THE FATE OF ANALYSIS, #4–Husserl, Pure Logic, & The Sins of Logical Psychologism.
By Robert Hanna
TABLE OF CONTENTS
II.10 Husserl, Logic, and Logical Psychologism, aka LP
II.11 What LP is, and its Three Cardinal Sins
II.12 Husserl’s Three Basic Arguments Against LP
II.13 Has Husserl Begged the Question Against LP? Enter The Logocentric Predicament, and a Husserlian Way Out
II. Moore, Brentano, Husserl, Judgment, Anti-Idealism, and Meinong’s World
III.1 G.E. Moore, the Second Founding Father of Classical Analytic Philosophy
III.2 Brentano on Phenomenology, Mental Phenomena, and Intentionality
III.3 Husserl on Phenomenology and Intentionality
III.4 Moore and the Nature of Judgment
III.5 Moore and the Refutation of Idealism
III.6 Meinong’s World
IV. Russell, Unlimited Logicism, Acquaintance, and Description
IV.1 Russell Beyond Brentano, Husserl, Moore, and Meinong
IV.2 Russell and Mathematical Logic versus Kant
IV.3 Russell’s Unlimited Logicist Project
IV.4 Pursued by Logical Furies: Russell’s Paradox Again
IV.5 Russell’s ‘Fido’-Fido Theory of Meaning
IV.6 Knowledge-by-Acquaintance and Knowledge-by-Description
IV.7 Russell’s Theory of Descriptions
IV.8 Russell’s Multiple-Relation Theory of Judgment
IV.9 Russellian Analysis, Early Wittgenstein, and Impredicativity Again
IV.10 Russell and The Philosophy of Logical Atomism
V. Wittgenstein and the Tractatus 1: The Title, and Propositions 1–2.063
V.1 A Brief Synopsis of the Tractatus
V.2 The Tractatus in Context
V.3 The Basic Structure of the Tractatus: A Simple Picture
V.4 Tractarian Ontology
V.5 Reconstructing Wittgenstein’s Reasoning
V.6 What Are the Objects or Things?
V.7 The Role of Logic in Tractarian Ontology
V.8 Colorless Objects/Things
V.9 Tractarian Ontology, Necessity, and Contingency
V.10 Some Initial Worries, and Some Possible Wittgensteinian Counter-Moves
VI. Wittgenstein and the Tractatus 2: Propositions 2.013–5.55
VI.1 What is Logical Space? What is Real Space?
VI.2 Atomic Facts Necessarily Are in Manifest or Phenomenal Space, But Objects or Things Themselves Necessarily Aren’t in Manifest or Phenomenal Space
VI.3 Logical Space is Essentially More Comprehensive than Manifest or Phenomenal Space
VI.4 Why There Can’t/Kant Be a Non-Logical World
VI.5 A Worry About Wittgenstein’s Conception of Logic: Non-Classical Logics
VI.6 What is a Tractarian Proposition?
VI.7 Naming Objects or Things, and Picturing Atomic Facts
VI.8 Signs, Symbols, Sense, Truth, and Judgment
VI.9 Propositions Again
VI.10 Language and Thought
VII. Wittgenstein and the Tractatus 3: Propositions 4–5.61
VII.1 The Logocentric Predicament, Version 3.0: Justifying Deduction
VII.2 The Logical Form of Deduction
VII.3 Logic Must Take Care of Itself
VII.4 Tautologies and Contradictions
VII.5 What is Logic?
VII.6 Logic is the A Priori Essence of Language
VII.7 Logic is the A Priori Essence of Thought
VII.8 Logic is the A Priori Essence of the World
VIII. Wittgenstein and the Tractatus 4: Propositions 5.62–7
VIII.1 Tractarian Solipsism and Tractarian Realism
VIII.2 Tractarian Solipsism
VIII.3 Tractarian Realism
VIII.4 Is the Tractatus’s Point an Ethical One?
