The Concept of Krisis in Husserl’s The Crisis of the European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology

Husserl Studies 33 (3):229-257 (2017)
Authors
George Heffernan
Merrimack College
Abstract
In The Crisis of the European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology, Husserl argues that the only way to respond to the scientific Krisis of which he speaks is with phenomenological reflections on the history, method, and task of philosophy. On the assumption that an accurate diagnosis of a malady is a necessary condition for an effective remedy, this paper aims to formulate a precise concept of the Krisis of the European sciences with which Husserl operates in this work. Thus it seeks an answer to the question: What exactly, according to Husserl, is “the ‘crisis’ [Krisis] of the European sciences”? There are two different tendencies in the literature on this question. According to the traditional interpretation, the Krisis of the European sciences lies not in the inadequacy of their scientificity but in the loss of their meaningfulness for life. According to an innovative suggestion, the Krisis lies not in the loss of their meaningfulness for life but in the inadequacy of their scientificity. These readings are mutually exclusive because each claims that the other misidentifies the Krisis as something that it is not. The argument of this paper, however, is that, given the many different senses of Krisis in The Crisis, an adequate understanding of the Krisis that Husserl identifies requires not a disjunctive but an inclusive approach. Therefore the paper proposes that Husserl’s Krisis of the European sciences is both a crisis of their scientificity and a crisis of their meaningfulness for life. The relevance of this result to Husserl’s philosophical and historical sense-investigations in The Crisis—as well as to the present critical situation of philosophy—is self-evident.
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DOI 10.1007/s10743-017-9209-0
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