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(2018) Husserl Studies 34 (3).

Gustav Shpet's implicit phenomenological idealism

Thomas Nemeth

pp. 267-285

The issue of whether the phenomenology presented in Ideen I was a metaphysical realism or an idealism came to the fore almost immediately upon its publication. The present essay is an examination of the relation of Gustav Shpet, one of Husserl’s students from the Göttingen years, to this issue via his understanding of phenomenology and, particularly, of the phenomenological reduction, as shown principally in his early published writings. For Shpet, phenomenology employs essential intuition without regard to experiential intuition. If we look on transcendental idealism as the label for this methodology, which disregards but does not deny either the empirical or its correlative species of intuition, then Shpet was such an idealist, all the while adhering to a metaphysical realism. In this way, Shpet could proclaim phenomenology to be the fundamental philosophical discipline without precluding the possibility of other philosophical disciplines insofar as they were conducted in relation to consciousness taken not as the “possession” of a human individual, but eidetically and thus not a “possession.”

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