Thursday, May 13, 2010


The true struggles of our time, the only ones which are significant, are struggles between humanity which has already collapsed and humanity which still has roots but is struggling to keep them or find new ones.

. . .

But now we ourselves, we philosophers of the present--what can and must reflections of the sort we have just carried out mean for us? Did we just want to hear an academic oration? Can we simply return again to the interrupted vocational work on our "philosophical problems," that is, each to the further construction of his own philosophy? Can we seriously do that when it seems certain that our philosophy, like that of all our fellow philosophers, past and present, will have its fleeting day of existence only among the flora of ever growing and ever dying philosophies?

Precisely herein life our own plight--the plight of all of us who are not philosophical literati but who, educated by the genuine philosophers of the great past, live for truth, who only in this way are and seek to be in our own truth.

. . .

Thus no one was ever made conscious of the radical problem of how this sort of naiveté actually became possible and is still possible as a living historical fact; how a method which is actually directed toward a goal, the systematic solution of an endless scientific task, and which continually achieves undoubted results, could ever grow up and be able to function usefully through the centuries when no one possessed a real understanding of the actual meaning and the internal necessity of such accomplishments. What was lacking, and what is still lacking, is the actual self-evidence through which he who knows and accomplishes can give himself an account, not only of what he does that is new and what he works with, but also of the implications of meaning which are closed off through sedimentation or traditionalization, i.e., of the constant presuppositions of his [own] constructions, concepts, propositions, theories. Are science and its method not like a machine, reliable in accomplishing obviously very useful things, a machine everyone can learn to operate correctly without in the least understanding the inner possibility and necessity of this sort of accomplishment? But was geometry, was science, capable of being designed in advance, like a machine, without an understanding which was, in a similar sense, complete - scientific? Does this not lead to a regressus in infinitum?

--Husserl, The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology

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