This is a preprint version of the paper which appeared in definitive form in HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY OF LOGIC, 19 (1998), 115-123. The published version should be consulted for all citations. 


Review by Claire Ortiz Hill of E. Husserl, Logik und allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie. Vorlesungen 1917/18, mit

ergänzenden Texten aus der ersten Fassung 1910/11. (Husserliana, vol. 30.) Introduction by U. Panzer. Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1996, lxii+554 pp.


The main text of this work is the final version of lectures on the philosophy of logic and science given by Edmund Husserl as a professor at the universities of Göttingen and Freiburg between 1910 and 1918. It is divided into three sections, the first devoted to defining and characterizing formal logic, the second to a systematic theory of meaning and judgment, and the third to the theory of science. This is followed by 50 pages of appendices of related materials and almost 200 pages of notes that Husserl penned on the manuscripts. There is a name index, which mainly witnesses to the fact that Husserl rarely named names and assumed readers able to make now all but invisible connections. As a volume of the Husserliana series, the book fully meets the Husserl Archive's high standards of scholarly erudition, readability and meticulous editing.

These lectures show Husserl still pursuing the course set out in the Logical Investigations well into the second decade of the century and displaying utter consistency with stands he began taking on meaning, analyticity, Platonism, manifolds, mathematics, psychologism, etc. in the early 1890s. They thus subvert many idées reçues about the development of his thought. For example, they help rout the widely held view that Husserl lapsed back into psychologism shortly after trouncing it in the Logical Investigations. Husserl believed that people had minds, and the subject of these lectures, as he states in the first sentence, is reason, the word for the mental activities and accomplishments which govern knowledge, making it what it is by giving form to it and supplying it with norms. For him, though, logic is not psychologistic because it supplies norms and laws which are absolute and valid in themselves and which no one can make. As the apriori discipline of thinking in general, it investigates thoughts as ideas which are ideal, exist outside of space and time, are eternal, motionless, and unchanging in the way notes on a musical scale, numbers, or platonic ideas are. Such ideas are über-empirical, he maintains, as he explicitly distances himself from the pyschologism of the British tradition for which ideas are empirical facts of nature, subjective thought experiences. He even calls modern empiricists dishonest ('unehrlich'), siding with those of his contemporaries seeking to escape the materialism, naturalism, positivism, empiricism, superficiality, etc. impregnating and dividing the nascent century. He felt open to charges of mysticism or scholasticism, but not psychologism.

The centrepiece of this work is the exploration of the realm of meaning that Husserl credits Bolzano with having sighted. Here the reader will find the only published account of the improved theory of the essential structure of meaning promised in Logical Investigation IV §13. Meaning, Husserl sets out to demonstrate to his students, displays an inner structure which is amazingly regular in form. He compares the inner structure of meaning to that of a crystal.

In this regard, the work contains ample information on Husserl's theory of the essential parallelism obtaining between the various kinds of consciousness and the concept of linguistic meaning, thus supporting Føllesdal's thesis that with the theory of noemata Husserl extended the notion of linguistic meaning to the realm of all intentional acts. The nature and form of the intentionality of thinking, Husserl maintains here, is mirrored in the nature and form of logical meaning, so that in understanding the basic composition of logical meaning one attains insight into the apriori essence of thinking and vice versa.

Of interest likewise is the stand Husserl takes on the relationship between logic and mathematics. He was active member of Hilbert's circle in Göttingen. He had been the student and assistant of Weierstrass and was on hand in Halle while Cantor was creating his mathematical 'paradise'. In these lectures Husserl explicitly distances himself from what he calls 'mathematizing logic', which he believed was right in recognizing the similitude between formal logic and formal mathematics but lacked a scientific understanding of thinking.

His reservations about 'mathematizing logic' must, though, be viewed in light of his conviction that formal mathematics is analytic, only a further developed piece of formal logic, and that the theory of the analytic and traditional syllogistics is not the job of philosophers but of mathematicians. The philosopher's role, he maintains in these lectures, is one of meaning clarification. Those who had mixed the roles of the philosopher and the mathematician had only succeeded in creating their own closed world.

To mathematicians, he believed, fell the important task of actually constructing what he called definite Mannigfaltigkeiten, likened elsewhere to Hilbert's complete axiom systems, which for him were the highest level of formal logic and could provide secure foundations of an a priori theory of science. In these lectures he engages in the properly philosophical task of laying the theoretical foundations of this Mannigfaltigkeitslehre.

For those not purely intent upon forever barricading themselves behind a wall of ideological prejudices, this work also offers a wealth of interesting insights into the theory of judgment, sense and meaning, functions and arguments, propositional functions, quantification, existential generalization, complete and incomplete meanings, states of affairs, extensional logic, the word 'all', number theory, sets, modality, deductive theory, etc., all topics of fundamental importance to Frege, Russell, Quine and their followers (ones enchanted by Dummett's interpretation of Frege for example). At the same time it clearly draws the epistemological and metaphysical lines between phenomenology and the ideas on logic and philosophy of science which have dominated twentieth-century philosophy. The work is less obscurantist than most of Husserl's other writings. Prepared for students and reworked to eliminate repetition, vagueness and ambiguity, the lectures are lively and clear. The syntax is direct, the vocabulary graphic and largely nontechnical. Husserl has here adopted what he terms an analytical approach, which he defines as setting out from relatively well-established, readily accessible ideas and engaging in an exhaustive study of all their implications to lay hold of essentially related ideas and attain pure, clear, well-defined general ideas.

History will eventually show that logic and philosophy would have followed a different course in the twentieth century had Husserl's writings on the philosophy of logic, mathematics and science found their proper place alongside the works of Frege, Russell, Carnap, Hilbert and Gödel. Properly translated into English these lectures could now contribute significantly to reestabishing the legitimate links between Husserl's ideas and mainstream logic, the bailiwick of analytic philosophers who, loath to inquire into their own history and to acquire the linguistic skills needed to study works unavailable in English, have viewed Husserl's work through a glass darkly.