Husserl, Edmund: Philosophy and the Crisis of European Man

16. Nature is precisely that which does repeat constantly (despite evolution). It is characteristic of natural species that their members follow each other in the same identifiable form. Spirit, however, is an ongoing totality, never reaching maturity, never reproducing itself in the same form.

17. This notion of “intentional guide”, of “clue”, is developed in No 21 of the Second Cartesian Meditation. Husserl recognizes a subjective factor – here “anticipation” – as guiding the manner in which objects – here history itself – are intentionally “constituted”.

18. Husserl was never particularly concerned with historical accuracy, even in his choice of terminology. Apart from the anachronism involved in applying the term “nation” to the loose unities of the ancient world, “Greek” itself is a term that covers a somewhat heterogeneous grouping in the seventh and sixth centuries B.C.

19. Despite the embarrassments involved in certain contexts, I have chosen to translate Einstellung for the most part by “attitude”. The German term indicates a focusing of attention in a particular way. There is no way in English of rendering the play on words involved in the opposition of Einstellung-Umstellung, which latter is more than a mere “change” of attitude; “reorientation” of attitude is more like it.

20. This is Husserl’s somewhat unwieldy way of indicating that the overall interest in being breaks down into particular interests in types or classes of being – which are the objects of particular sciences.

21. Here, near the end of his life, Husserl retains the theme he had developed so many years earlier in “Philosophy as Rigorous Science”. The ideal of philosophy and the particular sciences is the same; differences are to be traced to the degree of universality involved in the one and the other. The entire book Die Krisis der europäischen Wissenschafften is devoted to developing this theme historically.

22. Under the verbiage of this extremely difficult paragraph is hidden a profound insight into the transformation that takes place in men when they begin to look beyond facts to ideas. The only way to describe the horizon thus opened is to call it “infinite”. Whether this began only with the Greeks is, of course, open to dispute. Still, the Greeks are the intellectual first parents of Western man.

23. With the advent of philosophical and scientific ideals history itself becomes historical in an new and more profound sense. It is unfortunate, however, that Husserl fails to see history as the progressive concretization of the ideal.

24. It would seem that in terms of ideas the world scientific community is far more closely knit than is the philosophical community. The type of unity, however, is analogous in both cases. Husserl would not like to admit that the differences are due to essential differences in the disciplines themselves. It is questionable that the sort of unity achieved in science is even desirable in philosophy.

25. For Husserl, truth is, so to speak, a Platonic Idea, in relation to which any particular truth is but a participation.

26. If “everyone” simply includes the sum total of all existing subjects, it does not have the universal significance that Husserl demands. In the sense in which he understands it, “universal” is inseparable from “essential”. One is reminded of the critics who accuse Husserl of being “scholastic”. Cf. p. 82 supra.

27. The attitude that pursues “knowledge for its own sake”. It is precisely in this that the “infinity” of the horizon consists” there is no assignable practical goal in which its interests can terminate.

28. Here the play on words involved in Einstellung and Umstellung is impossible to render in English.

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