Husserl's archaeology of exact science
Why is nature amenable to mathematical description? This question has received attention in the philosophy of science but rarely from a phenomenological perspective. Nevertheless Husserl's late essay "The Origin of Geometry," which has received some critical scholarly attention in recent years, contains the beginning of a striking answer. This answer proceeds from Husserl's main claim in that essay, which he also makes in the Crisis of the European Sciences, that the original meaning of science has been covered over or "sedimented" by concepts that obscure the true intentional core of scientific meaning. In the first three sections of this paper I develop Husserl's central insights about mathematics in light of two contemporary critiques of his project of "reactivation" of the original, sedimented meaning of science. In the latter two sections, I argue that accepting Husserl's account of the original meaning and development of science offers a promising explanation of why nature is amenable to mathematics. This explanation hinges on a conception of the objects and methods of mathematics and the mathematized physical sciences as accomplishments, that is, as constituted contents of consciousness.
Full citation [Harvard style]:
Humphreys, (2014). Husserl's archaeology of exact science. Husserl Studies 30 (2), pp. 101-127.
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