Husserl Studies 28 (2):95-120 (2012)

A comprehensive and agreed-upon account of Husserl’s relation to Gottlob Frege does not yet exist. In this situation we encounter interpretations that allow systematic dogmas to reappear that should have long been vanquished—for instance, that the author of the Logical Investigations was not only decisively influenced by Frege, but also that he had already retracted his sharpest Frege-critique by 1891. The present essay contains a largely historical response to W. Künne’s new monograph on Frege that advocates such views. We will concentrate on a small remark that turns out to reference a defining moment for any understanding of Husserl’s early philosophy. We shall argue that Husserl’s supposed self-criticism does not turn on the critique that he had earlier leveled at Frege’s Grundlagen der Arithmetik; rather, it has to do exclusively with his own earlier systematic positions on the grounding of arithmetic. In this context, an important particular of Husserl’s Philosophie der Arithmetik takes center stage: this book is a mosaic composed from old and new insights, a fact that becomes most evident in the two distinct concepts of “equivalence” that are founded there, which reflects Husserl’s transition from a theory of arithmetic based on the concept of number to one based on the parallelism between proper and symbolic presentations. This change involves a long historical development that goes back to a tradition marked by the work of Bolzano, Lotze, Brentano, and Stumpf, and it is closely tied to the problem of how to distinguish between the sense and the object of an act. Systematic neglect of the historical background of the Frege–Husserl relation has led to disputes over who owns the copyright to the sense/reference distinction, but it has obscured the very core of the original line of questioning.
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DOI 10.1007/s10743-011-9100-3
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