Husserl : Crisis Part I, §1-7

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Husserl : Crisis Part I, §1-7

Postby BadgerJelly on December 6th, 2016, 4:46 am 

All quotes taken from "The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology: An Inrroduction to Phenomenological Philosophy" by Edmund Husserl, translated by David Carr.

This was an incomplete work and has been pieced together after Husserl's death so there is repetition and may well be use of terms that are unfamiliar if you've never read Husserl before.

In this thread will address Part I of the book which is about 15 pages long and cut into 7 sections.

So ...

"Part I : The Crisis of the Sciences as Expression of the Radical Life-Crisis of European Humanity.

§1 Is there, in view of their constant successes, really a crisis of the sciences?

I expect that at this place dedicated as it is to the sciences, the very title of these lectures, "The Crisis of European Sciences and Psychology," will incite controversy. A crisis of our sciences as such: can we seriously speak of it? Is notnthis talk, heard so often these days, an exaggeration? After all, the crisis of a science indicates nothing less than its genuine scientific character, the whole manner in which it has set its task ans developed a methodology for it, has become questionable. This may be true of philosophy, which in our time threatens to succumb to skepticism, irrationalism, and mysticism. The same may be true of psychology, insofae as it still makes philosophical claims rather than merely wanting a place among positive sxiences. But how could we speak straightforwardly and quite seriously of a crisis of the sciences in general - that is, also of the positive sciences, including pure mathematics and the exact natural sciences, which we can never cease to admire as models of rigorous and highly successful scientific discipline? ...

... Physics, whether represented by a Newtonor a Planck or an Einstein, or whomever else in the future, was always and remains exact science. It remains such even if, as some think, an absolutely final form of total theory-construction is never to be expected or striven for. ...

... The scientific rigor of all these accomplishments, and their enduringly compelling successes are unquestionable. Only of psychology must we perhaps be less sure, in spite of its claim to be the abstract, ultimately explanatory, basic science of the concrete humanistic disciplines. But generally we let psychology stand, attributing its obvious retardation of method and accomplishemnt to a naturally slower development. At any rate, the contrast between the "scientific" character of this group of sciences and the "unscientific" character of philosophy is unmistakable. Thus we concede in advance some justification to the first inner protest against the title of these lectures from scientists who are sure of their method."

Hopefully these quotes will reassure the reader that Husserl is not out to destroy science, but to explore science and our humanistic attitudes towards theory and method in general.

Please refrain from responses until I type out §2 which gives soem outline of the direction he goes in regarding subjectivity. Will type out tomorrrow ...
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Re: Husserl : Crisis Part I, §1-7

Postby BadgerJelly on December 8th, 2016, 7:39 am 

"§2. The positivistic reduction of the idea of science to mere factual science. The "crisis" of science as the loss of its meaning for life.

...

The indicated change in the whole direction of inquiry is what we wish, in fact, to undertake. In doing this we shall soon become aware that the difficulty which has plagued psychology, not just in our time but for centuries - its own peculiar "crisis" - has a central significance both for the appearance of puzzling, insoluble obscurities in modern, even mathematical sciences and, in connection with that, for the emergence of a set of world-enigmas which were unknown to earlier times. They all lead back to the enigma of subjectivity and are thus inseparably bound to the ..enigma of psychological subject matter and method. This much, then, as a first indication of the deeper meaning of our project in these lectures.
We make our beginning with a change which set in at the turn of the past century in the general evaluation of the sciences. It concerns notnthe scientific character of the sciences but rather what they, or what science in general, had meant and could mean for human existence. (trans note: menschliches Dasein) The exclusiveness with which the tot al world-view of modern man, in the second half of the nineteenth century, let itself be determined by the positive sciences and be blind by the "prosperity" (trans. note : Husserl uses English word) they produced, meant an indifferent turning-away from the questions which are decisive for a genuine humanity. (Menschentum) Merely fact-minded sciences make merely fact-minded people.

...

