Husserl Studies

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 191–209 | Cite as

Act Psychology and Phenomenology: Husserl on Egoic Acts

  • Benjamin SheredosEmail author


Husserl famously retracted his early portrayal, in Logische Untersuchungen, of phenomenology as empirical psychology. Previous scholarship has typically understood this transcendental turn in light of the Ideen’s revised conception of the ἐποχή, and its distinction between noesa and noemata. This essay thematizes the evolution of the concept of mental acts in Husserl’s work as a way of understanding the shift. I show how the recognition of the pure ego in Ideen I and II enabled Husserl to radically alter his conception of mental acts, coming to understand them all in terms of genuine acts (doings or performances) in a way that had been essentially precluded for descriptive psychologists (Brentano, Natorp, and the early Husserl) so long as the pure ego was denied. This reading challenges a widespread assumption in the secondary literature that “mental act” is a merely technical term or misnomer.



Clinton Tolley and Garrett Bredeson provided very helpful feedback on earlier drafts. Earlier work leading up to this paper also benefitted from discussion at the 2013 meetings of the North American Society for Early Phenomenology (NASEP), and the Seminar in Phenomenology and History (SIPHOP). I am most especially grateful for the feedback and encouragement of Hanne Jacobs and other organizers of the 47th annual meeting of the Husserl Circle, where an earlier draft was awarded the 2016 Center for Advance Research in Phenomenology Director’s Memorial Prize in Honor of José Huertas-Jourda.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUC San DiegoLa JollaUSA

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