude to the phenomenologists is now widely recognized, but there is no evidence that Husserl ever influenced him directly. [SeeAdler; Individual Psychology; Developmental psychology, article ona theory of development.] Erwin W. Straus, both as a psychiatrist and as a phenomenological psychologist, has elaborated his own eidetic phenomenology and critique of contemporary scientific methodology. Phenomenological conceptions, sometimes considerably transformed, may also be detected in the school of thought known as existential psychology. [SeePsychology, article onexistential psychology.]

The most direct and specific of Husserl’s effects on psychology, as may be expected, occurred in Europe. A notable instance is David Katz, whose investigations of the perception of color and of touch derived at least in part from contact with Husserl when both were at Göttingen. Of the important group who were at the University of Berlin just before World War I, and from whose joint efforts came the school of gestalt psychology, Max Wertheimer and Karl Duncker were apparently deeply influenced by phenomenology. During this time Kurt Goldstein, the neurologist, came under the influence of Husserl’s thinking, as is quite evident in his later writings on organismic biology and psychopathology, as well as in his collaborative work with Martin Scheerer on the analysis of a structure of consciousness which they called the “abstract attitude.” William Stern, also in the Berlin group, was later influential in espousing a “personalistic” psychology, and still another member, Kurt Lewin, based a productive career on phenomenological methods and conceptions: for example, his concept of an individual’s “life space,” his use of topology as a mathematics specific to psychological data, and his intuitive apprehension of “group” as an intelligible unity, an approach that gave rise to the area of research and study now known as group dynamics. Fritz Heider, in an early paper on “thing” and “medium,” analyzed fundamental unities of space and action, and later contributed significantly to the exploration of phenomenal causality and to the problem of the “naïve” analysis of social action; and his influence, in turn, may be seen in recent investigations in “psychological ecology” by Roger Barker and Herbert F. Wright.

Shifting again from Europe to America, the school which follows Carl R. Rogers is, like its founder, not inconsistent in its approach with a phenomenological orientation, although admittedly by virtue of related attitudes toward science rather than because of any strict adherence to Husserl’s thought. [SeeMental disorders, treatment of, article onclient-centered counseling.] Robert MacLeod is probably the psychologist most clearly identified with Husserl, because of his proposals—unique in American psychology—for the application of a phenomenological approach in theoretical and social psychology. Finally, contemporary psychology in Germany and the Netherlands owes much to Husserl’s influence—for example, Linschoten’s studies of William James (1961), C. F. Graumann’s investigations of perspective and of early behavioristic theory (1960), and the important work of F. J. J. Buytendijk on pain, on the psychology of women, and on human movement (1932; 1943; 1951; 1957).

This roster, although only partial, suggests that Husserl’s influence on the empirical sciences has been far-reaching, but neither as pervasive nor as profound as it might have been, considering that he was at the forefront of what may turn out to have been an epistemological revolution. One reason for the relative neglect of his work—until recently, this neglect in the United States has been of shocking proportions—may be that by temperament as well as by the nature of his philosophic task, he was condemned to a never-ending search for “the beginning of the beginning.” The current phase of his influence, indeed, appears to rest primarily on the later Husserl, the “engaged” thinker of the Lebenswelt doctrine, who helped to establish the philosophical basis for a basic science of man considered as a social creature. But because he conceived phenomenology not as a system but as a continuing and vital means of breaking new ground, his thought has served as a general inspiration and influence rather than as an inventory of specific problems. Recent work by Husserlian scholars, however, suggests that his work is now being read more carefully; noteworthy, for example, is Stephan Strasser’s Phenomenology and the Human Sciences (1963). The Swiss philosopher Pierre Thevenaz, in his brilliant essay What Is Phenomenology? (1962), suggested that, in the perspective of history, Husserl stands between classical idealism and twentieth-century existentialism. To others, Husserl has seemed the central figure, perhaps even the source, of broadly based convergence of old and new philosophical traditions—a convergence marked by new styles of analysis for old problems and a bold critique of the excessive claims of scientific empiricism. In any case, whether as chief navigator of a main current or as a beacon to steer by, Husserl surely has a unique position in the history of Western thought.

