Phenomenology and Natural Existence:
Essays in Honor of Marvin Farber

Edited by Dale Riepe


The students and colleagues of Marvin Farber pay him honor in this volume for a long and rich career of philosophical teaching, writing, and editing. The book is divided into three major parts: First, original essays and materials relating to Farber's career as outstanding teacher and productive scholar; second, original essays explicating difficult and fascinating problems of phenomenology and its interpretation under the influence of Farber's approach; and third, original essays on the philosophy of naturalism with references to the role played by Farber in its development and maturation.

Marvin Farber, The Man.

Marvin Farber is one of the few living American philosophers with an established international reputation. He is known throughout the world as a leading interpreter and reformer of phenomenology and a defender of critical naturalism or materialism (terms used interchangeably by him). He has served as President of the American Philosophical Association, Editor of Philosophy and Phenomenological Research for thirty years, Editor of the American Lecture Series and Modern Concepts of Philosophy, President of the International Phenomenological Society, Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Buffalo, Chairman of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, and is now Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo. As chairman of the philosophy department and later as its distinguished senior professor, Farber has led scores of students into [1/2] the career of philosophy while at the same time publishing numerous books in the sphere of phenomenology and naturalism. Among Farber's characteristic qualities are intellectual vigor, scholarly rigor, critical acumen, radiant health, forbearance of ignorance, and a telling and forceful wit. He is impatient of sloth, rigidity, conservatism, mystical flights, and academic pompousness. To the student who is searching for the truth he is kind, helpful, gentle, forgiving, and concerned.

Nowhere is Farber's handiwork more visible than in his editorship of Philosophy and Phenomenological Research which he founded during the second World War. As its chief editor for more than thirty years he has won a world‑wide respect as a philosopher open to all fairly rational winds of doctrine. Many times he has published articles with which his agreement could scarcely be called more than minimal. This openness has often astonished his colleagues as well as other contributors. His journal is held in the highest esteem throughout the philosophical world from New York to New Delhi, and from Belgrade to Rio. While many philosophical journals have published little but idealism, materialism, or linguistic analysis, for example, he has not only regularly published articles on phenomenology, but also on naturalism, linguistic analysis, existentialism, personalism, Thomism, Zen, and Hinduism. He numbers among his admirers and correspondents, thinkers of many faiths as well as various social and political persuasions. Few philosophers have kept up with current developments in both Europe and Latin America as has Farber. In addition he has kept on top of the currents of thought in American philosophy. Yet, despite his ecumenical good will and catholicity he has had direction and focus. He is, not surprisingly, somewhat partial to those sharing his own predilections in philosophy, particularly the naturalists and critical materialists.

There was never any doubt where his sympathy lay in each social and cultural crisis in the United States and abroad. He was active in helping those attacked by fascism and repression or any other forces of intolerance and irrationalism. This keen and deeply felt awareness may be inferred from his work on phenomenology where he constantly warns us that the philosopher cannot be for long removed from the existent, from historical movements, or from the social life of his own times. [2/3]

Marvin Farber on Phenomenology and Natural Existence

In each of his works on phenomenology from the 1920's onwards, he has shown constant development. His first work is a summation of his earliest study and was written while Farber was still strongly under the personal influence of Edmund Husserl. The later works reveal a growing impatience of the idealistic strains in Husserl's work, until in his latest book, Phenomenology and Existence, Farber reveals his own philosophy and demonstrates how it has developed to correct the excesses of Husserl. There are still important points of agreement between Farber and Husserl in this most recent work, but the differences are seldom subtle.

At first Farber is deferential about the supposed and imputed values of phenomenology, while at the same time opposed to the idealistic and fideist direction in which it was propelled by Husserl as well as a number of his disciples. Later Farber reveals the dangers of pursuing such a path while still crediting the method of phenomenology with certain unique values. Yet he looks upon these values as contingent and hypothetical, for they depend upon naturalistic interpretation and coherence with the confirmed findings of scientific inquiry in the broadest sense. Farber believes that it is dangerous to pursue the path of phenomenology when it parts company with reason and science. For all his talk and thought about presuppositions and predispositions, Husserl is not very critical of his own. Farber does not systematically show what all this baggage is, but that it is not negligible becomes obvious as he analyses Husserl's propensity to puristic illusions and other idealistic trends.

