Ideas of Edmund Husserl, by Theme

[German, 1859 - 1938, Born at Prossnitz. Pupil of Brentano. Professor at the University of Freiburg.]

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1. Philosophy / H. Continental Philosophy / 2. Phenomenology
If phenomenology is deprived of the synthetic a priori, it is reduced to literature
     Full Idea: Sternly envisaged by Husserl as a scientific discipline, phenomenology, on being stripped of the synthetic a priori by the logical positivists, ends up in Sartre as a largely literary undertaking.
     From: comment on Edmund Husserl (works [1898]) by Josť A. Benardete - Metaphysics: the logical approach Ch.18
Phenomenology is the science of essences - necessary universal structures for art, representation etc.
     Full Idea: For Husserl, phenomenology must seek the essential aspects of phenomena - necessary, universal structures, such as the essence of art or the essence of representation. He sought a science of these essences.
     From: report of Edmund Husserl (Logical Investigations [1900]) by Richard Polt - Heidegger: an introduction 2 'Dilthey'
Bracketing subtracts entailments about external reality from beliefs
     Full Idea: In effect, the device of bracketing subtracts entailments from the ordinary belief locution (the entailments that refer to what is external to the thinker's mind).
     From: report of Edmund Husserl (Logical Investigations [1900]) by Hilary Putnam - Reason, Truth and History Ch.2
     A reaction: This seems to leave phenomenology as pure introspection, or as a phenomenalist description of sense-data. It is also a refusal to explain anything. That sounds quite appealing, like Keats's 'negative capability'.
Phenomenology aims to describe experience directly, rather than by its origins or causes
     Full Idea: Phenomenology, in Husserl, is an attempt to describe our experience directly, as it is, separately from its origins and development, independently of the causal explanations that historians, sociologists or psychologists might give.
     From: report of Edmund Husserl (Logical Investigations [1900]) by Thomas Mautner - Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy p.421
     A reaction: In this simple definition the concept sounds very like the modern popular use of the word 'deconstruction', though that is applied more commonly to cultural artifacts than to actual sense experience.
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 3. Numbers / l. Zero
0 is not a number, as it answers 'how many?' negatively
     Full Idea: Husserl contends that 0 is not a number, on the grounds that 'nought' is a negative answer to the question 'how many?'.
     From: report of Edmund Husserl (Philosophy of Arithmetic [1894], p.144) by Michael Dummett - Frege philosophy of mathematics Ch.8
     A reaction: I seem to be in a tiny minority in thinking that Husserl may have a good point. One apple is different from one orange, but no apples are the same as no oranges. That makes 0 a very peculiar number. See Idea 9838.
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 3. Numbers / o. Units
Multiplicity in general is just one and one and one, etc.
     Full Idea: Multiplicity in general is no more than something and something and something, etc.; ..or more briefly, one and one and one, etc.
     From: Edmund Husserl (Philosophy of Arithmetic [1894], p.85), quoted by Gottlob Frege - Review of Husserl's 'Phil of Arithmetic'
     A reaction: Frege goes on to attack this idea fairly convincingly. It seems obvious that it is hard to say that you have seventeen items, if the only numberical concept in your possession is 'one'. How would you distinguish 17 from 16? What makes the ones 'multiple'?
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 3. Numbers / p. Counting
Husserl said counting is more basic than Frege's one-one correspondence
     Full Idea: Husserl famously argued that one should not explain number in terms of equinumerosity (or one-one correspondence), but should explain equinumerosity in terms of sameness of number, which should be characterised in terms of counting.
     From: report of Edmund Husserl (Philosophy of Arithmetic [1894]) by Richard G. Heck - Cardinality, Counting and Equinumerosity 3
     A reaction: [Heck admits he hasn't read the Husserl] I'm very sympathetic to Husserl, though nearly all modern thinking favours Frege. Counting connects numbers to their roots in the world. Mathematicians seem oblivious of such things.
15. Nature of Minds / C. Capacities of Minds / 3. Abstraction by mind
Husserl identifies a positive mental act of unification, and a negative mental act for differences
     Full Idea: Husserl identifies a 'unitary mental act' where several contents are connected or related to one another, and also a difference-relation where two contents are related to one another by a negative judgement.
     From: report of Edmund Husserl (Philosophy of Arithmetic [1894], p.73-74) by Gottlob Frege - Review of Husserl's 'Phil of Arithmetic' p.322
     A reaction: Frege is setting this up ready for a fairly vicious attack. Where Hume has a faculty for spotting resemblances, it is not implausible that we should also be hard-wired to spot differences. 'You look different; have you changed your hair style?'
18. Thought / E. Abstraction / 8. Abstractionism Critique
Psychologism blunders in focusing on concept-formation instead of delineating the concepts
     Full Idea: Husserl substitutes his account of the process of concept-formation for a delineation of the concept. It is above all in making this substitution that psychologism is objectionable (and Frege opposed it so vehemently).
     From: comment on Edmund Husserl (Philosophy of Arithmetic [1894]) by Michael Dummett - Frege philosophy of mathematics Ch.2
     A reaction: While this is a powerful point which is a modern orthodoxy, it hardly excludes a study of concept-formation from being of great interest for other reasons. It may not appeal to logicians, but it is crucial part of the metaphysics of nature.
Husserl wanted to keep a shadowy remnant of abstracted objects, to correlate them
     Full Idea: Husserl saw that abstracted units, though featureless, must in some way retain their distinctness, some shadowy remnant of their objects. So he wanted to correlate like-numbered sets, not just register their identity, but then abstractionism falls.
     From: comment on Edmund Husserl (Philosophy of Arithmetic [1894]) by Michael Dummett - Frege philosophy of mathematics Ch.12
     A reaction: Abstractionism is held to be between the devil and the deep blue sea, of depending on units which are identifiable, when they are defined as devoid of all individuality. We seem forced to say that the only distinction between them is countability.