Husserl’s The Vienna Lecture

Edmund Husserl examines the current cultural crises in Europe that resulted from the spirit of enlightenment that had settled over the continent in The Vienna Lecture, one of his best-known works. Husserl, a fervent European nationalist, laments the systematic destruction of valuable cultural items brought on by modernity's intrusion into Europe's social life. The philosopher is horrified by the ease with which Europeans, as a result of apparent intellectual advancement, have abandoned long-held ideas on several facets of their lives. He talks on how subjectivity and objectivity differ when it comes to the search of knowledge. The philosopher notes the distinction between the two continues to blur with the acquisition of more knowledge. People are increasingly feeling emancipated from the cultural norms that had for so long enslaved them. They are abandoning their standpoints and trading them in for more “liberal” or “progressive” views. Husserl uses the lecture to impress on those consumed by a falsely defined notion of objective reality and beseeches them to re-examine the underlying subjectivity in their fields.

The lecture begins with Husserl defining what he terms as the crisis of philosophy. He explains that the increase in knowledge has presented a new perspective on the process of enlightenment. He laments that concerted efforts by the society are gradually losing its values and replacing it with misguided rationalism. Europeans have embraced a new attitude where ideals that were previously regarded as errant are increasingly being accepted and becoming more commonplace. The cultural fabric that once held Europe together is now threatened by a vicious enlightenment tidal wave. Husserl comments that rational culture has failed not as a consequence of the need for the adjustment of rationalism with respect to change in time but as a result of a diluted understanding of objectivism and naturalism. People are becoming more superficial and are less critical of elements that attempt to erode what they stand for. He opines that as much as the enlightenment exemplifies one-sided rationalism, it lacks philosophical maturity to adequately address objectivism. A philosopher must always seek the truth by laboring for it rather than by accepting other possibilities. Husserl asserts that true determinateness will never occur through the tolerating of other perspectives but through the theoretical analysis and distinction of all possibilities.

The Vienna Lecture revealed Husserl’s abhorrence for the deviation from the historical path from self, ego, and spirit towards the less impacting knowledge of the physical world. He intimates that people continually mistake the external realm for objective world. They deceptively inform themselves that there lies no harm in professing a liking for what one owns or has labored to acquire. Husserl reveals that it is only through transcendence that one can acquire a truly enlightened existence. He believes that philosophy’s fundamental premise is being a path to infinity. The philosopher regrets that it is the one nature many people do not appreciate. New age philosophers are becoming overly concerned with being agreeable with the forces rather than exploring real universal truths. Husserl is alarmed by the overwhelming rate by which persons readily abandon their European heritage in a bid to be regarded as illuminated. He reckons that critical and rational observation is ingrained into their culture yet they are possessed with achieving neo social correctness.

Husserl states that “There is the constant threat of succumbing to one-sidedness and to premature satisfaction, which take their revenge in subsequent contradictions.” He is concerned with the obvious paradigm shift that occurs when people reject rational thinking. They are at the risk of assuming a hard line and refusing reason on certain key factors thus tolerating those with divergent opinions. His thoughts appear to be in line with the two main ideological standpoints that developed within the period: rightism and leftism. As the author indicates, rightism largely developed from the idea that certain strict religious and traditional doctrines must be preserved at all costs. Rightists are convinced that they are not inclined to assume any rational thinking or adjust their reason to fit any real-life situations. They remain convicted to their beliefs, regardless of the cost. They pursue aspects of enlightenment that agree with philosophies and reject those that do not.

Husserl also explains the impact of enlightenment and a convoluted understanding of rational thinking on leftism. He opines that increase in knowledge led to an upsurge in intellectual liberalism, further complicating the contemporary European cultural discourse. Leftists readily accept any errant view without criticizing or assessing it. They believe that all parties should be allowed to conduct themselves however they wish provided they do not infringe on the rights of others. They believe that no one should ever assume a hardline, even when seemingly justified. They regard themselves as enlightened, hence, beyond the reproach of a backward culture that is bent towards curtailing social progress. Husserl is devastated by the leftist view on objectivism. He is averse to their agreement that resources exist to be shared. While this appeared a great ideal at the time as it ensured equity, it led to a generation of the under-inspired and entitled populace with little appreciation for the efforts made to take care of their well-being.

