Husserl Studies

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 211–227 | Cite as

Surrogates and Empty Intentions: Husserl’s “On the Logic of Signs” as the Blueprint for his First Logical Investigation

  • Thomas ByrneEmail author


This paper accomplishes two tasks. First, I examine in detail Edmund Husserl’s earliest philosophy of surrogates, as it is found in his 1890 “On the Logic of Signs (Semiotic)”. I analyze his psychological and logical investigations of surrogates, where the former is concerned with explaining how these signs function and the latter with how they do so reliably. His differentiation of surrogates on the basis of their genetic origins and degrees of necessity is discussed. Second, the historical importance of this text is disclosed by showing how Semiotic serves as both the inspiration for, and the foil to, Husserl’s 1901 First Logical Investigation. Husserl not only adopts the idea that linguistic signs can function via association, but also maintains that such signs can motivate me to execute one of two experiences. The key difference between the texts is that Husserl abandons his theory of surrogates in 1901, instead holding that I can experience absent objects by means of empty intentions. The reasons why Husserl found it necessary to transform this tenet of his philosophy are discussed at length.


Logical Investigation Intentional Object Associative Link Mental Energy Linguistic Sign 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I would like to thank Ullrich Melle, Julia Jansen, Carlo Ierna, Diego D’Angelo, and Claudio Majolino for their most helpful comments on this essay.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Husserl-Archives: Centre for Phenomenology and Continental PhilosophyKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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