Brain F. Kain

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)






The philosophy of Edmund Husserl is not easily characterized by a single phrase or even a few sentences. It has been labelled psychologism, Platonism, subjective idealism, transcendental idealism, realism, phenomenalism, reconstructed empiricism, etc. And according to the aspects of his philosophy which are neglected in interpreting the rest, all such labels are, in part, justifiable. It is undoubtedly true that Husserl's thought underwent important modifications. Eugen Fink, Hnsserl's assistant in Freiburg, has suggested three main stages in Husserl's philosophical career. It is our contention, however, that such periodization is contributory to a distortion of his philosophy. Aside from his early psychologism, Husserl's thought forms a systematic whole. It is systematic in the sense that his search for t:he "absolute foundation" of knowledge leads him progressively deeper and deeper into subjectivity.

Nevertheless, one may emphasize different layers of the Husserlian "diggings". We have chosen to examine a relatively small one, viz., the years 1907 to 1911. On the basis of this examination, we hope to portray phenomenology as a method - a metaphysically neutral method whereby "objects" may be brought to clarification through reflecting on their modes of appearance. The reriod suggested for investigation cannot, however, be quite so neatly cut off. To avoid, as far as possible, a one-sided (mis-)interpretation of Husserl's philosophy, it will be necessary to consider briefly the foundations of phenomenology. Only by re-thinking Husserl's thought can we hope to understand him. Also in the interest of clarification, we shall not hesitate to refer, both explicitly and implicitly, to his works published after 1911.

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