In Ideas, Husserl seems pretty convinced that phenomenology is a new science. He says that phenomenology is a descriptive science, and having read through Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception, I can see that the latter author has taken this definition factually.

But Ideas is an abstruse text, and Husserl mentions many new concepts: the natural standpoint; religious consciousness; and the reductionist method, for example.

While I am given to understand that phenomenology is not a science, in the sense in which Husserl implies, I would be interested to understand the ways he came to think this. One thing that would help me, would be to understand better the "reductionist method".

I assume bracketing is involved here. But is there a "bullet-list" type answer to this question? I am a layman.


1 Answer 1


The reductionist method, or "phenomenological reduction", can indeed be broken down into "bullet-points." In fact there are two moments, where we say "moments" rather than "steps", for in fact the method is carried out almost in a single sweep. The moments are:-

  1. Epoche, or "Bracketing". This is a familiar process whereby one suspends one's judgement about the existence of the external world. Attention to the objective reality of things is thereby shifted away towards the subjective experience of those things. Husserl says that we live according to cultural precepts, that we live in a "captivation-in-an-acceptedness", that we take for granted cultural facets of our existence. In bracketing we leave go of this world; but this is not denial of the world. We see things in their abstract light.

  2. The Reduction Proper. Here we recognise the aforementioned acceptance of the world as an acceptance. It is a "radicalised meditation" wherein the 'goal' is to achieve transcendental insight into that which has held us captive. It is a form of "seeing"; the type that may occur in astonishment. It involves human "inwardness" but really involves the entire human "I".

The Reductionist Method is cited as being a physical process, that is meditative, and is purported to be as enlightening once achieved, by practice, performance and maintenance, as a religious conversion, and it is said that the method finally gives us access to the status of being a phenomenologist.

It seems to me personally to be somewhat esoteric, and having practiced it myself, a development of the cogito and Platonic form.

Thanks to @Jo Wehler for the link in above comment.

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