Husserl, Edmund

Husserl, Edmund
   philosopher; devised phenomenology, a method of probing beneath external existence to a positive perception of fun-damental essence. Born of Jewish parentage in the Habsburg city of Prossnitz, he studied mathematics at Berlin* and psychology at Vienna and taught at Halle, Gottingen, and Freiburg (from 1916). His circle of skilled students was such that when he was called in 1923 to succeed Ernst Troeltsch* at Berlin, he chose to remain at Freiburg.
   Because philosophy was for Husserl a science, he was convinced that it en-compassed objective truths. Although his 1901 work Logische Untersuchungen (Logical investigations) pronounced philosophy an a priori discipline, his 1913 Ideen zu einer reinen Phanomenologie und phanomenologischen Philosophie (Ideas about a pure phenomenology and phenomenological philosophy) provided a program for investigating consciousness and its objects by suspending belief in the empirical world as a means of gaining a vantage point in subjective consciousness. The methodology inspired philosophers in the United States and Germany, notably Martin Heidegger* (who succeeded Husserl in 1928), and laid a foundation for Gestalt psychology. It was the methodology, as opposed to any incontestable philosophical truths, that established Husserl s importance. When he retired, he had published eight books or long articles; he also had 45,000 pages of manuscript in shorthand. None of his work laid claim to being definitive, for he enjoyed characterizing himself as "a perpetual beginner."
   Although his family had converted to Protestantism in 1866, Husserl was deprived of his professorial title in 1933. He was reinstated when records re-vealed that his son had fallen honorably in World War I, but the title was again withheld in 1936. He remained in Freiburg until his death, but was increasingly subjected to social indignities.
   REFERENCES:Cambridge Biographical Dictionary; EP, vol. 4; Farber, Foundation of Phenomenology; Natanson, Edmund Husserl; NDB, vol. 10.

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