The Intentionality of Logical Significance and Material Ontological Meaning

  • Burt C. Hopkins
Part of the Contributions to Phenomenology book series (CTPH, volume 11)


In Chapter Two of my study of Husserl’s phenomenological account of intentionality, I will be concerned with bringing into relief the phenomenal state of affairs that lead him to differentiate, not only the intentional structure of logical signification (Bedeutung) from the intentional structure of material ontological meaning (Sinn), but also to maintain an exclusive philosophical importance for the latter. I find this state of affairs to be extremely important on at least two counts.


Perceptual Object Intentional Object Primal Posit Logical Category Positive Science 
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  1. This “priority” of the intentionality of logical significance, is of course, not a temporal priority. What is at issue for Hussed in the phenomenological analysis of logical acts is not some kind of construction or reconstruction of the order of knowing. Rather, the priority at issue here concerns that which renders logical acts “intelligible” as such. It is therefore within the context of the esselltial structure of logical acts, as methodologically unfolded via phenomenologically abstractive reflections, that Hussed speaks of an objectivity ‘prior to all predicative thinking’. Put differently, inasmuch as the objective significations manifested in logical acts comprise the “elements” as it were of predicative thinking, such significations do not have their source in the predication but rather are presupposed by it. In Husserl’s view it is precisely the task of the phenomenological investigation of pure lOgiC to account for these “presuppositions.”Google Scholar
  2. The importance of the distinction between “category” and the phenomenologically uncovered “essence” of the category that is presently under consideration cannot be underestimated. While both the category and its essence manifest non-sensuous phenomena, and thus share in the ideality of the irreal, they are in no sense the same. Rather; they are eidetically distinct, inasmuch as the ideality of categories manifests the ideal significance that renders any empirical object as such intelligible, while the phenomenologically uncovered essence of such categories manifests the ideal a priori that renders categories as such intelligible. Since this distinction is “eidetic,” it follows that its philosophical appropriation requires that one be accomplished in the method of “essential seeing.” It should be noted that once Husserl makes this distinction, categorial intuition (Le., the non-sensuous perception of the categories of pure logic) and essential intuition (i.e., the seeing of the essence of any exemplary manifold, eg., the categories now under consideration) should not be identified or otherwise conflated with each other. Unfortunately, much of the literature does not take note of this distinction and treats ‘categories’ and ‘essences’, and therefore ‘categorial’ and ‘essential’ intuition, indiscriminately. See for instance: Rudolf Bernet, op. cit., p. 141; Ray L. Hart, “Heidegger’s Being and Time and Phenomenology,” Encounter, 26 (1965), p. 319; Theodore Kisiel, “Heidegger (1907–1927): The Transformation of the Categorial,” in Continental Philosophy in America, ed. Hugh J. Silverman, John Sallis, and Thomas Seebohm, (Pittsburg: Duquesne University Press, 1983), p. 179; James c. Morrison, op. cit., pp. 53, 55; Otto Pöggeler; Martin Heidegger’s Path of Thinking, op. cit, p. 53.Google Scholar
  3. By the ‘material region’ of objects, Husserl understands that which renders intelligible the various domains of “that which is,” such as the physical, the psychical, the cultural, etc. By the ‘individual particularity’ of objects, he understands that which renders intelligible the individual objects belonging to a material region. Just as in the case of the categories of pure logic (which for Husserl are not “invented” by phenomenology but rather uncovered vis-à-vis their involvement in experiences already going on “prior” to its methodology), so too the material regions and individual peculiarities within these regions are uncovered on the basis of experiences already going on.Google Scholar
  4. This will be discussed in detail below. See §§ 28, 30, 33. Cf. also the brief discussion in § 12 above.Google Scholar
  5. It should be noted well that the “intuition” at issue here is precisely specified by Husserl in terms of the phenomenal essence of the livedexperiences of the intentionality of logical acts. As such, it is differentiated by Husser! from other phenomenal manifestations of intuition, e.g., the intuition that characterizes the methodical regard of the intentionality of the reflections that uncover the intuitive essence of the epistemic essence of logical intentionality, or the essence of the intuition that is involved in the intentional essence of non-logical (non-significative) lived-experiences, etc. Given the phenomenological importance of the matters themselves involved in these essential differences, manifested by intuitive phenomena, their importance with respect to Husserl's account of the various essential differentiations of intentionality is not to be underestimated. Indeed, this is especially the case if clarity is to be acheived in view of the Sachen selbst with respect to Heidegger’s critique of the ontological deficiency of “essential seeing.” See §§ 49,53,92, 101 below.Google Scholar
  6. What is at issue in Husserl's notion of “being character simpliciter” is the ontological meaning (Sinn) which he claims his method uncovers as the underlying presupposition of any regional ontology. Likewise, his notion of “protodoxic positing” concerns the basic “belief character” that he claims to uncover as the underlying experience always accompanying the ‘being character simpliciter’ presupposed by the regional ontologies. It perhaps bears repeating that what is at issue for Husserl in the phenomenological clarification of these essential structures is not any positive claim about either being or the belief in being, but rather the phenomenally uncovered meaning of such a claim and belief.Google Scholar
  7. Husserl’s phenomenological account of the “actional” and “non-actional” modalities of intentionality, and his terminological fixing of the differentiation emergent in this account by reserving the terms “act” and “cogito” to designate intentionality’s actional mode, is perhaps the single most important distinction he makes in regard to this phenomenon. Not only is this distinction of importance in its own right with respect to his understanding of the “basic phenomenon” of phenomenology, but it is also of importance in terms of Heidegger’s ontological account of the uncritical rootedness in the Cartesian cogito of Husserl’s working out of this phenomenon. In view of the clarity and care with which Husserl attempts to forestall just such an understanding of all modes of intentionality in terms of “acts,” it is perhaps surprising to nevertheless find a tendency in this direction in the literature. See for instance: Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann, op. cit., pp. 34, 36, 38, 46; Theodore Kisiel, op. cit., pp. 183-185; James c. Morrison, op. cit., pp. 50, 55; Paul Ricoeur, “Phenomenology and Hermeneutics,” in: Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences, ed. and trans. John B. Thompson, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), pp. 105, 109; Paul Ricoeur, “Existence and Hermeneutics,” op. cit., pp. 17–18. Caputo, Gadamer and Mohanty are, in varying degrees, exceptions to this tendency. See: John Caputo, Husserl, Heidegger and the Question of a ‘Hermeneutic’ Phenomenology,' op. cit., pp. 161, 167; Hans-Georg Gadamer, “The Phenomenological Movement,” op. cit., pp. 131, 144–45, 156, 169 and Truth and Method, op. cit., pp. 244, 249; J.N. Mohanty, “Consciousness and Existence: Remarks on the Relation Between Husserl and Heidegger;” op. cit., pp. 328, 331, “Husserl’s Concept of Intentionality,” in Analecta Husserliana, ed. Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka, (Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1970), Vol. I, p. 109, and “Transcendental Philosophy and the Hermeneutic Critique of Consciousness,” op. cit., p. 111.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Burt C. Hopkins
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophySeattle UniversityUSA

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