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The titZes in this se ries are listed at the end 0/ this voZume.
Comite de redaction de la collection:
President: S. Usseling (Leuven)
Membres: J.N. Mohanty (Philadelphia), P. Ricreur (Paris),
E. Strker (Kln), J. Taminiaux (Louvain-Ia-Neuve)





Springer-Science+Business Media, B.V.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Lampert, Jay, 1957Synthesis and backward reference in Husserl's Logical
investigations / Jay Lampert.
cm. -- (Phaenomenologica ; 131)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
1. Husserl, Edmund, 1859-1938. Logische Untersuchungen.
2. Logic. 3. Knowledge, Theory of. 4. Phenomenology. 5. Reference
(Philosophy) 6. Meaning (Philosophy)
I. Title. 11. Series.
B3279.H93L7433 1995

ISBN 978-90-481-4463-1
ISBN 978-94-015-8443-2 (eBook)
DOI 10.1007/978-94-015-8443-2

printed on acid-free paper

All Rights Reserved

1995 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht

Originally published by Kluwer Academic Publishers in 1995.

Softcover reprint ofthe hardcover 1st edition 1995
No part of the material protected by this copyright notice may be reproduced or
utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,
incIuding photocopying, recording or by any information storage and
retrieval system, without written permission from the copyright owner.





(a) General and Historical Introduction

(b) The Secondary Literature on Husserl's Concept of
LU i: Unity in Multiplicity: Meaning, Science, and

the Fluctuation of Occasional Expressions



LU iv: Syncategorematic Terms. The Problem of

Representing the Synthetic Connections that Underlie



LU iii: The Theory of Parts and Wholes: The

Dynamic of Individuating and Contextualizing



LU ii: The Unity of Species and the Multiplicity

of Individuals. The Problem of Synthesis: The

Grounding of Universality



LU v: Names Refer Back to Judgments and

Judgments Refer Back to Names. The Problem of

Synthesis: Referring Back to Simples


LU vi: Five Elements in Husserl 's Account of the

Synthesis of Epistemic Fulfilment

Section 1. The Categories of Universal Names
Section 2. The Role of Contexts
Section 3. The Categories of Perspective and
Cognitive Ordering
Section 4. The Categories of Limit



Section 5. The Categories of Referring Backward



Ideen I (sections 118-124): Drawing Back to the

Ego. Synthesis and Phenomenological Science








In the sixth Logical Investigation, Husserl defines meaning, objectivity, and

knowledge by appealing to "syntheses of fulfilment": each act of consciousness has a meaning-intention whereby it anticipates a range of fulfilling
intuitions, whose ongoing synthesis would identify intended objects in the face
of their changing appearances. Synthesis is essential to phenomenological
description. But what does it mean to say that one experience is combined with
This monograph is a speculative-exegetical Husserlian analysis of the
ground, the mechanisms, and the results of synthesis. Focusing on Husserl's
Logical Investigations, I argue that synthesizing consciousness must be a
self-propelling, self-explicating system of interpretative acts driven by ongoing
forward and backward references, grounding its structures as it proceeds,
and positing its origins as that which must have been given "in advance".
To this end, I develop a dialectical reading of Husserl's largely untreated
category of "referring backward" (zurckweisen).
Treatments of Husserl's concept of synthesis have tended to focus on
Husserl's later work on passive synthesis. By drawing out the centrality of
the concept of synthesis in the Logical Investigations, I show how synthesis
is at the foundation of intentionality as such, and also indicate the continuity
of descriptive categories that run through both the early and the late Husserl.
The Introduction to this study schematizes the modem history of the concept
of synthesis, and reviews the secondary literature on Husserl's concept of
synthesis. The next five chapters consider the role of synthesis in each of
Husserl's first five Logical Investigations. The first chapter argues that all
meanings are synthetic. The second develops Husserl's argument that universals
are independent of, yet grounded in, individuals, into a general theory of
synthetic "grounding". The third argues that individuals too are grounded in
syntheses, namely in the way that whole-part relations exhibit a "demand
for supplementation" (Ergnzungsbedrjtigkeit). The fourth shows how syncategorematic terms exhibit the synthetic connections that underlie meanings
"in advance". The fifth reconciles Husserl's claims that names and judgments
refer back to one another, by developing a theory of "referring backward" in
The sixth chapter pursues a systematic and speculative theory of synthesis
based on the Sixth Investigation. I develop five increasingly complex
Husserlian analyses of synthesis, based respectively on the categories of
universal names, contexts, perspectives, ideal limits, and finally, the dynamic
whereby meanings retroactively refer back to, and thereby constitute the very
priority of, their own grounds. My argument is that references forward to
epistemic completion succeed only by setting in motion re-interpretations of



past contents. Every act of consciousness carries in medias res the problematic of grounding as it aims to recover its own content. Synthetic consciousness
always occurs too late to get started, yet all it ever does is work at constituting the ground for moving to something that can come next, which is to say,
at constituting its own starting-point. As lived carriers of the systematic
development of interpretations of the world, all contents carry out the
self-hood of consciousness, and at the same time, constitute cognition's selfcritique.
I argue, finally, that the Logical Investigations lacks an account of how
implicit backward referents can be stored in consciousness. Husserl does
offer such an account in Ideas 1 with his theory of pure consciousness - not
as an ego prior to synthesis, as most commentators take it, but as the underlying unity carried out as synthetic interpretations "draw back" or "withdraw"
to the ground of their own self-articulation.
While this study takes the form of a reading of Husserl's texts, it is at the
same time a contribution to current dialogues among phenomenologists, dialecticians, and deconstructionists. Some phenomenologists have thought of
synthesis as a set of structures for combining acts of consciousness with one
another. Some dialecticians (certainly Hegelians, and some critical theorists
as weIl) think of Husserlian synthesis as unnecessarily limited to subjective
consciousness, and argue for a metaphysical construal of synthesis, where synthetic consciousness would be grounded by some kind of real origin (whether
a Fichtean ego, a Hegelian Spirit, or a Marxist dialectic of Nature). And
some deconstructionists have argued that the very logic of synthesis depends
upon ideal end-points that are endlessly deferred, so that synthesis, while essential for a science of consciousness, is more a kind of metaphor than an actuality.
My approach incorporates many of the analyses of dialectical and deconstructive philosophies into a phenomenological context. I interpret the
extensions of the concept of synthesis into a metaphysics of subjectivity on
the one hand, and the dispersions of the phenomena of synthesis into
open-ended deferrals on the other hand, not as critiques that undermine phenomenology (though dialecticians and deconstructionists generally do interpret
their own arguments in this way, as indeed do most phenomenologists), but
as fields to be developed within a phenomenological framework. On my
reading, it is precisely the self-explicating structure of synthesis that incorporates the categories of dialectics and deconstruction into phenomenological
If phenomenology, dialectics, and deconstruction are, in the final analysis,
complementary, then there are a great number of philosophers who need to
be read anew, and there are a lot of philosophical problems, from subjectivity to truth to language to time to justice, that will benefit from expanded
I would like to thank Professor John Russon for years of insightful philosophical conversation and friendship. I would also like to thank Professor
Henry Pietersma, who taught me Husserl in the first place. Professor Kenneth



Schmitz, the best teacher lever had, is responsible whenever I think in a

Hegelian way. Many colleagues and friends read and made helpful comments
on parts or wholes of earlier versions of the manuscript, including Professor
James Morrison, Professor J. N. Mohanty, Professor Graeme Nicholson, and
Professor Marguerite Deslauriers. Professor James Mensch generously offered
publication advice. I would also like to thank Mindy McAdams for spirited
editing and other help. Many others who contributed to the writing of this work
deserve to be individuated, but for the present will have to remain hidden in
its synthetic unity.



