The Search for an Alternative 8:
The Historical Outcome of Subjectivism

by Marvin Farber

Some Problems of Phenomenology in the Recent Literature

The literature of phenomenology, both in a narrow and in a broad sense of that term, has been added to enormously in recent years. It is necessary to bear in mind its historical background, because posthumously published writings of the initiators of modern phenomenology have continued to appear and have remained active forces.

Among the precursors of phenomenology, Bernard Bolzano and Franz Brentano are preeminent. Their influence on Edmund Husserl was fully acknowledged by him in his teaching and publications. There has been an increasing interest in Bolzano. In earlier years, E. Winter published materials relating to the trial of Bolzano [1] and a selected group of Bolzano's social‑ethical writings. [2] The full stature of this highly gifted thinker will be revealed by the forthcoming complete edition of his writings, planned by Winter and his associates. The publication of Bolzano's Foundation of Logic, with an introduction by F. Kambartel, presents selected portions of his best‑known publication, the Wissenschaftslehre, and this has been added to by Rolf Georg, who has translated important portions of Bolzano's major work. [3] Interest in Brentano has also grown steadily and has been strengthened by publication of several of his writings under the editorship of Franziska Mayer‑Hildebrand, including his book on the history of Greek philosophy, [4] which was discussed by H. Bergmann in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. [5] The valuable correspondence of Brentano with H. Bergmann has been published in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. [6] R. M. Chisholm has included some translations from the writings of Brentano, Meinong, and Husserl in his book on realism and the background of phenomenology. [7] G. Bergmann's new book on Brentano and Meinong [8] is an indication of the growing interest in the writings of Brentano and the Brentanists. Above all, it is the concept of intentional experience as used by Brentano that has acted as an impetus to inquiry, despite Husserl's critical reaction to Brentano's analysis of experience. Husserl finally went so far as to state that Brentano never had a real understanding of the nature of intentionality in the later phenomenological sense of the term.

The recent literature on phenomenology has included notable works by Edmund Husserl, published under the auspices of the Husserl Archives of Louvain, of which H. L. Van Breda was the director until his recent death. In addition to the reprinting of the first volume of the Ideas, with supplementary materials of considerable importance to students and scholars, the second and third volumes of that work were published for the first time in 1952 and were discussed by A. Schutz (in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 1953) and by the present writer (in his Naturalism and Subjectivism).

The publication of Husserl's Idea of Phenomenology helped to clarify the motives leading to the formulation of a transcendental phenomenology, especially his perplexity when dealing with the problem of transcendence. The availability of the original German text of the Cartesian Meditations and Paris Lectures and their English translations [9] is noteworthy, especially because of the controversial nature of the fifth meditation, to which Husserl attached so much importance. Among others, M. Merleau‑Ponty, A. Schutz, and the present writer have reacted independently to the problem of the "exhibiting of another ego" on phenomenological grounds.

The Crisis of the European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology has met with widespread interest. Its reference to the conception of a life‑world has become a prominent theme in the literature. Among those reacting to the central thought of the Crisis are, M. Merleau‑Ponty, [10] J. Wild, [11] E. Paci, [12] A. Gurwitsch, [13] A. Schutz and T. Luckman, [14] and the present writer. [15] Also appearing in the series Husserliana is the important and revealing Erste Philosophie and the carefully compiled and edited Phenomenological Psychology. The editors have done well to include all versions and formulations of the relevant materials left by Husserl. These writings were presented in Freiburg lectures near the close of his academic career. The treatment of past philosophers in the Erste Philosophie is especially valuable for the understanding of the phenomenological philosophy, and the problem of existence confronts phenomenology in an acute form in the second volume of that work. Although much of Husserl's later writing had been anticipated, even if briefly, in his earlier works, the later formulations are more complete developments of a pure phenomenology and advance new lines of thought. The Phenomenological Psychology is all the more helpful because Husserl left no single systematic work on this fundamental theme. He combines methodological and programmatic sketches with descriptive analyses of thought and experience. This is also shown by his early work on the consciousness of inner time, an English translation of which has appeared. [16]

It is a simple fact that Husserl did not value most of the so‑called phenomenological literature of his time highly if at all. How he would judge the tremendous upsurge of a new literature called phenomenology in some sense could readily be imagined, for his chosen standards of rigorous inquiry were unyielding. But it has never been given to any one man or any one school to determine the molds within which philosophical thought is to move. In the last analysis, the movement of philosophy is an expression of the movement of history and is not limited to any one model or pattern, whether rational or irrational.

It is helpful to consider examples of the new literature with respect to some of its major problems. To begin with, there is no general agreement over the meaning, scope, and function of phenomenology, versions of which range all the way from a simple descriptive philosophy of experience to a transcendental discipline, from a pure conception of experience without the usual premises or presuppositions to an existential standpoint harboring an ontology, and from supposedly autonomous types held to be prior to the knowledge of the existing universe to a materialistic philosophy providing the real foundation and framework for all descriptive studies. There are also mixed types, embracing motives long familiar in the literature of naturalism and materialism, with varying commitments to existence. Husserl's own quest to elaborate a domain of pure experience was complicated at times by his aim to have phenomenology function as a universal philosophy. From his point of view, phenomenology was both a method and a science-‑the final science. As an illustration of the divergent use of the term in the current literature, W. A. Luijpen's view may be cited. [17] He takes phenomenology to mean philosophy and to be a method only if that term refers to the internal life of a philosophy as determined by its "primitive fact," its central reference point of fundamental inspiration. The "primitive fact" is described as the idea of existence, to express the essence of man conceived as "openness."

In view of the diversity of motives and influences affecting writers, as well as the nature of the inquiry itself, it is understandable that an introduction to phenomenology presents weighty difficulties. Husserl called his Cartesian Meditations an introduction, and the subtitle of his Crisis refers to the book as an introduction to the phenomenological philosophy. His Encyclopaedia Britannica article was also intended to give an indication of the nature and program of phenomenology. Of course, it is the strictly Husserlian conception that is in question, and not the larger tendency. What Husserl referred to as an introduction proved to be a basic treatise, breaking new ground and grappling with major problems. A broad programmatic account could hardly give more than a thin sketch of the real nature of phenomenological inquiry, which is above all descriptive. An introduction to Husserlian phenomenology can be successfully accomplished with more than one possible avenue of approach. The present writer used the historical route in his book on the foundation of phenomenology. [18] In view of the striking growth and changes in Husserl's thought, some degree of attention to its historical development is necessary for its understanding, for it can be correctly conceived only as a philosophy with an endless horizon before it, and not as a closed system.

An introduction to phenomenology may aim at the inclusion of all writers who call themselves phenomenologists or all concerned with the analysis of experience. In some cases, the list turns out to be very large, as in the case of H. Spiegelberg's book on the phenomenological movement; [19] this matter has been considered by the present writer in his discussion of that book [20] and in his book on the aims of phenomenology, [21] which includes an introduction to the enormous literature connected more or less with phenomenology. The attempt has been made repeatedly to go beyond the Husserlian method and framework, beginning with his contemporaries and collaborators from M. Scheler on. Wild's conception of phenomenology is a case in point; he speaks of Husserl's "disregard for existence," which may have been for the sake of understanding it, and he wonders if something is not lost when existence is turned into an object from a detached point of view. [22] The point is, in his view, to find some way of penetrating into existence from the inside. His question "If we cannot escape from the world to know it from a distance objectively, how then can we know it?" is answered by transcendental phenomenology by means of an epoché that places the world in question so that it does not deal with such problems. The present writer's larger perspective of a diversified methodology that embraces the reflective procedure of a specialized descriptive phenomenology makes it possible to consider questions in terms of an unlimited number of systems, real and ideal.

The attempt to broaden the conception of phenomenology signifies a departure from Husserl's requirements, limiting inquiry in accordance with a subjective procedure. The aim to extend the range of the analysis encounters serious difficulties from the outset. Is one to abandon or modify the conception of the epoché in order to operate with different degrees and modes of evidence? In reply to the question whether the ideal of certainty restricts inquiry too greatly, the pure phenomenologist is able to point out that the uncertain, the obscure, and the incomplete are by no means ruled out and that they are conspicuous characteristics of experience. The question whether there can be a pure phenomenology below the level of certainty requires clarification. Empirical certainty is not in question because of the suspension of all theses and beliefs. The incompleteness of natural perception is apprehended completely in reflection; the obscure is discerned as obscure, and whether that discernment is clear or not is an empirical question and is not to be answered by confusing two different points of view; and the uncertain is recognized as uncertain, without anything more than an analytic assurance that the corresponding acts of reflection are concerned with the uncertain. It does not follow that the recognition of uncertainty is an item of certainty in experience, or that the discernment of the obscure as such is an item of clearness in experience. In short, there may be indefinitely many degrees of the uncertain, the obscure, and the incomplete, and this in no way undermines the determination of essential structures of experience.

In recent literature, the well‑known motive of going beyond materialism and all thought conditioned by the sciences, which occupied entire generations of writers, attained its most extreme mode of expression in the effort to undercut all mundane points of view by means of a subjective philosophy. Although this motive persists and will no doubt continue to persist so long as there are social interests to keep it alive, it has had to undergo persistent revision because of the need to go beyond subjectivism, which could not be universalized. There would be no theoretical reason to proceed beyond a point of view if all questions could be answered or satisfactorily disposed of in its terms. It must be decided whether there are any questions requiring subjectivism for their answer. Since the actual types of subjectivism range from pure phenomenology to mixed and so‑called existential types, care must be taken to identify the subjective philosophy involved. It is also true that there are different types of naturalism, ranging from a radical naturalism to a cautious type of agnostic or pantheistic naturalism, with a critical naturalism as an additional methodological type upsetting the usual classification. There are also different types of materialism, ranging from crude and mechanistic forms to evolutionary and dialectical views, with emphasis upon the real sociohistorical nature of human existence and the explanation of change in nature, human society, and thought. Thus, a radical subjectivism confronts a radical materialism, both of them conceived as extreme positions and as mutually irreconcilable. From the point of view of subjectivism, any type of naturalism or materialism appears to be dogmatic; whereas from the point of view of a thoroughgoing materialism, subjectivism is an abstractive, contrary‑to‑fact point of view, with its own essential limitations preventing it from becoming a general philosophy.

The alleged deeper foundation of subjectivism has been shown to be an unwarranted claim, because it is not free from presuppositions in every sense of the term. It actually turns out to involve the substitution of presuppositions in a new sense for the familiar presuppositions of natural experience and knowledge, in order to provide stability for the inner realm of pure experience.

If the scope of the analysis of meaning (or intentional analysis) may be said to comprise the whole of pure phenomenology, existence becomes a prime problem, which is called a methodogenic problem by the present writer. The title "Phenomenology and the World Problem" has been prominent in the literature, especially following L. Landgrebe's presentation of it in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. [23] It is one form of the basic problem of phenomenology and existence, which has been discussed by numerous writers, including R. Ingarden, [24] A. Gurwitsch, [25] Q. Lauer, [26] and the present writer. [27] The question is twofold: how can one account for existence on the basis of phenomenology, and how can pure phenomenology apply to existence or help to solve its problems? The setting for the problem of existence is provided by the concept of transcendence, in the sense that experience is always experience of something. Thus transcendence may be epistemic, and it may also be formal, material, or valuational. In some cases it has meant no more than "vacuous otherness," and it has had its theological uses, as abundantly illustrated in the literature.

In the natural process of experience we view the world as pregiven, but in accordance with the reflective procedure of phenomenology the world is placed in question, and as an object of meaning it is viewed as the product of constitutive thought processes. Hence what was initially acknowledged as a pregiven realm is reconsidered in the final program of constitutive phenomenology. Ontology then involves the investigation of acts of experience through which objects present themselves as existing, with perception playing a privileged role with respect to the external world. But how one can know in a particular case whether the object that presents itself as existing really exists is a matter for empirical confirmation. In addition to that question, there is the difficulty of accounting, with evidence, for the nature of the world and the human knower's real relationship to the natural and social world—a question which phenomenology is essentially incapable of answering.

Phenomenology undertakes in its way to clarify the concept of existence. This has been said to be accomplished by confronting concepts with the entities to which they refer. In that case it must be made clear whether they are to be confronted really or essentially. If real confrontation is meant, then the empirical question of conformation is on one's hands. The latter, or essential confrontation, is a matter of meaning‑analysis alone, and it is to be distinguished from the so‑called problem of existence. The program of meaning‑analysis finally leads to the question of the application of concepts to the physical and social world. The crucial question to be answered is whether phenomenology can remain within a self‑contained realm of pure conscious experience or whether it must presuppose a preexisting and independently real world. In a dialogue with materialism, it must show whether a subjective conception of a life‑world can disregard the fact that living beings were born of other living beings, who derive their sustenance from a precarious and cognitively independent world and who were products as well as active participants in the constitution of a sociocultural world.

On the other hand, special critical points referring to the nature of phenomenological analysis must be examined carefully. This applies to the alleged uneasy union of a fixed concept of essence with an equally fixed concept of flowing. Whether that fairly represents the descriptive procedure of phenomenology, with its peculiar problems, must be considered. There are concepts of fixed entities and also concepts of things or events flowing. To argue that the things that become and flow are fixed in concept and that alongside the concept of the fixed a concept of flowing is placed is to add to the many misunderstandings that greeted and accompanied the development of phenomenology. Clearly, it is necessary and not only possible to use appropriate concepts in order to describe the nature of the purportedly fixed and the flowing. The attempt to force phenomenology into a dilemma involving analysis and the explication of meanings is also unsuccessful. According to this argument, if phenomenology ceases to be analytical it ceases to be phenomenology, and if it does not cease to be merely analytical, it does not get beyond an explication of meanings. [28] This argument could be met by viewing phenomenology as a specialized discipline, with its peculiar limitations and problems, and not as a total or universal philosophy. According to the point of view of phenomenology, a searching explication of meanings is of real philosophical importance and is not to be underestimated; furthermore, the term "analytical" is not to be construed narrowly, in opposition to the descriptive analysis of the processes of thought and experience.

It is a well‑known argument that one cannot be aware of the natural attitude (Einstellung) as such without resorting to another attitude. That is merely a verbal, dialectical argument, no better than supposing that one cannot investigate breathing without getting away from breathing. The force of such reasoning supposedly prevents one from carrying on pure reflection within the framework of the sciences, which means within the world of nature. The answer to this question must be given by means of a key for the translation of all phenomenological statements into materialistic terms, leaving it to the relevant sciences to provide the necessary evidence progressively. The answer may be tested with respect to the methodogenic problems of existence and value. In opposition to the traditional point of view, it may be maintained that the use of a critically controlled and radically reflective procedure is not incompatible with a materialistic ontology, the basic premises of which are explicitly formulated. That would depend upon the way in which a reflective procedure is construed ontologically, upon whether the reflection is regarded as a real event in the material­social world, and not as another kind of being, posited as underived and sui generis.

