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The Fundamental Philosophical Significance of Husserl’s Logische Untersuchungen
DORION CAIRNS Edited by LESTER EMBREE, FRED KERSTEN and RICHARD ZANER
Department of Philosophy, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL 33431, USA
Editorial introduction The historical context for the text edited below is fairly clear. In February through May 1934, Dorion Cairns (1901–1973), who had spent over three years with Husserl and then had received his doctorate from Harvard the previous year with a dissertation entitled The Philosophy of Edmund Husserl, taught a course entitled “Introduction to Husserl’s Phenomenology” at the New School for Social Research in New York City. Twelve lectures at one dollar each or ten dollars for the series were offered. The scripts for these lectures have survived in Cairns’s literary remains held by the Center for Advanced Research in Phenomenology, Inc. at the University of Memphis. The folder for them includes a list of sixty people whom Cairns wrote to encourage to attend. The list of ten actual hearers of February 5 does not include Dr. Andrew D. Osborn, Ph.D., a librarian in Larchmont, New York, but the list for March does. There is also a letter of August 24 in which Cairns thanks Osborne for a copy of his dissertation, “the kind acknowledgment of help from my lectures,” and then writes the following. When I first studied with Husserl I felt the need of a historical approach, and the acknowledgments in the Logische Untersuchungen naturally led me to the study of Brentano. In fact, Brentano’s wide influence, outside phenomenology as well as inside – I was fully as much interested in Marty as in Husserl then – made me decide to write my thesis on him. I abandoned this plan as I was gradually convinced of the basic truth of phenomenology, but the point I wish to make is that, in my study I came to see that Oskar Kraus is no safe authority on the relation between Brentano and Husserl. I am embarrassed to have to say, as so often Husserl has said about critics, that Kraus completely misunderstands phenomenology. So far as I know, he does understand Brentano, though I believe that some of the older Brentano pupils, e.g., Stumpf, feel that he distorts the doctrines. I think this is largely because they never knew the later developments of Brentano’s thought. (On the other hand the Husserl–Kraus controversy is complicated somewhat by
my view is at least superficially opposed to . the sixth because of its intrinsic content. I tried to combine the two. I still think it a most desirable thing to do. but the history got in the way. gone too far in pious acknowledgments to his old teacher and this also has tended to obscure important differences. On Brentano he may be sound. the published works are most primitive. you see. as an atemporal “theory. and that is the sine qua non of Husserl’s philosophy.” I say this because I should be sorry if you went ahead in your enlargement of your dissertation with the conviction that the later works contain little that is essentially new.) In addition to misunderstanding Husserl.42 the fact that Husserl misunderstands Brentano on some important points. Kraus has shown what unfortunately amounts to a bitter personal feeling against him. And how can one see from the Logische Untersuchungen that the method there employed will ever lead to a philosophy? Many a student who has stopped there has said that phenomenology can never answer metaphysical questions nor even approach the philosophical questions raised by “history.” This difference of opinion depends perhaps upon a difference in our conceptions of the Ideen. I am sure. I think. The Logische Untersuchungen still have value. in attempting to carry out the plan I saw that the history has its meaning in terms of the end result which. compared to others. He would do so today were it not that he must conserve his time and energy for what he considers more important tasks. he thinks. You will not. The Logische Untersuchungen do not seem to me to be Husserl’s “most important work. It was not until 1905 that the doctrine of the phenomenological reduction was formulated. Husserl has. I do not know yet how much you relied on Kraus. My own original plan was to present a historical account of phenomenology.” It seems to me that Husserl is correct in estimating the later work as marking as great an advance over the earlier as the earlier does over other literature on the same subject. the author was not clear either as to where he was going or how he was getting there. which you say is “in essence a restatement of the main points of the logical investigations. but as one student to another I say: use him with the utmost care. take it amiss if I express an honest difference of opinion as to the relative importance of the Logische Untersuchungen and the later published works. But I can assure you that only a small fraction of these are in the Logische Untersuchungen and that. all of them because they are the only published examples of the concrete analyses upon which all phenomenology rests.” imposed a “systematic” rather than a genetic treatment. The Logische Untersuchungen is a pioneer work. So. However. not from that of the Logische Untersuchungen. but this can be seen only from the point of view of the later developments. This it is easier for him to do in that he does not understand Husserl’s analyses. Ten years ago Husserl spoke of publishing a new set of Untersuchungen to supplant the old. but he cannot be sound on the relation of Husserl to Brentano. Much of what is to be found in later works has its germ in the Logische Untersuchungen. he thought them so misleading. The Logische Untersuchungen and the Méditations Cartesiennes clarify the method and meaning of phenomenological analyses and formulate the results of concrete investigations. a desire to paint him as a plagiarist of Brentano.
