Studia Phaenomenologica

Volume 21, 2021

From Witnessing to Testimony

Gabriele Baratelli
Pages 273-294

Mathematical Knowledge and the Origin of Phenomenology
The Question of Symbols in Early Husserl

The paper is divided into two parts. In the first one, I set forth a hypothesis to explain the failure of Husserl’s project presented in the Philosophie der Arithmetik based on the principle that the entire mathematical science is grounded in the concept of cardinal number. It is argued that Husserl’s analysis of the nature of the symbols used in the decadal system forces the rejection of this principle. In the second part, I take into account Husserl’s explanation of why, albeit independent of natural numbers, the system is nonetheless correct. It is shown that its justification involves, on the one hand, a new conception of symbols and symbolic thinking, and on the other, the recognition of the question of “the formal” and formalization as pivotal to understand “the mathematical” overall.