In The Aims of Phenomenology, a work which epitomizes much of his thinking about phenomenology and the impact of Husserl, Farber leaves his own philosophy in the background. But in Phenomenology and Existence he conveys his most recent view concerning Husserl's position shown within the clear context of Farberian philosophy. The first book is largely a work of exposition and to some extent discipleship, although critical discipleship, while the second is an independent work with phenomenological airs and melodies. But there is no doubt in the last work that the master theme is Farber's own philosophy largely emancipated from Husserl. Nevertheless, even in the earlier work which is based on his thinking beginning in the 1920's [3/4] until he decided that the debt to his master had been sufficiently paid and he had freed himself from the idealistic constraints of the phenomenological method, Farber cannot completely hide his dissatisfaction with the formalism and highly attenuated irrationalism of the idealism and antinaturalistic subjectivism of Husserl and his antinaturalistic followers. Farber is perhaps kinder to Husserl in his last and most emancipated volume, but it is clear that he is guided ultimately only by naturalistic reason.

Certain basic commitments or principles or temper of mind in Farber must be understood if one is to comprehend his ultimate response to phenomenology. In discussing these I shall interweave with them Farber's stated reaction to phenomenology. First of all Farber is an empiricist, and although a rationalist "in the scientific sense" of that term he is allergic to formalism that tries to set itself up as an arbiter of existence, of reality, of what is out there, or of what is independently existing. This does not imply any antilogical or antimathematical stance. Rather it is an impatience with a view that places formal systems outside nature and pretends that they are full‑blown philosophies with ontologies and value‑theories. Although some students of Farber may complain about his insistence on the independent existence of external objects, I think he is justified in holding the rudder straight in this course. The swamps of idealism are filled with philosophers who have shipped much water in their dugouts. They might have been rescued if they had only decided whether external objects were independent of consciousness. Many of Dewey's ambiguities arise from this source. Indeed, the idealist must find it odd to be made breathless, not by water, but by his consciousness of water, as he sinks slowly into the marshes. Man, for Farber, is root and branch a part of nature. Even when man "brackets himself or his thought" he is still bound to the earth, is standing on it—this with the help of biological parents. To him, the question "Who is my mother?" is sophistry.

Second, Farber is a realist. His attachment to the notion that the world is independent of any consciousness is powerful and elemental. His scorn for philosophers who search in their consciousness for ultimate reality when they are living in biological nature is consistent and continuous. Idealists who have left their senses to dwell in the land of "purity" are for him objects of [4/5] pity as well as alarm for they might infect the younger philosophers. As Farber wryly observes: "one does not pitch horseshoes or woo his future wife in pure consciousness; there is no danger of nuclear warfare in the realm of nontemporal essences." Farber consequently engages in a never ending polemic against the unrealists, the antiempiricists, the antinaturalists, and the fideists posing as bona fide methodologists.

Third, Farber also believes that the philosophical enterprise is valuable, although at times he seems a little dismayed by its limitations among the seemingly more alert if not more industrious sciences. Perhaps he sees it as a ponderous, swaying elephant among the swiftly advancing gazelles, the running zebras, and the chattering baboons, all so busy in the bush of data and entangled correlations. Like the elephant, the philosopher may quietly go about uprooting undergrowth as well as established but dogmatic trees and calmly clearing the ground of their desiccated if microscopic leaves and twigs. As Farber says, "Husserl showed great skill in finding complexity where others see only simplicity, and in this respect he did indeed extend the vision of philosophy." [1] If some critics should complain that complexity is not intrinsically valuable, Farber replies that "there is merit in carrying through the 'radical' suspension of all beliefs,” while one is engaged in the analysis of consciousness. Phenomenology may also contribute to scientific thought Farber maintains, "if it is successful" in carrying out its own “well‑defined dimension of problems.” [3] The doctrine of the fundamental discipline of order, or ontology, as Hans Driesch characterized Husserl's primary investigations, could be turned into a science   according to Farber. [4]

Fourth, Farber is a critical naturalist or a critical materialist. To say that he is a realist is not specific enough. What kind of a realist is he? He is an evolutionist, but in addition to this, he is a historical naturalist. In short he is a realist who believes in the pervasive conditioning factors of nature‑in‑evolution and society‑in‑evolution as well. The emphasis is biological, anthropological, and sociological. Farber sees man as a potentially rational animal within society which is itself within nature. A philosophy which leaves out these salient facts will not do justice to the nature of man. Salient history provides a description of man as he has developed his societies (hence himself) within nature It is impossible sensibly to go behind these basic qualifying [5/6] conditions of human and natural existence. Farber believes that they are not simply beliefs. Rather they are the substratum of events upon which all human science and rational speculation must rest. It is in this last point that Farber stands out among the phenomenologists. Unlike many of them who are idealists, he does not believe for an instant that much of history or any of nature are dependent either upon mind or upon our subjective perspective, although he makes necessary allowances for man's subjectivity. Most philosophers who do not express this clearly have fideist, subjectivist, antirational, mystical, or puristic tendencies.

