Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) is one of the most influential and outstanding figures in 20th century philosophy. His ideas persist in the middle of the 21st century and are still studied in universities.
This author was a German philosopher and logician, founder of transcendental phenomenology. In this article we will see a brief biography of Edmund Husserl, With the most important events of his life, and we will mention some of his works and contributions to philosophy.
Edmund Husserl: biography
Husserl’s full name is: Edmund Gustav Albercht Husserl (let’s call him, like Edmund Husserl). Husserl was a German philosopher and logician. He was born in Prossnitz (now Prostejov, now the Czech Republic), in 1859, and died in Freiburg, Germany, in 1938.
As we will see, Husserl was a disciple of Franz Brentano and Carl Stumpf. Edmund Husserl is considered the founder of transcendental phenomenology. He also created, through this phenomenology, the phenomenological movement. This movement is made up of a philosophical movement which is one of the most influential of the twentieth century.
Husserl worked as a teacher. In 1887 he was in Halle, then in Göttingen (since 1906). Ten years later, in 1916, he became a full professor at the University of Friborg. Here he worked until his retirement (rather, he was withdrawn from teaching by Nazism), in 1928.
Edmund Husserl was born into a wealthy Jewish family on April 8, 1859 in the town of Prostějov, located in the Moravian region. At that time, this region was part of the Austrian Empire; currently, however, it belongs to the Czech Republic.
Edmund Husserl first studied mathematics, Mainly at the universities of Leipzig (1876) and Berlin (1878), with the then famous professors Karl Weierstrass and Leopold Kronecker. In 1881 he went to Vienna to study under Leo Königsberg (a former student of Weierstrass) and obtained his doctorate in 1883 with the work Beiträge zur Variationsrechnung (Contributions to the Calculation of Variations).
Husserl he studied mathematics, astronomy, physics and philosophy at different universities: Vienna, Berlin and Leipzig. Specifically, he began to study mathematics at the University of Leipzig (1876) and Berlin (1878).
A little later, in 1881, Husserl went to Vienna to work. Here he worked under the supervision of Leo Leo Königsberger, a German mathematician. It was in Vienna that he obtained his doctorate in 1883, with his work entitled Beiträge zur Variationsrechnung (Contributions to the calculation of variations).
It was a year later, in 1884, that Edmund Husserl receives lessons from sociologist Franz Brentano, In psychology and philosophy courses organized in Vienna. Brentano greatly influenced Husserl’s philosophical training and his decision to bet on philosophy. Edmund Husserl studied with Brentano for a short time; later he went to the University of Halle.
Here he is with Carl Stumpf (former disciple of Brentano). It was then that Husserl wrote his work Über den Begriff der Zahl (On the concept of number), 1887. This work served as the basis for another, much more important (in fact, his first major work): “Philosophie der Arithmetik (Philosophie de arithmétique”), 1891.
After several years of teaching, as we were already advancing, Edmund Husserl was withdrawn from teaching due to the advent of Nazism.
Edmund Husserl’s first texts date from 1891; we find a work from this year entitled Philosophy of Arithmetic, where analyzes the origin and use of digital symbols. In other words, it links mathematics to philosophy.
Soon Edmund Husserl began to write on philosophy (philosophical texts). He started with them in 1900 and 1901, with “Logical Investigations”. With this text, Husserl intended to determine an epistemological basis for philosophy; in other words that is to say, he wanted philosophy to be considered a science. To defend this idea, Husserl relied on a method which he himself qualified as “phenomenological”.
Edmund Husserl’s work is vast. His complete works are written in original manuscripts of over 45,000 pages. They can be seen at the Institute of Philosophy of the Catholic University of Louvain, under the name of “Husserl Archives”.
To see them they go scholars from all over the world. These are mainly people who study (or are interested in) phenomenology. In addition, many of his works continue to be published and republished. However, they have been translated into many languages.
Titles of his works
Some of Husserl’s most notable works are (in chronological order): “Philosophy of Arithmetic” (1891); “Logical surveys” (1900); “Ideas relating to pure phenomenology and to phenomenological philosophy” (1913); “Cartesian Meditations” (1931); “The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology: An Introduction to Phenomenological Philosophy” (1936) and “Experience and Judgment” (1939).
Edmund Husserl is considered the founder of transcendental phenomenology. Transcendental phenomenology seeks to “renew” philosophy, Looking for their connection to science (or their chance to become one of them).
It is a way of understanding philosophy, of describing the meaning of the world. It is based on a specific method, the phenomenological method, Which describes the phenomena as they appear in consciousness; then he enters the field of consciousness and subjects it to an intentional analysis.
Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology is a philosophical current which has influenced other authors and other personalities in the intellectual field; they are personalities such as Ortega y Gasset, Heidegger and Scheler.
Death and inheritance
Edmund Husserl died April 27, 1938 in Freiburg, Germany. He was 79 years old. He had previously suffered from pleurisy, a disease that involves inflammation of the pleura, usually caused by pneumonia.
Husserl spent the last months of his life revising and analyzing his texts. In addition, he continued to give lectures (in Prague and Vienna).
Husserl’s legacy is still alive in the field of psychology and philosophy. His contributions to the field of phenomenology remain of remarkable academic interest. In addition, his work has been transferred to Louvain (Belgium), as we have seen, where it can be consulted. Fortunately, the Nazis could not destroy it.
- Gadamer, Hans-Georg. (2016). The phenomenological movement. Editorial summary: Madrid.
- García-Baró, M. (1997). Husserl (1859-1938). Madrid, Orto editions.
- Herrera, D. (2010). Husserl and the world of life. Franciscanum, 52 (153): 247-274.
- Husserl, I. (1997). Ideas relating to pure phenomenology and phenomenological philosophy. Book one (translation by José Gaos), FCE, Mexico.
- Mohanty, JN (1964). The Theory of Meaning by Edmund Husserl, Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague.