§7. Husserl’s critique of psychologism

What is true is absolutely true, true “in itself.” Truth is one and identical, whether it be human beings or monsters, angels or gods who understand and judge it. Logical laws speak of truth in this ideal unity, as over against the de facto multiplicity of races, individuals, and experiences. And so do all of us, as long as we are not confused by relativism. (vol. 1, p. 117f.)19

Husserl varies this same line of reasoning in many different ways. From a formal viewpoint this argument about the contradiction in the theory of psychologism is the most basic. However, it’s the second line of argument that packs a particularly incisive punch.

Concerning (b): Demonstration of the fundamental errors

To anticipate the heart of the matter at this point: Psychologism tries to demonstrate logical principles from facts, or (to put it in terms of Leibniz, whom Husserl has explicitly in mind) to shore up vérités de raison, “truths of reason” (truths [taken] from concepts), with vérités de fait, “truths of fact.”20

α) This remarkable form of demonstration can be illustrated by the way logical principles are handled. Compare John Stuart Mill on the principle of contradiction: It is a generalization of facts, and as that kind of generalization, is always related to empirical facts.21 [46] Now, however, it is not just restricted to physical facts but is broadened to the realm where it applies to mind—mental states. The principle: If there are two contradictory propositions, they cannot both be jointly true.

This inability-to-be-true is understood as a de facto relation between acts: their impossibility of subsisting alongside each other. Husserl now demonstrates that this interpretation of the principles of contradiction—the impossibility of the co-existence of mental states—turns the meaning of the principle upside down. The principle does not deal with the occurrence/co-occurrence of acts of judgment qua mental events. It deals with states of affairs that the judgments intend insofar as they cannot subsist together.22

So it is a not a question of a subjective, mental impossibility but of an objective, law-governed incompatibility of valid propositions. The direct meaning of what the principle says is that the two meanings intended by the two propositions cannot have joint validity. “A is b” and “A is not b”—the incompatibility of the intended “b-ness of A” with the “non-b-ness of A”—has nothing to do with mental occurrences

19. [That is, LU, vol. 1, §36, pp. 117–118 / tr. 140.]

20. [The French phrases were not spoken in the lecture: Moser, p. 97.25–32.]

21. [Here and in what immediately follows, Heidegger contrasts the real and the ideal. To avoid misunderstanding, I translate these terms as “empirical” and “ideal.”]

22. That is, not about the togetherness [Zusammenvorhandensein] or co-existence [Ko-existenz] of mental states, but about their con-sistency [Kon-sistenz]!

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

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