Husserl and the Question of Relativism

Dissertation, Columbia University (1989)
Abstract
This dissertation provides a global interpretation and evaluation of Husserl's evolving position in relation to relativism. A particular concern is to investigate whether despite Husserl's early virulent opposition to relativism, relativism does not in fact emerge as a consequence of his own phenomenology, and thereby finding a point of entrance into the modern philosophical tradition. With this concern in the background, Husserl's responses to the problems of relativism of truth in general and relativism concerning the truth attainable by philosophy in particular are analyzed in three main moments: his critique of relativism; his reinterpretation and positive defense of 'absolute' truth by way of phenomenology; and his later attempt to accommodate both absolute and relative conceptions of truth in terms of the analysis of the lifeworld. It is argued that although in his earlier writings Husserl polemically attacks relativism, and then strives to develop an epistemically justified, absolute conception of truth, the analysis of the lifeworld itself gives rise to a limited affirmation of relativism on Husserl's part. However, contrary to critical attacks in the literature, it is shown that the final position attained by Husserl successfully reconciles and provides a limited phenomenological defense for both relative and non-relative conceptions of truth, so that source of the relativism characteristic of the later phenomenological tradition cannot be said to lie in Husserl's phenomenology itself
Keywords Husserl, Edmund   Relativity   Truth
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Reprint years 1991
ISBN(s) 0792312910
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