Joseph Lyons

[Other relevant material may be found inField theory; Gestalt theory; Phenomenology; Psychology, article onexistential psychology; and in the biographies ofGoldstein; Katz; Lewin; Scheler; Schutz; Stern; Wertheimer.]


1882 Beiträge zur Variationsrechnung. Dissertation, Univ. of Vienna.

1891 Philosophie der Arithmetik: Psychologische und logische Untersuchungen. Vol. 1. Halle (Germany): Pfeffer.

(1900-1901) 1913-1921 Logische Untersuchungen. 2d ed., 2 vols. Halle (Germany): Niemeyer. → Volume 1: Prolegomena zur reinen Logik. Volume 2: Untersuchungen zur Phänomenologie und Theorie der Erkenntnis. A French translation of the 2d German edition was published in 1959-1963 by Presses Universitaires de France.

(1911) 1965 Philosophy as Rigorous Science. Pages 71-147 in Edmund Husserl, Phenomenology and the Crisis of Philosophy. New York: Harper. → First published in German in Volume 1 of Logos as “Philosophie als strenge Wissenschaft.”

(1913) 1952 Ideas: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology. New York: Macmillan. Translation of Volume 1 of Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophic.

(1928) 1964 The Phenomenology of Internal Time-consciousness. Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press. → First published as Vorlesungen zur Phänomenologie des innern Zeitbewusstseins.

1929 Formale und transzendentale Logik: Versuch einer Kritik der logischen Vernunft. Halle (Germany): Niemeyer. → A French translation was published in 1957 by Presses Universitaires de France.

(1931) 1960 Cartesian Meditations: An Introduction to Phenomenology. The Hague: Nijhoff. → Written in German and first published in French.

Husserliana: Edmund Husserl, Gesammelte Werke. 9 vols. The Hague: Nijhoff, 1950-1962. → Volume 1: Cartesianische Meditationen und Pariser Vorträge, 1950. Volume 2: Die Idee der Phänomenologie: Fünf Vorlesungen, 1950. Volumes 3-5: Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie, 3 vols. 1950-1952. Volume 6: Die Krisis der europäischen Wissenschaften und die transzendentale Phdnomenologie: Eine Einleitung in die phänomenologische Philosophic, 1954. Volume 7-8: Erste Philosophie (1923/1924), 2 vols., 1956-1959. Volume 9: Phänomenologische Psychologie, 1962.


Buytendijk, F. J. J. (1932) 1936 The Mind of the Dog. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. → First published in Dutch.

Buytendijk, F. J. J. (1943) 1962 Pain, Its Modes and Functions. Univ. of Chicago Press. → First published in Dutch.

buytendijk, F. J. J. (1951) 1953 Die Frau. Cologne (Germany): Bachem Verlag.

Buytendijk, F. J. J. 1957 Attitudes et mouvements. Paris: Desclée de Brouwer. → Published simultaneously in Dutch.

Graumann, Carl F. 1960 Grundlagen einer Phänomenologie und Psychologie der Perspektivität. Berlin: de Gruyter.

Gurwitsch, Aron (1957) 1965 The Field of Consciousness. Pittsburgh: Duquesne Univ. Press. → First published in French.

Linschoten, Johannes 1961 Auf dem Wege zu einer phänomenologischen Psychologie: Die Psychologie von William James. Berlin: de Gruyter.

Spiegelberg, Herbert (1960) 1965 The Phenomenological Movement: A Historical Introduction. 2d ed., 2 vols. Phaenomenologica, Vols. 5-6. The Hague: Nijhoff.

Strasser, Stephan 1963 Phenomenology and the Human Sciences: A Contribution to a New and Scientific Ideal. Pittsburgh: Duquesne Univ. Press.

Thevenaz, Pierre 1962 What Is Phenomenology? And Other Essays. Chicago: Quadrangle.

Znaniecki, Florian 1936 Social Actions. New York: Farrar & Rinehart.

Husserl, Edmund

views updated May 08 2018


HUSSERL, EDMUND (18591938), German philosopher, founder and central figure in the twentieth-century philosophical movement or approach known as phenomenology. Born in Prossnitz (Prostejov), Moravia, Husserl studied at the universities of Leipzig and Berlin and received his Ph.D. from the University of Vienna in 1882. After becoming an assistant to the mathematician Karl Weierstrass in Berlin, he moved to Vienna where, largely under the influence of the philosopher Franz Brentano, he changed his field from mathematics to philosophy.

