Archive for the ‘phenomenology’ Category

Edmund Husserl (1859-1938)

February 5, 2009

Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) Although not the first to coin the term, it is uncontroversial to suggest that the German philosopher, Edmund Husserl (1859-1938), is the “father” of the philosophical movement known as phenomenology. Phenomenology can be roughly described as the sustained attempt to describe experiences (and the “things themselves”) without metaphysical and theoretical speculations. Husserl suggested that only by suspending or bracketing away the “natural attitude” could philosophy becomes its own distinctive and rigorous science, and he insisted that phenomenology is a science of consciousness rather than of empirical things. Indeed, in Husserl’s hands phenomenology began as a critique of both psychologism and naturalism. Naturalism is the thesis that everything belongs to the world of nature and can be studied by the methods appropriate to studying that world (that is, the methods of the hard sciences). Husserl argued that the study of consciousness must actually be very different from the study of nature. For him, phenomenology does not proceed from the collection of large amounts of data and to a general theory beyond the data itself, as in the scientific method of induction. Rather, it aims to look at particular examples without theoretical presuppositions (such as the phenomena of intentionality, of love, of two hands touching each other, and so forth), before then discerning what is essential and necessary to these experiences. Although all of the key, subsequent phenomenologists (Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Gadamer, Levinas, Derrida) have contested aspects of Husserl’s characterization of phenomenology, they have nonetheless been heavily indebted to him. As such, he is arguably one of the most important and influential philosophers of the twentieth century. The key features of his work, and his understanding of the phenomenological method, are considered in what follows.

The elaboration of phenomenology

Some years after the publication of his main work, the Logische Untersuchungen (Logical Investigations; first edition, 1900-1901) Husserl made some key conceptual elaborations which led him to assert that in order to study the structure of consciousness, one would have to distinguish between the act of consciousness and the phenomena at which it is directed (the object-in-itself, transcendent to consciousness). Knowledge of essences would only be possible by “bracketing” all assumptions about the existence of an external world. This procedure he called epoché. These new concepts prompted the publication of the Ideen (Ideas) in 1913, in which they were at first incorporated, and a plan for a second edition of the Logische Untersuchungen.

From the Ideen onward, Husserl concentrated on the ideal, essential structures of consciousness. The metaphysical problem of establishing the material reality of what we perceive was of little interest to Husserl in spite of his being a transcendental idealist. Husserl proposed that the world of objects and ways in which we direct ourselves toward and perceive those objects is normally conceived of in what he called the “natural standpoint”, which is characterized by a belief that objects materially exist and exhibit properties that we see as emanating from them. Husserl proposed a radical new phenomenological way of looking at objects by examining how we, in our many ways of being intentionally directed toward them, actually “constitute” them (to be distinguished from materially creating objects or objects merely being figments of the imagination); in the Phenomenological standpoint, the object ceases to be something simply “external” and ceases to be seen as providing indicators about what it is, and becomes a grouping of perceptual and functional aspects that imply one another under the idea of a particular object or “type”. The notion of objects as real is not expelled by phenomenology, but “bracketed” as a way in which we regard objects instead of a feature that inheres in an object’s essence founded in the relation between the object and the perceiver. In order to better understand the world of appearances and objects, phenomenology attempts to identify the invariant features of how objects are perceived and pushes attributions of reality into their role as an attribution about the things we perceive (or an assumption underlying how we perceive objects).

In a later period, Husserl began to wrestle with the complicated issues of intersubjectivity (specifically, how communication about an object can be assumed to refer to the same ideal entity) and tries new methods of bringing his readers to understand the importance of phenomenology to scientific inquiry (and specifically to psychology) and what it means to “bracket” the natural attitude. The Crisis of the European Sciences is Husserl’s unfinished work that deals most directly with these issues. In it, Husserl for the first time attempts a historical overview of the development of Western philosophy and science, emphasizing the challenges presented by their increasingly (one-sidedly) empirical and naturalistic orientation. Husserl declares that mental and spiritual reality possess their own reality independent of any physical basis, and that a science of the mind (‘Geisteswissenschaft‘) must be established on as scientific a foundation as the natural sciences have managed:

“It is my conviction that intentional phenomenology has for the first time made spirit as spirit the field of systematic scientific experience, thus effecting a total transformation of the task of knowledge.”

