Two Idealisms: Lask and Husserl

Kant Studien 84 (4):448-466 (1993)
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Neo-Kantianism is common conceived as a philosophy ‘from above’, excelling in speculative constructions – as opposed to the attitude of patient description which is exemplified by the phenomenological turn ‘to the things themselves’. When we study the work of Emil Lask in its relation to that of Husserl and the phenomenologists, however, and when we examine the influences moving in both directions, then we discover that this idea of a radical opposition is misconceived. Lask himself was influenced especially by Husserl’s Logical Investigations, and Husserl, especially in his later writings, was in some respects closer to Kant than were the Neo-Kantians. The contrast between the two philosophers can be illustrated by looking at their view of the objects of judgment; for Lask, as for Kant, judgment can relate to the thing as such only in an indirect way. The world of judgment is a collection of ‘imitations holding a secondary position’. It is cut apart from the plain world of real things by what Lask calls a ‘chasm of artificiality and imagery’. For Husserl, in contrast, the object of judgment is a ‘Sachverhalt’ or state of affairs, something ontologically ‘positive’ in the sense that it is an entity in its own right and does not point beyond itself in the manner of a mere sign or proxy for something else.

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Barry Smith
University at Buffalo


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