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Husserl himself had developed an individual style of working: all of his thoughts were conceived in writing—the minutes, so to speak, of the movement of his thought. During his life he produced more than 40, pages written in Gabelberger stenographic script. Dilthey saw the publication of the Logische Untersuchungen as a new encouragement to the further development of his own philosophical theory of the human sciences; and Husserl himself later acknowledged that his encounter with Dilthey had turned his attention to the historical life out of which all of the sciences originated and that, in so doing, it had opened for him the dimension of history as the foundation of every theory of knowledge.

Edmund Husserl. Article Media. Info Print Print. Table Of Contents. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. Lecturer at Halle. Influence as a teacher. Phenomenology as the universal science. Phenomenology and the renewal of spiritual life. Later years. And the physical is only one of many transcendent layers which are accessible by means of being conscious of them.

The following sections focus on the noema and mostly ignore transcendent objects. This means, however, entering a world very much unknown to us in our everyday lives. In order to find orientation in it, another methodological technique is required. But we bring something with us: our knowledge and experience. As the sphere we enter is largely unknown, however, our habitual assumptions and judgments that are true for the transcendent world might turn out to be dangerous prejudices here. What Husserl therefore demands is similar to a general amnesia of prejudices or a state of presuppositionlessness, as Zahavi , p.

The suppression of prejudices, which Husserl calls for, is only one methodological requirement for achieving a truthful description, however. There is another that seems to escape Husserl's attention. For not only do we need to withhold the blind application of concepts that we are already familiar with i. In other words: We need not only to watch and describe what we see without prejudice, as Husserl , p. This learning is not only one of new words or new word usage, it is also the acquisition of new meanings.

The association of these meanings with the words used in describing is a further and also problematic step see Smith, , p. One reason why Husserl overlooked the acquisition of meanings genuinely new to the describing subject was that he see , p. Assuming this rules out not only the necessity, but also the possibility, of acquiring new meanings.

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For they are all innate, ready to be spontaneously applied whenever called for. A second reason why Husserl overlooked this requirement is that he see Husserl, b , pp. This assumption renders it superfluous to ask for conceptual content in addition to a sensory intuition, as the latter seemingly provides the concept's meaning. These two prejudices of Husserl are important for understanding his proposed methodology.

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For the answer to the question of how to make sure that a proposition truthfully describes the newly entered sphere is simply: It has to be in full accord with what we intuitively experience. This process is thus a reduction of our description to exactly what we experience and is thereby Husserl's answer to questions 2 and 3 raised above. While this may sound simple, it is in fact one of the most challenging methodological requirements. Overcoming our prejudices as blind mechanisms of judging, which normally happen to us passively and without notice, is an arduous task.

The worry, however, is not that prejudices are always wrong. They can be right or wrong with regard to a given experience. It is their blind application , their passive happening to us, that is dangerous. For if they are wrong and we do not notice them, they distort our attempts to accurately describe our experience. To conclude: Husserl , p. Yet even if one grants that such a description can adequately express an experience, how do we ensure that the experience is generalizable and not idiosyncratic to a particular individual's consciousness?

In order to show how Husserl's method overcomes this obstacle, the concept of intentionality and the act of imagining need to be introduced. While the noema always lacks intuitive givenness of all its features, it is nonetheless entirely introspectively accessible and discernible see Husserl, , pp. For instance, I can easily notice and introspectively describe what I assume David to be like. While the result may sound like a description of a transcendent object, it is nonetheless a description of the way we are conscious of David.

The reason the noema is fully accessible to introspective inquiry is that it is a strict correlate of a conscious act , which is also introspectively accessible. Therefore, leaving out the transcendent object, when we perceive there are three elements involved: 1 the immanent object 2 the act or noesis 3 the noema as the result and correlate of this act. In fact, our experience of the world as such rests on countless conscious acts. These noetic acts also have a result or effect, namely the noema. These acts are carried out by you.

Therefore, you can say that you intend that red thing on the kitchen table as an apple. But upon closer inspection, it may turn out that it is actually a tomato. This would show that you can be aware of the way you intend a noema, though the transcendent object might call for a different way to intend it This also explains why, when you are searching for something, in a sense you already experience what you search—namely the noema as a way to intend that particular thing. Yet you only find what you search for when the thing that you intend also presents itself in an actual perception cf. Brandl, , pp.

That red thing motivates you to intend it as an apple; it does not cause you to intend it as an apple. In everyday life, most motivations and their respective intentions occur passively see Husserl, If you do, most of the time the intention will not be appropriate, so the freedom is not to see the world as you please.

