Victor Eugen Gelan, “Husserl’s Idea of Rigorous Science and Its Relevance for the Human and Social Sciences“, in The Subject(s) of Phenomenology (Contributions to Phenomenology, volume 108), Springer, 2019.
The main aim of this paper is to show that the idea of rigorous science, elaborated by Edmund Husserl, makes a fundamental contribution to the understanding, clarification, and development of the idea of science in general, and especially to the structuring of the character of science itself for social and human sciences. The first step of my approach is to outline a general theoretical framework for discussing the thorny issues of methodology and epistemology in the social and human sciences. I shall start by probing the way in which Husserl tried to give a philosophical clarification of the sciences and sought to ground them through transcendental phenomenology. Husserl’s idea of rigorous science proposed a new understanding of the way science is constituted in general and led to important developments which determined a re-evaluation of the scientific character of other sciences, and in particular, the social sciences. The rich programme of grounding the social sciences and the rigorous reconfiguring of their scientific character that was developed by the Austrian phenomenologist and sociologist, Alfred Schutz, is just one major exemplification of Husserl’s idea of rigorous science. In the second part of my paper I shall show how the Husserlian idea of rigorous science influenced the scientific understanding of, and approach towards social life. In this sense, I shall direct my analysis towards the way Schutz understands and elaborates the idea of social relations in a phenomenological manner, by which he tries to account for the phenomenological constitution of the meaning of social action and the possibility of knowledge in social sciences. When shaping his programme, Schutz begins with the Husserlian phenomenological reduction and theory of constitution of meaning. But both the theory of the constitution of meaning, and the idea of the phenomenological reduction itself, are made possible for Husserl precisely through his idea of rigorous science.