In the final analysis they concern man as a free, self-determining being in his behaviour toward the human and extrahuman surrounding world (Umwelt) and free in regard to his capacities for rationally shaping himself and his surrounding world. What does science have to say about reason and unresason or about us men as subjects of this freedom? The mere science of bodies clearly has nothing to say; it abstracts from everything subjective. As for the humanistic sciences, on the other hand, all the special ande general disciplines of which treat of man's spiritual (trans. note : geistig. The translating difficulties with Geist and its derivatives are too well known ... "spirit" ... "mental") existence, that is, within the horizon olf his historicity: their rigorous scientific character requires, we are told, that thex scholar carefully exclude all valuative positions, all questions of reason and unreason of their human subject matter and its cultural configurations. Scientific, objective truth is exclusively a matter of establishing what the world, the physical as well as the spiritual world, is in fact. But can the world, andx human existence in it, truthtfully have a meaning if sciences recognize as true only what is objectively established in this fashion, and if history has nothing more to teach us than that all the shapes of the spiritual world, all the conditions of life, ideals, norms upon which man relies, form and dissolve themselves like fleeting waves, that it always was and ever will be so, that again and again reason must turn intfo nonsense, ad well-being into misery? Can we console ourselves with that? Can we live in this world, where historical occurence is nothing but an unending concatenation of illusory progress and bitter disappointment?"

There are points here I find important to how Husserl procedes. The main one being the extention of the human subject int o an abstract proposition of objective reality. Also, for those opposed to the use of "spirit" here please simply add "mental". And for those opposed to "mental" simply add "subjective experience".
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Re: Husserl : Crisis Part I, §1-7

Postby BadgerJelly on December 9th, 2016, 4:04 am 

jjTrying not to bore you all to tears will try and be more selective with quotes. I am not professional just doing my best to outline Part I of Crisis. Part II gets to the nitty gritty of the history of science which I'll go over in another thread/s.

Anyway ...

"§3. The founding of the autonomy of European humanity through the new formulation of the idea of philosophy in the Renaissance.

It was not always the case that science understood its demand foe rigorously grounded truth in the sense of that sort of objectivity which dominates our positive sciences in respect to method which, having its effect far beyond the sciences themselves, is the basis for the support and widespread acceptance of a philosophical and idealogical positivism. The specifically human questions were not always banned from the realm of science ...
... Why science lost this leadership, why there occured an essential change, a positive restriction of the idea of science - to understand this, according to its deeper motives, is of great importance for the purpose of these lectures."

Note : "motives" translation of specific uses of Motif, motivieren and motivation.

...

"According to the guiding ideal of the Renaissance, ancient man forms himself with insight through free reason. For this renewed "Platonism" this means not only that man should be changed ethically [but that] the whole human surrounding world, the political and social existence of mankind, must be fashiones anew through free reason, through the insights of a universal philosophy."

...

"It must be emphasized here that the idea of philosophy handed down from the ancients is not the concept of present-day schoolbooks, merely comprising a group of disciplines; in the first centuries of the modern period - even though it changes not insignificantly as soon as it is taken up - it retains the formal meaning of the one all-encompassing science, the science of the totality of what is. (trans. note : I have used "what is", "that which is" and sometimes "that which exists" to translate Seiendes, das Seiende, etc. This particular locution may be another result of Heidegger's influence.)."

He then goes on to mention Decartes and how science encompasses the term "universality" in a unity of a "theoretical system" calling our positivistic concept of science a "residual concept" because ot had dropped metaphysical questions including terms "ultimate and highest" sticking to a "apodictically intelligible methodogy".

So he outlines how in the Renaissance science embraced the idea of having discovered a "universal method".
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Re: Husserl : Crisis Part I, §1-7

Postby BadgerJelly on December 12th, 2016, 7:08 am 

I am going to put § 4 & 5 together. Section 4 is barely a full page.

"§4. The failure of the new science after its initial success; the unclarified motive for this failure.