Husserl's three teaching positions roughly correlate with three periods in the development of his phenomenological philosophy. His stay at the University of Halle (18871901) coincided with a prephenomenological period, during which he attempted to provide a psychological basis for mathematics and logic; it culminated in the influential Logical Investigations (2 vols., 19001901), which laid the foundation for his descriptive phenomenology. During his tenure at the University of Göttingen (19011916), Husserl established his role as founder of the "phenomenological movement." He developed the phenomenological project that he had introduced in the second volume of his Logical Investigations and, in his Ideas (1913), he turned to a "pure" or "transcendental" phenomenologya philosophical turn that was rejected by many of his followers. His work at the University of Freiburg (from 1916 to 1929) brought a radicalization of this phenomenological idealism, in which phenomenology was conceived as a renewal of life, a realization of one's ethical autonomy, and an overcoming of the crisis of European science. The years from 1929 to 1939, during which Husserl lived in Freiburg after his retirement from the university, may be designated as a fourth period. This period comprises the works of the "late Husserl." Though isolated by social and political pressures as a man with Jewish parentage in Nazi Germany and, finally, by illness, Husserl developed, during this period, his existential notion of "life-world" (Lebenswelt ) with which he explored the intersubjective and historical dimensions of experience.

Since Husserl was continually rethinking his phenomenological project, his works never formed a closed philosophical system. There are, however, several themes that can be found throughout his writings. Phenomenology, for example, was to be a descriptive, "rigorous science," free from unexamined presuppositions, and each step was to have a sense of self-evident necessity. Husserl continually searched for radical "new beginnings," that is, for an absolute foundation on which to ground his phenomenology and to grasp the constitution of meaning.

Husserl conceived phenomenology to be a radically descriptive approach, free from our normal, unexamined preconceptions; it was to utilize a phenomenological method that would allow it to describe the phenomena that appear in immediate experience and to gain direct intuition into their essential structures and meanings.

Husserl's attitude toward religion is open to several interpretations. Though the majority of Husserl scholars have assumed that he had little or no interest in religion, several scholars, largely on the basis of unpublished manuscripts, correspondence, and conversations, have submitted that religion and "the problem of God" were serious concerns for Husserl.

Born to Jewish parents, Husserl became an Evangelical Lutheran in 1887. A few individuals have claimed that he had a religious conversion on his deathbed, but this report has been widely challenged. In general, Husserl's phenomenological suspension of all judgments about what is real produced a tolerance toward all "genuine" religious phenomena. In addition, many scholars have commented that Husserl often conceived his phenomenological approach in terms of a "conversion," and that he regarded his philosophical mission with a kind of religious fervor. It does seem, however, that Husserl had little interest in a personal God or in any other aspect of traditional religion; he rejected the externals of religion and all theological dogma. On the other hand, scattered references to God appear in Logical Investigations and Ideas ; passages with religious reference or implication are found also in later works such as The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology (1936) and in Dorion Cairns's Conversations with Husserl and Fink (1976); and a greater number of religious references appear in Husserl's diaries and in later unpublished manuscripts and correspondence.

Although these passages tend to be vague, underdeveloped, and open to conflicting interpretations, it is apparent that, according to Husserl, God is neither a personal deity nor a cause of the world, but an "idea" within the context of universal teleology. God as idea is the telos, that is, the universal and ideal end and the transcendent motivating force and final principle in the evolution of reason. Furthermore, Husserl cryptically comments that only with an understanding of the "transcendental consciousness" of phenomenology can one "understand the transcendence of God," and that "ethical-religious questions are the last questions of phenomenological constitution" (Cairns, Conversations, 1976, p. 47).

Husserl's major contribution to the study of religion is found in later attempts by scholars to apply a modified Husserlian analysis to religion. Husserl's influence can be seen in the phenomenological works of Max Scheler, Gerardus van der Leeuw, Paul Ricoeur, and many others. Phenomenology of religion has characterized itself as radically descriptive and antireductionistic. It has often adopted Husserlian terms, such as epoche and "eidetic vision," and has sometimes utilized aspects of Husserl's phenomenological method.