Before twentieth century, there was very limited socio-economic security for the lower economic tier in much of Europe. The poor were generally disenfranchised. The age of enlightenment brought forth an era of consideration for the less fortunate. The right staunchly stood against any initiatives that would benefit the poor without placing in hard work while the right took it as a duty to preserve the dignity of the weak. The two positions could not be easily addressed as a result of the significant difference in intervention techniques. In most European countries, the two factors would reach an uneasy settlement which would favor the adoption of protection policies. Husserl foresaw the sharp ideological rift that would occur with the increase in receptivity of knowledge enlightenment and viciously lamented against it. As he observes, that is what would occur if an idea is not correctly fleshed out for possible flaws. Husserl adds that an ideal philosopher must not be lured by the initial charm of the objective truth, but must seek to offer a balanced review and find any doubt to exemplify true enlightenment.

In Husserl’s own words, “If inadequacy announces itself through obscurities and contradictions, this motivates the beginning of a universal reflection.” The philosopher believes that there is no absolute state of enlightenment and that it is a continuous process that is spurred by new discoveries all along the way. Husserl’s sentiments emanate from the philosophical understanding that no idea is entirely true or transcends all of the universe’s infinite perspectives. He believes that however irregular an idea may be, it is not isolated from all of the world’s knowledge. He appreciates that every so often, seemingly new ideas are conceived. This adjustment places onto what Husserl refers to as constant reflexivity. Essentially, it is the path to which one realizes universal reflection or absolute and infinite knowledge.

Other key subjects discussed by Husserl in the power and world view of the objectivist, objective absurdity, and feigned objectivity. Though the lecture, the philosopher does not deviate from the European context. He observes that enlightenment has scaled back cultural sensibility hence presenting a crisis that can only be solved by rational thinking

Second Part

Husserl defines phenomenology as the exploration of the structures of consciousness as perceived in the first person. It is commonly discussed both as a philosophy and a movement. Phenomenology is literally defined as a study of phenomena, experiences, or the abstract appearance of things. Husserl explains that experiences are best explained if observed from a point of objectivity or from the perspectives of the first person. The philosopher believes that although bound to be faulty, the approach is best for such analyses as personal experiences differ from one individual to another. The intrapersonal attribute of phenomenology highly restricts its characterization to sensory perception such as hearing and seeing. It answers the question, “What is it like to feel a certain way or experience a certain event?” Husserl observes that a person’s experience is often much richer than a mere sensation. It expands to address a wide range of basic human traditions such as the significance of one’s self, others, the flow of time, tools, events, and objects in one’s surrounding.

Phenomenology encompasses the study of elements such as linguistic activity, social activity, embodied emotion, volition to bodily awareness, desire, emotion, imagination, memory, and thought. It is a complex account of collectivity, intersubjectivity, marginal, temporal, and spatial awareness.

Husserl defines intentionality as the directedness of an experience towards something. He adds that it is an experience of a given object based on its content or physical and sentimental meaning. He defines epoche as a state when all judgements on non-evident issues are suspended to allow freedom from anxiety and worry. It is an especially critical component of skeptical thought. He adds that epoche contains a progressive process of systematic reduction where one is thought to have the ability to systematically delay judgment on naive philosophical or general belief in a certain feature of the external world.

Husserl describes a horizon as a potentiality of awakened recollections that occurs with every perception. He observes that it is continuous intentionality. The philosopher also extensively discusses noema and noesis. Noema is the analysis of the meaning of thought. It is a technical term that represents the object or subject in a given thought. Husserl designates the terms noesis and noema to define related elements of the structure of any given intentionality event. As he explains, “Corresponding to all points to the manifold data of the real (reelle) noetic content, there is a variety of data displayable in really pure (wirklicher reiner) intuition, and in a correlative “noematic content”, or briefly “noema” — terms which we shall henceforth be continually using.”

Heidegger’s Being and Time

Heidegger’s Being and Time attempts to interpret the meaning of human existence as well as how constants such as nature and time affect them. He discusses the concept of human community, ways of life and the factors that influences their social, economic, and political dynamics. Through largely adapted from Franz Brentano’s On the Manifold Meaning of Being According to Aristotle, the article expounds to commentate on the relative perception of time.