The word motivation is employed because there are not just two factors involved, like cause and effect in mechanical causality, but also a subject. The immanent object thus motivates you to intend it as this rather than that noema, but you are free to try out a different one. This freedom underlying our experience of the world, the related possibility to err and the involvement of a subject, are the reason why it is appropriate to speak about your intention to see it this rather than that way.

Noticing the noesis means to become aware of a constituting activity that constantly underlies the experience of the world as we know it. This shows that phenomenology is not armchair reflection, but is the study of actual mental processes. The goal of phenomenology is to discover and describe consciousness by means of studying the essential conscious elements, acts, structures, and their interrelation. In order to further understand Husserl's method, the acts of imagining and perceiving must now be contrasted. Imagine an elephant in a whirlpool.

Now reflect: What just happened in your consciousness? While you imagined this scenario, you probably experienced something grayish for a moment. Notice that this grayish experience occurred in addition to your ongoing sensory impressions. Also, you were aware that this grayish experience was not something you perceived with your eyes. Instead it was something you experienced because you were imagining an elephant. During that attempt, your ongoing sensory impressions formed a kind of background to your imagination of the elephant, which was in the foreground of your awareness.

The image of the elephant was also probably more unstable compared to the sensations underlying your current perceptions, e. These differences with regard to ongoing sensations were the reason Husserl used a different word to name the experiences occurring in imagination. Phantasmata make up the immanent objects in acts of imagining.

In an act of perception, however, you experience a sensation and try, based on this sensation, to perceive the correlating object. This means that the sensation has the upper hand and you try to intend the adequate intentional object. This is usually reversed in acts of imagining. When you wish to imagine something, you know at the outset which intentional object you wish to imagine.

Your efforts are then geared toward experiencing a phantasma that is a suitable basis for imagining the intentional object. Usually it takes quite some practice to experience a stable phantasma, as becomes evident when looking at Buddhist meditation techniques see Wallace, In contrast to imagination, Husserl , p. In order to understand why, Husserl's concept of categorial intuition together with eidetic variation must be introduced. In the sixth of his Logical Investigations , Husserl b , pp. Conceptual relations cannot have a direct i.

Husserl claimed, however, that if the individual relata connected by means of the conceptual relation are presented intuitively , the meaning of the category can achieve an intuitive fulfillment as well. Husserl b , pp. In other words: The differences between perception and imagination play no role in intuitive fulfillment of a category as such. Husserl b , p. Eidetic variation is a compromise between Hume and Kant. Hume required grounding claims about conceptual relations like causality in corresponding intuitions.

Kant, however, rejected grounding them on inductions based on perceptions , as this could never prove their necessity. Husserl's solution is to ground claims about a priori laws of consciousness not in perceptual intuition sensation , but in free variations of imaginings phantasmata. Categorial intuition plays a key role with regard to Kant's claim that there are synthetic a priori judgments like causality, which need a non-conceptual carrier. In eidetic variation, phantasmata form the intuitive basis of such categorial a priori judgments see Jansen, , p.

The essential law that a physical thing cannot be visually presented from all sides and distances is an example of a categorial judgment that achieves fulfillment by means of eidetic variation. According to Husserl, whatever is essential necessary about a concept eidos becomes intuitively evident in its eidetic variation.

Thus, eidetic variation is not armchair speculation, as it bases its theoretical claims on actual intuition. Instead, they are judgments about a priori structures of possible experiences. Thus, the freedom of variation overcomes the confines of inductive methodology, which is dependent on facts presented to us via sensation. Eidetic variation is thus the answer to questions 4 and 5. Grounding eidetic variation in imagination rather than actual perception, Husserl strives to overcome the shortcomings of empirical induction.

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Also, an essential law Wesensgesetz , e. It is not even peculiar to a culture—it holds in China just as well as in Chile. The individual variants that different individuals run through in imagination in order to intuit an eidetic structure do in fact differ. But the law itself abstracts from these peculiarities: Husserl b , p. Just like when conducting mathematical calculations, erroneous judgments while performing eidetic variation are possible. This is where intersubjectivity enters as a welcome and helpful corrective. Precisely because eidetic variation abstracts from the observer-dependent peculiarities, others may confirm or disconfirm my descriptions, as they experience the same essential structures.

