Husserl: The Vienna Lecture (final part)

Discussions on the philosophical foundations, assumptions, and implications of science, including the natural sciences.

Husserl: The Vienna Lecture (final part)

Postby BadgerJelly on December 29th, 2016, 5:21 am 

Please refer to other thread on The Vienna Lecture for further depth.

Honestly, in hindsight, I think this is the best place to start before then reading the other thread!

Anyway, as stated previously, this is meant as a general introduction to Husserl's style of writing and as a way to lead into Part II of "The Crisis of European Sciences and Tranacendental Phenomenology", in which Husserl looks at Galileo and the general hiatory of science.

The Vienna Lecture

"The spirit, and indeed only the spirit, exists in itself and for itself, is self-sufficient; and in its self-sufficiency, and only in this way, it can be treated truly rationally, truly and from the ground up scientifically. As for nature, however, in its natural-scientific truth, it is only apparently self-sufficient and can only apparently be brought by itself to rational knowledge in the natural sciences. For true nature in the sense of natural science is a product of the spirit that investigates nature and thus presupposes the science of the spirit. The spirit is by its essence capable of practicing self-knowledge, and as scientific spirit it is capable of practicing scientific self-knowledge, and this in an iterative way. Only in the knowledge belonging purely to the science of the spirit is the scientist not open to the objection that his own accomplishment conceals itself. Accordingly, it is a mistake for the humanistic disciplines to struggle with the natural sciences for equal rights. As soon as they concede to the latter their objectivity as self-sufficiency, they themselves fall prey to objectivism. But as they are now developed in their manifold disciplines, they lack the ultimate, true rationality made possible by the spiritual world-view. Precisely this lack of a genuine rationality on all sides is the source of man's now unbearable lack of clarity about his own existence and his infinite tasks. These are inseparably united in one task: Only when the spirit returns from its naïve external orientation to itself, and remains with itself and purely with itself, can it be sufficent unto itself.
But how did a beginning of such self-reflection occur? A beginning was not possible so long as sensationalism, or better, data-psychologism, the psychology of the tabula rasa, commanded the field. Only when Brentano made the demand for psychology as a science of intentional experiences was an impulse given that could lead further, although Brentano himself had not yet overcome objectivism and psychological naturalism. The development of an actual method for grasping the fundamental essence of the spirit in its intentionalities, and for constructing from there an analysis of the spirit that is consistent in infinitum, led to transcendental phenomenology. It overcomes naturalistic objectivism and every sort of objectivism in the only possible way, namely, through the fact that he who philosophizes proceeds from his own ego, and this purely as the performer of all his validities, of which he becomes the purely theoretical spectator. In this attitude it is possible to construct an absolutely self-sufficient science of the spirit in the form of consistantly coming to terms with oneself and with the world as spiritual accomplishment. Here the spirit is not in or alongside nature; rather, nature is itself drawn into the spiritual sphere. Also, the ego is then no longer an isolated thing alongside other such things in a pregiven world; in general, the serious mutual exteriority of ego-persons, their being alongside one another, ceases in favor of an inward being-for-one-another adn mutual interpretation.
But of all this we cannot speak here; no lecture could exhaust it. I hope to have shown, however, that the old rationalism, whcih was an absurd naturalism incapable of grasping at all the spiritual problems that immediately concern us, is not being revived here. The ratio presently under discussion is nothing other than the spirit's truly universal and truly radical coming to terms with itself in the form of universal, responsible science, in which a completely new mode of scientific discipline is set in motion where all.conceivable questions - questions of being and questions of norm, questions of what is called "existence" [Existenz] - find their place. It is my conviction that intentional phenomenology had made of the spirit qua spirit for the first time a field of systematic experience and science and has thus brought about the total reorientation of the task of knowledge. The universality of the absolute historicity, to which nature is subordinated as a spiritual structure. Intentional phenomenology, and specifically transcendental phenomenology, was first to see the light through its point of departure and its methods. Only through it do we understand, and from the most profound reasons, what naturalistic objectivism is and understand in particular that psychology, because of its naturalism, had to miss entirely the accomplishment, the radical and genuine problem, of the life of spirit.

Let us condense the fundamental notions presented here. The "crisis of European existence," talked about so much today and documented in innumerable symptoms of the breakdown of life, is not an obscure fate, an impenetrable destiny; rather, it becomes understandable and transparent against the background of the teleology of European history that can be discovered philosophically. The condition fornthis understanding, however, is that the phenomenon "Europe" be grasped in its central, essential nucleus. In order to be able to comprehend the disarray of the present "crisis", we had to work out the concept of Europe as the historical teleology of the infinite goals of reason; we had to show how the European "world" was born out of ideas of reason, i.e., out of the spirit of philosophy. The "crisis" could then become distinguishable as the apparent failure of rationalism. The reason for the failure of rational culture, however, as we said, lies not in the essence of rationalism itself but solely in its being rendered superficial, in its entanglement in "naturalism" and "objectivism".
There are only two escapes from the crisis of European existence: the downfall of Europe in its estrangement from its own rational sense of life, its fall into hostility toward the spirit and into barbarity; or the rebirth of Europe from the spirit of philosophy through a heroism of reason that overcomes naturalism once and for all. Europe's greatest danger is weariness. If we struggle against this greatest of all dangers as "good Europeans" with the sort of courage that does not fear even an infinite struggle, then out of the destructive blaze of lack of faith, the smoldering fire of despair over the West's mission for humanity, the ashes of great weariness, will rise up the phoenix of a new life-inwardness and spiritualization as the pledge of a great and distant future for man: for the spirit alone is immortal."

I think it very fair to comment on the political climate at this time in regard to the last paragraph here. Husserl was basically in forced exile from Germany, being unable to speak in public because he was a Jew. The Vienna Lecture took place in 1935.

I found this piece important as a way to see Husserl's approach toward human cultural development, the development of philosophy and science, and where his "phenomenology" fits in.
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Re: Husserl: The Vienna Lecture (final part)

Postby Serpent on December 29th, 2016, 3:18 pm 

How incredibly ironic!
Without the Jewish question, he would have been on the exact right philosophical and political wavelength.
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