To a lesser extent, Husserl's phenomenology has influenced philosophy of religion and theology. In the appendix to his Ecclesial Man (1975), Edward Farley surveys the impact of phenomenology on numerous Catholic and Protestant philosophers and theologians, submitting that Max Scheler was the dominant figure in the field during the period between 1921 and 1934, and that the philosopher and theologian Henri Duméry, who applies a Husserlian method to the study of religion, has dominated the period from the 1950s. Many scholars maintain that French phenomenology, deeply influenced by Husserl, took a religious and even a theological turn in the 1980s and 1990s.

Starting in the 1990s, there has been a revival in philosophical phenomenology of religion. This has involved both renewed interest in older phenomenologists and the emergence of younger phenomenologists of religion. In this renewal of phenomenology of religion, most of these scholars either trace their phenomenology back to Husserl or at least interact with Husserl's foundational formulations. Among philosophers considered by other scholars as contributing to the renewal of phenomenology of religion are Martin Heidegger, Paul Ricoeur, Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Derrida, Michel Henry, and Jean-Luc Marion.


François Lapointe includes a bibliography of Husserl's writings, beginning with 1882, in his Edmund Husserl and His Critics: An International Bibliography, 18941974 (Bowling Green, Ohio, 1980). The definitive edition of Husserl's collected works is Husserliana: Edmund Husserl, Gesammelte Werke (The Hague, 1950). Among translations of Husserl's writings into English, one may cite Logical Investigations (19001901), 2 vols. translated by John N. Findaly (New York, 1970); Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy. First Book: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology (1913), translated by Fred Kersten (The Hague, 1982); The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology: An Introduction to Phenomenological Philosophy (1936), translated with introduction by David Carr (Evanston, Ill., 1970). A good collection of Husserl's translated writings is The Essential Husserl: Basic Writings in Transcendental Phenomenology, edited by Donn Welton (Bloomington, Ind., 1999).

Although there have been thousands of titles devoted to Husserl (Lapointe lists 3,879 publications), relatively few are concerned with religion. Perhaps the best source on this subject is The Teleologies in Husserlian Phenomenology, edited by Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka, volume 9 of "Analecta Husserliana" (Dordrecht, Netherlands, 1979). This volume includes several articles on Husserl, religious experience, and theology, of which Stephan Strasser's "History, Teleology, and God in the Philosophy of Husserl" is especially noteworthy. Edward Farley's Ecclesial Man (Philadelphia, 1975) utilizes Husserl's phenomenology in formulating a phenomenological theology and surveys the impact of Husserl's phenomenology on Catholic and Protestant philosophy of religion and theology. Among the works of "the new phenomenology," primarily written by French phenomenologists of religions, one may cite Jean-Luc Marion, Reduction and Givenness: Investigations of Husserl, Heidegger, and Phenomenology, translated by Thomas A. Carlson (Evanston, Ill., 1998). See also Phenomenology and the "Theological Turn": The French Debate by Dominique Janicaud and others (originally published in French, 1991; New York, 2000).

Douglas Allen (1987 and 2005)

Husserl, Edmund

views updated May 11 2018


Philosopher, founder and originator of the phenomenological movement in twentieth-century European thought; b. Prossnitz, Austria, April 8, 1859; d. Freiburg im Breisgau, April 27, 1938. Of Jewish background, Edmund Husserl was schooled early in Vienna and Olmütz. In 1897 he entered the University of Leipzig to study science, but he transferred in 1878 to Berlin and studied mathematics under Kronecker, Kummer, and Weierstrass. Returning to Vienna in 1881, he received his doctorate two years later for his dissertation (unpublished) on the calculus of variations. Here he fell under the strongest intellectual influence of his life, the teaching and the person of Franz brentano.

Teaching. The first period of Husserl's philosophical career, the prephenomenological period, consists of the 15 years he spent as privatdocent at the University of Halle. 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 1891) 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. (Halle 190001), won for Husserl the post of lecturer in philosophy at Göttingen, where he remained until 1916. 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. His early lectures at Göttingen continued these interests in phenomenology. The five spring lectures of 1907 were published posthumously as Die Idee der Phänomenologie. In 1910 appeared the famous essay entitled "Philosophie als strenge Wissenschaft," Logos (191011) 289341, in which Husserl criticized both naturalism and the historicism of Weltanschauung philosophy in his attempt to establish philosophy as a strict science.