Thus, though the method is quite different, there is a way in the phenomenological description of consciousness, just like in science, to achieve objective, in the sense of observer-independent, descriptions Here it is appropriate to discuss the last missing feature of introspection Schwitzgebel mentions. As Husserl strives to experience the general laws of consciousness, he was not interested in describing peculiar or idiosyncratic aspects of his individual mind. Instead he wanted to experience himself those laws and structures that are in effect in the minds of others as well.

However, the experience of these laws' generality in eidetic variation is not such that one experiences them as effective in one's own and in other minds. One experiences them in one's own mind only. So there is no direct experience of other minds involved. Therefore, if the first-person condition refers to experiences idiosyncratic to one's own mind, Husserl's phenomenology focuses on experiences essential structures that do not have this feature. If it means that the general laws are experienced in one's own mind only and not in other minds, Husserl's method has this feature.

Phenomenology's directly intuiting essential laws governing consciousness was the reason why Husserl saw it as distinct from psychology's inner observation. In his understanding, psychology treats conscious phenomena as singular empirical facts and tries to induce generalities from recurring observations see Husserl, , p. Such a treatment of conscious phenomena is possible, of course.

Still, both this narrow meaning of introspection and eidetic variation look in the same direction and in fact strive for something similar. They strive for something similar in that an empirical inductive proceeding is ultimately not interested in individual empirical facts. Instead, it collects them as a means to induce generalities.

It must thereby rule out certain empirical observations, although they are actual empirical facts, as mere noise in order to achieve an understanding of the general laws governing these observations.

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While this access to the generalities is indirect, inductive, and statistical, it is nonetheless interested in something quite akin to essential structures. Both proceedings look in the same direction, in that phenomenology does not speculate about essential structures governing consciousness; it intuits them as they are given in consciousness. Eidetic variation's intuiting is not only intricately interwoven with possibly idiosyncratic experiences—namely the phantasmata it varies—it depends on them as its foundation.

Furthermore, the intuition of essences is itself directed at something given intuitively in consciousness. Thus, if introspection means to study one's consciousness by means of actually observing it , eidetic variation introspects both phantasmata and essences. Now that Husserl's method has been outlined along with some of its achievements and potential, it is crucial for an interdisciplinary dialogue on introspection to at least sketch some of its problems and weaknesses.

First of all, most of Husserl's descriptions concern seeing. While he did provide some descriptions of hearing and touching see Husserl, a , a , b , those of smell and taste are scarce. Also, the areas of willing and feeling are comparatively underdeveloped. Furthermore, how we achieve consciousness of what others think, feel and want remains problematic.

Husserl's solutions, e. The aspects mentioned therefore need an extension, possibly even a modification of the method.

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A serious critique by Depraz et al. To be sure, for descriptions, Husserl , p. Therefore Depraz et al. What complicates matters is that phenomenologists like Merleau-Ponty , p. Related is the strong contrast in phenomenology between life-worldly pre-reflective meaning and objective concepts as the goal of scientific descriptions.

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This issue is a complex one and cannot be resolved here. What is required is a detailed understanding of the differences and relations between, on the one hand, experience, pre-reflective meaning, reflective concepts, and words as elements of a language, and, on the other hand, the acts of perceiving, thinking, judging, and speaking. Husserl's subjectivization of constitution is also questionable. An example: If I walk down a street, my walking is subject to the law of gravity.

But even though walking is my activity , it would be incorrect to assume that gravity is subjective. Yet Husserl seems to assume that the transcendental subjectivity is not only involved in constitution, but that the constituting activity is subjective. He probably assumes this, as he also assumes an a priori innate to subjectivity. It could be, however, that the transcendental constitution is in accordance with a priori laws without the subject having to be the source of these laws.

The subject could partake in these laws whenever active, like our walking partakes in gravity. The inherent development and dynamics of consciousness pose further problems. For instance, Husserl , p. If, however, the eidetic structure of consciousness itself is subject to change, whatever we find for adults is not necessarily transferable to other stages of conscious human life.

This need not endanger generalizability within the conscious life of adults. But a newborn cannot practice eidetic variation, much less give an adequate report of what her consciousness is like. Accordingly, Husserl's attempts to explain the origin of consciousness are problematic. Finally, Husserl's belief that concepts and eidei are in need of a sensory foundation to be experienced as meaningful is problematic. Crowell , p. In this sense, as Jansen , p.

The discussion of phenomenology in relation to the six introspective features that Schwitzgebel mentions showed how phenomenology can not only be seen as a kind of introspection, but also as a quite sophisticated method for practicing it. The principle of all principles ensures that claims have a foundation in actual intuition spectare and thereby prevents arbitrary speculations about unobserved entities. The remaining two methodological steps then help to put results on a secure basis. The reduction makes sure that the meanings employed in the description are in full concordance with the actual experience.

