Letter from Edmund Husserl written 26.12.1927

Freiburg, 26.XII.1927

My dear Friend,

            I have repeatedly read your two letters with sincere gratitude and deep emotion. It has been strengthening for me in my difficult and often very depressing old-age situation, that you, one of the most earnest and most gifted of my students, value the meaning and achievements of my life and affirm that even the unfinished and intellectually unbalanced work of mine will be of use to the serious. Whenever I find myself in a productive phase and discover unchartered territory with every step, seeing it with my own eyes, working with my own hands, I am, of course, in the joy of the great faith. But when I, as now (and now for the rest of my life), have to forego all “expeditions” and experience periods of fatigue and exhaustion, and now, as an old man, who can count on only a few years’ ability to work, and when I look at my life’s work from a distance, considering how it can be represented and completed uniformly according to systematic lines – I easily lose faith. I only see fragments in the old records, the unclear, the overlooked not yet methodically incorporated, which would need to be edited in accordance with the other, advanced parts – or I grow concerned regarding the scope of the effect of my printed works and the fact that even the better students disregarded implied depths and that, instead of working on trying to complete my ideas and approaches, they always preferred to go their own way. This includes Heidegger, an ingenious powerhouse, who sweeps away the youth, which now already thinks that my methodical way has become obsolete and my results are synonymous with decaying worldliness (however, he doesn’t agree with them). And this is one of my closest personal friends! Therefore, it means a lot to me that you remind me with your incorruptible judgment clarity to not keep my ideas to myself and be a privatissime philosopher, but to communicate and first and foremost to present my ideas – to you and to all who would like to climb to new labor-intensive heights.

            Your letter from Paris lay on our Christmas table and was one of our best gifts. Sadly, you were not here. Since none of our children was able to visit, we had hope you would come to visit – instead, it was not exactly exhilarating, we took in a lonely Baltic student and a Christian Japanese whose Buddhist friend we invited to come along!

            Did you know that I have applied for my retirement? Starting this summer, I want to give up my official position (or only work part-time). This is going to result in a few unpleasant procedures – the commission for my successor has been chosen and I will be acting as a consultant in the selection process which includes making recommendations, giving expert opinions, etc. If you had habilitated in Germany and were able to present a paper, I would have considered you, anyway, in the series of opening vacancies, you would have had a good chance of becoming a chair.37

            The new Encycl[opedia Britannica] article was also a lot of work for me, mainly because I thought through my funda[mental] train of thought once again and reconsidered it from the beginning and realized that Heid[egger], I now believe, has not grasped this train of thought and thus has not grasped the whole meaning of the method of ph[enomenological] reduction. I do not know yet how my article will be received in London, since it is almost twice the size of the space I had been given. An extended version is to be included in the next Yearbook volume. I want to shape the article in such a way that it will serve as a fairly useful guide for a series of subsequent publications, especially the parts of Ideas II, which you have recently so vigorously pointed out. However, we still need to discuss this in more detail. I mean – and this is my great desire – you could travel via Freiburg on the way back from Paris. You could stay with us as long as you like; my wife and I would be very happy to see you. Who knows how much longer I will be alive.

            Has a letter been lost? Perhaps between the letter from Marburg in which you voiced your concern and the letter from Paris dated 23.XII.? How were you able to travel to P[aris] despite previous difficulties? I am assuming that, thank God, you must have received good news from your wife and regarding the well-being of your child.

            Have you been able to continue to read H[eidegger’s] work? You did not write anything concerning the methods he uses in his seminars, of the style of its participants, and of his lectures. Your suggestions regarding annual ph.* meetings:  Heid[egger] made a similar suggestion a year ago, and a critical magazine is very plausible. Currently, I have no initiative. “Too much of anything is bad for you,” as it was said in Austria.

            Well, I must go now, since someone announced a visit. I am very curious to hear what you report from Paris, what you have seen, heard and your own work.

            I have just received an invitation from Paris: Cours Libre, Faculté des Lettres (of the University) M.G. Gurvitch (Professor of the Russian University in Prague) agrégée à l’Université de Paris, will hold 10 Conferences from 21.I. à 16 heures, salle 9, on: l’ecole de philos. phénomenologique en Allemagne (E. Husserl, M. Scheler and N. Hartmann). Take a look and let me know how it went! Best regards from your old teacher and friend

E. Husserl



Warm regards from my wife. Please send my regards to Koyré, 12, rue Quatrefages III.-

Dear Mr. Ingarden, I would like to personally invite you to stop over in Freiburg and stay with us for a few days on your return trip. This would make us very happy. It does not seem to be a significant detour for you, maybe you could also stop over in Strasbourg and meet Jean Hering. Looking forward to hearing from you soon! I wish you a happy New Year! Cordially,

M[alvine ] Husserl