During the 15 Göttingen years, Husserl suffered from professional disappointments and from severe doubts over his vocation as a teacher and as a philosopher. His intense discussions attracted a small and devoted circle about him, the original Göttingen Circle, from which the Munich Circle of phenomenologists drew their ideas and enthusiasm. In 1913 Husserl collaborated with Max scheler in founding and editing the phenomenological journal Jahrbuch für Philosophie und phänomenologische Forschung. 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. Phenomenological reduction (epoché ) is achieved by "bracketing off" every irrelevant item in a given experience in order to gain direct intuition into the essence immediately given as the object of the experiencing act. In the truncated article on phenomenology in the Encyclopaedia Brittanica (14th ed. 1929), Husserl stated that the object of phenomenology must be to proceed from psychological descriptions of eidetic essences (first philosophy) to a transcendental phenomenology of total intentional subjectivity. Such a science of pure consciousness would be the pure phenomenology announced in the title of Ideen I.

In Formale und transzendentale Logik (Halle 1929) 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.

In February of 1929 Husserl delivered a series of lectures at the Sorbonne in Paris known as the Méditations cartésiennes. 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.

After retirement in 1929, Husserl wrote Die Krise der europäischen Wissenschaften und die transzendentale Phänomenologie; here he worked out his notion of the Lebenswelt, the world of lived experience. 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.

Influence. It has been difficult to assign Husserl's significance in the phenomenological movement. He was slow to publish his own manuscriptsH. L. Van Breda has gathered all of Husserl's papers into the Husserlian Archives at the University of Louvainand, at times, he openly rejected the work of his closest followers. The original circles of phenomenologists gathered in Munich and Göttingen were small, but the personnel carried out their projects with great enthusiasm and great scientific rigor. 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.

See Also: phenomenology.

Bibliography: Works. Gesammelte Werke (Husserliana ) (The Hague 1950) v. 1, Cartesianische Meditationen und Pariser Vorträge, ed. s. strasser (1950); v. 2, Die Idee der Phänomenologie, ed. w. biemel (1950); v. 35, Ideen zu einer Reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie IIII, ed. W. and m. biemel (195052); v. 6, Die Krise der europäischen Wissenschaften und die transzendentale Phänomenologie, ed. w. biemel (1954); v. 78, Erste Philosophie (192324 ) III, ed. r. boehm (195659); v. 9, Phänomenologische Psychologie, ed. w. biemel (1962). Translations. Cartesian Meditations, tr. d. cairns (The Hague 1960); Ideas: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology, tr. w. r. boyce gibson (New York 1931; repr. 1962); "Philosophy as a Strict Science," tr. j. q. lauer, Cross Currents 6 (1956): 227246. Literature. Edmund Husserl, 18591959 (The Hague 1959), centenary commemoration. j. q. lauer, The Triumph of Subjectivity (New York 1958). h. spiegelberg, The Phenomenological Movement, 2 v. (The Hague 1960). j. oesterreicher, "Edmund Husserl: Acolyte of Truth," Walls Are Crumbling (New York 1952) 4997. m. farber, The Foundations of Phenomenology (Cambridge, Mass. 1943).

[e. w. ranly]

Husserl, Edmund

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HUSSERL, EDMUND (1859–1938), Austrian philosopher.

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 (1838–1917) 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 (1815–1887) and Leopold Kronecker (1823–1891). He also attended lectures in philosophy by Wilhelm Wundt (1832–1920) and Tomas Garrigue Masaryk (1850–1937), a student of Brentano's. Husserl wrote his dissertation in mathematics at the University of Vienna with Leo Königsberger (1837–1921), who in turn had studied with Weierstrass, earning a doctorate in 1883 with the thesis Beiträgezur Theorie der Variationsrechnung (Contributions toward a theory of the calculus of variations). After 1884, Husserl began attending lectures by Brentano, and decided to devote his continued studies to philosophy. Changing venues again, this time to the University of Halle, Husserl wrote his Habilitationsschrift titled Über den Begriff der Zahl (On the concept of number) in 1887 with Carl Stumpf (1848–1936), another former student of Brentano's. 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 1891.

