Here is my term paper on Edmund Husserl's notion of idealization in "The Crisis of the European Sciences."

Idealization is a key theme in Edmund Husserl’s unfinished, posthumous work The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology. I will investigate its function in the argument of Crisis and argue for its importance generally in understanding science. For Husserl, idealization is the process by which men achieve concepts of exact essences. The clarification of this activity is required to carry out what Husserl terms the epoché of the objective sciences, his first step in the recovery of science in its original philosophical meaning as properly inclusive “of all that is.”[1] I shall examine (I) the context, (II) the account, and (III) the function of idealization in Crisis; finally, from a comparison to the Thomistic account of idealization (IV), I will argue that Husserl notably supplements an understanding of how to avoid errors when considering man’s scientific involvement in things, chiefly in regard to modern physics.


The intention of Crisis is to manifest the need for and way to phenomenology “by way of a teleological-historical reflection upon the origins of our critical scientific and philosophical situation.”[2] I will consider these last two (crisis and origin), and, in addition, life-work or vocation.[3]

The crisis is the inability of the modern sciences—the objective sciences of physics or the modern humanities—to ask (and, a fortiori, answer) “questions of the meaning or meaninglessness of the whole of this human existence.”[4] They study the ‘objective world,’ an account of things sought in separation from the activity (and hence subjectivity) of reason. Therefore, an evaluation of idealization is required, for, “Ideal essences strive to exclude any reference to an agent or observer,”[5] and, insofar as questions concerning meaning (and their answers) bespeak consideration of the rational agent, an investigation restricted to ideal essences will fail in regard to both. This objectification as a crisis separates “reason and that-which-is . . . where reason, as knowing, determines what is.”[6] To resolve this crisis, its origin must be uncovered.

‘Origin,’ as Husserl uses it here, is considered in The Origin of Geometry.[7] The origin of a science is its “meaning-origin,”[8] its source in the order of being able to ground an articulated human theoretical work or praxis. Hence, the origin is not temporal as such, about “the first geometers who actually uttered pure geometrical propositions,” but is still used in time as that from which truth is achieved in the habitual perfection of science. Now, any such origin, since it must be articulated in time, bears two marks. First, tradition hands the origin, and progress made in the science, first in speech, then writing,[9] to later scientists. This becomes a ready-made sum total, a “pregiven.”[10] Second, a pregiven tradition entails the mark of reactivatability:

…the writing-down effects a transformation of the original mode of being of the meaning-structure, [e.g.,] within the geometrical sphere of self-evidence . . . . It becomes sedimented, so to speak. But the reader can make it self-evident again, can reactivate the self-evidence.[11]

Later scientists can arrive at the same knowledge that has been handed down through tradition by reactivating the original meaning of the sedimented science. This is possible because what science articulates is eternal: “The Pythagorean theorem, [indeed] all of geometry, exists only once . . . identically the same . . . ,” in all its traditional presentations (e.g., regardless of language). There is a danger in tradition, however, for if the origin is lost, then tradition hands down an imperfect or meaningless science.[12] This occlusion of the meaning-origin is the definition of a scientific crisis.

Finally, there is the notion of the life or work of reason: “Conscious of the world as a horizon, we live for our particular ends, whether as momentary and changing ones or as an enduring goal that guides us.”[13] The world (“. . . the totality of objects that can be known through experience . . . .”[14]) and various worlds, e.g., the natural or arithmetical,[15] are sorts of experienceable wholes that, insofar as each has a certain goal, gives a boundary to each activity of reason. As whole to part, this account of human life also characterizes the activities of the scientist. His vocation is delimited by his end of theoretical work; the end guides him actually (during the times he pursues his life-work) or endures as a habituality at other times (affecting other areas of his life). Such activities beget and add to tradition and constitute culture.[16] In this way men add to and depend upon the world. Hence, Husserl concludes that science, as a cultural influence on a man’s life, is disastrous if the reason for such an influence (its origin) is lost. Husserl’s claim is that such is the case with idealization and the objective sciences.