The Nazi era

Professor Husserl was denied the use of the library at Freiburg as a result of the anti-Jewish legislation the National Socialists (Nazis) passed in April 1933. It is rumoured that his former pupil and Nazi Party member, Martin Heidegger, informed Husserl that he was discharged, but Heidegger later denied this, labelling it as slander. Heidegger (whose philosophy Husserl considered to be the result of a faulty departure from, and grave misunderstanding of, Husserl’s own teachings and methods) removed the dedication to Husserl from his most widely known work, Being and Time, when it was reissued in 1941. This was not due to diminishing relations between the two philosophers, however, but rather as a result of a suggested censorship by Heidegger’s publisher who feared that the book may be banned by the Nazi regime. The dedication can still be found in a footnote on page 38, thanking Husserl for his guidance and generosity. The philosophical relation between Husserl and Heidegger is discussed at length by Bernard Stiegler in the film The Ister.

After his death, Husserl’s manuscripts, amounting to approximately 40,000 pages of “Gabelsbergerstenography and his complete research library, were smuggled to Belgium by Herman Van Breda in 1939 and deposited at Leuven to form the Husserl-Archives of the Higher Institute of Philosophy. Much of the material in his research manuscripts has been published in the Husserliana critical edition series.

The Philosophy of Edmund Husserl

Meaning and Object in Husserl

From Logical Investigations (1900/1901) to Experience and Judgment (published in 1939), Husserl expressed clearly the difference between meaning and object. He identified several different kinds of names. For example, there are names that have the role of properties that uniquely identify an object. Each of these names express a meaning and designate the same object. Examples of this are “the victor in Jena” and “the loser in Waterloo”, or “the equilateral triangle” and “the equiangular triangle”; in both cases, both names express different meanings, but designate the same object. There are names which have no meaning, but have the role of designating an object: “Aristotle”, “Socrates”, and so on. Finally, there are names which designate a variety of objects. These are called “universal names”; their meaning is a “concept” and refers to a series of objects (the extension of the concept). The way we know sensible objects is called “sensible intuition”.

Husserl also identifies a series of “formal words” which are necessary to form sentences and have no sensible correlates. Examples of formal words are “a”, “the”, “more than”, “over”, “under”, “two”, “group”, and so on. Every sentence must contain formal words to designate what Husserl calls “formal categories”. There are two kinds of categories: meaning categories and formal-ontological categories. Meaning categories relate judgments; they include forms of conjunction, disjunction, forms of plural, among others. Formal-ontological categories relate objects and include notions such as set, cardinal number, ordinal number, part and whole, relation, and so on. The way we know these categories is through a faculty of understanding called “categorial intuition”.

Through sensible intuition our consciousness constitutes what Husserl calls a “situation of affairs” (Sachlage). It is a passive constitution where objects themselves are presented to us. To this situation of affairs, through categorial intuition, we are able to constitute a “state of affairs” (Sachverhalt). One situation of affairs through objective acts of consciousness (acts of constituting categorially) can serve as the basis for constituting multiple states of affairs. For example, suppose a and b are two sensible objects in a certain situation of affairs. We can use it as basis to say, “a<b” and “b>a“, two judgments which designate different states of affairs. For Husserl a sentence has a proposition or judgment as its meaning, and refers to a state of affairs which has a situation of affairs as a reference base.

Philosophy of Logic and Mathematics

Husserl believed that truth-in-itself has as ontological correlate being-in-itself, just as meaning categories have formal-ontological categories as correlates. Logic is a formal theory of judgment, that studies the formal a priori relations among judgments using meaning categories. Mathematics, on the other hand, is formal ontology; it studies all the possible forms of being (of objects). Hence for both logic and mathematics, the different formal categories are the objects of study, not the sensible objects themselves. The problem with the psychological approach to mathematics and logic is that it fails to account for the fact that this approach is about formal categories, and not simply about abstractions from sensibility alone. The reason why we do not deal with sensible objects in mathematics is because of another faculty of understanding called “categorial abstraction.” Through this faculty we are able to get rid of sensible components of judgments, and just focus on formal categories themselves.

Thanks to “eidetic intuition” (or “essential intuition”), we are able to grasp the possibility, impossibility, necessity and contingency among concepts and among formal categories. Categorial intuition, along with categorial abstraction and eidetic intuition, are the basis for logical and mathematical knowledge.

Husserl criticized the logicians of his day for not focusing on the relation between subjective processes that give us objective knowledge of pure logic. All subjective activities of consciousness need an ideal correlate, and objective logic (constituted noematically) as it is constituted by consciousness needs a noetic correlate (the subjective activities of consciousness).

Husserl stated that logic has three strata, each further away from consciousness and psychology than those that precede it.

