Husserl’s Phenomenology

Husserl’s goal was to create a taxonomy of the mind. He wanted to describe the mental essences by which humans experience themselves, other humans, and the world. Husserl believed strongly that a description of such essences must precede any attempt to under- stand the interactions between humans and their environment and any science of psychology. Indeed, he believed that such an understanding was basic to any science because all sciences ultimately depend on human mental attributes.

Husserl’s position differed radically from that of the structuralists in that Husserl sought to exam- ine meanings and essences, not mental elements, via introspection. He and his subjects would thus com- mit the dreaded stimulus error. Husserl also differed

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For Husserl then, there are at least two types of methods: one that focuses on intentionality and one that focuses on whatever processes a person expe- riences subjectively. For example, the former type would ask what external object the act of seeing intends, whereas the latter would concentrate on a description of the pure experience of seeing. Both methods focus on phenomenological experience, but because the latter focuses on the essences of mental processes, Husserl referred to it as pure phe- nomenology. When the term phenomenon is used to describe a mental event, it refers to a whole, intact, meaningful experience and not to fragments of conscious experiences such as isolated sensations. In this sense, Wundt (as an experimentalist) and the early Titchener were not phenomenologists, whereas Brentano, Stumpf, and Husserl were.

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