Logic and formal ontology

In Barry Smith (ed.), Constraints on Correspondence. Hölder/Pichler/Tempsky. pp. 29-67 (1989)
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The current resurgence of interest in cognition and in the nature of cognitive processing has brought with it also a renewed interest in the early work of Husserl, which contains one of the most sustained attempts to come to grips with the problems of logic from a cognitive point of view. Logic, for Husserl, is a theory of science; but it is a theory which takes seriously the idea that scientific theories are constituted by the mental acts of cognitive subjects. The present essay begins with an exposition of Husserl's act-based conception of what a science is, and goes on to consider his account of the role of linguistic meanings, of the ontology of scientific objects, and of evidence and truth. The essay concentrates almost exclusively on the Logical Investigations of 1900/01. This is not only because this work, which is surely Husserl's single most important masterpiece, has been overshadowed first of all by his Ideas I and then later by the Crisis. It is also because the Investigations contain, in a peculiarly clear and pregnant form, a whole panoply of ideas on logic and cognitive theory which either simply disappeared in Husserl's own later writings or became obfuscated by an admixture of that great mystery which is 'transcendental phenomenology'.

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Barry Smith
University at Buffalo


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