According to Heidegger it is important to pay attention to being as it is what determines “beings as beings”. He laments that little exploration has been made into the subject as it has been traditionally overlooked and dismissed as obvious, undefinable, and general. In the article, Heidegger seeks to identify the criteria by which the existence of all entities can be examined and understood. Heidegger uses the terms ontical and ontological to refer to the metaphysical nature of human beings. He notes that “the existential and ontological constitution of the totality of Dasein is grounded in temporality.” He uses the phrase to underline the abruptness and absoluteness of life.

The article is divided into two major parts in the first of which Heidegger discusses the temporality of existence. In the second segment, the author defines the concept of time as the most fundamental transcendental limit to the idea and meaning of being. Heidegger expresses his fascination at the prospect of existence and its non-permanence. He observes that it is a consciousness handed to every human which presence they may not fully appreciate or acknowledge. As he notes, the most intriguing attribute about existence is the inability to fully recreate it. Every being is different in their own right and once one’s consciousness is lost, it can never be recovered.

Heidegger believes human beings stand to benefit a lot from anxiety as it makes them question everything around them. He perceives the world as a metaphorical pathway that progresses without people’s definitive understanding of its origin or its destination. He observes that people do not know where it came from or where it is going. He believes that questions form an integral part in understanding the values of time and being. They are an essential part of seeking answers. He notes that the interpretation and response given often depends on the phrasing of the questions even though the questions might be the same. For instance, one may ask “What is that over there in the distance?” and “What is that which we call a tree?” In this instance, both questions seek to develop a better understanding of the object. However, there may be a huge difference as to how one interprets the questions. Heidegger notes that the essence focusses on asking the correct questions. He regrets that the world and its people are limited in the respect that one only receives what they ask for. As such, one must endeavour to explore all possible ways to gather more comprehensive responses on whatever they wish to understand. As he points out, “they must not only ask what, but also how and why.

The principal similarity between Heidegger’s Being and the idea of God in monotheistic religions is the understanding that God is the perfect being. Most monotheistic movements believe that God is a supreme being who is beyond reproach. He is not subject to the forces, struggles or weaknesses that are common to man and neither is his judgment questionable. Heidegger and the religions appear to agree that God is omniscient and is the epitome of all knowledge. However, he is disbelieves that notion of continued metaphysical existence after death. Heidegger opines that the temporarily of beings is manifested in their death. As such, they cease to exist upon their demise. He affirms that “all men are mortal” and that death has become a critical element in man’s relation to being. To satisfy Heidegger’s proper Dasein structure, humans have to be condemned to die as it is the basic satisfaction of the entire concept of Being itself. It is the primary role Heidegger ascribes to temporality in human beings. Most religions believe in the continuation of life after death. Followers are assured of the permanence of their consciousness. Though they may have different interpretation of the dynamics of post-mortem living, they generally agree that their being, memories, emotions, and perceptions are preserved after they die and that some form of them lives on.

Being needs interpretation as it is often misunderstood or dismissed as obvious or undefinable. As Heidegger observes, from time immemorial, most philosophers have ignored the concept of Being, choosing instead to pursue other specific and more pertinent philosophical themes. Most people rarely question their sense of being. They confuse it with individuality. They understand the temporality of their existence yet still have a transcendental conviction that their existence will continue to be in some form of metaphysical realm after they die.

Differences and Similarities of Heidegger’s and Husserl’s Concept of Phenomenology

Scholars have pointed out that as much as Heidegger considers the philosophical method adopted in Being and Time, as phenomenological, its relation to Husserl’s phenomenology is especially questionable. For instance, Heidegger opines that ontology presents a complex interpretive or hermeneutic characteristic can be argued as contradictory to the fundamentals of the phenomenology of Husserl. Husserl claims that phenomenological explanation shows some capability for scientific positivity. However, there are several aspects of Being and Time that relates directly to Husserl’s works. A common example of this is the concept of intentionality. The fundamental Husserlian themes of directedness of all thoughts can be openly discerned in Heidegger’s philosophies with the latter’s notion of Care or Concern bearing the closest similarity.

Heidegger and Arendt - Love and Violence

In the article, Dimitar Denkov explores the correspondence between Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger. It offers intimate insight into the two authors’ illustration on the sensitive subjects of love and violence. It contains Arendt’s account of violence in sexual relationships besides revealing a blossoming acquaintance between one of the most influential women in political science and the one of the greatest philosophical minds of the 20th Century. Denkov offers a review of Hannah’s works on the subject of love while studying the possible romantic relationship that may have occurred between Arendt and Heidegger. While most scholars maintain that the two philosophers barely had any common ideologies on political approaches, Arendt’s intimate speech at Heidegger’s 80th birthday dispelled any doubts of their deep friendship that had for so long been hidden from the public eye.

