Sunday, May 10, 2009

71 Edmund Husserl

Edmund Husserl must have been a special character. He set out on a philosophical journey, which lasted all his life. He produced some 45,000 manuscript pages in shorthand!

Philosophy, for Husserl, was not just his occupation. It was of the utmost seriousness to him. He spoke of it as some men speak of their call to the priesthood or others of their most sacred moral duties.

The truths he sought do not concern this or that particular subject matter. He sought the truths on which all other human knowledge rests. His search was for the unshakable foundation of human knowledge, which he often referred to as the "Archimedean point".

A bit sad but fact is that at the end there was no "Husserlian" system. There are no incontestable phenomenological truths. There is no unambigious and incontrovertible description of the phenomenological method. In other words, Husserl went on a journey a present-day philosopher even wouldnt dare to think of.

Husserl focused his quest on an old epistemological problem: our knowledge of the external world and the ontological questions related to it. Hume and Kant already had given an answer. Hume by saying that a real external world causes our perceptions in the form of mental images and ideas. For Kant there only was the reality of the mind and the existence of the unknowable "Ding an sich" (thing as such).

First thing to observe is that Husserl followed the rationalist tradition in his search for certainty of knowledge, almost in the footsteps of Descartes. As a mathematician he wasnt satisfied with just doing mathematics. He wanted complete clarity about the meaning of basic mathematical concepts.

In 1891 he published his first volume of his "Philosophie der Aritmetik". In this book he attempted a psychological analysis of certain basic logical and mathematical notions.

He was criticized immediately by Frege. How can an inductive science as psychology, which at the very best comes to (highly) probable statements (laws) explain the absolute validity of logical and mathematical laws.

Frege argued that logical and mathematical concepts differ from the psychological acts in which they may occur and that, therefore, the discussion of the psychological acts does not serve to explicate the logical and mathematical concepts. He accused Husserl of confusing psychology and logic.

Husserl revised his ideas completely The concept of philosophy as a science thus changed from philosophy as a part of empirical natural science to philosophy as an a priori autonomous science. This science Husserl called "phenomenology".

The philosophical position of Husserl is now thus: epistemologically we are locked up in the mind. There is no relation between its content and an external world. The central theme is that all our mental acts are intentional, directed on something.

To give an example (against which Frege opposed), according to Husserl we have no concept of number in our mind. There is the mental act of counting in which the concept of number appears. The concept of number is always intentionally related to counting.

But now the problems begin to pile up. In our mind we observe intentional acts in which objects appear. Not in the way Hume claimed that we have images and ideas. When describing these mental acts and their intentional objects how can we see the difference between descriptive psychology and phenomenological analysis?

And here we encounter another old epistemological problem: the infinite regress of the I. I think about myself ---I and myself are two different entities, they must be - then I can say I am observing, how I think about myself....and so on.

To solve this problem Husserl invented the Transcendental Ego or Pure consciousness for which everything that exists is an object (except itself of course). All what this transcendental Ego describes should be certain knowledge.

An untenable theory in relation to the developing natural sciences and Husserl kept on adjusting and ammending his philosophical theory. Earlier, phenomenological reflection was to have provided the foundations of scientific knowledge by reflecting on scientific knowledge.

Now, at the end, Husserl distinguishes sharply between the world as known to science and the world in which we live, the "Lebenswelt". Scientific knowledge, he then believed, can be understood only if we first understand the lebenswelt.

The study of that lived world and of our experience of it becomes the first task of phenomenology now.

