Edmund Husserl

Cartesian Mediations

His use of the word “idea” (the Kantian sense) means “one that points us forward in an enterprise that can have no final, finite completion, though we have a definite recognition of progress.

He sees transcendental phenomenology as simply a radicalization of the same idea or project of philosophy starting with the Greeks.

In all our non-philosophical life we are concerned with objects in the world, all of our concerns and activities are objectively directed. Trancendental phenomenology involves a switch of interest towards our own conscious life. It is not psychology since that is also concerned with what exists in the world, a selected domain within it.

He thinks the notion of beginning is essential to philosophy because philosophy cannot be identified with any set of results or doctrines, but only with how it begins and how that beginning is sustained as a living force, and so is at root a certain form of ethical life and a secure method leading to absolute knowledge and success in each of its steps, a self-responsibility as a commitment to a life of self-performed reason and personal insight into every aspect of one’s life, absolute honesty.

Insight is contrasted with ‘doxa’ - mere opinion, what we take on trust, what we have not interrogated and brought to clarity in our own minds.

The 'idea' of a systematic enquiry into universally valid truth comes first, any 'positive' science is but a regional application of this philosophical perspective to a particular domain of reality. He wanted to infuse our times with living forces' through a reassertion of that radicalness of philosophical responsibility. This is authentic vs. inauthentic. Concern for 'ultimate grounding in the basis of absolute insights.'

The Cartesian Meditations with Ideas I and certain other writings provide 'the Cartesian way' into transcendental phenomenology.

apodictic - so absolutely justified that the negation of what is thought is unintelligible; its nonexistence is inconceivable

epoche - a bracketing, a putting out of action of all the convictions we have been accepting up until now, including our sciences, a refraining from belief, to put out of play for certain purposes.

His first methodological principle: 'I...must neither make nor go on accepting any judgment as scientific that I have not derived from self-evidence, from experiences in which the relevant things and states of affairs are present to me as they themselves.

the phenomenological epoche - epoche of everything no apodictic, i.e. everything not your conscious self and its thoughts

transcendental consciousness - that apodictic field of consciousness, the 'pure' conscious self and its thoughts.

transcendental reduction - the philosopher's restriction of concerns to the transcendental consciousness as one's field of research

pg. 20 transcendental phenomenology (note pointing to this saying "not accurate") - the viewpoint that is the sole concern of the true philosopher, the discovery of the field itself as the sole philosophical domain is what inaugurates transcendental phenomenology

noetic - concerning what is subjective in so far as it involves a directedness to objects.

noesis - the act of thinking; the concretely complete intentive mental process, responsible for bestowing sense, for constituting the meaning of what it grasps.

noematic - concerning the object.

noema - what is thought; intended object, not actual reference but intended reference of the act.

3 ways into phenomenology: Cartesian, through psychology, and through reflection on the "life world"

object and entity

Constitution - means that things given immanently are not in consciousness as things are in a box but present themselves in something like appearances that create objects for the ego in their changing and peculiar structure of conscious processes.

constituting - how in consciousness there can be an object for us at all; how an object is given to consciousness.

epoche, apodicticity, transcendental reduction, transcendental subjectivity

transcendental insight - "the world that exists for me, that always has and always will exist for me, the only world that ever can exist for me, this world, with all its objects... derives its whole sense and existential validity which it has for me from me myself." and "Whatever exists for me exists for me thanks to my knowing consciousness."

For consciousness to be "transcendental" is for it to constitute all of its objects. Certain kinds of objects are a necessary correlate to certain types of conscious state. He is interested in the necessary a priori structures and norms of any possible consciousness whatever.



To "intend" an object simply means to have, or be mentally directed to, an object in any way at all. It signifies the same as to "mean" an object (pg. 65) but this is qualified to empty intentions only (pg 72).

synthesis - the relation between different conscious states in virtue of which, despite the difference, an identical object stands before consciousness.



apperception - perceiving something as a thing of a certain sort and when so taking it involves appreciating something about the thing that is not exhibited, perceiving in addition to. Husserl holds that all perception invovles such "meaning beyond" so all perception is apperception.

innerhorizon - comprises the absent in a perception of an object, the further parts and aspects not exhibited but emptily meant.

outerhorizson - not parts of the thing but what is implicated by it.

explicit consciousness

implicit consciousness

object sense - possibilities and impossibilities for consciousness to relate to an object

In transcendental reduction objects just are what they are for us, their nature is exhausted by our possible experience of them.


H. 7 pg. 18 The phenomenological epoche is a second more radical bracketing that includes not relying on our prejudice that there is a real world behind the phenomenal, whereas your own existence as a conscious being with a field of consciousness, including cogitationes which includes thoughts, perceptual experiences, and everything involved in being attentively directed towards some object or other; are indubitable.

pg. 21 H says that DesCartes's indubitable self is a little tag end of the world; a piece of the world, not a transcendental self.

pg. 21 In Ideas I, the first systematic presentation of the epoche, the epoche is related to the attempt to doubt something as the latter is particularly easy to analyze its bracketing, disconnecting, putting out of play in attempting to doubt though these are the things he is interested in. The phenomenological epoche has these in their parity, and does not involve any doubt, as doubt is a position vis-a-vis the existence of something, with other positions being certainty, disbelief, regarding as likely; and in the epoche that if we intitially believe something, such beliefs remain when we effect the bracketing this is within the realm of our perfect freedom whereas doubt and belief are not under out control but necessarily motivated by the course of our experience.

pg. 23 Urdoxa - the certainty which is the primal "position" of our cognitive lives, the full conviction concerning the reality of what we experience; only modified or "modalized" by a conflict in our experience. However H. says this world as harmonious has a relative apodictic certainty. pg. 23 the first half of page demands response.

Second Meditation

H. believes he has discovered a new realm of Being, that of transcendental experience, that of one's pure conscious life and all of its ingredients, together with all the pure types of object that could possibly be given to, i.e. constituted in, it. An enquiry into the constituting function of subjectivity, into how any kind of object is a necessary correlate to certain types of conscious state. He says that although the content of the transcendental life lacks apodicticity, there is apodictic certainty of the ego sum and of the structure of the ego, that the transcendental life is temporal in nature (that it flows). Phenomenology is to be eidetic, absolutely subjective, and disinterested faithful description and analyzing of what is revealed to us to find the essences and necessary a priori structures and norms of any possible consciousness whatever. Using the individuals life only to help us discover essential possibilities. Discovering what relations must necessarily hold between a past and a present and the kind of temporal structure that any actually extended structure must possess. There are two stages of phenomenology: 1) performing the transcendental reduction and then exploring transcendental experience; 2) performing an apodictic reduction restricting our attention within the transcendental field of stage 1 to and peforming an apodictic critique. The Cartesian Meditations only deals with the first stage.

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