... Universal philosophy, in which these problems were related - unclearly - to the factual sciences, took the form of system-philosophies, which were impressive but unfortunately were not unified, indeed were mutually exclusive."

I struggle a little here with what is being said and feel that I maybe read my own ideas into this. I believe Husserl is referring to scientific specialisation and technique and method being used as a way of distracting from a human explanation and replaced with a pursuit of measuring and modelling. Anyway ...

"The belief in the ideal of philosophy and method, the guideline of all movements since the beginning of the modern era, began to waver; this happened not merely for the external motive that the contrast became monstrous between thr repeated failures of metaphysics and the uninterrupted and ever increasing wave of theoretical and practical successes in the positive sciences.

... the mass of others quickly found and still find formulas with which to console themselves and their readers."

This final sentence for me says it all. The method and its uses, although obviously not meaningless, represent a kind of defeatism. Meaning the question of "truth" and what it is to be human are sidelined and almost left so far behind the investigation into nature that they are blind from being a pursuit of "humanity" and the pursuit of "the true self". We approach The World as humans not as disembodied objectively pure beings. This is the "ideal" of science.

"§5. The ideal of universal philosophy and the process of its inner dissolution."

Something I think important here is the term "universal". Often we don't really consider what this means. Science has taken this on in the form "universe" which is essentially an extended version of "world". In physics they talk about "the universe" as comprising of galaxies and solar systems etc.,. Simple everyday language is often overlooked in how we view the world and how we apply technical terms and colloquialise them.

This section to me is very important in understanding Husserl and his pursuit of a "better" science. Anyway ...

"The necessary consequence was a peculiar change in the whole way of thinking. Philosophy became a problem for itself, at first, understandably, in the form of the [problem of the] possibility of a metaphysics; and, following what we said earlier, this concerned implicitly the meaning and possibility of the whole problematics of reason. As for positive sciences, at first they were untouchable. Yet the problem of a possible metaphysics also encompassed eo ipso that of the possibility of the factual sciences, since these had their relational meaning - that of truths merely for areas of what is - in the indivisible unity of philosophy. Can reason and that-which-is be separated, where reason, as knowing, determines what is?"

...

"But this is to say that, ultimately, all modern sciences drifted into a peculiar, increasingly puzzling crisis with regard to the meaning of their original founding as branches of philosophy, a meaning which they continued to bear within themselves. This is a crisis which does not encroach upon the theoretical adn practical successes of the special sciences; yet it shakes to the foundations the whole meaning of their truth. This is not just a matter of a special form of culture - "science" or "philosophy" - as one among others belonging to European mankind. For the primal establishment of the new philosophy is, according to what was said earlier, the primal establishment of modern European humanity itself - humanity which seeks to renew itself radically, as against the foregoing medieval and ancient age, precisely and only through its new philosophy. Thus the crisis of philosophy implies the crisis of all modern sciences as members of the philosophical universe: at first a latent, then a more prominent crisis of European humanity itself in respect to the total meaningfulness of its cultural life, its total "Existenz.""

Trans. Note: "Existenz". Husserl uses the term made popular by Jaspers and Heidegger. This and existentiall are used in a rather loose and popular sense through this work.

Something else I quoted in another thread regarding episteme and doxa. What is important to note with these terms is how we view them in modern terms. In the modern day I see people refer to "doxa" as meaning "opinion". This is actually not a very accurate translation. "doxa" means "that-which-is" obvious, not mere opinion. And "episteme" is that which is reasoned.

Husserl writes ...

"If man loses this faith, it means nothing less than loss of faith "in himself", in his own true being. This true being is not something he always already has, with the self-evidence of the "I am", but something he only has and can have in the form of the struggle for his truth, the struggle to make himself true. True being is everywhere an ideal goal, a task of episteme or "reason", as opposed to being which through doxa is merely thought to be, unquestioned and "obvious".

