Sunday, August 21, 2016

Husserl’s Turn of Direction and His Debt to Brentano


This is,  I believe, where Edmund Husserl owed something to Franz Brentano, specifically directedness, intentionality, and act of presentation in consciousness, after studying with Brentano on representation, intentional acts, mental phenomena, inner consciousness etc. Later, when developing his phenomenology Husserl just set them on a different ground, namely the ground of logical categories, essences, forms, relations, interconnections, effects, rules etc., in similar issues for analysis and rules of logic at the time which philosophers of language, cognitive consciousness and theory of meaning will explore— in the manners of John Stuart Mill, Gottlob Frege, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Donald Davidson do; while Brentano built them on the empirical base as how Psychology as a subject of study had been scientifically involved and reaped success.

One example of Husserl’s method to get to the phenomenological
perceptions, appearances, intended objects of things, whether real or imagined, is how an apple appears in “our” stream of consciousness. He said he had “inverted” the process of “seeing”, perceiving, performing acts of intention etc.(1) This means, now his investigation will share very little, not to say anything with other empirical sciences, for example, physics, chemistry, biology , psychology,  because :

1.  Not only the way he performs his seeing, perceiving. phenomenological searching, “looking-into” is (very) different from the ways the other sciences, meaning:

His direction to observe, investigate has very little to do with the  way other sciences approach the object of investigation in exploration and explication. This means : he will not cut the apple out to see what inside, does not taste it, weigh it, calculate its density, analyze its chemical characteristics, molecular structures, etc. and how it may rot— all these may be called “outer” consciousness to him and his followers.  But he will only investigate how its image was/is formed in his mind, how it appears in representational act, extract essences, or if the object has an essential relation to language, he will investigate the meaning of signs, expression, intention-meaning, intention-fulfillment, reflect on analyze them,  etc… to clarify many things; detecting errors, or misunderstandings etc. of psychologism or other sciences and philosophers, psychologists. This change of direction is geared totally toward the inside working of the consciousness, or what happens inside; what often called inner consciousness.

2.  Not only this way of observing, investigating, the objects he studies are now different too, namely, it is not the apple we see, touch, eat, carry out other “experiments” to understand it the ways the sciences as mentioned above will do, to have a “real”, “physical”, corporeal sense of understanding, the way David Hume or sometimes, Immanuel Kant want to perceive. But the objects, intentional, or intended objects are images, representations, appearances, and how they appear, associate, correlate, interconnect, and under what essences (Eidos), what logically-related, intuitively-formed category, connectedness, relation, and meaning etc. Inside our brain, inside consciousness, and do not have to do anything with the real physical objects outside—
this can be totally, all-enduringly as Husserl sees it. This is how I “see” Husserl’s phenomenology appears and expresses,


1) The inverted method to have noema, noesis and eidetic seeing, noematic content etc. can be read from p.216 to p. 227 in Ideas Pertaining to… (IPPPP1). I took some pictures, in case someone is really interested can read them for some very short/brief idea, and do not have to buy the book.

2. Pay attention to 2 paragraphs : “Everything which is purely immanent…psychological essence of the intentive mental process”,  you will see how he describes the difference form his intentioned objects and the objects of other sciences, starting from the end of p.216 to middle of p.217

3. Despite what Husserl claimed about his novel way of “seeing” things, his phenomenological method of observing, perceiving, structuring experiences et., I believe, plenty of times his Phenomenology will share the similar way of constructing ideas, theories, logic as those of J.S. Mill. G. Frege, B. Bolzano, I.Kant or R. Descartes , as evidenced in his “Logical Investigations”.




1. Husserl, Edmund. Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to Phenomenological Philosophy, First Book. Trans. F. Kersten. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. 1983. Print.  (IPPPPP1)

2.Husserl, Edmund. Logical Investigations.Vol. 1. Trans. J. N. Findlay. New York: Routledge. 2008. Print

3. Brentano, Franz. Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint. Trans. Antos C.Rancurello, D.B.Terrell and Linda L.McAlister.

