Beyond Leibniz: Husserl’s Vindication of Symbolic Knowledge

  • Jairo José da Silva
Part of the Phaenomenologica book series (PHAE, volume 195)


For the entire span of his philosophical career, Husserl struggled with the epistemological problem posed by imaginary elements, that is, improper or objectless representations that are nonetheless treated as if denoting something. How can it be explained that we can obtain knowledge (symbolic knowledge), as is paradigmatically the case of mathematics, by operating with symbols according to rules – even when these symbols do not represent anything? This problem presented itself very early in Husserl’s philosophical life and was a dominant factor in the development of his thought. From the first to the last work he published the task of clarifying the sense and delimitating the scope of symbolization and formalization in science and mathematics was one of Husserl’s major concerns. In this paper I want to show how Husserl dealt with the problem of symbolic knowledge in mathematics, and the central role it played in his philosophical development.


Formal Theory Objectual Domain General Arithmetic Logical Calculus Symbolic Reasoning 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jairo José da Silva
    • 1
  1. 1.State University of São PauloRio ClaroBrazil

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