Table of Contents


Title page

Copyright page





1 Edmund Husserl (1859–1938): Life and Writings

Husserl’s Early Education and his First Mentor, Karl Weierstrass

With Brentano in Vienna

Husserl’s Difficult Years at Halle (1887–1901)

The Development of Phenomenology: Göttingen 1901–1916

The Transcendental Turn and the Discovery of the Reduction

Ideen I (1913) and the Programme for Phenomenological Philosophy

Lectures on Fichte and the Creation of Universal Humanity

Developing Phenomenology as a System: Freiburg (1916–1928)

Husserl’s Retirement and the Critique of Heidegger

The Rise of National Socialism

The Crisis of the European Sciences

2 Husserl’s Conception of Philosophy

Philosophy as a Rigorous Science

The Greek Breakthrough to Genuine Science

The Philosophical Attitude and Philosophy as ‘Correlation Research’

Sense-Clarification and Sense-Bestowal

The Basic Character of the Mental: Intentionality

The Natural and the Mundane

Transcendental Idealism and Intersubjectivity

3 The Philosophy of Arithmetic (1891)

The Philosophy of Arithmetic as Proto-Phenomenology

The Nature of Arithmetic and of Mathematics in General

Genuine and Non-Genuine Numbers

The Intuition of Groups or Multiplicities

The Intuition of an ‘Item’

Physical and Psychical Relations

The Special Case of Zero and One

The Problem of Psychologism in the Philosophy of Arithmetic

Frege’s 1894 Review of Husserl’s Philosophy of Arithmetic

Husserl’s Reaction to Frege

The Influence of Bolzano, Leibniz and Lotze

The Road to the Logical Investigations

Husserl’s Conception of Logic

4 Husserl’s ‘Breakthrough Work’: Logical Investigations (1900/1901)

The Meaning of Logic as Science of Science

Sense-Clarification of Epistemic Concepts through Intuition

Husserl’s Concept of Pure Logic

The Defence of Ideal Objectivities

The Denial of the Ideal in Empiricism and Psychologism

Knowing as Subjective Achievement

The Psychologistic Threat

The Six Investigations of LU Volume Two

The First Logical Investigation

The Second Investigation

The Third Investigation

The Fourth Investigation

The Fifth Investigation: Intentional Experiences and their Contents

The Sixth Logical Investigation: Towards the Phenomenology of Knowledge

5 The Eidetic Phenomenology of Consciousness

Consciousness as a Complex of Erlebnisse

Intentional Consciousness and the Noetic–Noematic Correlation

The Temporal Character of Consciousness

The Unconscious, Drives and Instincts

Anonymous Living versus Phenomenological Reflection

Active Consciousness: Position-Taking (Stellungnahme), Founding, Modifying, Modalizing, Synthesizing

The Role of Sensation (Empfindung) and Interpretation (Auffassung)

The Foundation of Consciousness: Perception as Originary Evidence

Horizons of Experience

Normality and Optimality

Representation, Memory and Other Forms of ‘Calling to Mind’ or ‘Presentification’ (Vergegenwärtigung)

Image- or Picture-Consciousness (Bildbewusstsein)

Perception and Judgement

6 Transcendental Phenomenology: An Infinite Project

From Eidetic Phenomenology to Transcendental Idealism

Intimations of Idealism in LU

Consciousness as Absolute Being

From Absolute Consciousness to Transcendental Life

Hegelian Echoes

Ways into Transcendental Philosophy

How is Knowledge Possible? The Kantian Transcendental

The Transcendental Epoché

Recognition of the Natural Attitude as an Attitude and its Alteration

The ‘Cartesian Way’ and the Historical Discovery of Transcendental Philosophy

The Proof of Transcendental Idealism

The Notion of World and the Mundanization of the Ego

The Critique of Transcendental Experience

7 The Ego, Embodiment, Otherness, Intersubjectivity and the ‘Community of Monads’

The Emergence of the Concept of Ego in LU

New Views on the Ego and the Reduction

The Ego as Centre of Radiation (Ausstrahlungszentrum) in Ideen I

The Ego and its Body (Ideen II)

Bodily ‘Kinaesthetic’ Sensations as Motivations to Experience

The Ego as Person in Ideen II

The Ego and its Temporality

Home World and Alien World

The Experience of Others (Fremderfahrung) and Otherness

Intersubjectivity and the Surrounding Life-World

Transcendental Ego: Singular or Plural?