4. Moran, Dermot. Introduction. Logical Investigations. By Edmund Husserl. Trans. J.N. Findlay. London: Rutledge. 2001. Print.

5. Varga, Peter. Brentano’s Influence on Husserl’s Early Notion of Intentionality.


1. All the data of our consciousness are divided into two great classes—the class of physical and the class of mental phenomena. We spoke of this distinction earlier when we established the concept of psychology, and we returned to it again in our discussion of psychological method. But what we have said is still not sufficient. We must now establish more firmly and more exactly what was only mentioned in passing before.
This seems all the more necessary since neither agreement nor complete clarity has been achieved regarding the delimitation of the two classes. We have already seen how physical phenomena which appear in the imagination are sometimes taken for mental phenomena.
There are many other such instances of confusion. And even important psychologists may be hard pressed to defend themselves against the charge of self-contradiction.* For instance, we encounter statements like the following: sensation and imagination are distinguished by the fact that one occurs as the result of a physical phenomenon, while the other is evoked by a mental phenomenon according to the laws of association. But then the same psychologists admit that what appears in sensation does not correspond to its efficient cause. Thus it turns out that the so-called physical phenomenon does not actually appear to us, and, indeed, that we have no presentation of it whatsoever—certainly a curious misuse of the term “phenomenon”! Given such a state of affairs, we cannot avoid going into the question in somewhat greater detail.

Every idea or presentation which we acquire either through sense perception or imagination is an example of a mental phenomenon.1 By presentation I do not mean that which is presented, but rather the act of presentation. Thus, hearing a sound, seeing a colored object,
feeling warmth or cold, as well as similar states of imagination are examples of what I mean by this term. I also mean by it the thinking of a general concept, provided such a thing actually does occur. Furthermore, every judgement, every recollection, every expectation,
every inference, every conviction or opinion, every doubt, is a mental phenomenon. Also to be included under this term is every emotion: joy, sorrow, fear, hope, courage, despair, anger, love, hate, desire, act of will, intention, astonishment, admiration, contempt, etc.

Examples of physical phenomena, on the other hand, are a color, a figure, a landscape which I see, a chord which I hear, warmth, cold, odor which I sense; as well as similar images which appear in the imagination. These examples may suffice to illustrate the differences between the two classes of phenomena.

3. Yet we still want to try to find a different and a more unified way of explaining mental phenomena. For this purpose we make use of a definition we used earlier when we said that the term “mental phenomena” applies to presentations as well as to all the phenomena which are based upon presentations. It is hardly necessary to mention again that by “presentation” we do not mean that which is presented, but rather the presenting of it. This act of presentation forms the foundation not merely of the act of judging, but also of desiring and of every other mental act. Nothing can be judged, desired, hoped or feared, unless one has a presentation of that thing.Thus the definition given includes all the examples of mental phenomena which we listed above, and in general all the phenomena belonging to this domain.
It is a sign of the immature state of psychology that we can scarcely utter a single sentence about mental phenomena which will not be disputed by many people. Nevertheless, most psychologists agree with what we have just said, namely, that presentations are the foundation for the other mental phenomena.

Inner Consciousness*
1. Disputes about what concept a term applies to are not always useless quarrels over words. Sometimes it is a question of establishing the conventional meaning of a word, from which it is always dangerous to deviate. Frequently, however, the problem is to discover the natural boundaries of a homogeneous class.

We must have a case of the latter sort before us in the dispute about the meaning of the term “consciousness,” if it is not to be viewed as mere idle quibbling over words. For there is no question of there being a commonly accepted, exclusive sense of the term. The surveys of the different uses of this term made by Bain,† in England, and by Horwicz  in Germany, show this beyond any doubt. Sometimes we understand it to mean the memory of our own previous actions, especially if they were of a moral nature, as when we say, “I am not conscious of any guilt.” At other times we designate by it all kinds of immediate knowledge of our own mental acts, especially the perception which accompanies present mental acts. In addition, we use this term with regard to external perception, as for example when we say of a man who is awakening from sleep or from a faint that he has regained consciousness. And, we call not only perception and cognition, but also all presentations, states of consciousness. If something appears in our imagination, we say that it appears in consciousness. Some people have characterized every mental act as consciousness, be it an idea, a cognition, an erroneous opinion, a feeling, an act of will or any other kind of mental phenomenon. And psychologists (of course not all of them) seem to attach this meaning in particular to the word when they speak of the unity of consciousness, i.e. of a unity of simultaneously existing mental phenomena.

