Husserl’s Concept of Categorial Intuition

  • Dieter Lohmar
Part of the Phaenomenologica book series (PHAE, volume 164)


The question Husserl tries to address with his theory of categorial intuition can easily be exemplified. Let us say I make the claim “The book is lying on the table” or “The table is green.” In these expressions occur elements which can be easily fulfilled in sense perception, for example the book, the table, and the green color. But what gives fulfilment to the ‘lying on the table’ or the ‘being green’ of the book? For those intentions directed at ‘states of affairs’ (Sachverhalte), it seems impossible that they could be fulfilled by sense perception alone.


Sense Perception Logical Investigation Sense Content Continuous Perception Genetic Phenomenology 
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  1. 1.
    The German edition of the Logische Untersuchungen in the Husserliana series will be cited in the usual way (Hua Volume-Nr., page). E. Husserl’s Erfahrung and Urteil, Hamburg 1964, will be cited as ‘EU’. Some original terminology of Husserl’s will be given in brackets within the text without further references to make the translation more lucid. I am grateful for the help of James Dodd with the English text.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The terminology of primary and secondary intentions is also found at LI, 648, 651 [Hua XIX, 515 and 519], but with a completely different use and context.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    This does not imply that the fulfilment of the individual partial intentions has no function for the fulfilment of the categorial intention. But it is important to stress that the important `syntheses of coincidence’ can also function within a context of signitive intentions, for example in mathematics.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    Husserl writes that he no longer accepts the theory of categorical representation (daß er “die Lehre von der kategorialen Repräsentation nicht mehr billigt”), cf. LI, 668f [Hua XIX, 534 f].Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    Cf. D. LOHMAR, “Wo lag der Fehler des kategorialen Repräsentanten?”, 179–197.Google Scholar
  6. In contrast to categorial intention, which implies founding acts with different intentional objects, the continuous perception of a real object is a simple “blending” of intentions within one and the same intention.Google Scholar
  7. 10.
    In the Third Investigation the concept of mutual foundation is predominant, but in the Sixth Investigation Husserl favors the concept of one-sided foundation. Cf. LI, 466f, 476–78, 545 [Hua XIX, 270f, 283–286, 369] and for the Sixth Investigation LI, 790 [Hua XIX, 678]. On Husserls different concepts of foundation cf. also T. NENON, “Two Models of Foundation in the `Logical Investigations—, in Husserl in Contemporary Context, ed. B.C. Hopkins, Dordrecht 1997, 97–114.Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    Thus the theory of categorial intuition implies the claim of a certain kind of parallelism between intuition and experession in speech: Each element of the proposition ‘corresponds’ to a certain element in intuition.Google Scholar
  9. 12.
    With the help of the differences in this ‘gegenständliche Beziehung’ Husserl makes a distinction between synthetic and abstractive forms of categorial intuition. Synthetic categorial intentions are co-directed at the objects of their founding acts, as in `A is bigger than B’. Abstracting intentions are not directed to the objects of the founding acts in the same way. In abstractive intentions the objects of the founding acts can only be a medium through which the intention is directed to something common, the eidos (etwas Allgemeines). The objects of the founding acts are only examples of this eidos. (cf. LI, 799, 788, 798 [Hua XIX, 690, 676, 688]).Google Scholar
  10. 13.
    In the Sixth Investigation Husserl differentiates kinds of part-whole relations: The relation between whole and independent parts (Stücke) and the relation between whole and dependent parts (Momente), cf. LI, 792f [Hua XIX, 680f], 231, EU, §§ 50–52.1n Experience and Judgment he interprets the two forms ‘S has the part P’ and `S has the quality m’ as equivalent in relation to the structure of their constitution, cf. EU, 262.Google Scholar
  11. 14.
    In Ideas I Husserl will regard the possibility of making an intention explicit as characteristic of horizon-intentionality. Cf. Hua II111, 57, 71ff, 212f.Google Scholar
  12. 15.
    There is also no change in the mode of apperception, for example between intuitive, pictorial, and signitive intentions.Google Scholar
  13. 16.
    Cf. Ideas I, Hua III/1, 239.Google Scholar
  14. 17.
    Nevertheless the opportunity for new insights does not disappear without a trace. In genetic phenomenology one of the prominent themes is the way in which this `trace’ (of knowledge experienced but not conceptualized) is kept or stored in the human subject in the different forms of pre-predicative experience (associations, types). Cf the first section of Experience and Judgment and D. LOHMAR, Erfahrung and kategoriales Denken, Kap. III, 6–8.Google Scholar
  15. 18.