The Discussion

[13:23] Herman Bergson: So far on Husserl...
[13:23] Herman Bergson: if you have questions or remarks...shoot....:-)
[13:23] itsme Frederix: Herman wasn't Husserl stuck in description, description and again description?
[13:23] Herman Bergson: I guess you can say that Itsme....
[13:24] itsme Frederix: If i'm not wrong he even had pupils describing the thinks - like monks
[13:24] Laila Schuman: hasn't the idea of ... our percetions... our minds... affect our "seeing the outside world"... hasn't someone already established that?
[13:24] Gemma Cleanslate: descibing the thinks???
[13:24] Chiara Pichot: I didnt understand the part about not having a concept of number in our minds. How could we count if we don't have a concept of number?
[13:24] Cailleach Shan: Husserl's statement of the 'I' as the 'observer' seems like Eastern philosophy... and very familiar today... ie.. Eckhart Tolle.
[13:24] Herman Bergson: I dont know what he did with his pupils...only what he did with me..:-)
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[[13:25] Herman Bergson: Well....a few remarks....
[13:25] Laila Schuman: i agree with cailleach... "the watcher"
[13:25] itsme Frederix: Chiara you can count without numbers, the next one is just the succeeding one
[13:26] hope63 Shepherd: algebra doesn't need numbers..
[13:26] Herman Bergson: in fact Husserl tried to evade the argument that he was just using descriptive psychology by devising the socalled phenomenological method
[13:26] Chiara Pichot: but your not counting if you just go from one thing to the next one. That's called shopping . . .
[13:27] itsme Frederix: lol
[13:27] Herman Bergson: lol....typical SL philosophy I would say..:-)
[13:27] hope63 Shepherd: lol
[13:27] Herman Bergson: authentic and original..
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: i think what he meant was you could not have a number like 4325 in your head without counting
[13:27] Chiara Pichot: ; )
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: the concept wouldd not be ther
[13:27] Herman Bergson: Husserl was impressd by the critics of Frege...
[13:28] Herman Bergson: The main idea was Intentionality....
[13:28] Herman Bergson: every mental act was intended to something...
[13:29] Samuel Okelly: all "objective" description is theory laden to some degree surely?
[13:29] Herman Bergson: pointing at something...
[13:29] Herman Bergson: Hume had a rather passive approach to the mental act......there were just images in the mind...
[13:30] Herman Bergson: Husserl disagreed with that interpretation of the mind...
[13:30] Herman Bergson: Every mental act was intentional according to him
[13:30] hope63 Shepherd: every mental act intends something.. conscious or subconcious- why intentional..
[13:30] Gemma Cleanslate: hmmm
[13:30] Herman Bergson: and thus it made the object of intention "real"
[13:31] Chiara Pichot: are feelings mental acts? like, if I feel happy, am I intending something?
[13:31] Herman Bergson: that is exactly the issue Hope....Husserl got this idea from his teacher Brentano..
[13:31] hope63 Shepherd: bet you do.. chiara.. :)
[13:32] hope63 Shepherd: brentano-- the writer?
[13:32] Herman Bergson: Well....that is exactly what I try to escape from....
[13:32] Herman Bergson: a discussion on that peculiar Husserlian descriptive psychology..
[13:33] Chiara Pichot: (i'm not always scheming : p )
[13:33] Gudrun Odriscoll: sorry have to go, am a bit absent minded today
[13:34] Herman Bergson: What I conclude is that Husserl introduced a method of introspection which he called the phenomenological method to make a difference with descriptive psychology
[13:34] hope63 Shepherd: explain what absent minded means gudrun.. and we will let you go:)
[13:34] Herman Bergson: You are excused Gudrun...
[13:35] itsme Frederix: Well Herman in a way Husserl was famous, even young Sartre visited him
[13:35] Cailleach Shan: Absent minded must be a bit like Husserl's non existent kitten...
[13:35] Vladimir Apparatchik: Herman, finding this tricky, dont really know Husserl. Is he saying that each mental act referes to something outside, but that thing outside doesnt actally exist separately, it is created by that mental act in some way?
[13:35] Herman Bergson: Oh yes....tho I wonder why...
[13:35] AristotleVon Doobie: seems to me that Mr Husserl was like a mechanic, spending his lifetime attempting to fix things that are not broken
[13:35] Qwark Allen: nice ari
[13:35] Herman Bergson: Exactly Vladimir...
[13:36] Herman Bergson: Yes Aristotle.....he lived a dilligent life
[13:37] Herman Bergson: At the end his phenomenological method was only applicable to the lived world, the Lebenwelt...
[13:37] Gemma Cleanslate: translated???
[13:37] Herman Bergson: and I think that this is because his epistemological approach didnt fit in at all with modern scientific theory
