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Continental Philosophy

Edmund Husserl

What was Edmund Husserl’s doctrine of intentionality?

Husserl thought that the same objectivity of intentional objects that mathematical symbols have holds for all sorts of other objects, as well, including objects of perception and “categorical objects,” such as causal connections, states of affairs, and relations. When we describe an object we have an intellectual intuition of it, or our intention is “fulfilled,” although in terms of what we do not know our intention of the object may be “empty.”

At first, Husserl thought that what was given to us in consciousness was not the Kantian “thing in itself,” but he later claimed that in a “manifold of appearances,” the thing-in-itself can be given to consciousness, which is to say, known. This view was criticized as idealism because all “objects” for Husserl were objects of consciousness. Husserl later qualified his position by stating that the thing-in-itself given to consciousness, was only given to consciousness as a complete object of consciousness, not as its own total reality.

Basically, Husserl was claiming that everything we know, even if what we know is true, is nonetheless something like an idea in the mind (e.g., My cat is now sitting on my computer as I write this. That’s a fact. But as something that I am consciously aware of, it is also something in my mind.)



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