Nature’s Suit — 2014

Husserl’s Phenomenological Philosophy of the Physical Sciences

By Lee Hardy

“Lee Hardy’s study of Husserl is an outstanding achievement. The argumentation is crisp and clear throughout, and the discussion of primary and secondary texts is lucid and detailed. Above all, he makes a very good case for an important point that is highly relevant to the current resurgence of interest in phenomenology. Against the tendency of many other interpretations, he shows how Husserl’s phenomenology is in principle compatible with a realistic understanding of modern scientific theories.”

Karl Ameriks, McMahon-Hank Professor of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame

Edmund Husserl, founder of the phenomenological movement, is usually read as an idealist in his metaphysics and an instrumentalist in his philosophy of science. In Nature’s Suit, Lee Hardy argues that both views represent a serious misreading of Husserl’s texts.

Drawing upon the full range of Husserl’s major published works together with material from Husserl’s unpublished manuscripts, Hardy develops a consistent interpretation of Husserl’s conception of logic as a theory of science, his phenomenological account of truth and rationality, his ontology of the physical thing and mathematical objectivity, his account of the process of idealization in the physical sciences, and his approach to the phenomenological clarification and critique of scientific knowledge. Offering a jargon-free explanation of the basic principles of Husserl’s phenomenology, Nature’s Suit provides an excellent introduction to the philosophy of Edmund Husserl as well as a focused examination of his potential contributions to the philosophy of science.

While the majority of research on Husserl’s philosophy of the sciences focuses on the critique of science in his late work, The Crisis of European Sciences, Lee Hardy covers the entire breadth of Husserl’s reflections on science in a systematic fashion, contextualizing Husserl’s phenomenological critique to demonstrate that it is entirely compatible with the theoretical dimensions of contemporary science.


Lee Hardy is a professor of philosophy at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abbreviations
  • Introduction
    • 1. Husserl: Realist or Instrumentalist?
    • 2. Laws and Theories
    • 3. The Plan of This Study
  • Part One: Husserl’s Phenomenological Philosophy of Science
    • 1: The Idea of Science in Husserl and the Tradition
      • 1. The Classical Idea of Science
      • 2. The Idea of Science in Husserl’s Phenomenology
      • 3. The Problem of Empirical Science: Locke
      • 4. The Problem of Empirical Science: Husserl
      • 5. The Unity of the Empirical Sciences
      • 6. Explanation in the Empirical Sciences
      • 7. The Laws of Empirical Science
      • 8. Empirical Science as Science
      • 9. The Idealization of the Idea of Science
      • 10. Summary
    • 2: Husserl’s Phenomenology and the Foundations of Science
      • 1. Pure Logic as a Wissenschaftslehre
      • 2. Regional Ontology
      • 3. Transcendental Consciousness as the Ground of the Sciences
      • 4. Phenomenology as the All-Embracing Foundational Science
  • Part Two: Evidence and the Positing of Existence in Husserl’s Phenomenology
    • 3: Truth, Evidence, and Existence in Husserl’s Phenomenology
      • 1. Knowledge, Evidence, and Truth
      • 2. Evidence as an Ideal Possibility
      • 3. The Fallibility of Occurrent Cases of Evidence
      • 4. Evidence and Justification
      • 5. The Rational Indubitability of the Principle of Evidence
      • 6. Summary and Transition
    • 4: Evidence, Rationality, and Existence in Husserl’s Phenomenology
      • 1. Husserl’s Theory of Rationality: Ideas I
      • 2. The Strong Formulation and Philosophical Rationality
      • 3. Rationality in Nontheoretical Contexts
      • 4. Positive Scientific Rationality
  • Part Three: The Problem of Theoretical Existence in Husserl’s Philosophy of the Physical Sciences
    • 5: Physical Things, Idealized Objects, and Theoretical Entities
      • 1. The Physical Thing
      • 2. Geometry and the Physical Thing
      • 3. Geometry and Physical Science
    • 6: Consciousness, Perception, and Existence
      • 1. Perceptions and Existence
      • 2. Consciousness and Existence
      • 3. The “Existence-Independence” of Intentional Relations
      • 4. The Ontological Status of the Noema
      • 5. Summary
  • Conclusion
    • 1. Husserl’s “Dogmatism”
    • 2. The “Ambiguity” of Husserl’s Philosophy of Science
    • 3. Husserl’s “Instrumentalism”
    • 4. Husserl’s “Provisional Instrumentalism”
    • 5. Summary and Prospect
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
Cover of 'Nature’s Suit'

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