Edmund Husserl’s Life and Works

Edmund Husserl’s Life and Works

June 26, 2021 Off By Felso

Edmund Husserl was born in 1859 in Moravia, now part of the Czechoslovak Republic. Between 1876 and 1878 he studied mathematics, physics and astronomy at the University of Leipzig. In these years, the lectures given by Wilhelm Wundt, one of the founders of modern psychology, led him to be interested in philosophy. While working with Leopold Kronecker and the famous mathematician Karl Weierstrass in Berlin, he was also following philosophy courses.

In 1881 he began working with Leo Königsberger, a former student of Weierstrass, at the University of Vienna. He defended his doctorate in 1883, entitled Beiträge zur Variationsrechnung (Contributions to Calculus Variations).

Husserl followed the philosophy lectures given by Franz Brentano in Vienna. On Brentano’s advice, he went to La Halle and wrote his habilitation thesis on the concept of number under the direction of Carl Stupmf, a former student of Brentano’s. The inventor of set theory, Georg Cantor, and mathematician Hermann Grassman were also on the committee of this thesis, which was defended in 1887. Husserl taught first at the University of La Halle after 1887, and at the University of Göttingen after 1901. The publication of Ideen in 1913 made him a professor at the University of Freiburg, replacing the Neo-Kantian Henrich Rickert. From the 1920s onwards, Husserl was the philosopher who gave direction to philosophy in Germany. In 1923, he was invited to transfer to the University of Berlin, but did not leave the University of Freiburg and remained there until 1929, when he retired.

Husserl started to encounter problems due to the rise of Nazism in Germany from 1933 onwards. In 1934, he lost the right to use the university library he had as a professor emeritus because of his Jewish identity. In 1935 he contacted the Prague Philosophical Circle, as he felt it was safer for the manuscripts to go to Prague. In 1937 he was banned from attending the International Philosophy Congress in Paris. After Husserl fell ill and died in 1938, the manuscripts were secretly smuggled into Belgium, where they were kept until the end of the war. German soldiers who entered Prague in 1939 completely burned an edition of Experience and Judgment.

Husserl has many important works, and the editing of manuscripts and lectures is still carried out by the Husserl Institute in Louvain. However, it can be said that there is a widespread acceptance that Husserl’s two most important works are Logical Studies and Ideen.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook