Hynek Janousek

Was Husserl right?

Even though Husserl criticized Brentano´s version of descriptive psychology as it is represented in Brentano´s Psychology from the Empirical Standpoint the strongest critique of this version of Brentano´s psychology can be perhaps drawn from Husserl´s second logical investigation in which he rejects theories of abstractions based in different versions of nominalism and conceptualism. Brentano started his philosophical development with a theory of abstraction which was inspired by a conceptualistic branch of Aristotelian theories of abstraction spread in the late scholastic philosophies and by the cartesian version of conceptualism defended by Antoine Arnauld in his Port-Royal Logic. According to both positions we can gain a general concept by looking away from individual determinations of a concrete presentation. Not only Husserl shows that shifts of attention can never lead to a general concept he also wants to show that we cannot accept unity of extension of a general concept without accepting some species as its objective correlate shared by all individuals falling under the general concept. This means that according to Husserl we also need to accept different objective species of intentional acts if we are to talk about their different kinds. This naturally leads to a question about Husserl´s own theory of abstraction which seems to open doors for old problems of platonism. Brentano did not hesitate to point these problems out. A similar set of problems arises when we want to talk about the identity of an intentional object. Husserl seems to accept as obvious that we can intend one and the same object in the same way (it doesn´t matter what further specific determinations regarding its individuality or generality we give) in many different acts of presentations. But what makes this shared identity possible? Either we will try to reduce this kind of identity to some kind of relations of similarity and we will have to face a strong critique made by Husserl against this position or we will accept some kind of ideal contents (as Husserl did) but then we will have to explain platonic problems concerning the participation of the multitude of acts on the one shared content. I would like to present Husserl´s critique of the aboved mentioned version of Brentano´s position and Brentano´s critique of Husserl´s solutions together with the historical background they drew their theories from. I think that every cartesian theory of human mind still needs to face these problems. I would also like to ask if Brentano´s later theory according to which every presentation is general is in a better position to answer poblems connected with Brentano´s early theory of abstraction.

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