Husserl, Edmund: Philosophy and the Crisis of European Man

29. In Husserl’s view, the beginning of a philosophical (of scientific) focusing of attention on the environing world – as opposed to a naïve, mythical, or poetic attitude – represents the most important revolution in the history of human thought. At the same time, he sees this revolution as continuous with previous attitudes, since it is a transformation of them – not an elimination – something is common to the old and the new.

30. That man’s Einstellung in regard to the world about him should, for Husserl, be the most of human existence seems to imply some affinity between this position and that which Heidegger expresses by In-der-Welt-sein. Whether Husserl was influenced by his own student in this cannot be determined (cf. Spiegelberg, The Phenomenological Movement, I, p. 300). It may or may not be significant that this theme appears in Husserl’s writings only after the publication of Heidegger’s Sein und Zeit (19…. Time, New York: Harper & Row, 1962).

31. Neither philosophy nor science nor, for that matter, any professional interest can become the exclusive interest in any man’s life. But it is true that one is designated philosopher, scientist, etc., by the predominant interest which has an intentional continuity throughout all the occupations of his daily life.

32. In a somewhat different context the meaning of epoche here parallels its technical meaning as employed, for example, in Ideen I. It is neither an elimination of nor a prescinding from other interests. Rather, it simply “puts them in brackets”, thus retaining them, but allowing them in no way to influence theoretical considerations.

33. I.e., in a phenomenological essential intuition.

34. Since Husserl’s philosophical life was devoted almost exclusively to the programmatic aspects of phenomenology – getting it “off the ground”, so to speak – he found little time himself for the sort of thing he describes here. But many of his students did. Much of the contemporary interest in Husserl, manifested in a wide variety of areas, is due to a desire to learn how to do what Husserl suggests.

35. Aside from the fact that he knows little or nothing of Eastern thought, Husserl here repeats the arbitrariness of “Philosophy as Rigorous Science”, where he simply decides what philosophy is (in an essential intuition, of course) and refuses to dignify with that name whatever does not measure up.

36. Despite Husserl’s insistence here and elsewhere that this is Plato’s attitude, there is little justification for his failing to recognize that Plato’s purpose, even in his most “theoretical” investigations, is eminently practical. In a somewhat different meaning, the same can be said for Aristotle.

37. To characterize “essentially” the “path of motivation” from mere curiosity about the world to a universal philosophical science of the world is, of course, extremely aprioristic. We are simply told how it must have been (the danger of all “essential” intuition). It remains true, however, that there is no better introduction to philosophy than a history of the pre-Socratic attempts to know the secrets of the world – without doing anything about it.

38. One is reminded of the contrast made by Aristotle between “men of experience” and “men of science” (Metaph. A 981a). In a more striking way Socrates met this in his conflict with the “practical” politicians of his day.

39. Again, a phenomenological essential intuition, that says nothing regarding the “existence” of God.

40. Nowhere, it seems, has Husserl developed this profound insight wherein he sees faith as a special kind of evidence, permitting theology, too, to be a science. In different ways this is developed by Scheler in his philosophy of religion, by Van der Leeuw and Hering in their phenomenology of religion, and by Otto in his investigations of “the sacred”.

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