  • The first stratum is what Husserl called a “morphology of meanings” concerning a priori ways to relate judgments to make them meaningful. In this stratum we elaborate a “pure grammar” or a logical syntax, and he would call its rules “laws to prevent non-sense”, which would be similar to what logic calls today “formation rules“. Mathematics, as logic’s ontological correlate, also has a similar stratum, a “morphology of formal-ontological categories”.
  • The second stratum would be called by Husserl “logic of consequence” or the “logic of non-contradiction” which explores all possible forms of true judgments. He includes here syllogistic classic logic, propositional logic and that of predicates. This is a semantic stratum, and the rules of this stratum would be the “laws to avoid counter-sense” or “laws to prevent contradiction”. They are very similar to today’s logic “transformation rules“. Mathematics also has a similar stratum which is based among others on pure theory of pluralities, and a pure theory of numbers. They provide a science of the conditions of possibility of any theory whatsoever. Husserl also talked about what he called “logic of truth” which consists of the formal laws of possible truth and its modalities, and precedes the third logical third stratum.
  • The third stratum is metalogical, what he called a “theory of all possible forms of theories.” It explores all possible theories in an a priori fashion, rather than the possibility of theory in general. We could establish theories of possible relations between pure forms of theories, investigate these logical relations and the deductions from such general connection. The logician is free to see the extension of this deductive, theoretical sphere of pure logic.

The ontological correlate to the third stratum is the “theory of manifolds” In formal ontology, it is a free investigation where a mathematician can assign several meanings to several symbols, and all their possible valid deductions in a general and indeterminate manner. It is, properly speaking, the most universal mathematics of all. Through the posit of certain indeterminate objects (formal-ontological categories) as well as any combination of mathematical axioms, mathematicians can explore the apodeictic connections between them, as long as consistency is preserved.

According to Husserl, this view of logic and mathematics accounted for the objectivity of a series of mathematical developments of his time, such as n-dimensional manifolds (both Euclidean and non-Euclidean), Hermann Grassmann‘s theory of extensions, William Rowan Hamilton‘s Hamiltonians, Sophus Lie‘s theory of transformation groups, and Cantor’s set theory.

Zentrale Gedanken und Begriffe

Erkenntnis ist zwar an psychische und physiologische Prozesse gebunden, sie ist aber nicht mit diesen identisch. Aus einem empirisch psychologischen Satz kann niemals eine logische Norm abgeleitet werden. Empirische Sätze sind wahrscheinlich und können falsifiziert werden. Logik hingegen unterliegt nicht der Kausalität. Philosophie als Wissenschaft kann sich daher nicht an den Naturalismus binden. Philosophie, Erkenntnistheorie, Logik und reine Mathematik sind Idealwissenschaften, deren Gesetze ideale Wahrheiten a priori ausdrücken.

Phänomenologie als Wesensschau des Gegebenen soll die voraussetzungslose Grundlage allen Wissens sein.

Intentionalität des Bewusstseins: Intentionalität ist die Gerichtetheit des Bewusstseins auf einen Gegenstand (Sachverhalt). Es gibt kein reines Subjekt und kein reines Objekt (Noema), sondern beide sind stets verbunden durch den Akt des Bewusstwerdens (Noesis), in dem die Gegenstände konstituiert werden. Alle Akte des Bewusstseins sind sinnstiftend und konstituieren überhaupt erst ihre Gegenstände. Ein bewusstseinstranszendentes „eigentliches An-sich“ der Dinge (wie noch bei Kant) existiert somit nicht. Diese Sichtweise übernahm Husserl von Franz Brentano.

Phänomenologische Reduktion: Um den wahren Wesensgehalt eines Gegenstandes zu erkennen, müssen wir unsere Einstellung zu ihm ändern. Wir müssen uns jeglichen (Vor-)Urteils ihm gegenüber enthalten. Um sich einem Gegenstand entsprechend zu nähern, muss man von jeglicher Theorie, auch den naturwissenschaftlichen absehen. Erst durch Ausschaltung aller Setzungen erscheint die Welt in ihren tatsächlichen Strukturen. Dieses Sich-zurück-nehmen nannte Husserl Epoché, beziehungsweise Einklammerung.

Der Akt, in dem ein Gegenstand unmittelbar gegeben ist, ist die kategoriale Anschauung. Der gegebene Gegenstand als vermeinter Gegenstand enthält über die rein sinnliche Wahrnehmung hinaus einen Überschuss an Intentionalität, wie er in Wörtern wie „dieser“, „ist“ oder „er“ zum Ausdruck kommt, die jenseits des Sinnlichen liegen.

