5 JANUARY 1974, Page 14

Husserl and logic

Gilbert Ryle

Experience and Judgment: Investigations In a Genealogy of Logic Edmund Husserl. Translated by J. S. Churchill and K. Ameriks (Routledge and Kegan Paul £5.95)

Husserl, the founder of Phenomenology, left behind him some published and countless unpublished writings. In 1948, his disciple, L.

Landgrebe, published a book, Erfahrung und Urteil, constructed by himself out of things sporadically written and dictated by his master, replenished with his own memories of

Husserl's spoken comments and suggestions. All this Landgrebe assembled and arranged, with his own section-headings, table of con tents, index, and a long introduction. Nothing, however, was in the book that Husserl had not approved before he died (1938).

The translators of Experience and Judgment: Investigations in a Genealogy of Logic

seem, without text-checking, to have produced a faithful version of this 1948 German edition. They loyally conserve the almost comic turgidness of Husserl's mature dicta tion-style. They have not, and could not have, made the book readable — even by a dutiful

reviewer. But they should have provided a glossary of those of Husserl's esoteric wordcoinages that are cardinal to his message. No reader, though equipped with Greek and Latin, will construe passages, regular rather than exceptional, which pivot on: 'apophantic,' 'thematic,' noematic,"doxie objectivating,' 'protodoxic,"synthetic,"substrate,"substratification,"quiddity,"positionality"pro tendon,' 'sedimentation,' 'adjectivity,' 'modalization,"presentification,' or 'explication' (as misused here). A charitable guess should have been attempted at the meaning intended by the incessant metaphor 'horizon.' A footnote should have told the reader that 'objectivity,' habituality' and 'intuitivity' are merely 'object,' habie and 'intuition' writ importantly large; and that 'originality' means, not 'inventiveness' but, `basicness' or 'primordial-ness.'

Husserl's project was once again to show that Logic is under the tutelage of Phenomenology (which was something between Analytic Psychology and Philosophy of Mind); and therefore that his darling Phenomenology is more basic than Logic. Logic anatomises publishable truths and falsehoods and tracks to their sources the selfevidentnesses that • irradiate parts of these anatomies and certain rational operations with them. Logic has a field only where propositional thinking is already at work. But our propositional thinkings are only the adult articulations of vital impulses and energies that had stirred inarticulately in our prepredicative experiences of sensing, perceiving, noticing, examining, remembering, anticipating, fancying, etc. To account for our premisses and conclusions, and for our subjects (or 'substrates') and our predicates (or 'adjectivities), we have to trace them back to their geneses in our private experiences of sensing, seeing, hearing, etc. Cartesian in

dubitability has to be the Adam-and-Eve of logical certitude.

In this undertaking Husserl was, unwittingly, in partial parallel with Bradley in his Principles of Logic (1883), as well as with Russell in his searches for an ultimate 'Knowledge by Acquaintance' and for a conduit of Self-Evidence. How do I anchor in the real world any of the subjects of my predications? Whence do I get certification for any of my predicatings? What can I know anything about; and what can I know about it? Popper,

in ranking the contents of his inter-personal

third world above any my-here-now cogitationes, denies, in effect, that very priority of 'experiences' over 'judgments' that was unquestioned by, inter alios, Hume, Mill, Bradley, Russell, the Logical Positivists and Husserl.

From his start Husserl had accepted Brentano's 'intentionality' principle:— 1) that what is mental is 'transitive'; and 2) that there are different dimensions of 'transitiveness.' But it looks as though he later, maybe uncons

ciously, diversified, for the better, Brentano's idea of 'transitiveness' out of that static Cartesian one of merely having-a-cogitatumin-mind into a more dynamic one, that of

having-it-in-mind-to . . . Intentionality now incorporates our (vernacular) intendings.

What is mental is now 'transitive-cum-gerundive.' An ego is now allowed to try, as well as to have; it now avows other and more strenuous things than only its old 'cogito.'

