BSP Podcast: Tarjej Larsen – Husserl’s Circularity Argument for the Epoché

podcast update

Here is the latest episode of our podcast, another panel presentation from the 2018 British Society for Phenomenology Annual Conference.

Season 3 episode 67: 19 July 2019

In this podcast episode Tarjej Larsen presents the paper ‘Husserl’s Circularity Argument for the Epoché’. You can listen to this episode on the BSP’s Podbean site, and you can also find it on iTunes and all good podcasting apps by searching ‘BSP Podcast’.

Abstract: “According to Husserl, epistemology is possible only as phenomenology. In my paper, I assess one of his arguments for a crucial part of the considerations he offers in support of this claim. Husserl takes the central problem of epistemology to be “the problem of transcendence”, or the problem of the possibility of transcendent cognition – very roughly, justified judgements about objects that do not form part of the judging subject’s consciousness. And he argues that any form of cognition by means of which this problem – and, by extension, any other genuine epistemological problem – can be solved must satisfy a number of methodological requirements, which, he maintains, only phenomenological cognition satisfies. Chief among these is that any attempt to solve the problem of transcendence must involve the performance of an “epistemological epoché”, by which Husserl means a general refraining from making cognitive use of transcendent cognition. He offers different arguments for this requirement, the arguably most important of which is that attempting to solve the problem of the possibility of transcendent cognition by means of transcendent cognition would be viciously circular. Despite its significance for Husserlian metaepistemology, this argument has not really been assessed by commentators, who, to the extent that they have considered it, have tended merely to reiterate it. Seeking to remedy this, I claim that there is strong reason to believe that the argument fails. Acknowledging that employing transcendent cognition to solve the problem of transcendence would be circular, I argue that it’s far from clear that it would be viciously so, if account is taken of the fact that, as Husserl insists, the problem at issue is how transcendent cognition is possible, not whether it is possible. I end by briefly considering the consequences that the failure of the circularity argument would hold for Husserl’s conception of epistemology.”

The British Society for Phenomenology’s Annual Conference took place at the University of Kent, in Canterbury, UK during July, 2018. It gathered together philosophers, literary scholars, phenomenologists, and practitioners exploring phenomenological theory and its practical application. It covered a broad range of areas and issues including the arts, ethics, medical humanities, mental health, education, technology, feminism, politics and political governance, with contributions throwing a new light on both traditional phenomenological thinkers and the themes associated with classical phenomenology. More information about the conference can be found here.

Reminder:Early bird registration is now open for the British Society for Phenomenology’s 2019 Annual Conference. The conference is to be held in Manchester, UK, from Thursday 5 – Saturday 7 September 2019. Early bird registration runs until Wednesday 31 July 2019 (midnight BST). For more details – including keynote speakers – see the BSP 2019 annual conference homepage.