VIII.5 The Meaning of Life
VIII.6 Three Basic Worries About the Tractatus
VIII.7 Natural Science and the Worry About the Simplicity of the Objects or Things
VIII.8 Natural Science and the Worry About the Logical Independence of Atomic Facts
VIII.9 Tractarian Mysticism and the Worry About Metaphilosophy
IX. Carnap, The Vienna Circle, Logical Empiricism, and The Great Divide
IX.1 Carnap Before and After the Tractatus
IX.2 Carnap, The Vienna Circle, and The Elimination of Metaphysics
IX.3 The Verifiability Principle and Its Fate
IX.4 The Davos Conference and The Great Divide
X. Wittgenstein and the Investigations 1: Preface, and §§1–27
X.1 From the Tractatus to the Investigations
X.2 The Thesis That Meaning Is Use
X.3 A Map of the Investigations
X.4 The Critique of Pure Reference: What the Builders Did
XI. Wittgenstein and the Investigations 2: §§28–242
XI.1 The Picture Theory and the Vices of Simplicity
XI.2 Wittgenstein’s Argument Against The Picture Theory: A Rational Reconstruction
XI.3 Understanding and Rule-Following
XI.4 Wittgenstein’s Rule-Following Paradox: The Basic Rationale
XI.5 Wittgenstein’s Rule-Following Paradox: A Rational Reconstruction
XI.6 Kripkenstein’s Rule-Following Paradox: Why Read Kripke Too?
XI.7 Kripkenstein’s Rule-Following Paradox: A Rational Reconstruction
XI.8 How to Solve The Paradox: Wittgenstein’s Way and Kripkenstein’s Way
XI.8.1 Wittgenstein and The Rule-Following Paradox: A Rational Reconstruction
XI.8.2 Kripkenstein and The Rule-Following Paradox: A Rational Reconstruction
XII. Wittgenstein and the Investigations 3: §§242–315
XII.1 What is a Private Language?
XII.2 The Private Language Argument: A Rational Reconstruction
XII.3 Is Wittgenstein a Behaviorist? No.
XII.4 Wittgenstein on Meanings, Sensations, and Human Mindedness: A Rational Reconstruction
XIII. Wittgenstein and the Investigations 4: §§316–693 & 174e-232e
XIII.1 Linguistic Phenomenology
XIII.2 Two Kinds of Seeing
XIII.3 Experiencing the Meaning of a Word
XIII.4 The Critique of Logical Analysis, and Logic-As-Grammar
XIV. Coda: Wittgenstein and Kantianism
XIV.1 World-Conformity 1: Kant, Transcendental Idealism, and Empirical Realism
XIV.2 World-Conformity 2: Wittgenstein, Transcendental Solipsism, and Pure Realism
XIV.3 World-Conformity 3: To Forms of Life
XIV.4 The Critique of Self-Alienated Philosophy 1: Kant’s Critical Metaphilosophy
XIV.5 The Critique of Self-Alienated Philosophy 2: Wittgensteinian Analysis as Critique
XV. From Quine to Kripke and Analytic Metaphysics: The Adventures of the Analytic-Synthetic Distinction
XV.1 Two Urban Legends of Post-Empiricism
XV.2 A Very Brief History of The Analytic-Synthetic Distinction
XV.3 Why the Analytic-Synthetic Distinction Really Matters
XV.4 Quine’s Critique of the Analytic-Synthetic Distinction, and a Meta-Critique
XV.5 Three Dogmas of Post-Quineanism
XVI. Analytic Philosophy and The Ash-Heap of History
XVI.1 Husserl’s Crisis and Our Crisis
XVI.2 Why Hasn’t Post-Classical Analytic Philosophy Produced Any Important Ideas in the Last Thirty-Five Years?
XVI.3 On Irad Kimhi’s Thinking and Being, Or, It’s The End Of Analytic Philosophy As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
XVI.4 Thinking Inside and Outside the Fly-Bottle: The New Poverty of Philosophy and Its Second Copernican Revolution
This installment contains sections II.10 — II.11.
But you can also read or download a .pdf version of the complete book HERE.