What is most important is that justice be done to the complexity of experience and that the danger of oversimplification be avoided. But there is also the danger of missing realities of experience because of excessive attention to the complexity. If the reality in question is a competitive conflict in the business world or a workers' strike or a war, it would be easy to miss the most important facts by embarking upon an interminable line of descriptive inquiry with a host of fine distinctions and a special conceptual apparatus adjusted to the atmosphere of pure inquiry. Because of the abstraction from existence in general, it can be said truly that there are no politics in the transcendental dimension just as surely as that there are no morals in logic.

There are some persistent dangers illustrated in the discourse of the phenomenologists. Sometimes misleading metaphors are suggested by linguistic usage. Thus, one may speak of being in the natural Einstellung, or in the phenomenological Einstellung, as though one had retired to another realm. The error promoted by the spatial metaphor is as primitive as the suggestion that things or events are literally in time or in space. It tends to support the reaction against the sciences, and it stands in the way of instating a rigorous conception of a philosophy of experience as an extension of scientific method.

The talk of realms, multiple realities, and regional ontologies may also lead to misunderstanding, if the realm of being is restricted to the correlates (or intended reference) of experiences. Experiences can refer to fictions, and even to "impossible" objects, involving a contradiction.

The use of assumptive language is always a source of danger. This is seen in the conception of science and philosophy as absolute and valid for all time; in the assumption that natural existence is contingent in the sense that it could be otherwise or even not be at all; in the eulogistic treatment of the subjective, with certainty and adequacy read into its meaning—in short, assumptive language extolling the subjective and depreciating the natural. The use of the phrase "freedom from presuppositions" suggests that nothing is assumed in subjective inquiry, which is demonstrably not the case. Such terms as "pure," "radical," "genetic," and "origin‑analysis" have meanings borrowed from natural experience, even though they are intended to be used in a different sense; hence there is a danger of deception. This also applies to the term "constitutive," which may readily be misunderstood to mean "creative" (this was also pointed out by E. Fink). [29] Furthermore, there is the danger of a restrictive, unitary model for the idea of philosophy and for philosophic method, instead of a conception in accordance with the actual nature of scientific inquiry and the variable historical role of philosophy.

The difference between an unclarified and a radical phenomenology must be considered and should be distinguished from the difference between a naive and a critical mode of analysis. This may be illustrated by talk of a life‑world which has to be judged, analyzed, interpreted, or described within the framework of a selected viewpoint. There are life‑worlds for ordinary experience, varying from person to person, from group to group, and from time to time. There are also life-worlds as viewed on the basis of the sciences, especially the historical sciences, and they also vary from time to time and because of selection, interpretation, and understanding. Finally, all such life‑worlds may be viewed from the perspective of pure or radical reflective analysis, which has its peculiar advantages for clarification as well as its limitations. More far‑reaching than the principle of correlative analysis, acknowledged for the understanding of experience and its objects, is what may be called the principle of methodological duality, which distinguishes the cross‑sectional mode of analysis of phenomenology from the longitudinal mode of analysis of the materialistic, historical view. To set aside the longitudinal view and to suggest that one could then do justice to the facts would be to oppose or to ignore established knowledge. The fundamental limitation of the cross‑sectional view must be acknowledged in the spirit of the cooperation of rational methods.

Since phenomenological analysis is a specialty, it is to be expected that most of its practitioners will also engage in other types of inquiry and employ different methods. The exclusive use of a subjective procedure has led to its overextension and to the claim that all philosophical problems could be handled in that way. The function of phenomenology can be determined by making clear the nature of the questions it is designed to answer. It would be unwarranted to maintain that all questions could be answered by means of this method or by means of any one of the existing methods. The case for the need to proceed beyond phenomenology is therefore a very strong one. On the other hand, writers may have various objectives in mind in arguing for this need. Thus, E. Fink has defended speculation, [30] and has consigned phenomenology to a past historical context, as an expression of the interest in positivism.

The dangers in question may be called errors of totalism: the phenomenological procedure when overextended becomes viewed as total philosophy. The reaction against phenomenology as a bygone historical development may, however, be another phase of the same type of error, if it treats phenomenology as a total philosophy to be brushed aside in toto, in the interest of another procedure not shown to be adequate. The correction of such errors has been achieved by means of a more comprehensive conception of methodology, together with recognition of the collective character of the unity of systems of knowledge. Totalism results in oversimplification and in failure to do justice to the diversity of questions and the problems of experience. Even within the confines of a descriptive pure phenomenology, leading ideas, hypotheses, and suggestions derived from the natural and social sciences and ordinary experience must be employed in order to give direction to the inquiry. Phenomenology would be seriously restricted without the use of such devices, and they have been acknowledged to at least a small extent under the heading of clues or guiding‑threads for inquiry.

The publication of the collected works of A. Schutz [31] made his writings available in a convenient form; his primary interest was in the application of phenomenological analysis to social science. Also under discussion in the literature has been the relationship between phenomenology and Marxism, a theme long prominent in the work of the present writer. P. Naville has discussed this question [32] and so has B. E. Bykhovskii. [33] M. Merleau‑Ponty's discussion of Marxism is now available in English translation. [34] Tran‑Duc‑Thao has devoted a book to phenomenology and dialectical materialism. [35] This has been a central theme for E. Paci and has been discussed increasingly in recent years in representative symposia and by individual writers. [36] The confrontation of Marxist and subjectivistic ideas, mediated by existential lines of thought, as illustrated by J.‑P. Sartre, [37] has become an important theme in contemporary philosophy. The meeting of extremes turns out on inspection to be the meeting of currents of thought already tempered in a gradual process of adjustment and reacting to similar problems. But the basic principle of subjectivism, that existence is correlated with and restricted to knowing minds in some way, cannot be softened, and it remains an irreconcilable point of difference.

To some extent, the subjectivistic trend in many countries has been added to in diverse ways after the fashion of a combined political and religious movement, with no general criteria beyond vague impulses from within. Individual participants may have strong aversions, but there is no clearly discernible line of demarcation negatively, any more than there is positively. The tenuous alignment of cogito-directed devotees is often far removed from the ideal of a rigorous science of philosophy, with firm standards of evidence for each step in a logical method of inquiry. Furthermore, the confrontation of subjectivism and Marxism in the recent literature has been frequently impelled by unclarified sociopolitical. motives, so that there is ample evidence of the lack of a professed "neutrality" on the part of the scientists and scholars. [38]

Phenomenology per se does not lead to Marxism. On Marxist premises and with Marxist methods, the full complexity of human experience may be approached and described, making use of all the devices for recognizing and analyzing specialized areas of experience and knowledge. On the other hand, specialized approaches have been treated as though they were sui generis; thus transcendental phenomenology has assumed the historical role of idealism, as the source of everything in a complete philosophy.

As in the case of humanistic versions of Marxism, a variety of conceptions of Marxism is possible in the context of phenomenological as well as existential Marxism. There are as many possible versions of a "noematic Marx" as there are individuals, groups or classes, and standpoint philosophies. That is the way with subjectivists of different types, for their creativity is as endless as their subjective activities, all of them "intentional," with their meant objects as meant. Thus the Marxism that results is at the mercy of the creative subjectivist, who is capable of conceiving (or "constituting") revolutions as being in consciousness.

An attempt at a phenomenological Marxism is condemned to be nugatory because of an initial falsification of the nature of phenomenology as well as Marxism. It serves only to add novelty to an area already oversupplied with confusion. The fiction of a life‑world that has never existed or the extended use of the concept of existence to apply to the correlates of experience are among the unrewarding lines of thought involved. As for Paci's attempt, despite making use of his own interpretation of Husserl's thought, he could not be expected to overcome the limitations inherent in its subjectivism, which separates it on principle from everything Marx had to say about the real world or human society.

On the Meaning of Methodological Pluralism

The term "pluralism" has been used by the present writer in connection with the larger perspective of a diversified methodology embracing the reflective procedure of phenomenology along with other procedures. In view of its ambiguity and the controversial nature of some of its meanings, it appears desirable to clarify further what may well be one of the crucial concepts in the appraisal of phenomenology. Although the term "pluralism" has been used to good advantage for the purposes of a science‑oriented philosophy, it has been misunderstood and confused with pluralism in general, which has been subjected to pertinent criticism. Historically it bespeaks an open world, allowing for growth, risk, adventure, and the possibility of progress. If justice is to be done to the facts of human history, however, there should be recognition of the conflicts and failures of the social order. Although patterns of pluralism or diversity may be recognized in ontology, theory of knowledge, methodology, and the philosophy of values, that goes along with and does not rule out patterns of unity in all regions of existence and experience. Hence one can speak of a basic ontological unity as coexisting with diverse events and organizations of events in various regions, and also a diversity of methods, conceived as unified with respect to a dominant objective and program. In general, unity and diversity—or monism and pluralism—are dialectically interrelated, and they name selective features of reality.

In the traditional literature of philosophy, ontological theories have provided an assumed a priori framework for the world, and they have been affected by motives stemming from social and historical conditions as well as by findings in the analysis of experience and knowledge. Reality is constituted by the process of events and their manifold organizations, all within the infinite domain of nature, both in relation to human beings and apart from all human relatedness. There is a great diversity of events, and there is no evidence that anything can be elevated above the process of becoming. If one speaks of that which is the same in or with regard to the particular occurrences, the problem of unification remains to be clarified and solved in an endless number of different contexts and also in general. It turns out that the unity to be achieved depends upon the nature of the available method of unification and also upon the general conditions—sociohistorical and scientific—determining the significance of the problem. The problem of diversity and unity is itself a changing problem, different in some respects for ancient Greeks, early modern thinkers, and contemporary philosophers. Hence it would be a gross oversimplification to speak of solving it conclusively for all time, for that would presuppose closure of experience and knowledge and a known fixed structure of reality.

The pluralism that engaged the attention of philosophers early in the century represented a reaction against a closed absolute monism. James, reacting against the monistic view of absolute idealism as prominently illustrated by Royce, wanted frank recognition of the precarious and problematical aspects of experience. The monistic view of the absolutist was too "safe" to be true to the facts. But there is a variety of forms of pluralism, so that it would be unwarranted to use the term unqualifiedly, either in a eulogistic or in a pejorative sense. In addition to its emphasis upon the element of risk in human enterprise, pluralism must give a prominent place to the evidence of conflicts pervading human experience. It must also take account of the diversity of systems of formal thought, as shown by the various geometries and the multitude of systems, finite and infinite, which are determined by specially imposed conditions or by alternative principles of construction. An unlimited number of systems of formal thought are logically possible, with special assumptions peculiar to each system. The question of truth is involved therewith, and that is determined by the relationship of a thought system to reality in the basic sense of truth; and in a formal sense, truth is determined by the consistency of propositions with the assumed premises. An unsettling question could be raised at this point: Is the concept of truth itself "pluralistic"? Must the allowance for the "risk and adventure" that motivated pluralism also affect the meaning of truth itself? An endless, tenuous relativism might result from a hasty reaction to this question, which might not be met by an appeal to practice to provide a basis for experience and knowledge.

The contrasting conception of an absolute monism may prevail for a time, but as amply shown historically, it collapses under pressure from within and from without. From within, logical criticism exposes the arbitrariness and shortcomings of its defense; from without, the experienced and known world refuses to be frozen in fixed molds of any kind. The history of idealism offers instructive illustrations, but also Spinoza, whose self‑contained ontology was unfit to do justice to historical change. The supposedly absolute system of Royce succumbed to the criticism of the realists, and it was never plausible in view of the facts of experience. A world in conflict, precarious for human life and abounding in frustration and suffering—such a world is hardly a fitting candidate for membership in a spiritual system of being, resting finally in the lap of a supreme being.

The use of rational arguments to support such a view resulted from an initial commitment to a religious philosophy. It could also serve as a means to preserve the existing order of society, with its class distinctions and special privileges. Such conservatism is shown, for example, by Royce's attitude toward trade unions, which he viewed with misgivings. For the rest, there is a vast difference between the abstractive treatment of absolute monism and the reaction of its defender to the concrete facts of human experience. Such facts as the relationship of capital and labor seem to vanish in the perspective of the absolute. The absolute monist may be seen to place himself precisely in his socioeconomic class and to voice characteristic views of a bourgeois member of society who appeals to decency, thoughtfulness, and respectability—all on the basis of unchallenged inequalities in the social order.

The pluralistic critique of absolute idealistic monism by James showed a greater sensitivity to human problems. Thus James could write with enthusiasm about the role of labor in our society and could pay tribute to workers as virtually carrying the social world on their backs. He would have erected monuments to the workers who made the Boston subway possible rather than to military leaders. James regarded mankind as "drifting" toward a "more or less socialistic future." How he would have viewed some developments of American society and international policy after his death must remain a matter of conjecture. It is to his lasting credit that he at least gave evidence of a sympathetic attitude toward one aspect of an issue that has been increasingly coming to the forefront of philosophical attention in our time—the issue of labor and capital, or the profit system—even though he was far removed from a fundamental approach to its analysis and solution. That issue would suffice to burst asunder any watertight, formally contrived, and closed system, for the manifold egos occurring in the real world, including rich and poor, cruel and benevolent, and all other types resulting from the existing social system, must constitute an unhappy and untenable totality. The alleged absolute ego or self would only encounter hopeless difficulties in attempting to encompass them. It would be difficult to imagine a more frustrating occupation than the attempt to arbitrate labor disputes, which achieves at most a temporary, unstable solution. The absolute idealist could hardly be expected to volunteer for the adjudication of matters of dispute between the opposing parties. He is most successful in speaking abstractly and generally about everything, and he would have nothing to add to the dominant opinions of his social class about concrete human problems.

What happened in the Royce‑James period has been superseded by the development of phenomenology and the critical reaction which it brought on. Although phenomenology remains an incomplete philosophy in important respects, it takes its place as the high point of idealism if not its last stronghold. After attempting to free itself from the traditional charge of dogmatism, made in the past against idealism, by the use of a rigorous subjective procedure, it encountered insuperable difficulties in attempting to achieve a universal philosophy. The awareness of a problem of transcendent existence is an indication of the recognition of the limitations of subjectivism, for it involves the admission of an antecedent ("pregiven") realm, which no subsequent constitutive activity could conceal. The critique of phenomenological idealism has been accomplished, as in the case of the critique of its predecessors, from within and from without. The present writer has had both lines of criticism in view in his treatment of phenomenology, including a confrontation with Marxist thought. Phenomenology can never again be considered a candidate for a complete philosophy, even though it may be regarded, under carefully defined conditions and with appropriate changes, as a rigorous descriptive discipline with its own self‑imposed limitations, as a specialty with its own peculiar merits. But such merits must be viewed in the light of a more complete methodology, embracing genetic-evolutionary, sociohistorical, and other methodological approaches, as well as the special procedures of phenomenology, with its emphasis upon essential and formal structures. This pluralism of methods or procedures does not preclude a unified formulation or a unified philosophy of existence in every sense. In an important sense, the world is "one," and in an equally important sense, it is "many" or diversified. Both are undeniable and must be recognized in a philosophy attempting to do justice to the nature of the natural and social world, experience, and knowledge. A dogmatic monism may lead to the obscuring of differences which are actually disturbing, but a loose pluralism might result in the neglect of general truths about human beings and their problems. A sound philosophy, adequate for the purposes of human experience, must avoid both errors. It must be led by motives of unity and diversity, recognizing the limited, selective character of the questions involving them.

