Husserl’s Phenomenology

Edmund Husserl philosopher

Edmund Husserl is the founder of phenomenology, a philosophical method which creates new concepts, such as intentionality, eidetic reduction, transcendantal ego, epoche, intersubjectivity,… :

Husserl’s main works are :

– Logical Investigations (1900-1901)

– Formal and Transcendental Logic (1920)

– Cartesian Meditations (text of two lectures by Husserl at the Sorbonne in 1929)

– The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology (1935-1937)

The fundamental concepts of Husserl will have a considerable influence on Heidegger, Sartre and Merleau-Ponty … His doctrine of essences and his critique of “positivism” and psychologism are still at the center of some of the contemporary thinking.

The definition of Phenomenology


Husserl has tried throughout his life, to carry out the project of a rigorous philosophy, returning to things themselves:

– Here is the meaning of phenomenology, a philosophical term which had already been used before Husserl, but the thinker which gives a new meaning: it refers, in his view, the science of phenomena, namely what appears in experience.

– The phenomenology must be defined as the study of phenomena.

Some philosophical pitfalls according to Husserl : psychologism, naturalism and positivism

But in this rigorous quest, some pitfalls threaten fundamental reflection: first psychologism, tend to think that psychology must base the other disciplines and even absorb them, to see the concepts or judgments essentially psychic events, to confuse the species with psychological productions.

– To carry out the philosophical task, we must get rif of the psychologism, which makes us confuse a theory with a psychic event.

In the early twentieth century, in fact, when Husserl begins to write his work, psychology seeks to establish itself as dominant and a foundation for logic and metaphysics.

Husserl vigorously fights this trend, which continues even today.

But other dangers threaten the thought and reflection: naturalism, that is to say the representation of the existence of the totality of being (consciousness, ideas, …) to the image of nature and material things: all forms of naturalism will represent the conscience and ideas as if they were material things.

Lastly, mention among other dangers threatening the thought, positivism, which is to exclude the ultimate questions and the highest of reason to dismiss anything that is not empirical data and scientific sense

Husserl’s Phenomenological reduction and eidetic reduction:

True knowledge, far from being subjective, is a vision of ideas or essences, ultimate realities, without which things would not be what they are and to guide the theory.

– The vision of essences involves eidetic reduction (from the Greek Eido, idea, essence), eliminating the empirical evidence to identify the pure essence and thus leading to psychological phenomena such as gasoline.

– We have, therefore, dealing with an eidetic science, that is to say on the species.

Next to the eidetic reduction, the phenomenological reduction or epoch (in Greek, suspension of Judgement) is to put aside the objective world and to suspend any naïve adherence to it, so as to allow access to the transcendental ego, defined as the ultimate subject reached the end of the phenomenological reduction.

– What is the meaning of this bracketing releasing the transcendental ego? Through it, we refrain from using the certainties offered by the world, and this failure and this spiritual conversion, asserting that the ego, not as a thing or substance but as a pure “about meditation.”

For his elucidation of the meaning of the pitfalls that threaten the exercise of thought, by his desire to return to things themselves, to these species without which there is neither theory nor philosophy, nor thought, Husserl had on our century a considerable influence.

– But this influence is also due to the notion of intentionality, defined as the peculiarity that the consciousness of being conscious of something, like the need for consciousness to exist as consciousness of something other than itself.

By showing that consciousness is referred to something other than itself, Husserl, Sartre wrote like, put “an end to the cozy philosophy of immanence.” We reconstructed the world in its opacity and thickness.


Cite this article as: Tim, "Husserl’s Phenomenology, May 3, 2012, " in Philosophy & Philosophers, May 3, 2012,

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