8 Apr, 2021

Edmund Husserl – philosopher, founder of phenomenology

Edmund Husserl was born on April 8, 1859 in Prosnica (Moravia). He was educated in 1876-1882 at the Leipzig, Berlin and Vienna universities, intending to become a mathematician, but communication with philosophers and psychologists F. Brentano and K. Stumpf awakened his interest in the study of thought processes.

In 1887-1901, Husserl taught at the universities of Halle, then at Göttingen (1901-1916) and Freiburg (1916-1928). With the coming to power in Germany of the National Socialists, he found himself in a certain isolation and was removed from teaching.

Among those who influenced Husserl in the early period were W. James, J.S. Mill, G. Leibniz. I. Kant with his theory of knowledge influenced Husserl in the later period of his philosophical development.

Two main subjects of his interest – mathematics and logic, on the one hand, and psychology, on the other – were considered by him already in his first work – in the “Philosophy of Arithmetic”. The difficulties that Husserl faced led him to undertake a general investigation of the structure and specific activity of “conscious experience.” Considering the issue of “instant grasping of forms”, he came close to Gestalt psychology. To some extent, Husserl can be considered the forerunner of this method.

During the period of research, the views of the scientist have undergone significant changes. From his enthusiasm for “psychologism” he came to “descriptive psychology”, which can be called phenomenology in the narrow sense; and finally, to transcendental phenomenology, which seeks nothing more than essences and essential relationships. He published a large number of scientific papers. Husserl’s genius is especially striking in two areas: in the philosophy of logic and in the descriptive analysis of the processes of consciousness, including the experience of the consciousness of time. Many of Husserl’s former students and colleagues developed phenomenology in alternative directions.

Edmund Husserl died on April 26, 1938 in Freiburg im Breisgau. After him, there were about 11 thousand pages of unpublished works and notes.