What does it mean to say that one experience is combined with others? What
is the cause of the synthesis of one content of consciousness with another, what
are experiences before they are combined, how does the combination take
place, and what sort of experience results from this combination? When we
see an object from one side, what is it about that seeing that makes us connect
it with the last side and anticipate the next? When we interpret an object in
a particular way, what is it that leads us towards a more complete interpretation or leads us to uncover the parts and presuppositions implicit in that
interpretation? Or in general, what structures or processes allow acts of interpretative consciousness to anticipate and fulfil one another, to demand their
own explications and supplementations, to refer forward and backward
to successors and predecessors, and to ideal completion-points and ideal
points of origin? In short, how does each content of experience carry the
demands for its combination with others in an ongoing synthetic unity of
Such general questions could be asked of any philosophy, but they are especially urgent for Husserlian phenomenology, which is guided by doctrines of
meaning and consciousness, interpretation and knowledge, experience and
judgment, subjectivity and objectivity, intersubjectivity and history, all of which
depend on processes wherein contents of consciousness are synthesized under
unifying interpretations. Yet no study of Husserl has focused on his concept
of synthesis. In this work, I will develop a certain problematic of synthesis,
and I will show how this problematic dominates Husserlian phenomenology,
using his Logical Investigations (1900) as an exemplary early text. I will
articulate problems of the original ground, the ongoing mechanisms, and the
end results of synthesis, and I will work out a solution to these problems based
on a study of the special problems of synthesis that arise in each of Husserl's
six Logical Investigations. My argument will be that consciousness is a selfexplicating system of interpretative activity, a dynamic whose parts demand
and pass over into one another, a process that grounds its synthesizing structures as it procedes, by continuously referring forward to ideal end-points
and referring backward to ideal origin-points.
In the first part of this Introduction, I will first articulate a problematic of
synthesis in general, and outline the development of special problems to be
treated in the following chapters. I will then give abrief schematic presentation of the modern history of the concept of synthesis, to situate Husserl
in relation to Humean, Leibnizian, Kantian, and Hegelian concepts of synthesis. In the second part of this Introduction, a treatment of the secondary
literature on Husserl's concept of synthesis, I will introduce controversies


surrounding my interpretation and approach, and will set up the sorts of arguments which will justify my construal of synthesis.
The problem of synthesis arises in the context of Husserl's most general
account of intentional consciousness. A conscious experience is said to contain
a meaning-content which presents or signifies or refers to an object from a
certain perspective and under a certain interpretation. This meaning-content
anticipates a range of possible further experiences of that and other objects.
As the flux of experience unfolds, its unity of objective references is constituted in an ongoing way by the fact that each content is apprehended as the
fulfilment (or else as the frustration) of the anticipatory force of previous experiences. In this way, the flux of experience is apprehended not in discontinuous
units, but as progress in the revelation of a self-identical world to direct
intuition. There is in fact a double synthesis at work here: the synthesis of
contents of consciousness with other contents is carried out as the synthesis
of contents of consciousness with their objects.
It is under this model that I will develop the three-fold problematic of the
grounds, the mechanisms, and the end-results of synthesis. The problematic
of the original motivating ground of synthesis, the ultimate explanation of why
each content of consciousness should have to be combined with others at
an, is a problem both for the nature of that which combines contents as wen
as for the nature of the contents to be synthesized. It seems that synthetic interpretation appeals to some sort of rule, law, or structure of consciousness.
But do these laws originate in principles of logic, in empirical habits, in a
priori categories of the understanding, in the spontaneous activity of the ego,
in the momentum of the stream of consciousness, or in something else? And
how are the contents of consciousness themselves available and prepared to
be synthesized? Individual contents will themselves at some point have to
ground their own syntheses with one another, whether in the sense that individual contents express overlapping meanings, or because they are always
already contextualized in streams of processes. Indeed the very differentiation of individual contents of consciousness from the flux of background
experience depends on syntheses wherein perceptual and/or interpretative
contents set limits to, and are determined in relation to, one another.
The problematics of the original ground of synthesizing interpretation is
thus a problem of the mechanisms wherein each given content passes over into
(e.g. borders, anticipates, fulfils, determines, entails, motivates, verifies, illuminates, conjoins with, interpenetrates with, or sublates) the next. One problem
concerns how each content has a determinate next-content, and so anticipates
a non-arbitrary range of successors. Another problem concerns what it is about
each content that makes it in principle more than it is, namely a demand for
supplements and completions in general. What does it mean to say that part
of an experience is "implicit", that experiences "anticipate" completions "in
The problematic of the mechanisms of synthesis is thus finally one of the
results that can be produced by, or demanded by, the combination of contents.


One problem concems how a synthesis of direct experiences into a common

interpretation can have objective, non-arbitrary results. Another problem
concems the role of the anticipation of end-results as a telos responsible for
the production of combinatory interpretations in the first place. The problematics of the end-results of synthesis is thus the problem of how the
carrying-out of synthesis activates forward and backward references to endresults and original grounds, to rule-structures and primary contents, to unities
and units, to the parts and wholes of consciousness. I will argue that these
backward and forward references are responsible for the ground of the interpenetration of meaning-contents, for the mechanisms wherein individual
contents reciprocally activate and fix their successors. Yet while these ideal
forward and backward referents guide and ground all ongoing synthetic combinations, they are never more than implicit in actual experience. Can elements
that exist in consciousness only in the sense that ongoing experience has to
refer backwards and forwards to them genuinely count as the origin and the
telos of interpretative consciousness? I will argue for the genuine priority of
grounds of synthesis despite the fact that neither rules nor units of meaning
exist before they are synthesized; and I will argue for the genuine objectivity
of results of synthesis despite the fact that the goal of complete interpretative experience can never actually be reached. Grounds and results of synthesis
are constituted by the ongoing processes of passing over from content to
content, but in so far as the mechanisms of passing over pre-suppose predecessors and pre-scribe successors, these processes have already posited grounds
and results of synthesis in advance.
Husserl's concept of synthesis may be contrasted with Humean, Leibnizian,
Kantian, and Hegelian solutions to what I am calling the three problems of
synthesis. In their summary versions, once again: (1) What is the ground or
origin of the synthetic combination of two interpretative acts into one? (2)
What is the resulting completion of synthetic combination? (3) How are the
mechanisms of referring backward to the origin-point and forward to the
completion-point of interpretative experience responsible both for carrying out
synthetic activity in medias res, as weIl as for the very constitution of those
origin- and completion-points?

1. A Humean Theory
Every experienced idea is strictly independent, and never entails any prior
or posterior experience. To be sure, there exists in human consciousness a
faculty of imagination which combines ideas according to their resemblance
and contiguity. But a principle of association and interpretation does not prescribe a necessary connection between ideas, it exercises only a "gentle force
in their combination".1 A so-called principle of combination is nothing but
the habit of conjoining essentially unrelated experiences. Furthermore, in so


far as a principle for combining experiences itself becomes an object of

experience, it is so only as an abstraction, that is to say, a fiction which
represents, as if it were an essence, something which is in fact only a pattern
of accidental connections. 2
Hence, to formulate Humean answers to the three questions of synthesis:
(1) The origin of synthesis is mysterious; connections between (empirical) data
are never inherent either in the content of experiences, or in the nature of
consciousness or its categories of association. (2) Likewise, a chain of synthetic combinations could never be in principle completed, since only custom
determines what counts as a unity. (3) In the ongoing syntheses of experiences that count as temporal consciousness, no references backward to original
sense impressions or references forward to ideal unities are required, since synthesis is nothing more than the process in which one act of consciousness is
followed by another.
2. A Leibnizian Theory3

Ideas are often experienced by us as if they were essentially independent.

But in God's infinite intellect, they are all ordered in relation to one another,
the complex following from the simple by law. Human knowledge aims at, and
to a limited extent achieves, a divine ars combinatoris, a logic of combination that supplants the confused combinations of ideas in perception and
imagination. Rational understanding establishes the sufficient reason of an idea,
and defines its origin as a consequence of other ideas. When completed, it
guarantees that a definition of a thing is a "real definition", i.e. that the thing
exists by virtue of its own possibility (as the circle exists because Euclid's
formula of "the motion of a straight line in a plane about one fixed end"
prescribes a possibility). A rational definition "involves the generation of a
thing", or its "constitution", the rule for its production. When an idea is
understood to follow from combinations of simple ideas it is known "adequately", "intuitively", or with "immediate evidence".
"Synthesis" and "analysis" are two processes by which the understanding
orders ideas. Analysis "goes back to principles", while synthesis "begins
from principles and runs through truths in order", discovering progressions,
and articulating general formulae. Synthesis is the combinatory act which
follows universallaws of reason; a non-rational juxtaposition of two ideas does
not strictly count as a synthesis of combination of those ideas.
Hence: (1) Synthesis originates in laws of reason. In so far as the content
of one act of consciousness embodies the sufficient reason for another, synthesis could be said to originate either in the content of one of the experiences,
or in the nature of intellective consciousness. But the principles of combination are themselves universal and anonymous. (2) A chain of synthetic
combinations would be complete when all possible rational implications
had been followed through, when all ideas had been ordered sub specie
aeternitatis. (3) In the ongoing syntheses of experiences that count as finite


consciousness, references backward and forward have only heuristical value:

references backward to analytical principles supply fresh material for synthetic
discovery, and references forward to the final ideal of divine intellection may
motivate enquiry. But synthetic construction and analytic decomposition can,
in "pure" instances, occur independently.

