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Husserl and Neo-Kantianism with Special Emphasis on Paul Natorp

Chapter IV: Chapter IV: Phenomenological Quest for the Inter-subjective Dimensions of Transcendental Subjectivity

3.6. Categorial Intuition

3.7.2. Husserl and Neo-Kantianism with Special Emphasis on Paul Natorp

Neo-Kantianism or the critical philosophy is basically regarded as the epistemological movement of Kantian philosophy. But, many has pointed out that alongwith its epistemological foundation, Neo-Kantianism also has a cultural philosophical nature


which has not received the due attention. In this regard Windelband writes, ―For the leading figures of neo-Kantianism this dictum means that the return to Kant is not a mere reproduction of his historical position; to understand Kant means to further the development of philosophy with the help of Kant‖ (Banham, Schulting, Hems, 2012, p. 300). Neo- Kantians mainly considers Kant‘s concept of Transcendental Deduction of categories. Neo- Kantians believes on Kantian interpretation of reasoning capacity or the deciding tendency of human behaviours (ibid). Unlike the German Idealists Neo-Kantians are not involved to speculate the metaphysical interpretation in the form of noumena given by Kant in his critical philosophy (ibid). They firmly believed in the theory of validity which is closely related with being. According to them, being depends upon validity and ontology depends upon epistemology. Neo-Kantians primarily stress their attention to the study of ‗pure subject‘.

According to Neo-Kantians, ―This subject, in the sense of the whole of the principles of validity (a priori structures, values, etc.), is understood as the foundation of all that can be valid and hence as the ground for the possibility of objectivity‖ (ibid, p. 300-301) Thus, Neo- Kantians mainly try to overcome the objective worldviews which objectifies the position of a subject like naturalism, psychologism, materialism, empiricism, positivism, historicism, nihilism, etc. (ibid). In this regard it is very evident to mention here that like the Neo- Kantians Phenomenology also tries to overcome these positions mentioned earlier. The primary objective of both the traditions was to reject the psychological explanations of philosophy (Holzhey, 2010). Among the others Paul Natorp (1854-1924) was the only philosopher of the Marburg school of Neo-Kantianism who made a very detail analysis of the phenomenological movement led by Husserl (ibid). Among all the influential opponents of Husserl Natorp had a very close connection with him, who was a very remarkable critic as well as an observer of Husserl‘s philosophical developments (Luft, 2010). According to Sebestian Luft, Natorp played a very crucial role in the development of Husserl‘s reduction and his later genetic phenomenology. According to Luft, the intention of both the thinkers was the same unlike their way of theorizing. Both of them made an attempt ―to analyze subjectivity in its most original concreteness‖ (Luft, 2010, p. 61). Natorp wanted to safeguard the subjectivity or the life of the subject by eliminating the objectifying tendency of positive sciences (Luft, 2010, Moran, 2000). He was developing a kind of philosophical psychology which tries to recapture the life of a subject. In this regard Spiegelberg (1972) writes, ―This means that the data of psychology could be secured only by the opposite method, that of subjectification (Subjektivierung), which required a peculiar ―reconstruction‖ starting from


the objective data; mere description of the immediate data would not do‖ (p. 200). Thus, Luft maintains that Husserl also had the same intention while he developed his concepts like going back to the things themselves; life-world etc. (Luft, 2010). Natorp‘s conception of transcendental psychology rejects the thematization of the subjectivity which the traditional psychology does. In the process of thematization the subject lost its subjectivity as in thematization the subject is taken as a corp rather than a living being and thus it establishes the facts about subjectivity (ibid). Thus, Natorp was seeking for a method which can safeguard subjectivity which is not objective but reconstructive. The method Natorp adopted was ―reconstruction of subjectivity by going back, regressively, from its objectifications‖

(Luft, 2010, p. 65). This method proceeds teleologically and also causally; although Natorp is against of determining subjectivity by causally. Thus, we can see that the methods used by both Husserl and Natorp are same as both are regressive in kinds. But, Husserl was strictly in opposition of the causal explanation in order to attain subjectivity. According to him, natural sciences depend on the causal explanations in order to establish their positions and it is only one way of explaining things of this world and thereby Husserl puts causality within the domain of the naturalistic attitude which needs to be removed first according to his methods for phenomenology. Moreover, with the discovery of transcendental reduction Husserl went a step further which enables one to have direct access on the life of a subject, which Natorp failed to realize (Luft, 2010). Finally, it can also be stated that the most prominent point of departure between Phenomenology and Neo-Kantianism is the concept of intuition. When phenomenology goes for the strong emphasis of intuition in the form of categorial intuition the Neo-Kantians stressed upon the concept of thought. They attempted to replace the moment of intuition with the determinate thoughts in cognition. While intuition received a positive interpretation in Kant, Neo-Kantians did not accept the same at the same time (Holzhey, 2010).

Despite bearing some close resemblance to kinds of Neo-Kantian forms of transcendental idealism as we have seen in Husserl‘s admiration for Natorp and others phenomenology still differs at its core. As for Kant and Neo-Kantians too objectivity of epistemic knowledge depends on abstraction and independence for the subject and it is given to us only in the cognition that we have of it. In Husserl, objectivity is not complete abstract for subjective contents so that one ends up with mathematical certainty of formal objects. In Husserl it is to be finally elucidated by the intuitive light of consciousness. Thus, from the discussion made so far it can be said that though Husserl has got influenced by many


philosophers in developing the methods for his phenomenology in order to establish his transcendental phenomenology but his transcendental philosophy cannot be regarded as the replica of the traditional transcendental tradition.