Editor's note: This paper was read at the fourth annual University of Dayton Philosophy Colloquium, held in 1974.

From the very beginning Western philosophy has been marked by an almost constant longing for radical knowledge, indubitable truth, apodictic evidence, the ultimate ground. Edmund Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology continues this philosophical passion and advances it along the lines first opened up by Descartes. The Cartesian doubt was a philosophical method designed to achieve an absolutely certain point of departure for philosophy by applying a merciless skepticism to all our experiences which could in any way be questioned. Two important insights emerge here: Descartes’ awareness that our everyday lived experience is riddled with presuppositions which must be unmasked if radical knowledge and an absolute beginning for philosophy are to be achieved, and secondly, his establishment of the cogito as the only realm that fails to fall before the onslaught of the methodic doubt and is therefore retained as the indubitable ground.

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