We have now set down Farber's own basic commitments. Consequently we have a good notion of his point of view which is perhaps as unambiguously stated as that of any other philosopher of our time. We now turn, therefore, to Farber's critique of phenomenology. I shall treat this critique in terms of: (1) what Farber finds praiseworthy in phenomenology; (2) what he considers to be worthy of condemnation; and (3) his final assessment of phenomenology and its possible future.

As a foremost critic of the weaknesses of phenomenology, Farber does recognize its potential for scientific analysis and philosophical analysis when revised and reinterpreted in a manner not inconsistent with naturalistic or materialistic principles. Since we have noted what these are there should be no mystery about his critique. Indeed it is a model of unequivocal scrutiny, which may make it suspect in the eye of the idealist who craves ambiguity and mystery. Some idealists would rather speculate about what is in the birthday present than open it to see what is inside. Husserl, whom Farber eloquently defends from charges of complete idealism or total irrelevance, "showed great skill in finding complexity where others see only simplicity, and in this respect he did indeed extend the vision of philosophy," Farber says. We have quoted this passage earlier and now quote it again in preparation for its significance in a different sense.

Beyond Descartes' fondest dream, Husserl carried through the radical suspension of belief. For this he deserves the highest praise according to Farber. [5] Within the domain it has chosen, "phenomenology has its own well-defined dimension of problems; and if it is successful it should prove to be of value to all scientific thought." [6] Most of this has been quoted before, but I [6/7] now expand this quotation for our new context. If a carping critic were to comment, "yes, but what has phenomenology contributed up to now?" Farber would caution him about closing inquiry before the method can be properly (naturalistically) assessed. Furthermore, Husserl's work on time-consciousness is a definite and important contribution to science according to Farber. Phenomenology may well contribute to science because it itself "is admittedly a rigorous science." [7] Husserl has also been an outstanding proponent of a method that, while bringing back the information and insights once sought by introspective psychology, undertakes to probe once more deeply into the nature of experience. We cannot predict what will be discovered, although time-consciousness analysis would be one example of what is possible. Finally, Husserl has recognized the provisionalism of much philosophic thought, in opposition to the view that systems emerge from the head of some Zeus. [8] Husserl along with Brentano may be seen as a master of descriptive philosophy of experience, Farber maintains. This he says has been one of the four important developments in European philosophy since Hegel. The remaining three are neo-Hegelianism of the naturalistic bent, evolutionism, and the development of modern logic.

Up to now we have been mostly discussing Farber's favorable reactions to Husserl's phenomenology before Farber had published his Phenomenology and Existence. [9] Now I should like to share with the reader Farber's estimate of Husserl's phenomenology in his most recent published thinking, Phenomenology and Existence which had developed over the past forty years.

Farber begins by stating that "Edmund Husserl must be considered . . . as the most elaborate and the most nearly perfect expression of pure subjectivism." [10] That was not intended to state that his thought was free from inconsistencies or that he never departed from his program. He did indeed try to avoid the errors incurred by previous idealists. Thus Berkeley fell into such objectivist traps as positing an independently existing deity to underwrite what appeared in consciousness and disappeared from it as well. But if the special descriptive discipline envisaged by Husserl for the analysis of experience is overextended to yield a universal idealistic philosophy, one might be tempted to translate Farber's description of Husserl here into something like William James' alleged comment on Santayana's doctoral [7/8] dissertation that it was "the perfection of rottenness." However, if the descriptive program of phenomenology is adhered to with all the indicated changes, including fundamental revisions of such concepts as "transcendental," "a priori," "eidetic," "constitutive," etc., Husserl's findings, Farber says, "may well be of permanent value." [11] I think that one can see in Farber's own work an aspect of its permanent value. This consists in the critique of subjectivism it has elicited from Farber, which has wide repercussions throughout critical philosophy. It is a constant warning, a philosophical radar system, that enables the unsophisticated to become aware of the subjectivist missiles almost noiselessly threatening natural existence. "Nevertheless," Farber states, "when closely defined and strictly controlled [away from idealistic smothering] the methodological technique will be recognized as continuing and extending already recognized procedures.” [12] This is a long step towards the scientific assessment of the subjective (reflective) examination of experience. Insofar as methodology is examined, says Farber, Husserl "was the first philosopher to succeed in defining explicitly what is involved in that kind of [subjectivist] approach. His contribution to methodology was in itself one of the major elements in the philosophical scholarship of the last century." [13] That Husserl is sufficiently clear in this catacomb of psychology follows from "the possibility of presenting [his] own attempt at a scientific construction of philosophy coherently." [14]

The chief merit of pure subjectivism, Farber maintains, "like phenomenology in general . . . is to be found in its descriptive program of experience." [15] And despite his strictures against the idealism of phenomenology as developed by Husserl and his idealistic followers, Farber maintains that "something is indeed achieved by phenomenological idealism. Its great merit lies in its descriptive findings, in its value for the understanding of experience in all forms, and its full recognition of the dynamic and creative aspects of thought processes. But it cannot yield a metaphysics.” [16] This discovery of merit in idealistic phenomenology reminds us perhaps of Plekhanov's praise of the German idealism that led to Marx. The reason that idealistic phenomenology cannot have a metaphysics is that without an ontology one cannot have a metaphysics. Husserl has no ontology because he refuses to go outside of pure experience to the world of nature. He falls into the ontology of nothingness. In my opinion Husserl here is close to the Hindu doctrine of māyā. Maya muffles consciousness within the wrappings of perishable production. The ego is entrapped in a cocoon from which it cannot escape. Māyā‑shakti is the Eternal Feminine and perhaps Husserl finds it through das Ewig‑Weibliche, the preeminent enigma that appears in earlier German idealism. Yet Husserl's desire is contradictory. On the one hand he wishes to explain the mystery and on the other to keep it forever secret. Hegel tried to unveil the direction of man's self-consciousness. Freud tried to uncover his unconscious and dreams; and Marx revealed much of his social development. Husserl claimed to wish to uncover man's innermost consciousness but cannot do so because he has no ontology. His insatiable purity kept him from the one ingredient he needed to be successful. Farber has of course said all this in his own technical way.

In summary, Farber finds phenomenology to be one of the four important streams of post‑Hegelian European philosophy. Its importance lies in its method which makes possible descriptions of experience not found elsewhere. Farber's cautionary remarks, however, suggest that these descriptions must be viewed with extreme prudence to see if they are consistent with a natural world and scientific description.

Farber's criticisms of phenomenology are of special interest in his last work because through them he reveals his own philosophy, the four bases of which we have already mentioned to be empiricism, realism, historical naturalism, and belief in the value of philosophical inquiry. Perhaps a fifth should be mentioned since it does not follow strictly from empiricism. And that is his enthusiasm for scientific method in the broad sense which permits all logically organized knowledge to be regarded as scientific, and for the critically viewed findings of science. In conducting his critique of phenomenology Farber also shows himself to be one of America's foremost psychologists of abnormal philosophy especially when he examines the motives that create such concerns as making experience, methodology, and thought “pure.” His skill and solidity as a teacher are seen when he anticipates, one by one, the arguments that will be used to advance idealistic theses.

Wherever Husserl violates Farber's own basic principles, he will be found wanting. And I believe that Farber is justified in this. What kind of world would we live in where subjectivism [9/10] and idealism played a more prominent role than empiricism and realism? Certainly one that reverted back to one of the less palatable stages of mankind under Hindu, Hebrew, Buddhist, Christian, or Moslem domination. Without the leavening influence of empirical and realistic considerations the results were not only the death of critical philosophy but of the philosophers themselves. Farber is socially and historically justified in this concern. His perspective is wider and longer than his teacher's.

