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HUSSERL’S REDUCTION AND ADUMBRATIONS

HUSSERL’S REDUCTION AND ADUMBRATIONS

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Published by: Joel Sagut on Dec 04, 2009
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HUSSERL’S REDUCTION
AND
 ADUMBRATIONS Joel C. Sagut Introduction
 The topic of this exposition is no longer new to this class since quite anumber of our classmates have already reported on this. Nevertheless, I havecommitted to understand this topic since we started with our course, and so, Iwould like to share my own understanding of the issue at hand. Let it bementioned from the very start that this exposition does not intend to simplifythe thought of our philosopher for such would be a too ambitious goal.Rather, let this report be an opportunity for me to submit myself to yourassessment as to whether I have understood even a fragment of whatHusserl intends to say. For the possible misreading and shortcomings, I askyour understanding and consideration.
Husserl’s Journey: The Shift from Naturalism to Phenomenology
Husserl started his career as a mathematician. He had his doctoral thesis inmathematics. This fact about his training makes some authors believed thatHusserl originally had adopted a realist standpoint. David Bell for examplesays, “It seems that for some four or five years after he arrived in GottingenHusserl’s philosophical activity was directed towards defending, expanding,and modifying theories that belonged essentially to the same naturalisticpoint of view that had characterized his thought in the
Logical Investigation.
1 
When Husserl for example uses the word
thing
in his
Logical Investigation
aswhen he says, “Two meanings can be attached to this objectiveinterconnection which ideally pervades scientific thought, and which givesunity to such thought, and so to science as such; it can be understood as aninterconnection of the
things
to which our thought-experiences (actual orpossible) are intentionally directed…”
2
It is notable that the use of the word
thing
here resembles the naturalistic tendency to equate
thing
with theactually existing (or the ideal/possible) object. It presupposes an
objective
3 
existence of the
thing
. This is the
thing
that exists unrelated to its cognitionby anybody.
4
 However, commentators noted a transcendental turn in the philosophy of Husserl. Bell announced that “in 1907, he delivered a series of five lectureswhich, for the first time, made public the fact that his philosophy had taken a‘transcendental turn’ away from naturalism.
5
 
1
David Bell,
 Husserl 
. (New York: Routledge, Chapman and Hall, Inc., 1990), 153.
2
Logical Investigation,
vol. 1
, 225.
3
Objectivity here is meant to refer to the being’s existence outside consciousness.
4
Cf. Roman Ingarden,
On the Motives which led Husserl to Transcendental Idealism
, trans. Arnor Hannibalsson. (Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1975), 5.
5
Bell, 154.
1
 
