Husserl, Edmund

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Husserl, Edmund

Edmund Husserl (ĕt´mŏŏnt hŏŏs´ərl), 1859–1938, German philosopher, founder of the phenomenological movement (see phenomenology). He was professor at Göttingen and Freiburg and was greatly influenced by Franz Brentano. His philosophy is a descriptive study of consciousness for the purpose of discovering the structure of experience, i.e., the laws by which experiences are had. His method was to "bracket" the data of consciousness by suspending all preconceptions, especially those drawn from the "naturalistic standpoint." Thus, objects of pure imagination are examined with the same seriousness as data taken from the objective world. Husserl concluded that consciousness has no life apart from the objects it considers. This characteristic he calls "intentionality" (object-directedness), following Brentano. In his later work, Husserl moved toward idealism and denied that objects exist outside consciousness. His chief works are Logische Untersuchungen (1900–1901) and Ideas for a Pure Phenomenology (tr. 1952).

See studies by P. Ricoeur (1967), M. Natanson (1973), J. Kockelmans, ed. (1967, repr. 1978), H. L. Dreyfus and H. Hall, ed. (1982), D. Willard (1984), and E. Levinas (1973, repr. 1985).

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