He visited Husserl in 1936. It is itself an original typescript. are entitled “Errata Osborn” and seem to follow the pagination of either the dissertation or the published book.43 yours: to me it appears that the later stages of Husserl’s thought throw more light upon the earlier than the earlier do upon the later. relating to Osborn in the Cairns papers. No further correspondence with him has been found in the Cairns papers. but the file also contains what seems to be the typewritten beginning of a review by Cairns: Dr. This leaves the following text in which Cairns seems to have left off roughing out a book review and simply delivered himself in 27 handwritten pages at one sitting of his own already established position on the significance of the Logische Untersuchungen. 1934 [printed by International Press]) appeared before the letter could be sent and made this letter of advice irrelevant. Osborn is in error when he states that the Ideen “is in essence a restatement of the main points of Logical Investigations” and that “the understanding of it is greatly helped by approaching it through the earlier work. Cairns’s letter continues with some bibliographical items that are not relevant here. Osborn was born in 1902 and had publications in library science until 1980. He has strictly limited his theme to the development of Husserl’s thought up to the publication of the first edition of that work and accordingly it may be of interest to consider what the position of that work is in the light of his later work. but it is at least as probable that Andrew Delbridge Osborn’s book. but this is not certain). then there is an incomplete handwritten rough draft from which the first seven pages are missing (the above typed paragraphs might derive from them and the text below then follow. There are altogether 49 pp. and the last four are made up of notes too rough to publish. not folded for insertion in an envelope. The Philosophy of Edmund Husserl in its Development from his Mathematical Interests to his First Concept of Phenomenology in Logical Investigations (New York City. 17 pp. let it be made clear that Husserl does not [today] mean by phenomenology what he meant when first he wrote the Logische Untersuchungen. This is particularly desirable because Dr. The first and central question is: What is phenomenology? And before attempting to answer it. Osborn’s monograph presents for the first time in English an abstract of Husserl’s Logische Untersuchungen. It appears that this publication came from Osborne’s dissertation at Columbia University the same year and was reprinted under the new title of Edmund Husserl and his Logical Investigations in 1949.” Indeed.1 According to the catalog of the Library of Congress. Possibly Cairns retyped it and retained this as a copy. and also incomplete because there is no page with a salutation and a place for the signature. it is not too much to state that to approach the later works armed with concepts gathered from the first edition of the Logische Untersuchungen is to render an understanding of phenomenology more difficult than it would be if one came empty-handed. .
