Sociology Index


Edmund Gustav Albrecht Husserl

Edmund Gustav Albrecht Husserl (1859 – 1938) was a German philosopher of Jewish origin, who established the school of phenomenology. In his early work, he elaborated critiques of historicism and of psychologism in logic based on analyses of intentionality. Edmund Gustav Albrecht Husserl sought to develop a systematic foundational science based on the so-called phenomenological reduction. Arguing that transcendental consciousness sets the limits of all possible knowledge, Edmund Husserl redefined phenomenology as a transcendental-idealist philosophy. Husserl's thought profoundly influenced 20th-century philosophy, and he remains a notable figure in contemporary philosophy and beyond. 

Edmund Husserl studied mathematics, taught by Karl Weierstrass and Leo Königsberger, and philosophy taught by Franz Brentano and Carl Stumpf. He taught philosophy as a Privatdozent at Halle from 1887, then as professor, first at Göttingen from 1901, then at Freiburg from 1916 until he retired in 1928, after which he remained highly productive. In 1933, under racial laws, having been born to a Jewish family, he was expelled from the library of the University of Freiburg, and months later resigned from the Deutsche Akademie.

There has been a debate over whether or not Husserl's description of ownness and its movement into intersubjectivity is sufficient to reject the charge of solipsism, to which Descartes, for example, was subject. One argument against Husserl's description works this way: instead of infinity and the Deity being the ego's gateway to the Other, as in Descartes, Husserl's ego in the Cartesian Meditations itself becomes transcendent. Only the ego's grasp "by analogy" of the Other allows the possibility for an 'objective' intersubjectivity, and hence for community.

On 4 May 1933, Professor Edmund Husserl addressed the recent regime change in Germany and its consequences: The future alone will judge which was the true Germany in 1933, and who were the true Germans—those who subscribe to the more or less materialistic-mythical racial prejudices of the day, or those Germans pure in heart and mind, heirs to the great Germans of the past whose tradition they revere and perpetuate. - Richard Evans, The Coming of the Third Reich (Penguin 2003).