Ryan C. Gable
B.A., University of San Francisco
M.A., Fordham University
Being and Husserl’s Transcendental Reduction: The Possibilities for Ontology within Husserl’s Transcendental Phenomenology
Dissertation directed by John Drummond, Ph.D.
The dissertation undertakes to address the numerous ontological questions that arise from Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology. Does Husserl’s transcendental idealism entail a metaphysical idealism? If not, does Husserl’s transcendentalism prescribe a particular set of ontological conclusions, or does it rule out all ontological undertakings? The dissertation begins by presenting a few possible answers to such questions, namely, those given by Ingarden (Chapter One), Derrida and Fink (Chapter Two), as well as the common reading that Husserl’s philosophy is purely critical or epistemological (Chapter Three). In the course of evaluating such answers, Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology is distinguished from the idealism of Berkeley or Kant, or the deductionism of Descartes. Other key issues, such as Husserl’s phenomenological “principle of principles” and Husserl’s investigations into the essential structures of evidence, are also addressed. The analyses in these chapters rule out Husserl’s transcendentalism as a metaphysical idealism or as blocking ontological inquiry entirely, but they also suggest that there is more to his transcendental philosophy than being merely critical or propadeutic.
Key aspects of Husserl’s transcendental-phenomenological approach are then examined in detail, including Husserl’s reduction (Chapter Four), Husserl’s conception of the noema, categorial intuition, and the constitution of states of affairs (Chapter Five), and the possibility for and constituting role of intersubjectivity (Chapter Six). In confronting these issues, Husserl’s philosophy is shown to resist the charges of reductionism, solipsism, and representationalism as impediments to ontological inquiry. Finally, the limitations that Husserl does impose on ontology, which he conceives as a natural-attitude and therefore a naive science, is discussed. While Husserl holds that ontology can be transcendentally informed, ontology itself is always separated from the transcendental attitude, which is the philosophical attitude. This conception of ontology is not, however, entailed by Husserl’s own concrete analyses. Appealing to Heidegger, who holds that transcendental phenomenology is genuine ontology, I argue that if the transcendental ego is to be conceived as the “place” or “site” of the appearing of being, then Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology comprises, at its heart, an ontology, since, by its very essence, it seeks to uncover being in the very manner of its disclosure.