Husserl Language and Consciousness Term Paper

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Husserl, Language & Consciousness: Reconciliation of Edmund Husserl's Fourth Logical Investigation and Fifth logical investigation

Husserl's theory of consciousness in the fifth Logical Investigation is reported to be "one of the most profound and one of the most difficult theories of consciousness to have as yet been developed." (Smith, 1977) The account of consciousness given by Husserl is descriptive "in terms of a sensation, an intentional act that interprets the sensation, and an intentional object that is referred to by means of the interpretation of the sensation." (Smith, 1977)

The primary efforts of Husserl are committed to an analysis of the relation between what he refers to as 'matter' and 'quality' of the intentional act, and how these two components can be used to understand Brentano's famous proposal that "every act is either a presentation or is founded upon presentation." (Smith, 1977) It is stated that no matter the "brilliance of many of his descriptions, Husserl's final formulations suffer from ambiguities and difficulties in certain of their main theses." (Smith, 1977) The first of Husserl's Logical Investigations are related to setting out the basic consciousness structures and this is accomplished by Husserl through "offering three definitions of the term 'consciousness' as follows:

(1) Consciousness is defined as the "entire, real (reelle) phenomenological being of the empirical ego, as the interweaving of psychic experiences in the unified stream of consciousness. These psychic experiences are composed of two contents: (i) the sensations; and (ii) the objectifying interpretation of the sensations. The sensation is referred to by Husserl as "a hyletic datum…an immanent (reele) part of our experience, and is not to be confused with the property of the object that is corresponds to." (Smith, 1977)

The Fifth Logical Investigation is subtitled "International Experiences and Their 'Contents'" is reported in the work of Moran (2008) to make the attempt to separate ambiguities in the prescriptive psychological analysis conducted by Brentano on conscious acts, their contents and objects." (Moran, 2008) Husserl specifies what is meant by consciousness and the relation that conscious acts have to the ego with a particular focus on the intentional character of conscious experiences deriving from Brentano's rediscovery of intentionality. However, Husserl, regards, Brentano's characterization of intentionality as misleading and inadequate, trapped inside the old Cartesian dualism of subject and object and with all the problems inherent in that representationalist account." (Moran, 2008)

Under the notion of objectifying act Husserl is stated to offer "a more precise account of what Brentano called 'presentation and then goes on to address what he calls 'cardinal problem of phenomenology, namely the doctrine of judgment…" (Moran, 2008) According to Husserl "logic must decide which meaning of presentation is most appropriate for its own needs. Logic does not follow linguistic usage as logical definition is a kind of artifice." (Moran, 2008)

The Fourth Investigation is stated to have "extensively revised and expanded and is a study of what Husserl terms 'pure grammar' of the formal laws governing the combining or binding of meanings into a senseful unity rather than simply yielding a nonsensical string of words, and is, generally speaking an application of his part-whole theory to the field of semantics." (Moran, 2008) Husserl is said to speak of "the pure theory of forms of meaning (die reine Formenlehre der Beheutunge, LI IV Section 14) The objective is the provision of a "pure morphology of meaning that lays the basis by providing possible forms of logical judgments whose objective validity is the focus of a formal logic proper." (Moran, 2008) Husserl is stated to be pointedly "reviving the old idea of a priori grammar against both the psychological interpretations of grammar dominant in his day and the empirical theorists who were imprisoned in a false paradigm." (Moran, 2008)

Simple meanings combine to produce complex meanings and simple objects combine to produce complex objects and meaning-parts are not required to mirror parts of the object and the converse is also true in that meaning has "its own parts and wholes and "all combinations are governed by laws." (Moran, 2008) Husserl holds that "it must be possible to identify the rules of all such valid combinations a priori, combinations that produce well-formed expressions as opposed to nonsense." (Moran, 2008) Nonsense (unsinn) and countersense or absurdity (Wiudersinn) were distinguished by Husserl and he is famous for this. The concept of a square circle is stated to be non-sensical and to constitute an absurdity or contradictions "in terms a counter-sense that cannot be realized." (Moran, 2008)

