Bühler’s Axiomatic Project

  • Robert E. Innis


In the third volume of his Philosophy of Symbolic Forms (1957), Ernst Cassirer wrote, “The significance which the problem of language has acquired in contemporary psychology and most particularly for its methodology may be most clearly followed in the writings of Karl Bühler” (Vol. 3:208 n3). Readers of the following monograph will soon see how Bühler combined reflection on methodological principles with phenomenological description, thus providing the monograph with a certain heuristic fertility and contentiousness from both a methodological and substantive point of view. The programmatic and abstract character of the essay is explained basically by the fact that it was oriented from the beginning toward inclusion in Sprachtheorie, Bühler’s most important work, which was devoted to establishing the contours of the representational as opposed to the expressive or appellative (conative) function of language, its capacity to represent and to communicate objects and states of affairs. Once again, Ernst Cassirer (1957), when detailing the gradual predominance of the representational function in linguistic development, noted:

I use the term “representative function” (Darstellungsfunktion) in the same sense as Karl Bühler, whose works were not known to me when I treated the problem from the standpoint of the philosophy of language in the first volume of the present work . . . . This is all the more reason to mention here the fundamental agreement between the findings of a general analysis from the standpoint of the philosophy and history of language and of Bühler’s investigations, which are essentially oriented toward psychology and biology (1957, Vol. 3:208 n3)


Language Theory Language Structure Abstract Character Linguistic Development Representational Function 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert E. Innis
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LowellLowellUSA

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