Academic journal article Philosophy Today

Mohanty's Logic of Phenomenology

Academic journal article Philosophy Today

Mohanty's Logic of Phenomenology

Article excerpt


I'm not going to advocate reducing phenomenology to logic, any more than I would advocate reducing phenomenology to neuroscience or to critical theory. Rather, my title is a suggestion that the roots of transcendental phenomenology are entwined with roots of philosophical logic, and vice versa, as we see in Husserl's Logical Investigations.

J. N. Mohanty's reading of Husserl's development of transcendental phenomenology emphasizes, correctly I think, the continuity in Husserl's development, from his earliest concerns to his latest. In that continuity we find a certain linkage, I believe, between the "transcendental" and the "logical." I usually avoid the term "transcendental" because it can be so misleading, carrying so much baggage in the eyes of both continental and analytic philosophers today. Yet I am rescued from this aversion by Professor Mohanty's explicit championing of the transcendental in a way that I find illuminating and inspiring.

In what follows we shall be leapfrogging over Mohanty as he has leapfrogged over Husserl. I hope the present discussion can contribute to the development of a contemporary conception of the transcendental that is appropriate to philosophy in the twenty-first century, not least as the continental and analytic traditions synergize. The task is to factor out from diverging tendencies-in a certain sense to abstract out-a core conception of transcendental philosophy that comes of age in the discipline of phenomenology. I should like that conception to be up-to-date with respect to both humanistic and scientific philosophy.

On another occasion I outlined an approach to transcendental philosophy that grounded phenomenology in ontology: in terms rather different from those of the transcendental tradition, but interacting with Mohanty's articulation of transcendental phenomenology and its developments beyond Kantian transcendental philosophy.1 Here I should like to dig back into the significance of the "transcendental" motif in Husserlian phenomenology and, very broadly, its predecessor and successor schemes. We'll look to Mohanty's account of transcendental phenomenology, noting some other recent accounts as well. Later on I'll draw in my own recent studies of the role of the "logical" in Husserl's philosophy. (It's not what you might think.)

Trying to factor out a common basic conception of the transcendental will not set well with dedicated Kantians or Kant interpreters, or with dedicated Husserlians or Husserl interpreters, or dedicated Heideggerians or Heidegger interpreters, or other philosophers dedicated to one of the systems often deemed "transcendental." The devil is in the details in philosophy, and these systems differ importantly in important details. Nonetheless, there is a basic philosophical problematic driving these systems, and philosophy today is just about ready to recognize this basic philosophical enterprise. There is evidence of this readiness in a spate of recent books tending in this direction in both continental and analytic traditions (some of which will be noted below). Mohanty's work helps to factor out the basic thrust of these tendencies.

The Transcendental as the Logical: Mohanty's Way

Mohanty's work in the 1960s and 70s studied Husserl's theory of meaning and "constitution," a term resonant with worrisome Kantian doctrines that might suggest our minds make up the world. Dagfinn Follesdal's work in the 1960s and beyond stressed the parallel between intentionality via noema and linguistic reference via sense, thus the parallel between Husserl and Frege, and also Bolzano. Mohanty then further pursued the Husserl-Frege connection (Husserl and Frege, 1982) and its significance for phenomenology (Transcendental Phenomenology: An Analytic Account, 1989). In the same years Mohanty also addressed the wider significance of transcendental philosophy (The Possibility of Transcendental Philosophy, 1985). …

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