3. A Kantian Theory
Synthesis is "the act of putting different representations together, and of
grasping wh at is manifold in them in one act of knowledge".4 By the time
an ego has a singular experience of an object, several levels of synthesis
must have already taken place. A plurality of sensations must have been synthesized as a single intuitive manifold, perceptions must have been organized
in imagination according to rules for their reproduction in various contexts and
orderings, and these unities must have been rendered conceptually intelligible and recognizable. 5 Every cognitive synthesis obeys a law of combination
originating in apriori categories of understanding,6 and applies to material
originating in the givenness of sensuous intuition.
Hence: (1) The origin of synthesis consists in the double demand of consciousness that laws be applied to intuitions and that intuitions be organized
by rules. But categories alone would not produce intuitions to which they could
be applied, and intuitions alone would not organize themselves into patterns.
Hence categories and sense-contents count as the origin of synthesis only in
so far as consciousness 's demand for a unified experience of objects in turn
grounds both of these origins. (2) A system of synthetic combination would
be compIete when consciousness had been completely unified, when every
representation had been combined with every other under every law of understanding. (3) In the ongoing syntheses of experience that count as the
transcendental unity of apperception, theoretical references backward to originpoints and forward to completion-points are never legitimate. In fact, the
attempt to objectify pure Ideas, absolute givens (things-in-themselves), and
systematic totalities leads only to illegitimate metaphysics. The reference
backward to origin-points is legitimate only as a reflective critique of ongoing
syntheses, and the references forward to completion-points is legitimate only
in the practice of anticipating connections. The concepts of origin and completion are legitimate only in the practice of applying categories through
time, i.e. in the schematization of empirical experience.

4. A Hegelian Theory
The singularity of an experience consists in its passing over its own limits.
Even the form of experience which is seemingly the least synthesized, namely
the sense-content of an instantaneous Now-point, conceals and activates a
system of syntheses whose development ultimately becomes the system of
absolute knowIedge and self-consciousness. 7 Now-points are ceaselessly being


replaced by others; every attempt to point at the present moment finds it to

have been already passed. But as Now-points are "negated", a tri pie synthesis is instantly established, which restores meaning to the vanishing points
of experience: (i) the singularity of the Now-point is transformed into the
universality of the continuous temporal stream, (ii) the point of presence
becomes a futural expectation, and (iii) the series of new points of presence
continuously renew, and in turn have become, the stream that confers temporal
reality on its past moments. The individual identity of any given experience,
then, is a result of a complex process involving first the self-differentiation
of experience into a plurality of mutually limiting units, and then the determination of the individual experience in its reciprocal confrontations and
syntheses with the other. The meaning of an experience is the result of the
emergence of, and then the resolution of, contradictory categories which
articulate its meaning as at once self-identical and plural, static and in process
(logical and historical), subjective and objective (ideal and real), universal
and particular, rational and intuitive, etc.
Hence: (1) The origin of synthesis consists in the demands of consciousness, which is in turn a synthetic response to the demands of what "is". Each
experience grounds its own internal and external relations to every other
experience, but since the individual experience in turn originates within a
system of experience, synthesis originates as much in the synthesized system
as in the thetic units of experience. Or better, synthesis has an absolute origin
in consciousness only because synthesis originates in the dialectic of the
parts and the whole of consciousness. (2) The truth is the whole. In the ultimate
development of consciousness, its contradictions and its history are resolved
in unity, precisely in and through difference, in so far as consciousness is
rendered a systematic, consciously self-reconstructing and self-directing unity
of inter-activating parts. Partial acts of consciousness are fulfilled in the whole,
which is to say in the parts themselves, once they recognize themselves to
function as a whole, that is, once their reality has been made rational and
their rationality real. (3) In the ongoing syntheses of experiences that count
as the realization of Spirit, the backward references to the history of meaning
and forward references to the self-determination of absolute cognition, are
the defining features of all that iso Each act of experience is determined
by its history and its future. But in addition, historicity and futurity are
constituted by the living present and immediate origin-points and ideal compie ti on-points are functions of mediated experience in action. And finally,
since, according to Hegelian mottos, the absolute is with us from the start
and the end of the system returns to close and indeed to generate its own
starting-point, references backward to the origin-point of synthesis and forward
to its completion-point amount to one and the same reference, to one and
the same act of becoming.


5. Husserl's Theory of Synthesis

Every act of consciousness intends some object(s) under some aspect(s). An

experience is able to refer to an object which exists independent of that experience, by anticipating the supplementation of other experiences of the same
object. Intended meanings are fulfilled by acts which render the meant objects
intuitively present. These syntheses of identification (and differentiation), of
fulfilment (and frustration), or of knowing (and enquiring), thus constitute both
the independence of objects and the unity of the subject. Synthesis combines
contents of experience under objective interpretations.
Hence: (l) The origin of synthesis consists in the anticipatory demands
of individual experiences of particular objects. The more complex the object,
and the more levels on which the object is meant (for example, with respect
to its sensible qualities, its species, its surroundings, its logical consequences,
its causal efficacy, its moral value, etc.), the greater the depth of synthesis
demanded. In so far as certain experiences refer to simple objects in ways
that require no further experiencing (for example, in the hypothetical case of
sense-data), then synthesis can be said to originate in simple experiences.
But in so far as every possible experience carries an open potentiality of
explication, and may be viewed as the synthetic result of a chain of explications set in motion by some previous act(s) of consciousness, then every
experience is subject to the logic of synthesis, and synthesis must originate
prior to the givenness of any particular experience of objects, i.e. must originate with intentionality itself. (2) A chain of synthetic combinations would
be complete when all possible experiences of the objects of consciousness
had occurred in such an order that the objects themselves in all their aspects,
and under all legitimate interpretations, had become present to consciousness. (3) In the ongoing syntheses of acts of consciousness that count as
consciousness's lived experience of the world, the backward references to
immediately given presentations of objects and forward references to ideally
synthesized identifications of objects in full presence, are jointly necessary
for the possibility of meaning. But these pure origin- and completion-points,
the experience of immediate simples and of unlimited presence, are not so
much found in consciousness as in turn constituted therein - they function
as the limits to which the ongoing process of cognitive experiencing leads
backwards and forwards. Individual experiences do have discrete meanings,
but only because potential synthetic combinations ground their identity. The
constitution of units of meaning, of perceptual plurality, of interpretative
totality, and of interpretative consciousness as a self-propelling system of
synthetic activity, are all set in motion whenever one experience passes over
into the next.
I have articulated the five preceding theories of synthesis as gene rally
as possible, using just enough of their original vocabularies to preserve the
spirit of the ontologies from which they are drawn, and just enough common
vocabulary to indicate that each responds to the three problems of synthesis


with which I began this chapter. No doubt many other theories of synthesis
may be drawn from the history of philosophy besides the empirieist, the
rationalist, the transcendentalist, and the dialectical. However, these four are
those on which Husserl hirnself has most thoroughly drawn, and against which
Husserl's account may be most sharply contrasted.
Husserl's account shares with Hume's, for example, the sense that the
primary experiences undergoing syntheses are experiences with particular
perceptual content, but Husserl departs form the Humean account by affirming
the lawful necessity of synthetic combinations, or at least of ranges of combinations. Husserl's account shares with Leibniz's account the sense of lawful
combination, as weIl as the sense that synthesis produces new knowledge,
but differs by affirming that experiences are combined not under a universal
principle but under an interpretation of an object, and by affirming that syntheses can be carried out in rather more open-ended lines of development
than Leibniz allows. Husserl's account shares with Kant's the sense of
schematic development, of categories defined by their temporal mechanics,
and of the demand for unity as the ultimate motivation for synthetic development, but differs from Kant's by attributing more positive functions to the
phenomenological references backward and forward to pure intuition and completable philosophical science. FinaIly, Husserl's account shares with Hegel's
the sense that both the particular material content of synthesis as weIl as the
general structural possibilities of synthesis are to be defined by their functions in the act in which one experience passes over its limits into another.
It also shares with Hegel's some of the sense of consciousness as a selfdetermining system. But it differs from Hegel's account by affirming that there
are functions to be played in synthetic activity, never overcome in the development of consciousness, by individual acts of consciousness and discrete units
of meaning, by uni versals with abstract rather than "concrete" meaning, by
a pure ego, and by a phenomenological science not dependent on a philosophy of nature and a metaphysics of spirit. 8
There are many issues in the problematic of synthesis according to which
one could compare theories, e.g. according to whether the theory holds that
synthetic activity produces new objects for consciousness or only makes it
possible for consciousness to be receptive to the presence of objects already
in existence; or according to whether the need to synthesize is a subjective one
based on the nature of the ego and its interpretative categories, or an objective one based on the synthetic nature of the things themselves; or according
to whether the rules goveming synthesis are categorial and structural or organizational and schematic; or according to whether the paradigmatic synthetic
act is one that subsurnes a particular content under an interpretative framework
or one that cognitively follows particular contents as they pass over their
own boundaries and force their way into the contexts of others.
In the preceding paragraph, I have not indicated which of the two alternatives in each of these issues is Husserl's, since an interpretation of Husserl's
position on these issues (as indeed those of Hume, Leibniz, Kant and Hegel)


