Husserl, Edmund: Philosophy and the Crisis of European Man

3. The notion of “horizon”, which played such an important part in Husserl’s earlier writings, has here taken on a somewhat broader connotation. Formerly it signified primarily those concomitant elements in consciousness that are given, without being the direct object of the act of consciousness under consideration. In every act of consciousness there are aspects of the object that are not directly intended but which are recognized, either by recall or anticipation, as belonging to the object intended. These aspects constitute its horizon. In the present essay “the community as a horizon” signifies the framework in which experience occurs, conditioning that experience and supplying the diverse aspects of objectivity that are not directly intended in any one act of consciousness.

4. I am using an expression borrowed from Dewey to translate the Husserlian Umwelt, a term Husserl uses frequently only in his last period. In the light of the Cartesian Meditations we must remember that though such a world is subjectively “constituted”, it is still not a private world, since its constitution is ultimately “intersubjective”.

5. Like Kant, Husserl saw “necessity” and “universality” as the notes that characterize genuinely valid objectivity. Not until his later works (Ideen II and Cartesian Meditations), however, does he explicitly see “intersubjective constitution” as the ultimate concrete foundation for universal objectivity.

6. Here Husserl is giving to the term “intuition” the limited meaning of sense intuition that it has for Kant.

7. Geistigkeit: Following a decision to translate “Geist” as “spirit” rather than as “mind”, we are forced into a somewhat uncomfortable translation of the present abstraction. The embarrassment becomes acute when reference is made to the “spirituality” of animals (cf. n. 8 infra), but it is not likely that “mentality” would be any less embarrassing.

8. Where there is consciousness, there is spirit, and in animals there is consciousness. For Husserl, self-consciousness is a mark of “personality” rather than “spirituality”.

9. In this connection one should consult the Second Cartesian Meditation, where Husserl insists that the only reality that the world can have for one who would approach it scientifically is a phenomenal reality. If we are to understand it scientifically, our analysis of it must be purely phenomenological, i.e., it is the phenomenon “world” that we must analyze. “We shall direct our attention to the fact that phenomenological epoche lays open (to me, the meditating philosopher) an infinite realm of being of a new kind, as the sphere of a new kind of experience: transcendental experience” (Cartesian Meditations, p. 66). Cf. ibid., p. 69: “Now, however, we are envisaging a science that is, so to speak, absolutely subjective, whose thematic object exists whether of not the world exists”.

10. Because of the context here, it is imperative that “Geisteswissenschaft” not be translated as “humanistic science”.

11. From his earliest days Husserl never tired of insisting that there can be no “natural science” of science itself. It is the theme of Logische Untersuchungen and is perhaps most eloquently expressed in Formale und transzendentale Logik, whose purpose is to develop a “science of science”, which, Husserl holds, can be only a transcendental (constitutive) phenomenology.

12. Stämmen: Literally the term means “stocks”, but the English word could scarcely be unambiguous in the context.

13. Not only is Europe, according to Husserl, the birthplace of philosophy and the sciences, but it is philosophy and the sciences that more than anything else have made European culture unique, have given it its most distinguishing characteristic.

14. Oswald Menghin, Weltgeschichte der Steinzeit (Vienna: A. Schroll, 1931).

15. The tacit beginning of all Husserl’s philosophizing is the value judgement that the rational life, in the sense in which he understands it, is the best life. But unlike Hegel, he has not excogitated a philosophy of history to justify this judgment.

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