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 (1848–1925) 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, 1900–1901), 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 1913, 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 1913, 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. Husserl explains his project as that of investigating the essential ideal structures of consciousness, which he proposes to do by means of the method of epoché. This word in its original Greek meaning signifies a pause or halting in the pursuit of an activity. 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." He requires that phenomenology begin by suspending belief in the existence of objects corresponding to the contents of thoughts in order to investigate their structures independently of the existence or nonexistence of things. In his later Sorbonne lectures, the Cartesian Meditations, Husserl describes progressive stages of the epoché, leading to an increasingly more penetrating grasp of the underlying intentional structures of consciousness, culminating finally in the transcendental epoché. 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 (1936).

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 (1889–1976) in his existential phenomenology and ontology or theory of being, and to Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–1980) and Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908–1961) 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 alsoBrentano, Franz; Frege, Gottlob.


Primary Sources

Husserl, Edmund. Husserliana: Edmund Husserl—Gesammelte Werke. Dordrecht, 1950–. Definitive ongoing edition of Husserl's collected works in German.

——. The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology. Translated by David Carr. Evanston, Ill. 1970.

——. Cartesian Meditations: An Introduction to Phenomenology. Translated by Dorion Cairns. The Hague, 1977.

——. Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy. Translated by Fred Kersten. The Hague, 1980–1982.

——. Philosophy of Arithmetic: Psychological and Logical Investigations: With Supplementary Texts from 1887–1901. Translated by Dallas Willard. Dordrecht, 2003.

Secondary Sources

Bell, David. Husserl. London, 1990. An introduction to Husserl's thought intended for beginning readers presupposing minimal prior familiarity with philosophy in the phenomenological tradition.

Carr, David. Interpreting Husserl: Critical and Comparative Studies. Dordrecht, 1987. 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. Dordrecht, 1999. 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. Cambridge, U.K., 1995. 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. Edmund Husserl and the Phenomenological Tradition: Essays in Phenomenology. Washington, D.C., 1988. Multiple facets of Husserl's phenomenology explored in a collection of essays; clear exposition of Husserl's theory of ideas and idea contents or noemata.

Spiegelberg, Herbert. The Phenomenological Movement: A Historical Introduction. Third revised and enlarged edition. The Hague, 1982. Classic detailed study of the historical roots of phenomenology; particularly valuable for understanding the dynamic personal and philosophical relation between Brentano and Husserl.

Zahavi, Dan. Husserl's Phenomenology. Stanford, Calif., 2003. Comprehensive discussion of Husserl's philosophy, with special emphasis on the topics of the phenomenology of internal time consciousness, body, intersubjectivity, and life-world.

Dale Jacquette

Husserl, Edmund

views updated May 23 2018


Born in Prossnitz, Moravia (now Prostêjov, Czech Republic) on April 8, Edmund Husserl (1859–1938) inaugurated the phenomenological movement in philosophy. Trained as a mathematician at Vienna, where he received his Ph.D. in 1883, Husserl began studying philosophy in 1884 under Franz Brentano (1838–1917) and went on to teach in the philosophy faculties at Halle an der Saale, Göttingen, and Freiburg. His most notable works—Logical Investigations, Ideas (Volumes I, II, and
III), Cartesian Meditations, and The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology—seek a philosophical grounding for mathematics, logic, and science by analyzing the intentional or essential structures of consciousness in its relation to objects in the world relations between subjectivity and objectivity. After his death on April 26 in Freiburg, a substantial body of posthumously published work extended his account of subjectivity and its correlative world into the domain of intersubjective experience, and the development of an ethical system that exhorts a fully rational human existence in which all persons repeatedly justify their beliefs and actions.

The fundamental method of phenomenology is the "reduction," which entails suspending the philosopher's own participation in our natural beliefs about the world. Not a denial of the external world, the reduction simply neutralizes dogmatic assumptions about experience in order to examine more closely experience and its objects just as they are given; hence, phenomenology calls itself a "presuppositionless" enterprise.