Overextension is a familiar speculative error in traditionally rooted systematic philosophies. It may be merely motivated by the desire of a specialized scholar to subordinate other disciplines to his mode of inquiry, and in the area of philosophical thought that might mean attempting to take over all the sciences and reality as a whole as a subordinated domain. The way in which the resulting thought system applies to or avoids concrete social problems gives a clue to the motivation received from the existing social system, even if unconsciously. There is much at stake when thought systems respond to the influence of dominant social interests (a capitalist system in any one of its forms) or interests of a rising social class seeking to transform social relations (the working class in a revolutionary role). Total philosophies have reflected the interests of a ruling class in different ways—for example, by way of a philosophy of being, with change placed in question. On the other hand, the variable standard of a life of the greatest possible amount of pleasure could reflect the standpoint of a leisure class at various times. It could, however, also be invoked against a feudal-ecclesiastical class by appealing to the need to rehabilitate the flesh in eighteenth‑century France. Political and socioeconomic philosophies, theories, and methods show their linkage to the social order most clearly, but with sufficient care it is always possible to trace out strands of connection to the existing society. No matter how specialized or remote scholars and scientists may appear to be, they derive from society and endeavor to make their return to it, in most cases without placing all existing social relations in question.

Much philosophical thought is expressed on an abstract level, in detachment from real social conditions, with no clear understanding of the ways in which it is affected by social influences. Moreover, individual thinkers and writers are apt to retreat quickly from a critical position, when there is an evident application to entrenched interests, to a safer view expressed in generalities which are not likely to be judged true or false. But one concrete challenge of an existing practice or malpractice outweighs a whole collection of abstractions, for it is as safe as it is inconsequential to prate of goodness, justice, and so on, per se, without incurring the danger involved in offending private interests or in upsetting the status of one social class living actually or in effect as exploiters of another class. In this connection one is reminded of the words of Roger Bacon, who maintained that one individual has more reality than all the universals joined together. Similarly, one can speak of the superiority of even a single reference to a real problem of existence, as compared with the safe use of vacuous generalities and unattainable ideal goals that have long been ethereal props of the existing social order.

Overextension must be avoided in the application of methods for the solution of problems or for the answer to questions. In the case of phenomenology, a subjective procedure is hopefully blown up to a size sufficient to handle all philosophical problems, past and present, if not also future. A correction may be achieved through recognition of the principle of methodological pluralism or diversity and the cooperation of logically acceptable methods, [39] conceived from the point of view of an open‑ended, multisectional, and unified general methodology undertaking to do justice to all the complexities of existence and experience. Each type of method has its possible range of achievement, its own proper questions, and its own peculiar powers as well as limitations. The heat that may be engendered recurrently over “genesis versus structure” brings to the fore a pair of old acquaintances individually incapable of furnishing the organon for philosophy. The conception of a critically controlled methodological pluralism, operating within the framework of nature and human society, indicates primary conditions to be met by constructive thought on this issue. The universe of discourse is always to be viewed as open, in a changing, historical world, and it comprises diverse subuniverses of discourse, each relatively autonomous at most. But the freedom for imaginative and conceptual thought which is required if continued progress is to be assured does not in any way imply any real transcendence of nature and real, historical human existence.

The Outcome of the Epoché

Husserl's discussion of the life‑world in his Crisis of the European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology, [40] representing the last period of his philosophic thought, makes it clear that he is interested in "a radical reflection upon the great task of a pure theory of essence of the pregiven life‑world" (p. 141). He is interested in "that subjective alteration of manners of givenness, of manners of appearing and of the modes of validity in them, which, in its constant process, synthetically connected as it incessantly flows on, brings about the coherent consciousness of the straightforward 'being' of the world" (p. 146, italics added). The question remains open as to the causes and conditions involved in bringing about the consciousness of the world—the real nature of the human knower, including the social relations, and also the real nature of the existing world. One must always bear in mind the mode of inquiry involved by what is called the radical mode of reflection, beginning with its peculiar presuppositions. A breakthrough to reality is supposedly achieved by the recognition of a pregiven life‑world.

The point of departure for the inquiry into the structure of what is called the pregiven life‑world is an abstractive individual knowing being and not the real or actual social world, along with the infinite natural world. Thus Husserl indicates what can be discerned "among the objects of the life‑world"; as he states it, "we also find human beings . . . in their particular social interrelations." It is "the universe of the subjective" which is to be investigated, a universe "in which the world, in virtue of the universality of synthetically bound accomplishments in this universe, comes to have its straightforward existence for us" (italics added). In his view, the subjective manifold goes on constantly, but it "remains . . . necessarily concealed" and must be "revealed" by a new method and science. The "self-enclosed universe" of subjectivity is said to reveal itself "as the all‑encompassing unity of ultimately functioning and accomplishing subjectivity which is to account for the existence of the world—the world for us, our natural life horizon." Although this is presented as a question, he regards it as a legitimate and necessary task requiring the creation of a new science, differing from all previous objective sciences operating "on the ground of the world." The new science is concerned with "the universal how of the pregivenness of the world" or "with what makes it a universal ground for any sort of objectivity," and that is supported by an "ultimate bestowal of meaning" which is ascribed to subjectivity.

The choice of a subjective instead of an objective procedure must be carefully considered and justified in connection with the enormous claims made for subjective analysis. It is important to clarify once more the different meanings of the subjective and the objective, to see the nature and locus of the Husserlian view. (1) The subjective may be conceived on the ground of the world, with reflection occurring on that basis and with all self‑awareness and self‑inspection construed in materialistic terms. Are there any "fateful" limits to such reflection, leaving profound, ultimate truths "concealed" from us? That depends upon the assumed nature of the subjective and of the objective, for they have changed historically and are represented in different versions in our time. (2) The objective may also be defined on the ground of the world, and that may be done uncritically or critically, with either intersubjective (social) or practical validation, or both combined. The point of departure may be taken to be an individual who must face the experience and judgment of other individuals, or it may be intersubjective, with no thought of beginning with individual knowing beings or of proceeding from an individual to society for the test of objectivity. (3) The subjective may be conceived radically, by means of a phenomenological reduction to the egological realm of one experiencing being. The objective would therewith refer to the meant correlates of thought processes. The alter ego and human society would then present a methodogenic problem, brought on by the adoption of a specialized method with its severely restrictive conditions. It could operate with a pregiven life‑world, which then presents a "constitutive" problem for a subjective method. That problem could only be solved assumptively, not radically, and that would not be an acceptable solution. On the other hand, it could operate intersubjectively with a society of knowing beings, omitting the egological stage of inquiry, with the result that questions and problems peculiar to that stage would be ruled out. In that case the degree of radicalism of inquiry would be regarded as less thoroughgoing, as judged in the light of the precept that everything be made to be a question, "bis aufs Letzte," which means probing to the final sources of evidence in experience. But revisions of egological questions and problems could be formulated on the broader basis of intersubjectivity or of a society of experiencing egos.

An unavoidable question to be answered will then be: Are there problems arising on the basis of any of these versions which could not be reformulated objectively without loss or residuum? A thoroughly critical or radical materialist advancing a descriptive philosophy of experience—a materialistic phenomenology—could maintain that his type of beginning and framework for methods would enable him to answer this challenge with a program preserving all sound findings of special, subordinate methods, and he would maintain that the same could not be said for a subjectivistic beginning. This is to say the opposite in principle of what W. E. Hocking asserted [41] in defense of idealism—namely, that on the basis of matter or body, mind could not be explained and accounted for, whereas on the basis of mind it is possible to explain and account for matter or body. That declaration, operating as it does with assumptions concerning mind and matter, with a substantive mind excluding the realm of matter or body, fails to do justice to the progress of science and science‑oriented philosophy. It is also unwarranted as a claim for idealism, unless assumptive language and reasoning are to be regarded as a sufficient ground for acceptance.

It is Husserl's contention that "the life which effects world‑validity in natural world‑life does not permit of being studied from within the attitude of natural world‑life." Hence what he requires is "a total transformation of attitude, a completely unique, universal epoché." Without pausing to comment on the assumptive nature of the language employed in speaking of the life which effects world‑validity, it may be observed that it could be rendered plausible only by construing world‑validity in terms of life and its processes. Challenging the claim to complete uniqueness, one can ask whether the desired thoroughgoing epoché, or suspension of beliefs and judgments for the purposes of a critical inquiry, can be achieved by another method than pure phenomenology—and that apart from the question of how much in human existence is rendered inaccessible because of the very nature of the subjectivistic procedure. That would be on the ground of the world—that is to say, on the basis of physical and social existence. Then one would not incur the danger of supposing that a suspension of beliefs for the purposes of analysis could mean leaving tile natural and social world, for that would be as confused in thought as it would be false and ruled out in fact.

In any case, Husserl maintains that a thoroughly new way of life is attained through his procedure of universal abstention, which "puts out of action . . . the total performance running through the whole of natural world‑life" (p. 150). But this would hardly be a new way of life, or a transformation in any significant sense of social relations and actual human conduct. A more modest account of what may occur through the employment of the abstention would be to state that while engaging in description under the assumed artificial and contrary‑to‑fact conditions, something "higher" is being injected into what should be portrayed as a reflective procedure. In Husserl's mode of statement, "an attitude is arrived at which is above the pregivenness of the validity of the world"; "we thus have an attitude above the universal conscious life . . . through which the world is 'there' for those naively absorbed in ongoing life"; and this transcendental epoché is meant as a habitual attitude and is not a temporary act. What the present writer observed in his Foundation of Phenomenology concerning the danger of the phenomenological reduction being a way to the proverbial lion's den, with all footprints pointing inwards, might properly be recalled in the present context. If metaphysical capital is not to be made by means of a purportedly descriptive procedure, a broader meta‑reduction should be instituted to extrude the injected elements suggested by "a new way of life," an attitude said to be “above the pregivenness of the world," and so on. It is wise to remind oneself that no "manner of being" belonging to us is likely to be given up through an intellectual device of suspension or abstention. Workers and employers remain unchanged despite any epoché that might be effected, and their noematic correlates, or their meant objects, will be correspondingly different, in accordance with their economic resources. When Husserl speaks of "the possibility of radically changing all human existence through this epoché which reaches into its philosophical depths," his language is simply vacuous so far as real social conditions are concerned. That he could not have made concrete reference to the German society of the time is understandable. But it is not at all likely that the "philosophical depths" would depart under any conditions from the level of generalities and lofty formulations, regardless of the naming or failure to name sordid problems of real existence.

Through the epoché, with its habitual abstention, the “gaze of the philosopher" is said to become fully free, and above all, free of "the most hidden internal bond, namely, of the pregivenness of the world" (p. 151). This "liberation" then makes possible the "universal, absolutely self‑enclosed and absolutely self‑sufficient correlation between the world itself and world‑consciousness." It is important to consider how much is assumed in the conception of the "absolutely self­sufficient" and in the "correlation between the world and world­consciousness." The answer is given clearly and involves an "absolute subjectivity, as constituting meaning and ontic validity." This amounts to a form of absolute idealism, which in the present context disregards the problems raised in connection with the pregiven life­world. Contending that a new way of experiencing and thinking is opened to the philosopher through the epoché, Husserl locates it as being "above his own natural being and above the natural world," while insisting that he "loses nothing of their being and their objective truths" (p. 152). The philosopher is assured that he loses nothing by rising above his own natural being. Such declarations require cautious handling, with care taken to expunge the element of speculative enthusiasm, with its talk of absolutes and rising above one's natural being. What really happens with the adoption of the subjective procedure can then be rendered simply and directly: the philosopher changes his method to some extent with the use of the epoché, and only to that extent his world‑life, of which thinking and inquiry are parts. The otherwise strange ascent above the natural (and therewith, it may be noted, the social realities) could then have a relatively innocuous but also very limited significance. That would be to call attention to the methodological meaning of the epoché, which is such that the world "is under our gaze purely as the correlate of the subjectivity that gives it ontic meaning, through whose validities the world 'is' at all." But the real being of the world cannot be ascribed to such "ontic validities." It would not help matters if this claim were defended by arguing that its opponents have failed to carry through the epoché, meaning in effect that the opponents are nonphenomenologists in the indicated subjective sense, for the questions at issue concern the nature of existence, the relationship of experience and existence, and the subjective procedure in the light of general methodology. The Husserlian claim must be rendered in a logically acceptable form. Viewing the world as the correlate of subjectivity may be considered meaningful as an ancillary type of inquiry, with appropriate changes and safeguards. A more thoroughgoing and complete reflection will show that it is only as a part of and by means of the natural world and society that the epoché­instituting human being can describe, analyze, and endeavor to participate in changing the being of the world. In contrast to the proud claim of the subjectivist that he stands above the world, which has become a phenomenon for him, it may be urged that it is first of all necessary to know the nature of the world and to add to that knowledge continually, lest one's reflection be seriously inadequate, if not condemned to emptiness.

In rethinking the epoché, Husserl states that his subject is now "not the world simply, but the world exclusively as it is constantly pregiven to us in the alteration of its manners of givenness" (P. 154). Givenness indeed! The language is assumptive and misleading, with that artifice known as an impartial nonparticipating philosopher as the self­chosen person who views the changing modes of givenness of the world, a person who is supposed to be worthy of his task because he has programmatically divested himself of all prejudices. Are we to regard the epistemic processes as fundamental, as conditioning the being of the world, or are we to look to the changing events in the natural and social world as the prior reality, with all the structural determinations of phenomenology merely superadded to the findings of the sciences and experience, insofar as the structural determinations are sound and applicable? It should not be forgotten that the phenomenological mode of questioning is narrow and selective and that it is as a matter of fact only possible on the basis of the real world‑questioning, moreover, as conducted by material organisms capable of rational inquiry. Although Husserl now believes that he has corrected the "shortcoming" of his earlier version of the epoché he is still conditioned by his own assumptions and motives, however concealed they may be because of what amounts to a subjective flight from reality. His procedure incurs the danger of being restricted to pure forms that remain at the periphery of the world or to trivialities if application to the world is made.

