eBook - ePub


General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology

Edmund Husserl

Share book
432 pages
ePUB (mobile friendly)
Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub


General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology

Edmund Husserl

Book details
Book preview
Table of contents

About This Book

With a new foreword by Dermot Moran

'the work here presented seeks to found a new science – though, indeed, the whole course of philosophical development since Descartes has been preparing the way for it – a science covering a new field of experience, exclusively its own, that of "Transcendental Subjectivity"' - Edmund Husserl, from the author's preface to the English Edition

Widely regarded as the principal founder of phenomenology, one of the most important movements in twentieth century philosophy, Edmund Husserl's Ideas is one of his most important works and a classic of twentieth century thought. This Routledge Classics edition of the original translation by W.R. Boyce Gibson includes the introduction to the English edition written by Husserl himself in 1931.

Husserl's early thought conceived of phenomenology – the general study of what appears to conscious experience –in a relatively narrow way, mainly in relation to problems in logic and the theory of knowledge. The publication of Ideas in 1913 witnessed a significant and controversial widening of Husserl's thought, changing the course of phenomenology decisively. Husserl argued that phenomenology was the study of the very nature of what it is to think, "the science of the essence of consciousness" itself.

Husserl's arguments ignited a heated debate regarding the nature of consciousness and experience that has endured throughout the twentieth and continues in the present day. No understanding of twentieth century philosophy is complete without some understanding of Husserl, and his work influenced some of the great philosophers of the twentieth century, such as Martin Heidegger and Jean-Paul Sartre.

Frequently asked questions
How do I cancel my subscription?
Simply head over to the account section in settings and click on “Cancel Subscription” - it’s as simple as that. After you cancel, your membership will stay active for the remainder of the time you’ve paid for. Learn more here.
Can/how do I download books?
At the moment all of our mobile-responsive ePub books are available to download via the app. Most of our PDFs are also available to download and we're working on making the final remaining ones downloadable now. Learn more here.
What is the difference between the pricing plans?
Both plans give you full access to the library and all of Perlego’s features. The only differences are the price and subscription period: With the annual plan you’ll save around 30% compared to 12 months on the monthly plan.
What is Perlego?
We are an online textbook subscription service, where you can get access to an entire online library for less than the price of a single book per month. With over 1 million books across 1000+ topics, we’ve got you covered! Learn more here.
Do you support text-to-speech?
Look out for the read-aloud symbol on your next book to see if you can listen to it. The read-aloud tool reads text aloud for you, highlighting the text as it is being read. You can pause it, speed it up and slow it down. Learn more here.
Is Ideas an online PDF/ePUB?
Yes, you can access Ideas by Edmund Husserl in PDF and/or ePUB format, as well as other popular books in Philosophy & Phenomenology in Philosophy. We have over one million books available in our catalogue for you to explore.



Part I




Natural knowledge begins with experience (Erfahrung) and remains within experience. Thus in that theoretical position which we call the “natural” standpoint, the total field of possible research is indicated by a single word: that is, the World. The sciences proper to this original1 standpoint are accordingly in their collective unity sciences of the World, and so long as this standpoint is the only dominant one, the concepts “true Being”, “real (wirkliches) Being”, i.e., real empirical (reales) Being, and—since all that is real comes to self-concentration in the form of a cosmic unity—“Being in the World” are meanings that coincide.
Every science has its own object-domain as field of research, and to all that it knows, i.e., in this connexion, to all its correct assertions, there correspond as original sources of the reasoned justification that support them certain intuitions in which objects of the region appear as self-given and in part at least as given in a primordial (originärer) sense. The object-giving (or dator) intuition of the first, “natural” sphere of knowledge and of all its sciences is natural experience, and the primordial dator experience is perception in the ordinary sense of the term. To have something real primordially given, and to “become aware” of it and “perceive” it in simple intuition, are one and the same thing. In “outer perception” we have primordial experience of physical things, but in memory or anticipatory expectation this is no longer the case; we have primordial experience of ourselves and our states of consciousness in the so-called inner or self-perception, but not of others and their vital experiences in and through “empathy”. We “behold the living experiences of others” through the perception of their bodily behaviour. This beholding in the case of empathy is indeed intuitional dator, yet no longer a primordially dator act. The other man and his psychical life is indeed apprehended as “there in person”, and in union with his body, but, unlike the body, it is not given to our consciousness as primordial.
The World is the totality of objects that can be known through experience (Erfahrung), known in terms of orderly theoretical thought on the basis of direct present (aktueller) experience. This is not the place to discuss in greater detail the method proper to a science of experience or to consider how such a science justifies its claim to transcend the narrow framework of direct empirical givenness. Under sciences of the World, that is sciences developed from the natural standpoint, are included not only all so-called natural sciences, in the more extended as well as in the narrower sense of that term, the sciences of material nature, but also the sciences of animal beings (Wesen), with their psychophysical nature, physiology, psychology, and so forth. All so-called mental sciences also come under this head—history, the cultural sciences, the sociological disciplines of every kind, whereby we provisionally leave it an open question whether they are to be held similar to the natural sciences or placed in opposition to them, be themselves accepted as natural sciences or as sciences of an essentially new type.


