Sunday Morning Husserl

husserl.jpgAlthough they aren’t coming out as fast as Heidegger’s, Volume 13 of Husserl’s Collected Works, Introduction to Logic and Theory of Knowledge. Lectures 1906/07 is about to be published in English translation. Here’s the blurb from the publisher:

This course on logic and theory of knowledge fell exactly midway between the publication of the Logical Investigations in 1900-01 and Ideas I in 1913. It constitutes a summation and consolidation of Husserl’s logico-scientific, epistemological, and epistemo-phenomenological investigations of the preceding years and an important step in the journey from the descriptivo-psychological elucidation of pure logic in the Logical Investigations to the transcendental phenomenology of the absolute consciousness of the objective correlates constituting themselves in its acts in Ideas I. In this course Husserl began developing his transcendental phenomenology as the genuine realization of what had only been realized in fragmentary form in the Logical Investigations.

Husserl considered that in the courses that he gave at the University of Göttingen he had progressed well beyond the insights of the Logical Investigations. Once he exposed the objective theoretical scaffolding needed to keep philosophers from falling into the quagmires of psychologism and skepticism, he set out on his voyage of discovery of the world of the intentional consciousness and to introduce the phenomenological analyses of knowledge that were to yield the general concepts of knowledge needed to solve the most recalcitrant problems of theory of knowledge understood as the investigation of the thorny problems involving the relationship of the subjectivity of the knower to the objectivity of what is known.

This translation appears at a time when philosophers in English-speaking countries have heartily embraced the thoughts of Husserl’s German contemporary Gottlob Frege and his concerns. It is replete with insights into matters that many philosophers have been primed to appreciate out of enthusiasm for Frege’s ideas. Among these are: his anti-psychologism, meaning, the foundations of mathematics, logic, science, and knowledge, his questions about sets and classes, intensions, identity, calculating with concepts, perspicuity, and even his idealism.

10 thoughts on “Sunday Morning Husserl

  1. I was actually really excited bout this book (partly because I think Husserl is far more ‘radical,’ or progressive than most people think, and partly because no one really reads him), until I noticed the price at amazon: $269 USD!

    How does anyone other than libraries afford the Husserliana!?

  2. Husserl has come way down in price. From what I understand, Kluwer was bought out and the new owners are actually offering the books at a reasonable price.

    I personally find the static phenomenology of the period between the Investigations and Ideas to be deeply problematic, but Husserl’s shift to genetic phenomenology beginning in the 20s with works like Analyses Concerning Passave and Active Synthesis are deeply interesting and significant. Husserl’s genetic phenomenology is little known outside of Husserlian circles, which accounts for the generally dim reception of his work based on the essentialism of the Investigations and Ideas and its focus on the abstract transcendental ego divorced from world and social relations which most subsequent Continental thought rightly departed from in favor of a subject of the social. It wasn’t until later that Husserl began to correct these errors, though never completely as in the case of thinkers like Heidegger or Merleau-Ponty.

  3. Husserl’s work on affect/affection and more broadly, sense, is quite interesting in Analyses Concerning Passive and Active Synthesis, I think Levinas took this later work quite seriously, esp. in his dissertation and the work found at times in the pieces collected in Discovering Existence with Husserl. Often, Levinas is seen as simply rejecting Husserl’s transcendental ego, but I think he was quite sensitive to the whole of Husserl’s work.

  4. I’m less familiar with Levinas, but I do find that Merleau-Ponty often reads like a commentary on Ideas II, Analyses Concerning Passive and Active Synthesis, and Experience and Judgment. These works have been constant reference points for me, though I don’t often write directly about Husserl (my Master’s thesis, paradoxically written after my dissertation, was on Husserl and Derrida). I’ve read Levinas’ Theory of Intuition in Husserl’s Phenomenology, but not Discovering Existence. I’ll have to track it down.

  5. I haven’t read his latest, but his book on Husserl and Derrida, as well as his book on Bergson and the other on French Continental philosophy were all excellent. It’s a shame about the latest. Just as scholarship on post-structuralist French thought often seems to produce a particular species of “awful book”, there sometimes seems to be a similar peril internal to phenomenology (as can be seen in the cases of Caputo, Krell, etc). Hopefully this was only a temporary misstep in an otherwise excellent body of work.

  6. This problem seems to emerge specifically when American Continentalist try to “do” philosophy. Our training tends to prepare us to be intellectual historians, not philosophers. It would be nice to see that change.

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