requires preparation and qualification. Indeed, for each of the four theories
of synthesis which I have contras ted with Husserl's, there exists a school of
interpretation wh ich attributes to Husserl that very theory. In the second part
of this Introduction, I will classify and layout in more detail seven ways in
which Husserl's concept of synthesis has been interpreted in the literature,
which I will caH rationalist, empiricist, process, transcendentalist, epistemological, semantic and dialectical readings. I would not want to match up these
schools of commentaries too closely with the four historical ac counts of
synthesis that I laid out above. Nevertheless, it is clear that rationalist interpreters of Husserl are influenced by Leibnizian (as weH as Platonic) ideas,
empiricist interpreters by Humean (as weH as psychologistic) ideas, and transcendentalist interpreters by Kantian (as weH as Cartesian) ideas. Furthermore,
process readings of Husserl could be construed as attempts to break down
the distinction between rationalism and empiricism using a kind of fluid
Kantianism, and the epistemological and semantic readings develop issues
essentiaHy tied to classical modem philosophy from Descartes through Kant.
And of course dialectical readings owe something, albeit generaHy unacknowledged, to Hegel's conception of synthesis. My goal will be to show
how aH of these have some value as interpretations of Husserl, but to arrange
them by strengths and weaknesses to lead towards my own reading of Husserl 's
concept of synthesis in terms of a self-propeHing dynamic of interpretive
consciousness dominated by systems of forward and backward references.
On my reading, Husserl 's conception of synthesis is in general closer to
the Hegelian than to the rationalist, the empiricist, or the transcendentalist conceptions. Yet Husserl was not interested in Hegel. Husserl does not use the
vocabulary of dialectics, he does not articulate the problem of the origin as
a problem of the original will to consciousness, and he does not construe a
schema of self-developing interpretation to be a demonstration that substance
becomes subject. Accordingly, I will not import Hegelian terms, texts, or arguments into my analysis of Husserl. But it would not be surprising historically
to find that Husserl should come to results comparable to Hegel's, since
Husserl's concern to find middle ground between empiricist psychologism and
rationalist formalism without adopting the subjectivism or the antinomies of
neo-Kantianism gives hirn a historical context roughly similar to Hegel's.
And in terms of the system of Husserl's own philosophy, it seems to me that
one could attribute a dialectic of part and whole to Husserl's ac count of synthesis in at least three senses: (i) in that each synthetic act is possible only
in the context of a larger system of syntheses, (ii) in that the experiential
contents to be synthesized are individuated in the same processes in which they
are combined, and (iii) in that the motivation for synthesis is inherently present
in each of the synthesized determinations, each of which demands that its independence be submerged in a unity with others. Nevertheless, while there are
Hegelian themes at work in my reading of Husserl, I intend my reading and
my arguments to arise out of a systematic analysis of Husserl's text.
Now on my reading, the Logical Investigations works out a theory of



intentionality which, precisely through the theory of synthesis involved, guides

Husserl's entire career. Nevertheless, Husserl's Logical Investigations has rarely
been read as a systematic work. The text on the surface has something of a
patchwork appearance. Some extended passages emphasize almost exclusively
a polemic against psychologism ('Prologomena', uP i, ii), other passages
emphasize a construal of consciousness as an intentional system (LU v), others
emphasize a methodological justification for phenomenological abstraction (LU
vi, part 2), and others emphasize treatments of miscellaneous logical (LU
iv), ontological (LU iii), and epistemological (LU vi, part 1) issues. The
problem of synthesis is analysed at length only in the Sixth Investigation. In
spite of this, my plan is to work out the problematics of synthesis implicit
in each of the six Investigations, and so to offer a unifying if somewhat speculative ac count of Husserl's early phenomenology.
Following my treatment of the secondary literature, this study contains a
chapter on each of the six Investigations, and an Appendix on Ideen 1.
Husserl's first five Investigations argue respectively for accounts of
meaning, universals, parts and wholes, non-independence, and consciousness. While I want to analyse Husserl's accounts on their own terms, my
approach will be to work up problems which thematize the problematics of
synthesis, and whose resolution will allow for a systematization of Husserl's
often unstated conception of synthesis. In the course of the first five chapters
of this study, I will develop five of Husserl's descriptive categories of synthesis: anticipatory unities in multiplicity, grounding, passing over and the
demand for supplementation, the implicit, and the reference backward to that
which must have been present in advance.
I will discuss the first Investigation, which argues for ideal meanings, in
order to introduce the problematic of "unity in multiplicity" in intentional consciousness in general. I will also consider those spheres of consciousness
that seem to have no need for experiential multi pli city (i.e. the sphere of the
pure concepts of logical and phenomenological science) as well as those that
seem to have no need for unity (i.e. the sphere of "occasional" or "ThisHere-Now" expressions).
In the second Investigation, Husserl argues that universal objects, though
"grounded" in synthetic combinations of individual objects, are nevertheless
not reducible to individual objects. I will argue that in the course of working
out the sense in which synthesizing interpretations can produce a new region
of objects, Husserl implicitly develops an account of the "grounding" relation
as such, according to which consciousness transforms its immediate experiences of individuals into general unifying principles which are then in turn
applied to the interpretation of those individuals.
In discussing the third Investigation, which concerns parts and wholes, I
will show how Husserl turns his attention from universal to individual objects,
and analyses the complexity that goes into all individual objects in terms of
their potential divisions and combinations. The individuation and the unification of objects is constituted by the demands for the mutual supplementation



of their parts. The account of relatively discontinuous parts passing over into
one another, and thereby setting systems of determinations off in relief together,
provides a model for synthetic activity generally.
In dealing with the fourth Investigation on independent and non-independent meanings, I will discuss Husserl's ac count of syncategorematic terms (like
"and" , "is the same as", etc.), which represent synthetic connectedness in
linguistic expressions, and yet do not refer to anything on their own. I will
argue that Husserl uses this problem to show that synthetic connectedness is
always prior to any given meaning-content, and hence that synthetic relations have always already dominated interpretative experience in advance.
In treating the fifth Investigation, which includes a general account of intentional consciousness as weH as analyses of the relation between perception and
judgment, and between names and predicates, I will argue that consciousness for Husserl is a system of self-explicating interpretations, wherein complex
predicative judgments are implicitly referred back to simple names and perceptions, and names are implicitly referred back to presupposed judgments.
I will here focus on the status of referring backward in general, of the return
both to experiential immediacy and to an ideal completion of interpretative
In the sixth Investigation, the descriptive categories of synthesis developed in the first five Investigations are aH together brought to bear on Husserl 's
concern with epistemological questions involving the gradual intuitive fulfilment of meaning-intentions. Here we find Husserl's most extended account
of the interpretative syntheses which identify objects in their multiple appearances. In treating such issues as the nature of interpretative consistency, levels
of knowledge, the recognition of differences as weH as identities, and the
ideal of evidence in cognition, Husserl conducts a variety of analyses bearing
on the grounds, mechanisms, and results of synthetic activity. In my final,
and longest chapter, I will in five sections distinguish and analyse five increasingly complex descriptive categories under which Husserl in the sixth
Investigation ac counts for the way contents of consciousness demand to be
synthesized under unifying interpretations: namely universal names, contexts,
perspectives, limits, and backward references. In the last of these sections,
which also functions as the Conclusion to this study, I will show how the
syntheses of referring backward resolve problems of synthetic consciousness
at work throughout the Investigations. I will therein present my final account
of Husserl's concept of synthesis, and my own speculative account of how
a theory of synthesis should work with a schema of forward and backward
I will end the final chapter by developing a problem that arises for Husserl's
concept of synthesis in LU, which I will call the problem of the storage in consciousness of implicit forward and backward referents (not only of memories
and explicit expectations, but of unnoticed sensory data, implicit interpretations, apriori rule-structures, ideals of completion, and so on) all of which
are presupposed by, but never present in, consciousness. I will suggest in



the Appendix that in Ideen 1 Husserl develops a notion of absolute consciousness not in order to posit an ungrounded, self-certain, unchanging
substrate of experience, but in order to ground references back to presuppositions. All experience must refer back to its own prior identity in order to have
the grounds to pursue a synthetic interpretation of objects. Though I will not
analyse in this study the complexities of the relation between Husserl's early
and later work, my reading is in part designed to suggest that Husserl's later
concems, from intersubjectivity and the life-world, to science and the ego,
continue to work within the problematics of synthesis worked out in the Logical
Investigations, according to which all contents, processes, and objects of
consciousness, including all that is apparently prior to synthesis and all that
is apparently beyond the need for synthesis, are functions of the system of
self-propelling interpretative syntheses and their forward and backward



A Treatise on Human Nature (London: Oxford University Press, 1973) Part 1, s. 4.