II.10 Husserl, Logic, and Logical Psychologism, aka LP
According to Edmund Husserl in his 1901 philosophical blockbuster, the Prolegomena to Pure Logic, which constitutes the preliminary rational foundation for — and also the entire first volume of — his equally blockbuster Logical Investigations, pure logic is the a priori theoretical, nomological science of “demonstration” (LI 1, 57; Hua XVIII, 23).[i]
For him, demonstration includes both consequence and provability.
Consequence is the defining property of all and only formally valid arguments, i.e., arguments that cannot lead from true premises to false conclusions.
And provability, aka “completeness,” is the property of a logical system such that, for every truth of logic in that system, there is, at least in principle, a rigorous step-by-step logically valid procedure demonstrating its validity according to strictly universal, ideal, and necessary logical laws.
In this way, the laws of pure logic completely determine its internal structure.
Moreover, these laws and these proofs are all knowable a priori, with self-evident insight (LI 1, 196; Hua XVIII, 185–195).
So not only is pure logic independent of any other theoretical science, in that it requires no other science in order to ground its core notion of demonstration, it also provides both epistemic and semantic foundations for every other theoretical science, as well as every practical discipline or “technology.”
To the extent that pure logic is the foundation of every other theoretical science, it’s the “theory of science” or Wissenschaftlehre in Bolzano‘s sense of that term (LI 1, 60; Hua XVIII, 27), the “science which deals with the ideal essence of science as such” (LI 1, 236; Hua XVIII, 244), and thus the science of science.
Logical Psychologism, or for convenience, LP, is a particularly strong version of the denial that pure logic is an independent and absolutely foundational science.
LP was a widely held view in the second half of the 19th century that grew out of the neo-Kantian and neo-Hegelian traditions alike, and it’s also closely associated with the origins of empirical psychology as an autonomous discipline.[ii]
Husserl’s arguments against LP in chapters 1–8 of the Prologemena, often referred to simply as Husserl‘s “refutation” of LP, constitute one of the most famous and broadly influential critical set-pieces in 20th century philosophy, comparable in these respects to W.V.O. Quine‘s famous attack on the analytic-synthetic distinction in “Two Dogmas of Empiricism,” published almost exactly fifty years after the Prolegomena.
In this connection, it’s surely by no means a historical or philosophical accident that the original working title of another one of Quine‘s famous and closely-related essays from the same period was “Epistemology Naturalized: Or, the Case for Psychologism.”[iii]
By the 1950s, psychologism was making a serious comeback in epistemology, if not in the philosophy of logic.
But radically unlike Quine‘s seminal essays,[iv] which are still widely read, studied, and taught in contemporary Anglo-American and European Analytic-philosophy-oriented departments of philosophy, Husserl‘s Prolegomena nowadays is rarely read or studied, and even more rarely taught.
Insofar as the debate between LP and anti-psychologism is still an issue, moreover, it’s Frege’s logico-philosophical writings that Analytic philosophers take to be the seminal texts on anti-psychologism.
It’s obvious that Husserl‘s conception of pure logic shares much with Frege‘s conception of pure logic in his 1879 Begriffsschrift and other manuscripts he was working on in the 1880s and 90s,[v] even allowing for differences in the formal details of their logical theories.
It’s also obvious that Husserl‘s critique of LP shares much with Frege’s critique of LP in his 1884 Foundations of Arithmetic and the Forward of his 1893 Basic Laws of Arithmetic, and that there’s a direct, important, influential relationship between Frege’s devastating 1894 review of Husserl‘s Philosophy of Arithmetic,[vi] and Husserl‘s lengthy and passionate defense of his conception of pure logic against LP.
Indeed, this is all explicitly conceded by Husserl in the second half of an unintentionally ironic footnote buried away almost exactly in the middle of the Prolegomena (LI 1, 179, n.**; HUA XVIII, 169, n. **).
But whatever the precise nature of Frege’s influence on Husserl himself, and whatever the contemporary status of Frege’s anti-psychologistic writings, Husserl’s arguments against LP in chapters 3–8 of the Prolegomena are independently philosophically interesting; and in fact they had a massively greater intellectual and professional impact on the development of German and European philosophy in the first half of the 20th century, than Frege‘s arguments did.[vii]
Moreover, and perhaps most importantly, as we’ll see in sub-section II.13 below, one of the deepest problems in the philosophy of logic arises directly from Husserl’s arguments against LP.
