Edmund Husserl’s Contribution to Phenomenology of the Body in Ideas II

  • Elizabeth A. Behnke
Part of the Contributions to Phenomenology book series (CTPH, volume 24)


Like the history of much of Husserl’s work, the history of his contribution to a phenomenology of the body is in part a history of understandable misunderstandings and subsequent reevaluations concerning the scope and significance of his achievements. To a certain extent, this is due not so much to what he actually said on this topic, but to the circumstances under which he said or wrote it—university lecture course? unpublished book draft? published work? research manuscript? conversation noted down by others?—and to the sequence and manner in which this work gradually became available to the larger phenomenological community. For example, it was widely held at one time, primarily on the basis of Ideas I (see, e.g., III: §§ 39, 53–54),2 that Husserl dealt only with a disembodied and desituated consciousness, and that it was only with the advent of existential phenomenology that the body truly became an important phenomenological theme. However, we now know that Merleau-Ponty, for example, drew upon Husserl’s manuscripts for many of the descriptions and insights developed in the extensive and influential discussions of the body in Phenomenology of Perception (see Van Breda 1962/1992). Moreover, though it is now more readily acknowledged that Husserl did indeed take the body into account, some still assume or imply that he did so only toward the end of his life. Yet a closer examination of material published to date reveals that Husserl was concerned with bodilihood in texts from many different periods.3 A fuller appreciation of the range and richness of Husserl’s work in phenomenology of the body is nevertheless emerging only slowly.4 It is the purpose of this essay to help establish a basis for such appreciation by sorting out and summarizing certain key contributions to a phenomenology of the body in Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy, Second Book, and by indicating the continuing relevance of Husserl’s achievements in this text to current issues.


Naturalistic Attitude Personalistic Attitude Bodily Experience Study Project Surrounding World 
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.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth A. Behnke
    • 1
  1. 1.Study Project in Phenomenology of the BodyUSA

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