Subjectivity and Mundanization

Monads and Monadology

Husserl’s Metaphysics of the Ego

Conclusion: Husserl’s Contribution to Philosophy

Problems in Husserl

Husserl’s Influence



Title page

To Loretta, Katie, Eoin and Hannah


Edmund Husserl (1859–1938) is best known as the founder of phenomenology, the descriptive science of consciousness and its objects as they are experienced. In his mature works, he also developed and radicalized the post-Kantian tradition of transcendental idealism. He published few books in his lifetime, but he left behind a corpus of philosophical writing that is vast, complex and varied, ranging from lecture notes to bundles of private research writings organized thematically. As this Nachlass continues to be edited and published, the overall picture of Husserl as a philosopher is undergoing rapid change. In this book I hope to introduce Husserl’s thought as it appears across the range of his works and from within, recognizing the originality and power of his descriptive analyses of the life of consciousness as well as his original approach to transcendental philosophy. I want to present Husserl in a way that will entice readers to seek out his original works. For this reason, I have tried as far as possible to present his project from within, in terms of its own motivations rather than in comparison and contrast with other philosophers (which would require a quite different book). I do not intend to address his critical legacy (the work of Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Levinas, Sartre or Derrida, etc.); rather, my aim is Husserl par lui-même, in his own words. I want to explicate Husserl’s achievement primarily for those coming to him for the first time; so I have tried as far as possible to avoid unnecessary philosophical jargon and to explain Husserlian terms as they are introduced. I have not engaged in lengthy critique of his positions, but rather I have sought to present them in the most charitable and sympathetic light. Nevertheless, while I aim this book at the neophyte, I also hope, that my interpretative reading of Husserl has sufficient originality to interest and challenge more advanced students and scholars.

While the final responsibility for the interpretation of Husserl in the pages following rests with me alone, I would like here to record my thanks to some of the scholars who have assisted me over the four years it has taken me to research and write this book. First, I want to thank the Husserl Archive in the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, for accommodating me during several visits, especially its director, Rudolf Bernet, secretary, Ingrid Lombaerts, as well as Roland Breeur, Ullrich Melle and Robin Rollinger. Thanks also to William Desmond and Carlos Steel of the Higher Institute of Philosophy in Leuven. I would especially like to record my appreciation of the scholarship of the late Karl Schuhmann of the University of Utrecht, who gently and generously corrected some of my misconceptions about Husserl. I would also like to record the influence of the following scholars: in France, Jocelyn Benoist, Jean-François Courtine, Natalie Depraz, Claire Ortiz Hill and Jean-Luc Marion. In Germany, I would like to mention specifically the work of Klaus Held, Dieter Lohmar and Olav Wiegand. In Switzerland, Eduard Marbach, Kevin Mulligan and Gianfranco Soldati have been extraordinarily generous with their time and knowledge. In the UK, Michael Beaney, David Bell, Sir Michael Dummett and Peter Simons have all assisted me in understanding the relationship between Frege and Husserl.

