Stein’s Critique of Husserl’s Transcendental Idealism

American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 95 (3):455-479 (2021)
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Stein claims that Husserl’s transcendental idealism makes it impossible to clarify the transcendence of the world because it posits that consciousness constitutes being. Inspired by Aquinas, Stein counters that making thinking the measure of being deprives what is of its epistemological and ontological independence from and primacy over what thinks. She contends that this approach inverts the natural relationship between the mind and the world. Given the complicated relationship between them, however, the question is whether Stein’s argument that Husserl lacked an adequate understanding of and appreciation for the phenomenon of transcendence is sound. In fact, Husserl’s treatments of “limit problems of phenomenology” in his manuscripts from 1908 to 1937, which were only recently published in Husserliana XLII, show that he undertook extensive investigations of metaphysical, metaethical, and religious and theological questions. Tragically, Stein was prevented from gaining an even remotely complete picture of Husserl’s work. In this paper, therefore, I examine Stein’s critique of Husserl’s transcendental idealism in light of the fuller evidence.



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George Heffernan
Merrimack College

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