Eidetische Variation: Der einzelne Gegenstand ist mit Zufälligkeit behaftet. Wenn ich zu seinem Wesen vordringen will, muss ich das Notwendige in ihm erfassen. Wesensgesetze machen den Sinn eines Gegenstandes aus. Durch Variation der Eigenschaften des Gegenstandes findet man heraus, was das Wesensnotwendige ist.

Wahrheit ist die volle Übereinstimmung von Gemeintem und Gegebenem. Das Erlebnis der Übereinstimmung ist die Evidenz oder Intuition. Evidenz in diesem Sinne ist kein Gewissheitserlebnis, sondern die unmittelbare Erfahrung. Evidenz im Sinne Husserls ist korrigierbar, wenn sich im Nachhinein zeigt, dass die damalige Erfahrung nicht zutreffend war.

Eidetische Reduktion: Aus der durch die Enthaltung gewonnenen Neutralität heraus ist es nun möglich, zum Wesen einer Sache, beziehungsweise „zu den Sachen selbst“ vorzudringen. Jetzt sind nur noch die Bewusstseinsakte selbst Gegenstand der Betrachtung. Die Existenz des Gegenstandes wird „transzendiert“. Was übrigbleibt, ist die „absolute Seinsregion des Bewusstseins“ selbst. Mit dieser eidetischen Reduktion gelingt eine Wesensschau, die uns zeigt, wie sich die Welt im Bewusstsein konstituiert.

Philosophie als strenge Wissenschaft

Husserl antwortete auf Diltheys 1911 erschienene Weltanschauungsphilosophie noch im selben Jahr mit dem Aufsatz „Philosophie als Strenge Wissenschaft“ Husserl weist dort zunächst den Naturalismus zurück, da dieser sich nicht selbst über seine erkenntnistheoretischen Voraussetzungen Klarheit verschaffen kann. Dies kann nur eine „wissenschaftliche Wesenserkenntnis des Bewußtseins“ leisten und diese ist die Phänomenologie. Sie ermittelt das was allen individuellen Bewußtseinsakten gemeinsam ist, nämlich Bewußtsein von… zu sein, d.h. sie meinen ein Gegenständliches. Im Absehen von dem im von… gemeinten ergibt sich das Wesen der Bewußtseinsakte, es läßt sich als „objektive Einheit fixieren“.

Die Feststellung objektiv gültiger Tatsachen ist möglich, weil, auch wenn diese historisch Gewordene sind, sie trotzdem absolut gültig sein können – die Genesis beeinträchtigt nicht die Geltung. Als Beispiel eines Systems notwendiger Sätze nennt Husserl die Mathematik, welche für die Beurteilung der Wahrheit ihrer Theorien sich überhaupt nicht an der Historie orientieren kann. „Die ‘Idee’ der Wissenschaft […] ist eine überzeitliche, […] durch keine Relation auf den Geist einer Zeit begrenzt.“ Husserl proklamiert daher gegen die Weltanschauungsphilosophie den „Wille[n] zu strenger Wissenschaft“.

Les quatre grands principes de la phénoménologie transcendantale

La phénoménologie transcendantale est d’abord un système méthodologique d’accès à la vérité des choses. C’est pourquoi Husserl développera toute sa vie quelques principes méthodologiques fondamentaux, sur lesquels il reviendra souvent au court de sa carrière.


L’épochè révèle également par là, d’un point de vue méthodologique, l’une des structures fondamentales de la phénoménologie, une structure transcendantale du cogito : c’est l’intentionnalité. C’est de son maître Franz Brentano que Husserl reprend ce concept. Il désigne le caractère fondamentalement orienté de la conscience vis-à-vis d’un objet, quel qu’il soit. L’intentionnalité est le fait d’« être conscient de ». La conscience n’a pas le même mode d’être que des objets physiques, et c’est la structure de l’intentionnalité qui distingue le psychique du physique.

La conscience n’est pas une boîte dans laquelle entrent des images, des perceptions, etc., mais elle est à chaque fois une visée (la visée intentionnelle), qui est donneuse de sens. Par exemple, la perception d’une pomme n’est pas l’imagination d’une pomme, quoique l’objet visé (ou noème) soit le même : ce qui diffère, c’est la nature de l’acte de visée (ou noèse).

La réduction phénoménologique

Mais comment dégager ces essences à partir de l’expérience commune (Husserl dit souvent « naïve ») de la conscience, si cette expérience est toujours particulière ? Comment prétendre sortir l’universel du particulier sans sombrer dans l’arbitraire ?