 The interest of this present reflection is however not to validate or refute thisclaim for an original realist standpoint in Husserl. Our mention here of thisparticular transcendental turn shall merely be taken as the starting point forour investigation of the transcendental idealism of Husserl. We start with amention of the naturalistic standpoint to offer a comparative description of naturalism and phenomenology. Hence, our timidity to go into furtherinvestigation about the truthfulness of the claim on Husserl’s naturalism may,I hope, not be taken to be in itself a violation of the phenomenologicalmethod.
Naturalism and Transcendental idealism
What could have been the reason for Husserl’s shift from naturalism totranscendental idealism? Commentators have noted that the shift coincideswith Husserl’s changed appreciation of the being of the real world.
6 
Naturalism “is committed to the view that the universe contains nothing butnatural phenomena a natural phenomenon being any object, event,property, fact, or the like.”
7
In other words, naturalism limits the scope of investigation with the tangible, verifiable things and their properties. Hence,we have the natural sciences. Transcendental idealism, on the other hand, is the view that “the mind is notultimately just a part of the natural world, but on the contrary must beassigned some foundational or constitutive role with respect to the naturalworld…”
8
Husserl later believed that for philosophy to be truthful to its goal, itmust go beyond the naturalism of the sciences.
9
Husserl later realized that inthe process of cognition, the role of the mind is undeniably important. Themind is also constitutive of reality
and hence, subjectivity should never beignored in the process of cognition.
6
Cf. Ingarden, 5.
7
Bell, 154. In naturalism, the object exists independent of the mind. This means then that oneobject, insofar as it exists, will be perceived uniformly by the perceiving minds. Hence, natural sciences’reliance on the law of probability. A disease for example is treated in almost the same way because of theassumption that all diseases, as long as they belong to the same category, can be treated in the same way.
8
Bell, 155.
9
Quine’s comment crystallizes this Husserlian perspective: “naturalism is the abandonment of thegoal of a first philosophy.” (quoted in Bell, 155). This will have some traces in the philosophical project of Husserl’s student, Martin Heidegger, who endeavors to question the onto-theological character of the entireWestern Metaphysics. Heidegger also claimed that the entire philosophical endeavor of the West is notreally philosophical but an onto-theology. Husserl highly influenced Heidegger to become vigilant on thelife-world rather than on the more speculative endeavor of expounding the “naturalized terms” in the entiresystem of western metaphysics. As one author writes, “Each of these German thinkers (Heidegger veryearly in his career and Husserl in the last phases of his reflections) is convinced that a survey of the Life-world is more pertinent than a grand systematic vision. This was and remains a direct challenge to thetraditional canons of truth derived from substance-metaphysics, the main line of Western philosophy.Cf.Richard Owsley, Truth in the Thinking of Heidegger and Husserl
 ,
h
, retrieved last October 01, 2007.
10
This illustrates the Kantian influence in Husserl. Cf. Marvin Farber, “Edmund Husserl and theAims of Phenomenology,” http://www.autodidactproject.org/other/farber6.html,retrieved last October 01, 2007.
2
 
 The shift to transcendental idealism is then a necessary consequence of Husserl’s aim to name the relation between the
mind 
(consciousness) and the
thing
of naturalism. He wishes to reconcile “the subjectivity of knowing andthe objectivity of the content known.”
Naturalism to Rigorous Science
 The early training of Husserl, as mentioned, was in mathematics, and thisperhaps has influenced him to seek for a science that would have a “singlesystem of doctrine”
for only such science can he consider to be worthy of the name science. This he calls as the “rigorous science.” Husserl claims thatfor philosophy to be a rigorous science, it has to be essentially “self-responsible and self warranting.” This can only be achieved if philosophy willin itself become “presuppositionless.”
 He also believed that the natural sciences and the human sciences are socharacterized because of their well-defined domain or field. They are called ascience because they have an item of which they are responsible to explore. This allows the sciences to
have a doctrinal content,
which is
stable over time,
accepted unquestioningly by the majority of the scientists workingwithin this discipline, and it is
objective,
meaning there is no room for privateopinion, notions and points of view.
This makes these sciences naïve, notrigorous. A naïve science simply investigates that which is
there
, as given.“These natural and human sciences, in other words, are philosophically naïve. They have an unquestioned commitment to the adequacy of naturalisticstandpoint.”
In contrast to the naturalism of the sciences, the rigorous science is onewhich “has expunged all uncritically accepted assumptions from among itscommitments, whether tacit or explicit…It contains no claims or assertionsthat are not absolutely grounded, or fully justified.”
But such justification isnot to be relative to any antecedently accepted premise, presupposition orprejudice.But, Husserl also argues that any science, not just philosophy, can become arigorous science. Even natural sciences can become rigorous sciences as longas it ceases to be a naïve science (dogmatic science). If this is the case, whatdistinguishes philosophy from other sciences then is the particular species of which philosophy is tasked to investigate or describe. So, the question now is:what is this
specific species
that is unique of philosophy? We mention here of transcendental subjectivity.
11
Bell, 157.
12
Cf. Bell, 157.
13
Bell, 157.
14
Bell, 158.
15
Ibid.
16
Ibid, 159.
3

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