Husserl’s account of the process of idealization starts with the bodies given to sensible experience and ends in a theoretic achievement, an exact essence, or “identity,” or “pole,” from which empirical bodies decline.[17] Measurement is essential to this process, for it is “the praxis that links the real and the ideal,” (and in either direction).[18] Geometry will be taken as the exemplar of how men learn to consider exact essences.

The beginning of the process lies in what is given to experience: the bodies of the natural world. The sides and aspects of these empirical shapes can be considered and varied in imagination, but this only gives rise to further variations of the same: “Fantasy can transform sensible shapes only into other sensible shapes.”[19] Such transformations, however, evidence the ‘perfectibility’ of such shapes, “the capacity to make the straight straighter and the flat flatter,” which sensible or imaginable perfection (‘smoothness’) is distinct from the abstract perfection of the ideality; thus:

. . . out of the praxis of perfecting, of freely pressing toward the horizons of conceivable perfecting “again and again,” limit-shapes emerge toward which the particular series of perfectings tend, as towards invariant and never attainable poles.[20]

The key here is “out of.” The sensible experience of ‘these’ and ‘such’ variably perfect, material shapes motivates another kind of givenness. The exact essences of ‘triangle’ or ‘line,’ and other, “geometrically ‘pure’ shapes,”[21] are given only to reason. Reason depends upon the continuous and variable space of sensible experience to arrive at such exact essences, but it prescinds from the material imprecision of empirical shapes. Once the curved as ideal is known, it is recognized in the snub-nose; one sees the “ghostly presentation of the ideal essence” in all of the particulars.[22]

Husserl distinguishes between ideal (or exact) and morphological essences.[23] The latter are “vague” for they retain what is experienced indeterminately and variably in individuals albeit in a “fixed” way. The morphological essence of man cannot prescind from height or eye color, but only a particular experienced man has ‘this’ height and ‘such’ an eye color. A morphological, unlike an ideal, essence, “is not constructed or conceived as an ideal limit.”[24] This construction or “pressing toward” the one identity (limit shape) given in all declining instances allows exact essences to exclude vagueness. The difference is due to the nature of quantity. The parts of a body must be approached externally in touching, shaping, and primitive measurement. Such experiences, and imaginative variation, find in quantitative parts and wholes a consistency or style that allows for the exact identity in the variations to be seen. This ‘seeing,’ is definitional, not perceptual. Reason does not attain a ‘perfect image’ of triangle, but its account.

Husserl notes that the transition to geometric considerations is further articulated by the praxis of measurement, “surveying and measuring in general . . . .”[25] Farmers measuring fields to predict crop yield or masons their stone (with a ‘line’) to fit the parts of building together both achieve an objectivity beyond the subjective experience of perfectible shapes, for these measurements are available to all. “The art of measuring thus becomes the trail-blazer for the ultimately universal geometry in its ‘world’ of pure limit-shapes.”[26] Farmer and mason as ‘earth-measurers’ become plane and stereo-geometers.

The process of idealization, therefore, serves an activity of human reason with a delimited end. The practical art of measurement and the empirical and technological abilities that arise from such arts are carried over to an ideal realm, “In place of real praxis . . . we now have an ideal praxis of ‘pure thinking’ . . . .”[27] Idealization is required to provide the way to this activity.


The main function of idealization in the argument of Crisis is threefold: it first serves as the occluded element in the meaning-origin of modern science. In clarifying this, the relationship between the method of reason in mathematical physics and the concrete setting of such work, the “life-world,”[28] is also revealed. Husserl then uses this as the first step into phenomenology.