Husserl’s two-part response to this deep problem offers a prima facie compelling line of argument to which contemporary philosophers of logic and philosophical logicians should pay close attention.
II.11 What LP is, and its Three Cardinal Sins
According to Husserl, LP is the thesis that
the essential theoretical foundations of logic lie in psychology, in whose field those propositions belong — as far as their theoretical content in concerned — which give logic its specific character (Gepräge). (LI 1, 90; HUA XVIII, 63)
In this way, LP is the thesis that logic is reducible to empirical psychology[viii] in the strong, dual (i.e., explanatory and ontological) sense that
(i) a complete knowledge of the empirical, natural facts and causal laws with which empirical psychology deals would yield a complete a priori knowledge of the existence and specific character of logic, and
(ii) the empirical, natural facts and causal laws with which empirical psychology deals strictly determine the existence and specific character of logic.
Or in other words, according to LP, logic is nothing over and above empirical psychology.
This does not entail that empirical psychologists of logic are, in and of themselves, logicians, but instead only that whatever it is that logicians know about logic, can in principle be known by empirical psychologists wholly and solely by virtue of their knowing all the empirical, natural facts and causal laws that are relevant to logical thinking.
Husserl’s presentation of LP proceeds by means of a lengthy and sometimes repetitive critical exposition of the views of the leading recent and exponents of LP, including Mill, Bain, Spencer, Wundt, Sigwart, Erdmann, Lange, Lipps, Mach, and Avenarius.
As against the “psychologicists,” Husserl explicitly aligns himself with Leibniz, Kant, Herbart, Bolzano, Lotze, and (somewhat more covertly, as I noted above) Frege.
In the crucial case of Kant, however, there is some apparent equivocation, when in a footnote Husserl asserts that “even transcendental psychology also is psychology” (LI 1, 122, n.1; HUA XVIII, 102, n. 3).
This apparent equivocation on Husserl’s part can perhaps be explained away by distinguishing between Kant’s theory of logic, which is explicitly and strongly anti-psychologistic,[ix] and some neo-Kantian theories of logic, which are arguably psychologistic.
If this is correct, then Husserl is not really equivocating; instead, he is attributing psychologism to the mere followers, aka “epigones,” of Kant, but not to Kant himself, who would on the contrary be historically and rhetorically aligned with Husserl‘s own anti-psychologism.
Quite apart from the historical and rhetorical vehicle of Husserl‘s critique of LP, however, its underlying content and structure involve, first, a pair-wise contrastive characterization of LP’s conception of logic over and against Husserl‘s own conception of pure logic, and then second, a set of critical arguments showing how LP either fails by external rational standards or internally refutes itself.
The pair-wise contrastive characterization of logic according to LP versus pure logic according to Husserl can be summarized as follows.
Logic according to LP is:
(ii) based on particulars
(iii) based on empirical facts
(iv) concretely real
(v) governed by causal laws
(viii) based on relativized, subjective truth known by sense experience
(ix) a posteriori
(xi) instrumentally normative
Pure Logic according to Husserl is:
(ii*) based on real universals
(iii*) based on non-empirical essences
(iv*) abstractly ideal
(v*) governed by strictly universal laws
(viii*) based on absolute, objective truth known by self-evident insight
(ix*) a priori
(xi*) categorically normative
It should be especially noticed that the items in the first list all differ from the corresponding items in the second list not in degree but rather in kind.
In each pairing, some extra non-natural or ideal property has been added by Husserl to the right-hand item of that pair in order to distinguish it in kind from the corresponding item on the left-hand side.
The extra properties attributed by Husserl to pure logic are “non-natural” or “ideal” in two senses.
First, none of the extra properties is to be found in the physical, spatiotemporal world.
Second, none of the extra properties is knowable by experiential, experimental methods.
