Husserl's transcendental philosophy and the critique of naturalism

Continental Philosophy Review 41 (4):401-425 (2008)
Throughout his career, Husserl identifies naturalism as the greatest threat to both the sciences and philosophy. In this paper, I explicate Husserl’s overall diagnosis and critique of naturalism and then examine the specific transcendental aspect of his critique. Husserl agreed with the Neo-Kantians in rejecting naturalism. He has three major critiques of naturalism: First, it (like psychologism and for the same reasons) is ‘countersensical’ in that it denies the very ideal laws that it needs for its own justification. Second, naturalism essentially misconstrues consciousness by treating it as a part of the world. Third, naturalism is the inevitable consequence of a certain rigidification of the ‘natural attitude’ into what Husserl calls the ‘naturalistic attitude’. This naturalistic attitude ‘reifies’ and it ‘absolutizes’ the world such that it is treated as taken-for-granted and ‘obvious’. Husserl’s transcendental phenomenological analysis, however, discloses that the natural attitude is, despite its omnipresence in everyday life, not primary, but in fact is relative to the ‘absolute’ transcendental attitude. The mature Husserl’s critique of naturalism is therefore based on his acceptance of the absolute priority of the transcendental attitude . The paradox remains that we must start from and, in a sense, return to the natural attitude, while, at the same time, restricting this attitude through the on-going transcendental vigilance of the universal epoché.
Keywords Husserl  Naturalism  Natural attitude  Transcendental philosophy   epoché
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DOI 10.1007/s11007-008-9088-3
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Jack Reynolds (2016). Phenomenology and Naturalism: A Hybrid and Heretical Proposal. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 24 (3):393-412.
Eran Dorfman (2013). Naturalism, Objectivism and Everyday Life. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 72:117-133.

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