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(2006) Phenomenology and psychological science, Dordrecht, Springer.

Husserl against Heidegger against Husserl

Paul S. MacDonald

pp. 101-122

So many ways to say that one is against someone, especially in the context of also saying that one agrees with or follows someone (as we shall see below). How far does one have to be no longer with a thinker's thought to be against that thinker's thought? Heidegger, Jaspers, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty repeatedly acknowledged in print that one of their points of departure was in Husseri's phenomenological approach. But equal to and parallel with their claims to be going along with Husseri were their vigorous declamations of his mistakes, dead-ends and failures. It seems to have been vitally important to thinkers during the 1920s and 1930s to create as much distance as possible between themselves and their former "master." Less well remarked perhaps is the discrepancy between the Existentialists' complaints about Husserl's aborted achievements and what Husserl actually delivered. Husserl's protracted reflections on any given issue are peculiarly difficult to expound, and collaterally it is often very hard to identify a specific doctrine or discursive position in such a way that it is clear what assertion his critic is attempting to rebut. At any given time, Husserl the mediator was rarely satisfied with his written work; he thought of his analytic studies as "a process of endless corrections and revisions." The few works that he published in his lifetime look like 'purely momentary states of rest, or "condensations' of a thought movement that was constantly in flux." (Bernet, Kern, & Marbach, 1992, p. 2) In 1925, Heidegger himself said that 'it is characteristic of Husserl that his questioning is still fully in flux, so that we must in the final analysis be cautious in our critique." (Heidegger, 1982b, p. 121) Husserl's thought on central phenomenological notions never stood still; he was, in his own memorable image, 'an endless beginner," and would be the first to open a new path when the woods became lost in the trees.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-0-387-33762-3_6

Full citation:

MacDonald, P. S. (2006)., Husserl against Heidegger against Husserl, in P. Ashworth & M. Chung (eds.), Phenomenology and psychological science, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 101-122.

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