Husserl: Crisis Phenomenology

I am not enough of an expert to comment whether this is a good introduction to Husserl. It is, however, a good preparation to reading Husserl’s student Martin Heidegger. Husserl also introduces the reader to numerous key moves in phenomenology which have payoff potential in later discussions of philosophy of mind. Nonetheless, many of Husserl’s ideas are undeveloped.

Phenomenology is a study of essences only. Essences belong to the ideal sphere and are grasped in intuition. Absolute knowledge is contained in the phenomena. Phen. reveals essences and reverses the standard correspondence theory model. The real world corresponds to true thought. It reveals consciousness. Husserl’s goal: overcome the wall of separation between being and consciousness (47).

Husserl’s most important moment is his discussion of intentionality. Intentionality is to give meaning to an expression. It is a movement of consciousness towards something; thus, it is objective (109). When we perceive an object, we perceive it in its givenness-to-us. What I think Husserl means is that the object’s essence is related to its being a determinate object (114). At this early point in Husserl’s career it seems he is positing a real relation (and relation is a category of essence) between object and perception. As the editor comments in a footnote, to know the thought is to know what is thought about.

Improving upon Descartes: the cogitatum is given with the same immediacy as the cogito itself. Thus, there is an intentionality to consciousness (59). To be is to be-given-to-consciousness. The essential is the ideal, and the ideal is located in acts of consciousness. Therefore, subjectivity = objectivity.

Husserl ends with a lecture on the crisis of European man. It’s interesting, though he doesn’t advance any substantial ideas. The book isn’t perfect but it does contain valuable insights. In short, I wonder how natural bracketing out ideas in an epoch really is. If an object is an object in its givenness-to-us, then what exactly does the epoch advance?


Author: Ephraim's Arrow

Interests include patristics, the role of the soul in the human person, analytic theology, charismatic gifts

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