Towards the first, idealization is used to encapsulate the direction of the argument of Part II (§8), in its use towards the different ends of the ancient and modern ideas of mathematics. The ancient conception “knows only finite tasks, a finitely closed a priori,”[29] that is, an idealization to an immediate consideration of quantity alone (continuous or discrete). The modern age recasts this end, developing “a formal mathematics,” (Descartes’ analytic geometry) which approaches the quantitative realm as an infinite ideal system, for its logistic is a set of second intentions combinable and recombinable, according to rule, ad infinitum. This introduces the tempting “idea that the infinite totality of what is in general is intrinsically a rational all-encompassing unity that can be mastered, without anything left over, by a corresponding universal science.”[30] Koyré brings out the difference in these two approaches in this way:

The disappearance—or destruction—of the [ancient conception of] cosmos means that the world of science, the real world, is no more seen, or conceived, as a finite and hierarchically ordered, therefore qualitatively and ontologically differentiated, whole, but as an open, indefinite, and even infinite universe, united not by its immanent structure but only by the identity of its fundamental contents and laws . . . .[31]

When extended to natural science, this method redefines “philosophy in general” as conceived by the ancients.[32] The key to finding the origin of this transformation is Galilean science.[33] Two traditions are pregiven a Galilean that guide his interpretation of nature. The first is an advanced geometric tradition (inclusive of calculus); the second is the practical arts of measurement and mechanics.[34] He assumes the origins of these traditions, and seeks to apply them to the study of nature, his particular “life-work.”[35]

The first pregiven, however, deals only in exact essences; it cannot treat the concrete world of “empirical shapes,” for morphological essences cannot be treated quantitatively.[36] Yet, the experienced world exhibits a “universal causal style.”[37] Since the second pregiven shows that the universal style of idealized empirical shapes can be reintegrated into the empirical world (the classical intermediate sciences: astronomy or, as Husserl cites, Pythagorean tonality),[38] this leads the Galilean to ask, “Must not something similar be possible for the concrete world as such?”[39] This is the problem of the indirect mathematization of the sense-plenum. This sought extension differs from the classical intermediate sciences for the sense-plenum “as such” is to be quantified; mathematics will not be the formal aspect in a demonstration leading to science of sensible quantity; rather, the sense-plenum will be considered formally as quantity.

Galilean science approaches the solution to this problem by noting that the universal styles of “the specifically sensible qualities . . . are closely related in a quite peculiar and regulated way with the shapes that belong essentially to them.”[40] This regularity, however, is measurable. Therefore, by extension, exact essences can be assigned to the sense-plenum in proportion to its measurable dependence upon quantity. This “mathematical index” takes heaviness, time, warmth, or color and idealizes them to numbers, lines, “warmth-vibrations” or electromagnetic frequencies.[41]

This new mathematization, Husserl concludes, gives a meaning-origin to natural science that is both a discovery and a concealment.[42] One the one hand, a new rational science of nature is possible; on the other hand, a mathematical nature and its systematic laws of a priori causality are substituted for ‘nature’ in the old (Aristotelian) sense. This has been termed the hypostatization of geometry.[43] This concealment only becomes a problem, however, when its origin is lost.

This occlusion of the meaning-origin, “technization,”[44] occurs in conjunction with two elements. First, the hypothetical-verificational character of the new science, which ascends to constructed ideal models and descends to compare these to empirical evidence, contains a deceptive iterative perfectibility. One begins to take the limit of this process as “‘ultimate’ true being, that it gives us a better and better ‘representation’ of what ‘true nature’ is.”[45] Second, the proliferation of algebraic method in physics’ formulae brings with it “almost automatically” an “emptying of meaning.”[46] This occurs through an exclusion of what Vieté called the final stage of algebra, the exegetic, which interprets the obtained formula as second intention in terms of the primary intentions (shape, number). Influenced by these two, the physicist lapses into a “technization” of his method and the idealized models achieved by it; he “[construes] them independently of their references to the lifeworld,” which is “to empty them of meaning.”[47] One must distinguish, then, between hypostatization, tolerable as method, and its technization.[48] Under the latter’s influence