Husserl's most overtly relevant work for science, technology, and ethics, The Crisis (1936), argues that science and technology constitute a nonneutral transformation of life rather than a simple neutral extension of ahistorical human concerns. Neither pro–nor anti–science and technology, Husserl's Crisis suspends the typically modern commitment to science in order to disclose and examine the repercussions of those unreflectively accepted scientific presuppositions and practices that transform the prescientific life-world of human experience. Husserl values the way science tests and retests experience, thereby contributing to a fuller sense of objectivity than everyday judging. In their great success, however, science and technology create "fact-minded" citizens blinded by promises of objectivity and control. In their narrow view of reason as mere calculation, science and technology consider themselves value neutral and thus exempt from responsibly advising about how to make difficult decisions arising from the means they produce. Moreover, one could argue, science and technology evolve in rarefied discourses unavailable to most citizens and beyond democratic control. Followers of Husserl thus are able to argue that humankind's historical circumstance marks a crisis in which science and technology develop independently of value questions and democratic voice, yet are unreflectively and passively received and deployed.

To philosophers of technology, however, Husserl's corrective measure in the form of a relentless search by the subject for a fuller sense of evidence to justify beliefs and actions often appears to be a formal, abstract quest for ideal essences. Ethical discussions of science and technology thus often disregard Husserl's phenomenology. Husserl's protégé, Martin Heidegger (1889–1976), for example, believes Husserl's emphasis on cognition lands him squarely in the path of human technological domination of the world. The phenomenological reduction, Heidegger argues, "reduces" the world to human "intentional" activities and sacrifices world independence to consciousness's drive to explain and predict experience with absolute certainty. American pragmatist philosopher Larry A. Hickman (2001) argues that privileging conscious reflection and increased objectivity over lived experience renders phenomenological inquiry a private enterprise tied to "ideal essences." Unable to reconfigure its ideals, Hickman finds phenomenology incapable of a providing a viable program for the reform of technology. And the American post-phenomenologist Don Ihde (1990) reiterates Heideggerian and pragmatist criticisms. Because Husserl neglected the inseparability of senseextending technologies from scientific discovery, Ihde argues he never reached beyond an intimation of a philosophy of technology.

Yet Husserl's contribution to the philosophy of technology can be found in these criticized notions intentionality and objectivity, which form the basis of his ethics of a self-conscious community founded on intuitionally fulfilled beliefs and actions, and provide the basis for a critical assessment of technology. For Husserl, consciousness, in its very nature as activity, is intentional. In its care for and interest in the world, consciousness transcends itself. Always outside of itself, a subject experiences the world in a public and intersubjective rather than private and solipsistic way. Intuitional fulfillment denotes the correlation of a subject's intentional anticipations with the evidence found in experience. When experience does not confirm a subject's anticipation, the intention goes "unfulfilled" and demands that the subject revise prior beliefs, thus achieving a degree of objectivity. When experience confirms a subject's anticipation, the intention gets "fulfilled," again achieving a degree of objectivity. Because Husserl advocates self-critique and reflection as a lifelong task, even fulfilled intentions require further experiential confirmation over time and across subjects. Rather than a fixed ideal, objectivity remains open to reconfiguration according to experiential evidence given in the fluxing relation between subject and world.

An interesting instance of the kind of self-critical agency that Husserl advocates can be found in the life of the Polish scientist Joseph Rotblat (b. 1908), who worked on the atomic bomb. Rotblat initially justified his participation by reasoning that only Allied bomb development would counter potential German development. After the German defeat, Rotblat reflected on the standard attitude of the scientists working on the project—many of whom believed it was not their job to advise about how the atomic bomb should be used—leading him to leave the project before the first testing and use of the bomb. Rotblat resolved to henceforth carefully choose each of his future projects, accepting only assignments he judged of definite benefit for humanity. Rotblat's revised outlook on his career as a scientist follows in the spirit of Husserl's ethics based on a subject's vow to live a life guided by a repeated and critical evaluation of beliefs. Rotblat's decision to withstand the heedless activity that Husserl believes characterizes the contemporary relation to science and technology exemplifies the self-reflection and self-responsibility for which Husserl argues when he exhorts subjects to continuously assess their experiences.


SEE ALSO Axiology;Existentialism;German Perspectives;Heidegger, Martin;Leibniz, G. W.;Phenomenology.


Hickman, Larry A. (2001). Philosophical Tools for Technological Culture. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Develops John Dewey's pragmatist philosophy of technology, and criticizes phenomenology along the way.

Husserl, Edmund. (1973). The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology: An Introduction to Phenomenological Philosophy, trans. David Carr. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. Discusses the value of reason and the life-task of seeking intuitional fulfillment and increased objectivity beyond its mere facts and calculation.