Among US scholars, I have learned a great deal from Lester Embree of the Center for Advanced Research in Phenomenology, David Woodruff Smith and Donn Welton. I have benefited greatly from conversations with members of the Husserl Circle, especially Betsy Behnke, Marcus Brainard, John Brough, Richard Cobb Stevens, Steve Crowell, John Drummond, Burt Hopkins, Len Lawlor, Nam-In Lee, Sebastian Luft, William McKenna, James Mensch, Tom Nenon, Rosemary Rizo-Padron Lerner, John Scanlon, Robert Sokolowski and Dallas Willard. In Ireland, Jim Levine of Trinity College Dublin offered helpful comments on Frege’s philosophy of mathematics. I would also like to thank my colleagues at UCD, and especially Richard Kearney for stimulating conversations and insights, and my Head of Department Gerard Casey for facilitating my research leave. I am grateful to graduate students at UCD and Rice University (in particular Irene McMullin) for their comments on draft chapters of this book.

This book could not have been written without institutional support. I would like to thank the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) for a Senior Fellowship in the Humanities in 2002–3, and University College Dublin for the President’s Fellowship for 2003–4. Thanks to Professor Steven Crowell and the Philosophy Faculty at Rice University for hosting me as Lynette S. Autry Visiting Professor in the Humanities (Fall 2003). A special word of thanks to Professor Arthur Few, Master, and his wife, Joan Few, for making me welcome as Visiting Scholar at Martel College. I thank Dan Zahavi for accommodating me at the Center for Subjectivity Research, University of Copenhagen. I am grateful to the Publications Committee of University College Dublin and to the National University of Ireland for their support. I want also to thank the Humanities Institute of Ireland for providing me with a research office to complete writing the book. Last, but not least, I would like to thank my family for their support, especially my wife Loretta and our three children, Katie, Eoin and Hannah.