As Denkov indicates, there has never been a more peculiar cover affair than that romanticized by fierce Nazi propagandist and philosopher Martin Heidegger and stunning, fiery Jewish anti-fascist Hannah Arendt. Occurring at a time when ethnic suspicions between the groups were at its peak, the relationship could not have been any stranger. At the time, the Nazi sustained a spirited campaign to label citizens of Jewish origin as a blemish and a stain on the purity of the “superior’ Arian race. Interactions between the two ethnicities were minimalized and generally frowned-upon. The Nazi regime consistently stoked fear among the Jewish populace, incessantly blaming for social and economic challenges such as crime and unemployment. As such, there existed a huge rift between the two groups with instances such as that of Night of the Brocken Glass being frequently reported. Part of the reason behind the Nazi’s obsession with eradicating the Jewish was the prevalent rhetoric that they later opposed the fascist sentiment being advanced by the regime. They understood that authoritarianism was fundamentally based on the consolidation of one’s ethnic support and the defining of a scapegoat for all the government’s shortcomings. Hence, there existed a deep ideological rift between the two cultures. As such, it was very surprising that the faces of two antagonistic forces were secretly romantically engaged.

Heidegger and Arendt met at the German University where he was a lecturer and she was a philosophy major. As a consequence of his fascist rhetoric, he garnered a legion of followers. Young enthusiasts of the Nazi agenda consistently flocked around him to partake his well unending ideas. The then 19-year old beautiful and physically-endowed Jewess was intrigued by the lecturer’s mastery of his subject. She enrolled for one of his classes and her brilliance was instantly noted by Heidegger. Coming from a renowned leftist family, Arendt drew suspicion from the teacher’s cult-like circle. Other students regarded her hostile with some openly discouraging her to abandon her quest. However, Heidegger would have none of that. The two soon embarked on an intense emotional and intellectual companionship until Martin’s death in 1976. Heidegger was married at the time and successfully concealed the affair from her wife during the entire period. His persona as an astute yet sociable figure passed him off as a likeable person hence, he was not often immediately suspicious.

The intense social tensions that strangulated the Germany’s social fabric made the prospect of their affair’s discovery especially risky. Both had something to lose with Heidegger’s marriage and image on the line. Conversely, Arendt risked ostracizing her reputation and furthering the Nazi’s narrative that the Jewish were liberalists and had questionable social conduct. As a consequence, often split when tensions became too high or when the probability of being caught increased. The Nazi movement would only grow larger, forcing the two to become further apart. The Nazis were fiercely rightist and with an aggressive nationalist agenda. Arendt continued to champion her liberalist ideologies, even gaining national attention and adoration.

Denkov points out that like any other relationship, the two were faced with conventional romance challenges. The author recalls an instance where Arendt’s youthful boyfriend grew weary of her unusually close friendship with the teacher. He began to discourage her and demanded that he called it off. Afraid that she might leave him, Heidegger began dispensing anti-semitic rhetoric in a bid to rattle Arendt’s boyfriend. Heidegger was never particularly anti-Jewish, sparking speculations on his sudden motivation to energetically embrace the Nazi philosophy. Among the most concerned was Arendt. She could not recognise Heidegger’s sudden obsession with Hitler’s movement and attributed it to his wife’s negative influence. It would all turn worse for her as she would be rounded up and bundled into a French concentration camp. Initially, she had escaped Germany on noting the increasingly violent mechanisms employed by the Nazi movement with state sponsorship. Her luck had run out and her years as a prominent anti-fascism crusader had come to dramatic stop. Denkov recounts Hannah’s escaped as incredibly fortunate. The author notes that Arendt was slated to be executed and her decision to bravely run away despite the heavily armed German sentries pursuing her showed exceptional courage.

