Edmund Husserl, circa 1930.
(born April 8, 1859, Prossnitz, Moravia, Austrian Empire—died April 27, 1938, Freiburg im Breisgau, Ger.) German philosopher, founder of phenomenology
. He received a doctoral degree in mathematics at the University of Vienna in 1882. From 1883 to 1886 he studied with Franz Brentano
, whose descriptive psychology prompted Husserl to reflect on the psychological sources of basic mathematical concepts. He lectured at the University of Halle from 1887 to 1901. His Logical Investigations
(1901) employed a method he called “phenomenological,” consisting of an analysis of experienced reality exactly as it presents itself to consciousness. He developed the method in Ideas
(1913) and other works written while teaching at the University of Göttingen (1901–16); its fundamental methodological principle was what he called phenomenological, or “eidetic,” reduction, which focuses the philosopher's attention on uninterpreted experience and the quest, thereby, for the essences of things. Because it is also reflection on the functions by which essences become conscious, the reduction reveals the ego for which everything has meaning. In 1916 Husserl accepted a professorship at the University of Freiburg, where Martin Heidegger
was one of his students; when Husserl retired in 1928, Heidegger succeeded to his chair. After 1933, when the Nazis seized power in Germany, Husserl was excluded from the university because of his Jewishness. His work was enormously influential in the subsequent development of Continental philosophy
and in other fields, including the social sciences and psychoanalytic theory.
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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.