Other criticisms Farber makes of phenomenology, particularly that of Husserl, but occasionally some of his idealistic followers, include (1) that phenomenology cannot restore the external, independent world to a position of stability after the kind of pure analysis it carries out; (2) that phenomenology gains its world of subjectivism at the price of detachment from natural existence and hence "The world as appearance carries within itself the true world," [17] instead of the true world carrying within itself the world of appearance. This again is the problem of māyā. When Chuangtze the Taoist asks: Am I a man dreaming I am a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming I am a man? he is engaged in the same ingenious, but ontologically unsound enterprise as Husserl. That the reduction in consciousness "is not temporary, but permanent, deliberate abstention from belief in the affairs of the world," [18] demonstrates the dangers into which Husserl stepped. The special, pristine world of phenomenology implied retirement into a private problem in which a special [almost sacred] terminology was invented: an analogue to what occurred is linguistic analysis when it was decided to reduce philosophy to talk about talking; (3) and finally, that phenomenology misleads us with its questions. Such a question as "how is a world of existence possible?" is, according to Farber, at best misleading and at worst foolish. When Husserl speaks of the "nullification" or "annihilation" of the world he is speaking of the realm of pure consciousness achieved through bracketing. But the point is that one is led by such expressions actually to believe that the external world is nonexistent. Such thought and talk is misleading and particularly dangerous for softer heads attempting to replace one form of idealism for another.

In Phenomenology and Existence Farber pulls out most of the stops that had been silent in the earlier, more moderate [10/11] expression of these views. The emphatic language of this important work shows that Farber has moved away from Husserl.

Husserl's formalistic as opposed to empirical approach is considered by Farber to be a slight gain in one sense and in another a loss to the scientific analysis of consciousness. [19] Husserl also made it difficult to separate the idealistic trends in his thought from the methodological phenomenology. [20] Farber's version of phenomenology is intended to be distinctive, and to help to make a rigorous descriptive philosophy of experience possible, by extruding dogmatic elements and opening the descriptive field to include all the conditions of experience. He has repeatedly called attention to a "strong" and a "weak" version of Husserlian phenomenology, both of which one can find selectively in Husserl's writings. The "weak" version injects idealism into the method; the "strong" version does not. Hence one cannot defend Husserl on the ground of consistency, at this point. Farber claims, in this connection, that Husserl frequently resorted to the traditional idealistic arguments under a cloud of technical apparatus that was likely to stun the unsophisticated. [21] The obfuscation of Wittgenstein was easier to understand and also easier to reject. Farber states that Americans will not gladly tolerate such obfuscation unless they are already punting in the idealistic swamps.

According to Farber, Husserl had misgivings about the irrationality of the transcendental factum. The use of the word "irrationality," is itself a sign of Husserl's uncertainty and his feeling of inadequacy in his ideal of sheer description. Instead of a frank acceptance of the transitory world as the true reality, Husserl chose the model of eternalism. Thus the existence of “facts" suggests "irrationality." The Advaita Vedantists and the Mādhyamika Buddhists developed the same kind of notion in their lust to be rid of material entanglements. They finally ended up maintaining that the cognitive organs produced intrinsic falsity. In the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad III. 9.6; IV. 2.24, it is finally decided that only the Self is real and that it can be known only negatively. "That Self is not this, it is not that (neti, neti)." Farber believes that considering the previous history of this concept in such writers as Schopenhauer and [Eduard] Von Hartmann, its results can hardly be felicitous. [22] And Husserl's emphasis upon "purity" looks like an attempt to outflank naturalism, a naturalism which cannot partake of this [11/12] idealistic manna except perhaps in universal biological sterilization.

Farber takes Husserl further to task for maintaining that reality presupposes a transcendental subject. "Neither is it plausible when there is no existent reality 'there’." [23] Whether much can be saved of this manner of thought and expression will depend upon what present and future phenomenologists can do about making rational such notions as the "unreal," "presupposition," and "reality." There is some hope if "all sense of mystery [is] expunged." [24] The Upanisadic notion of the buried treasure of the really real comes to mind. Let us not forget, Farber warns, that "there can also be a 'transcendental naïveté,' parallel to the 'natural naïveté.'" [25]