. . . the reflection back upon the actual meaning which was to be obtained for nature through the technical method stops too soon. It no longer reaches far enough even to lead back to the position of the idea of mathematizing nature sketched out in Galileo’s creative meditation, to what was wanted from this mathematization by Galileo and his successors and what gave meaning to their endeavors to carry it out.[49]

When combined with a third element, “Galileo’s famous doctrine of the merely subjective character of the specific sense-qualities,”[50] the method becomes “a garb of ideas, or the garb of symbols of the symbolic mathematical theories, . . . It is through the garb of ideas that we take for true being what is actually a method . . . .”[51]

The sedimentation of technized science precludes the attempt to lead the individual scientist to reflect upon the original meaning of his mathematical-physical work. After all, “The professional who has dedicated his life to these sciences must . . . know best what he is attempting and accomplishing in his work.”[52] The scientist is blind to a broader context of truths beyond physico-mathematical ones.

While it is beyond the scope of this paper to provide Husserl’s argument in the remainder of Part II of Crisis, it follows from technization that the knower (scientist or learner) is occluded as the subject of knowledge: idealization applied to the natural world has led to a rift between the mind and its object. Furthermore, any attempt to study subjectivity in tradition objectifies it (psychologism). The divide between mind and world introduced by Descartes spawns failed transcendental and skeptical approaches to the ego as subject.[53] “This is the tragedy of modern mind which ‘solved the riddle of the universe,’ but only to replace it by another riddle: the riddle of itself.”[54] Husserl’s solution is to overcome the restrictions of the objective sciences (reasoning in “the life of the plane”) with a recovery of subjectivity (reasoning in “the life of depth”).[55]

This is the second major role of idealization, for the clarification of idealization as giving meaning to the origin of the objective sciences shows it to be caught up in subjective human achievements. Properly understood, idealization does not reveal that “science itself is ‘subject-relative,’” which the objective scientist would grant as a lamentable weakness, but rather that “the subject-relative, far from being the diminishing of objectivity, is the very condition for the possibility of the manifestation of the sense of the objective as a positive human experience.”[56]

Husserl begins this phase by noting that the objective sciences achieve

. . . a theoretical-logical substruction, the substruction of something that is in principle not perceivable, in principle not experienceable in its own proper being, whereas the subjective, in the life-world, is distinguished in all respects precisely by its being actually experienceable.[57]

Galilean science ‘builds-under’ the world given in common experience.[58] While these substructs cannot be experienced as the given world can be, they are nevertheless “‘grounded’ in the self-evidence of the life-world.”[59] The theoretic activity involved in making these substructions are “phenomena in the life-world,”[60] the achievements of the people who carry out such activities. This leads Husserl to ask:

The concrete life-world, then, is the grounding soil . . . of the “scientifically true” world and at the same time encompasses it in its own universal concreteness. How is this to be understood?[61]

This subjectivity of experience in the life world cannot be treated in the manner of objective science (exclusion of psychologism). This leads Husserl to the epoché of the objective sciences, a suspension “in regard to all objective theoretical interests, all aims and activities belonging to us as objective scientists . . . .”[62] As Husserl emphasizes here, this epoché of the attitude directed to carrying out the objective sciences is not a doubt of their validity. It is merely an abstention from their exercise for the purpose of approaching a solution to the problem of subjectivity.

This first epoché leads to the transcendental epoché. The middle term between the two, however, is the clarification of what Husserl terms the life-world a priori, what belongs to it as a general, non-relative structure, e.g., that it is, “Prescientifically . . . already a spatio-temporal world.”[63] The most fundamental apriority of the life-world, however, is as the context in which anything is given correlatively to understanding (§37). This leads to the full transcendental epoché and reduction to the transcendental attitude (§§38-55).[64] Hence, the clarification of idealization serves a third function, for it leads mediately to the second epoché and beginning of phenomenology.

