International Philosophical Quarterly


published on May 23, 2014

John K. O’Connor

Husserl and Carnap: Structural Objectivity, Constitution, Grammar

This paper situates Husserl’s phenomenology and Carnap’s logical empiricism within a common project—the pursuit of structural objectivity. The rise of empirical psychology and physiology in the late nineteenth century contributed to a view of the self that both thinkers find threatening to the possibility of communication and thus knowledge. With subjectivity presenting the danger of incommunicability, objectivity becomes oriented around communicability. To overcome this threat and to secure an understanding of the possibility of knowledge, each thinker appeals to the formal structures of constitution and logical grammar. In doing so, they help to establish a view of objectivity that responds to contemporary science and is consistent with it. This places Husserl much closer to the birth of modern scientific objectivity than he seems to have realized. Even so, whatever credibility he may have lost in the eyes of historiographers of science should be regained in his stature as philosopher of science.