It may at first appear encouraging to be informed (p. 156) that the surrounding life­world is to be considered concretely, "in its neglected relativity and according to all the manners of relativity belonging essentially to it." Is that a "relativity" in a real, effective sense? The actual world is the point of departure and at all times the final objective, and not detached epistemological analysis. It is not reassuring to learn that the ways are considered in which the validity of straightforward experience "is sometimes in suspense (between being and illusion, etc.)." Husserl renounces the question of what the real world is like or "what the things actually are." Like positivists of his time, his exclusions remove him, whether safely or not, from all questions about social reality. Of course, what he is driving at methodologically is the realization of a universal epoché, which until now has proved to be a way to a limited selection of forms and structures so far as real existence is concerned.

As a fully "disinterested" (uninteressierter) spectator of the world, taken "purely as subjective‑relative world" in accordance with the epoché, the pure phenomenologist "takes a first, naive look around" and considers "whatever has been valid and continues to be valid for us as being and being‑such in respect to how it is subjectively valid, how it looks, etc." (p. 157). Simple perceptual examples are chosen, and they are suitable for any period in history. There is the horizon belonging to the meant object, which every perception has "for consciousness"; there is the alteration of perspectives of the shape and also of the color; and there is the synthesis of identification or of unification. The same points are made repeatedly, with no progress toward concrete reality. The most interesting and important examples that might be chosen are not to be treated in this rudimentary way—examples of actual social relations, conflicts, or continually changing institutions; nor is the actual time (or temporality) to be arrested or conditioned by subjective processes, and least of all by pure subjectivity, by its very nature.

It must be recognized that Husserl is clearly aware of the specialized nature of his questioning (p. 159, e.g.). It is nevertheless pertinent to compare a perception of a table, which is so amenable to the mode of questioning here, with an experience of an illegal act. An illegal act must be viewed in relation to the social system involved if its significance is to be grasped. The abstract generalities open to subjectivism would not take us very far in that direction. The larger domain of a materialistic philosophy of experience comprises the legal enactments of the various social systems and the efforts to change the laws or the systems as a whole, along with the causal factors underlying all of them. But there are ulterior purposes in attempting to lock the objects of the world in with the experiencing of the world, a correlation leading to idealism as a universal philosophy. It is therefore understandable that the real problems of human existence as well as experience are not considered therewith, and because of the repeated general talk about radical subjectivism and fundamental clarification they are not likely to be missed.

Husserl points out (p. 164) that each individual "knows" himself to be living within the horizon of his fellow human beings. Furthermore, he knows that he and his fellows "are related to the same experienced things in such a way that each individual has different aspects . . . different perspectives, etc." In his view, no conceivable human being could ever experience a world in manners of givenness" differing from "the mobile relativity" he has delineated, as a world pregiven in one's conscious life and in community with fellow human beings (p. 165). It is thus made clear that no real human being experiences a world with a whole set of cognitions. That the "correlation between world . . . and its subjective manners of givenness" never evoked philosophical wonder before Husserl, as he observes, may well be at least partly true. There is the danger, however, which has already been indicated, of overplaying and overextending the significance of otherwise interesting and specialized abstract descriptions.  It is clearly tempting for such a philosopher to see what he can achieve metaphysically (or more), following his initial "neutral" analyses.  That the seemingly nonmetaphysical principle of a subject‑object correlation is readily exploited for idealistic purposes is suggested by the assertion (p. 166) that "whatever exists . . . has its manners of self‑givenness and, on the side of the ego, its manners of intention."  Husserl goes so far as to declare that the first "breakthrough" of "this universal a priori of correlation between experienced object and manners of givenness" affected him so deeply, early in his career, that his subsequent life‑work was dominated by elaborating on this "a priori of correlation," finally leading to "the phenomenological reduction to absolute, transcendental subjectivity." If that can be called "neutral," it must be in a special, transcendental sense, following the phenomenological purification and transformation of consciousness and “whatever exists, whether it has a concrete or abstract, real or ideal meaning."

The objective universe is said (p. 168) to "come to be" through a universal unity of synthesis—"the world which is and as it is concretely and vividly given (and pregiven for all possible praxis)." Husserl speaks of the "intersubjective constitution" of the world, which means "the total system of manners of givenness . . . and also of modes of validity for egos." Through this constitution the "world as it is for us becomes understandable as a structure of meaning formed out of elementary intentionalities" (italics added). Lest one never fully recover from a long sojourn in rudimentary subjective inquiry, it may be suggested that one focus attention on conspicuous parts of that world, where human suffering and many kinds of interpersonal problems abound. In the interest of truth and usefulness, a reflective procedure must be based upon objective, independent events located in the natural and social world. The subjectively constituted world is a falsifying construction unless it agrees with what can be ascertained as a matter of fact about the independent world, the world in which we are also active and contributive to a modest but increasing degree. In accordance with his procedure, Husserl is interested in the formation of structures of meaning out of "elementary intentionalities." Whether he is able to reach and shed pertinent light on social realities is the question to be answered. What is most important for contemporary society is the nature of social relations as they bear upon actual problems, and the "elementary intentionalities" never reach that far. Thus Husserl's rationalistic faith in his subjective procedure, which, viewed ideally, "would leave no meaningful question unanswered"—on his terms, of course—remains unfulfilled and devoid of real results.

The purely subjective realm, achieved by the extrusion of all theses of real existence, is nevertheless assigned "the function of forming ontic meaning" (p. 169). This arrogation of function goes beyond Kant's dictum that "connection" does not lie in the objects, to the dogma that the world is finally seen to be a transcendentally constituted world. That no help is to be obtained from "scientific methods based on the natural world" shows the extent to which Husserl has cut loose from the sciences and the basic fact of the existence of an independent, antecedent (rather than "pregiven") world. His technical and artificial order of problems is still to be regarded as causally derived and conditioned by the realm of existence investigated by the sciences. All forms of inquiry, whether abstract or concrete, transcendental or materialistic, are unavoidably undertaken by natural beings, and in most cases that involves responding to interests in their social system, even if they may not be fully aware of the extent of that influence upon their thought.

Husserl speaks of the subjective as "appearance tied together synthetically," as distinguished from the "ego‑pole" and the "object poles" (p. 171), and he speaks of pursuing "the synthesis through which the manifold appearances bear within themselves 'that which is' as their 'object‑pole'" (p. 170). The object‑pole "is in the appearances not as a component part but intentionally, as that of which each, in its own way, is an appearance." The subjective is thus located in experience and is characterized as bearing within itself "that which is" as an "object‑pole" of reference.

The life‑world is taken to begin with as it is "given perceptually," as undoubtedly existing. But, it will be asked, does the life‑world really exist, whether it is taken in "pure ontic certainty" or not? The answer, which cannot be avoided by any special procedure, however radical it may seem to be, must be that only a concrete, sociohistorical world can be said to exist. Only such a past or present actuality can be spoken of in terms of existence, and to speak of "ontic certainty" is to ask for the evidence on the basis of real experiencing beings interacting with the natural world and with one another.

For Husserl, subjectivity is "an ego functioning constitutively," and that is only "within intersubjectivity" (p. 172). What is called the synthesis of intersubjectivity "through which all ego‑subjects . . . are oriented toward a common world," and the "general 'we'" in which all the activities are united, ought to allow for differences in socioeconomic status among the ego‑subjects. Some ego‑subjects exploit other ego‑subjects, and there are numerous types of conflict. The world resulting from the constitutive process of the subjective philosopher should be conditioned by economic and social relations if it is to resemble the existing world or to apply to it significantly. The "general 'we'" in Nazi Germany was quite different from the "general 'we'" of the Iroquois Indians. In effect, such an abstract, undifferentiated conception may in practice become a means for obscuring the most important relations or facts about human society, a tendency not to be removed by a process of phenomenological reduction and constitution, with its very limited program and its penchant for elementary beginnings.

Although the life‑world may be investigated "within the reorientation of the transcendental epoché," one can restore the natural attitude at any time, and within it there can be inquiry concerning the "invariant structures of the life‑world" (p. 173). This is understandable if one is looking for invariant structures of the life‑world as an experiential world. The world of experience, however, is continually generating new relationships and relational patterns, so that the invariants of the entire process are bound to be very thin, and their significance will be judged in connection with the pressing problems of actual living. On the other hand, the concrete human problems are not to be fully understood without the use of idealizations.  But the real ground of those idealizations is to be sought in the natural-social world as a complex dynamic process. In short, the actual occurrences of that world form the real basis for all intellectual efforts to understand it, and that is not to be circumvented by any far‑flung, "deep" epistemological devices. Thus, even though the world of life is said to take up into itself all practical structures, including those of the objective sciences as cultural facts, "we refrain from taking part in their interests." It is one step further to refrain from ever taking account of them, because of a resolute insistence on ideal emptiness. That the world of life, with all practical structures included, "is related to subjectivity" may be regarded as true in an unimportant sense, for everything talked about is related to subjectivity, as being talked about. The real nature of that which is talked about is the important thing to be ascertained. One may never arrive within even remote sight of that goal if primary emphasis is placed upon the doctrine that, despite all changes, the world of life "holds to its essentially lawful set of types" as the "ground" of all sciences; and this ontology "is to be derived from pure self­evidence." It is necessary to enlarge one's vision to comprise the entire subject matter of the sciences and general experience. The world and man as described and progressively understood in the course of scientific progress and general experience are really in question, so that what is needed is serious attention to the bearing of that knowledge on philosophical thought.  That will have a salutary effect in two respects—by exposing errors and outmoded conceptions and by providing an ever greater access to human and natural existence.

In phenomenological inquiry the pregiven life‑world becomes a transcendental phenomenon. Through the epoché a "transformation" is effected, with everything finding a place within the "universal a priori of the transcendental" (p. 174). Even though the reader is assured that he may return to his earlier Einstellung, everything finally remains only topically comprehensive in a most general way, which consistently manages to miss the nature of the world as really experienced. The alleged change from the "life of natural interest in the world" into the "attitude of the 'disinterested' spectator" raises the question of the possibility of such a spectator, especially where private and vested interests are served or involved. That a "radical reshaping of our whole way of looking at the world" (p. 175) would result will not be doubted, for care would be taken to be devoted to timeless essences while the actual events, including the historical modes of exploitation, with their intricate system of defenses of the existing social order by means of indoctrination and deception, would be viewed "disinterestedly," if at all. Unavoidably, the "ultimate presuppositions" in which the phenomenological problems are rooted can only be abstract and removed on principle from the problems of mankind. The epoché "denied us all natural world‑life and its worldly interests" and "gave us a position above these." Thus to be above the natural world‑life is simply not to touch them and to disregard them. All "existing actuality" is ruled out, for we who are now philosophizing are forbidden to engage in the pursuit of our own interests, but this also applies to participation in the interests of our fellow men.

In reflecting upon difficulties to be faced in the criticism of his procedure, Husserl considers whether the phenomenologist is also establishing scientific truths, so that he might be charged with "the dangerous road of double truth," subjective as well as objective truth. The solution is readily provided: there is "a strange but self‑evident result," and this is "the result of inquiry within the epoché,” that the natural world‑life "is only a particular mode of the transcendental life which forever constitutes the world." But the transcendental subjectivity living on in this mode "has not become conscious of the constituting horizons and never can become aware of them." It turns out that the proposed solution consists in the transcendental subjectivity methodologically outflanking and taking over the natural‑social world. Despite protestations that might be made to the contrary, in view of apparently reassuring statements made in the Crisis volume and elsewhere concerning the objective world and the natural attitude, the final result proves to be a continuation of the tradition of speculative idealism. It amounts to advocating an idealism reminiscent of post‑Kantians like Schelling, with intelligence slumbering in nature and with the dogma couched in terms like radical, self‑evident, and constitutive. Hence it rarely comes out in the open and is for the most part concealed by the apparatus of a subtle and question‑begging assumptive argument.

The reader is reassured once more that nothing is lost in "the reorientation of the epoché" (p. 176). With the adoption of the epoché the "essential subjective correlates" of that which is viewed as objective by those with the natural attitude are exhibited, "and thus the full and true ontic meaning of objective being, and thus of all objective truth, is set forth." How could it be maintained that nothing is lost thereby? Perhaps nothing would be lost within the artificial limits of the reflective inquiry involved, except the concrete world, including real social events and human relations. But perhaps even they may not have been lost, because they were never in the field of vision of those selected as investigators with the natural attitude, which was the point of departure for the epoché. The objective investigator faces the charge of taking the natural world for granted, so that he brings only "the constituted object‑poles" into his field of inquiry, thus failing to see "the full concrete being and life that constitutes them transcendentally." In other words, he is viewed as operating on a naive and unclarified level. It is accordingly clear that the objectivist is being judged on the basis of subjective-transcendental premises, with the antecedent, independent field of existence (in which knowing beings, and that includes transcendentalists, are in reality a small part and a late event) viewed as "constituted" for ultimate explanatory purposes. The transcendental‑constitutive standpoint could only be maintained logically in a greatly weakened and fundamentally transformed version as a methodological proposal, and it would be sheer dogmatism to advance it as an article of faith.

That Husserl is not unaware of such criticism is shown by his discussion of a second difficulty that emerges—namely, that the epoché seems to be a turning-away from all natural human life‑interests, which he regards as a misunderstanding of the transcendental epoché. He recognizes that there would be no transcendental inquiry without our living through perception and the perceived, memory and the remembered, and so on. The great difference brought about by the epoché is said to be due to its changing "the entire manner of investigation" and its reshaping the goal of knowledge "in the whole of its ontic meaning." This indicates how he recurrently lends support to a methodological version of phenomenology. The constructive elements of transcendental inquiry qua reflective inquiry could be salvaged in a materialistic setting, aided by a carefully clarified, nonassumptive language. The danger of a lapse into idealistic dogmatism is also recurrent, however. The "turning‑away" from natural life-interests may turn out to be the continuation in a subjective setting of a widespread habit of specialized scholars who disregard the social realities which must be transformed for the sake of human life‑interests. The transcendentalist then appears to go along with numerous scholars who operate with the natural attitude, and if he suspends beliefs concerning the natural world as a matter of reflective method, he still joins with such scholars in allowing the existing social order to be unquestioned in its concrete structure and practices.

In the epoché, the reader is told (p. 177), one goes "back to the subjectivity which . . . already has the world through previous aims and their fulfillment," a subjectivity which "continues to shape the world through its concealed internal 'method.' " But the world is not really due to "aims and their fulfillment," as a matter of fact and established knowledge, and there is no need for the indicated kind of "concealment." It is unwarranted and misleading to regard the world of the naturalist or materialist as "ready‑made," in contrast to that of the subjectivist, who is plainly not to be credited with its "making." The painstaking, cumulative progress of the sciences is not to be characterized truly with the use of such assumptive terms, and the impression of the sciences conveyed by the Crisis text also indicates a falsifying conception, for provision is abundantly made by them for human activities, all the way to the greatest possible transformation of the world in relation to the realization of human values on the greatest possible scale. It may be noted in this connection that some of the most important and significant advances in thought have been made outside the academic institutions, restricted as they are by the social system which they represent and are committed to preserve.