L’attitude naturelle

Lorsque Husserl part à la recherche d’un fondement absolument certain, il cherche une vérité apodictique. En regardant les modes de procéder des sciences, il se rend compte qu’elles sont positives et naturellement réalistes. Mais, il en vient naturellement à se demander si l’existence du monde est, elle aussi, une évidence apodictique? Il se trouve que l’objectivité du monde est naïve, chaque affirmation positive sur le monde, qui n’a pas été soumis à la réduction, est prise dans ce que Husserl appelle l’attitude naturelle. 1° Husserl ne nie pas l’antériorité du monde dans chaque affirmation scientifique sur ce monde. 2° mais cette antériorité suffit-elle à rendre l’existence du monde incontestable, indubitable ?

La réduction phénoménologique

Pour sortir de ce paradoxe, Husserl avance la notion d’épochè, qu’il emprunte, une fois encore, à la tradition philosophique (ce terme grec a été utilisé par les Sceptiques dans le sens de « suspension du jugement »). L’épochè consiste à « mettre entre parenthèses » tout acquis préalable (jugement, opinion, croyance, hypothèse, etc.) sur un vécu de conscience quel qu’il soit, ou mieux encore, tout ce qui ne se donne pas dans l’expérience, révélant ainsi, par cette « pureté analytique » radicale, sa seule structure universelle. Elle n’est pas synonyme de la « variation eidétique », concept également forgé par Husserl et signifiant une complétude progressive en variant les angles d’approche (mémoire, imagination, etc.). Cette notion d’épochè est définie, dans les Méditations cartésiennes, comme « la méthode universelle et radicale par laquelle je me saisis comme moi pur, avec la vie de conscience pure qui m’est propre, vie dans et par laquelle le monde objectif tout entier existe pour moi, tel justement qu’il existe pour moi ». Cette méthode résulte de l’évidence apodictique d’un ego cogito qui est universel par sa présence chez tous les êtres pensants. Cette filiation cartésienne repose sur le doute hyperbolique qui laisse place à la certitude d’un être premier : l’ego constitutif. Je ne puis douter que je doute, donc je suis.

Le cogito, ou le sujet transcendantal

C’est dans le cogito que Husserl trouve le fondement absolu de sa philosophie : c’est une notion qu’il emprunte à Descartes, selon une filiation qu’il revendique explicitement dans ses Méditations cartésiennes (dont Emmanuel Lévinas assurera la traduction française). Toutefois Husserl radicalise le cogito cartésien, en en faisant non plus un premier axiome, mais le fondement même de tous les axiomes. Ce cogito est le moi transcendantal, c’est-à-dire le moi pur qui est dévoilé par la réduction phénoménologique. Ce moi transcendantal est distinct du moi psychologique, en tant que la psychologie étudie les phénomènes psychiques de manière objective, dans l’attitude du monde.

Pourquoi est-ce un fondement absolu ?

  • parce que c’est un principe auquel toute expérience revient, qui fonde toute expérience ;
  • parce qu’il n’est pas lui-même fondé (sans quoi l’on risquerait une régression à l’infini de principe en principe) ;
  • parce qu’il est universel, c’est-à-dire partagé par tous les humains, et en tout temps.

La critique du cogito cartésien

Le cogito de Husserl est toutefois différent de celui de Descartes, car il est, pour le fondateur de la phénoménologie, une pure intentionnalité. Ainsi Husserl critiquera Descartes sur le fait que ce dernier aurait réifié le cogito, en en faisant notamment un axiome, duquel sera déduit ordine géométrico les substances étendues, pensantes, et Dieu. Ses trois grandes critiques sont présentées dans la 1ère Méditations cartésiennes :

  • PRÉSUPPOSÉS SCOLASTIQUES chez Descartes, montrés notamment par Etienne Gilson.
  • PRÉJUGÉ POUR LES MATHÉMATIQUES Le fait de prendre le cogito comme axiome à partir duquel sera déduit le reste (substance spirituelle, étendue, Dieu, etc.) ordine géométrico.

En faire un axiome n’est pas suffisant, car il est le fondement de tous les axiomes. Filigrane de Husserl : Reconductibilité d’un a-priori logique à un a-priori noétique.

  • LE STATUT DU COGITO dans le monde : 1° en faire un axiome apodictique, c’est en faire une « chose du monde », c’est l’inscrire dans une attitude naturelle qui doit rester constamment en suspend chez Husserl. 2° En faire une res cogitans : le moi pur n’est pas une chose puisqu’il ne se donne pas à lui même comme les choses lui sont données.

