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International Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 60, Issue 4, December 2020

Stathis Livadas
Pages 449-471

Husserl’s Sachhaltigkeit and the Question of the Essence of Individuals

Phenomenology can be roughly described as the theory of the pure essences of phenomena. Yet the meaning of essence and of concepts traditionally tied to it (such as the concepts of a priori and of essential necessity) are far from settled. This is especially true given the impact modern science has had on established philosophical views and the need for revisiting certain core notions of philosophy. In this paper I intend to review Husserl’s view on thingness-essence and his conception of the essence of individuals, based mainly in his writings from the time of Logical Investigations, Ideas, and later of Experience and Judgment. Taking account of the work of Lothar Eley in Die Krise des Apriori, among others, I will inquire into the ways in which phenomenology may undermine (one could even say fully “destroy”) the view of essences as non-factual, as well as undermine their ontological priority. Doing so may help to shape a conception of material or formal individual essences and generally of essences as concrete objects of experience in virtue of well-defined epistemic ones.

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