The problem of existence was manufactured by Husserl employing the phenomenological method idealistically. "This problem has never been solved phenomenologically," according to Farber because "no real problem [as opposed to a formalistic one] is to be solved solely in terms of 'pure' experience.” "Whatever one may establish," he continues, "by means of purely reflective analysis belongs to a subjective‑ideal order. Such knowledge may prove useful; but it is not prescriptive so far as natural events are concerned. Natural events are not to be imprisoned 'eidetically,' nor by any subjective‑ideal means." [26] Many of Husserl's difficulties would never have arisen had he not preferred "the rarified atmosphere of the eidetic realm for it impeded his vision for the purposes of ordinary facts of experience, as illustrated by existing human beings and social relations." [27] The line of the American popular song "Did you ever see a dream walking?" gives some notion of the difficulty Husserl forged for himself out of eidetic foam. Although Farber has advised caution in ascribing religious motives to Husserl, in view of his strong commitment to rational science and the paucity of his references to this theme, the contribution of Roman Ingarden to this volume suggests that Husserl's idea of double teleology may have been partly responsible for his idea of double transcendence both concepts having their ground in divine being.

Concomitant is the Husserlian "life‑world." According to Farber, no life‑world ever existed, "for if it had . . . it would have a time, a place, and a concrete embodiment; and it could [12/13] have a historical name." [28] Yet the life‑world was posited as an ideal analogue of the real world. This is a major prop of idealism from the days of the theosophists in India. First, one denies the naive world. Second, he posits an ideal world. Third he is faced with the question of peopling the ideal world. All that any idealist knows just like any simple‑minded materialist or naturalist is the naive world and the sophisticated world based on it. So he peoples the ideal world with creatures and events [but usually more implausible and horrible] similar to those in the naive world. All philosophies, Farber correctly points out, are historically conditioned despite the contention of Husserl himself that he was "unmotivated" in any naturalistic [hence for Farber, historical] sense. The most pure and transcendental suspension of belief can hardly lift even Husserl out of History, out of nature, and indeed out of existence, Farber believes. [29]

If phenomenology is to be a viable part of scientific methodology, according to Farber, it must be naturalized. It cannot wander forever between ideal continents in galactic purity. With proper caution it can critically examine not only the data of consciousness and attempt to strip away layer upon layer of presuppositions, but do so in a manner that makes it meaningful for rational existence. That is the outcome of Marvin Farber's critical analysis of Husserl's phenomenology and his realistic and naturalistic improvements on it.

Original Essays on Phenomenology and Natural Existence by Marvin Farber's Students and Colleagues.

The original essays on Phenomenology and Natural Existence are in the context of Farber's philosophy. This requires showing its relation to Husserlian phenomenology and natural existence. To facilitate finding which essays are most germane to the reader's immediate concern, we have arranged them in the same order in which they appear in this book. The author, title, and short abstract is then presented.

In part I, D.C. Mathur's "Marvin Farber and the Program of Naturalistic Phenomenology" shows the direction of Farber as he parts company with Husserl. Husserl is accused of ivory‑towerism, verbal jugglery, subjectivity, idealism and a morbid [13/14] search for certainty. Nevertheless, Farber sees in Husserl's method in mathematical and temporal analysis insightfulness and value. According to Mathur, Farber has given us a robust, well‑informed, healthy‑minded philosophy within which naturalistic phenomenology can find a comfortable home. Roy Wood Sellars in "Reflections on the Career of Marvin Farber," speaks out of a friendship and collaboration of fifty years. Farber's originality on the American scene and his international soundness and perspective are emphasized. James E. Hansen, in "Marvin Farber as a Teacher" states that Farber sees philosophy as a concrete activity within historical context. The emphasis is always upon criticism and self‑criticism to make sure that we are not caught in a snarl of delusions and illusions. "Bibliography of the Writings of Marvin Farber," prepared by his wife Lorraine, reveals that Farber has published twelve books, five of them with coauthors and coeditors, contributed twenty-one chapters to volumes edited by others, edited one journal and two philosophical series: American Lectures in Philosophy and Modern Concepts of Philosophy, published thirty‑six articles, translations and discussions, and twenty‑four reviews by 1971 when it was compiled. No mention is here made of the committee and dissertation work or very little else. We graphically picture a scholar and teacher of great gifts, application, energy, and dedication. He has served as a model in teaching and scholarly activity for three generations of Buffalo students.

Part II is a discussion of various problems of phenomenology in reference to the naturalistic approach. This section is of special interest because it is the most voluminous criticism of phenomenology to appear in any language. Kah Kyung Cho in "Mediation and Immediacy" points out that Husserl has been unable to grasp the concrete meaning of experience because he has insisted on the super-transcendence over nature. Nature is thus beyond all human experience; in effect it simply does not exist or subsist.