In Husserl's view "the full concrete facticity of transcendental subjectivity" can be scientifically grasped through an eidetic method, by investigating "the essential form of the transcendental accomplishments" in all their types and social forms. This alleged concrete facticity must either be really concrete, naming social realities, or it must be abstracted from concrete situations, themselves in need of analysis by scientific procedures. It would be helpful to translate the proposed method into more innocuous terms, as a step toward eliminating errors due to concealed assumptions. For example, if the expression "radical reflection," naming one limited method among others, were to replace the tradition‑laden, presumptuous term "transcendental," it could be more readily seen that what is called transcendental phenomenology is not at all capable of directing the whole cognitive enterprise or of providing "the full and true ontic meaning of objective being." It is indebted to other procedures and sources for the fund of knowledge making its own efforts possible, both for meanings and direction.

Husserl's discussion of "the paradox of human subjectivity being a subject for the world and at the same time being an object in the world" is revealing (pp. 178ff.). By means of the method of epoché, everything objective is said to be transformed into something subjective. The "presupposed" existing world is regarded as the "ground" for scientific psychology, and this "is taken from us by the epoché." The world, or the objective, therewith becomes something subjective; it is regarded as the correlate of the subjective experiences and activities. The "manner of being" of the world is now a "unity of meaning." Everything that exists is resolved into "universal intersubjectivity," or mankind. Since mankind is a component part of the world, how could human subjectivity constitute the whole world as its "intentional formation"? Is this a paradox? Or is it a methodogenic problem, as the present writer maintains, resulting from the adoption of a specialized method, amounting in part to a planned falsification due to the use of abstractive devices and contrary‑to‑fact premises? To put it in that way, however, requires an enlargement of the framework of method and a consideration of the meaning of existence in relation to the findings of the sciences and experience.

With the methodogenic nature of the problem of existence not recognized, the predicament of a subjectivist endeavoring to overextend his own procedure is understandable, a predicament leading him to suppose that there is a paradox to be clarified. What is to be said of the charge that "the subjective part of the world swallows up ... the whole world and thus itself too" (p. 180)? A bizarre and unnecessary "problem" now becomes a "necessary" paradox, involving the "natural way of viewing the world" and something fictional—namely, a "disinterested spectator." Husserl makes so bold as to try to turn the tables on the natural or science‑oriented view of the world when he asserts that "the universal obviousness of the being of the world" is to be transformed into "something intelligible." For the phenomenologist, "the obvious" is questionable, and the obviousness of the being of the world is "the greatest of all enigmas," to be resolved by the subjective route of inquiry. Husserl asks whether we can be "satisfied simply with the notion that human beings are subjects for the world . . . and at the same time are objects in this world." But what follows from not being satisfied? We must accept a great deal despite not being satisfied, while striving to improve man's position in the existing natural world; and as for the social world, dissatisfaction will hopefully continue to motivate change in the direction of the best possible transformation of its institutions for the benefit of all mankind. To ask whether, as scientists, we can "content ourselves with the view that God created the world and human beings within it," the answer must clearly be in the negative if we are speaking about scientists who are true to the ideals of scientific method. Furthermore, is Husserl right in asserting that "the philosophers" cannot be content with the naiveté of positive religion? One should look at the mixed record of the beliefs and commitments of philosophers before making such a judgment, and it will be clear that philosophers do not constitute a homogeneous totality. As for the phenomenologist, whose attitude is designed to elevate him "above the subject‑object correlation which belongs to the world," he is led, in self‑reflection, to recognize "that the world exists for us . . . takes its ontic meaning entirely from our intentional life." The subject-object correlation does not become less questionable when labeled "transcendental," and it is not to be exempted from critical objections by a sweeping use of the epoché, leading to the dismissal of everything natural and mundane. In general, there should be no backhanded thrusts on the part of empty‑handed philosophers with regard to the existing world. Transcendental phenomenology, in contrast to a science‑oriented view of the world, purportedly begins "without any underlying ground," and somehow it "achieves the possibility of creating a ground for itself through its own powers." These powers would encompass, one must suppose, the power of transforming the "naive world" into a "universe of phenomena." Such passages add to the difficulty of disentangling any sound rational elements from the methodological attempts of Husserl, a difficulty aggravated by his tendency to move from what appears at first to be a disarmingly simple and forthright proposal, building upon a subject‑object correlation (meaning that only things in relationship to human knowers can be considered) to the unwarranted conclusion that ontological status in its most general sense can be achieved only in the context of knowing minds. All of this goes along with the dogmatic view that the only true and full ontic meaning of the world is to be obtained after the procedure of suspension and elimination of independent existence has been instituted.

"I" and my "phenomena" are the theme of the first stage of inquiry, in the development of the method of transcendental phenomenology, under the heading of transcendental egology. Inasmuch as "I am but one I," Husserl is led to the problem of the "constitution of intersubjectivity—this 'all of us'—from my point of view, indeed 'in' me" (p. 182). The unreality of this problem, which is involved by an egological beginning, can be seen when one considers the ways in which human beings react to their social system and how they are influenced, developed, warped, or suppressed because of social conditions. Full account must be taken of such facts for any type of method concerned with human existence. It is a curious question to ask who we are, "as subjects performing the meaning‑ and validity- accomplishment of universal constitution—as those who, in community, constitute the world as a system of poles, as the intentional structure of community life." The world as a system of poles is understandable as an item in the abstract‑ideal method of subjective analysis, which undertakes to probe to the elements of experience as viewed from its perspective. That a community is diversified in its structure, with numerous types of economic and social arrangements, and that real communities differ from one another should lead one to consult the facts at every point, so that the talk of structures may apply to actualities and not be restricted to thin invariants and abstract generalities, thus failing to reach the important truths about human organization and behavior. Husserl asks whether "we" can mean "we human beings" in the natural‑objective sense, as real entities in the world, and whether such real entities are not themselves phenomena and object‑poles, referring us back to the meaning-activities through which they have attained their "ontic meaning." This continues the theme of the "paradox," which exists only so long as one fails to see the actual nature and limits of the proposed subjective method. Human beings as real entities are not phenomena in the sense of transcendental phenomenology, except for a contrary‑to‑fact procedure; and as a matter of fact which is supported by the requisite evidence, they have not really attained their ontic meaning through intentional activities alone. If it is a matter of an analysis seeking to reconstruct the structural features of realities in the existing world, ontic meanings are to be discovered and are not to be conferred by any subjectivity. Another question asked by Husserl, whether the transcendental subjects functioning in the constitution of the world are human beings, receives a simple answer. Within the epoché, the philosopher and other human beings are valid only as "phenomena," as "roles for transcendental regressive inquiries." Each "I" is not merely an ego­pole but "an 'I' with all its accomplishments and accomplished acquisitions, including the world as existing." Thus there is a great deal included in the conception of an ego. With the "world as existing" thrown in, we seem to be dealing with superbeings. The indicated achievements of a concrete "I" must be turned back for a more modest statement in order to avoid a metaphysical commitment which could not be validated by a descriptive philosophy of experience. The phenomenological elimination of everything factually human leaves one with subjective structures. Is this what our troubled world needs? If the answer is to be by way of the most radical thinkable criticism, that could be accomplished only on the basis of a real world which is being questioned continually and with the questioning also being examined and reexamined therewith. The human knowers involved must be taken in their full reality, as being in the natural‑social world, so that all abstract‑ideal cognitive formations may be referred back to the primary realities. That is a reversal of the direction of transcendental phenomenology, which faces hopeless "paradoxes" in its task of accounting for existence on the basis of subjectivity. Since causal explanation in the naturalistic sense is ruled out, the subjectivist cannot use the language or usurp the function of a real ontology. He can at best endeavor to contribute to the understanding and knowledge of existence in terms of a methodological version of phenomenology, with its self‑imposed limitations, as distinguished from a speculative metaphysical version, which is also illustrated in the Husserlian texts. Thus there is clearly a system-building impulse manifested in extolling spirit in the Crisis volume, for example. The severe standard of evidence as requiring bodily presence in experience should be borne in mind. One cannot have it both ways; it is descriptive analysis or it is system‑building. Added to that is the difficulty of reconciling the descriptive findings of subjective inquiry with the established knowledge of man and the universe, a difficulty making clear the need for a larger and more adequate methodology.

 The epoché is said to create "a unique sort of philosophical solitude" which is required by a truly radical philosophy (p. 184). All of mankind becomes "a phenomenon with my epoché." That is to speak egologically, and to ask who devises the epoché would be to speak materialistically. Speaking egologically, "I stand above all natural existence that has meaning for me." It would be better to say "reflect on" instead of "stand above," in order to avoid a possibly misleading suggestion of a higher realm of being as a vantage point. Once one has taken the crucial step of deontologizing the world of experience by means of the epoché the way is open for the ego, "starting from itself and in itself," to constitute transcendental intersubjectivity, "to which it then adds itself as a merely privileged member as one among transcendental others. Unless one is deceived by the use of borrowed nontranscendental terms, what is really meant is that from a vacuous, fictional "ego in itself," a vacuous, fictional intersubjectivity is "constituted"—vacuously and fictionally. The entire account of the constitutive process, leading to the "world for all," is to be understood as representing a transcendental view, so that any bearing upon the real world would have to be shown. It could only be sheer dogmatism to declare the ideal or fictional to be prior to the real. If the "ultimate I" of a human being seems to be in place when the epoché is being carried out, it may well be neglected in submerged or exploited members of society, for such a luxury may well be beyond their reach.

A reduction to the "absolute ego as the ultimately unique center of function in all constitution" (p. 186) again shows transcendental phenomenology to be a continuation of the tradition of idealism. To be sure, the world is recognized as pregiven and undoubted; and Husserl's text shows, as he has indicated in other writings, that the natural view of the world as "there" has its proper place or justification. He thinks that his "realism" is strong enough, in his understanding of the term and of what is involved. The ground under one's feet becomes insecure, however, as he details the stages of his procedure, ending in the attainment of a "correlation between the world and transcendental subjectivity as objectified in mankind" (p. 187). The method and its outcome can be fully understood only by means of an examination from another perspective of method and knowledge. In other words, the seeming finality of the epoché is to become subject to radical questioning in turn, with emphasis on the sociohistorical conditions of thought and motivation. The contention that pure phenomenological inquiry is "unmotivated" could be supported only by a specially fabricated conception of motivation, neglecting the fact that phenomenologists are motivated in departing from the natural view of the world. That their motivation is different at least in part from that of special scientists with the natural attitude is certainly true. Philosophers can no more deny the effects of motives and influences than the mathematician, the social scientist, or any artisan.

If we consider what it is that leads most investigators to undertake their studies, we see that there is an awareness of problems and a strong, compelling desire to solve them. If the system of wage labor or the distribution of wealth were the problem, the investigator could be accurate in the handling of his subject matter as well as reflectively sound, while being intensely "interested" in an important sense of the term. To be sure, in practice that may mean serving entrenched socioeconomic interests. Could not more be accomplished by recognizing the fact that investigators, like all experiencing beings, are motivated and "interested"? All the precautions of a critical method could be observed therewith, and that would be preferable to the falsifying abstraction of an ideal, unmotivated, and "disinterested" observer (p. 240), whose specialized rigor and soundness are likely to be limited to pure thought.

Transcendental problems are said to encompass finally all living beings insofar as they have life. There are the problems of the transcendental inquiry starting from the essential forms of existence in human society, in communities and states; there are "the problems of birth and death and of their meaning as world occurrences," and so on (p. 188). Is this the way to proceed, in order to understand human existence? If one were to take an actual type of historical society as an example, say feudalism or capitalism, in order to test the transcendental approach, the latter would be seen to be in effect a plea for an alternative to a real explanation or an alternative to concrete efforts toward basic social change.

It is nevertheless Husserl's contention that transcendental phenomenology has access to all conceivable problems in previous philosophy and to all problems of being, "at some point along its way," in addition to the specialized problems of phenomenology. In order to test this contention, one might make a list of representative problems of traditional philosophy, problems conditioned by the degree of understanding of nature and society and by the relationship of thinkers to vested interests of the existing social system. Thus Hobbes can be viewed in relation to the issue of church versus state and as responding to the need to defend the cause of science as a prime requirement for the rising commercial and industrial society; Locke's motivation in relation to the need to react against the feudal-ecclesiastical tradition and the concept of authority, in the name of the rights of the individual; and Kant as well as Spencer, in addition to their other interests, as concerned with the problem of reconciling science and religion. French materialism in the eighteenth century offers an outstanding example of the sociohistorical motivation of philosophers, especially in the outspoken representation of the interests of the bourgeois class. Although psychological atomism and the idea of atomistic individuals are understandable historically, they appear quaintly anachronistic when revived in a transcendentalized form in the twentieth century. The reflections of the ideally conceived and idealizing phenomenologist depend upon the positive knowledge of the nature of all the problems raised. To arrive at all the problems would involve reflecting on the course of philosophical thought and its problems in relation to history. Only by a vastly greater framework than that of transcendental phenomenology could one make the claim not only to arrive at but also to illuminate and explain them in their social setting and with respect to their significance for the present. In order to enable the phenomenologist to understand his own difficulties more adequately, the difference between system‑proper and system‑strange questions or problems must be considered—that is to say, between questions meaningful and relevant with respect to the system of knowledge of phenomenology, and questions not meaningful or relevant with respect to it. A specialized system of knowledge admits questions which are meaningful in terms of its basic ideas and premises, and excludes others which are not meaningful on that basis. Questions referring to essences in the context of pure consciousness and its meant objects are relevant to transcendental phenomenology, and questions requiring actual empirical confirmation must be ruled out as not relevant in the present sense of those terms. It is always possible to appraise the system as a whole, with respect to its merits and limitations, by means of another system of knowledge and in the light of a larger system. Thus all specialized systems, including those operating with fictions transcending the scope of experience, are the objects of possible judgments in the system of human existence. This applies to the ego and knowledge of transcendental phenomenology. But Husserl maintains that, having arrived at the ego by means of the phenomenological method, "one becomes aware of standing within a sphere of self‑evidence of such a nature that any attempt to inquire behind it would be absurd." In contrast to this sphere of self‑evidence are the self‑evidences of all objective sciences, including formal logic and mathematics. In his discussion of the danger of misunderstanding the "universality" of the phenomenological‑psychological epoché (pp. 248f.), Husserl speaks of the "self‑evidence of this sole genuine 'inner experience'" as the "most unconditioned of all self-evidence." This is contrasted to the external attitude, or the natural, anthropological subject‑object attitude, or the psychomundane attitude; and in order to make the psychic accessible one must "bring its own being and everything 'involved' in it into view" by penetrating "from the externalized intentionalities into the internal ones which constitute the other intentionally." The use of schematic, pictorial terms may not only result in failure to "penetrate" to what is most important and necessary in the real world, but may also strengthen the belief that detached thought processes provide the means for understanding and ordering the world. Although the term being is used, the thoroughgoing subjective setting cuts it off from the being of actual experience. The ego of transcendental inquiry, with its sphere of self‑evidence, is distinguished from the ego involved in the alleged self‑evidences of the objective sciences, with their "background of incomprehensibility." As for what remains after the epoché, can it be said to exist concretely, with a locus in the order of nature? One can question the subjective residuum, both in terms of the transcendental system and with respect to the larger system of reality of which the transcendental system is a specialized part with its own peculiar premises. Arriving at the ego of phenomenology is not at all an emancipation from nature or human society—theoretically, speculatively, or practically.