So according to Husserl, pure logic is uniquely characterizable in terms of a set of special non-natural or ideal kinds to which LP has no ontological access (since LP has access only to the physical, spatiotemporal world) or explanatory access (since LP has access only to concepts and beliefs that are generated by experiential, experimental methods).
This catalogue of sharply opposed conceptions of logic is then strategically exploited by Husserl in his three basic charges against LP — as it were, the three “cardinal sins” of LP.
Husserl‘s first basic charge against LP is that LP is committed to what I will call Modal Reductionism about Logic or MRL, which says logical laws and logical truths are explanatorily reducible to merely causal laws and merely contingent, probabilistic truths:
The task of psychology is to investigate the laws governing the real connections of mental events with one another, as well as with related mental dispositions and corresponding events in the bodily organism…. Such connections are causal. The task of logic is quite different. It does not inquire into the causal origins or consequences of intellectual activities, but into their truth-content. (LI 1, 93–94; HUA XVIII, 67)
Laws of thought, as causal laws governing acts of knowledge in their mental interweaving, could only be stated in the form of probabilities. (LI 1, 101; HUA XVIII, 76)
Logical laws according to Husserl are necessary rules, and logical truth according to Husserl is necessary truth.
On the classical Leibnizian account, a rule or proposition is logically necessary if and only if it’s true in every “possible world,” i.e., in every total set of “compossible” or essentially mutually consistent substances, insofar as this compossibility is completely envisioned by God.
Sometimes this Leibnizian, or theocentric, type of logical necessity is also called metaphysical necessity.
By contrast, according to the Kantian account, a rule or proposition is logically necessary if and only if it’s “strictly universal” and also “analytic,” that is:
(i) it’s true in a complete class of humanly conceivable variants on the actual experienced world,
(ii) there’s no humanly conceivable variant on the actual experienced world that’s an admissible counterexample to it, and
(iii) its denial entails a contradiction.[x]
Sometimes this Kantian, or anthropocentric, type of logical necessity is also called conceptual necessity.
Otherwise put now, and regardless of whether the necessity is construed as metaphysical necessity (Leibnizian or theocentric logical necessity) or as conceptual necessity (Kantian or anthropocentric logical necessity), logical laws and logical truths, as necessary, are always absolutely or unrestrictedly true.
By sharp contrast, merely causal laws and merely probabilistic laws are inherently restricted by brute facts about the actual world.
As Hume pointed out, there is no absolute guarantee that any causal law, no matter how generally it holds in the actual world of sensory experiences, will always hold.
And mere probabilities, no matter how probable, are always less than 1.
So Husserl‘s first basic charge against LP, or MRL, says that by explanatorily reducing logical laws and logical truths to merely causal laws and merely contingent, probabilistic truths, LP radically restricts the scope of pure logical truth.
Husserl‘s second basic charge against LP is that LP is committed to what I’ll call Epistemic Empiricism about Logic or EEL, which says that logical knowledge is explanatorily reducible to merely a posteriori knowledge:
[According to LP] no natural laws can be known a priori, nor established by sheer insight. The only way in which a natural law can be established and justified, is by induction from the singular facts of experience. (LI 1, 99; HUA XVIII, 73)
On this basis [of LP], no assertion could be certainly judged correct, since probabilities, taken as the standard of all certainty, must impress a merely probabilistic stamp on all knowledge. (LI 1, 101; HUA XVIII, 76)
Logical knowledge according to Husserl is a priori knowledge and also certain knowledge.
A priori knowledge, in turn, is belief that is sufficiently justified by evidence which is underdetermined by all sets and sorts of sensory experiences, possibly also including evidence that includes no sensory experience whatsoever and is rationally “pure.”
Certain knowledge is indubitable belief, i.e., belief that’s not open to refutation by actual or possible counterexamples, and more particularly, it’s not open to refutation by sensory experiences or factual statistics.
So Husserl‘s second basic charge against LP, or EEL, says that LP radically underestimates the epistemic force of pure logical knowledge.