however. however. Cairns’s first publication after writing his dissertation and shows his continuing resolve to systematize the whole of Husserl to the level reached in 1929.2 No indication has been noticed that Cairns changed his own position regarding the significance of the Logische Untersuchungen. among other things. This is not the occasion to study his presentation of transcendental phenomenology that is the basis on which he judges the earlier work. Except for some minor linguistic changes. although it may be remarked that there are indications in the holograph that Cairns went back to this MS. later still. but was replaced by “consciousness” later and then. “awareness” is used frequently. section headings. “Epoch—” is characterized as “suspense of judgment. in effect.” The use of “meaning” in a non-logico-linguistic signification also disappears soon from Cairns’s own usage. which Cairns knew of from two visits and a total of three and a half years studying with the phenomenologist.” “Bracketing” occurs here but soon disappears from Cairns’s usage. on which we have all agreed.” but is replaced before long by “refraining. it may be remarked that one could speak unhesitantly of “introspective psychology” in 1934. probably because it is British or Australian rather than American English. the notes. Finally.44 This text edited below is. modifications of punctuation included. they are. Cairns was of course never done refining terminology not only for translating Husserl3 but also for expounding his own thought. and the addition of the title. “parenthesizing” replacing it at least in translations. in general” and thus apart from the other materials relating to Osborn. by “mental life. It is especially important because of the reporting of Husserl’s own views and intentions.”5 What are they. Some comments about terminology might. because the chief historical connotation was then still to William James and positive. be offered. which gradually became independent of that of his teacher in major respects. probably after the war. a resolve that would continue for 40 years. the book about which this is said in Ueberweg’s History of Philosophy (1923): “The influence of Husserl is so significant that the ‘Logical Investigations’ may well be characterized as the philosophical work of the present century which has exercised the greatest influence and had the most important consequences.U. and this introduction. with reference to Husserl’s . The Editors The Text What are the Logische Untersuchungen? Historically. which suggests that he continued to approve of it – other texts contain indications that he came to disagree with what he had previously written. and kept it along with some other general statements in a folder he labeled “L.4 In the text below. in later years. what follows is Cairns’s work.
expecting. its method and its results.” etc. remembering. ultimately. begins with the adoption of this secondary attitude of suspended judgment toward what things may be. The individual. Thus the attempt at a radical beginning of scientific philosophy leads to a more precise formulation of an immediate aim: A description of the immediately grasped structure of awareness of objects in its most general character as a flux and in its typical ways of meaning various types of “objects” (“present. This is its ideal. until it has reached a certain clarification of the structure of awareness and its objects before the phenomenological investi- .).” “physical. is not evident in the most radical sense. who follows this ideal is under the obligation to purify his philosophical beliefs so far as possible from all elements which are merely “taken for granted. as we have said. The beginnings of phenomenology We may characterize it according to its aim. we must understand in part what the latter is.” “past.” “society. as a philosopher he should take a second attitude of suspended judgment about everything which is. The intrinsic nature of these things. as having a certain intrinsic nature” as “existing independent of one’s awareness. he should or even could become a skeptic. in its naïveté. in the widest sense.” “cultural.” “psycho-physical.” etc. Thus the aim of scientific philosophy dictates a first step and a basic attitude. doubting. but that. as a human being.” “fictive.” “ideal. whether or not it can be realized.” “future. and that. in its present state of development? To answer. The attempt to carry through this suspension of judgment radically reveals that the traditional character infects all one’s normal beliefs. Phenomenology.” “universal essences.” “universal.” “particular.” “symbolic. and otherwise being aware of various things. I. in its relatively naive form.” on the basis of his past experience of his natural and cultural environment.” as “good” or “bad. all that is immediately evident to one is a streaming present of believing.” “real. This descriptive clarification of the phenomenologically evident nature of one’s awareness and of its intended “external objects” is not itself philosophy.” or what not). their existence or non-existence.45 phenomenology. Not that. traditional. and proceeds as a description of (1) what one evidently means them to be and (2) of the awareness which evidently is a present process of meaning (a) them and (b) non-present phases of the awareness itself. As to the aim scientific philosophical activity aims at knowing the absolute truth about what is. (despite the fact that it is far more critical than any noetic process which takes over from the beginning the hypostatization of such “objects” of awareness as “nature. relatively naïve. in itself. All that is thus evident about them is that one means “them. It is. But such naive phenomenological description should proceed.
