Husserl on the overlap of pure and empirical concepts

European Journal of Philosophy 29 (4):1026-1038 (2021)
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This essay clarifies Edmund Husserl's view of “pure” concepts, with a view to its contemporary metaphilosophical significance. It is argued that Husserl's conception of pure concepts is unique in that he allows overlap between pure and empirical concepts. This overlap leads to a potential for confusion between pure and empirical concepts which I label “amphiboly,” following Kant's use of the term. The essay begins by clarifying Husserl's view of the divergence in concept formation between empirical and pure concepts, and then articulates the specific properties of pure concepts that allow an empirical overlap. These properties include the modality and range of the extension of the concepts, the ordering of objects under the concept, and the mental faculty required to identify an object under the concept. Once we see the source of amphiboly in Husserl's view, it can be observed that many concepts of interest to philosophy, even outside phenomenology proper, are potentially subject to amphibolous uses. Thus, Husserl's view can be a general hermeneutical resource for clarifying the nature of philosophical concepts.
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Archival date: 2021-10-30
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