The Reduction and ‘The Fourth Principle’
Among the many difficulties, or even paradoxes, that phenomenology has imposed
upon us by positing itself as a doctrine, or at least as a radical foundation for
philosophy, one must first and foremost consider the operation typically referred
to as the reduction. The reasons for detecting difficulties therein are many, but they
take on even greater significance since Husserl proclaimed the reduction to be
fundamental to any philosophy that wished to establish itself as a phenomenology.
The history of phenomenology, then, would appear not only as the history of all
the difficulties encountered in the reduction, but principally as the history of
Husserl’s own self-elucidation of his entire project. This brings us to the point of
reformulating Ricoeur’s claim—that phenomenology is the sum of
misinterpretations of Husserl’s doctrine—with this new contention: that
phenomenology consists in the sum of discussions and disagreements about the
doctrine and practice of the reduction.
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