Modern Western Philosophy Husserl for Competitive Exams

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Complete Video at - Modern Western Philosophy: Introduction of Edmund Husserl (Philosophy)


  • Edmund Husserl is regarded as the founder of modern phenomenology.
  • But he was not the first philosopher to use the term phenomenology in his works, philosophers such as Kant, Hegel, Fichte, etc. have referred to the term in their philosophical works before.
  • Husserl is regarded as the father of modern phenomenology because he was the first one to develop phenomenology into a method, into a systematic philosophical method.
  • He was the student of Franz Brentano and he was influenced by the empiricism of David Hume.
  • Some of his significant works are;
    • The Idea of Phenomenology
    • Logical Investigations
    • Cartesian Meditations
    • Philosophy as a Rigorous Science

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Philosophy as a Rigorous Science

  • The aim of Husserl՚s career was to transform philosophy to a rigorous science which is presumption-less.
  • He rejected both, the natural and social sciences on the premise of naivety, meaning they are based on presumptions.
  • He intends four things when he talks of transforming philosophy into a rigorous science, they are;
    • Reject materialistic reduction, i.e.. . the analysis of the physical objects done by sensory terms like ideas and impressions.
    • Rejects scientific theories of Positivism and Naturalism because they take the objective world for granted, without knowing whether it is possible or not.
    • Rejects Psychology and Naturalism because they are concerned with the consciousness but only from an empirical point of view.
    • Rejects Historicism for it is in-itself inconsistent.
  • Hence, according to him, philosophy can only be established as a rigorous science when it is based on phenomenology because it is the essence of philosophy to be scientific in nature.

Phenomenology and the Phenomenological Method

  • The term phenomenology comes from two Greek words- Phainonenon which means appearance and logos which means reason or study.
  • So, phenomenology means the study of phenomenon.
  • Now, phenomenon is anything that exists of which the mind is conscious of.
  • According to Husserl, phenomenology is the investigation of the essence or the nature of material things that appear to us in the world.
  • Phenomenological Method is Husserl՚s method to understand the phenomena.
  • According to him, phenomenology attempts to describe or understand what is given to us via experience without taking into consideration the pre-conceived assumption or notions or hypothetical speculations regarding it.
  • Hence, he conceived phenomenology to be the presumption-less or speculation-less science.
  • In short, phenomenology according to him is the science of all sciences which deals with understanding the phenomena via the experiences of the self.
  • In other words, phenomenology is the study of phenomena which includes all the things in the world which are given to our consciousness.
  • It is also a method with definite goals and which has inspired other methods like Hermeneutics and Existentialism.
  • Lastly, it is conceived as transcendental idealism, which means the self or the consciousness is the source of all the meaning and knowledge.
  • His motto is, “Back to things themselves” .


  • According to Husserl՚s pure phenomenology or transcendental phenomenology, consciousness is intentional, it is always conscious of or about something.
  • In other words, it is not directed towards itself but towards phenomena.
  • So, intentionality of consciousness means that consciousness is an activity, it is an act of doing something, it is an act of experience.
  • Therefore, it is an act of knowing, which is called noesis.
  • At the same time, it is also always referential in nature. Meaning, consciousness is an act of awareness in which the subject is always presented with an object, which is called noema.
  • For example, when we think about a pen- it deals with both, noesis and noema because we actually think of defining the pen (noesis) and the pen is also a referent (noema) .

Phenomenological Reductions

According to Husserl there are three types of reductions;

  • Phenomenological Reduction:
    • Husserl advocates Phenomenological attitude, according to which reality is not separable from the subjective experience of it.
    • This process is called Phenomenological Reduction.
    • In this, he suspends or brackets the natural attitude and all the prejudices that are associated with the nature of the reality of the world.
    • This act of bracketing is called Epoché which allows consciousness of our experience of reality of things.
    • Thus, phenomenological reduction is a phenomenological method that only concentrates on pure consciousness, on our conscious acts and brackets all the other things.
  • Eidetic Reduction:
    • According to Husserl, Eidetic Reduction deals with bracketing the individual existence of the object in question.
    • In other words, phenomenology is only interested in essence and not particular things.
    • So, idos or essence is taken into consideration.
    • Hence, here we move from facts to essence and understand that objects are not material things but essences.
    • In other words, according to this method, the phenomena have a structure, a unity, due to which the objects are not just material things but essences.
    • Hence, it is only due to eidetic reduction, one is able to know the meaning or the essence of things as they appear to the subjects.
  • Transcendental Reduction:
    • In this stage of reduction, Husserl attempts to isolate the understanding of Ego from the natural attitude.
    • Ego within the natural attitude is understood as a non-physical entity which is causally interacting with the physical objects in the world.
    • So, he brackets ego and affirms that the existence of ego is a psychological reality.
    • He says, pure Ego is the necessary prerequisite for experience.
    • With the transcendental reduction of the empirical ego, we enter into the domain of meaning, not the consciousness of an individual human, but the essence of all meaning-making.

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