... this prefiguration is surpassed by philosophy : in its first, original establishment, ancient philosophy, it conceives of and takes as its task the exalted idea of universal knowledge concerning the totality of what is. Yet in the very attempt to fulfill it, the naive obviousness of this task is increasingly transformed - as one feels already in the opposition of the ancient systems - into unintelligibility. More and more the history of philosophy, seen from within, takes on the character of a struggle for existence, i.e., a struggle between the philosophy which lives in the straightforward pursuit of its task - the philosophy of naive faith in reason - and the skepticism which negates or repudiates it in empiricist fashion. Unremittingly, skepticism insists on the validity of the factually experienced [erlebte] world, that of actual experience [Erfahrung], and finds in it nothing of reason or its ideas."

Trans. Note : Erfahrung. "Experience" will be used to translate Erfahrung unless otherwise indicated. Erlebnis and erleben, so important in Husserl's earlier writings, are seldom used in this text.

To sum up Husserl is pointing out that "science", in the modern sense, originates from ancient philosophy. I would personally say there is a bias of modern thought that is so "obvious" so as not to be seen as "obvious", in Husserl's sense as what is there. We have an overwhelmingly positivistic view and have even taken the ancient use of "doxa" and replaced it as "mere opinion"! The irony is that scientific method is "obvious" in its use, it is "doxa" presented as "episteme", as a universal truth. This is what Husserl calls the "enigma of all enigmas".

His "crisis" is about a philosophical crisis that automatically flows into scientific views. What is shown here is how skepticism forces us to look at the idea of "premise" and logical structure as seemingly incompatible with "self-evident" being.

Note : The Vienna lecture looks in more depth into the beginnings of philosophy in the Greek context. Will probably look at this after this thread is finished because it outlines some interesting thoughts.
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Re: Husserl : Crisis Part I, §1-7

Postby BadgerJelly on December 18th, 2016, 3:31 am 

"§6. The history of modern philosophy as a struggle for the meaning of man.

...

To brinf latent reason to the understanding of its own possibilities and thus to bring to insight the possibility of metaphysics as a true potential - this is the only way to put metaphysics or universal philosophy on the strenuous road to realization. It is the only way to decide whether telos which was inborn in European humanity at the birth of Greek philosophy - that of humanity which seeks reason, moving endlessly from latent to manifest reason and forever seeking its own norms through this, its truth and genuine human nature - whether telos, then, is merely factual, historical delusion, the accidental acquisition of merely one among many other civilizations and histories, or whether Greek humanity was not rather the firstbreakthrough to what is essential to humanity as such, as entelechy. To be human at all is essentially to be a human being in a socially and generatively united civilization; and if man is a rational being (animal rationale), it is only insofar as his whole civilization is a rational civilization, that is, one with which a latent orientation toward reason or one openly oriented toward the entelechy which has come to itself, become manifest to itself, and which now of necessity consciously directs human becoming. Philosophy amd science would accordingly be the historical movement through which universal reason, "inborn" in humanity as such, is revealed.

...

§7. The project of the investigations of this work.

But now we ourselves, we philosophers of the present - what can and must reflections of the sort we have just carried out mean for us? Did we just want to hear an academic oration? Can we simply return again to the interrupted vocational work on our "philosophical problems," that is, each to the further construction of his own philosophy? Can we seriously do that when it seems certain that our philosophy, like that of all our fellow philosophers, past and present, will have its fleeting day of existence only among the flora of the ever growing and dying philosophies?
Precisely herein lies our own plight - the plightof all of us who are not philosophical literati but who, educated by the genuine philosophers of the great past, live for truth, who only in this way are and seek to be our own truth. But as philosophers of the present we have fallen into a painful existential contradiction. The faith in the possibility of universal knowledge, is something we cannot let go. We know that we are called to this task as serious philosophers. And yet, how do we hold onto this belief, which has meaning only in relation to the single goal which is common to us all, that is, philosophy as such?
We have also become aware in thebmost general way [through the foregoing reflections] that human philosophizing and its results in the whole of man's existence mean anything but merely private or otherwise limited cultural goals. ...
... what should we, who believe, do in order to be able to believe? We cannot seriously continue our previous philosophizing; it lets us hope only foe philosophies, never for philosophy.