procedure. mathematics. It is hard to be thorough and consistent in this bracketing. prejudging any of the traditional philosophical questions. Significance of the Logische Untersuchungen for phenomenology The preceding might be called an exposition of the results of the first stage of that self-conscious self-criticism which follows the first attempt at phenomenological description. He is not an idealist. he is not a realist. Meanwhile. seen. reveals what. living as a man in his more or less well-founded every-day beliefs. God – can reach him only as something meant – believed. it would be idle to try this until he has some results. his results enjoy a higher type of evidence than do the results of persons who still more naively carry on their investigations while “living in” the belief in transcendent independent objects.” is something independent of one’s awareness of it. are their errors and shortcomings. Most serious of the shortcomings is doubtless the insufficiency with which the “epoch—” or suspension of judgment with respect to the intended objects of awareness is preserved.” “another mind. for all that. It represents a clearer understanding of phenomenological method in its presuppositions.” or “universals. bracketing and describing them. and the only road which can lead to results of the same high scientific certainty. And he is assured that his method does not condemn his results to any incompleteness which he might conceivably remedy in some other way. The phenomenologist leads a double life. with phenomenological prudence.46 gator becomes critical of his procedure and results. and certainty of the direct evidence upon which he bases his descriptions must eventually be investigated. taking over any metaphysical beliefs. even though he grasps and asserts the fact that what he means by “nature. at the same time. and goal of the investigations. Though the nature. method. in the light of later developments. Admittedly. even though he describes “objects” as they are meant in his awareness.Yet it serves. and. and that consequently the whole range of attainable being falls within the scope of the phenomenological-descriptive method. extent. instead of. history. as a criterion of the at that time not clearly grasped purpose. he rests in the assurance that however much they are still open to error. at this point. II. This is a constant danger for all phenomenological investigation. this does not yet show the way to the solution of the traditional philosophical problems. and as a phenomenologist. but it is a road with an endless vista.” The phenomenologist is not. experienced. describing the “things” they mean as “having transcendence” and “independence. . and scope than Husserl had attained before writing the Logische Untersuchungen. known – by him. for he considers that everything which might ever come within his purview – nature.
but.” Awareness retains.” “a mind connected somehow with a body. this distinction must . “The world” is for the phenomenologist an object of his awareness. he must regard “his body” as one among the other “objects” of which he is aware in perception. however closely the latter. the usual sense of my awareness as “historically conjoined to my body. in general. For one thing. He had shown that logic.” and. by laying down what looked like the results of psychological research! The investigations start out bravely enough to divorce the objective thematic of logic from its mental correlate. This epoch— of the sense of awareness as “in the world” turns out then to be a revelation of an implicit positing of it as having a certain intrinsic nature and being. an intrinsic and grasped character. and the sense of his awareness as “a process in the world” is part of the sense of “the world. The distinction between phenomenology and psychology is accordingly of crucial importance to the significance of phenomenological results.” for at least part of what he call “himself” – his awareness – is not bracketed. The former describe a mind. to be sure. but not as a process in world-time. The latter have. minds which are believed in as existing in world time. on the contrary. as posited datum. Now the pons asinorum of phenomenology is the understanding of the sense which the phenomenologist posits his awareness as having. might parallel those of a genuine introspective psychology.47 Most difficult of all is this with respect to his beliefs about “himself.” e. in all literalness. the mundane existence of which is regarded purely as something which it itself believes in – not as something which it not only believes but which is also intrinsically part of itself. It must be “bracketed. What we ordinarily mean by “time” is rather a dimension of “the external process” meant in the awareness-process. paving the way to a non-psychologistic logic. He does not suspend belief in his own grasped awareness. as a flow of awareness. and this intrinsic time-form is posited and described. and apart from its own nature and being as in the world. and.g. apart from the nature and being of the world. Therefore our phenomenological descriptions of awareness have. and consequently. But this parallel and the difficulty of tracing the relation between “transcendental” and “psychological” awareness tend to obscure the complete difference. as “developing in the natural world from birth. as their descriptive themes. even at the end of the Logische Untersuchungen their author was not clear as to precisely how it was that what looked like introspective psychology was of basic philosophical significance.” The implications of this are far-reaching. recollection.” But this involves a suspension of judgment in the sense of his mind as “the mind of a psycho-physical object. that is the posited datum which he investigates. could not be based on psychology and yet here he was. a theme other than that of psychological descriptions of awareness.. Clearly. as “a process in world-time” is bracketed. on the naive level. etc. at least.