Husserl‘s third basic charge against LP is that it is committed to what I will call Skeptical Relativism about Logic, or SRL, which says that logical laws, logical necessary truth, and logical knowedge are explanatorily reducible to either individually-held beliefs (individual relativism) or species-specific beliefs (specific relativism):
In order to criticize psychologism we have … to discuss the concept of subjectivism or relativism, which is also part of the above-mentioned [skeptical] theory. One of its original forms is caught in the Protagorean formula: “man is the measure of all things,” provided this last is interpreted as saying “The individual man is the measure of all truth.” For each man that is true which seems to him true, one thing to one man and the opposite to another, if that is how he sees it. We can therefore opt for the formula “All truth (and knowledge) is relative” — relative to the contingently judging subject. If, however, instead of such a subject, we make some contingent species of judging beings the pivot of our relations, we achieve a new form of relativism. Man as such is then the measure of all truth. Every judgment whose roots are to be found in what is specific to man, in the constitutive laws of man as species — is a true judgment, for us human beings. To the extent that such judgments belong to the form of common human subjectivity, the term “subjectivism” is in place here too (in talk of the subject as the ultimate source of knowledge, etc.). It is best to employ the term “relativism,” and to distinguish individual from specific relativism. The restriction of the latter to the human species, stamps it as anthropologism. (LI 1, 138; HUA XVIII, 122)
Relativism — or more precisely, cognitive relativism, which is about theoretical beliefs and truth, as opposed to moral relativism, which is about ethical beliefs and principles of conduct — says that truth is determined by belief or opinion.
In turn, there are two distinct types of cognitive relativism.
On the one hand, individual cognitive relativism says that truth is determined by individual beliefs or opinions (= subjective truth).
And on the other hand, specific cognitive relativism or anthropologism says that truth is determined by beliefs or opinions that are either the result of human agreement (= truth by mutual contract, or truth by general convention) or are innately biologically specified in all human beings (= truth by instinct).
According to Husserl, logical truth is objective truth, hence mind-independent truth, hence truth that is inherently resistant to determination by any merely subjective, contractual, conventional, or biological facts.
So Husserl‘s third basic charge against LP, or SRL, says that LP implies a mistaken and indeed ultimately skeptical theory of the determination of truth.
[i] For convenience, I’ll use internal citations of Husserl’s Logical Investigations. They’ll include an abbreviation of the English title, volume number, and page number, followed by an abbreviation of the German title, corresponding volume number, and corresponding page number. The English edition used is E. Husserl, Logical Investigations, trans. J.N. Findlay, 2 vols. (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970) = LI. I generally follow the English translation, but have occasionally modified it where appropriate.
[ii] See, e.g., M. Kusch, M. Psychologism (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1995).
[iii] Kusch, Psychologism, p. 11.
[iv] W.V.O. Quine, “Two Dogmas of Empiricism,” in W.V.O. Quine, From a Logical Point of View, (2nd edn., New York: Harper & Row, 1961), pp. 20–46; W.V.O. Quine, “Epistemology Naturalized,” in W.V.O. Quine, Ontological Relativity, New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1969), pp. 69–90; W.V.O. Quine, “Truth by Convention,” in W.V.O. Quine, The Ways of Paradox, 2nd edn., Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1976), pp. 77–106; and W.V.O. Quine, “Carnap and Logical Truth,” in Quine, The Ways of Paradox, pp. 107–132.
[v] See, e.g., G. Frege, “Logic ,” in G. Frege, Posthumous Writings, trans. P. Long et al. (Chicago, IL: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1979, pp. 127–151.
[vi] G. Frege, “Review of E. G. Husserl, Philosophie der Arithmetik I,” in G. Frege, Collected Papers in Mathematics, Logic, and Philosophy, trans. M. Black et al. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1984), pp. 195–209.
[vii] See, e.g., Kusch, Psychologism, chs. 1, 3, 4.
[viii] See, e.g., R. Hanna, Rationality and Logic (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006), ch. 1, also available online in preview, HERE.
[ix] R. Hanna, Kant and the Foundations of Analytic Philosophy (Oxford: Clarendon/Oxford Univ. Press, 2001), pp. 71–76, also available online in preview, HERE.
[x] Hanna, Kant and the Foundations of Analytic Philosophy, chs. 3 and 5.
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