What the present writer refers to as the premises of pure phenomenology comprises basic principles and special assumptions setting off the transcendental realm and making subjective inquiry possible, including the role of experience and knowing, the subject‑object correlation and the bestowal of meaning, the nature of essences and structures, the relationship to the natural view of the world, and so on. The talk of "meaning‑bestowing" (p. 243) calls attention to its limited subjective role, normal and abnormal, without considering the indebtedness to natural and social conditions. Hence a general subjective program, assigning the bestowal of meaning to philosophically prepared abstractive egos, must be regarded as being merely a methodological device for special descriptive and explanatory purposes, if it is not to be rejected as leading to a dogmatic theory harboring a mythical ontology. As a matter of fact the subjective could not be considered to be self‑sufficient without the spiritualizing of ontology. Abstractive egos must presuppose concrete persons and social relations capable of making possible the bestowal of meanings with which the egos operate, whether rightly or wrongly. For it must be conceded that abstractive egos, bound up as they are with a reflective procedure and the epoché, have no lines of defense against lies and the host of deceptive means characterizing so much of the social world. In World War I, for example, the belligerent nations professed the highest ideals and purest purposes, and philosophical apologists on both sides of the conflict, neglecting the economic causes, provided noble-sounding formulations and fallacious arguments to justify the widespread slaughter. If an investigator is not to miss the real nature of experience and lose the most important sources of human problems in the generalities of purely subjective inquiry, he must discover the actual roots and sources of meanings as well as their nature by reference to the concrete objectivities involved. Terms such as recession, depression, prosperity, and free enterprise have various meanings motivated by entrenched interests, and nowhere is the force of the contribution by human beings to the meanings of our world of experience more in evidence than in the case of deceptions and indoctrination prompted by dominant interests.

Husserl's objection to the "attack" on transcendental phenomenology as "Cartesianism, as if its ego cogito were a premise or set of premises" concerned only with objective knowledge, is met by closer attention to the nature of what is assumed in his discipline (p. 189). As he views it, the point is not to deduce or secure objectivity but to understand it, and he goes so far as to assert that "no objective science . . . explains or ever can explain anything in a serious sense." In his view, "to recognize the objective forms of the composition of physical or chemical bodies and to predict accordingly—all this explains nothing but is in need of explanation," so that "the only true way to explain is to make transcendentally understandable"; and the natural sciences give us no true explanations or ultimate knowledge of nature. This unsurpassed boldness is certainly not supported by evidence in the literature, and the claim to true explanation is never justified by pertinent achievements. It remains vacuous. If Husserl had held to his assertion, with all due modesty, that "the point is not to secure objectivity, but to understand it," his methodological approach would in turn face the challenge of its degree of success in understanding objective reality. The case for the superiority of the special sciences would be overwhelming because of their great practical success and theoretical accomplishments, leaving to pure phenomenology its own field of inquiry, with its best specialized results to be seen in selected aspects of experience and the philosophy of logic.

Apparently undisturbed by such considerations, Husserl declares that the natural sciences give no ultimate knowledge of nature because they do not "investigate nature at all in the absolute framework through which its actual and genuine being reveals its ontic meaning." If this is the kind of understanding envisaged in phenomenology, it turns out to be an understanding in need of understanding, with the "absolute framework" and "actual and genuine being" requiring clarification and reassurance to the reader that they are more than empty words or unfounded pretense. Husserl insists that "the objective world in the natural attitude and this attitude itself" lose nothing by being understood in terms of "the absolute sphere of being in which they ultimately and truly are." How can that be maintained, inasmuch as the absolute sphere of being is not a sphere of real being and belongs to the realm of thought‑idealities? It is nothing but a fictional framework operating in fact on the basis of the real world, but only tangentially or backhandedly—a world which can only be grudgingly acknowledged as pregiven, always present, and yet regarded as in need of phenomenological constitution. The contention concerning the knowledge attained by means of the constitutive "internal" method, "through which all objective‑scientific method acquires its meaning and possibility," remains an unsupported claim; and the belief that it has significance for the natural or other objective scientists is largely in need of even remote support. That there is no lack of confidence in Husserl here is shown by the declaration that his method is "the most radical and most profound self‑reflection of accomplishing subjectivity." Revealing, however, is the kind of support adduced, which is a familiar kind of prop, citing obvious inadequacies in various theories of knowledge and in the philosophy of logic. But what results if one follows the indicated transcendental route? There are serious inadequacies in turn, even if in part different, with the actual world and the conflicts of mankind inaccessible and not understood in their "true being" as well as in their "natural being." It is inevitable that the subjectivistic claim to apodictic knowledge is found to be open to doubts affecting its vaunted superiority.

While indicating the unavoidable difference between empirical and transcendental subjectivity, Husserl also notes that their identity is just as unavoidable but also incomprehensible. The point is that "I, myself, as transcendental ego, 'constitute' the world, and at the same time, as soul, I am a human ego in the world." Furthermore, my transcendental understanding "prescribes its law to the world" (p. 202, italics added). The consciousness of intersubjectivity becomes  a transcendental problem by turning to my own inner experience, "to discover the manners of consciousness through which I attain and have others and a fellow mankind in general." It is the individual knower who can confer upon others the sense of being 'of my kind.' "If the transcendental ego "constitutes the world," that may well be left as incomprehensible or as misleading language in the service of a metaphysical theory. But the same need not be the case for the substantive identity of empirical and so‑called transcendental subjectivity, for they can be understood as realities in the natural world, with the processes of inquiry of phenomenology, like those of pure mathematics, recognized as events in the real world, which includes human bodies and all their activities. No descriptive results would be omitted thereby, for a place is provided by an open‑ended methodology for all the valid activities of the abstract sciences and for their meant objects as instrumental and explanatory devices.

The transcendental philosopher faces problems and paradoxes because of his standpoint and method. For the transcendentalist, the "totality of real objectivity," including the "prescientific objectivity of the life‑world," becomes a problem, "the enigma of all enigmas" (p. 204). The inseparable way in which psychology and transcendental philosophy are allied, however, is clarified as an "alliance of difference and identity," so that it is no longer an enigma (p. 205). All real mundane objectivity is regarded as "constituted accomplishment." What are referred to as psychic being and objective spirit such as human societies and cultures become transcendental problems, and Husserl argues that it would be "absurdly circular to want to deal with such problems on a naive, objective basis through the method of the objective sciences." In opposition to this view, it may be pointed out that for a science‑oriented materialistic philosophy with an open-ended conception of scientific thought and inquiry as growing and changing without limit, and thus including rigorous reflective analysis, the critical reconstruction and assimilation of what is called the transcendental is merely a special kind of problem which can be solved. The solution of that problem is no more difficult than the assimilation of formal thought, which presupposes real thought processes of existing human beings, a requisite historically conditioned social order, and an all‑encompassing material universe. Excessive preoccupation with transcendental "purity" has resulted in reversing the true causal relationship. A unified overall method designed to do justice to the selective character of the various types and special procedures of inquiry is capable of achieving what a narrow and unyielding "absolute" method is unable to accomplish. The world‑problem of transcendentalism cannot be solved except on the basis of logically unacceptable speculative assumptions and arguments. The shortcomings of the prevailing scientific thought at any given time are not cured by recourse to a rarefied subjective realm introducing new dogmas to replace outmoded idealistic myths.

In undertaking the task of a pure explication of consciousness as such, the first objective is "to overcome the naïveté which makes the conscious life in and through which the world is what it is for us—as the universe of actual and possible experience—into a real property of man, real in the same sense as his corporeity" (p. 233). It is precisely what is assumed which has to be carefully examined. Thus that "the world is what it is for us" through the conscious life is either to be taken analytically, in the sense that "the world for us" is "the world as experienced," or it is fraught with potential mischief by disengaging experience from all corporeal existence, with unlimited metaphysical potentialities packed away in the resulting pure experience. Quite different is the question of the starting‑point for the analysis of experience. Husserl resorts to the cogito and intentionality, and he is critical of the "data . . . taken for granted to be immediately given from the start." The failure to build upon what is known about man's place in the cosmos and his interrelationship with sociohistorical development is due, either consciously or unconsciously, to motives leading to withdrawal from the real problems and relations of society—which means, in effect, at least tacit acceptance of the prevailing social order. The most extreme subjective radicalism fails to touch the problems of real human beings, individual and social, if man as a real being is not the point of departure and objective of the inquiry. This calls attention once more to the alleged "prejudices of the naturalistic tradition," which should be reconsidered in the light of the evidence bearing upon the nature of man and his activities.  If a set of cosmological theorems representing the present level of scientific knowledge were drawn up, in a manner reminiscent of the memorable cosmological theorems of Ernst Haeckel presented in his Riddle of the Universe in 1899, and if another set were added to cover the areas of the human sciences and philosophy, they would provide an impressive perspective from which to view the antinaturalistic criticism advanced by Husserl, among many others. Inadequate or erroneous doctrines require a greater degree of adequacy or correctness, and not the dismissal of materialism as a general type of philosophical orientation. A parallel list of the main theorems of transcendental phenomenology would differ in important respects from the science-oriented list, above all in the absence of the compelling and cumulative evidence provided by the sciences. It would include standpoint principles, rules of procedure, basic formulations of the nature of experience and its meant objects, and the idealistic outcome of phenomenological inquiry. A set of idealistic prejudices could be readily formulated, leading to the so‑called radical and constitutive treatment of mundane existence and knowledge.

To speak of coming to or dealing with the "problem of history" with the premises of phenomenology, and even with the introduction of what is called a pregiven life­world, is to declare what is essentially impossible as well as factually false. That attempt merely serves to reveal the hopelessness of a procedure that adapts the language of real science and experience to its own purposes and endeavors to account for the world and all science‑oriented views of the world from what is claimed to be the "absolute" vantage point of a transcendental analysis. It is not a new phenomenology or a fundamentally new stage of phenomenology that results, but rather a desperate attempt to do what cannot be done on its premises. That there were good and sufficient historical reasons for Husserl's plight under the Nazi domination and his final inability to write about it with the necessary candor is certainly true. But it must not be forgotten that as a philosopher he turned away from problems pertaining to the real world during the Second Reich, and not only in his last years, even though he was painfully aware of the rising tide of racism that was to affect him personally. To view with profound respect, if not awe, the effort of so mature a philosopher to expose what he held to be the "naïveté" and "prejudices" of the "natural view of the world" on the basis of dogmatic premises, incurring far greater difficulties, is one of the curious occurrences in the recent literature. Even more so is crediting him with coming to grips in a new way with the problem of history. That effort may well remain in the future enlarged museum of the history of philosophy as an example of pure chutzpah.

On Philosophy and the Crisis of European Humanity

In his "Vienna Lecture" (Crisis, pp. 269ff.), Husserl turns his attention to the human spirit, the subject matter of the humanist disciplines, in which human beings are conceived as persons. The important question to be borne in mind is whether there is to be a recognition of the nature and activities of real persons in a historical or existing society. What can be said of their abstract treatment, neglecting the social realities? That proves to be doubly inadequate, for it restricts the determination of structures to a small number of examples of great generality, so that the analysis is always remote from the actual world; and it is detached from the early source of information about a world that is continually changing. These limitations are most strikingly apparent when one considers the development of new forms and types of human existence.

Husserl's thought of a "scientific medicine" for nations and society in general involves an analogy between body and spirit which could readily be misleading. He indicates the failure of the humanist disciplines to perform a service analogous to the service of the natural sciences, but he has no access to the explanation of that failure. Whereas the scientific understanding of the natural world is supported for the purposes of the industrial system, the humanist disciplines reflect and respond to a greater degree to the ideas, beliefs, interests, and values of the existing social order. There are understandable reasons why representatives of secular or religious institutions with vested interests would not condone radical change. It is relatively safe to couch one's alleged subjective radicalism in general terms, with a domain of inquiry separated on principle from the sordid social reality. What is called the crisis of the existing society is bemoaned vaguely and indeterminately, with no indication of its real nature. A flight from reality to a subjective‑ideal realm is the outcome, which has the advantage of permitting survival under conditions in which dissent would not be tolerated. But the unqualified attempt to perpetuate such a method and standpoint under all conditions turns out to be a way of allowing entrenched interests to stand unquestioned in their actual nature, despite the subjective epoché.

Nature and spirit are viewed by Husserl as the contending parties in a world made up of two spheres of realities. The social issues thus escape him, not only philosophically but also scientifically. It is fair to ask how any informed scholar claiming to be up to his historical age could neglect Marx and the evolutionists. The answer is largely to be found in the insulation due to a confining point of view and assumptions and in motives representing a socioeconomic class alignment, whether conscious or unconscious. Husserl undertakes to resolve the traditional bifurcation of nature and spirit as a continuator of transcendental idealism, so that real history is neglected. When speaking of the "European sickness" he criticizes the modern scientist for holding a purely self-enclosed, general science of the spirit to be not worth considering. Recalling the period of the rise of fascism and Nazism, can one avoid thinking concretely of the social forces and conditions that led to the conflicts and monstrous cruelties of that period? In order to understand them, one must look to economic causes first of all and to a variety of supporting causes, including political and psychological factors. The desired self‑enclosed, general science of the spirit would not reach as far as the simplest activities of actual human life.