For any given use of the word, we shall have to decide whether it may not be more harmful than helpful. If we want to emphasize the origin of the term, doubtless we would have to restrict it to cognitive phenomena, either to all or to some of them. But it is obvious that there is rarely any point in doing so, since words often change from their original meaning and no harm is done. It is obviously much more expedient to use this term in such a way as to designate an important class of phenomena, especially when a suitable name
for it is lacking and a discernible gap is thereby filled.* For this reason, therefore, I prefer to use it as synonymous with “mental phenomenon,” or “mental act.” For, in the first place the constant use of these compound designations would be cumbersome, and furthermore,the term “consciousness,” since it refers to an object which consciousness is conscious of, seems to be appropriate to characterize mental phenomena precisely in terms of itsdistinguishing characteristic, i.e., the property of the intentional in-existence of an object,
for which we lack a word in common usage.

2. We have seen that no mental phenomenon exists which is not, in the sense indicated above, consciousness of an object. However, another question arises, namely, whether there are any mental phenomena which are not objects of consciousness. All mental phenomena are states of consciousness; but are all mental phenomena conscious, or might there also be unconscious mental acts?
(Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint-Franz Brentano)


From Prolegomena (of Husserl’s Logical Investigations)

Schleiermacher’s definition of logic as the technology of scientific knowledge certainly comes closer to the truth. For obviously in a discipline so defined one would have to consider only what is peculiar to scientific knowledge, and to probe its possible demands: the further preconditions which in general favour the emergence of knowledge would be left to pedagogy, hygiene etc. But Schleiermacher’s definition does not plainly say that this technology should also set up rules for the demarcation and construction of the sciences, whereas this aim, on the other hand, includes the aim of scientific knowledge. Excellent thoughts towards the circumscription of our discipline are to be found in Bolzano’s Wissenschaftslehre, but rather in his preliminary critical searchings than in the definition he himself espouses. This last

* technology , in old meaning = a “skillful”, solid, valid method, “kỹ thuật”

Chapter 2

Theoretical disciplines as the foundation of normative disciplines

§ 13 The controversy regarding the practical character of logic Our last discussions have given so obvious a justification to the view of logic as a technology, that it might seem remarkable that there should ever have been controversy on  this point. A practically oriented logic is an indispensable postulate of all the sciences, and this corresponds to the historical fact that logic arose out of practical motives connected with the business of science. This we know happened in those thought-stirring times when the young, budding science of the Greeks was in danger of succumbing to the attacks of sophists and subjectivists, when all its future success depended on finding objective criteria of truth, which might destroy the cheating illusions of the sophistical dialectic.

In modern times, mainly under the influence of Kant, there have been repeated denials that logic is a technology, though such a characterization has, on the other hand, been held to have some value: this dispute cannot have turned on the mere question whether it is possible to give logic practical aims, and so to conceive of it as a practical discipline.

Kant himself spoke of an applied logic which should have as its task the regulation of the use of the understanding ‘under the contingent conditions of the subject, which might hinder or assist it’ (Critique of Pure Reason: Intro. to Trans. Logic, I, last paragraph A54/ B78– 9), and from which we might learn ‘what promotes the correct use of the understanding, what assists it and what cures it from logical mistakes and errors’ (Kant’s Logik, Introduction II, Hartenstein’s edition 1867, VIII, p. 18). Though he is not willing to let it rank, with pure logic, as an authentic science, though he even thinks that ‘it should not properly be called logic’ (Critique of Pure Reason, Werke, ed. Hartenstein, III, p. 83), everyone is none the less at liberty to extend the aim of logic so as to include applied, practical logic. 1 It may in any case be disputed, as has in fact frequently happened, whether great gain can be hoped for from logic as a practical theory of science, whether, e.g. one could really hope for such great revolutions and advances from an extension of the old logic (which could only serve to test given knowledge) into an ars inventiva, a ‘logic of discovery’, as Leibniz is known to have believed etc. This dispute, however, concerns no point important in principle, and it is settled by the clear maxim that even the moderate probability of a future advance in the sciences justifies us in working on a normative discipline pledged to this end, without regard to the fact that the rules we deduce represent a valuable enrichment of knowledge.