Ibid., Part 1, s. 7.
Of Universal Synthesis and Analysis: or of the Art of Discovery and Judgment (c. 1683)
in Leibniz: Philosophical Writings, edited by G. H. R. Parkinson, translated by Mary
Morris and G. H. R. Parkinson (London: J. M. Dent and Sons Ltd., 1973) pp. 10-17.
Critique of Pure Reason, translated by Norman Kemp Smith (New York: St. Martin's
Press, 1965) A77B103-A79BI05.
The three syntheses at CPR A99-110.
CPR BI59-62.
Phenomenology of Spirit, translated by A. V. Miller (London: Oxford University Press, 1977)
chapter 1.
See my article 'Husserl and Hegel on the Logie of Subjeetivity', Man and World, 21,
1988, pp. 363-393.
I will eite Husserl's Logische Untersuchungen (hereafter LU) and Ideen zu einer reinen
Phnomenologie und phnomenologische Philosophie in the body of the text throughout,
aceording to the Max Niemeyer Verlag Tbingen 1980 edition. When the volume and
Investigation number are elear from the context, I will eite only the page number; otherwise, I will eite the volume in upper ease Roman numerals, and the Investigation number
in lower ease Roman numerals.




Husserl uses the term "synthesis" in LU in speaking of (a) the synthesis of

identity, whereby a plurality of intuitions are interpreted as making a single
object present, and thus fulfilling a single meaning-intention, and (b) the
synthetic combination of thetic experiences, or the transformation of multirayed theses into a single-rayed thesis. The act of combining meanings and
intuitions according to roles is responsible for an experiencing subject's ability
to apprehend singular objects as they really are.
Now there are contemporaries of Husserl for whom synthesis does not
play this role. Brentano (1915)1 argues that "An existential statement is concemed with a simple thing, which it affirms or denies; it does not combine
things and therefore it does not involve a synthesis of thought" (p. 119).
Heidegger argues that the Greeks never meant the term "synthesis" to describe
the linking and combining (Verbindung and Verknpfung) of representations
in agreement with external actualities, but understood synthesis rather as
"letting something -be-seen", the uncovering in discourse of the things that
"show from themselves" (phainomena), so that synthesis for Heidegger is
"letting something be seen in its togethemess with something - letting it be
seen as something" (1927, p. 33). For Husserl, however, the experience of
existing singulars does take place through the mediation of the synthetic acts
of linking and combining.
Almost every reading of Husserl 's LU is therefore at some point an interpretation of Husserl's concept of synthesis. But not all readings emphasize
the role of synthesis. Of those that do, not all pursue as I will the problematics of "passing over" from thesis to synthesis, the importance of partialities
and discontinuities in the constitution of interpretative totalities, and the
grounding of synthesis in its references backward and forward to origin- and
Commentators who deal directly or indirectly with Husserl's concept of
synthesis in the Logical Investigations can be classified according to a variety
of ways, e.g. according to whether the commentator emphasizes the rules
for carrying out synthesis or the contents of thetic experiences, the state of
synthesis or the process of synthesizing, the subjective activity of building
up synthetic experiences or the epistemic context of cognitive syntheses, the
semantic features of synthetic experiences or the interpenetrating features of
signifiers and signifieds. In addition, one finds among the commentaries with
surprising frequency the use of the term "dialectical" to describe Husserl 's
concept of synthesis. The more interesting of these, in my view, attribute to
Husserl a dialectic of prior-posterior, or of the backward and forward references which I will be emphasizing in my own commentaries to follow.



1 am going to treat only those commentaries which deal with Husserl's

concept of synthesis in LU and Ideen 1. 1 am not going to deal with commentaries of Husserl's work on "passive synthesis", "kinaesthetic synthesis",
"inner time-synthesis" or the other syntheses involved in genetic life-world
analysis, except in so far as they attiibute inadequacies to Husserl's account
of synthesis in LU. 1 will also omit readings of LU and Ideen which exclusively concern (a) formal logic and mathematics, and (b) the transcendental
The present chapter has four sections. First, 1 will set out six interpretations of Husserl 's concept of synthesis, which 1 classify as formalist, empiricist,
process, transcendentalist, epistemological and semantic interpretations. It need
hardly be said that there are variations within and overlap between these
classifications, and that a given author's interpretation may contain elements
which fall under more than one classification.
On my reading, all of the interpretations which 1 will consider are partially accurate construals of LU, though the true Husserlian concept of synthesis
requires reconciling and systematizing their apparently incompatible claims.
Each of these interpretations posits some sort of duality, the dissatisfaction
with which leads (those or other) commentators towards the other interpretations. Hence, to preview the first section of this chapter, the formalist readings
of Husserl ground synthesis in apriori rules, but fail to account for how
rules are applied to individual contents or for how those individual contents
themselves are apprehended; the empiricist readings take up the role of individual contents in building up synthetic interpretations, but have trouble
accounting for the active interpretative processes involved in apprehending a
succession of contents; the process readings take up the notion of continuity
in synthetic consciousness in order to break down the distinction between rules
and contents, but while their goal is to ground synthesis in the ongoing
processes of experience themselves, they need to explain the fact that such
oppositions as rule and content, objective meaning and subjective flux, function
as distinct grounds of consciousness; the transcendentalist readings ground the
division into multiple origins of synthetic activity in the performances and
structures of transcendental subjectivity, but then have to account for how
the subject's synthetic interpretation of its immanent experiences yields an
interpretation of real objects; the epistemological readings hold that such interpretative activity is always cognitive, and that experiences to-be-synthesized
are not sense-impressions in the mind but are already perspectives on the world,
so that synthesis always results in knowledge of objects; the semantic readings
then emphasize the way that individual contents and syntheses of contents
identify objective referents, but the problem of reconciling the roles of linguistic expressions and pre-synthetic perceptual indexing in effect leads back
to the opposing emphases of rationalist and empiricist interpretations. In the
controversies within and between these six interpretations, we find that a
complete account of synthesis has to take account of rules and contents,
processes and subject-object distinctions, cognitive and perceptual acts, syn-



theses of identification and immediate contact with the world, and has to
ground each of these as a partial source of synthetic activity. I will argue at
the end of the first section of this chapter that the failure of these six interpretations individually and collectively to account for the ground of synthesis
in Husserlian phenomenology is a result of insufficient attention being paid
to the mechanisms whereby each content of consciousness passes over into the
In the second section, I will layout a number of reasons offered in the
commentaries for Husserl 's alleged turn after LU towards life-world syntheses.
I do not hold the view that Husserl's early concept of synthesis is lacking in
something that his later version supplies. But even if the alleged later discoveries are already present in Husserl's early work, the grounds which
commentators cite for the alleged turn are nevertheless revealing. In one
common formulation, Husserl's "form-content schema" is said to turn into
his "dialectic". The third section lays out sens es in which "dialectic" is used
by the commentators. The more interesting of these, to be treated in the
fourth section, involve the concept of referring backward.

