Husserl, Frege and the Overcoming of Psychologism

  • J. N. Mohanty
Part of the Phaenomenologica book series (PHAE, volume 95)


In a letter to Marvin Farber, Husserl wrote, “External ‘influences’ are without significance … Really, my course was already marked out by the Philosophic der Arithmetik, and I could do nothing other than to proceed further.”1 This self-interpretation on the part of Husserl is contradicted by a familiar account of Husserl’s philosophical development. According to this latter account, Husserl began with a “psychologists” philosophy of arithmetic in particular, but also of logic and epistemology. It was under Frege’s influence, especially as a consequence of Frege’s sharp 1894 review of his early work on the philosophy of arithmetic, that Husserl rejected his own psychologism, and was led to the conception of a pure logic. This widely accepted story has two further sidelights: in the first place, although eventually Husserl came to share Frege’s anti-psychologism, unlike Frege he thought he could logically refute psychologism while Frege neither refuted psychologism nor thought any such refutation possible without begging the issue. Secondly, in spite of the zealous anti-psychologism of the Prolegomena, Husserl had not understood the full force and all the implications of Frege’s philosophy of logic, and so, not surprisingly, relapsed into a version of psychologism which he dignified by the name “transcendental phenomenology.”


Logical Investigation Mental Life Interpretive Framework Mental Entity Transcendental Phenomenology 
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Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Dordrecht/Boston/Lancaster 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. N. Mohanty
    • 1
  1. 1.OklahomaUSA

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