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Cartesian Meditations

Cartesian Meditations

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Cartesian Meditations: An Introduction to Phenomenology is a book by the philosopher Edmund Husserl
Edmund Husserl
Edmund Gustav Albrecht Husserl was a philosopher and mathematician and the founder of the 20th century philosophical school of phenomenology. He broke with the positivist orientation of the science and philosophy of his day, yet he elaborated critiques of historicism and of psychologism in logic...

, based on two two-hour lectures he gave at the Sorbonne
The Sorbonne is an edifice of the Latin Quarter, in Paris, France, which has been the historical house of the former University of Paris...

, in the Amphithéatre Descartes on February 23 and 25, 1929. Over the next two years, he and his assistant Eugen Fink
Eugen Fink
Eugen Fink was a German philosopher.-Biography:Fink was born in 1905 as the son of a government official in Germany. He spent his first school years with an uncle who was a catholic priest. Fink attended a gymnasium in Konstanz where he succeeded with his extraordinary memory...

 expanded and elaborated on the text of these lectures. These expanded lectures were first published in a 1931 French translation by Gabrielle Peiffer and Emmanuel Levinas
Emmanuel Lévinas
Emmanuel Levinas was a Lithuanian-born French Jewish philosopher and Talmudic commentator.-Life:Emanuelis Levinas received a traditional Jewish education in Lithuania...


The Cartesian Meditations were never published in German during Husserl's lifetime, a fact which has led some commentators to conclude that Husserl had become dissatisfied with the work in relation to its aim, namely an introduction to transcendental phenomenology. The text introduces the main features of Husserl's mature transcendental phenomenology, including (not exhaustively) the transcendental reduction, the epoché
Epoché is an ancient Greek term which, in its philosophical usage, describes the theoretical moment where all judgments about the existence of the external world, and consequently all action in the world, is suspended...

, static and genetic phenomenology, eidetic reduction
Eidetic reduction
Eidetic reduction is a technique in the study of essences in phenomenology whose goal is to identify the basic components of phenomena. Eidetic reduction requires that a phenomenologist examine the essence of a mental object, be it a simple mental act, or the unity of consciousness itself, with the...

, and eidetic phenomenology.

The name, Cartesian Meditations: An Introduction to Phenomenology refers to René Descartes'
René Descartes
René Descartes ; was a French philosopher and writer who spent most of his adult life in the Dutch Republic. He has been dubbed the 'Father of Modern Philosophy', and much subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings, which are studied closely to this day...

 Meditations on First Philosophy
Meditations on First Philosophy
Meditations on First Philosophy is a philosophical treatise written by René Descartes and first published in 1641 . The French translation was published in 1647 as Méditations Metaphysiques...

Thus Husserl wrote:
"France's greatest thinker, René Descartes, gave transcendental phenomenology new Impulses through his Meditations; their study acted quite directly on the transformation of an already developing phenomenology into a new kind of transcendental philosophy. Accordingly one might almost call transcendental phenomenology a neo-Cartesianism, even though It Is obliged --- and precisely by its radical development
of Cartesian motifs --- to reject nearly all the well-known doctrinal content of the Cartesian philosophyhttp://www.archive.org/details/cartesianmeditat017661mbp."


The work is divided into five "meditations" of varying length, whose contents are as follows:
  1. Presents the 'Cartesian Way' into transcendental phenomenology.
  2. Introduces several of Husserl's concepts relating to static phenomenology.
  3. Mainly concerned with the topic of reality.
  4. Introduces genetic phenomenology and uses the conclusions reached so far to argue for a form of transcendental idealism
    Transcendental idealism
    Transcendental idealism is a doctrine founded by German philosopher Immanuel Kant in the eighteenth century. Kant's doctrine maintains that human experience of things is similar to the way they appear to us — implying a fundamentally subject-based component, rather than being an activity that...

  5. Intersubjectivity.