Formal grammar is stated to have the potential to culminate "only nonsense
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but not able to eliminate absurdity therefore, is "not yet formal logic in the sense of specifying what can be objectively valid." (Moran, 2008) Husserl refers to the logic of inference as the "logic of truth." In his later writings Husserl "is more careful…to emphasize that he is dealing with formal combinations of meanings rather than material combinations or meanings. Whereas in the Fourth Investigation he tends to misleadingly to employ examples drawn from the material sphere." (Moran, 2008) Stated to be the core of the analysis of Husserl is "his use of traditional distinction between syncategorematic words and categorematic words and his analysis of these terms of independence and dependence relations." (Moran, 2008)

Syncatgorematic expressions are treated by Husserl as "meaningful but dependent, incomplete parts of wholes, which is this case are well-formed expressions which are complete or 'closed'." (Moran, 2008) It is possible to distinguish verbal parts "in terms of those that are separately meaningful or meaningless. The work of Peter Koestenbaum states that a statement that is both brief and general in regards to the contribution of Husserl to philosophy can be summarized in five specific points, which he states as follows:

(1) Husserl's philosophical work takes its inception from mathematical and logical studies. He was interested in developing an analysis of the nature and warrant of mathematics and logic other than the then popular psychologist of John Stuart Mill, Theodor Lipps, and Herbert Spencer. Psychologism -- a term used not only by Husserl, but also by other important students of mathematics and logic such as Bertrand Russell, Gottlob Frege, and Alexius Meinong -- is the view that logical and mathematical Jaws are empirical generalizations about the thought-processes as these are determined by experimentation in psychology. Husserl sought a firmer foundation for logic, one that avoided the reduction and absurdum of psychologism. His conclusions, however, differed substantially from those of modern mathematical logic.

(2) Husserl's researches in logic and mathematics led him to the thorough study of the precise appearance, manner of presentation, intuited structure, and the formation of logical "objects," as these objects manifest themselves when considered altogether removed from any adventitious psychological concomitants.

(3) Eventually Husserl generalized the methodology, which he had developed for his logical analyses. The result was the method of phenomenology, which he felt was the sine qua non-for genuine philosophical insights and progress. The outstanding features of phenomenology are these: (a) Phenomenology is a method that presumes to be absolutely presuppositionless. (b) Phenomenology analyzes data and does not speculate about world-hypotheses. (c) Phenomenology is descriptive, and thus leads to specific and cumulative results, as is the case with scientific researches; phenomenology does not make inferences, nor does it lead to metaphysical theories. (d) Phenomenology is an empiricism more adequate than that of Locke, more skeptical than that of Hume, and more radical than that of William James. (e) Phenomenology leads to certainty, and is, consequently, an a priori discipline. (f) Phenomenology is a scientific enterprise in the very best sense of that term, without at the same time being structured by the presuppositions of science and suffering from its limitations. Furthermore, Husserl strongly believed that phenomenology can and does offer essential contributions to the foundations of science.

(4) In addition to providing insights about logic, the phenomenological technique as applied by Husserl resulted in the development of three major and important conclusions. The first of these was the "discovery" and the elaboration of the intentionality of experience. Husserl helped to disclose, in far more detail and with considerably more acuity and penetration than any previous thinker, the rich, varied, and complex nature of our contribution to experience. He developed multifarious careful analyses showing precisely how and to what extent the world is our construction. The second of these is the evocation and description of transcendental subjectivity, which is the unobserved observer that resides in all our perceptions, feelings, and thoughts. The explicit articulation of the idea of transcendental subjectivity is quite new to Western philosophy, whereas in the East it has been one of the oldest, most pervasive, and important insights. Finally, Husserl hints at a "transcendental idealism," which is perhaps his only quasi-metaphysical commitment -- although he denies it. Many of his students and disciples, however, have abandoned him in these idealistic claims.

(5) The actual and potential influence of phenomenology is quite extraordinary. Phenomenology has rejuvenated many philosophical studies and given a particular fillip to realism in philosophy; it is…

Sources Used in Documents:


Whitehead, A.N. (nd) Modes of Thought, Lecture 9, N.Y. The Macmillan Company cited in: Koenstenbaum, Peter (1993) The Paris Lectures. Retrieved from:

Smith, Quentin (1977) On Husserl's Theory of Consciousness in the Fifth Logical Investigation. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. Vol. 37, No. 4 (Jun., 1977), pp. 482-497. International Phenomenological Society. Retrieved from:

Moran, Dermot and Husserl, Dermot (2001) Logical Investigations, Volume 1. Psychology Press 2001. Retrieved from:

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