Phenomenology Online

A Resource for Phenomenological Inquiry

Stephan Strasser escaped with his wife from Austria to Belgium after the Anschluss in 1938 by the Nazis. Even in Belgium he had to go into hiding during the war. Van Breda offered him work at the Husserl Archives, where, in the space of 25 months, Stephan Strasser, his wife and mother-in-law transcribed 20,000 pages of Husserl’s shorthand into ordinary text. These experiences and his studies with de Waelhens in 1944 were formative for Strasser’s philosophical career. In 1949, Strasser received an appointment in Philosophical Psychology and Anthropology at the University of Nijmegen, and he was also given the Chair in Normative and Historical Pedagogy. He kept the Chair in Pedagogy until 1970. He retired in 1975.


After an initial interest in neo-Thomistic thought, Strasser became closely acquainted with the work of Husserl. He rejected the philosophy of Sartre and also showed no sympathy for humanistic psychology, structuralism and Marxist thought. For a time, he became intensely interested in Heidegger, but eventually he moved closer to Merleau-Ponty and in his later years especially to the work of Levinas. Strasser exercised significant international influence. In North America, his writings provided access to continental thought; in Germany, he helped introduce the French Levinas; in France, he helped introduce the German Husserl; and in Japan, he helped introduce the human science approach.


Throughout his career, it was Strasser’s ambition to practise human science without doing violence to what is human. His 1947 inaugural lecture was on the theme “Objectiviteit en Objectivisme” (Objectivity and Objectivism). In 1950, he introduced the Husserliana series by publishing the first volume: Cartesianische Meditationen und die Pariser Vortr Ge (Cartesian Meditations and the Paris Lectures). Strasser published Fenomenologie en Empirische Menskunde, published in English as Phenomenology and the Human Sciences (1963). He had close connections with Duquesne University in Pittsburg, where in 1984 a special alcove was dedicated to his work and correspondence. Duquesne University Press also published The Idea of Dialogical Phenomenology (1969) and Understanding and Explanation (1985).