[13:37] Gemma Cleanslate: the lived world??
[13:37] Vladimir Apparatchik: so philosphy was about examining that first-person perspective and saying nothing about the "real"world?
[13:38] Herman Bergson: yes Gemma...the world we live (in)
[13:38] Cailleach Shan: lol What is the 'real' world..
[13:38] hope63 Shepherd: nice approach vlad..
[13:38] Qwark Allen: the good old question
[13:38] Gemma Cleanslate: hmmm
[13:38] Herman Bergson: Indeed the good old question..
[13:39] Herman Bergson: Husserl tried to escape the discussion about an external world....the ontological discussion
[13:39] itsme Frederix: That first-person's perspective (nice term) is I think just what attracked existentialists
[13:39] Herman Bergson: so eventually he was a traditional rationalist..and idealist....the mind is what is real
[13:40] Herman Bergson: Husserl was famous for a certain perod....
[13:40] hope63 Shepherd: did he say real? or what we concieve as real is through the mind?
[13:41] Herman Bergson: in my opinion...that period is long over...
[13:41] Herman Bergson: but he had great influence on Heidegger Merleau - Ponty and Sartre...
[13:41] Vladimir Apparatchik: I get the impression that he was the first of the "continental" philosphers that split from the anglo-American analytic tradition
[13:42] hope63 Shepherd: so they-heidegger and sartre and camus etc are of a period long over?
[13:42] Herman Bergson: But I think mainly because of the way he analysed the way we experience the world we live in..
[13:43] Herman Bergson: that is a non sequitur Hope...
[13:43] Herman Bergson: Those who said that they used the phenomenological method did it in their own way
[13:44] Herman Bergson: I dont think they were willing to follow Husserl's route by the letter
[13:44] Herman Bergson: Heidegger even disagreed with Husserl
[13:44] hope63 Shepherd: in the history if philosophy-- didn't all "new" ones use the " old " ones in their own way...:)
[13:44] Herman Bergson: He is brace yourselves
[13:45] Gemma Cleanslate: I will miss that one have to read the blog
[13:45] itsme Frederix: well the phenomenological approach of ontology did open the way (again) for questioning the wordl
[13:45] itsme Frederix: I regret to say I've to miss tuesday also
[13:45] Herman Bergson: and that is what you find in Sartre
[13:46] Herman Bergson: Well..I wouldnt mind skipping Hiedegger..(^_*)
[13:46] itsme Frederix: i am
[13:46] Laila Schuman: :-)
[13:46] Cailleach Shan: Is that because of his politics Herman?
[13:46] Herman Bergson: Ok...Tuesday....Martin Heidegger.....
[13:47] hope63 Shepherd: cal.. stop picking on
[13:47] Herman Bergson: No is because of his way of philosophizing
[13:47] itsme Frederix: the guy is really tuff, so difficult (at least for me)
[13:47] Cailleach Shan: lol..
[13:48] Herman Bergson: Indeed Itsme...
[13:48] Vladimir Apparatchik: glad it's not just me itsme
[13:48] itsme Frederix: But I promissd myself to read Sein & Zeit next chapters - I got stuck in the first one
[13:48] Herman Bergson: And I wonder...when a philsoper isnt clear and it a good philospher then?
[13:48] AristotleVon Doobie: the ocean is littered with flotsam to be navigated around
[13:48] hope63 Shepherd: problem with heidegger is he invented a lot odf new weords .. even for a german difficult to integrate into his thoughts.. translations can be disastrous..
[13:48] Vladimir Apparatchik: what about Kant though?
[13:49] itsme Frederix: well I thing his thought (in later day's '60) about technology are very worth it
[13:49] Vladimir Apparatchik: unreadable - to me anyway - but surely a great figure
[13:49] Gemma Cleanslate: good thing we have someone to read it all for us
[13:49] Herman Bergson: kant's language is complex...but his ideas are quite clear
[13:49] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:49] Cailleach Shan: Seems to me each philosopher invents new words..
[13:50] Herman Bergson: Should be forbidden
[13:50] Gemma Cleanslate: lolol
[13:50] hope63 Shepherd: about time we get to Wittgenstein and others.. language finally is the way we communicate.. and do we speak the same language( in philosophy)
[13:50] itsme Frederix: well at least I get the prologue to Heidegger on this day (Gemma ;))
[13:50] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:50] Vladimir Apparatchik: or like the deconstructionists who use existing words and sprinkle hyphens in them
[13:51] Herman Bergson: Inventing new words to make your theory stick, is unaceptabble to me
[13:51] hope63 Shepherd: and philosophy withpout communication.. can it exist?
[13:51] itsme Frederix: well the hyphen you find in Heidegger world also
[13:51] Herman Bergson: it is word fetishism
[13:52] Pearl Moonlight is Offline
[13:52] Herman Bergson: and another problem is..when I have a word..I may have a meaning..but do I also have a reference???
