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Edmund Husserl (1859 – 1938) was an Austrian philosopher and founder of the school of phenomenology. Philosophers, as things now stand, are all too fond of offering criticism from on high instead of studying and understanding things from within.

Edmund Husserl

Edmund Husserl, philosopher of phenomenology

Sources of quotations: WikiQuotes, EGS, GoodReads, BrainyQuotes,


Quotations from Edmund Husserl

First, anyone who seriously intends to become a philosopher must “once in his life” withdraw into himself and attempt, within himself, to overthrow and build anew all the sciences that, up to then, he has been accepting.

Experience by itself is not science.

We would be in a nasty position indeed if empirical science were the only kind of science possible.

If all consciousness is subject to essential laws in a manner similar to that in which spatial reality is subject to mathematical laws, then these essential laws will be of most fertile significance in investigating facts of the conscious life of human and brute animals.

Along that way we now intend to walk together. In a quasi-Cartesian fashion we intend, as radically beginning philosophers, to carry out meditations with the utmost critical precaution and a readiness for any even the most far-reaching transformation of the old-Cartesian meditations. Seductive aberrations, into which Descartes and later thinkers strayed, will have to be clarified and avoided as we pursue our course.

There is a science of numbers, a science of spatial figures, of animal species etc., but there are no special sciences of prime numbers, of trapezia, or of lions, nor of all three taken together.

In all the areas within which the spiritual life of humanity is at work, the historical epoch wherein fate has placed us is an epoch of stupendous happenings.

Natural objects, for example, must be experienced before any theorizing about them can occur. Experiencing is consciousness that intuits something and values it to be actual; experiencing is intrinsically characterized as consciousness of the natural object in question and of it as the original: there is consciousness of the original as being there “in person.”

Psychologically experienced consciousness is therefore no longer pure consciousness; construed Objectively in this way, consciousness itself becomes something transcendent, becomes an event in that spatial world which appears, by virtue of consciousness, to be transcendent.

Something similar is still true of the courses followed by manifold intuitions which together make up the unity of one continuous consciousness of one and the same object.

The actuality of all of material Nature is therefore kept out of action and that of all corporeality along with it, including the actuality of my body, the body of the cognizing subject.

The ideal of a pure phenomenology will be perfected only by answering this question; pure phenomenology is to be separated sharply from psychology at large and, specifically, from the descriptive psychology of the phenomena of consciousness.

To every object there correspond an ideally closed system of truths that are true of it and, on the other hand, an ideal system of possible cognitive processes by virtue of which the object and the truths about it would be given to any cognitive subject.

In a few decades of reconstruction, even the mathematical natural sciences, the ancient archetypes of theoretical perfection, have changed habit completely!

What is thematically posited is only what is given, by pure reflection, with all its immanent essential moments absolutely as it is given to pure reflection.

Within this widest concept of object, and specifically within the concept of individual object, Objects and phenomena stand in contrast with each other.

Without troublesome work, no one can have any concrete, full idea of what pure mathematical research is like or of the profusion of insights that can be obtained from it.

Pure phenomenology claims to be the science of pure phenomena. This concept of the phenomenon, which was developed under various names as early as the eighteenth century without being clarified, is what we shall have to deal with first of all.

Philosophers, as things now stand, are all too fond of offering criticism from on high instead of studying and understanding things from within.

It just is nothing foreign to consciousness at all that could present itself to consciousness through the mediation of phenomena different from the liking itself; to like is intrinsically to be conscious.

At the lowest cognitive level, they are processes of experiencing, or, to speak more generally, processes of intuiting that grasp the object in the original.
To begin with, we put the proposition: pure phenomenology is the science of pure consciousness.

Most recently, the need for an utterly original philosophy has re — emerged, the need of a philosophy that – in contrast to the secondary productivity of renaissance philosophies – seeks by radically clarifying the sense and the motifs of philosophical problems to penetrate to that primal ground on whose basis those problems must find whatever solution is genuinely scientific.

The concept “phenomenon” carries over, furthermore, to the changing modes of being conscious of something — for example, the clear and the obscure, evident and blind modes in which one and the same relation or connection, one and the same state — of — affairs, one and the same logical coherency, etc., can be given to consciousness.

This places two separate sciences in the sharpest of contrasts: on the one hand, phenomenology, the science of consciousness as it is in itself; on the other, the sciences of things — out — there as a totality.

[…] the existence of what is given to immanent reflection is indubitable while what is experienced through external experience always allows the possibility that it may prove to be an illusory Object in the course of further experiences.

It is to this world that our judgments refer. We make statements – sometimes singular, sometimes general – about things: their relations, their alterations, their functional dependencies and laws of transformation. Thus we find expression for what presents itself in direct experience. Following up on motives provided by experience itself, we infer from what is directly experienced in perception and memory to what is not experienced; we generalize; we apply in turn general knowledge to particular cases, or, in analytical thought, deduce new generalizations from general knowledge. Pieces of knowledge do not follow upon one another as a matter of mere succession. Rather, they enter into logical relations with each other, they follow from each other, they “agree” with each other, they confirm each other, thereby strengthening their logical power.

This is how positive knowledge makes progress. It takes possession, to an ever greater degree, of a reality that simply exists and is given as a matter of course by examining it more closely with respect to its extent, its content, its elements, relations, and laws.

[…]we want to busy ourselves with the basic problems of a general phenomenology of consciousness. We want to study the basic constitution of consciousness as such in its chief features.

I must achieve internal consistency.


COMMENTS on Quotations from Edmund Husserl

It may be my personal limitations, but I have trouble deriving anything useful from Husserl’s throwing out the solid and testable wisdom of the Western world, and reverting to self-observation as being the only thoughts worthy of observation. I now add Husserl into my growing list of the Philosophers of Endarkenment – Derrida, Gadamer, Heidegger, Husserl, Levinas. My assessment is based on very little reading of these folks, because I just can’t endure their way of thinking, and I now have a personal justification for this attitude, The Law of the Personal Imperative – Avoid everything that might harm your body or mind. When reading these philosophers I, and I suspect everyone else who reads them, get tangled in the twisted words and muddied concepts. Slogging through that might be pleasurable for some people, but it has the corrupting effect of impeding productive action.

My recent inclinations have trended away from studies which are not goal-directed, aimed at some level to solving problems which have the potential for enhancing life in general, and human life in particular. I welcome comments which will give clear examples where these Philosophers of Endarkenment’s statements aid humanity to a longer and healthier existence. There undoubtedly must be some, and I do respect their efforts to find truth, and will defend their right to publish them for all to read, but I also respect other people’s right to ignore them after personally observing that the ideas presented impede their personal positive actions.

Without troublesome work, no one can have any concrete, full idea of what pure mathematical research is like or of the profusion of insights that can be obtained from it. This may well be true, you must know mathematics to do philosophy, but of course that means only a handful of people can legitimately discuss philosophy. Those of us who find his philosophy, and that of Heidegger and Derrida too, as precariously close to a tangled word-salad, can be condemned by them as ignorant fools. I side with that mathematician Albert Einstein who claimed his profound insights could be explained to a normal child.

Natural objects, for example, must be experienced before any theorizing about them can occur. I haven’t experienced the recently discovered Higgs Boson, and I find it difficult to believe any of the researchers working on it has the slightest direct personal experience that Husserl demands. Modern man has extended his sense perception many orders of magnitude beyond our natural ability for experience, and ordinary people have no difficulty in understanding what is happening, when it is explained and demonstrated clearly. The search for the Higgs and many other things is driven by theory.