After all this, what is life-world? “[T]he life-world . . . is not simply the world in which we live; it is the world we live in as contrasted to the world of exact science,” and “as named by phenomenology.”[65] Yet this can seem circular.[66] One must distinguish between: “life-world as naïvely appropriated and as appropriated critically.”[67] The former contains the bias of the technized, sedimented objective sciences, it is a ‘life lived in crisis.’ This begins to be removed by the epoché of objective sciences. As the first epoché leads to the second, the life-world can then be appropriated critically in retrospect.


A comparison of Husserl’s examination of idealization and St. Thomas’ defense of physics in De Trinitate shows the importance of understanding how reason affects what it knows in its very act of knowing. The premise for comparison is that the concept correlates of morphological essences are to those of exact essences as the consideration of the essence of a thing in total abstraction is to its consideration in formal abstraction.[68]

The essence of a natural substance considered in total abstraction, e.g., ‘man’ or ‘horse,’ includes the account of common but not individuating matter. This conclusion explains how men can know beings in matter and motion without falsifying their consideration. Plato’s account, however, errs by fallacy of the accident.[69] Since the species of ‘man’ or ‘horse’ is incorruptible, and the experienced, individual ‘man’ or ‘horse’ is generated and corrupts, he concludes from this that the eternality of the species is due to its separate existence. This is a fallacy of the accident for the species of a thing corrupts only per accidens, while the composite corrupts per se (‘man’ does not die, but ‘this man’ does). The failure to distinguish the per accidens corruption of the species in the individual composite from its per se incorruptibility in the intellect (due to its immaterial mode of reception), is thus a failure to properly distinguish how the man affects what he knows in knowing.

Husserl uncovers the Platonism of modern science, and corrects a similar fallacy. Taken with St. Thomas’ position on idealization,[70] this is a noteworthy supplement. Formal abstraction accounts for man’s ability to consider mathematicals without falsity. Since the mind can consider what is prior without what is posterior, and as “accidents accrue to substance in a certain order, for quantity comes first to it, then quality, then passions and motions,”[71] the mathematical consideration of quantity alone (formal abstraction) is a truthful act of reason. Insofar as Galilean physics methodically attains an indirect mathematization of accidents posterior to quantity,[72] it considers the physical world through such substructions, a methodically applied formal abstraction. These exact essences are per se to the mind, and the sense-plenum they substruct is per accidens to them as kinds of givenness. When technized, however, this method and its constructs become the “garb of ideas that we take for true being . . . .”[73] The mind’s mode of considering exact essences is taken for the being of things. Husserl’s correction in regard to the tradition of modern physics thus functions analogously to St. Thomas’.

It is important to understand idealization, for one will most likely err by inattentively considering it. Husserl sees that the technization of natural science leads to an unsolvable problem when one recognizes that “‘world’ is a validity which has sprung up within subjectivity . . . ,”[74] for the bond is no longer preserved between reason and what is. Care is required to restore reason in the world, and the world in reason.

[1] Edmund Husserl, The Crisis of the European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology: An Introduction to Phenomenological Philosophy, trans. D. Carr (Northwestern University Press: Evanston, 1970) 23. Hereafter, Crisis.

[2] Ibid., 3. Carr’s contention (see Crisis, “Translator’s Introduction,” xxix) that Husserl considered this explication of the way to transcendental reduction (the ontological way through the life-world) as definitive (for which he draws support from Crisis, §43) will not be considered here.