La phénoménologie comme science eidétique

L’acceptation du cogito comme fondement absolu a pour conséquence naturelle de placer l’étude de la conscience au centre des préoccupations de la phénoménologie. Comme dans la Phénoménologie de l’esprit de Hegel, la phénoménologie husserlienne est donc une science de la conscience – mais c’est peut-être l’un des rares rapprochements possibles entre les deux entreprises, qui restent très différentes.

La phénoménologie est la science des phénomènes, de ce qui apparaît à la conscience. Pour rendre possible cette science, il faut « revenir aux choses mêmes » : les décrire telles qu’elles se présentent à la conscience.

La véritable connaissance est la connaissance des essences, c’est-à-dire de ce qui demeure invariant dans les modifications de perspectives que l’esprit a sur les choses. En effet, tout objet a ses déterminations d’après la perspective de la conscience ; l’objet vécu ne sera donc donné en totalité que par la synthèse totale des points de vue. Ainsi, pour décrire la structure des phénomènes, encore faut-il que la conscience perçoive, par l’intuition, ces essences.

C’est par allusion à Platon que Husserl appelle essences ces structures universelles que la phénoménologie entend dégager et fonder sur le cogito. Si Husserl reprend ce terme, l’un des plus vieux de la philosophie, c’est parce qu’il se situe dans une tradition philosophique qu’il entend réaliser. La philosophie est un projet consistant à vouloir dégager la structure rationnelle du monde : la phénoménologie a les moyens de réaliser ce projet.

Aperçus sur l’ontologie husserlienne

On pourra se reporter à l’ouvrage de Jacques Derrida de La Grammatologie (1967) qui l’évoque dans son chapitre II et dont ces lignes sont inspirées. Il est important de comprendre que la structure hylè-morphè recoupant intuitivement le couple conceptuel matière-forme, bien qu’elle soit une composante réelle reell et on real du vécu, n’est pas en elle-même une réalité Realität. Derrida : « Quant à l’objet intentionnel, par exemple le contenu d’une image, il n’appartient réellement reell ni au monde ni au vécu ». Est-ce à dire qu’il n’a aucune consistance ? Certes non, il s’agit pour Husserl d’une composante non-réelle du vécu. On voit donc que son ontologie emprunte un vocabulaire déroutant pour la tradition et que la zone du vécu accueille des types de strates hiérarchisées : la réalité, la composante réelle de la structure hylé-morphé et la composante non-réelle de l’objet intentionnel. Ici non-réel n’est aucunement synonyme d’inexistence. Simplement, l’objet intentionnel doit être appréhendé de manière nettement plus subjectiviste que les idéalités objectives platoniciennes. Conclusion: l’image acoustique par exemple, en tant qu’objet intentionnel,ne doit pas être analysée comme la copie de la réalité externe par la réalité interne. Il s’agit précisément de refouler le modèle du portrait critiqué dans les Ideen I et de surmonter l’opposition entre la réalité extérieure et la réalité intérieure.


Presentazioni e Rappresentazioni

Da Brentano e Stumpf riprende la distinzione tra il modo proprio ed improprio di presentare (Vorstellen). Husserl spiega questa distinzione con un esempio: se uno si trova di fronte ad una casa, egli ha una presentazione propria e diretta di questa casa nell’intuizione (Anschauung), ma se uno la stesse cercando e avesse solo una descrizione (la casa all’angolo tra le strade tale e tale), allora questa descrizione sarebbe una presentazione indiretta ed impropria della casa.

In altre parole, una presentazione propria è possibile solo quando si ha accesso all’oggetto presentato in maniera diretta, quando è attualmente presente. Una presentazione impropria si ha quando questo non è possibile, e bisogna ricorre a maniere indirette, come segni, simboli, descrizioni, etc., i quali costituiscono una presentazione indiretta ed impropria.

Un ulteriore elemento importante che Husserl prese da Brentano è quello dell’intenzionalità, l’idea che la coscienza sia sempre intenzionale, cioè che sia diretta ad un oggetto, che abbia un contenuto. Brentano definì l’intenzionalità come la caratteristica principale dei fenomeni psichici (o mentali), tramite cui essi possono essere distinti dai fenomeni fisici.

Ogni fenomeno mentale, ogni atto psicologico ha un contenuto, è diretto a qualche cosa (l’oggetto intenzionale). Ogni credere, desiderare, etc. ha un oggetto: il creduto, il desiderato. Brentano adopera l’espressione “inesistenza intenzionale” per indicare l'”esistenza” degli oggetti nella mente.