Husserl, Edmund. (1982). Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy, Book 1: General Introduction to a Pure Phenomenology, trans. Fred Kersten. The Hague, Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff. Extended, detailed discussion of the phenomenological "reduction."

Ihde, Don. (1990). Technology and the Lifeworld: From Garden to Earth. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. A clearly written overview and analysis of relevant phenomenological literature.

Melle, Ullrich. (1991). "The Development of Husserl's Ethics." Études Phénoménologiques 13–14: 115–135. Overview of the chronological development of Husserl's ethical thought.

Melle, Ullrich. (1998). "Responsibility and the Crisis of Technological Civilization: A Husserlian Meditation on Hans Jonas." Human Studies 21(4): 329–345. In place of Jonas's heuristic of fear, Melle discusses Husserl's notions of self-critique, objectivity, evidence, and intuitional fulfillment as methods for ensuring responsible engagement with technology.

Rotblat, Joseph. (1986). "Leaving the Bomb Project." In Assessing the Nuclear Age: Selections from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, ed. Len Ackland and Steven McGuire. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Edmund Husserl

views updated Jun 08 2018

Edmund Husserl

The German philosopher Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) is considered the father of phenomenology, one of the most important trends in 20th-century philosophy.

Edmund Husserl was born on April 8, 1859, in Prossnitz, Moravia. After finishing his elementary education in Prossnitz, he attended schools in Vienna and Olmütz. In 1876 he entered the University of Leipzig, pursuing physics, astronomy, and mathematics. He proved to be especially gifted in mathematics, and in 1878 he moved to the University of Berlin to study with a number of the leading mathematicians of that era. He became profoundly interested in the question of the foundations of mathematical reasoning, and he took his doctoral degree in mathematics at Vienna in 1883. Thereafter, however, his interest turned increasingly to philosophy, and he followed the lectures of Franz Brentano with great interest.

Husserl began his teaching career at Halle, initially as an assistant to the distinguished psychologist Carl Stumpf. Here Husserl published his first research into the foundations of mathematics, volume 1 of his Philosophy of Arithmetic (1891). Following British empiricism, he tried to show how the foundations were to be found in acquired habits of thought. But, yielding to sharp criticisms by Gottlob Frege, he soon revised his opinions. He then pushed the question further back into the ultimate foundations of all rational thought. Gradually he became convinced that the ultimate justification of thought patterns rested in the synthetic powers of consciousness—not in mere habits of thought but rather in indispensable concepts and relations, which, as underlying all thought, were seen to be necessary. These ultimate phenomena became now the constant objects of his tireless research.

Husserl's first preparatory studies in phenomenology were published as The Logical Investigations (2 vols., 1900-1901). Called to a professorship at Göttingen (1901-1916), he continued to write extensively. Works from this period include The Idea of Phenomenology, Philosophy as a Rigorous Science, and the first part of his Ideas toward a Pure Phenomenology (1913).

In 1916 Husserl was called to Freiburg as a full professor. Here he published the second and third parts of his Ideas, together with three other long works. He retired in 1929 and, remaining in Freiburg, continued to write. From this period date the Cartesian Meditations and the Crisis of the European Sciences. In all of these works Husserl doggedly pursued his vision of a radical foundation for rational thought. His passionate dedication to clarity and fundamental insight were what most impressed his students. Never satisfied with his results, however, he referred to himself at the end of his life as "a true beginner." Husserl died at Freiburg on April 27, 1938.

Further Reading

A definitive study of Husserl's work must await the complete publication of his papers. Meanwhile, a generally reliable and elementary guide is Joseph J. Kockelmans, A First Introduction to Husserl's Phenomenology (1967). For general background and for assessing Husserl's influence on other authors, Herbert Spiegelberg, The Phenomenological Movement: A Historical Introduction (2 vols., 1960-1965), is indispensable. □

Husserl, Edmund

views updated Jun 08 2018

Husserl, Edmund (1859–1938) German philosopher, founder of phenomenology. He studied man's consciousness as it related to objects and the structure of experience. His works include Ideas: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology (1913) and Cartesian Meditations (1931).

Husserl, Edmund

views updated May 21 2018

Husserl, Edmund (philosopher): see PHENOMENOLOGY.

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