An Introduction to Phenomenology and Existentialism
Edmund Husserl’s Ideas I (full title: Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy. First Book: General Introduction to a Pure Phenomenology, 1983) offers the most comprehensive introduction to the philosophical science called phenomenology, and as such it is one of the key texts of twentieth century philosophy. In it, Husserl explains that phenomenology is the science of phenomena: the study of whatever is immediately given to one’s own consciousness, regardless of whether the phenomena in question exist or not. Phenomenology’s scientific character is, as Husserl explains, based on it being a science of essences: a science of the invariable ways in which differently classified phenomena must appear to any consciousness. In addition to this, Ideas I marked Husserl’s public turn to a transcendental philosophy. For Husserl, this meant that phenomenology would have the capacity to offer a philosophical foundation for the other sciences, thereby giving phenomenology a certain priority over them. Although many of Husserl’s followers were reluctant to accept this transcendental turn, Ideas I exerted an incredible influence on twentieth century philosophy, and many well-known philosophers developed their ideas in dialogue with Ideas I.