The critical limits of phenomenology: Husserlian phenomenology as a modest metaphysics of appearance

European Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming)
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Although Husserlian phenomenology appears to require that practitioners bracket all metaphysical questions and claims, this requirement runs against the evidence of experience in which objects themselves are presented as constituents of experience. Moreover, to completely bracket metaphysical considerations would suggest that phenomenology is compatible with metaphysical views it should in principle deny. Nonetheless, permitting metaphysical claims threatens to contravene the critical limits of phenomenology, to invite claims that would require a perspective different in kind than our own to verify. These tensions raise an important question, namely, what are the metaphysical implications of the phenomenologically intuitive claim that objects themselves are constituents of experience? To answer this question, I draw on a broad swath of thought on transcendental idealism and phenomenology. I argue that a modest metaphysics of appearance is warranted within the critical limits of Husserlian phenomenology. Through discussing and addressing the problems that typically plague transcendental arguments, I show that Husserlian phenomenology permits stronger claims about objects of experience than deflationary accounts allow but does not permit claims about intrinsic properties allowed by some forms of transcendental idealism.

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Emiliano Diaz
Purchase College, State University of New York


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