[3] I exclude a discussion of “teleological-historical” for two reasons: (1) it is more important to understand how “origin” connects to idealization in Husserl’s argument; (2) because the tension in Husserl’s presentation of phenomenology between origin and this unusual sense of history could not be satisfactorily explored here. The resolution of this tension has several difficulties. Carr wonders at its Hegelian roots (Crisis, “Translator’s Introduction,” xxxiii); Ricoeur presents four arguments for the incompatibility of phenomenological origin and history: (i) the latter is accidental to the concerns of the former, (ii) historical concern is eliminated by the transcendental reduction, (iii) it belongs to a consideration of phenomenological time to explain history as a given experience, not the converse, (iv) the intersubjectivity of phenomenology varies from that dealt with in history due to difference in attitude. (Paul Ricoeur, Husserl: An Analysis of His Phenomenology, (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1967), 145-150). Husserl in his earlier writings excluded consideration of history to begin phenomenology, but later allowed for it, Carr contends (ibid., xxxvii-iii), because of the need of ‘historical’ reflections to ground the philosophical epoché, which is prior to the transcendental epoché; hence, by discussing origin and idealization, I will be assuming this latter development, which appears to rename philosophical epoché as epoché of the objective sciences. The shift is justified by taking history in an unusual sense as a sort of eidetic reduction (Carr, ibid., xxxvi-ii).

[4] Husserl, Crisis, 6; also, ibid.: “The mere science of bodies clearly has nothing to say; it abstracts from everything subjective. As for the humanistic sciences . . . their rigorous scientific character requires . . . that the scholar carefully exclude all valuative positions, all questions of the reason or unreason of their human subject matter and its cultural configurations.”

[5] Robert Sokolowski, Pictures, Quotations, and Distinctions (Notre Dame – London: University of Notre Dame Press, 1992) 162-3.

[6] Husserl, Crisis, 11 (italics omitted).

[7] See ibid., Appendix VI, The Origin of Geometry, 353-78.

[8] Ibid., 353.

[9] See ibid., 360-1. Tradition is what one unpacks by examining history in its “unusual sense” (Origin, 354). See Patrick A. Heelan, “Husserl’s Later Philosophy of Science,” Philosophy of Science 54 (1987): 369: “[History in the unusual sense] is not the story of the past as past, but of the present as carrying forward in our own time projects shaped by past interests and events.”

[10] Husserl, Crisis, 24.

[11] Husserl, Origin, 361.

[12] See ibid., 367, “The inheritance of propositions and of the method of logically constructing new propositions and idealities can continue without interruption from one period to the next, while the capacity for reactivating the primal beginnings, i.e., the sources of meaning for everything that comes later, has not been handed down with it.”

[13] Husserl, Crisis, Appendix VII, The Life-World and the World of Science, 379. Also, ibid., §§35, 40.

[14] Husserl, Ideas I, trans. W. R. Boyce Gibson, (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1952), 52.

[15] See ibid., 103-4.

[16] See Husserl, Origin, 354, “The whole cultural world, in all its forms, exists through tradition.”

[17] Husserl, Crisis, 26, 27, respectively.

[18] Patrick A. Heelan, “Husserl’s Later Philosophy of Science,” Philosophy of Science 54 (1987): 376. It is important to note that this link is bidirectional. See James W. Garrison, “Husserl, Galileo, and the Processes of Idealization,” Synthese 66 (1986): 330: “The processes of idealization have two distinct directions: one ascending from the life-world, the other descending and applying to it.” While this use of ‘life-world’ must be qualified (see III, end), this bidirectionality obtains the Galilean hypothetical-verificational character.

[19] Husserl, Crisis, 25.

[20] Ibid., 25, 26, respectively.

[21] Ibid., 25.

[22] Sokolowski, Pictures, 158.

[23] See Husserl, Ideas I, 207-8: “The geometer is not interested in actual forms intuitable through sense, as is the descriptive student of nature. He does not, like the latter, construct morphological concepts of vague types of configuration, which on the basis of sensory intuition are directly apprehended, and, vague as they are, conceptually or terminologically fixed. . . . Geometrical concepts are “ideal” concepts, they express something which one cannot “see”; their “origin,” and therefore their content also, is essentially other than that of the descriptive concepts as concepts which express the essential nature of things as drawn directly from simple intuition, and not anything ‘ideal.’”