Meanwhile, Heidegger’s influence was increasing. He had been promoted to the Rectorship after instituting the Hitler salute and orchestrated the persecution and murder of Jewish students and faculty members. They were apart and as the author notes, it appeared as if their little romantic charade had reached its end. Arendt had immigrated to America and gotten married to a radical Marxist veteran. She chose to forget Heidegger and pursue a career as an accomplished scholar. She built a reputation as a brilliant academician and it was not long before she was back into the public domain. She began working with Jewish organization to empower the American war efforts. Occasionally, she lectured at the New School for Social Research in New York on the real forces behind German totalitarianism. Her impressive presentation, apt demeanour, and noteworthy mastery of her content impressed the city’s intelligentsia. She received widespread critical acclaim and was on the rise again.

Denkov narrates that Heidegger’s popularity gradually diminished. He had become excessively overzealous with the Nazi party’s agenda and had been charged with restructuring the university. He had become treacherously aligned with the extremist Goering wing. The faction had just suffered a bruising defeat in the Night of the Long Knives and was fairly disoriented. The victory of the allies left the once celebrated figure, a frail and dejected shell of his former self. As the author adds, he had become an outlaw, rejected by his own home town. His problems compounded when he visited his library one morning and was informed he would no longer be welcome there anymore. He was disgraced and left at the mercy of the denazification forum outcomes. Left with no choice and at the brink of imminent emotional and mental collapse, Heidegger called in favours from his former students who had immigrated abroad. Surprisingly, he still inspired awe despite his monumental decline in status and political disgrace.

Denkov notes that Heidegger’s students actively voiced their support for him. However, as much as they admired his philosophy, they were in total disagreement with his public support of the Nazi regime. They attempted to get him to publicly recuse himself from them and offered it as an opportunity for Heidegger to redeem his lost face without much success. By this time, Heidegger’s wife had heard of his affair with Arendt. She feared that her husband’s social status would only continue to decline if she did not intervene. He was isolated and resented by even his hitherto most ardent supporters. The one person that had not expressed discontent with Heidegger to this moment was Arendt.

Heidegger’s ruthless wife Elfride sacrificed her pride and encouraged him to get in touch with Arendt. Hannah’s regard for her former tutor was complex. It was an unbeatable mixture of philosophic admiration and hero-worship. Her adoration for Heidegger prevented her from seeing him for who he who had become. Hannah was convinced that he had merely been naïve and that he was still the same person she had interacted with back then. She became loyal to Heidegger and used her clout to influence the denazification process. She fearlessly fended off all those who criticized him. One of her unfortunate victims was her long-time associate and mutual friend Adorno, who she accused of changing his surname to hide his Jewish identity. She cooked up impressively convincing excuses during his trial. Some of these included influencing Heidegger to claim that he had not been a dissent as was claimed. He explained that he had been tricked by Hitler in the cruellest way. The Fuhrer reportedly told him that fascism was a rebellion against the machine age the turn of events was as a result of modernism. Heidegger was to resume his lectures, this time around without the slightest tinge of fascism. In fact, he was to fashion his speeches against totalitarianism. Critics suspected that the only changes that had occurred were his public statements and that his philosophies were still the same.

The author notes that relations between the two lovers were frosty at best. She yearned for open affection. She did not understand that Heidegger’s regarded the union as one of convenience. Hannah blamed Elfride for her husband’s coldness towards her never mind her pivotal role in reuniting them. He would grow bitterer as her star shone brighter. He became resentful prompting Arendt to draw even closer. She had become so accustomed to him that she felt she wouldn’t do without him. Denkov reports that that Hannah would ask her friends what she may have done to warrant such treatment. It was obvious that to Heidegger, she was just a useful tool, a brilliant mind, only valuable in sustaining his own philosophy, and Hannah was too intoxicated by foolish love to recognize that they would never be what she hoped they would.


Denkov, Dimitar. Love and Violence: Notes to the Correspondence of Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger (1925-1975), Vol. II, No. 2, 2008

Çüçen, Kadir. Heidegger's Understanding of Man, Being, and World, Vol. II, No. 1, 2008

Tang, Man-to. Towards a Phenomenological Foundation of Human Sciences: Ricoeur’s Reinterpretation of Husserl’s Phenomenological Intersubjectivity, Vol. VIII, No. 1, 2014

Deadline is approaching?

Wait no more. Let us write you an essay from scratch

Receive Paper In 3 Hours
Calculate the Price
275 words
First order 15%
Total Price:
$38.07 $38.07
Calculating ellipsis
Hire an expert
This discount is valid only for orders of new customer and with the total more than 25$
This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Find Out the Cost of Your Paper

Get Price