La riduzione fenomenologica

Husserl introduce il concetto di riduzione nelle sue lezioni del 1906/1907 (Introduzione alla Logica ed Epistemologia), e nel 1907 nelle sue cinque lezioni introduttive sull’idea della fenomenologia. In questi due cicli di lezioni Husserl pone la domanda di come sia possibile una conoscenza vera. Si tratta di indagare criticamente i fondamenti e la giustificazione della validità della conoscenza scientifica, e per fare ciò la fenomenologia dev’essere “purificata” da assunzioni e pregiudizi superflui e fuorvianti. La riduzione fenomenologica serve proprio a questo, ed il suo ruolo epistemologico viene indicato chiaramente anche dal fatto che all’inizio Husserl parlasse proprio di una “riduzione epistemologica” (Erkenntnistheoretische Reduktion).

Husserl estudou inicialmente matemática nas universidades de Leipzig (1876) e Berlin (1878), seguindo as lições de Karl Weierstrass e Leopold Kronecker. Em 1881, vai a Viena para estudar sob a direção de Leo Königsberger (antigo aluno de Weierstrass), obtendo seu doutorado em 1883, apresentando a tese Beiträge zur Variationsrechnung (« Contribuições ao calculo das variações »).

Em 1884, começa a atender as lições de Franz Brentano em filosofía na Universidade de Viena. Brentano tanto impressionou Husserl que ele prentende então dedicar sua vida à filosofia. Em 1886 Husserl vai à Universidade de Halle, recomendado por Brentano para Carl Stumpf para sua habilitação. Sob sua direção, Husserl escreve Über den Begriff der Zahl (« Sobre o Conceito do Número », 1887) cujos arquivos fornecerão as bases de sua primeira obra importante, Philosophie der Arithmetic (“Filosofia da Aritmetica”, 1891). Nessas primeiras pesquisas, Husserl tenta combinar matemática com a filosofia empírica pela qual tinha sido iniciado em Viena. Seu objetivo central será contribuir no fornecimento de fundações sólidas para a ciência matemática. O tema de seu estudo será a análise dos processos mentais necessários para a formação do conceito de número; baseado em suas próprias análises, como nos métodos atípicos de seus professores, tentará projetar a possibilidade de uma teoria sistemática. Em relação ao ensino de Karl Weiestrass, Husserl tenta derivar a idéia de que o conceito de número se obtém por um “desconto” de certas coleções de objetos; em respeito a Brentano-Stumpf, Husserl desenvolve a distinção entre as noções de presentações próprias e impróprias. Temos uma presentação própria quando o objeto está “atualmente” presente (no campo de vista, contexto ou intuição). Imprópria (ou simbólica, como também é referida), se podemos indicá-lo somente através de signos, símbolos etc. As Investigações Lógicas, de 1901, foram interpretadas como o início da teoria simbólica dos conjuntos e suas partes, também referida como mereologia.

Outro elemento importante herdado por Brentano foi a noção de intencionalidade, que define a forma essencial dos processos mentais. Uma definição simples dirá que a principal característica da consciência é de ser sempre intencional. A consciência sempre é consciência de alguma coisa : a análise intencional e descritiva da consciência definirá as relações essenciais entre atos mentais e mundo externo. Mas, para Brentano, o objetivo fora gerar com métodos empíricos (apoiando-se na introspecção pura), um critério-chave que possa caracterizar os fenômenos psíquicos por oposto aos fenômenos físicos, distinção cujo objetivo fora legitimar uma ciência psicológica nova, e livre de preconceitos (Psychologie vom empirischen Standpunkt, 1874). Para Brentano, todo ato mental tem seus conteúdos, caracterizados por sua direção a um objeto (“objeto intencional”). Toda crença, desejo, tem necessariamente seus objetos : o desejado, o acreditado, etc. Brentano usou da expressão “inexistência intencional” para indicar o status, na mente, dos objetos do pensamento. Com a noção de intencionalidade, o filósofo austríaco propôs um conjunto de traços que distinguiriam de maneira perfeitamente empírica os fenômenos psíquicos dos fenômenos físicos : para Brentano, fenômenos físicos não tem intencionalidade. O desenvolvimento e a crítica do conceito brentaniano aparece como o motivo permanente, central, da obra de Edmund Husserl. A principal diferença, em sua interpretação da noção de intencionalidade, aparece na crítica de seu modo in-existente (“inexistência” como existencia “interna”): a transcendência necessária da mente e do discurso, a objetividade óbvia e no entanto contraditória do porvenir científico e histórico, a objetividade radical, constituidora, da subjetividade formarão a marca do trabalho do primeiro fenomenologista, e seus elementos próprios de fascinação.

