Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Ronald Bruzina


Husserl’s Logical Investigations contain an apparent discrepancy in their account of meaning. They first present meanings, contra psychologism, as commonly available, reiterable, invariant, possibly valid, and independent of our “acts of meaning”. They then present meaning, almost psychologistically, as a kind of intentional experience on which all truths and other transcendent meanings depend. I offer a critical developmental study of this problem within Husserl’s semantics. I argue (1) that Husserl had reason to adopt his dyadic account of signification, (2) that this “two-sided” account shaped, and was reciprocally informed by, the two-step phenomenological method, and (3) that Husserl’s proposed resolution to the strain within his semantics, while driven by legitimate motivations, is precarious.

  1. I begin with the Logical Investigations and their context. I represent their two sets of semantic claims, recalling how the discord between claims of those sets would have been especially conspicuous when the Investigations were published, amid much debate over psychologism, in 1900-01. I then show why Husserl embraced two discordant views of meaning. I survey the 19th century sources for these views, confirming Jocelyn Benoist’s genealogical thesis that Husserl’s semantics took its psychological and logical sides primarily from Franz Brentano and Bernard Bolzano, respectively. And I present the Bolzanian arguments and Brentanian descriptions that served as grounds for Husserl’s semantics, showing how these pieces of reasoning were appropriated, and weighing their strength.
  2. Next, I trace how Husserl’s two-sided theory of meaning, and its apparent incoherence, both inspired and determined the transcendental and eidetic reductions. I then examine how Husserl subsequently used the phenomenological method to reinforce, to integrate, and to revise his theory of meaning. And I address a methodological criticism that this circular development prompts.

  3. Finally, I assess Husserl’s attempt to explain the division within the phenomenon of meaning by reference to what he called “transcendental subjectivity”. I consider two contrary objections to this explanation. I indicate how Husserl’s explanation is responsive to the insight behind each objection, but contend that it is perhaps not adequately responsive to the insight behind either.

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Philosophy Commons