Zahavi, Dan. [Husserl's faenomenologi. English]. Husserls phenomenology / Dan Zahavi. p. cm. — (Cultural memory in the present). Translated by the author. Contents Preface to the English Edition ix Introduction 1 1. The Early Husserl: Logic, Epistemology, and Intentionality 7 The Criticism of Psychologism —The. Phenomenology and metaphysics Dan Zahavi University of Copenhagen, . In the introduction to the second part, Husserl describes phenomenology as a.

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It is commonly believed that Edmund Husserl (), well known as the founder of phenomenology and as the teacher of Heidegger, was unable to free. DAN ZAHAVI. Many still tend to think of Husserl's transcendental phenomenology and Heidegger's and Merleau-Ponty's hermeneutical and existential. Picture source: Dan Zahavi's archives. How did It also became my first book ( Zahavi ). can be found in the book Husserl's Phenomenology, which in the.

We might describe the shift, if I may, as follows. That is the crux of the West Coast interpretation, to which we shall return. Zahavi's line of thought, however, is leading toward the issue of transcendental idealism. Along the way he traces a good number of nuanced readings of Husserl's doctrine especially detailed in sections 4. Zahavi thus rejects interpretations of Husserl as a subjective idealist pp. Zahavi quotes later passages from Husserl addressing the term: see pp.

Zahavi summarizes his interpretation of Husserl's doctrine as follows p. The mind is essentially open and reality is essentially manifest. Everything that is real must in principle be something we can become acquainted with, something that can be presented to us in experience. To speak of an object being presented for consciousness is necessarily to speak of a relation between two interdependent factors, an object and a conscious subject.

That is, consciousness of an object is essentially for a subject. Or the structure of intentionality consists in a correlation between a transcendent object and a transcendental subject. And this correlation is part of the necessary conditions of the possibility of, well, both world and consciousness. Accordingly, for Zahavi, this correlation of object with subject defines Husserl's doctrine of transcendental idealism.

Applied phenomenology: why it is safe to ignore the epoché

Interestingly, Zahavi notes that Husserl had already endorsed a principle of correlation in the Logical Investigations prior to his transcendental turn. Note Husserl's German terms and his use of emphases and quotation marks. The constitution of the tree I see blowing in the wind begins, fundamentally, with a temporal flow of sensory impressions informed by concepts of the tree and of its movement in wind.

Part of that story, as Zahavi brings out along the way and in prior writings , is the intersubjective structure of constitution. Here is a fundamental note of realism in constitution. That said, we cannot reach things otherwise than in our intentional consciousness of them.

Realism enough, it would seem. Husserl's thought carried a mathematician's dimension from his doctoral dissertation right through into his concerns with mathematical form in the Crisis.

For it is only in virtue of the perception's Sinn that the object is intended in that particular way. Clearly, the object and the Sinn are numerically distinct entities. Smith This zigzag path is precisely what traces the correlation between consciousness and world, which Zahavi sees as the crux of Husserl's transcendental idealism.

The doctrine of the noema and the theory of reason. Staiti Ed. For Husserl, this basic and natural realism cannot simply be presupposed if we want to take philosophy seriously.

Rather, it must be critically examined. But, in doing so, in analysing how and as what any object presents itself to us, we also come to discover the intentional acts and experiential structures in relation to which any appearing object must necessarily be understood. We come to realize that reality is always revealed and examined from some perspective or another, and we thereby also come to appreciate our own subjective accomplishments and contributions and the intentionality that is at play in order for worldly objects to appear in the way they do and with the validity and meaning that they have.

When Husserl talks of the transcendental reduction, what he has in mind is precisely the systematic analysis of this correlation between subjectivity and world. This is an analysis that leads from the natural sphere back to re-ducere its transcendental foundation Husserl , In order to develop in a scientifically rigorous manner, psychology needs a proper understanding of experiential life.

But this is precisely what phenomenology can offer. Phenomenology returns us to the experiential phenomena themselves, rather than making do with mere speculations and theories about their nature.

