Letter from Edmund Husserl written 13.11.1931

Freiburg i. Br., 13. XI. 1931

                       Dearest Friend,

            I felt sad reading your letter, especially because you take your situation so hard. It certainly is bad enough! But considering the time and world we live in, there is still an opportunity for human existence. If you had any idea how it is here in Germany and (according to personal accounts) in Austria! Do not let any bitterness arise in you, not even against the miserable T. Keep your philosophical superiority above all adversities. First of all: It is not the right reaction to work on a great revision as a means of distraction. You have a future and you must not waste your energy in your current state of mind. You have achieved a height and width of scientific knowledge – despite your employment as a teacher – that nobody in Poland can measure up to. It is no longer necessary to try to gain attention by producing many new short writings. This is a waste of energy at this point. In my opinion, you need to collect, combine, and reflect for the sake of the future horizon of your philosophical life and desire. I am sorry to inform you in regard to your Berk[eley] work that, for a variety of reasons, the Yearbook’s printing can begin at the earliest in March 1932 (and should be published in the summer). I hope, if you still wish to do so, to be able to include your work; however, I have not yet finished my contributions and I do not know if the Yearbook will be so large, that Niemeyer cannot accept it at the present time, considering how difficult it is to sell books.

            I am not going to go into detail concerning your adventurous and touching Swiss plans (Zurich and Basel have already been filled); the Carnegie plan could be considered as a period of rest, but I have no idea where the foundation is located, and I have no relationship to the foundation. If I am asked, I will definitely do my best; you can count on me.

            I would certainly dissuade you from writing a new pap[er] for Dessoir. You have no obligation, and it is merely a scattering of individual problems, where the decisive issue can be found in a different direction. Frankly, you do not know what it could mean for you if you could gain a real understanding of const[itutive] ph[enomenology]. However, you are still a far cry from there because you do not understand that this is not a difference of the genus of idealism (in the hist[orical] sense), but it is equally separated from historical idealism and realism by abysses. It is a turning point in the entire philosophy of millennia, which completely transforms sense and method of all problems and all possible theories. The Cart[esian] Med[itations] provide a systematic preface, which give a preview, a first inkling of the New, the total revolution that has become necessary. Apparently, you do not consider it important enough to read through them to the end, and you think that you already understand what is intended by reading sections I-IV.62 However, one can only fully understand it after reading section V, followed by the compulsion to go back and start reading again from section I. Of course, an actual systematic presentation and the draft of further problems – the system of phen[omenological] metaphysics has thus not been executed. But you would, once you have reached the new ground, already understand what can and must be desired and have eyes to see for yourself. You could not go back and pursue ontology in the same old way. Your whole philosophy would gain new momentum, it would change the meaning and method (which does not mean that previous thoughts would be lost).

            You cannot imagine the scope and depth which the new philosophy has already reached, and the infinity of possible discoveries that open up to anyone who accesses it.

            I have been working fervently, but the joy of my work steadily increases my energy. It was only through the work of recent years, by thinking freely, supplementing, balancing, measuring, and linking together the concrete investi[gations] of the last two decades, under constant fundamental and methodical reflections that a closed system has developed and is in progress (almost entirely contrary to my own expectations), of course, it is a system that contains an infinity of knowledge and is, for all future generations, only an outline for new and even newer discoveries.

            There is no kind of evidence (not even mathem[atical]) that is equivalent to the evidence of phen[omenological] philosophy (the constit[utive] kind, which has not been comprehended by any of my former students). I had to separate from all of the dear students and philosophical friends — but I do not want to surrender you. I would like to share with you the joy to see what a great and beautiful thing has been given and entrusted to us, and what big sets of problems you could gain for your new horizon of work.

            For the time being, my only assistant is the brilliant and gifted Mr. Fink. (By the way, Associate Professor Felix Kaufmann is currently giving six lectures in Vienna at the Urania on the Philosophy of E. Huss[erl]. He seems to have gradually grown into it). It is difficult. The most difficult part of philosophy in general is phen[omenological] reduction; to practice and comprehend it.

            One more thing, wouldn’t it be good to limit your lectureship to teaching seminars for a while (to regain your strength). Do not give up everything, yes, do not lose touch with philosophically talented youth!

            We are doing well. May everything soon turn out well for you. It should not take very long; you will establish yourself based on the seriousness of your achievements, as I did after 14 years as an assistant professor.

            Before I go, many warm regards and all the best from both of us, your appreciative friends.

E. Husserl