The more detailed but primitive analyses of the Ideen have their place in the whole indicated clearly by the Meditations Cartesiennes. taken as they are. The others as they stand have their philosophical value in that they. and of the problems which it opens up. the first is the most clear and comprehensive published account of the purpose and method. are unique among Husserl’s publications in presenting examples of concrete work of the sort upon which all his other publications rest. and the Formale und transcendentale Logik. the sine qua non of Husserl’s phenomenol- . properly systematized and purified. not only a one-sided idea of the problems and method of phenomenology. and not read in the light of later works. it may safely be said that those of the last Untersuchung are alone of cardinal importance for the understanding of what phenomenology is as a whole. i. A second defect. Thus the Logische Untersuchungen present a continuous ambiguity with respect to their fundamental philosophical significance: what phenomenology itself is. The later books are rather in the nature of summary reports of work accomplished. with the original limited goal of a clarification of an objective logic.” important matters for forestalling the fear that phenomenology must end in solipscism. that. This is not to imply that. the intricate. the Logische Untersuchungen as a whole would not remain as important phenomenological studies.48 be ever maintained. At the same time the Méditations Cartesiennes present in outline analyses of the awareness of “other mind” and of “the world as an intersubjective object. what significance have the Logische Untersuchungen for the understanding of phenomenology today? The prime sources of such an understanding are the Méditations Cartesiennes. but also actually prevent the student from fully grasping the unique characteristic. * * * The question arises. they may give. Of these. however. But as the book progresses. The danger is. the Ideen.e. together with the time lectures. having once isolated and distinguished the intended object from the intending of it – the awareness from its “object” – the author directed himself too exclusively to the sense which the “object” was intended as having. was that.. and are on a level of generality which is obtainable only after many extensive detailed investigations and critical reflections upon methods and results. Of the results of the Logische Untersuchungen. is far from clear. the first four investigations are too exclusively objective in theme. inevitable at the time. the systematic structure of the subject-matter (“transcendental awareness”). and phenomenologically (not psychologically!) indissoluble connection between awareness and its correlate is forever intruding itself upon the field.
to repeat. . As a result of such critical reflection and clarification.49 ogy. was getting results before ever he could reflect upon what the phenomenological method really is and involves. ed. the author himself. Cf.” of the phenomenological attitude. 2. not the revision but the supplanting of the Logische Untersuchungen by a totally new set. Dorion Cairns. Editors. to employ Husserl’s term. one is in a position to eliminate errors and fill in lacunae. 1973). Fred Kersten and Richard M. Karl Schuhmann (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Edmund Husserl. to systematize and clarify the work done. 3. 1976). 4. And this because. The course of phenomenology is always such a zigzag. Notes 1. 1973). 13. Full sentence inserted from first page of Cairns’s 1934 New School lectures. 1994) VI: 315. Briefwechsel. Dorion Cairns. p. Zaner (Den Haag: Martinus Nijhoff. through epoch— of belief in “the world. Dorion Cairns. in Phenomenology: Continuation and Criticism: Essays in Memory of Dorion Cairns. Conversations with Husserl and Fink (Den Haag: Martinus Nijhoff. To this he would have proceeded. “My Own Life. Lester Embree. Cf. 5. had he not believed that phenomenology would be advanced more by new investigations than by publishing corrections of older published ones which no longer occupied the focus of his attention. Guide for Translating Husserl (Den Haag: Martinus Nijhoff.” ed. Cf. ed. namely the establishment. And Husserl felt so much the need of doing this for the Logische Untersuchungen that a decade ago he was considering. proceeding along the proper course.
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