Transcendental Subjectivity as the Foundation of Knowledge: A Critique of Edmund Husserl's Epistemological Foundationalism.

Author: Owolabi, Kolawole Aderemi

Supervisor: Omoregbe J. I.

This study intends to show that Edmund Husserl's theory of transcendental subjectivity is inadequate as the ultimate ground and the absolute standard of justification for all epistemic claims. Epistemology - the branch of philosophy that investigates the nature of human knowledge - has been dominated throughout its history by the belief that there can be one ultimate source of all knowledge claims and that this source should also play the role of the standard of justification for our knowledge claims. Recently this position has been tagged "epistemological foundationalism". Edmund Husserl (1859 - 1938), popularly known as the father of the phenomenological movement, has within his philosophy an epistemological foundationalist theory. Husserl was an admirer of Rene Descartes who without any doubt is the ideal foundationalist. In fact, Husserl's foundationalism is a revised version of Descartes' foundationalism. Husserl's foundationalism which rests on the theory of transcendental subjectivity shall be shown to be untenable. We shall also argue that any form of foundationalism cannot be adequate since foundationalism emanated from the errorneous assumption that there can be an ultimate ground for the numerous knowledge claims that we may make. A theory of knowledge which sees knowledge as a dynamic enterprises is adopted in this thesis. This will do away with the dogmatism of foundationalism and accept multiple sources of knowledge instead of one ultimate source. It will see the justification of knowledge as being contextually determined and will deny any absolute a prior standard of justification. The consequence of this epistemic position on society at large is open-mindedness and tolerance. The new epistermic theory will serve as panacea for the manifold problems that foundationalism had created and it will call to order the dogmatism, fanaticism and intolerance which are inseparable from entrenched foundationalism and which we cannot afford in the contemporary world.