The Evolution of Husserl’s Semiotics: The Logical Investigations and its Revisions (1901-1914)

Bulletin d'Analyse Phénoménologique 14:1-23 (2018)
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This paper offers a more comprehensive and accurate picture of Edmund Husserl’s semiotics. I not only clarify, as many have already done, Husserl’s theory of signs from the 1901 Logical Investigations, but also examine how he transforms that element of his philosophy in the 1913/14 Revisions to the Sixth Logical Investigation. Specifically, the paper examines the evolution of two central tenets of Husserl’s semiotics. I first look at how he modifies his classification of signs. I disclose why he revised his 1901 distinction between indicators and expressions, instead claiming in 1913/14 that the divisions should be drawn between indicators, signals, and categorial signs. Second, I elucidate why Husserl overturned his conclusion from the Investigations, that signs execute their signitive operations in three steps, because he recognizes that categorial signs and their meant object are experienced all at once. By exploring the transformation of these two tenets of Husserl’s semiotics, we will see that he conceived of the First Investigation only as a starting or jumping off point for future analyses of signitive experience, rather than as his final account. This analysis will further reveal novel insights about Husserl’s understanding of intersubjectivity, passivity, and temporality.

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Thomas Byrne
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


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