Looking at phenomenology from an aesthetic point of view, Mikel Dufrenne tries to penetrate the depths of the origin of appearing, or "the primordial moment at which subject and object have not yet become separate."

Husserl's motives, according to Roman Ingarden, in "The Motives of Husserl's transcendental Idealism," are as follows: [14/15] (1) Husserl's desire for formal rigor and clarity which he carried over from his mathematical training, (2) his proclivity towards idealism seen first of all in his contention that real objects (thing, events) form no part of the perceptual experience, (3) his belief in a contingency and "wonderful" teleology that transcends the absolute being of consciousness and regulates it—contingency and being that may be equated to God, and (4) Husserl's profoundly negative attitude towards the real world, the human world of man, which made him appear to want to get rid of this existential burden by whatever "rigorous" means could be found. Ingarden does not mention that this outlook of Husserl's is not greatly alien to Schopenhauer's. Farber is of course certainly aware of it.

Shia Moser claims in "The Illusion of Presuppositionlessness,” that not only Husserl but also Descartes has been taken in by the illusion of presuppositionlessness. Instead of this, however, we would be doing ourselves a philosophical favor by admitting the important, indeed indispensable, function of learning what the presuppositions of such areas as ethics really are. Enzo Paci in "From Naturalism to the Phenomenological Encyclopaedia" claims that Husserl's phenomenology is tremendously fecund because it impels one to go beyond Husserlian analysis. In particular we must advance from psychic to economic analysis. This appears to be congruent with Farber's assessment also even though he puts less emphasis upon the economic  factor alone.

Against the gloomy view of Heideggerian existentialism that death is the most important activity of the human being, Augusto Pescador (Sarget) replies that the most important activity is living since only in living do I have possibilities where I can choose "since dying is not a possibility but a necessity," in his "Temporal Description of Human Life." Nathan Rotenstreich lists the ambiguities of Husserl's concept of konstituieren in "Ambiguities of Constitution in Husserl." They are (1) the referring to a whole being composed of simpler elements, (2) the referring to the reduction of a sphere to an elementary stratum, (3) establishing an order of things, (4) the creating and fixing of things, (5) the ordering of images, (6) the establishing of meanings, (7) the inquiry into the sources of primitive concepts, (8) the discovery of the relation existing between a thing and its nexus, (9) the finding of the essence of a thing. Husserl uses [15/16] konstituieren in relation to the acts by which we grasp that which subsists in itself. To sum up: "Husserl's theory of constitution attempts to discern and articulate the primordial synthetic character of consciousness."

Part III is a series of articles focused on problems of explicating philosophical issues from the naturalistic point of view. According to John P. Anton in "The Natural Right to Aesthetic Satisfaction," technology should be considered as a means rather than as an end. At fault is the disequilibrium in our institutional values which have short‑changed the democratic right to aesthetic satisfaction. Arnold Berleant in "Aesthetic Function" finds that the functions of aesthetics include disinterestedness, mechanical excellence, organicity, and sensuous usefulness. Beyond all is the humanistic function which allows man his widest range, intensity, and purity of existence. According to Tad Clements, it is highly likely that it is possible to expose presupposed elements and guiding principles of many metaphysical systems in "Metaphysics as a Metascience." Metaphysics "should seek plausible conceptual syntheses limited to what can reasonably be inferred or extrapolated from tested (logically and scientifically controlled) inquiry." In "Naturalism and the Sense and Nonsense of Free Will." C. J. Ducasse points out that we talk sense when free will means that "there are some things. . . one is free to do or to abstain from doing." If we maintain, however, that human volitions have no cause we are talking nonsense.

Rollo Handy finds that naturalistic ethics has neatly survived the nonnaturalistic onslaughts, diversions, and traps laid for it in "The Rejection of Naturalistic Ethics." Paul Kurtz finds that in naturalistic humanism value judgments are not wholly logically deducible from factual premises in "Ethical Naturalism and the Evidential‑Valuational Base." They are, he thinks, connected to facts by practical decision. In "The Contributions of Charles S. Pierce to Linear Algebra," V. F. Lenzen remarks that after Boole, C. S. Peirce contributed most to the algebra of logic. Peirce was able to add to our knowledge of linear algebra and matrix theory through his work on relatives. Examples of the dual relative are “teacher of” or "pupil of."