The genuinely disputed question of important principle, to which neither side has given precision, lies in quite a different direction: whether the definition of logic as a technology really touches its essential character. We ask, in other words, if it is only a practical standpoint that establishes the right of logic to count as a peculiar scientific discipline, while, from a theoretical standpoint, all the findings accumulated by logic consist, on the one hand, in purely theoretical propositions having their original home in otherwise known theoretical sciences, and mainly in psychology, and, on the other hand in rules based on these theoretical propositions.

The essence of Kant’s conception of logic does not, in fact, lie in the fact that he disputes the practical character of logic, but that he believes in the possibility and the epistemologically basic character of a certain delimitation or restriction of logic, which would make of it a wholly independent science, one which, in comparison with otherwise known sciences, is wholly new and entirely theoretical,  and which, like mathematics, stands outside of any thought of possible application, in being an a priori, purely demonstrative discipline.

The restriction of logic to its theoretic knowledge-content leads, on the prevailing form of the doctrine opposed to Kant’s, to psychological and perhaps also grammatical and other propositions, i.e. to small excerpts from otherwise delimited, and, let us add, empirical sciences. Whereas, on Kant’s view, we rather dig down to an internally closed, independent and, let us add, a priori field of theoretical knowledge, to pure logic.

It is apparent that other weighty oppositions are at work in these doctrines; whether logic should count as an a priori or an empirical science, as an independent or dependent science, as a demonstrative or non-demonstrative science. If we drop these questions as remote from our immediate interests, only the above mentioned point of dispute remains: on one side we abstract the assertion that under every logic thought of as a technology lies a peculiar theoretical discipline, a pure logic, whereas, on the other view, all theoretical doctrines admitted into the logical technology are held to be classifiable in otherwise known theoretical sciences.

The second point of view was stoutly defended by Beneke, 2 and J. Stuart Mill stated it clearly in his Logic which has also been influential in this respect. 3  Sigwart’s Logik, the leading contribution to recent logical work in Germany, also stands on similar ground. Clearly and decisively it is there said: ‘The highest task of logic, and the one which constitutes its real essence, is to be a technical discipline’. 4
On the other side we have, in addition to Kant, principally Herbart, and a large number of their disciples. How easily the most extreme empiricism accords in this
(Logical Investigations-E. Husserl. pp.26-30 )

4. The Structure of Embodied Experience
Summary: Husserl’s phenomenological investigations emphasize that the lived body functions as the central “here” from which spatial directions and distances are gauged; that it is the locus of distinctive sorts of directly felt sensations such as the experience of tactile contact; and that it is capable of self-movement, opening a rich range of practical possibilities.
Husserl’s approach to disclosing the natural attitude for what it is and suspending its wholesale, automatic efficacy is termed the phenomenological reduction, which leads us from the natural attitude of everyday life to the phenomenological attitude. Within the phenomenological attitude, we set aside questions framed in terms of an ultimate “being” or “reality” existing utterly in itself; instead, we make experiencing—and correlatively, phenomena, which means whatever is experienced, exactly as experienced—the focus of our investigations. For a phenomenology of embodiment, this means turning to the body of direct experience in a way that is even more radical than acknowledging everyday encounters with embodied persons in the personalistic attitude. Why is it more radical? It is because in everyday practical life, we are typically occupied with things and tasks, and ignore the bodily “means whereby” we perceive things and carry out our activities. Although the “anonymity” of this tacitly functioning, everyday body becomes a key theme in existential phenomenology of the body, Husserl too was well aware of it, and it was his groundbreaking research that initially retrieved this lived body and bodily experience from its anonymity. ( )

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