Husserl did not take the further step of explicitly permitting the 'mental' to cover our competences and incompetences; our skills, successes, failures, and difficulties; our learnings-to and our self-trainings; our techniques, drills and precautions. Some of these notions are in fact semi-operative beneath Husserl's opaque psychological lingo, but the index is silent about all of them. There is no niche in this lingo for such epithets as 'silly' and 'expert.' Yet if 'minds' are not either, what or who are? We are still hearing chiefly about things that egos are allegedly fields of; not yet about things that people cope or fail to cope with.

Parts two and three of Experience and Judgment, which go unexpounded here, deal directly with propositional thinking itself; but part one explores the field of pre-predicative experience, that is to peoples' lives qua perceivers. The hope is that analysis of perceptual 'intentions' will reveal the embryos of the future subjects-cum-predicates of our thinkable and publishable discoveries and opinions. Interestingly, Husserl's account of our idea of 'not' as originating in our perceptual surprises and disappointments is like Bradley's.

Husserl sedulously applies his newly invigorated intentionality-principle to the modes of sense-perception. Encouraged, perhaps, by Gestalt-psychology, he wisely and silently turns his back on the reductionisms and atomisms of Hume and the Mills and retrieves for our seeings, hearings, listenings, etc., their temporal, spatial and functional amplitudes which sensationalism abolishes. What I see, or think that I see, has a near-side and a far-side, an inside and an outside, a past and a future. It is, for example, my own, still serviceable old bicycle. I should indeed not see it in the dark without being optically affected; but in seeing it, or in mis-recognizing itt4 am active as well as passive; I am using or misusing my memories of it, and not just +laving them; I am anticipating, sometimes over-confidently, what I shall see, hear and feel of it next, and not just drifting off in phantasies. The note of its bell is, or else is not quite, what I was prepared for, and I mount it with my accustomed movements.

Already we can see that a child, however inarticulate, may act on perceptual 'intentions' that themselves presuppose more primitive ones. He may today suspect and test ice that he had relied on yesterday; the ice has not altered, but he has outgrown a naivete. Perhaps the ladder of orders of perceptual wariness has its topmost rungs at just the level where the ladder of orders of propositional sophistication has its lowest rungs. Or perhaps there is only one ladder.

Instead of examining the involuted. doctrines (in Parts two and three) of the cogita

tive 'intentions' that constitute our thinkings of truths and falsehoods, ■,1,7e might vent one qualm. We have gained greatly from the replacement of reductionist by intentionalist analyses of perception. With Husserl, despite his Teutonic illiteracies, and with the literate Merleau-Ponty, we are at home, where Locke, Hume, Mill, Moore and Russell had left us out at sea. Yet suppose the young Aristotle, studying poetry, drama and rhetoric, hears that a separate Muse had inspired each separate literary excellence, and given her name to it. Soon Aristotle groans "That is a terrible lot of Muses! Yet how can we unreductively dispense with these inspirer.s, without denying the inspiredness of their eponymous excellences?" In the end our imaginary Aristotle detaches the literature from the inspiration-myth, and thinks of these Muses now as mythological dramatisations of the literary excellences themselves. So we, reading Husserl's careful, indeed interminable, analyses of the 'intentional' acts and strivings that go, say, to paying heed to the ringing of a.bell, are tempted to say 'That is a terrible lot of internal Cognitive Acts for us to have expended on a shortish tinkle — the more so, since we cannot recollect executing any of them! :Assuredly we did discriminably notice, realize, anticipate, locate, interpret, etc., just as Husserl says. Hut was there really a separate 'cogitatio' (0r, muse) behind each of these discriminables. Can we not unreductively detach all the ac' tive noticings, familiarities, interest-takings, anticipatings, suspectings, etc., that we as; suredly require from the myriad bits 0' Inner-theatrical' business that are supposed to set and keep them all going? It has been, 00 the whole, a good Aesop's fable. But do We need Rene" Aesop any longer? Gilbert Ryle was Waynflete Professor of Me' taphysical Philosophy at Oxford until 1968.