[13:52] hope63 Shepherd: herman.. when we try to undeeerstand fetishes in other cultures.. a reasion to discard them?=
[13:52] Qwark Allen: in some how he seemed squizophrenic>>>> separeting himslef from the "i" and neologisms
[13:52] itsme Frederix: Herman if language reflect the "world", and we have new thought and experiences in that "world", why not using new words
[13:53] hope63 Shepherd: ty ist..
[13:53] AristotleVon Doobie: why?
[13:53] itsme Frederix: Or if language is on its own, we can not tell language to have NOT new words
[13:53] Herman Bergson: yes I say...if the world has as reference a newly discovered problem
[13:53] AristotleVon Doobie: how many names can be applied to 'thinking' ?
[13:53] Cailleach Shan: @ Itsme. wouldn't you have to educate everyone in the language first to get any ideas across..
[13:53] Osrum Sands: I agree, - Itsme
[13:54] hope63 Shepherd: cal. think of history of mankind.. how many words did exits 10000 years ago?
[13:54] Osrum Sands: new words can be used as a means to social exclusion
[13:54] Osrum Sands: or inclusion
[13:54] Osrum Sands: happens all the time in govt
[13:54] hope63 Shepherd: right os:)
[13:54] Qwark Allen: we don`t know for sure if there was more or less by then
[13:54] itsme Frederix: wauw concrete thoughts
[13:54] Cailleach Shan: Corporate speak..
[13:54] Herman Bergson: it can be used in hypotheses...and tested
[13:55] Laila Schuman: a good writer is a wordsmith... inventing new words shows lack of ability to write well... a few new words...ok... but it should not be habitual
[13:55] Qwark Allen: sumerian writing was more sofisticated then the actual one
[13:55] Vladimir Apparatchik: sorry Herman I'm no wiser today - I cant see what's new in Husserl but he seemed to be very influentional - is it intentionality that's new with him?
[13:55] Cailleach Shan: Leagalese..
[13:56] Herman Bergson: You could say that Vladimir...besides I never got wiser from Husserl myself..:-)
[13:56] itsme Frederix: Laila a few new words oke, take some years and take some people (how many years were there, how many people did use words?) and you get tons of new words
[13:56] Gemma Cleanslate: have to excuse my self
[13:56] AristotleVon Doobie: I suppose that creating convoluting words and theories has the potential to make one famous and possibly immortal in the process
[13:57] Laila Schuman: years...
[13:57] Laila Schuman: it is not one person habitually getting around their handicap
[13:57] Herman Bergson: We have to make a difference in using language in literature and in scientific theory
[13:57] hope63 Shepherd: the one who invented the wheel and the word for it is immortal.. but we don't know him os:)
[13:57] hope63 Shepherd: sorry ari
[13:57] Qwark Allen: got to go to
[13:57] Cailleach Shan: cu Q
[13:57] Herman Bergson: Ok Qwark...
[13:57] Qwark Allen: ty for the lecture herman
[13:58] AristotleVon Doobie: bye Qwark
[13:58] Qwark Allen: :-D
[13:58] itsme Frederix: Herman, why - both try to make the world (or parts) clear
[13:58] Qwark Allen: good bye later
[13:58] Herman Bergson: Thanks for your attention Qwark
[13:58] Samuel Okelly: isnt all language a dynamic process?
[13:58] Laila Schuman: dynamic ... as in contributions by all concerned...
[13:58] Laila Schuman: not just one person ... etc
[13:58] hope63 Shepherd: dynamic.. or evolution.. same.. evolution of the mind.. confronted with new..
[13:59] Cailleach Shan: mmmm..... Lost in translation....
[13:59] hope63 Shepherd: have to find a word for anything new..
[13:59] itsme Frederix: well Laila another example, new music (but with the same elements f.i.c-major) why not, why stop Scriabin
[13:59] AristotleVon Doobie: my point is that language should be used to simplify not convolute
[13:59] Samuel Okelly: for one person to communicate an idea to another, a shared reference is needed
[13:59] Herman Bergson: Well...we have riften far enough from Husserl now to dismiss class..
[13:59] Cailleach Shan: Thanks Herman.... your new seats a very comfy...:) Bye everyone..
[14:00] Herman Bergson: language will be on the menu very soon too
[14:00] AristotleVon Doobie: bye Cal
[14:00] Laila Schuman: be well all...smiles
[14:00] itsme Frederix: bye
[14:00] Herman Bergson: Bye Cal..:-)
[14:00] AristotleVon Doobie: bye Laila
[14:00] hope63 Shepherd: bye cal-..
[14:00] Herman Bergson: CU Laila..:-)
[14:00] Samuel Okelly: thanks again herman :) once again lots to think about
[14:00] itsme Frederix: thinking needs language
[14:00] Herman Bergson: my pleasure Samuel
[14:01] Osrum Sands: cheers all - enjoy and celebrate every little bit of life CU next time
[14:01] Samuel Okelly: cheerio for now every1 :)
[14:01] AristotleVon Doobie: cheers Osrum
[14:01] Herman Bergson: Bye Osrum...

Posted by herman_bergson on 2008-05-28 04:50:27

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