"Teacher" is a dual relative because it relates one individual from the body of teachers to one individual from the body of pupils. How Peirce came to this notion is described in some [16/17] detail. Franco Lombardi in "The Fear of Freedom" states that we must have the courage to be free. To have this courage requires the knowledge of what is true and the desire to do what is moral. Edward Madden and William Parry in a joint article entitled "The Ontology of Causality" emphasize the resolution of terminological difficulties involved in talking about cause. They show how some writers have created what Farber calls "methodogenic problems" by their approach to causality. Norman Melchert in "Persons, Determinism and Evidence," maintains that a naturalistic view of the determinism free will problem can lead one to the belief that determinism is both compatible and incompatible with determinism, depending upon the contextual approach.

V. J. McGill in "Self‑Evidence and Perceptual Theories" examines the views of D. M. Armstrong and R. M. Chisholm. Armstrong tries to bypass sense‑perception and Chisholm ends in circularity. Perhaps, McGill says, a behaviorist theory of perception still affords the best answer: "If discrimination is the basic process in perception. . . we can say that what is reported is discrimination of stimulus values in relation to learning and prospective responses."

Raising the question as to when the moral judgment constitutes a real commitment on the part of the person making it, E. P. Papanoutsos in "The Moral Weight of Deontic Statements" lays down two conditions for such commitment. It requires first, that the person must be autonomous, and second, that he be fully aware of the consequences of his judgment.

In "A Naturalistic Interpretation of Authority, Ideology, and Violence," Chaim Perelman maintains that to "keep social and political life from being pure pitting of force against force, we must recognize the existence of a legitimate power . . . based on a recognized ideology." Ideologies provide the spiritual life of the modern world. Wilfrid Sellars maintains in "Reason and the Art of Living in Plato" that for Plato the Realm of Forms is a complex system of recipes. These recipes are for building an intelligible world, the intelligibility of which is practical rather than merely theoretical. The totality of recipes is for the purpose of satisfying either divine or human life. "Is Art Language?" asks Wladyslaw Tatarkiewicz. He answers that although art is not a natural or ethnic language its expressiveness recommends it as some kind of language. All such discussions, [17/18] however, are a waste of time. As Michelangelo recommended in 1546, "lasciar tante dispute."

Following the last article, we find the list of contributors, translators, and bibliographers identifying each by position and publication.



1.  The Aims of Phenomenology (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1966), p. 87.

2.  Ibid., p. 90

3.  Ibid., p. 122.

4.  Ibid., p. 134.

5.  Ibid., p. 90.

6.  Ibid., p. 122.

7.  Ibid., p. 134.

8.  Ibid., p. 150.

9.  (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1967).

10.  Ibid., p. 1.

11.  Ibid., p. 2.

12.  Ibid., p. 31.

13.  Ibid., p. 7.

14.  Ibid., p. 22.

15.  Ibid., p. 112.

16.  Ibid.

17.  Aims, p. 111.

18.  Ibid., p. 127.

19.  Phenomenology and Existence, p. 10.

20.  Ibid., p. 11.

21. Ibid., p. 23.

22. Ibid., p. 89.

23. Ibid., p. 109.

24. Ibid.

25.  Ibid., p. 111.

26.  Ibid., pp. 113‑114.

27.  Ibid., p. 118.

28.  Ibid., p. 119.

29.  Ibid., p. 155.

SOURCE: Riepe, Dale. “Introduction,” Phenomenology and Natural Existence: Essays in Honor of Marvin Farber, edited by Dale Riepe (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1973), pp. 1-18.

"Critique of Idealistic Naturalism: Methodological Pollution in the Main Stream of American Philosophy
by Dale Riepe

American Philosophy Study Guide

Positivism vs Life Philosophy (Lebensphilosophie) Study Guide

Marx and Marxism Web Guide

Selections from Contemporary East European Philosophy, Revolutionary World, B. R. Grüner Publishing Co, & Related Publications:
Bibliography & Web Links


Phenomenology and Natural Existence: Essays in Honor of Marvin Farber

Home Page | Site Map | What's New | Coming Attractions | Book News
Bibliography | Mini-Bibliographies | Study Guides | Special Sections
My Writings | Other Authors' Texts | Philosophical Quotations
Blogs | Images & Sounds | External Links

CONTACT Ralph Dumain

Uploaded 18 November 2006

Site ©1999-2021 Ralph Dumain