Logos & Episteme

Volume 11, Issue 3, 2020

Robert Michels
Pages 333-353

Husserlian Eidetic Variation and Objectual Understanding as a Basis for an Epistemology of Essence

Vaidya has recently argued that while Husserl’s method for acquiring knowledge of essence through use of our imagination is subject to a vicious epistemic circle, we can still use the method to successfully attain objectual understanding of essence. In this paper, I argue that the Husserlian objectual understanding-based epistemology envisaged by Vaidya suffers from a similar epistemic circularity as its knowledge-based foil. I argue that there is a straight-forward solution to this problem, but then raise three serious problems for an amended version of Vaidya’s proposal and any similar Husserlian epistemology of essence. The paper closes with some general reflections on applying the Husserlian method to the contemporary notion of essence and on the idea of refocusing the epistemology of essence on understanding instead of knowledge.