In addition, phenomenology can supply psychology with a fundamental clarification of its basic concepts attention, intention, perception, content, etc.

More specifically, Husserl argues that the first step of a scientifically rigorous psychology is to obtain detailed descriptions of its own subject matter. Claims like these are repeated by Husserl in earlier lectures as well. Husserl also talks of how the phenomenological psychologist should suspend theoretical prejudices originating from other scientific disciplines in order to focus on what is given, and that its aim is to obtain insights into the essential correlation between act and object Husserl , —, , As we will see, in his texts, Husserl is pursuing two rather different lines of reasoning.

Every science needs to bracket extraneous themes if it is to focus on its own distinct topic; every science needs to put out of play those phenomena which are irrelevant for the topic at hand.

One can find a similar type of consideration in the Encyclopedia Britannica article, where Husserl observes that the theme of psychology is the psychical being of animal reality. Animal realities are composed of two levels, the first level being that of physical spatio—temporal reality, the second that of mental reality. Animal realities consequently admit of different types of investigation.

To put it differently, just as physical somatology will explore animals and human beings with a systematic methodical focus on only one side of their being, the animate organismic aspect, so pure psychology will explore them with an equally systematic focus on their other side, the purely psychic aspect Husserl , The purpose of the latter is not to ignore or exclude anything from consideration.

Rather, by suspending or neutralizing a certain dogmatic attitude towards reality, we are precisely supposed better to understand that very attitude and to come to appreciate the processes that enabled it in the first place. Now, there are fairly obvious additional reasons for Husserl to reach that verdict.


Pure psychology, or purely descriptive psychology, or phenomenological psychology different converging notions are all positive worldly sciences squarely at home within the natural attitude. To that extent, the phenomenological psychologist is precisely not a philosopher, but a positive scientist who leaves certain fundamental questions unasked.

On some occasions, he talks of how the psychological reduction is the first preliminary step, and how the transcendental reduction can then be considered a second purifying step Husserl , , one that a radical effectuation of the project of descriptive psychology will by necessity motivate.

As he puts it, one might start out with no interest whatsoever in transcendental philosophy, and merely be concerned with establishing a strictly scientific psychology. If this task is pursued in a radical manner, and if the structures of consciousness are investigated with sufficient precision and care, it will eventually be necessary to take the full step, to effectuate a transcendental turn, and thereby reach transcendental phenomenology.

At times, Husserl explicitly emphasizes the propaedeutic advantages of approaching transcendental phenomenology in this way, i. But there is a high price to pay for this close affinity. Here is what Husserl writes in Crisis: Thus we understand that in fact an indissoluble inner alliance obtains between psychology and transcendental philosophy.

But from this perspective we can also foresee that there must be a way whereby a concretely executed psychology could lead to a transcendental philosophy Husserl , This is why Husserl eventually argues that there is no such thing as a pure non-transcendental psychology and that it is pointless to treat transcendental phenomenology and psychology separately.

In Cartesian Meditations, he writes that psychology insofar as it is the study of consciousness contains a transcendental dimension and is therefore ultimately a part of transcendental philosophy Husserl , On the second reading, they have quite a lot in common, but this very fact ultimately undermines the very independence of phenomenological psychology, which if consistently pursued and developed will necessarily be transformed into transcendental phenomenology.

To put it differently, there is something intrinsically self-undermining in the proposal that phenomenological psychology, understood as a distinct qualitative research method different from both naturalistic psychology and transcendental phenomenology, must effectuate steps that if executed correctly will lead to it being absorbed into transcendental phenomenology. Towards the end of Crisis, for instance, Husserl writes that the phenomenological psychologist might return to the natural attitude after having performed the transcendental turn, and that she might then practice a transcendentally informed or enriched positive psychology Husserl , A similar idea can be found in The Amsterdam Lectures, where Husserl argues that one after having first established a firm transcendental foundation can shift back into the natural attitude and then reinterpret everything that has been transcendentally established as psychological structures Husserl , In a perceptive article from , Davidson and Cosgrove have highlighted these suggestions from Husserl and sought to develop them further.

