The Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl
He was a poet and he hated the approximate.
-- Rainer Maria Rilke, Journal of My Other Self
T he incompatibilities within Bergson's philosophy mirror the chasm separating what were to become the two major conflicting currents within twentieth-century social science. One of these was evolutionary naturalism, grounded in Dewey's model of a human consciousness dependent upon and operating within nature, and upon his pragmatic theory of knowledge as an inshy; tegrated body of inevitably partial and open-ended -- but workable and empirically warranted -- assertions. The other was a collage of ideas rooted in the Angst of a mid-nineteenth-century Danish theologian called Søren Kierkegaard, the mystical transcendentalism of Bergson and the epistemology of Edmund Husserl.
These currents of thought evolved into the various competing modern versions of existentialist phenomenology: "ethnomethodology," "critical theory" and "motivation theory" for example. All share at least some of the assumptions of the movement now known as "postmodernism." This pershy; spective views certain aspects of consciousness as prior to and detached from nature. It offers the possibility of absolute knowledge based on self-evident intuitions, discoverable through a form of knowing that supersedes the "mechanistic limitations" of scientific methodology. By a strange quirk of fate, the man who was to become known as the major architect of the new phishy; losophy was born within a year of Dewey and Bergson.
Edmund Husserl's birthplace, like that of Freud, was in Moravia, then part of the Austrian Empire, but now within Slovakia. He was born of middle-class Jewish parents and attended gymnasium in Vienna. He went on to the Univershy;
References for this chapter are on p. 227.