The understanding of the term "nature" illustrates the characteristic subjective manner of viewing all objects. Thus nature in ancient Greece is not nature in the sense of natural science—that is, "the historical surrounding world of the Greeks is not the objective world in our sense but rather their 'world‑representation,'" which means their own "subjective validity" with its gods, demons, and so on (p. 272). This should be restated in direct terms, for "subjective validity" may be misleading. If beliefs are in question, that should be pointed out explicitly, and grounds, motives, and cause should be considered. An object of belief is not therefore an object of nature, and it cannot be said to be an ingredient of nature unless there is sufficient evidence to instate it as such. Even though science is still young in our time and will long be relatively young in view of the endless progress to be made at any specified time, there is a vast difference between the beliefs of Greek antiquity and the established modern knowledge supporting a view of objective nature. Hence we cannot go along with Husserl in declaring "surrounding world" to be a concept with a place exclusively in the spiritual sphere. It could only be said to be "exclusively" in the spiritual sphere if one defined it in that way, and that would be unwarranted. The subjective setting of his conception of the world is brought into bold relief when he construes our surrounding world as a "spiritual structure in us and in our historical life" and when he argues that one who makes spirit as spirit his subject matter need not demand anything other than a purely spiritual explanation for it. The consequences of this view are clear and unmistakable—namely, that it is absurd to regard the surrounding world as alien to the spirit, and to want to buttress humanistic science with natural science so as to make it supposedly exact" (p. 272). The assumptive language and premises enable him to land on his supposed spiritual feet, no matter what the human problems may be.

Taking natural science to be a title for what he calls "spiritual accomplishments," Husserl regards it as a theme for explanation by humanistic disciplines. In his view, it appears absurd and circular to undertake to explain natural science as a historical event in a natural-scientific way, for science, as spiritual accomplishment, itself belongs to the problem. Three observations may be made about this argument. For one thing, the term "science" should not be construed narrowly. There are physical, biological, and social sciences, as well as mathematical and philosophical sciences, with restrictions determined by the evidence of the events or realities of the selected subject matter and by conformity to logical principles and procedures whereby it should be borne in mind that general methodology is open‑ended and growing. Furthermore, the term "spiritual" should not be used as a loaded term, with a superior ontological status packed away in it. When examined for their evidence, such claims rapidly wither away, with only a voice or word sounds remaining. Finally, the historical event natural science, or science more generally, may be considered from the perspective of historical materialism, which is able to elucidate important questions about the significance, motivation, and use of the sciences, and in general to explain their role in history. That historical materialism itself has scientific dignity of the highest order may also be noted. There is no absurdity or objectionable circularity incurred in explaining the sciences from the perspective of historical materialism, for it has the function of dealing with all human activities, with rigorous methodological and science-oriented standards, on the basis of a preexisting and independent natural world. All of that is in conformity to our established evidence concerning man and his place in the cosmos, as well as man and the sociohistorical conditions of his experience. For the rest, the alleged circularity is hardly an applicable term, because it is illustrated in one form or another by such disciplines as psychology, logic, and theory of knowledge, and they would be strangely incomplete if they were not reflexive in character.

How strongly Husserl feels his antinaturalism is revealed by his language; because they are "blinded by naturalism," the humanists have failed to pose the problem of a universal and pure humanistic science. In general, they have missed what is aimed at in transcendental phenomenology, with its interest in a theory of the essence of spirit and in what is unconditionally universal in the spiritual sphere, the aim being to proceed to scientific explanations "in an absolutely final sense" (p. 273). The lofty status assigned to the pure study of the spirit and its proposed role in relationship to the special sciences will not be missed. This remains no more than a mere proposal with no fruitful effects. It is to be hoped that philosophers lacking in scientific education will not be led to imagine themselves to be direction-giving scientists and that they will realize their first concern to be the justification of their own thought as worthy of being designated scientific in the larger sense of the term.

To regard the term "Europe" as referring to the unity of a spiritual life, with its purposeful activity and institutions, may well be to remain with generalities, and in any case it does not take one an appreciable distance in understanding Europe. What is it that binds together the constituent nations? Is it the "unity of a spiritual shape"? Only in "our Europe," the reader is told, is there a "remarkable teleology," which is involved with the "outbreak of philosophy" (p. 273). The sad history of European society and its record of exploitation, class conflicts, and wars has been recorded in a large literature devoted to various aspects of the periods of feudalism, precapitalist formations, and the stages of development of capitalism. It has been the theme of Marxist and academic scholars, and Eugene Sue has given a graphic portrayal of the protracted struggle for freedom in Europe from the time of Caesar to the nineteenth century in his Mysteries of the People. That is to deal with real history, and not a misplaced conception of an "inner teleology" that ignores class distinctions and directs its inquiry to philosophy without regard for the way in which it reflects the social system in which it arises. It may appear noble to speak of "universal mankind" (p. 274) and the "free shaping of its existence . . . through ideas of reason, through infinite tasks." But it would be far more noble from the point of view of the greatest possible realization of human values to make clear the causes of frustration and suffering and to participate in the next stage of progress toward the goal of freedom and happiness for all mankind. That is a goal which must always be defined anew with respect to the existing social conditions and alignments.

When Husserl states that there is no zoology of peoples, for essential reasons, and that they are "spiritual unities" (p. 275), one may hesitate to apply such a designation to factory workers or to coal miners, for example. Instead of perfuming mankind with lofty phrases, the order of natural existence should be recognized as enveloping human beings and socioeconomic development, among many other things. The primary target of inquiry should not be the overextension of the zoological, any more than it need be vulnerable versions of naturalism or materialism, if one is interested in doing justice to the facts themselves, in the sense of actual events and real beings. What is called the spiritual telos of European humanity "lies in the infinite"; it comprises the telos of individual human beings and particular nations and becomes "a goal of the will." In detachment from all actual conditions, this is supposed to be instrumental in introducing a higher stage of development "under the guidance of . . . normative ideas." This formulation is in its broad outlines reminiscent of the tradition of post‑Kantian idealism, with the telos simply foisted upon mankind and Europe. No less external and artificial are the norms and normative ideas, as applied to a higher development of mankind, all of which is as vacuous as it is unsupported by factual evidence about human existence. Nevertheless, Husserl informs the reader that "all this is not intended as a speculative interpretation of our historical development," and he declares it to be the expression of a presentiment arising through "unprejudiced reflection." This is told as a substitute for what should have been said but which he could not say on his explicit or implicit premises.

Proceeding to the exposition, Husserl traces the "spiritual birthplace" to ancient Greece, in which there arose "a new sort of attitude of individuals toward their surrounding world," leading to philosophy (p. 276). It is here, as well as elsewhere, that the phenomenological view does not deal with real history for which one must never lose sight of the economic structure of society and the economic conditions of change in the superstructure of ideas, morals, and institutions. Husserl's view makes the "spiritual" (idea‑) side of individuals to be central and definitive "for the surrounding world." To see the breakthrough of philosophy, in which all the sciences are contained, as "the primal phenomenon of spiritual Europe" could be rendered both flat and innocuous if by "spiritual Europe" is merely meant the superficial trivialities following from a group of assumed definitions. The supposition that the "historical movement that has been taken on by the style‑form of European supranationality aims at an infinitely distant normative shape" is itself infinitely, if not essentially, removed from the facts. How the reader will judge the view that there is a constant directedness toward a norm which "inhabits the intentional life of individual persons" will depend upon its concrete interpretation. It is not enough to speak of a "norm" or of "individual persons" abstractly. Even if one granted the very thin and tenuous assumption that everyone unavoidably acts in accordance with norms, all the way from a resolute choice of a reasoned program to aimlessness, it should be clear that there are a great number of norms, many of them conflicting with one another, and that individual persons differ in their traits, preferences, and socially conditioned interests. It cannot be maintained in truth that all individuals have the same norms, unless they happen to be specially fabricated, abstract individuals in an idealized realm. Furthermore, not much is said by the contention that everyone has norms. One person's overriding norm may be garnering the greatest possible amount of profit, and another person, with nothing to sell but his labor power, can only be a means to the end of the profit-seeker. Conflicts resulting from the effective nature of norms are also abundantly illustrated by competing persons on the same social level, whether in the realm of business or in professional life.

It may also be noted that the phenomenological procedure from individual persons and their norms to nations "with their particular social units and finally the nations bound together as Europe" incurs the danger of neglecting the important truth that individuals are social products as well as participants and contributors to their social systems. The "new sort of humanity" envisaged by Husserl (p. 277) is characterized by "a new type of communalization," whose spiritual life, communalized through the love and production of ideas and through real life norms, "bears within itself the future‑horizon . . . of an infinity of generations being renewed in the spirit of ideas." This is again a continuation of traditional idealism. Hopefully, the individuals involved now and along the way will not have to eat or to be concerned with concrete interpersonal, class, and international conflicts. Husserl's support of his vision by the example of the development of philosophy and philosophical communities in the Greek nation shows how far removed he is from the actualities of Greek history, with its cultural development made possible by slave labor. The "common cultural spirit" which arose in ancient Greece, as portrayed by Husserl, draws "all of humanity under its spell" and thus constitutes a new type of historical development. This should be applied to the economic and political issues of the time in order to call attention to the distance between idealized, idyllic talk about man, his problems, and crises and the human problems of which Plato and Aristotle were fully aware. For Husserl, philosophy has a guiding function and an infinite task in the "ideally directed total society" (p. 289) conceived by him. That is the function of "free and universal theoretical reflection," encompassing all ideals and norms. Thus the function of philosophy is "archontic for the civilization as a whole." The actual succession of European economic, political, and cultural systems is supposedly absorbed and in effect circumvented in this purview, which is perhaps best allowed to remain abstract and vacuous.

This is the setting for Husserl's feeling of certainty that "the European crisis has its roots in a misguided rationalism" (p. 290). Such a formulation could be acceptable only if rendered as a tautology, which would show that it says nothing—that is, the European crisis as conceived here has its "roots in a misguided rationalism," in a sense conforming to the specially defined "crisis." With what amounts to "A is A" one need not quarrel, but also one need not be convinced of anything thereby.

Reiterating emphatically his opposition to an objective science of the spirit or of the soul, "objective in the sense that it attributes to souls, to personal communities, inexistence in the forms of spacetime," Husserl is sure that such a science will never exist (p. 297). In his view only the spirit exists in itself and for itself, and it can be treated rationally only in this way. Nature, on the other hand, as conceived by the natural sciences, is "only apparently self‑sufficient." The reason given is that "true nature in the sense of natural science is a product of the spirit that investigates nature and thus presupposes the science of the spirit." The desired ontological status of spirit appears conveniently, and like the traditional absolute it is fully equipped with self‑sufficiency and aseity—a sheer dogma whose future depends upon the fervor of its proponent. The old and worn out contention that nature as conceived by natural scientists is a product of the spirit investigating nature was seemingly laid to rest in the historical controversy between idealists and realists, naturalists and materialists. It is advanced without any apparent awareness of its assumptive character and of the required consideration of all the relevant evidence concerning the place of man and his thought processes in the natural and social world. This contention goes the whole way to idealism, post‑Kantian and beyond, and is distinguished above all by its dogmatism. The account of the course of reflection has a familiar ring: "Only when the spirit returns from its naive external orientation to itself, and remains with itself . . . can it be sufficient unto itself" (p. 297). One may think of Hegel therewith without much of Hegel, and also of the way in which medieval mysticism had provided this kind of mythical pattern.

Prominent in the motivation of Husserl's thought is the overcoming of objectivism and naturalism (materialism may also be added, along with evolutionism and Marxism, regarded by Husserl as dogmatic naivetés). This sets the scene for transcendental phenomenology, proceeding from one's own ego, with the ego as "the performer of all his validities" (p. 298). In portraying his conception of a new kind of science, he claims that all conceivable questions relating to being, norms, and "existence" find their place in it. This fervent claim is made in the name of intentional or transcendental phenomenology. The future contention that naturalistic objectivism and psychology, "because of its naturalism, had to miss entirely the accomplishment of the life of the spirit" is simply one more unfounded claim (p. 299). A discerning materialist or naturalist need not fail to recognize and appropriate in a scientific setting the positive descriptive insights of other scholars, however mistaken or objectionable their total philosophical views may be. The methodological and factual openness of such science‑oriented investigators gives them an enormous advantage over the purity‑directed subjective thinkers who begin by losing the real world. It is safe to say that they never succeed in regaining it, assuming that a program of restoration is ever seriously contemplated.

In concluding his Vienna lecture, Husserl is apparently quite convinced that the "teleology of European history" can be discovered philosophically. Europe is viewed as a phenomenon to be grasped "in its central, essential nucleus" (p. 299). He seems to believe that he has shown "how the European 'world' was born out of ideas of reason, that is, out of the spirit of philosophy." Thus the "crisis" could be conceived as "the apparent failure of rationalism." The reader will decide whether a single reason or statement of fact was adduced to render that view plausible or whether it accords with his knowledge of the nature of historical change. The impression is unmistakable that the reader should avoid any "entanglement in 'naturalism' and 'objectivism,'" a warning repeatedly given, much as a religious devotee might be admonished to avoid the material world and its evils

in order to concentrate on saving the soul—with the result that the status quo is allowed to stand unquestioned. As already indicated, the European tradition cannot be understood without consideration of the industrial transformation of society, with its system of wage labor, concentration of wealth, and a series of crises involving unemployment, poverty, insecurity, and war—truly a "remarkable teleology"! In total opposition to that point of view, Husserl speaks of the "rebirth of Europe from the spirit of philosophy through a heroism of reason that overcomes naturalism once and for all." The lecture closes with an exhortation to have courage "that does not fear even an infinite struggle," and in language reminiscent of Hegel he predicts that "out of the destructive blaze of lack of faith, the smoldering fire of despair over the West's mission for humanity, the ashes of great weariness, will rise up the phoenix of a new life‑inwardness and spiritualization as the pledge of a great and distant future for man: for the spirit alone is immortal." This final declaration of faith is a fitting close of a fruitless discussion by the transcendental philosopher—fruitless because it is confined to empty generalities from within, through his standpoint and method, and from without, because of his unwillingness or inability at any time to declare himself concretely against the existing social system. Such a declaration would have been possible only in the years before 1933, the time of Hitler's accession to power, when Husserl became a hapless victim of the Nazi system. But in any case he lacked the necessary means for the understanding of society, which no amount of investigation in the style of the transcendental and life‑world phenomenology could have supplied.

Some further passages in a manuscript appearing as an appendix ("Philosophy as Mankind's Self‑Reflection; the Self‑Realization of Reason") in the Crisis volume are pertinent. With the exception of idealism, Husserl criticizes "the philosophies of all times" for not being able to overcome "naturalistic objectivism" (p. 337). But as for idealism, it "failed in its method." Phenomenology is obviously expected to provide what idealism had not been able to do with its method, and mention is again made of the important task of "overcoming" naturalistic objectivism. Even the "apodictically persisting conviction of one and the same world, exhibiting itself subjectively in changing ways, is . . . motivated purely within subjectivity," and its sense, the actually existing world, "never surpasses the subjectivity that brings it about." This dogma is central for Husserl, and it should be recalled when an "objective" and even an allegedly Marxist interpretation of phenomenology is undertaken, for example by Paci.

Husserl's comment about the reason for calling his phenomenology transcendental is noteworthy. If subjectivity is regarded as "having the actual phenomenal world in intuitive validity," the phenomenological reduction is required for "putting transcendental phenomenology into action." It is the thoroughgoing use of the "reduction" and its constitutive program that distinguishes his conception of the transcendental, a procedure initially delimiting the sphere of inquiry and a source of difficulty and frustration when overextended in the interest of a general idealistic philosophy.

