On the Objective and Subjective Grounding of Knowledge

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As well as its intrinsic interest as an argument against psychologism and what has come to be called "the myth of the given," the essay translated here possesses considerable historical significance both for itself and as a representative of its school. Husserl cites this particular essay as having helped stimulate his thoughts against psychologism. Natorp's resolute defense of transcendental analysis grounding empirical and psychological science helped Natorp's Allgemeine Psychologie towards admitting the pure transcendental ego. Read with Husserl in mind this essay shows the Kantian as well as Platonic roots of Husserl's noemata. There is little here to parallel Husserl's noetic analyses, though Natorp himself moves a bit in that direction in his more Fichtean and Hegelian later writings.4 The essay is directly aimed at the classic positivists. Read with them in mind the essay reveals how closely the participants in turn-of-the-century debates agreed on the basic options available. Not surprisingly, the attack on psycho logism seems prophetic of the similar attack made by the Logical Positivists, as a substitution of 'logical form' or 'linguistic rules' for Natorp's 'objective unities' will show. But the real parallel to Natorp in the analytic tradition comes later. His position, with its renunciation of immediate givenness in favor of the ongoing process of knowing from which both pure subjectivity and pure objectivity are limiting abstract cases, resembles the anti-positivist views of Quine and Wilfrid Sellars. Natorp shares with both of them a reliance on the sciences for our premium representations of the world. Natorp's theory remains true to idealism, however, in his refusal to develop a theory of reference outside of the constitution of objects within the process of knowing. (Though just how far this "idealism" differs from some current linguistic-framework theories could be a matter for debate.)
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