    Husserl himself writes—though in the problematic Chapter 7 of the Sixth Logical Investigation—about the possibility of a functional dependence of the evidence of the categorial act from the evidence of the founding acts (“funktionalen Abhängigkeit der Adaquation (Evidenz) des Gesamtaktes von der Adaquation der fundierenden Anschauungen”, LI, 811 [Hua XIX, 704]). Cf. D. LOHMAR, “Wo lag der Fehler der kategorialen Repräsentation?’, 179–197.Google Scholar
  16. 19.
    Husserl writes: “Zugleich `deckt’ sich aber das fortwirkende Gesamtwahmehmen gemäß jener implizierten Partialintention mit dem Sonderwahrnehmen.”, LI, 793 [Hua XIX, 682]. It is important to stress that this `synthesis of coincidence’ can also occur between symbolic (and thus `empty’) intentions, which is of cruical importance for the foundation of mathematical knowledge. Cf. also Hua XXIV, 282.Google Scholar
  17. 20.
    In the Cartesian Meditations Husserl speaks of analogizing apprehension (“analogisierenden Auffassung”), cf. Hua I, § 50.Google Scholar
  18. 21.
    The insight that not every constitution has the structure of content/apperception is formulated in a footnote of the 1928 edition of the Lectures on Inner Time-Consciousness, cf. Hua X, 7, Anm.1.Google Scholar
  19. 22.
    Cf. LI, 814 [Hua XIX, 7081 and D. LOHMAR, “Wo lag der Fehler des kategorialen Représentation?”, 179–197. Tugendhat takes the view that the actual performance of the categorial synthesis fulfills the categorial intention. Cf. E. TUGENDHAT, Der Wahrheitsbegrig 118–127.Google Scholar
  20. 23.
    For this argument Tugendhat declares the `sensuously dependent’ actual performance (den “sinnlich bedingten” aktuellen Vollzug) to be the fulfilling representant of the categorial intuition. Cf. E. TUGENDHAT, Der Wahrheitsbegriff, 123f.Google Scholar
  21. 24.
    Cf. the Preface of the 2. edition of the Logical Investigations, 663 [Hua XIX, 535].Google Scholar
  22. 25.
    The concept of coincidence (“Deckung”) has a double sense in Husserl’s treatment of the problem of the fulfilment of intentions. In the Logical Investigations Husserl often uses the concept of coincidence to name the coincidence of intentions and the empty intentions they fulfill. But this is a trivial concept of fulfilment, for it does not answer the question how fulfilled intentions become fulfilled at all.The other context in which the concept of coincidence is used is in the analysis of categorial intuition as fulfilledGoogle Scholar
  23. 26.
    Husserl’s concept of categorial intuition has nothing in common with the concept of an `intellectual intuition’. This misguided suspicion was initiated by some representatives of Kantianism. Cf. D. LOHMAR, Erfahrung und Kategoriales Denken, Kap. III, 2, c.Google Scholar
  24. 27.
    For the concept of nominalization, cf. LI, 796f [Hua XIX, 685f1 and EU, § 58.Google Scholar
  25. 28.
    Husserl treats the one-rayed backward intention of complex categorical intentions under the concept of `secondary sensuousness’; cf. for example Hua XVII, 314–326 (Beilage II). Secondary sensuousness is the already mentioned functional substitute for the intuitivity of the categorical object.Google Scholar
  26. 29.
    The designation `Wesensschau’ for eidetic intuition seems to be a wrong choice in terminology in that it suggests a proximity to Platonism that is not Husserl’s intention. Cf. R. BERNET, I. KERN, E. MARBACH, Edmund Husserl. Darstellung seines Denkens, Hamburg, 1989, 74–84, J. N. MOHANTY, “Individual Fact and Essence in E. Husserls Philosophy”, Philosophyand Phenomenological Research XIX, 1959, 222–230; E. TUGENDRAT, Der Wahrheitsbegriff, 137–168.Google Scholar
  27. 30.
    In the process of variation within eidetic intuition the range of arbitrary variability has to be limited. One limitation is performed by the intuitively present object, for example a tree, which works as a ‘Leitfaden’ (guideline) for the possible variations. But this is not sufficient. A second source of limitation stems out of our vague everyday understanding of a concept like tree. As the eidetic method is a means to reach an intutitively fulfilled, clear intention of concepts, we usually start with such vague concepts and in the variation they serve also as a limiting `Leitfaden’.Google Scholar
  28. 31.
    Cf Hua III/I, I46ff, where Husserl speaks of a priority (“Vorzugsstellung”) of imagination, also Hua XVII, 206, 254f and EU, 410ff, 422f. Seebohm points out that imaginative variation is already found in the Logical Investigations (TH. SEEBOHM, “Kategoriale Anschauung”, 14f.).Google Scholar
  29. 32.
    The factual reality of single cases in eidetic variation is irrelevant in this respect. Cf. Hua IXGoogle Scholar
  30. 33.
    In his genetic phenomenology Husserl analyzes the acquisition and determination of the limits of concepts in his theory of types. Cf. D. LOHMAR, Erfahrung und kategoriales Denken, Kap. III, 6, d. To this problematic cf. also K. HELD, “Einleitung”, in E. Husserl, Die phänomenologische Methode. Ausgewählte Texte I, Stuttgart, 1985, 29; and U. CLAESGES, E. Husserls Theorie der Raumkonstituion, Den Haag, 1964, 29ff.Google Scholar
  31. 35.
    Cf the statement that collection is “keine sachlich, in den Inhalten der kolligierten Sachen gründende Einheit” cf E. HUSSERL “Entwurf einer `Vorrede’ zu den `Logischen Untersuchungen”’, edited by E. Fink, Tijdschrift voor Filosofie 1, 1939, 106–133 and 319–339, especially 127, and Hua XII, 64f.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dieter Lohmar
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WuppertalUniversity of CologneGermany

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