This allows the notice and elimination of false prejudices. The eidetic variation further helps to test claims about necessary structures without being dependent on actual perception. The freedom of this variation helps overcome the limitations of empirical induction. Its results are generalizable, as it makes only indirect use of the possibly idiosyncratic phantasmata. Lastly, intersubjective testing of the results is as important in phenomenology as it is in science.

One of Husserl's greatest achievements was to disprove the Kantian prejudice that the world is only our representation. As long as one is blinded by this prejudice, one cannot even clearly distinguish between intro -spection and extro -spection. Husserl, however, showed how we can be conscious of something which is itself not of consciousness. Therefore, we can be conscious not only of the psychological, but also of the physical and ideal planes and strive for a clearer understanding of these different layers and their relations.

Yet phenomenology only studies the layers of consciousness and leaves out the ones transcendent to consciousness. Identifying and understanding all the layers as well as their interplay is thus a task for which natural science is as important as phenomenology and psychology. The author confirms being the sole contributor of this work and approved it for publication. The author declares that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. I wish to express my thanks to a total of four reviewers.

Their critical remarks and suggestions considerably helped to improve the quality and clarity of this article. I furthermore wish to sincerely thank Stephen Seaward for his help improving my English. Finally, I am grateful to Christian Tewes, first of all for inviting me to contribute to this volume, but also for many helpful comments during the review process which all greatly helped to improve this article.

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The object of such an analysis is the meaningful lived world of everyday life: the Lebenswelt , or "Life-world". The task of phenomenological sociology, like that of every other phenomenological investigation, is to account for, or describe, the formal structures of this object of investigation in terms of subjectivity, as an object-constituted-in-and-for-consciousness.

Social phenomenologists talk about the social construction of reality. They view social order as a creation of everyday interaction, often looking at conversations to find the methods that people use to maintain social relations. This does not mean, of course, that all versions of phenomenological sociology must be based on Weberian themes.

In point of fact, there is some historical evidence [Dilthey's influence on Weber re: the former's theory of Weltanschauung , and Husserl's influence on Dilthey re: the former's theory of meaning] that would support the argument that elements of Weberian sociology are themselves based on certain phenomenological themes; especially in regard to the theory of the intended meaning of an act, and ideas regarding theory and concept formation. Ultimately these two distinct phenomenological projects should be seen as complementary, with the structures of the latter dependent on the structures of the former.

That is, valid phenomenological descriptions of the formal structures of the life-world should be wholly consistent with the descriptions of the formal structures of intentional consciousness. It is from the latter that the former derives its validity, verifiability, and truth value.

The general thesis of the natural attitude is the ideational foundation for the fact-world of our straightforward, common sense social experience [ further explanation needed ]. It forms the underpinning for our thoughts and actions. It is the projected assumption, or belief, in a naturally occurring social world that is both factually objective in its existential status, and unquestioned in its "natural" appearance; social objects [persons, language, institutions, etc. Although it is often referred to as the "General Thesis of the Natural Attitude", it is not a thesis in the formal sense of the term, but a non-thematic assumption, or belief, that underlies our sense of the objectivity and facticity of the world, and the objects appearing in this world.

The facticity of this world of common sense is both unquestioned and virtually "unquestionable"; it is sanctionable as to its status as that which "is", and that which "everyone", or, at least, "any reasonable person", agrees to be the case with regard to the factual character of the world. As far as traditional social science is concerned, this taken-for-granted world of social facts is the starting and end point for any and all investigations of the social world. It provides the raw, observable, taken-for-granted "data" upon which the findings of the social sciences are idealized, conceptualized, and offered up for analysis and discourse.

Within traditional social science, this "data" is formulated into a second order world of abstractions and idealizations constituted in accordance with these sciences' pre-determined interpretive schemes Husserl Schutz's phenomenological descriptions are made from within the phenomenological attitude, after the phenomenological reduction [epoche], which serves to suspend this assumption, or belief, and reveal the phenomena occurring within the natural attitude as objects-for-consciousness.

Martin Heidegger aptly characterizes Husserl's phenomenological research project as, " In recognizing consciousness as having the formal structure of intentionality, as always having consciousness of an intended object, Husserlian phenomenology has located the access point to a radical new form of scientific description.

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Methodologically, access to this field is obtained through the phenomenological reduction.