Phenomenology and the Crisis of Philosophy | Edmund Husserl

The cover of Husserl's Phenomenology and the Crisis of PhilosophyYou just never know what you’re going to find in a second-hand bookstore. Somewhat dejected that my go-to bookstore had closed up shop in Kingston, I walked back to the car along a side street where I stumbled upon Berry & Peterson Booksellers. I left with an armful of treasures, including this volume from Husserl.

Edmund Husserl (1859–1938) was a German philosopher who wrote and rewrote voluminous manuscripts in which he presented a type of philosophy that would be just as rigorous as scientific investigation: phenomenology. Although phenomenology would come to be associated with the existentialists who would follow—Heidegger, Sartre, and de Beauvoir—Husserl was its midwife.

Phenomenology and the Crisis of Philosophy consists of three parts:

  1. A helpful introduction to Husserl and his philosophy by translator Quentin Lauer
  2. “Philosophy as Rigorous Science,” an early essay by Husserl (1911)
  3. “Philosophy and the Crisis of European Man,” a late lecture by Husserl (1935)

To be honest, had I not already read Cresswell & Poth’s Qualitative Inquiry & Research Design and van Manen’s Phenomenology of Practice, I would have been quite lost navigating Husserl’s thought. Reading Husserl in light of these other books was like watching sinew and flesh attach to the dry bones.

Husserl’s obviously not for everyone, but if you’re doing phenomenological research or are interested in the philosophical roots of the existential movement, these essays are a good place to start.

Husserl, Edmund. Phenomenology and the Crisis of Philosophy. Translated by Quentin Lauer. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1965.

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