Husserl Studies

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 15–43 | Cite as

On Husserl’s Remark that “[s]elbst eine sich als apodiktisch ausgebende Evidenz kann sich als Täuschung enthüllen …” (XVII 164:32–33): Does the Phenomenological Method Yield Any Epistemic Infallibility?

  • George HeffernanEmail author


Addressing Walter Hopp’s original application of the distinction between agent-fallibility and method-fallibility to phenomenological inquiry concerning epistemic justification, I question whether these are the only two forms of fallibility that are useful or whether there are not also others that are needed. In doing so, I draw my inspiration from Husserl, who in the beginnings of his phenomenological investigations struggled with the distinction between noetic and noematic analyses. For example, in the Preface to the Second Edition of the Logical Investigations he criticizes the First Investigation as having been “one-sidedly” noetically directed and as having thus neglected the noematic aspects of meaning (XVIII 13–14). Also, in an addendum to the Fifth Investigation he notes that in the transition from the First Edition to the Second he has learned to broaden the concept of “phenomenological content” to include not only the “real” (reell) contents (noetic, subjective) of consciousness but also the “intentional” (noematic, objective) (XIX/1 411). The fact that, in gradually moving from consciousness (noesis) to what consciousness is of (noema), Husserl struggled with this distinction is an indication of the immensity of the perplexing problems and potential solutions that Hopp has led the phenomenology of knowledge into by introducing his useful notions of agent-fallibility and method-fallibility. Like Husserl, he has focused mainly and mostly on the noetic issues; like Husserl as well, I will try to move step by step from the noetic area into the noematic. I conclude that Hopp’s approach has the potential to become seminal.


Conscious Experience Epistemic Justification Phenomenological Inquiry Phenomenological Method Phenomenological Reduction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This paper represents the revised version of my comments on Hopp’s paper, both of which were presented at the 38th Annual Meeting of the International Husserl Circle, Marquette University, June 27, 2008. I thank Walter Hopp, Steven Crowell, Sebastian Luft, Pol Vandevelde, and all the other colleagues, too numerous to name, who contributed to the discussion.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentAugustinian CollegeAndoverUSA

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