Sunday, July 25, 2010

Aimless Reading: The H's, Part 42 (Edmund Husserl)

Husserl, Edmund
The Crisis of European
Sciences and Transcendental
Phenomenology


Purchased during my grad school years, at Talking Leaves...Books, for a course with Rodolphe Gasché. I think the course may have been called, "The Idea of Europe." I remember we also read Hegel and Jan Patočka. This is the last book in the H's. I suspect the "I" section will be rather short, while "J" should keep me busy for a little while.

Another sad dream last night. This time that a couple we are friends with decided to break up. It was a shock at first, but then I remembered having seen their bookcases and that in between the sections of books had been placed dividers made of a cream-colored material -- cardboard or plastic -- and that this had somehow clued me in beforehand to the fact that their break-up was imminent.

Then I was with the two of them as they told me they were splitting up. We were in the room with the books. I was standing. The two of them were recumbent on separate beanbag chairs. I told them about my premonition in a way that I thought made it seem humorous. They did not laugh, and I felt awkward after that.

There was something else going on in the dream, too -- it was part of a more elaborate narrative that involved waiting for something. But that's all I remember.

from The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology

I expect that at this place, dedicated as it is to the sciences, the very title of these lectures, "The Crisis of the European Sciences and Psychology," will incite controversy. A crisis of our sciences as such: can we seriously speak of it? Is not this talk, heard so often these days, an exaggeration? After all, the crisis of a science indicates nothing less than that its genuine scientific character, the whole manner in which it has set its task and developed a methodology for it, has become questionable. This may be true of philosophy, which in our time threatens to succumb to skepticism, irrationalism, and mysticism. The same may hold for psychology, insofar as it still makes philosophical claims rather than merely wanting a place among the positive sciences. But how could we speak straightforwardly and quite seriously of a crisis, including pure mathematics and the exact natural sciences, which we can never cease to admire as models of rigorous and highly successful scientific discipline?