The ‘Fifth Meditation’ and Husserl’s Cartesianism

  • David Carr
Part of the Phaenomenologica book series (PHAE, volume 106)


Addressing his audience in the Amphitheatre Descartes at the Sorbonne in 1929, Husserl said that ‘one might almost call transcendental phenomenology a neo-Cartesianism’,1 and he went on to name the book that grew out of the Paris lectures the Cartesian Meditations. To be sure, like most of Husserl’s many homages to Descartes, this one is qualified:’…even though [phenomenology] is obliged… to reject nearly all the well-known doctrinal content of the Cartesian philosophy’. But this qualification is further expanded upon by a sort of counterqualification that is also typical of Husserl’s remarks on Descartes: phenomenology is so obliged ‘precisely by its radical development of Cartesian motifs’.


Transcendental Phenomenology Phenomenological Reduction Transcendental Philosophy Phenomenological Account Cartesian Meditation 
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  1. 1.
    Edmund Husserl, Cartesian Meditations: An Introduction to Phenomenology, trans., Dorion Cairns, The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff, 1960, p. 1 (hereafter referred to as ‘CM’). See also the reconstruction of the original Paris lectures in Cartesianische Meditationen und Pariser Vorträge, ed. S. Strasser, Den Haag, Martinus Nijhoff, 1963, p. 3.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    See the ‘Einleitung des Herausgebers’, p. xxxvii, in Husserl, Erste Philosophie (1923/24). Zweiter Teil, ed. Rudolf Boehm, Den Haag, Martinus Nijhoff, 1959. Also ‘Husserls Abschied vom Cartesianismus’ in Ludwig Landgrebe, Der Weg der Phänomenologie, Gütersloher Verlagshaus Gerd Mohn, 1967, pp. 163 ff.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Vocabulaire technique et critique de la philosophic, ed. André Lalande, 8th ed., Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1960, p. 1008.Google Scholar
  4. 20.
    Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie, etc.. Zweites Buch, ed. Marly Biemel, Den Haag, Martinus Nijhoff, 1952, p. 318.Google Scholar
  5. 23.
    Paul Ricoeur (Husserl: An Analysis of His Phenomenology, trans. L. Embree and E.G. Ballard, Evanston, Northwestern University Press, 1967,b p. 117) says that ‘the conflict between the requirement of reduction and the requirement of description becomes an open conflict’ in the case of the other ego, and that the conflict is never resolved (p. 130). The alter ego is somehow ‘more other’ than any other object. But any transcendent object is given as ‘other’ and the requirement of reduction is simply to describe it as it is given. Thus it is difficult to see why the alter ego is a special case.Google Scholar
  6. 29.
    Cf. Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie, etc.. Erstes Buch, ed. Walter Biemel, Den Haag, Martinus Nijhoff, 1950, p. 99.Google Scholar
  7. 32.
    This is a paraphrase of a passage in an appendix to Erste Philosophie. Erster Teil, ed. R. Boehm, Den Haag, Martinus Nijhoff, 1956, p. 264. See also Zur Phänomenologie des inneren Zeitbewusstseins, ed. R. Boehm, Den Haag, Martinus Nijhoff, 1966, p. 40 f.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Dordrecht 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Carr
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of OttawaCanada

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