... What is clearly necessary (what else could be of help here?) is that we reflect back, in thorough historical and critical fashion, in order to provide, before all decisions, for a radical self-understanding: we must inquire back into what was originally sought in philosophy, what was continually sought by all the philosophers and philosophies that have communicated with one another historically; but this must inclide a critical consideration of what, in respect to the goals and methods [of philosophy], is ultimate, original and genuine and which, once seen, apodictically conquers the will."

Now Husserl sets out his direction probably more clearly than he has up until this point. What it not so apparent is how this relates to science. The relation is simply that science stems from philosophy and contains the seed of philosophy. If philosophy can take on a radical change the science will move along with it not as some separate entity.

He continues and finishes Part I with this ...

"How this is really to be carried out, and what this apodicticity could ultimately be which would be decisive for our existential being as philosophers, is at first unclear. In the following I shall attempt to show the paths that I myself have taken, the practicability and soundness of which I have tested for decades. From now on we proceed together, then, armed with the most skeptical, though of course not prematurely negativistic, frame of mind. We shall attempt to strike through the crust of the externalized "historical facts" of philosophical history, interrogating, exhibiting, and testing their inner meaning and hidden teleology. Gradually, at first unnoticed but growing more and more pressing, possibilities for a complete reorientation of view will make themselves felt, pointing to new dimensions. Questions never before asked will arise; fields of endeavor never before entered, correlations never before grasped or radically understood, will show themselves. In the end they will require that the total sense of philosophy, accepted as "obvious" throughout all its historical forms, be basically and essentially transformed. Together with the new task and its universal apodictic ground (trans. note: Boden ... is much used in connection with the concept of the life-world; it suggests nourishing soil and support, rather than a logical ground or cause.), the practical possibility of a new philosophy will prove itself: through its execution. But it will also become apparent that all the philosophy of the past, though unbeknown to itself, was inwardly oriented toward this new sense of philosophy. In this regard, the tragic failure of modern psychology in particular, its contradictory historical existence, will be clarified and made understandable: that is, the fact that it had to claim (through its hostorically accumulated meaning) to be the basic philosophical science, while this produced the obviously paradoxical consequences of the so-called "psychologism."
I seek not to instruct but only lead, to point out and describe what I see. I claim no other right than that of speaking according to my best lights, principally before myself but in the same manner also before others, as one who has lived in all its seriousness the fate of a philosophical existence."

I hope this thread is a worthy introduction to Husserl's "Crisis"? In Part II he engages in looking at Galileo, Decarte, Locke, Berkley, Hume and Kant.

I will think about how best to condense and present this next or maybe, as I said previously, focus on the Vienna Lecture prior to Part II to outline a fuller picture of the investigation. I think The Vienna Lecture will give "ground" (Boden: Nourishment) to the course of Part II.

Anyway, I would be very interested to hear what you think of this and what you anticipate? Not really much to critic yet, this is more of an outline of his intent.

Have I managed to arouse any interest here?
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Re: Husserl : Crisis Part I, §1-7

Postby NoShips on December 18th, 2016, 5:01 am 

Thanks for sharing, Badger. I knew almost nothing of Husserl before. All read with interest.
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Re: Husserl : Crisis Part I, §1-7

Postby Athena on December 20th, 2016, 12:03 am 

Is this like the primate crisis that resulted in some walking away on two legs? I don't think the primates who never walked on two legs would identify a crisis as some walking away on two legs. Nor would those who walked away on two legs, look back and say this is a crisis. But I think they both faced a crisis and dealt with it in different ways.

I am interested in what is said about Galileo, Descartes, Locke, Berkley, Hume and Kant. That is a little familiar to me, so I might makes sense of it. That you are making this effort is very impressive!
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