Husserl on Other Minds

In Hanne Jacobs (ed.), The Husserlian Mind. New York: Routledge (forthcoming)
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Husserlian phenomenology, as the study of conscious experience, has often been accused of solipsism. Husserl’s method, it is argued, does not have the resources to provide an account of consciousness of other minds. This chapter will address this issue by providing a brief overview of the multiple angles from which Husserl approached the theme of intersubjectivity, with specific focus on the details of his account of the concrete interpersonal encounter – “empathy.” Husserl understood empathy as a direct, quasi-perceptual form of intentionality through which the sense of the Other is constituted. Furthermore, his account of empathy is holistically integrated with his overall theory of intersubjectivity, including his discussions of the objectivity of nature, and the social, historical, and communal aspects of subjectivity. Husserl’s theory of empathy continues to cast a long shadow, influencing both the analytic and continental approaches to the problem of other minds, as well as contemporary account of social cognition in the cognitive sciences.
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