I will not argue against the interpretations treated below, but I will arrange
them in such a way as to let them bring out each other's weaknesses.
(I) Rationalist and Formalist Readings and the Role 01 Rules

In so far as synthesis is the organization of perceptions according to rules, it

has seemed natural to think that synthetic activity originates in universals or
rules (Kersten, 1974), and that synthesis occurs when rules are applied to
individual perceptions. Carr (1974, pp. 32-3) suggests that Husserl's account
of the application of "rules for synthesis" in LU is similar to Kant's (also
Solomon, 1977). Patocka (1977, pp. 150-59) defends Husserl against critics
who proclaim the need for dialectical, concrete, or "tainted" universals, arguing
that even when synthesis is in "process", its organization must determine
"necessary structures" of sense-experiences. When Dreyfus associates the rules
for synthesis with the "computability" of intentional states, and goes so far
as to argue that "the notion of mental activity is so broadened that it does
not require consciousness at all", he is only making explicit what others have
begun to say, namely that the feature of mental activity responsible for synthesis is the rule-structure of that activity, not the inner awareness immanent
in it.
There are several ways of articulating the formalist reading of Husserl.
Sokolowski (1964, pp. 201ff.) refers to Husserl's "form-matter schema", where
form is the interpreting device and matter its passive raw material (also de
Almeida, 1972, pp. 13-14). But the formalist reading must not only maintain



the independence of the forms of synthesis from its contents, it must also
give an account of how forms affect or apply to contents. Some formalists
argue for a closed set of rules as opposed to open-ended systems of interpretation (Madison, 1977, pp. 254ff., also Rosen, 1977, p. 133). Others (Smith
and McIntyre, 1982) argue that rules of synthesis operate only as "constraints"
(p. 254) ensuring the "compatibility" (p. 262) of synthesized perceptions. In
any case, according to the formalist reading, when a meaning "predelineates"
future experiences, it may open up new possibilities (p. 297), but it does not
in any stronger way generate their actualization.
While formalist readings generally describe forms of synthesis as rules
according to which a plurality of intuitions are used to identify a single
object, or as rules for organizing part-experiences into a whole (e.g.
Sokolowski, 1967-68), there are also formalist readings which subordinate
synthetic identification according to forms to the synthetic identification of
forms (de Boer, 1978, pp. 146-8; Mensch, 1981, pp. 134-40; Bachelard, 1968,
pp. 21-2; Schuhmann 1971, p. 7).
Many of those who read Husserl as a formalist criticize Husserl for his
formalism. Some maintain that Husserl hirnself was working on ways of
breaking down the distinction between form and content, either by describing
the cognitive performances during which forms and contents are unified
(Eley, 1962, pp. 14-20), or by interpreting an essence as a "tool" for letting
facts be of account (Waldenfels, 1971, p. 80). But more frequently, Husserl
is criticized for leaving allegedly crucial features of consciousness out of
his form-content theory. Levin (1970, pp. 43-48) argues that Husserl's
form-content theory wrongly omits the "history" or "genesis" of forms, and
Sokolowski (1964, pp. 55-59) argues that Husserl wrongly underestimates
the role of "sense-data" as the "raw materials" of meaning. It is striking that
on attributing a form-content theory to Husserl, commentators condemn Husserl
either for having no account of form, or for having no account of content.
But the most extreme criticism of Husserl 's alleged formalism is that of Adomo
(1956, pp. 173-74), who argues that phenomenology, in positing the ideal of
full evidence, must "forget" synthesis. Adomo's claim is that the act of synthesis represents the possibility of disorder, the "other", that phenomenology
is committed to avoiding.
But Husserl is guilty of these omissions and failures only if the formalist
interpretation of Husserl is correct.

(11) Empirieist Readings and the Role of Passivity

Empiricist readings begin as an implication of rationalist readings: If rule-structures for synthesis are perception-free, then the perceptions to which they
are applied must be structure-free (e.g. Dreyfus, 1982, p. 13). Sokolowski
(1964, pp. 218-19) argues that Husserl's theory of constitution requires a "pole"
of "reality" in addition to the pole of "subjectivity", an element of sensedata in addition to an element of intentionality (p. 55), and that the former



indicates Husserl's empiricism just as the latter indicates his idealism (also
Mohanty, 1964, pp. 49-50).
But while some empiricist readings take Husserl to posit isolated, uninterpreted, immanent, sensory givens as that to which rules for the synthesis are
to be applied, others argue that synthesis must originate in such givenness.
Eley (1972, pp. 340-44) claims that Husserl tries to ground even formallogic
in lived experience. A Husserlian account of the truth table for the logical connective "&", for example, would have to trace cognition back to the experiential
juxtaposition of a "This" and a "That". Eley holds that synthesis originates
in "This"-experiences; Diemer (1956, pp. 96-98) holds that synthesis aims
at such experiences, that all meaning presupposes a world in relation to which
the subject is "passive".
At the he art of the empiricist reading, then, there is not just the claim that
synthesis is completed in empirical experience, but the stronger claim that synthesis begins passively. Yet the empirical data which synthesis operates on,
is grounded in, and aims at, must be both passively accepted and actively interpreted (e.g. Dreyfus, 1982, p. 13). While Welton (1983, pp. 167-228) thinks
Husserl's early work cannot account for "productive" syntheses, Yamaguchi
(1982, pp. 2-5) thinks the notion of "blending" in LU iii does account for
productive intuition. And after all, the philosophers from whom Husserl
borrows the idea of perceptual "blending" (Stumpf, Wundt, and Herbart) are
empiricists for whom sense-impressions are active.
Similar problems regarding passivity and productivity arise when commentators try to decide whether Husserl accepted the distinction between
synthetic and analytic judgments, i.e. between judgments which require empirical content and judgments which describe formallaws. Van Peursen (1972,
p. 91; also Kern, 1964, pp. 140,257-75) argues that Husserl softens the synthetic-analytic distinction by holding that even non-empirical objects have
an "intuitive" structure.
In short, the empiricist reading looks at first as though it posits isolated
sense-data, but in grounding syntheses of fulfilment on such givenness, it attributes productive powers to the very reception of those data, and ends up by
softening the distinction between the forms of synthesis and the raw materials for synthesis.
(III) Process or Gestalt Readings and the Role of "Splitting"

The softening of the distinction between form and matter sets the stage for
what I am calling the process reading. Gurwitsch's early work (1929) outlines
the view that synthesis objectifies the world by unifying consciousness.
Consciousness is a process during which intentional acts are combined, singled
out, and separated (pp. 240-48), a process which undergoes continuous alterations and "restructurations" (pp. 223ff.) according to "transformation laws"
(p. 248). A "structural framework" or Gestalt (pp. 190-98) is a law not of
the form but of the process of synthesis (p. 248).



The stream-like quality of synthetic consciousness is thematized by

Sokolowski's (1964) ac count of Husserl's movement towards genetic phenomenology. Husserl's goal, delayed by his "structural" emphasis in LU, is
to describe the "process bringing about constitution", or the ''flow of elements
which gradually builds up an immanent object" (p. 205).
Frequently, the stream-like quality is said to be a consequence of the "teleological" nature of consciousness. This telos, which keeps the flow of
consciousness moving, is interpreted by various commentators as a teleology
of knowledge-seeking (Hoyos Vasquez, 1976), or of reflection to apriori structures (Hlsmann, 1964, pp. 97-103) or of science (de Muralt, 1974, pp. 11ff.).
Others, however, like Mensch (1981, p. 176), emphasize not thefutural quality
of the synthetic stream of consciousness, but its "retentional" quality.
But more fundamental to process readings than the flow of consciousness,
is their rejection of a split between the forms of synthesis and the flowing
material which is to be synthesized. For Sokolowski (1964, p. 205), Husserl
aims at an ac count in which there is "no duality" between form and matter,
essence and process, intention and sensation, categories and perception,
soul and body (also Gurwitsch, 1929, p. 245; McKenna, 1982, pp. 163-6,
179; Edie, 1984, pp. 75-7). Kunz (1971) rejects every static element in
phenomenology, branding such notions as "essence", "ego" and "apodicticity" as "theological".
But while process readings reject the ultimacy of form-matter distinctions,
they must also thematize the processes in which form and matter, and rules
and sensations, come to play distinct roles in consciousness. For Waldenfels
(1971), essences function as the "entry into" experience (pp. 63-4), Le. as a
"tool" for directing our interests toward the factical (p. 80). Yet even if essences
are only "tools" or "maps" (Sokolowski, 1974, pp. 25-6, 61-80) for generating continuous streams of perceptions and perspectives, the fact that the
stream has to introduce tools at all suggests that experience has a "double aim"
(Waldenfels, 1971, p. 76), namely to refine the tools and to work on direct
experience. Indeed the splitting of cognitive aims in the stream may be precisely the discontinuity that allows objects to be individuated in the flow of
consciousness (e.g. Sokolowski, 1974, pp. 101-9). In general, consciousness
splits into two sources of experience: namely into apriori laws of synthesis
and the aposteriori facticity of the world (Schuhmann, 1971, p. 194).
That the split in the flow of consciousness is referred back to the origins
of consciousness, is made explicit by Eley (1964). Consciousness must
recognize that its flow is neither a succession of different data nor an undifferentiated unity, but that differences come to unity by having their essential
meaning pre-figured "in-advance" (von vornherein, p. 9). Eley calls this unity
"in-advance" of essence and fact, of meaning and "this-there" (Dies-da,
p. 14) a "difference-unity" (p. 16), and calls the emerging difference a "priusposterius Differenz" (p. 20). The unfolding of consciousness is a flowing
process precisely because it is a "splitting" (Spaltung, p. 14) of its prior origins
and its posterior possibilities, and because the "tension" (Spannung, p. 26)