University College Dublin


APSHusserl, Analysen zur passiven Synthesis, Hua 11 (Analyses Concerning Passive and Active Synthesis, trans. A. J. Steinbock; English translation also includes selections from Hua 14, 17 and 31)
BedeutungslehreHusserl, Vorlesungen über Bedeutungslehre: Sommersemester 1908, Hua 26
BriefwechselHusserl, Briefwechsel, ed. K. and E. Schuhmann, Husserliana Dokumente, vol. 3, 10 vols
ChronikHusserl-Chronik, ed. K. Schuhmann
CMHusserl, Cartesianische Meditationen, Hua 1 (Cartesian Meditations, trans. D. Cairns)
CPRKant, Critique of Pure Reason, trans. P. Guyer and A. Wood
CWHusserl, Collected Works
DPBrentano, Deskriptive Psychologie, ed. R. Chisholm and W. Baumgartner (Descriptive Psychology, trans. B. Müller)
DRHusserl, Ding und Raum, Hua 16 (Thing and Space: Lectures of 1907, trans. R. Rojcewicz)
EBEncyclopaedia Britannica article, Hua 9 (Psychological and Transcendental Phenomenology, trans. T. Sheehan and R. E. Palmer)
ELEHusserl, Einleitung in die Logik und Erkenntnistheorie: Vorlesungen 1906/1907, Hua 24
EP IHusserl, Erste Philosophie (1923/4), Erster Teil: Kritische Ideengeschichte, Hua 7
EP IIHusserl, Erste Philosophie (1923/4). Zweiter Teil: Theorie der phänomenologischen Reduktion, Hua 8
EUHusserl, Erfahrung und Urteil, ed. L. Landgrebe (Experience and Judgment, trans. J. Churchill and K. Ameriks)
EVHusserl, ‘Entwurf einer “Vorrede” zu den Logischen Untersuchungen (1913)’, ed. Eugen Fink, Tijdschrift voor Filosofie, 1, 1 and 2 (May 1939), pp. 319–39 (Draft Introduction to Logical Investigations, ed. E. Fink, trans. P. J. Bossert and C. H. Peters); Hua 20/1: 272–329
EWHusserl, Early Writings in the Philosophy of Logic and Mathematics, in Collected Works, vol. 5, trans. D. Willard
FTLHusserl, Formale und transzendentale Logik, Hua 17 (Formal and Transcendental Logic, trans. D. Cairns)
GAFrege, Die Grundlagen der Arithmetik (1884) (Foundations of Arithmetic, trans. J. L. Austin)
GPPHusserl, Grundprobleme der Phänomenologie (1910/ 11), Hua 13
HSWHusserl, Shorter Works, trans. and ed. Frederick Elliston and Peter McCormick
HuaHusserliana, Kluwer (now Springer) publishers, 1950–
Ideen IHusserl, Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie. Erstes Buch, Hua 3 (Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy, First Book, trans. F. Kersten)
Ideen IIHusserl, Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie. Zweites Buch: Phäno-menologische Untersuchungen zur Konstitution, Hua 4 (Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy, Second Book, trans. R. Rojcewicz and A. Schuwer)
Ideen IIIHusserl, Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie. Drittes Buch: Die Phänomenologie und die Fundamente der Wissenschaften, Hua 5 (Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy, Third Book, trans. T. E. Klein and W. E. Pohl)
IGTwardowski, Zur Lehre vom Inhalt und Gegenstand der Vorstellungen: Eine psychologische Untersuchung (On the Content and Object of Presentations, trans. R. Grossmann)
IntersubjektivitätHusserl, Zur Phänomenologie der Intersubjektivität. Texte aus dem Nachlass. Hua 13–15
IPHusserl, Die Idee der Phänomenologie, Hua 2 (Idea of Phenomenology, trans. L. Hardy)
KrisisHusserl, Die Krisis der europäischen Wissenschaften und die transzendentale Phänomenologie, Hua 6 (The Crisis of European Sciences, trans. D. Carr)
LUHusserl, Logische Untersuchungen Hua 18, 19/1 and 19/2 (Logical Investigations, trans. J. N. Findlay, ed. D. Moran, 2001)
LVHusserl, Londoner Vorträge, Hua 35
PAHusserl, Philosophie der Arithmetik, Hua 12 (Philosophy of Arithmetic, trans. Dallas Willard)
PESBrentano, Psychologie vom empirischen Standpunkt, 3 vols. (Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint, trans. A. C. Rancurello, D. B. Terrell and L. L. McAlister)
Phän. Psych.Husserl, Phänomenologische Psychologie. Vorlesungen Sommersemester 1925, Hua 9 (Phenomenological Psychology, trans. J. Scanlon)
PPMerleau-Ponty, Phénoménologie de la perception, 1945 (Phenomenology of Perception, trans. C. Smith)
Prol.Husserl, Prolegomena, Logische Untersuchungen (Prolegomena, Logical Investigations, trans. J. N. Findlay)
PSWHusserl, ‘Philosophie als strenge Wissenschaft’, Hua 25 (‘Philosophy as a Rigorous Science’, trans. Q. Lauer)
PVPariser Vorträge, Hua 1 (Paris Lectures, trans. P. Koestenbaum)
RezensionFrege’s review of Husserl’s Philosophy of Arithmetic
SZHeidegger, Sein und Zeit (Being and Time, trans. J. Macquarrie and E. Robinson)
TESartre, La Transcendence de l’égo. Esquisse d’une déscription phénoménologique (Transcendence of the Ego, trans. F. Williams and Robert Kirkpatrick)
Trans. Phen.Husserl, Psychological and Transcendental Phenomenology and the Confrontation with Heidegger (1927–1931), trans. and ed. R. E. Palmer and T. Sheehan
Wiss.Bolzano Wissenschaftslehre (Theory of Science, trans. R. George)
ZBHusserl, Zur Phänomenologie des inneren Zeitbewusstseins (1893–1917), Hua 10 (On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time, trans. J. Brough)

In general, citations of Husserl give the English translation pagination (if any) followed by the Husserliana volume number and pagination. In the case of Ideen I, the German pagination is that of the original published edition of 1913, printed in the margin of the Husserliana edition. For Erfahrung and Urteil, the English pagination is followed directly by the German pagination of the Meiner edition. For the English translation of Husserl’s Logical Investigations, I am using the revised edition of J. Findlay’s translation (London and New York: Routledge, 2001). Volumes 1 and 2 are indicated by I and II respectively, followed by page number.