[24] Robert Sokolowski, Husserlian Meditations: How Words Present Things, (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1974), 78.

[25] Husserl, Crisis, 27.

[26] Ibid., 28.

[27] Ibid., 26.

[28] See ibid., p.51, and §§33-36.

[29] Ibid., 21.

[30] Ibid., 22.

[31] Alexandre Koyré, “The Significance of the Newtonian Synthesis,” in Problems in European Civilization: The Rise of Modern Science, ed. G. Basalla (Lexington, Mass.: Raytheon Education Co., 1968), 98; reprinted from Newtonian Studies (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1965), 3-24.

[32] Husserl, Crisis, 23.

[33] Husserl seems most often to use ‘Galileo’ synecdochically for the philosophical position, not especially the man, which fits the mode of his eidetic, origin-driven view of history in Crisis. I accordingly use the abstract ‘Galilean’ to convey this. Husserl takes this notion of Galilean science from his colleagues at Göttingen school of mathematical physics; see Heenan, “Husserl’s Later Philosophy,” 371-373.

[34] Husserl, Crisis, 28-29. One recalls that the setting of Galileo’s Two New Sciences is an armory.

[35] Ibid., 29.

[36] Ibid., 29-30.

[37] Ibid., 31.

[38] Ibid., 37. See St. Thomas, Super Boetium de Trinitate, q.5, a.3, ad v & vi.

[39] Ibid., 33.

[40] Ibid., 35.

[41] Ibid., 37, 36, respectively. Husserl does not expound cases of idealization as regards Galileo himself. See Garrison, “Husserl, Galileo, and the Processes of Idealization,” 333-5, where Galileo’s analysis of freefall is an example. Galileo idealizes the medium of fall to one that offers no resistance in order to argue that all bodies fall at the same rate.

[42] Husserl, Crisis, 52-3.

[43] See Koyré, “The Significance of the Newtonian Synthesis,” 99.

[44] Husserl, Crisis, 46.

[45] Ibid., 42. The direction of Husserl’s claim here must be clarified. He is warning against a naïve scientific realism, not arguing against it as such (as long as it is meaning as a method is retained). Some mistake this, see G. Gutting, “Husserl and Scientific Realism,” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 39 (1978): 42-56; and the reply by J. Rouse, “Phenomenology and Scientific Realism,” Philosophy of Science 54 (1987): 222-32.

[46] Ibid., 44, 46.

[47] J. Rouse, “Phenomenology and Scientific Realism,” 224.

[48] See Husserl, Crisis, 53.

[49] Ibid., 48.

[50] Ibid., 54

[51] Ibid., 51.

[52] Ibid., 57.

[53] This failure, when “. . . joined with the project of confirming objective science, explains the strange destiny of Cartesianism, which engendered the rationalism of Malebranche, as well as that of Spinoza, Leibniz, and Wolff [from whom Kant takes his beginnings, §25ff], all turned entirely towards absolute knowledge of being in itself, and also engendered skeptical empiricism, which draws out all the consequences of the psychologistic interpretation of the cogito [Locke, Berkley, Hume]. The first current eliminated the motif of doubt and the ‘reduction to the ego’; the other grossly deluded itself about the nature of founding subjectivity and destroyed truth entirely [Hume, §23].” Ricoeur, Husserl, 165.

[54] Alexandre Koyré, “Significance of the Newtonian Synthesis,” 104.

[55] Husserl, Crisis, 120-1, 100, 118ff, respectively. Kern labels this realization (plane-depth) the end of the “first thrust” in Husserl’s advance towards the ontological way to reduction through the life-world; Iso Kern, “The Three Ways to the Transcendental Phenomenological Reduction in the Philosophy of Edmund Husserl,” Husserl: Expositions and Appraisals, ed. F. A. Elliston and P. McCormick (Notre Dame, ID: University of Notre Dame Press, 1977), 142ff.