Alguns anos após a publicação de sua principal obra, as Logische Untersuchungen (Investigações Lógicas; primeira edição, 1900-1901), Husserl elaborou alguns conceitos-chave que o levaram a afirmar que para estudar a estrutura da consciência seria necessário distinguir entre o ato de consciência e o fenômeno ao qual ele é dirigido (o objeto-em-si, transcendente à consciência). O conhecimento das essências seria possível apenas se “colocamos entre parênteses” todos os pressupostos relativos à existência de um mundo externo. Este procedimento ele denominou epoché. Estes novos conceito provocaram a publicação de Ideen (Idéias) em 1913, no qual eles foram pela primeira vez incorporados, e um plano para uma segunda edição das Logische Untersuchungen.

A partir de Ideen, Husserl se concentrou nas estruturas ideais, essenciais da consciência. O problema metafísico de estabelecer a realidade material daquilo que percebemos era de pequeno interesse para Husserl (diferentemente do que ocorria quando ele tinha que defender repetidamente sua posição a respeito do idealismo transcendental, que jamais propôs a inexistência de objetos materiais reais). Husserl propôs que o mundo dos objetos e modos nos quais dirigimo-nos a eles e percebemos aqueles objetos é normalmente concebido dentro do que ele denominou “ponto de vista natural”, caracterizado por uma crença de que os objetos existem materialmente e exibem propriedades que vemos como suas emanações. Husserl propôs um modo fenomenológico radicalmente novo de observar os objetos, examinando de que forma nós, em nossos diversos modos de ser intencionalmente dirigidos a eles, de fato os “constituimos” (para distinguir da criação material de objetos ou objetos que são mero fruto da imaginação); no ponto de vista Fenomenológico, o objeto deixa de ser algo simplesmente “externo” e deixa de ser visto como fonte de indicações sobre o que ele é (um olhar que é mais explicitamente delineado pelas ciências naturais), e torna-se um agrupamento de aspectos perceptivos e funcionais que implicam um ao outro sob a idéia de um objeto particular ou “tipo”. A noção de objetos como real não é removida pela fenomenologia, mas “posta entre parênteses” como um modo pelo qual levamos em consideração os objetos em vez de uma qualidade inerente à essência de um objeto fundada na relação entre o objeto e aquele que o percebe. Para melhor entender o mundo das aparências e objetos, a Fenomenologia busca identificar os aspectos invariáveis da percepção dos objetos e empurra os atributos da realidade para o papel de atributo do que é percebido (ou um pressuposto que perpassa o modo como percebemos os objetos).

Em um período posterior, Husserl começou a se debater com as complicadas questões da intersubjetividade (especificamente, como a comunicação sobre um objeto pode ser suposta como referindo-se à mesma entidade ideal) e experimenta novos métodos para fazer entender aos seus leitores a importância da Fenomenologia para a investigação científica (especificamente para a Psicologia) e o que significa “pôr entre parênteses” a atitude natural. A Crise das Ciências Européias é o trabalho inacabado de Husserl que lida mais diretamente com estas questões. Nele, Husserl pela primeira vez busca um panorama histórico do desenvolvimento da filosofia ocidental e da ciência, enfatizando os desafios apresentados pela sua crescente (unilateral) orientação empírica e naturalista. Husserl declara que a realidade mental e espiritual possui sua própria realidade independente de qualquer base física e que a ciência do espírito (Geisteswissenschaft) deve ser estabelecida sobre um fundamento tão científico como aquele alcançado pelas ciências naturais.

Como resultado da legislação anti-semita aprovada pelos nazistas em abril de 1933, foi negado ao Professor Husserl o acesso à biblioteca de Freiburg. Seu antigo pupilo e membro do partido nazista, Martin Heidegger, comunicou a Husserl sua demissão. Heidegger (cuja filosofia Husserl considerava ser o resultado de uma compreensão incorreta dos ensinamentos e dos métodos do próprio Husserl) retirou a dedicatória a Husserl de seu mais conhecido trabalho Ser e Tempo (Sein und Zeit), quando este foi reeditado em 1941.

Em 1939, os manuscritos de Husserl, que somavam aproximadamente 40.000 páginas taquigrafadas de Gabelsberger e sua pesquisa bibliográfica completa foi clandestinamente transportada para a Bélgica e depositada em Leuven onde foram criados os Husserl-Archives. Muito do material encontrado em suas pesquisas manuscritas foi publicado na série de edições críticas Husserliana.