As they observe, if we follow Husserl, we should recognize that phenomenological psychology is ultimately to be situated within the framework of transcendental philosophy. It has to be established on the basis of a fundamental transcendental clarification, as a radically reformed and fundamentally refashioned discipline that has shed its transcendental naivety Davidson and Cosgrove , The main difference between itself and transcendental phenomenology proper is simply that the former does not remain in the transcendental domain but returns to the mundane constituted sphere Davidson and Cosgrove , But how does a psychology which comes after the transcendental reduction differ from one conducted before it?

What kind of psychology does it amount to?

In contrast to other approaches, which might share such an interest, but only in order to get a better grip on the explanandum that is then to be causally explained by appeal to various underlying mechanisms, phenomenological psychology proceeds differently. It rejects the naturalistic framework according to which experiences are natural objects brought about by physical causes and instead maintains an exclusive focus on the psychological subject and on his or her life-world experiences Davidson and Cosgrove , This later remark should give us pause, however.

Do we really need to perform the transcendental reduction in order to be able to gain access to the personal attitude? And does the latter really involve a departure from the natural attitude?

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Both claims reveal a fundamental confusion. The personal or personalistic attitude is not opposed to the natural attitude, but to the naturalistic attitude. For Husserl, the latter attitude is a theoretical transformation of the personalistic attitude which is the attitude we normally live in, the attitude of our daily life Husserl , , In short, not only is the personal attitude firmly situated within the natural attitude, but it is also the attitude that is our point of departure, rather than something we need to reach by means of a complicated philosophical procedure.

Are they not in general considering human experience a topic worthy of its own extensive exploration? Do they not typically strive to take the experiential claims and concerns of the participating subjects seriously? This is precisely what Morley denies in an article from But Morley also makes the case that unless the qualitative researcher realizes that objectivity is something that is sustained by us and unless she frees herself from the firm and deep-rooted conviction that the world exists independently of our consciousness of it, she will not be able to maintain her commitment to qualitative research, but will default back into the mainstream naturalistic paradigm with its focus on causal explanations and quantitative measurements Morley , — But is it really true that you cannot conduct qualitative research unless you have first gone through a transcendental purification, and unless your research is constantly being supported by a transcendental—philosophical framework?

I suspect most qualitative researchers would beg to differ and simply continue with their own research without feeling any compulsion to start reading Husserl. And what about those who wish to conduct phenomenological research?

Is it reasonable to insist that anybody wishing to conduct applied phenomenological research, anybody wishing to use phenomenology in educational research, experimental psychology, nursing research, sports science, anthropology, sociology, literary studies etc. Not only do I think such a claim is without theoretical justification, it has also proven quite counterproductive. Instead of letting qualitative researchers engage with the phenomena themselves, it has led them astray by making them choke on methodological metareflections and generated an enormous amount of publications where protagonists and antagonists alike struggle with these technical and difficult concepts and typically end up misinterpreting both.

For a few examples, consider first the interpretations of Langdridge and Paley. As for a more sympathetic reading, consider van Deursen, who in a paper from argues that Husserl employed three separate reductions van Deursen , 60 : the phenomenological reduction, the eidetic reduction, and the transcendental reduction. Whereas the first, according to van Deursen, focuses on the noeses and on the processes of consciousness, and the second focuses on the noemata and the objects of consciousness, the focus of the transcendental reduction is on the subject of consciousness and on the nature of the ego van Deursen , 60— The reference to the eidetic reduction only complicates matters further.

Finlay, for instance, has not only argued that we need to bracket the natural world if we wish to grasp the essential structure of the phenomenon Finlay , 2, 4 , but has also presented the eidetic reduction as the last and final step of the phenomenological method, one that presupposes the prior performance of the transcendental reduction Finlay , 5, 7.

But it is difficult to see why this should be true. The attempt to distinguish essential features from those that are particular, accidental, or incidental is fundamental to most scientific endeavors.

The physicist, the chemist, the biologist and the economist are all in different ways trying to obtain fundamental insights, insights that capture essential rather that accidental features of the topic under investigation.

