Intentionality: Husserl’s Early Theory

  • John J. Drummond
Part of the Contributions to Phenomenology book series (CTPH, volume 4)


Husserl’s criticisms of Brentano’s theory of the intentional object as immanent to experience move Husserl—as we have already seen—toward a new view of intentionality and the intentional object. Smith and McIntyre argue that this new view sees the intentional object as a mediating abstract entity, the “ideal” or “intentional” content of an act, rather than an intended objectivity either immanent or transcendent to the act. We have seen, furthermore, that Frege’s semantics appeals to a notion of sense as an abstract entity which, in ordinary contexts, mediates between the linguistic expression and its referent. Smith and McIntyre suggest that this theory of sense can be employed—even if Frege had no influence whatsoever on Husserl—to elucidate Husserl’s theory of the intentional content of an act, and it is to Husserl’s first formulation in LU of the theory of intentional contents that we must now turn. Our concern is to understand the development of his thought as he moved from Brentano’s object-theory to his own theory of intentionality. This theory reaches its mature form no earlier than 1913 and the publication of Ideen I,1 although even then the doctrine of the noema requires further clarification and there are themes, e.g. the notions of horizon and genetic analysis, which still require much development.


Intentional Object Abstract Entity Partial Object Intentional Content Intended Object 
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  1. 1.
    Edmund Husserl, Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie. Erstes Buch: Allgemeine Einführung in die reine Phänomenologie (hereafter Ideen I), ed. by K Schuhmann, Husserliana III/1 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1976) [Edmund Husserl, Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy. First Book: General Introduction to a Pure Phenomenology (hereafter Ideas I), tr. by F. Kersten (The Hague, Boston, Lancaster: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1983)].Google Scholar
  2. 7.
    Cf., e.g. his “Anschauung und Repräsentation, Intention und Erfüllung” in Edmund Husserl, Aufsätze und Rezensionen (1890–1910) (hereafter AR), ed. by B. Rang, Husserliana XXII (The Hague, Boston, Lancaster: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1979), pp. 269–302; ‘Intentionale Gegenstände,” AR, pp. 303–48; and his review of Twardowski’s Zur Lehre vom Inhalt und Gegenstand der Vorstellungen: Eine psychologische Untersuchung, AR, pp. 349–56. Cf. also LU II/1, 445f. [II, 599f.].Google Scholar
  3. 10.
    Cf., e.g. LU II/1, 397ff. [II, 567ff]. Cf. also Edmund Husserl, Ding und Raum: Vorlesungen 1907 (hereafter DR), ed. by U. Claesges, Husserliana XVI (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1973), p. 45. Finally, cf. Ideen I, §85, where the distinction is drawn between intentional form (apprehension) and sensible hyle (contents-of-appre-hension). Husserl also calls the intentional form the “noesis” (Ideen I, 194–96 [205–7].Google Scholar
  4. 11.
    For discussions of Husserl’s view that the meanings present in individual acts of meaning are instantiations of meaning-essences, cf. Dallas Willard, “The Paradox of Logical Psychologism: Husserl’s Way Out,” Husserl: Expositions and Appraisals, ed. by F. A. Elliston and P. McCormick (Notre Dame and London: University of Notre Dame Press, 1977), pp. 10–17; and J. N. Mohanty, “Husserl’s Thesis of the Ideality of Meanings,” Readings on Husserl’s Logical Investigations, pp. 76–82.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • John J. Drummond
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyMount Saint Mary’s CollegeEmmitsburgUSA

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