Volume 15, 2015
The Paradox of Objectless Presentations in Early Phenomenology
A Brief History of the Intentional Object from Bolzano to Husserl With Concise Analyses of the Positions of Brentano, Frege, Twardowski and Meinong
This paper explores the close connection in early phenomenology between the problem of objectless presentations and the concept of intentional objects. It clarifies how this basic concept of Husserl’s early phenomenology emerged within the horizons of Bolzano’s logical objectivism, Brentano’s descriptive psychology, Frege’s mathematical logicism, Twardowski’s psychological representationalism, and Meinong’s object theory. It shows how in collaboration with these thinkers Husserl argued that a theory of intentionality is incomplete without a concept of the intentional object. It provides a brief history of the concept of intentional objects in the philosophical logic of the nineteenth century that demonstrates its relevance to the problem of objectless presentations in the early phenomenology of the twentieth century. It suggests that Husserl accepts Bolzano’s objectivism and Frege’s logicism, rejects Brentano’s conception of immanent objects and Twardowski’s notion of representational pictures, and ignores Meinong’s theory of objects. Thus the paper employs the formation of Husserl’s concept of the intentional object to enhance the understanding of the historical and philosophical relationships between early phenomenology and contemporaneous philosophical movements.