Sciences of experience are sciences of “fact”. The acts of cognition which underlie our experiencing posit the Real in individual form, posit it as having spatio-temporal existence, as something existing in this time-spot, having this particular duration of its own and a real content which in its essence could just as well have been present in any other time-spot; posits it, moreover, as something which is present at this place in this particular physical shape (or is there given united to a body of this shape), where yet the same real being might just as well, so far as its own essence is concerned, be present at any other place, and in any other form, and might likewise change whilst remaining in fact unchanged, or change otherwise than the way in which it actually does. Individual Being of every kind is, to speak quite generally, “accidental”. It is so-and-so, but essentially it could be other than it is. Even if definite laws of nature obtain according to which such and such definite consequences must in fact follow when such and such real conditions are in fact present, such laws express only orderings that do in fact obtain, which might run quite differently, and already presuppose, as pertaining ab initio to the essence of objects of possible experience, that the objects thus ordered by them, when considered in themselves, are accidental.
But the import of this contingency, which is there called matter-of-factness (Tatsächlichkeit), is limited in this respect that the contingency is correlative to a necessity which does not carry the mere actuality-status of a valid rule of connexion obtaining between temporo-spatial facts, but has the character of essential necessity, and therewith a relation to essential universality. Now when we stated that every fact could be “essentially” other than it is, we were already expressing thereby that it belongs to the meaning of everything contingent that it should have essential being and therewith an Eidos to be apprehended in all its purity; and this Eidos comes under essential truths of varying degrees of universality. An individual object is not simply and quite generally an individual, a “this-there” something unique; but being constituted thus and thus “in itself” it has its own proper mode of being, its own supply of essential predicables which must qualify it (qua “Being as it is in itself”), if other secondary relative determinations are to qualify it also. Thus, for example, every tone in and for itself has an essential nature, and at the limit the universal meaning-essence “tone in general”, or rather the acoustic in general—understood in the pure sense of a phase or aspect intuitively derivable from the individual tone (either in its singleness, or through comparison with others as a “common element”). So too every material thing has its own essential derivatives, and at the limit the universal derivative “material thing in general”, with time-determination-in-general, duration-, figure-, materiality-in-general. Whatever belongs to the essence of the individual can also belong to another individual, and the broadest generalities of essential being, of the kind we have been indicating through the help of examples, delimit “regions” or “categories” of individuals.


