Husserl Studies

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 209–228 | Cite as

Husserl on Communication and Knowledge Sharing in the Logical Investigations and a 1931 Manuscript

  • Michele AverchiEmail author


In the Logical Investigations, Husserl argues that “sign” is an ambiguous word because it refers to two essentially different signitive functions: indication and expression. Indications work in an evidential way, providing information through a direct association of the sign and the presence of an object or state of affairs. Expressions (when used to transmit knowledge) work in a non-evidential way, pointing to possible experiences and displaying that the speaker or someone else has had such experience. In this paper I show that Husserl went back to the distinction between indications and expressions in a much later text, a manuscript from 1931, in order to distinguish between two kinds of communication with different essential features. I call these indicative and expressive communication. My claim is that Husserl’s distinction between these two types of communication is a crucial contribution to the phenomenology of knowledge sharing. In knowledge sharing, we appropriate someone else’s knowledge as someone else’s knowledge. Husserl shows that only expressive communication, and not indicative communication, makes this appropriation possible. Since Husserl argues that only humans use expressive communication, his analysis of indicative and expressive communication is also a contribution to understanding the uniquely human capacity for accumulating knowledge.


  1. Benoist, J. (2008). Linguistic phenomenology? In F. Mattens (Ed.), Meaning and language: Phenomenological perspectives. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  2. Benoist, J. (2015). Sense and reference, again. In J. Bloechl & N. De Warren (Eds.), Phenomenology in a new key: Between analysis and history. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  3. Dahlstrom, D. O. (2001). Heidegger’s concept of truth. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Derrida, J. (1973). Speech and phenomena: An essay on Husserl’s theory of signs. D. B. Allison (Trans.). Evanston: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Di Martino, C. (2014). Husserl and the question of animality. Research in Phenomenology, 44, 50–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Engelland, C. (2014). Ostension: Word learning and the embodied mind. Cambridge: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hua XV. Husserl, E. (1973). Zur Phänomenologie der Intersubjektivität. Dritter Teil: 1929-1935. I. Kern (Ed.). Den Haag: Martinus Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  8. Hua XX/2. Husserl, E. (2005). Logische Untersuchungen Ergänzungsband Zweiter Teil. U. Melle (Ed.). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  9. Husserl, E. (1970a). Logical investigations. Vol. I. J. N. Findlay (Trans.). London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  10. Husserl, E. (1970b). Logical investigations. Vol. II. J. N. Findlay (Trans.). London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Leung, K. (2011). Meaning and intuitive act in the Logical Investigations. Husserl Studies, 25, 125–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Lohmar, D. (2016). Denken ohne Sprache. Phänomenologie des nicht-sprachlichen Denkens bei Mensch und Tier im Licht der Evolutionsforschung, Primatologie und Neurologie. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  13. Mattens, F. (Ed.). (2008). Meaning and language: Phenomenological perspectives. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  14. Melle, U. (2007). The enigma of expression: Husserl’s doctrines of sign and expression in the manuscripts for the revision of the VIth Logical Investigation. The New Yearbook for Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy, 7, 43–62.Google Scholar
  15. Seyfarth, R. M., & Cheney, D. L. (2003). Signalers and receivers in animal communication. Annual Review of Psychology, 54, 145–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Sokolowski, R. (2002). Semiotics in Husserl’s logical investigations. In D. Zahavi & F. Stjernfelt (Eds.), One hundred years of phenomenology. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  17. Sokolowski, R. (2008). Phenomenology of the human person. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Tomasello, M. (2008). Origins of human communication. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Catholic University of AmericaWashingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations