Husserl on His Work’s Future

Since I have complained here (in a poem) and in the hallways (in prose, I guess) about Husserl’s writing, let me offer up the following wonderful passage, tacked onto the end of the “Noesis and Noema” chapter of Ideas.

In closing we would add the following remark.  We have expounded phenomenology as a science in its beginnings.  Only the future can teach us how many of the results of the analyses we have here attempted are destined to last.  Much of what we have described must certainly, sub specie aeterni, be otherwise described.  But we should and must strive in each step we take to describe faithfully what we really see from our own point of view and after the most earnest consideration.  Our procedure is that of a scientific traveller in an unknown part of the world who carefully describes what he finds on the trackless ways he takes–ways that will not always be the shortest.  He should be full of the sure consciousness of bringing to expression what in relation to time and circumstance is the thing that must be said, which, because it faithfully expresses what has been seen, preserves its value always–even when further research calls for new descriptions with manifold improvements.  In a similar temper we wish in what further lies before us to be loyal expounders of phenomenological formations, and for the rest to preserve the habit of inner freedom even in regard to our own descriptions.

There.  Hard to do much better than that, I think.

4 responses

  1. Thanks for this. As a kind of counterpoint, this from Adrienne Rich’s essay on Emily Dickinson (“Vesuvius at Home,” Parnassus Vol. 5, No. 1, 1976): “The poetry of extreme states, the poetry of danger, can allow its readers to go further in our own awareness, take risks we might not have dared; it says, at least: “’Someone has been here before.’” Best, Wm.

  2. That’s a nice counterpoint and a great comment. I will have to look at that book. Thanks! That line of Husserl’s always reminds me of Pound’s Cantos line: “What thou lovest well remains.”

  3. “He should be full of the sure consciousness of bringing to expression what in relation to time and circumstance is the thing that must be said, which, because it faithfully expresses what has been seen, preserves its value always–even when further research calls for new descriptions with manifold improvements.”

    Is this it? — Saying, expressing, what must be said will faithfully preserve the value of what has been seen and brought to expression — even when future writers may be called to revise such descriptions and preserve new layers of value-seen — (superimposed on the old? — or lying adjacent?).

    That IS wonderful prose . . .

  4. We proceed like an explorer of an unknown land, who describes what he finds on his trackless, often circuitous way. Within the limits of time and circumstance, he must carefully observe what he believes to be of lasting importance, describe it as faithfully as he can, and preserve it as a starting-point for future explorers. They in turn, following the path charted by the first, can make more accurate observations and thus advance on his enduring achievement.

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