or "opposition" (p. 36) that results from the process of splitting is also the
"condition" (p. 36) of the process of self-overcoming. The process reading,
therefore, need not reject the difference between essence and thisness, nor need
it even subordinate the changing to the unchanging. It need only articulate
the essence-thisness distinction as a splitting that is continuously performed
in the process of synthetic consciousness.
Still, it is frequently suggested that Husserl's "static" ideal units of meaning
are incompatible with "genetic" processes, and that the former should be abandoned for the latter. Sokolowski (1964) argues that the ideal meanings affirmed
in LU are "too abrupt", and that Husserl should have begun with the "encounter
that leads into" meanings (p. 209; also Levin, 1970, pp. 43-8).
Perhaps the most telling version of this alleged incompatibility of process
and ideality is embodied in Welton's (1983, p. 163, also p. 202) "reply" to
Derrida. Derrida (1967, ch. 7) argues that Husserl's first Investigation operates
within an essential tension, positing both the ideal presence of closed meanings
as wen as the indefinite openness within, and deferrals of insight into,
meanings. Derrida does not so much criticize Husserl for this tension, as
take this tension in Husserl's text between a meaning's ideality and its "need
for supplementation" (Ergnzungsbedrftigkeit) to be the very deferral of
absoluteness within which an original or first philosophy happens. Now Welton
takes Derrida's account of the doubledness of Husserl 's text to be an argument
that Husserl's theory of ideal meanings is inconsistent. (Evans (1991) takes
a similar approach, developing a range of arguments against Derrida's reading
that I cannot do justice to here.) Welton's reply is that Derrida ignores Husserl's
later genetic phenomenology. In other words, Welton first identifies Derrida's
reading with criticisms made by Sokolowski and Levin, then concedes the
inconsistency of ideal meanings, in order to defend a new, non-ideal, nonclosed (though see p. 298), kind of meaning. But for Derrida, whose reading
of Husserl's concept of synthesis in terms of deferral, interruption, and corrupted presence nevertheless essentially belongs to the process reading, the
demand for ideal closure in meaning is precisely what a theory of meaning
must demand. Derrida's process reading is far from incompatible with the
demand for ideality; process takes place rather in the labyrinths on route to
an ideality whose necessity is not diminished by its infinite deferral.
(IV) Transcendentalist Readings and the Role of Immanence

The process reading is in general a critique of formal rule-structures, but in

affirming a flow of consciousness, it is specifically a critique of the notion that
transcendental apriori structures in consciousness are responsible for the
occurrence of synthetic acts (Gurwitsch, 1929). Options within the process
reading concern whether consciousness flows by virtue of its spontaneity, its
self-identity, its categories, or its unfolding intendings.
Mensch 's (1981) work makes clear the ambiguity in the transition from
the process reading to the transcendentalist (p. 268). Immanent experiences,



he says, come to intend transcendent objects in so far as experiences "fit

together" (p. 173). Now if we ask for the ground of this process, Mensch
says two things: (a) "consciousness serves as a final ground for the transcendence", and (b) "the object's independence . . . is grounded in the
connections that set up the object" (both p. 173). Are connections grounded
in consciousness, or is consciousness a sum of connections?
The relations between the transcendental ego, transcendental categories, and
the experience of transcendent objects are always difficult to sort out. Natorp
(1917-18) saw early on the problem of the relation between consciousness
as flow and consciousness as transcendental ego. For Natorp, Husserl is wrong
to think that his description of consciousness as a "flowing" manifold of retentions and protensions can "relate back" to a transcendental ego, other than
as an "endless exercise" in the teleological "function of 'making synthetic unity
possible' " (p. 56).
I will not here discuss interpretations of the transcendental ego or of the
transcendental "reductions" in Ideen 1. Suffice it to say that the reductions
have been taken to mean everything from the Aufheben of naive into speculative understanding (Eley, 1962) to a dialogue with the unconscious (de
Waelhens, 1959; or Seebohm, 1992). What I will do is to outline some consequences of the view that synthesis is grounded in transcendental subjectivity.
There are two claims in the transcendentalist reading: (1) that synthetic
acts are spontaneous in the Kantian sense (e.g. Fein, 1970, pp. 43-9), and
(2) that synthetic apriori laws circumscribe transcendental contexts within
which syntheses are possible (e.g. Tugendhat, 1967, pp. 161-65). But most
important for the transcendentalist reading is the schema of immanence and
transcendence: the transcendental syntheses among acts of consciousness and
within the immanent flow of experiences are responsible for the objectification of transcendent worldhood. Readings divide on how this achievement
of transcendence works, and on whether or not Husserl has a realist interpretation of transcendent objects. Tran-Duc-Thao (1950, pp. 138-41) argues
that for Husserl, syntheses within consciousness are not called upon to connect
an inner with an outer world, since the so-called outer world of substances
and Ideas already belongs to, and is the product of, the syntheses within
lived immanence. But while Tran-Duc-Thao takes the realist description of
transcendence within immanence to be the success of Husserlian phenomenology, Ingarden (1975, pp. 34-8) takes it to be Husserl's failure. For Ingarden,
the fact that Husserllimits hirnself to describing immanent perception prevents
hirn from describing reality per se.
In spite of all the talk of the constitution of transcendent objects, it has
seemed natural to attribute to Husserl, either with approval or disapproval, a
metaphysical idealism and/or a solipsism of immanence. Stapelton (1983,
pp. 13-7) resorts to a telling device when he designates the world as transcendent totality and the world as transcendental presupposition as "World 1"
and "World/'. No one, including Stapelton, really thinks that the immanent
and the transcendent are two worlds; yet the presumption that phenome-



nology chooses the world of immanence over the world of transcendence

remains prevalent (e.g. Levinas, 1973, pp. 19-21; Kchler, 1974, pp. 183-6;
Harris, 1987, pp. 98, 116). Especially for Souche-Dagues (1972), Husserl's
"realism" removes substantial reality from the world itself, which becomes
an "abyss of sense" (p. 94). In works written after Ideen I, Souche-Dagues
argues, Husserl tried to attribute meaning to pre-predicative experience
and substance to Nature (p. 96). But by that time, he says, Husserl had
irretrievably limited phenomenology to the topic of subjective horizons
(pp. 288-91).
Of commentators who consider transcendence to be a result of syntheses
within immanence, the most extreme idealistic position is that of Kohak
(1978), for whom synthesis produces reality (p. 67). If two people synthesize visual data differently, they see different things, for only "views" count
as "hard reality", whereas things are mere constructs (p. 68). Without a
subject's synthesizing, there "Iiterally 'is' no table". In contrast, Hanna (1993,
p. 275) attributes to Husserl a "weak" psychologism: it is not that all objects
are thought by a human mind, but only that they can be thought by in
Kohak's reading is unusual in not acknowledging that a realist understanding
of transcendence is legitimate within lived experience. Yet most transcendentalist readings share Kohak's presumption that consciousness beg ins with
immanent experiences and transcendental laws and must then make its way
towards transcendent reality. The transcendental turn in Husserl commentaries can only avoid the kind of idealism that denies the independent reality
of the natural world, if it reverses the ordering of immanence over transcendence. Arealist transcendental phenomenology would have to understand
the synthesis among immanent experiences to count as the emerging presence
of transcendent objects. Intuition would have to be understood to be from
the beginning a knowledge of objects.
The transition from the idealist reading to the epistemological reading may
be traced in Pietersma's work. Pietersma understands Husserl's "idealism"
to consist in the claims (a) that a transcendent object's absent sides are
correlates of the subject's "I can" of epistemic movements (1979, p. 196),
(b) that the cognitive standpoint which takes objects to be real is identical to
the standpoint at which the contexts of transcendental subjectivity have been
maximally determined (1979, p. 205), and (c) that the resolution of doubts
about the objects of experience must be settled within experience (1977, p. 43).
For Pietersma, transcendental contexts do not relativize truth-seeking by
positing solipsistic experiences as its starting-point; rather, they make an
object's evident self-givenness possible by positing verifications at the process's
end-point (1977, p. 44-50). The "I can verify" is, to be sure, a subjective, transcendental possibility, but the (often implicit) contexts in which possible
apprehensions of real objects are embedded (1979, p. 194) count as the very
"conceptual scheme" (1979, p. 210) which permits epistemic appraisal to be
carried out successfully.



