The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology
The German edition
|Original title||Die Krisis der europäischen Wissenschaften und die transzendentale Phänomenologie: Eine Einleitung in die phänomenologische Philosophie|
|Media type||Print (hardcover and paperback)|
|Pages||405 (English edition)|
The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology: An Introduction to Phenomenological Philosophy (German: Die Krisis der europäischen Wissenschaften und die transzendentale Phänomenologie: Eine Einleitung in die phänomenologische Philosophie) is an unfinished 1936 book by the German philosopher Edmund Husserl, seen as the culmination of his thought. Husserl attempts to provide a historical and causal account of the origins of human consciousness.
Husserl purports to show, "by way of a teleological-historical reflection on the origins of our critical scientific and philosophical situation, the inescapable necessity of a transcendental-phenomenological reorientation of philosophy". He attempts to provide a historical and causal account of the origins of consciousness, something excluded or "bracketed" in his earlier works. Husserl, now concerned not so much with particular past events as with the eidos of history, the essential historicity of consciousness and its burden of preoccupations derived from the traditions of its social milieu, casts doubt on his own attempt to found a rigorous science free of all preconceptions. In the third part of the book, he develops the concept of the "life-world" (Lebenswelt) the intersubjective world of natural, pre-theoretical experience and activity, which in his view was neglected by philosophers such as Immanuel Kant in favor of the world of theoretical science. The "theoretical attitude", exemplified for Husserl by Galileo Galilei, arose historically, in ancient Greece, against the background of the life-world, which essentially persists even after the development of the theoretical spirit.
The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology has been seen as the culmination of Husserl's thought. Michael Inwood notes that, though Husserl's account of the life-world, its essential priority to theory and theory's emergence from it, owes something to the eideitic method and to epochē (describing the essential structures of the life-world involves suspending scientific presuppositions and our practical engagement with the life-world), some philosophers, including Maurice Merleau-Ponty, considered The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology a significant departure from Husserl's earlier work. He believes that unlike the books that Husserl wrote earlier in his career, which were avowedly similar to the Meditations on First Philosophy (1641) of René Descartes and unavowedly similar to Johann Gottlieb Fichte's Foundations of the Science of Knowledge (1794), The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology is close in spirit to Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's The Phenomenology of Spirit (1807).
Others have argued (D. Carr 1970), however, that the pressure set onto his project of pure phenomenology by the rise of existentialist phenomenology and equally socio-cultural developments of Germany in the early thirties changed Husserl's priorities and forced him to try a new approach to reach his audience. In this respect, The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology is not the culmination of his phenomenological project per se, but moreover a book of phenomenological philosophy, contrasted with phenomenology as a science. For instance, in 1938, Husserl's Experience and Judgment was published, a book dealing much more explicitly with themes that concerned Husserl in his earlier periods, most notably the task of a transcendental phenomenological logic. As a consequence of this, it is not at all undisputed whether themes and methodology of The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology contradicts or constitutes a departure from Husserl's earlier views on phenomenology.
Some researches utilized Husserl's Crisis as a starting point in order to show how other disciplines, e.g. mainstream economics, shared the crisis of modern sciences. In this respect, mainstream economics is a special case, since economic theory, taking physics as an ideal to follow and mimic, somehow inherited the methodological problems, the attitudes and the aspirations of natural sciences. In Husserl’s view, the crisis of modern sciences was caused by their efforts to mathematize our life-world. It can be argued, citing the classical texts, that neoclassical economics did not try to apply this aspectual misinterpretation. Although its methodology became similar to Galileo’s physics and shared the faith in mechanical philosophy, it should be realized that Neoclassicals did not substitute the abstract world to be scientifically investigated for directly experienced reality. According to these texts, early Neoclassicals pursued their studies deliberately assuming abstract environment and elements differing from reality. However, under the evolution of mainstream theory, its relation to reality underwent a peculiar rearrangement in which the total and direct merging of directly experienced reality and mathematical models into each other emerged only as a relatively late development, implemented by new classical macroeconomics, but the imperative of it was present all along. This was the way, as it is argued, how Husserlian scientific crisis emerged in economics.
- Inwood 2005. p. 410.
- Welton 1989. p. ix.
- Galbács, Peter (2015). "Methodological Principles and an Epistemological Introduction". The Theory of New Classical Macroeconomics. A Positive Critique. Heidelberg/New York/Dordrecht/London: Springer. pp. 1–52. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-17578-2. ISBN 978-3-319-17578-2.