Husserl’s Tragedy (A Brief Reflection)

Source: Wikimedia

Edmund Husserl (1859 – 1938) may be the founder of phenomenology, but one aspect of his life was that he felt sad and alone. And I find this unfortunate.

I read a portion of the book by Dermot Moran entitled Introduction to Phenomenology. The portion was about the life of Husserl and his development of phenomenology. While reading the last part of the chapter, I couldn’t help but feel for the founder of phenomenology. It was a short account of Husserl’s loneliness. It described how Husserl viewed himself as a “leader without followers.” This was so in his life because most of his students did not stick with him. They learned from him, but they diverged in their way of understanding phenomenology.

Moran (2000, 89) noted, “[H]e felt himself increasingly intellectually isolated, convinced that his work was being undermined and his discoveries credited to other philosophers.”

Though I can’t judge the whole situation, the fact was that Husserl was not happy. I can’t comment as to who’s at fault. It is already history.

This shows the reality of life that not everyone will be at your side, no matter the influence you have on them. It is not far from possibility that this will also happen to us. We may have influenced our family and friends by our ideas, decisions, and actions, but they also have their own way of settling things, which may not be favorable to us. So, I think the best way is to accept the possibility that one may be left alone in life. It would be hard, but this is a reality, and it should be accepted.

This is merely a brief reflection of Husserl’s life. I didn’t include the various information as to why he felt alone because it would take my time listing and explaining them. My reflection is just a glimpse of Husserl’s life.

P.S. Edith Stein (1891–1942), one of Husserl’s earlier assistants, was one of those who rejected Husserl’s further developments of phenomenology. She espoused the realism side of phenomenology, rather than the idealism side.

Moran, D. (2000). Introduction to phenomenology. Routledge.