A fundamental role is assigned to reason, which is taken to be "the specific characteristic of man," and man's personal life is described as "a constant becoming through a constant intentionality of development" (p. 338). What becomes is the person himself, and so the person's being is said to be forever becoming. Rather than restrict oneself to speaking to an abstract reason and an abstract person, it would be helpful to repeat this passage with respect to a factory worker, a stone cutter, or an elevator operator. What would the "stages of self‑reflection" be like for such people? Or are they not "persons" in the phenomenological sense; and is it possible that Husserl is talking about his own idealized self or person when he views human personal life as proceeding "in stages of self‑reflection and self‑responsibility"? The "universally, apodictically grounded and grounding science" is said to arise as the "highest function of mankind," as "making possible mankind's development into a personal autonomy and into an all‑encompassing autonomy for mankind." Phenomenology therewith assumes a position of leadership. Happily, the idealized ego seems to be in no danger of bursting with ego‑inflation. But what really makes mankind's development possible? What does a hungry person do if he has no job or resources? Does he perform an epochéand strive to reach the uppermost level of "autonomy" and "self‑responsibility"? Or does he try to solve problem of immediate survival in any way possible, while attempting to assist in changing the "objective" conditions in which he and so many others are enmeshed? But the understanding of those conditions is not to be achieved by means of a philosophy characterized by withdrawal, nonparticipation, and neutrality with respect to the real world.

Characterizing philosophy as a thoroughgoing rationalism, Husserl states that "it is ratio in the constant movement of self‑elucidation." Avoiding complete immersion in the cul‑de‑sac of subjectivism, one may object against regarding the process as self‑elucidation. The opposing view may be urged that just as the special sciences aim at understanding the world and man, the aim of philosophy is also to contribute toward that understanding, with the additional aim to assist in the direction of human life on the basis of the present conditions, rather than toward the realization of an ideal goal, infinitely removed from the present. That can be done only insofar as the knowledge and achievements of the sciences, as well as the lessons derived from general experience, are respected. The actual historical role and significance of philosophers should not be neglected, for that is a theme which is itself worthy of the most serious scientific interest, in the larger sense of the term "science."

Husserl's thought eventuates in a grandiose vision rivaling the speculative zeal of previous idealists. He speaks of the discovery of "the necessary concrete manner of being of absolute (transcendental) subjectivity in a transcendental life of constant 'world‑constitution'"; of the new discovery of the "existing world," whose ontic meaning is transcendentally constituted, with a new meaning given to human existence as "the self‑objectification of transcendental subjectivity"; and of the ultimate self‑understanding of man as being responsible for his own human being (p. 340). The whole concrete being of mankind is said to be realized in "apodictic freedom" by becoming "apodictic mankind in the whole active life to its reason—through which it is human." This is tantamount to saying that the phenomenologist emerges here as a necessary means for the epistemological preparation of the ideal of human existence. Whether it would matter if attention were directed to a worker, employer, or gambler would help to distinguish this entire construction from a theological view in which the apodictic is guaranteed by faith.

The conception of the apodictic as naming that which is "certain to me through immediate experience" (p. 335) is as narrow as it is specialized. There is an essential distinction between the subjective process of experience and the objective events which are not touched thereby. The existing world of events is merely affected to only a very small extent by experiencing beings; it does not have to wait for an epistemological sanction of apodicticity. The process of "immediate experience" constitutes a greatly restricted region of experience to begin with, and it is necessary to extend its scope to include the results of the experience of others. But even the restricted sphere of the immediate experience of an individual ego may be challenged as not being certain. For one thing, it presumes to establish descriptive findings, with general validity for its future experiences and for those of other knowing beings. Since special assumptions are required in order to have the necessary generality and permanence, the guarantee of their certainty must be established. Furthermore, my experience, whether conceived as "reduced" phenomenologically or not, is indebted to the experience of others, and the question of certainty is again to be raised in a far more complex situation. The uncertainty of what is claimed to be apodictic becomes increasingly apparent upon inspection. The apodictic is questionable as a criterion when attributed to the pure reflection of phenomenology, for it can be used hypothetically only in subjective analysis, assuming the artificial conditions required by the method. It is also cut off thereby from application to most problems of human experience. Moreover, even transcendental phenomenologists can make mistakes in what may appear to be apodictic essence‑determinations. In such cases, all that could be said would be that genuine essence‑determinations had not been made, so that one must wait for the alleged genuineness to be confirmed. That would, however, incur to some extent the very element of precariousness and uncertainty imputed to empirical methods.

Only if one undertakes to cut loose from the objective world as a matter of method, with implicit ontological and epistemological assumptions delimiting the subject matter of the inquiry, can one take mind to be the condition and constitutive principle for reality. Husserl goes the whole length of his wishful speculation in having reason be that which man "in his innermost being" is aiming for and that which alone can satisfy him or make him "blessed" (p. 341). He does not pause to consider whether all men actually and always aim in that way, and he sees the teleological being of man as "holding sway in each and every activity and project of an ego." It is through self-understanding in all this" that an ego can know the "apodictic telos," and this "ultimate self‑understanding" is achieved in the form of philosophy—meaning undoubtedly, transcendental phenomenology in its last formulation by Husserl.

Many years before, when looking back at earlier philosophers, Husserl spoke of the quiet museum of the history of philosophy, in which thinker after thinker resides, in contradistinction to his own professed ideal of practitioners of a rigorous science of philosophy. Unwittingly he therewith suggested a location for his own thought about man and the world. His thought suffers the fate of all who fail to do justice to the nature of the actual events of the existing world. This is seen clearly in his view of European history, for he does not seem to be at all aware of the need to account for a single change in society and in ideas because of changing circumstances, including the availability of raw materials, changing economic interests, inventions, and, in general, scientific progress in relationship to technology. He does not show any awareness of such an important theme in socioeconomic history as the struggle between labor and capital—for example, over the length of the working day and intolerable conditions in industry, a theme recounted by Marx in Capital in an illuminating and convincing chapter. Hence, although Husserl was aware of grievous suffering and cruelties in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, he had no access to the more deep‑seated causes, requiring an objective analysis and historical study of the modern industrial system on a worldwide scale. Going the way to subjectivity by means of the phenomenological reduction and proceeding from there to a general philosophy of transcendental idealism could only signify the abandonment of the real problems, with idealized norms and the prospect of an unacceptably remote future to take their place.

In order to be fully useful, abstractive analysis must proceed from concrete human societies and natural existence to the examination of relational structures, so that its validity and value are to be tested by application to the point of departure. Like the material universe, the sociohistorical realm of mankind is antecedent to methods of inquiry of any kind, whether conceived in the setting of idealism or of materialism. The instrumental function of such inquiry requires continual awareness of the emergence of new social relations and forms of experience. A method of describing and analyzing relational structures cannot be employed in isolation, not only because of the occurrence of novelty but also because of the need for specialized scientific modes of investigation. Although descriptive analysis may be devoted programmatically to an abstract realm, if it is not to condemn itself to abstract generalities and trivialities it must operate in cooperation with other devices and types of method. Taken literally, this signifies methodological diversity or pluralism, with a given procedure regarded as one part or phase of a complex unitary methodology, along with other types of procedure, inductive, experimental, deductive, and philosophical in character. It is possible in this way to speak of a unified methodology, for it is a unity that involves diversity; and all of this is within the confines of the existing material universe, from which no subtle doctrines of language, attitudes, or standpoints can pry one loose.


1.   E. Winter, Der Bolzanoprozess: Dokumente zur Geschichte der Prager Karlsuniversität im Vormarz (Brünn, München, Wien, 1944); E. Winter, Der Böhmische Vormärz in Briefen B. Bolzanos an F. Prihonsky (Berlin, 1956). [—> main text]

2.    Bolzano‑Brevier: Sozialethische Betrachtungen aus dem Vormarz, selected and ed. E. Winter (Wien, 1947). [—> main text]

3.   Bernard Bolzano's Grundlegung der Logik, selections from the first two books of the Wissenschaftslehre, with an introduction by F. Kambartel (Hamburg, 1963); and Bolzano's Theory of Science, ed. and trans. R. George (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972). [—> main text]

4.   F. Brentano, Geschichte der Griechischen Philosophie, ed. Franziska Mayer-Hildebrand (Bern, 1963). [—> main text]

5.   H. Bergmann, "Brentano on the History of Greek Philosophy," Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 26 (1965): 94‑99. [—> main text]

6.   "Briefe Franz Brentanos an Hugo Bergmann," Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 7 (1946): 83‑158. [—> main text]

7.   Realism and the Background of Phenomenology, ed. R. M. Chisholm (Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1960). [—> main text]

8.   G. Bergmann, Realism: A Critique of Brentano and Meinong (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1967). [—> main text]

9.   E. Husserl, Cartesian Meditations, trans. D. Cairns (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1960); and The Paris Lectures, trans. P. Koestenbaum (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1964). [—> main text]

10. M. Merleau‑Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, trans. C. Smith (New York: Humanities Press, 1962). [—> main text]

11. J. Wild, Existence and the World of Freedom (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1963). [—> main text]

12. E. Paci, Funzione delle Scienze e Significato dell 'Uomo (Milano, 1963); Eng. trans. P. Piccone and J. E. Hansen, The Function of Science and the Meaning of Man (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1972). [—> main text]

13. A. Gurwitsch, "The Last Work of Edmund Husserl," Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 16 (1955‑1956): 380‑399, and 17 (1956‑1957): 370‑398. [—> main text]

14. A. Schutz and T. Luckman, The Structures of the Life‑World, trans. R. A Zaner and H. T. Engelhardt, Jr. (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1973). [—> main text]

15. M. Farber, Phenomenology and Existence and Naturalism and Subjectivism. [—> main text]

16.  E. Husserl, The Phenomenology of Internal Time‑Consciousness, trans. J. S. Churchill (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1964). [—> main text]

17.  W. A. Luijpen, Phenomenology and Natural Law (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1967); and Phenomenology and Humanism: A Primer in Existential Phenomenology (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1966). [—> main text]

18.  M. Farber, Foundation of Phenomenology, 3d ed. (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1967). [—> main text]

19.  H. Spiegelberg, The Phenomenological Movement (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1960). [—> main text]

20.  M. Farber, "The Phenomenological Tendency," Journal of Philosophy 59 (1962): 429‑439. [—> main text]

21.  M. Farber, The Aims of Phenomenology (New York: Harper & Row, 1966). [—> main text]

22.  J. Wild, Existence and the World of Freedom (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1963), p. 33. [—> main text]

23.  L. Landgrebe, "The World as a Phenomenological Problem," Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 1 (1940): 38‑58. [—> main text]

24.  R. Ingarden, Der Streit um die Existenz der Welt (Tübingen, 1964‑1965); Eng. trans. of part 1, Time and Modes of Being, by H. Michejda (Springfield, Ill.: C. C. Thomas, 1964); also Untersuchungen zur Ontologie der Kunst (Tübingen, 1962). [—> main text]

25.  A. Gurwitsch, "The Problem of Existence in Constitutive Phenomenology," Journal of Philosophy 58 (1961): 625‑632. [—> main text]

26.  Q. Lauer, "Questioning the Phenomenologists," Journal of Philosophy 58 (1961): 633‑640. [—> main text]

27.  M. Farber, Phenomenology and Existence and Naturalism and Subjectivism. [—> main text]

28.  Cf. Lauer, "Questioning the Phenomenologists." [—> main text]

29.  E. Fink, "L'analyse intentionnelle et le problème de la pensée speculative," in Problemes actuels de la Phenomenologie, ed. H. L. Van Breda (Brussels: Desclee de Brouwer, 1951). [—> main text]

30.  Ibid. [—> main text]

31.  A. Schutz, Collected Papers, 3 vols. (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1962‑1967); also The Phenomenology of the Social World, trans. G. Walsh and F. Lehnert (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1967); and Reflections on the Problem of Relevance, ed. R. M. Zaner (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1970). [—> main text]

32.  P. Naville, Les Conditions de la Liberté (Paris, 1947). [—> main text]

33.  B. E. Bykhovskii, "The Deobjectification of Philosophy," Voprosy Filosofii, 1956, pp. 142‑151. [—> main text]

34.  M. Merleau‑Ponty, Sense and Non‑Sense, trans. H. L. Dreyfus and P. A. Dreyfus (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1964); also Adventures of the Dialectic, trans. Joseph Bien (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1973). [—> main text]

35.  Tran‑Duc‑Thao, Phenomenologie et Materialisme Dialectique (Paris, 1951). [—> main text]

36.  Recent publications include "Phenomenological Marxism" in the journal Telos, ed. Paul Piccone; and Joseph J. Kockelmans' "Phenomenology and Marxism" in Marxism, Revolution, and Peace, Proceedings of the Society for the Philosophical Study of Marxism, vol. 2 (Amsterdam: Grüner, 1975). [—> main text]

37. J.‑P. Sartre, Critique de la Raison Dialectique (Paris, 1960). [—> main text]

38.  F. N. Fedoseyev has discussed the much abused terms "subjectivism" and "objectivism" in an interesting article appearing in Marxist Dialectics Today, published by Social Sciences Today Editorial Board, USSR Academy of Sciences, Moscow, 1974, pp. 27­47. While construing the term "objectivism" as referring to a mechanical materialism, he nevertheless uses the term "objective" in characterizing a true account of the world. This should be noted by writers using stereotyped catchwords as pejorative or eulogistic expressions, such as pluralism, monism, naturalism, materialism, and subjectivism, without regard to their various meanings. [—> main text]

39.  Cf. M. Farber, Foundation of Phenomenology, 3d ed. (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1967); Naturalism and Subjectivism; and Basic Issues of Philosophy (New York: Harper & Row, 1968), esp. chap. 6, for a pertinent analysis of unity and diversity. [—> main text]

40.  E. Husserl, Die Krisis der europäischen Wissenschaften und die transzendentale Phänomenologie (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1954); trans. David Carr (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1970). [—> main text]

41.  W. E. Hocking, Types of Philosophy (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1929). [—> main text]

SOURCE: Farber, Marvin. The Search for an Alternative: Philosophical Perspectives of Subjectivism and Marxism. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1984. Chapter 8: The Historical Outcome of Subjectivism, pp. 157-215, + notes, pp. 245-247.

American Philosophy Study Guide

Includes the following & more:
The Search for an Alternative 1
The Search for an Alternative 9: From the Perspective of Materialism
The Issue of Naturalism vs. Subjectivism

Naturalism and Subjectivism: Contents
Philosophy for the Future: The Quest of Modern Materialism: Foreword & Contents

Positivism vs Life Philosophy (Lebensphilosophie) Study Guide

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