Husserl, Weber, Freud, and the method of the human sciences

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 27 (3):328-353 (1997)
In the debate between the natural science and the phenomenological or hermeneutical approaches in the human sciences, a third alternative described by Husserl has been widely ignored. Contrary to frequent assumptions, Husserl believed that a purely phenomenological method is not generally the appropriate approach for the empirical human sciences. Rather, he held that although they can and should make important use of phenomenological analysis, such sciences should take their basic stance in the "natural attitude," the ordinary commonsense lifeworld mode of understanding which cuts across the divergent abstractive specializations of natural science and phenomenology Human science in the natural attitude, shorn of its naivete by phenomenological insight, would be the field of descriptive concrete sociocultural sciences capable of taking a truly explanatory approach to their subject matter, persons and personal formations. In practice, both Weber and Freud exemplify the method recommended by Husserl.
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