Our natural and habitual preoccupation is with the non-psychic world. When living in the natural attitude, we are inevitable absorbed by and preoccupied with worldly objects and events, with the what of experience. What we have to bracket is our preconceived ideas, our habits of thoughts, our prejudices and theoretical assumptions.

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By accomplishing that, by jettisoning our theoretical baggage, we can effectuate an unprejudiced turn towards the objects, and arrive at the scene with an open mind, in order to let the objects reveal themselves as what they are Finlay , 1—2.

But both interpretations are wrong. It is well known that Husserl often complained that those of his early followers who failed to follow him in his transcendental turn had ultimately failed to really understand his philosophical project, had failed to fully grasp what phenomenology is all about.

I am inclined to think that Husserl was right Zahavi At this point, the phenomenological psychologist might be tempted simply to appeal to the authority of Husserl. Why not simply adhere to his instructions?

In addition to the reasons already given for why this would be a bad idea, one should also ask oneself why Husserl started to show this interest in phenomenological psychology. From the context, it should be obvious that he never considered it an end in itself, but rather always as a means to something else, namely philosophical phenomenology.

Kern One of these strategies was the way over phenomenological psychology. As should hopefully be apparent, I am not proposing that phenomenology should not be applied, or that qualitative researchers should not seek inspiration in philosophical phenomenology.

Phenomenology has over the years provided crucial inputs to a whole range of empirical disciplines and helped challenge dominant theories such as psychologism, behaviorism, positivism, and various forms of reductionism. The reason it has been able to do so such successfully is partially because phenomenology is far from merely being a descriptive enterprise.

Phenomenology also offers theoretical accounts of its own that can challenge existing models and background assumptions. The fact that phenomenology also has this non-philosophical relevance, the fact that it has served as a powerful source of inspiration for so many disciplines is part of its enduring value. Is Giorgi right in insisting that scientific research cannot claim phenomenological status unless it is supported by some use of the reduction Giorgi , 18?

Morley I obviously disagree. There are other features of philosophical phenomenology that are far more relevant to the qualitative researcher cf. Gallagher and Zahavi ; Zahavi ; Zahavi and Martiny Let me by way of conclusion make a historical point. If one considers how phenomenology has successfully been applied in disciplines such as psychology, psychiatry, sociology, anthropology etc.

Some of the first influential applications of phenomenology were in the domain of psychopathology and experimental psychology. Already in , Jaspers published a short article outlining how psychiatry could profit from Husserlian phenomenology Jaspers Some years later, Minkowski reflected on how philosophical phenomenology might be relevant in clinical practice and argued that the use of a phenomenological framework and approach could help the psychiatrist gain a better understanding of the world of the patient.

At the same time, however, he also emphasized how philosophical phenomenology might learn from its engagement with psychiatry and psychopathology. Psychopathological investigations, for instance, could lead to a refinement of the phenomenological analyses, insofar as they might point to specific aspects or dimensions of experience that the philosophers had overlooked Minkowski , xxxix, 6, We should ask ourselves which approach has produced the most impressive, innovative and influential results: the heterodox approach of the classical phenomenological psychologists and psychiatrist or the recent and more orthodox approach of Giorgi and colleagues.

Footnotes 1. In assessing these claims, I will have to engage in some detail with the work of Husserl. A note about terminology is needed. Husserl is not always consistent in his choice of terms. Although he occasionally does speak of a psychological—phenomenological reduction Husserl , , , he more frequently calls it the phenomenological—psychological reduction Husserl , , , but sometimes also simply speaks of the psychological reduction Husserl , , , Google Scholar Kern, Iso. However, ontology does not make any claims about whether or nor a certain region or object exist.

In the end these three different responses might be less incompatible than one might think at first glance. On the contrary, there is a strict hierarchical relation between them, in the sense that the modes can be ranked according to their ability to give us the object as directly, originally, and optimally as possible. Clearly, the object and the Sinn are numerically distinct entities. Den Haag: Martinus Nijhoff,