Title

Edmund Husserl's Crisis : A Critique of Modernity and a Phenomenology of History

Document Type

Thesis

Publication Date

1993

Advisor

Rene McGraw

Abstract

This thesis is an explication and analysis of Edmund Husserl's phenomenology as he presents it is his last work, The Crisis. I do a page-by-page reading of this work and explain such topics as what the crisis itself actually is, how it came about, and what Husserl sees as a way out of this crisis. This involves, for Husserl, an analysis of modernity as arising from the thought of Descartes and the physical science of Galileo. Within this, the rapid development of technology and the theoretical science is explained and interpreted. Husserl sees these great advancements as giving rise to an over-emphasis on the physical sciences in human existence.

On the other side of the question, the philosophy of Descartes and the problematics it sets for modernity which are picked up by the empiricists, Kant and Bretano, necessarily entail repeated failures in metaphysics. Therefore, questions of ultimate meaning in existence are ignored and we lose an understanding of how the sciences have any real meaning for humans.

After his critique of modernity, Husserl begins to discuss his phenomenology which is an attempt to find the ultimate ground of not only the sciences, but all questions of meaning for human existence. His discussion of phenomenology entails his epoche of the sciences and any knowledge gained from them, and also the transcendental epoche in which the phenomenologist suspends judgment on the existence of anything in the world, the world itself and even the existence of him/herself. Further, Husserl explores the realm of the life-world as the world of everyday experience which is primary and prior to any theoretical contemplation.

In my thesis I also attempt to emphasize Husserl's historical- cultural themes which appear for the first time in the Crisis. In doing so, I tie in Husserlian themes of self-responsibility which become so important for any reflective human being in these years of crisis in which we find ourselves.

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