At first “essence” indicated that which in the intimate self-being of an individual discloses to us “what” it is. But every such What can be “set out as Idea”. Empirical or individual intuition can be transformed into essential insight (ideation)—a possibility which is itself not to be understood as empirical but as essential possibility. The object of such insight is then the corresponding pure essence or eidos, whether it be the highest category or one of its specializations, right down to the fully “concrete”.
This insight which gives the essence and in the last resort in primordial form can be adequate; and as such we can easily procure it, for instance, from the essential nature of a sound; but it can also be more or less imperfect, “inadequate”, and that not only in respect of its greater or lesser clearness and distinctness. It belongs to the type of development peculiar to certain categories of essential being that essences belonging to them can be given only “one-sidedly”, whilst in succession more “sides”, though never “all sides”, can be given; so correlatively the individual concrete particularities corresponding to these categories can be experienced and represented only in inadequate “one-sided” empirical intuitions. This holds for every essence related to the thing-like, and indeed for all the essential components of extension and materiality respectively; it even holds good, if we look more closely (subsequent analyses will make that evident) for all realities generally, whereby indeed the vague expressions ‘one-sidedness’ and ‘more-sidedness’ receive determinate meanings, and different kinds of inadequacy are separated out one from the other.
Here the preliminary indication will suffice that already on grounds of principle the spatial shape of the physical thing can be given only in some single perspective aspect; also that apart from this inadequacy which clings to the unfolding of any series of continuously connected intuitions and persists in spite of all that is thereby acquired, every physical property draws us on into infinities of experience; and that every multiplicity of experience, however lengthily drawn out, still leaves the way open to closer and novel thing-determinations; and so on, in infinitum.
Of whatever kind the individual intuition may be, whether adequate or not, it can pass off into essential intuition, and the latter, whether correspondingly adequate or not, has the character of a dator act. And this means that—
The essence (Eidos) is an object of a new type. Just as the datum of individual or empirical intuition is an individual object, so the datum of essential intuition is a pure essence.
Here we have not a mere superficial analogy, but a radical community of nature. Essential insight is still intuition, just as the eidetic object is still an object. The generalization of the correlative, mutually attached concepts “intuition” and “object” is not a casual whim, but is compellingly demanded by the very nature of things.2 Empirical intuition, more specifically sense-experience, is consciousness of an individual object, and as an intuiting agency “brings it to givenness”: as perception, to primordial givenness, to the consciousness of grasping the object in “a primordial way”, in its “bodily” selfhood. On quite similar lines essential intuition is the consciousness of something, of an “object”, a something towards which its glance is directed, a something “self-given” within it; but which can then be “presented” in other acts, vaguely or distinctly thought, made the subject of true and false predications—as is the case indeed with every “object” in the necessarily extended sense proper to Formal Logic. Every possible object, or to put it logically, “every subject of possibly true predications”, has indeed its own ways, that of predicative thinking above all, of coming under a glance that presents, intuits, meets it eventually in its “bodily selfhood” and “lays hold of” it. Thus essential insight is intuition, and if it is insight in the pregnant sense of the term, and not a mere, and possibly a vague, representation, it is a primordial dator Intuition, grasping the essence in its “bodily” selfhood.3 But, on the other hand, it is an intuition of a fundamentally unique and novel kind, namely in contrast to the types of intuition which belong as correlatives to the object-matters of other categories, and more specifically to intuition in the ordinary narrow sense, that is, individual intuition.
It lies undoubtedly in the intrinsic nature of essential intuition that it should rest on what is a chief factor of individual intuition, namely the striving for this, the visible presence of individual fact, though it does not, to be sure, presuppose any apprehension of the individual or any recognition of its reality. Consequently it is certain that no essential intuition is possible without the free possibility of directing one’s glance to an individual counterpart and of shaping an illustration; just as contrariwise no individual intuition is possible without the free possibility of carrying out an act of ideation and therein directing one’s glance upon the corresponding essence which exemplifies itself in something individually visible; but that does not alter the fact that the two kinds of intuition differ in principle, and in assertions of the kind we have just been making it is only the essential relations between them that declare themselves. Thus, to the essential differences of the intuitions correspond the essential relations between “existence” (here clearly in the sense of individual concrete being) and “essence”, between fact and eidos. Pursuing such connexions, we grasp with intelligent insight the conceptual essence attached to these terms, and from now on firmly attached to them, and therewith all thoughts partially mystical hi nature and clinging chiefly to the concepts Eidos (Idea) and Essence remain rigorously excluded.4


The Eidos, the pure essence, can be exemplified intuitively in the data of experience, data of perception, memory, and so forth, but just as readily also in the mere data of fancy (Phantasie). Hence, with the aim of grasping an essence itself in its primordial form, we can set out from corresponding empirical intuitions, but we can also set out just as well from non-empirical intuitions, intuitions that do not apprehend sensory existence, intuitions rather “of a merely imaginative order.”
If in the play of fancy we bring spatial sha...

Table of contents

Citation styles for Ideas
APA 6 Citation
Husserl, E. (2012). Ideas (1st ed.). Taylor and Francis. Retrieved from (Original work published 2012)
Chicago Citation
Husserl, Edmund. (2012) 2012. Ideas. 1st ed. Taylor and Francis.
Harvard Citation
Husserl, E. (2012) Ideas. 1st edn. Taylor and Francis. Available at: (Accessed: 14 October 2022).
MLA 7 Citation
Husserl, Edmund. Ideas. 1st ed. Taylor and Francis, 2012. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.