In the beginning was thelogos: Hermeneutical remarks on the starting-point of Edmund Husserl's Formal and transcendental Logic


According to the leading commentators and the author himself, Edmund Husserl'sFormal and transcendental Logic is the most important work on phenomenological logic ever written. Nonetheless, it has, in general, gained far less attention than theLogical Investigations and theIdeas on a pure Phenomenology and phenomenological Philosophy. In particular, the argument of § 1 of theLogic, namely, that it is fruitful to start with the meanings of the expression “logos” in order to develop a genuinely transcendental logic, has received virtually no consideration. This paper takes a step towards filling this empty space by analyzing and criticizing the argument of § 1 as a problem to which (a) solution(s) must be found: First, it offers an introduction to the problemper se, which is one of the relationship between speech and reason; second, it tries to bring the given senses of “logos” to a higher grade of conceptual clarity and distinctness than that in the text; third, it attempts to decide whether and how far these senses of the word can be documented according to principles of Classical philology; fourth, it endeavors to determine exactly the relationship between the meanings of “logos” in § 1 and the senses of “logic” in § § 1–107; finally, it strives to show that, with respect to the account of the relationship between speech and reason provided by Husserl in theLogic, there is, at best, a conflict and, at worst, a contradiction between the strategy outlined in § 1 and the tactics adopted in § 2ff. Throughout, the paper reads Husserl's “descriptions” as ‘arguments’ for his positions, thereby avoiding any of the obscurity sometimes infecting work in “Continental philosophy”.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Author information



Additional information

This paper represents the text of a lecture which was held for the Colloquium of the Department of Philosophy of The University of Notre Dame on 4 September 1987. The commentator was Prof. Dr. Karl Ameriks, whom the author wishes to thank for valuable suggestions for improvements. The paper also represents the text of a lecture which was given for the Twenty-sixth annual Meeting ofThe Society for Phenomenology and existential Philosophy which took place at The University of Notre Dame from 15 to 17 October 1987. The author is especially grateful to Profs. Drs. J.N. Mohanty and Donn Welton for helpful questions, comments and criticisms. Finally, the paper represents a radically different version of “Am Anfang was der ‘Logos’: Hermeneutische Bemerkungen zum Ansatz derFormalen und Transzendentalen Logik von Edmund Husserl”, in Heffernan,Am Anfang war die Logik: Hermeneutische Abhandlungen zum Ansatz der “Formalen und Transzendentalen Logik” von Edmund Husserl (Amsterdam 1988), pp. 5–96, which the reader should study carefully.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Heffernan, G. In the beginning was thelogos: Hermeneutical remarks on the starting-point of Edmund Husserl's Formal and transcendental Logic. Man and World 22, 185–213 (1989).

Download citation


  • Political Philosophy
  • Important Work
  • Continental Philosophy
  • Phenomenological Philosophy
  • Transcendental Logic