§7. Husserl’s critique of psychologism

of any possible thinking. But we only know about our thinking. We are unable to construe some kind of thinking different from our own, and therefore, we cannot construe some thinking-in-general as a genus of such different kinds of thinking. . . . [43] Words that appear to describe such a kind of thinking have no sense we can work out that would satisfy the claim that this appearance allegedly raises. For every attempt {to produce} what they describe is bound to the conditions of our representing and thinking and moves within their orbit.15

The necessity of the logical propositions for thought is not an “absolute” necessity, but only a “hypothetical” one. They are valid on the presupposition that our thinking “remains the same.”16

We cannot deduce the unchangeability of our mind and of its basic constitution as absolutely remaining the same. We are stuck with this fact, and therefore with the contingency and conditionedness of the factual. The possibility of a change in our make-up is not excluded: maybe in a hundred years people will have to think 2 × 2 = 5. Or maybe even now, on some other planets, living beings with a different make-up have a mental organization that gets along without these principles and that regulates thought with other principles.

§7. Husserl’s critique of psychologism

Husserl’s critique intends to be a fundamental one: it wants to get to the principles of the position that it criticizes. We can explain this critique from two points of view:

a) as a demonstration of the contradiction that lies at the heart of psychologism’s position;

b) as a demonstration of the fundamental errors of this position when it tries to establish itself.

Concerning (a): Some preliminaries of the critique

The demonstration of the contradiction lying at the heart of the position takes as its goal to unmask psychologism as a skeptical relativism. For that, we have to establish a strictly formal concept of skepticism. [44] For that we have to begin with the positive—the idea of theory.

A “theory” in Husserl’s sense is not some system of hypotheses, of principles posited conditionally for the sake of possibly explaining a

15.[Erdmann, Logik, vol. 1, §60, no. 370, p. 378; cited in Husserl, LU, vol. 1, §40, pp. 143–144 / tr. 155.]

16. [Ibid.; cited in Husserl, LU, vol. 1, §40, p. 147 / tr. 160.]

Martin Heidegger (GA 21) Logic : the question of truth

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