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4 - Carnap and Husserl

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 April 2008

Michael Friedman
Affiliation:
Stanford University, California
Richard Creath
Affiliation:
Arizona State University
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Summary

INTRODUCTION

From a contemporary vantage point, the conjunction may appear puzzling. What could Carnap - anti-metaphysical logician, student and “legitimate successor” of Frege - possibly have in common with the founder of transcendental phenomenology? Yet, as Michael Dummett has observed, the German philosophy student of 1903 likely regarded Husserl and Frege as mathematician-philosophers remarkably similar in interests and outlook (Dummett, 1993, 26). To be sure, subsequent developments pushed apart the incipient programs of phenomenology and analytic philosophy. Husserl turned to “transcendental subjectivity” in 1905-1907, whereas analytic philosophy around 1930 took a “linguistic turn” precisely to distinguish its methods from those placing cognitive reliance upon intuition or individual subjectivity. Then again, the 1927 publication of Heidegger's Being and Time inexorably changed perceptions of phenomenology as having acquired an expressly “existential” and “ontological” orientation, preempting and obscuring its original Husserlian impulses towards logic and the foundations of mathematics. Epitomizing this history in a memorable metaphor, Dummett notes that the respective influences of Frege, the “grandfather of analytic philosophy,” and Husserl, a patriarch of “continental philosophy,” run through twentieth-century philosophy like the Rhine and Danube, mighty rivers rising close together, briefly running parallel but then diverging to widely separate seas. Extending the metaphor a bit further, Carnap is a central current flowing into one of these seas, while Heidegger is the torrent surging into the other.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2007

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