Logical Investigations (Husserl)

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Logical Investigations
Logical Investigations.jpg
Author Edmund Husserl
Original title Logische Untersuchungen
Translator J. N. Findlay
Country Germany
Language German
Subject Logic, epistemology
  • 1900 and 1901 (first edition in German)
  • 1913 and 1921 (second edition in German)
  • 1970 (in English)
Media type Print
ISBN 978-0415241892 (vol. 1)
978-0415241908 (vol. 2)

Logical Investigations (German: Logische Untersuchungen) is a work of philosophy by Edmund Husserl, published in two volumes in 1900 and 1901, with a second edition in 1913 and 1921. An English translation by J. N. Findlay was published in 1970.[1] Logical Investigations, which resulted from a shift in Husserl's interests from mathematics to logic and epistemology, helped to create phenomenology, and has been credited with making twentieth century continental philosophy possible. Husserl maintains that mathematical laws are not empirical laws that describe the workings of the mind, but ideal laws whose necessity is intuited a priori. Though Husserl abandoned psychologism, the doctrine according to which logical entities such as propositions, universals, and numbers can be reduced to mental states or activities, in Logical Investigations, some commentators have seen a revival of psychologism in its second volume.


Between 1890 and 1900, Husserl's philosophical interests expanded from mathematics to a concern with logic and epistemology. Logical Investigations was the culmination of this development.[2] In this work, Husserl gave a new account of mathematics, one opposed to his previous views, which had been influenced by the psychologism of the late 19th century. Husserl's view in Logical Investigations, which may have been influenced by Gottlob Frege's criticism of Husserl's Philosophy of Arithmetic (1891), was that mathematical laws are not empirical laws that describe the workings of the mind, but ideal laws whose necessity is intuited a priori.[3]


The first volume, called Prolegomena to Pure Logic (Prolegomena zur reinen Logik), provides a critique of psychologism, the doctrine that logical entities such as propositions, universals, and numbers can be reduced to mental states or activities. In the Prolegomena, Husserl insists that such targets of consciousness are objective, and that the attempt to reduce them to activities of mind is incoherent.

The two-part second volume of the Logical Investigations, called Investigations in Phenomenology and Knowledge (Untersuchungen zur Phänomenologie und Theorie der Erkenntnis), contains six investigations (the first five are contained in Part I and the sixth in Part II). The second volume of the Logical Investigations contains examinations of signs and words, abstraction, parts and wholes, logical grammar, the notion of presentation, truth, and evidence. Husserl here expands his earlier distinction between intuitive presentation and symbolic intention from awareness of numbers to awareness of all objects of consciousness. The contrast between empty intention and fulfillment and intuition is applied to perceptual objects, as well as to categorical objects, Husserl's term for things such as states of affairs, relationships and causal connections. Husserl argues in the work that it is possible to have an intellectual intuition of them, which occurs when an object is articulated as having certain features or relationships, and relates the formal structure of categorical objects to the grammatical parts of language.[2]

Husserl observes that simple material objects can be intended either emptily or intuitively, but that even when they are intuitively given, they retain sides that are absent and only cointended. Perception is thus seen by Husserl as a mixture of empty and filled intentions. "Intentionality" is a term Husserl uses to refer to both empty and filled intuitions. It names the relationship consciousness has toward things, whether they are directly given or meant only in their absence. According to Husserl, the identity of things is given when an object that was once intended emptily becomes the same as what is given at the present moment. Identities are given even in perceptual experience, where the various sides and aspects of things continue to present the same object, they are given more explicitly in categorical intuition, when the partial identity between a thing and its features is recognized, or when the identity a thing has with itself is focused upon. These phenomena are all described as forms of identity-synthesis.[2]


Logical Investigations has been credited with making twentieth century continental philosophy possible. Donn Welton writes that it introduced a novel conception of the relationships between language and experience, meaning and reference, and subject and object. Welton argues that by attempting to integrate a theory of meaning with a theory of truth, and a theory of the subject with a theory of the object, the Logical Investigations helped create phenomenology, a new form of philosophy that went beyond systems such as psychologism, formalism, realism, idealism, objectivism and subjectivism.[4]

Martin Heidegger studied the Logical Investigations while a student at the Collegium Borromaeum (Freiburg im Breisgau) (de), where, according to Hugo Ott, they were so rarely requested from the university library that Heidegger was able to renew them "more or less at will".[5] Heidegger had expected that the Logical Investigations would, like other works he had already studied, shed light on the multiple meanings of being, but he was disappointed. Nevertheless, the Logical Investigations impressed Heidegger and convinced him to study philosophy.[6] Heidegger, like Theodor W. Adorno, believed that the second volume of the Logical Investigations marked an apparent revival of psychologism, which puzzled him.[7]


The first edition of Logical Investigations has been criticized by Robert Sokolowksi for sharply distinguishing between things as they appear and the thing in itself, a view similar to that of Immanuel Kant. Sokolowksi notes that between 1900 and 1910, Husserl abandoned the Kantian distinctions made in Logical Investigations.[2]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Welton 1999. p. ix, xiv.
  2. ^ a b c d Sokolowski 1999. p. 404.
  3. ^ Mautner 2000. pp. 259–260.
  4. ^ Welton 1999. p. ix, x.
  5. ^ Ott 1994. p. 57.
  6. ^ Krell 1993. pp. 7, 12.
  7. ^ Inwood 1995. pp. 382-383.


  • Inwood, M. J. (1995). Honderich, Ted, ed. The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-866132-0. 
  • Krell, David Farrell; Heidegger, Martin (1993). Martin Heidegger: Basic Writings. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-063763-3. 
  • Mautner, Thomas (2000). Dictionary of Philosophy. London: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-140-51250-0. 
  • Ott, Hugo (1994). Martin Heidegger: A Political Life. London: Fontana Press. ISBN 0-00-686187-3. 
  • Sokolowski, Robert (1999). Audi, Robert, ed. The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-63722-8. 
  • Welton, Donn; Husserl, Edmund (1999). The Essential Husserl. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-25321273-1. 

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