Later Husserl's phenomenological reduction


According to the Britannica articles (Husserl's own summaries of phenomenology), the later Husserl sees two kinds of phenomenological reductions. One is a psychological reduction, and the other a transcendental reduction which is more philosophical. These two are considered to be parallel and compensate with each other to achieve the point of elucidating the a priori structure of the mind.

In the Paradigm of Christ, we can also see the parallel relation of these two methods. When we deal with concrete characteristics of human attitudes, classifying the human characteristics in the consciousness, it is more like a descriptive psychology. But when we deal with the totality of the meaning of life, it relates to the transcendental reduction. Guided by the transcendental motivation towards the a priori structure of life, we can try to trace back from such classified characteristics to their original form.

Life can be grasped through the contrast between its integration and its destruction; between the good and the evil. The reduction towards the a priori structure of life is impossible without this contrast. Although Husserl acquired the methodological viewpoint to clarify the meaning of transcendental life, as he did not have the viewpoint of the contrast between the integration and the destruction, he could not reveal the principle of life. In other words, he did not have the standpoint to live subjectively towards the integration through faith in God.

On inter-subjectivity

In German Idealism, Kant and Hegel, who could still assume the existence of a God that is supposed to dominate our minds, did not worry about their thought being called solipsism and they did not feel necessity to deal with questions of others' minds. In the age of Husserl, the early twentieth century, however, the existence of God was no longer self-evident. So he had to deal with others' minds as inter-subjectivity. But as he could not determine a common structure among others' minds, its contents were ambiguous and not well developed.

On the contrary, the Paradigm of Christ clearly determines the basic structure of the so called 'monad' (a unit of spirit) through the nature of light and the spectrum. Nothing is more universal than the pattern of light, and the Paradigm of Christ imagines the structure of spirit according to the light. As the reduction proceeds to the noumenal level, the meaning of life, being participated in light common with all life, gets clearer. Hence it cannot be a solipsism.

Unnecessary complication

Plato could penetrate at least the basic characteristic of the ultimate, namely, the Good. So his dialectical method has a definite orientation as the method of synthesis and that of division. But in the case of Husserl's phenomenology, his method is still looking for something to discover, which is not yet found even approximately; a priori structure of life, or the structure of transcendental subject as the universal being for the foundation of radical certitude. This situation makes it very difficult for his readers to follow him, since the guide of the readers does not know where exactly he should go. At any rate, according to his method, the psychological reduction and the transcendental reduction are paralleled. Trying to reduce the phenomenal contents towards the form, it is directed to acquire the a priori structure of the transcendental subject through the method of free variation, etc. Through achieving the formal structure of the mind, he tried to establish the strict or exact form of academy. And his task was, after all, unfinished. Therefore the theme of phenomenology is actually methodological 'reduction'.

This phenomenological method is paralleled with the section, "Making the foundation of the Paradigm of Christ". So when we deal with this section, we will refer to the phenomenological method as necessity requires.

The phenomenological reduction of the Paradigm of Christ is as follows. In the sense of the transcendental reduction, it is the reduction towards the structure of life through reducing the totality of consciousness. In the sense of the psychological reduction, it has a two-fold nature; the first, the reduction from the various attitudes to more essential attitudes, and the second, from the essential attitudes to the more formal dimension of life's impulses. The so called formal reduction refers to, in the process of reduction, the method moving from the phenomenal to the noumenal, in this case, from essential attitudes to the three impulses; male, female, and divinity.

The character of the method of reduction is determined under our conceived understanding (fore having) of the totality of life. Only if we have a right understanding of life, can we have a sense of direction to trace back to the ultimate.

The a priori principle laying the foundation of the transcendental subject through the phenomenological reduction, is light and its spectrum. If we trace back to the origin of humanity, the only plausible ultimate abstraction cannot but be light. For the very nature of light is the principle dominating life. This principle makes us understand life's movement transcending the limit of language.

In the pursuit of the transcendental reduction, it will be required to have a previous understanding of the concept of life. Without such a metaphysical insight, to reduce the contents of the mind from phenomena to a priori structure of life must be very difficult. Thus, phenomenology must necessarily be aligned with philosophical hermeneutics, which aims to elucidate the structure of life through the circulation between the whole and the parts. Also, it may be necessary to use a concrete mediator referring to religious revelation which may reveal the a priori structure of life from the side of the absolute. Skipping such a process not having an adequate mediator made Husserl's attempt a failure.

Yet the purpose of phenomenology is still to accomplish the most abstract apriori principle in humanity, so that it can establish the groundwork for academy. It is like geometry in natural science. If we try to make a foundation of humanity with a thorough abstraction like geometry, we will eventually reach the nature of light in its highest abstraction, where we see the most simple and universal movement of life; its division and its synthesis with its double moments of form and matter. Everything can be derived from this fundamental function of life based on the nature of light. Take Jungian archetypes for example, its framework is compatible with the nature of light. We can see the correspondence between 'anima, animus, child, and the Self', and 'the spectrum's blue, red, yellow and light itself', or the correspondence between 'shadow and the Self', and 'the darkness and light'.

Husserl's phenomenology parallels depth psychology in the sense that both aim to illuminate the a priori structure of the mind. Jung's analytical psychology can set up the parallel with the transcendental phenomenology as it holds the archetype of the Self (which corresponds to the form of the Good in Plato) as an apriori principle. Jung himself called his method phenomenological. The determination of four psychological types; thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition, or that of major archetypes; anima, animus, the Self, etc., must be outcomes of his phenomenological reduction. Jung's a priori principle is not complete as the archetypes were not systematically incorporated under the Self. Freud's triad; ego, id, and super ego do not reflect the teleological structure of life. Hence, Freudian system cannot maintain the parallel with phenomenology.

Later Husserl made a strenuous effort to clarify the a priori structure of life utilizing both the psychological reduction and the transcendental reduction. In psychological reduction, we reduce the particular facts to their essence. In transcendental reduction, we reduce the totality of consciousness from the phenomenon to its noumenon. Only through using the combination of both, are we likely to be able to extract the a priori structure of life.

If we apply this relation to the Paradigm of Christ, the various contents of the inclined attitudes and the reactive attitudes are respectively placed into the totality of the consciousness and they are, as just they are, reduced to the structure of life's impulses. This is to place the psychological analysis of attitudes onto the totality of life and in doing so, we make the structure of life's impulses conspicuous.

The decisive factor lies in how we give a frame of significance to the transcendental life in accordance with conceived understanding. The meaning of life can be clarified in contrast to death, or in relation to its integration and its destruction. By placing the psychological human attitudes into this very relation, and from this amplified perspective, the illumination of the a priori structure of life becomes possible.