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The Foundationalist Conflict in Husserl’s Rationalism

  • Gary E. Overvold
Chapter
Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 34)

Abstract

On pain of contradiction, Husserl cannot simultaneously maintain two of his central theses. He cannot both claim that apodicticity is the only acceptable standard of evidence for any philosophy that would be a rigorous science and concurrently maintain that philosophy must be free from aprioristic assumptions/presuppositions about its systematic final structure. I will show in this paper why this conjunction is a dilemma for Husserl and how he had three options for resolving it. Of the three, the one he chose most violated the spirit of his phenomeno-logical method and the one he should have chosen most violated his notion of philosophy/phenomenology as a rigorous science. My conclusion is that Heidegger was quite correct in claiming that phenomenology can only be practiced hermeneutically.

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Notes

  1. 2.
    John Caputo, Radical Hermeneutics (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1988), pp. 53–55. J.-P. Sartre, The Transcendence of the Ego (New York: Noonday Press, 1957), Chap 1. G. Ryle, The Concept of Mind (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1949). Ryle does not specifically discuss Husserl, but his critique of talk about ‘mental acts’ would apply to Husserl.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    E. Husserl, “Philosophy as Rigorous Science,” in E. Husserl, Phenomenology and the Crisis of Philosophy, edited by Quentin Lauer (New York: Harper & Row, 1965). All subsequent page references for the ‘Rigorous Science’ article will be made to this edition. The essay also appears in, P. McCormick & F. Elliston, eds., Husserl, Shorter Works (Notre Dame: Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 1981).Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    For discussion of Husserl’s unchanging view of his mission see: Leszek Kolakowski, Husserl and the Search for Certitude (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1987), p. 4; Herbert Spiegelberg, The Phenomenological Movement, Vol. 1 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1960), p. 77; and Quentin Lauer in his introduction to E. Husserl, Phenomenology and the Crisis of Philosophy, p. 2.Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    E. Husserl, “Philosophy as Rigorous Science,” in E. Husserl, Phenomenology and the Crisis of Philosophy, edited by Quentin Lauer (New York: Harper & Row, 1965), p. 71.Google Scholar
  5. 9.
    Both articles are in: Roderick Chisholm, ed., Realism and the Background of Phenomenology (New York: Free Press, 1960). Page numbers refer to that text. The articles also appear in McCormick and Elliston, Husserl, Shorter Works.Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    Leszek Kolakowski, Husserl and the Search for Certitude (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1987), pp. 21ff.Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    Leszek Kolakowski, Husserl and the Search for Certitude (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1987), pp. 33ff,Google Scholar
  8. 11a.
    Leszek Kolakowski, Husserl and the Search for Certitude (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1987) pp. 70ff; Husserl, Phenomenology, pp. 140ff.Google Scholar
  9. 12.
    Leszek Kolakowski, Husserl and the Search for Certitude (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1987), pp. 67ff.Google Scholar
  10. 13.
    Leszek Kolakowski, Husserl and the Search for Certitude (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1987), pp. 7ff.Google Scholar
  11. 14.
    Richard Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1979).Google Scholar
  12. 15.
    Max Scheler was a member of the editorial board of the original Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, first published in 1913. Scheler’s Der Formalismus in der Ethik und die Materiale Wertethik, which makes much of Nietzsche, was one of a stellar collection of texts published in the first volume of P.P.R. Presumably Husserl, as editor, read Scheler’s text before publishing it. But Nietzsche was so ‘in the air’ during the Modernist period that it would be hard for anyone affiliated with high culture not to be at least passingly familiar with his ideas.Google Scholar
  13. 16.
    See Husserl’s “Philosophy and the Crisis of European Man”, in Husserl, Phenomenology, pp. 149ff.Google Scholar
  14. 17.
    Leszek Kolakowski, Husserl and the Search for Certitude (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1987), pp. 7 22, 55ff.Google Scholar
  15. 20.
    E. Husserl, “Philosophy as Rigorous Science,” in E. Husserl, Phenomenology and the Crisis of Philosophy, edited by Quentin Lauer (New York: Harper & Row, 1965), p. 76.Google Scholar
  16. 21.
    For a decisive discussion of this problem see, Martin Heidegger, The Basic Problems of Phenomenology (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1982), pp. 22f.Google Scholar
  17. 22.
    E. Husserl, “Philosophy as Rigorous Science,” in E. Husserl, Phenomenology and the Crisis of Philosophy, edited by Quentin Lauer (New York: Harper & Row, 1965), p. 134.Google Scholar
  18. 24.
    Martin Heidegger, The Basic Problems of Phenomenology (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1982), pp. 19–23.Google Scholar
  19. 26.
    One might wonder what function “apodicticity” would serve if it were no longer bound to the complex I’ve discussed as Husserl’s a priori of Reason. Minimally, the certainty achieved would be ungrounded so at best it could be an appeal to shared insights of those who, with common interests, come to ‘carry on the conversation’. Maximally, it would come to much the same except, perhaps, we could now come to understand ‘truth’ as bounded by those same common interests. Cf. Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, p. 360. “Apodicticity is just one among many ways we might be edified”.Google Scholar
  20. 27.
    Martin Heidegger, Being and Time (New York: Harper & Row, 1962), p. 62.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary E. Overvold
    • 1
  1. 1.Clark UniversityWorcesterUSA

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