[56] James Dodd, Crisis and Reflection, (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2004), 150.

[57] Husserl, Crisis, 127.

[58] See ibid., 128-9. Consider the substruction of experienceable space and time, e.g., “Minkowski’s ‘world’ . . . a four-dimensional Euclidean space (with imaginary time coordinate) . . . ,” which provides the basis of the Lorentz transformation equations in the special theory of relativity through a four-dimensional version of the Pythagorean theorem with a time constant √-1(ct) where c = speed of light and t = time as measured in the given frame of reference; see Albert Einstein, Relativity, trans. R. W. Lawson (New York: Wing Books, 1961), 140.

[59] Husserl, Crisis, 130.

[60] Kern, “The Three Ways,” 142.

[61] Husserl, Crisis, 131.

[62] Ibid., 135.

[63] Ibid. It is important to note that this a priori of the life world is not a conceptual framework that is “transported” into the mind in knowing.

[64] See Kern, “The Three Ways,” 143-44.

[65] Sokolowski, Pictures, 155.

[66] See Carr, Crisis, “Translator’s Introduction,” xli: “Husserl frequently insists that the theories of our scientific culture ‘flow into’ the life-world; compounded of such theories, it forms the traditional Boden of both our theoretical and our extratheoretical life and is thus certainly pregiven. But in this case it could not be described as pretheoretical. This seems to contrast sharply with repeated descriptions of the life-world as one whose very essence is to envelop or underlie all theoretical interpretations of it.”

[67] Heelan, “Husserl’s Later Philosophy of Science,” 380.

[68] See St. Thomas, Super Boetium de Trinitate, q.5, a.3 (Roma – Paris: Commissio Leonina - Éditions du Cerf, 1992) 144-151. I emphasize the comparison (correction of a fallacy) while submitting contrasts here: (1) The concept correlates of morphological essences have a broader range than essences considered in total abstraction, for morphological essences retain reference to the subject, and can include non-substances, whereas ideal essences seek to prescind from the subject and attain perfect objectivity. However, insofar as morphological essences and exact essences are differentiated by the former’s inability to consider measurable essential parts, I will use the analogy. (2) Husserl’s idealization is a process that spans many categories, involving the practical, experiential, and rational aspects of arriving at such a knowledge (and borrows heavily from calculus), while St. Thomas considers only the formal account of the act of the intellect. Hence, under the latter’s consideration, if the intellect “fixed” or “perfected” quantitative essences through formal abstraction, this abstraction would be false. This abstraction would also be present (granted in a very confused degree) even in small children; what Husserl’s account brings out are the various mature experiences required to formulate geometric statements scientifically. “Idealization” for St. Thomas, therefore, refers only to the end product of what Husserl’s idealization attains. (3) I will abstain from considering here the validity of indirect mathematization for St. Thomas’ conception of physics, taken strictly as a speculative science (note, e.g., the difficulties in accepting Galilean void); but remark that such an “indirect mathematization” would take on the aspect of a conglomerate: an intermediate science conjoined to an art (experimental method). This agrees (at least prima facie) with Husserl’s characterization of idealized substructs within the method of modern physics.

[69] See St. Thomas, de Trinitate, q.5, a.2, c. “This failure occurs because [Plato] did not distinguish what is per se from what is secundum accidens. In fact many are deceived, even the wise, according to the accidental, as is said in Sophistical Refutations I.” (Leon.50.143:62-66).

[70] See fn.67, (2).

[71] St. Thomas, de Trinitate, “[Set] accidentia superueniunt substantie quodam ordine: nam primo aduenit ei quantitas, deinde qualitas, deinde passiones et motus.” (Leon.50.148:188-191).

[72] See fn.67, (3).

[73] Husserl, Crisis, 52.

[74] Ibid., 96.


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