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Husserl's Position Between Dilthey and the WindelbandRickert School of NeoKanuamsm JOHN E. JALBERT THE CONTROVERSYAND DEBATEover the character of the relationship between the natural and human sciences (Natur- und Geisteswissenschaflen) became a central theme for philosophical reflection largely through the efforts of theorists such as Wilhelm Dilthey and the two principal representatives of the Baden School of Neo-Kantians, Wilhelm Windelband and Heinrich Rickert.~ These turn of the century theorists are major figures in this philosophical arena, but they are by no means the only participants in the effort to grapple with this issue. If we broaden our historical perspective, we find that the problematic is actually prefigured in the writings of Plato and Aristotle,' and it continues to be a vital issue today under the influence of works by Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer, and Paul Ricoeur.~ Despite the long hisResearch for this project was supported by grants in 1983 from the Penrose Fund of the American Philosophical Societyand the Sacred Heart University Research/CreativityCouncil. My thanks to the Husserl Archives in I_.euven,Belgium and Cologne, WestGermanyfor accessto and permission to cite from Husserl's unpublished manuscripts. This article is a revision of a paper presented at the 1985 meeting of the Husserl Circle in Ottawa, Canada. See, for example, Plato, "Statesman" in Plato: The CollectedDialogues,The Bollingen Series 71, ed. by Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969), 283c-~85b and Aristotle, NicomatheanEthics, trans, by H. Rackman, Loeb ClassicalLibrary, No. 73 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1968),I, iii, l- 5. s See especially, Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, trans, byJohn Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, 196u); Hans-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method(NewYork: The Seabury Press, 1975); Paul Ricoeur, The Conflictoflnterpretation:Essaysin Hermeneutics, ed. by Don Ihde (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1974); and Paul [~79] 280 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 26:2 APRIL 1988 tory of philosophical attention directed to this question, the debate has to a certain extent engendered the erroneous impression that what is really at stake is primarily an epistemological and/or ontological matter. What has been obscured is the larger, more fundamental problem that spawned the debate in the first place. The main issue, conceived broadly, is an ethical one and concerns the possibility of a genuinely human, that is, rational and ethical, life. The philosopher Edmund Husserl makes a significant contribution to the debate which is, unfortunately, not always recognized. Husserl's contribution is significant because, among other things, it attempts to keep the underlying issue, that is, the ethical dimension of the question, clearly in focus. This effort can be seen as early as 191o/1 1 in Husserl's essay Philosophy as Rigorous Science, where he reminds us that it is not the mere "theoretical lack of clarity regarding the sense of the 'reality' investigated in the natural and humanistic sciences "4 that is at issue, but the impending crisis in humanity, which originates with the tendency of these sciences to fall prey to the prejudices of naturalism and/or historicism. Of course, the crisis with which Husserl is concerned pertains primarily to the human sciences (Geisteswissenschaflen), for it is the task of the human sciences, not the natural sciences, to provide humanity with the antidote for a spiritual life gone awry.s Both naturalism and historicism "misinterpret ideas as facts and.., transform all reality, all life, into an incomprehensible, idealess confusion of 'facts'.''6 Therein lies their impotence. For Husserl, all life involves taking a position and judging according to norms--norms which, in the hands of sciences blinded by naturalism or historicism, are empirically falsified and rendered devoid of any ideal validity. In this respect, Philosophy as Rigorous Science anticipates Husserl's later work in the Cr/s/s where he again issues the warning that "merely fact-minded sciences make merely fact-minded people."7 While the tone of the Cr/s/s is decidedly more positive toward the human sciences and their role in the guidance of humanity, it nevertheless does not represent a major revision of Husserl's earlier assessment. His position was never one of wholesale condemnation or rejection but, rather, a recognition...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 279-296
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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