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  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: November 2012

Chapter 7 - Phenomenology as transcendental philosophy


Natural human understanding and the objectivism rooted in it will view every transcendental philosophy as a flighty eccentricity, its wisdom as useless foolishness; or it will interpret it as a psychology which seeks to convince itself that it is not psychology.

(C 200; K 204)

Phenomenology as the ‘Final Form’ of Transcendental Philosophy

Having reviewed Husserl’s critique of the natural and human sciences (including psychology), his analysis of history and culture, and his novel analysis of the life-world, it is now time to explicate the nature of his transcendental phenomenology and, in particular, his unwavering commitment to transcendental idealism. I shall primarily focus on Husserl’s mature transcendental phenomenology and his transcendental idealism as it is expressed throughout the Crisis, especially in Part III A and B, and in some of the important supplementary texts, but I shall also explain the background to his conversion to transcendental idealism.

In his mature writings, especially after Ideas i, Husserl always insists that phenomenology is possible only as transcendental philosophy, and that the correct understanding of the epochē and the reduction are essential for understanding the move to the transcendental required by any genuine, ultimately grounded ‘first philosophy’. The Crisis offers an extended and trenchant explication and defence of phenomenology as a form – the ‘final form’ (Endform, Crisis § 14) – of transcendental philosophy. Indeed, the very title of the Crisis includes the phrase ‘transcendental phenomenology’, and in the course of the work he specifically identifies his position as ‘transcendental idealism’, albeit, he maintains, in an entirely new sense.

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