The Phenomenological Method: Reflective or Hermeneutical ?

  • Burt C. Hopkins
Part of the Contributions to Phenomenology book series (CTPH, volume 11)


When the results of the methodological discussions of Parts One and Two of my study are juxtaposed, the common theme of Husserl’s and Heidegger’s understanding of phenomenology may be summed up with the well-known phrase: zurück zu den Sachen selbst (return to the matters themselves). Indeed, it is their common philosophical commitment to what Heidegger refers to as “the meaning of all genuine philosophical ‘empiricism’ (Empirie)” (BT, 490 n10/50n), i.e., to the non-constructivistic disclosure of the a priori, that initially makes possible the phenomenological dialogue between these two thinkers. However, as the quotation marks around the word “empiricism” no doubt indicate, Heidegger has reservations about the precise nature of the apriority uncovered in Husserl’s understanding of the “method of every scientific philosophy which understands itself” (BT,490 n. 10/50n). These reservations come into bold relief with the consideration of the matters themselves, discussed above, with respect to each thinker’s philosophical understanding of the meaning of the “return” expressed in their commonly embraced maxim “to the matters themselves.”


Phenomenological Method Pure Consciousness Transcendental Subjectivity Phenomenological Reflection Thematic Object 
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  1. 1.
    Cf., Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann’s Der Begriff der Phänomenologie bei Heidegger and Husserl,op. cit., p. 8, where, in reference to § 7 of BT,he comments that “whoever can see what lies between the lines and can hear the effect of Heidegger’s doubtless deliberate ambiguity,in which he on the one hand speaks in accord with Husserl’s meaning, while on the other hand speaks (using the same words) in critical contrast to this meaning, will realize how Heidegger extracts a transformed understanding of the phenomenological method with this penetrating coming to terms with it, despite the connection of his discussion with Husserl’s idea of phenomenology” (my translation).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Dorian Cairns, Conversations with Husserl and Fink,op. cit., p. 25.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Burt C. Hopkins
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophySeattle UniversityUSA

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