(V) Epistemological Readings and the Role 01 Contexts and Perspectives

Many commentators read Husserl's concept of synthesis as a theory of knowledge. Spiegelberg (1975, pp. 158-63) says that knowledge is the result of
twin syntheses: a "selective synthesis" for eliminating non-veridical phenomena, and a "constructive synthesis" to harmonize veridical but perspectival
phenomena. The resulting unity is an epistemic "context", regulating the
"marginal fringes" of a "text" -like phenomenal field, and prescribing "tracks"
which "run" from present to absent, anticipated, phenomena (pp. 185-6).
Acts of consciousness are synthesized in order that objects be known as they
The epistemological reading makes two essential claims: (a) that truth is
achieved at the end-point of synthetic acts when an object's being is rendered
fully present, and (b) that that end-point completes a process structured by
contexts of convergence, perspectival tracking, and prescriptions for the inclusion and exclusion of phenomena into joint interpretations. Controversy within
the epistemological reading concems the nature of the conceptual scheme.
Epistemic frameworks have been described both in terms of categorial frameworks (Rosen, 1977, pp. 29-39) and as investigative strategies (Eley, 1962,
p. 133). But what is important (especially in Pietersma's work) is that
epistemic contexts and horizons define optimal epistemic standpoints.
Many commentators, in defining the completion-point of knowledge
see king, speak of the evidence provided by the last synthesis in a sequence
of syntheses (e.g. Gurwitsch, 1929, pp. 190-98; Pietersma, 1977; Tugendhat,
1967, pp. 64-75; de Almeida, 1972, pp. 38-51; Rang, 1973, pp. 27-47). Yet
the last moment of fulfilment in the unfolding of a meaning or the presentation of an object is problematic. The problem is that for a perspectivally viewed
object to be known in itself, those perspectives must be synthetically ordered
in cognition, despite the fact that no one experience can present the object from
more than one perspective-point. The notion of an epistemic preparedness to
experience an object from expanded and contracted perspectives becomes a
central theme in the epistemological reading of synthesis. A meaning which
intends an object under a limited perspective contains, anticipates, implies,
refers to, leads to, progresses towards, motivates, interpenetrates with, co-determines, contextualizes, unifies, or is transformed into, other experiences of
that object so that its synthesis with experiences already possessed would
render adequate the subject's knowledge of that object. Brentano (1909, p.
89) says that to think about X is implicitly to think also about all of its properties. Yet the fullness of an experience is not sufficient to render an object
really present, since, as Zahavi (1992, p. 117) argues, fantasy-objects can
also be presented with imaginative fullness. The fullness of an experience does
not guarantee objective reference unless the syntheses oJfulfilment are carried
out objectively and systematically.
Perhaps the largest undeveloped problem in the literature is the problem
of the mechanism for moving from one perspectival experience into another.



How does each content of consciousness anticipate others in general, and the
next perspective in particular? How is the demand for synthesis implicit in
(VI) Semantic Readings and the Roles 01 Relerence and Language

Problems surrounding the synthesis of epistemic fulfilment are similar to

problems surrounding the synthesis of identification: the former syntheses must
organize perspectival apprehensions so that they progressively bring a given
object to full presence, while the latter must pick out a singular objective
referent in the face of multiple perspectival apprehensions.
The semantic reading makes two claims: (a) that synthesis is a mechanism for fixing the reference of expressions, and (b) that referents are identified
in linguistic acts. Problems within the semantic reading involve whether the
syntheses that identify objects are dependent on pre-synthetic perceptual
Most commentators who take the semantic reading are trained in analytic
philosophy, and the controversies within this reading concern the opacity of
reference. According to much recent analytic philosophy, "intentionality"
amounts to psychologism. On a strong version, expressions refer to mental
representations called "intentional objects"; on a weak version, expressions
do refer to mind-independent objects but only in so far as the objects agree
with the interpretations which the mind has of them. The trend is to argue
that this account is absurd, and to argue instead that names and propositions
are causally or extensionally or truth-functionally connected with substances
and facts in the world, independent of the interpretation of the expressions
and the mental states of the expression-users. Hence, many semantic readings
of Husserl's concept of synthesis either apologize for the role of intentional
meanings in Husserl 's account of reference, or else deny that Husserl held
the sort of intentionality-theory that analytic philosophers complain about.
F011esdal uses Husserl 's not ion of noema to speak of intentional objects
while at the same time holding that expressions refer not to mental intentions but to real objects. The noema, on this view, is a meaning and not an
object, but it makes reference possible by organizing a "pattern" of perspectival determinations so that each anticipates others (1982, pp. 78-80). The role
of patterning in reference dominates the problematic of the semantic reading.
We have seen that Dreyfus (1982) holds that the rules which pattern perceptions are sufficient for the fixing of reference. But most commentators
include a stage of perceptual indexing in reference. Smith and McIntyre (1982;
also Miller, 1984, pp. 69-102), like F011esdal, take noematic meanings to be
the "mediators" wh ich allow perceptions to refer to objects (pp. 81-5). An
acCs intentionality delimits both a structural essence (p. 141) as well as an
identification of individuality (p. 252). But they emphasize that an expression refers to the same object no matter how different ob servers describe it
(p. 211). The act which picks out an object to be sure needs an "unfolding



of predieates", but it also needs a "component" which indexes "The X" which
"binds" the predicates (pp. 195-205). Smith and McIntyre complain that
Husserl underemphasizes demonstrative reference and overemphasizes definite
descriptions (p. 219). Hence, in the case where an expression-user misdescribes
the object he perceives, Husserl was forced to say that the expression refers
to a non-existent intentional object whereas the preferable account is that it
refers (falsely) to whatever object was perceived. Smith and McIntyre suggest
that if phenomenology were to emphasize the expression-user's "background
of belief-structures" and the "pragmaties" by which they name and describe
things in their environments (p. 221), it would harmonize the roles of patterning and indexing while solving hard cases in the theory of reference.
Some semantic readings beg in by assuming the presence of names and predieations, and then ask how these linguistic expressions manage to refer to
objects. Others question the origin of language, and regard language and indexieal reference as originally simultaneous (Hlsmann, 1964). Caputo (1987),
following Derrida, argues that non-grammatieal and "useless" expressions
res tore aspects of the world to us that structured language overregulates.
Mohanty (1964) points to two semantic problems symptomatic of problems
in the unity of consciousness: one involving the relation between objective
expressions, whieh synthesize perceptions into a common reference, and
demonstrative expressions, which do not; and the other involving syncategorematic terms (like "and") whieh draw connections and yet do not mean
anything in themselves. For Mohanty, both problems indieate the tension
between synthetic pattern and non-synthetic units of meaning. In fact, Mohanty
approves of this unresolved tension in Husserl 's theory of reference (pp. 60-6).
The reconciliation of rules and flux remains a "paradox" (p. 74-5).
While Mohanty thinks a reconciliation of objective meaning and perceptual flux is finally "resistant" to phenomenologieal description (also 1982),
Tugendhat (1967 and 1977) regards such problems as symptoms of a more
serious problem for the semantic account of synthesis which he attributes
to Husserl. Husserl's theory of truth, he says, begins as an account of how
linguistic propositions agree with facts, but defines the truth-relation "in so
far as it implies a synthesis" of judgments (p. 97). Unlike Hlsmann, Tugendhat
treats linguistic propositions as "non-synthetic meanings" (p. 99), but like
Hlsmann, he thinks the locus of truth must be synthetic. Hence, Tugendhat
approves of the fact that Husserl's desire to locate truth in propositions leads
hirn to ground propositions in synthetic judgments, but criticizes Husserl
for not grounding judgment in a Heideggerian notion of being-in-the-world
(pp. 99, 106).
The semantic reading of Husserl's concept of synthesis, like the other
readings, comes to a point at whieh the oppositions or dualities which it posits,
in this case between pattern and reference, call for a reconciliation. The
remaining sections of this chapter look at three strategies by which commentators try to reconcile alleged dualities in Husserl's concept of synthesis;
the diachronie strategy, the "dialectical" strategy, and the way of "referring-



back". But first I want to point to two areas in which commentaries on

Husserl's concept of synthesis are weak.
(VII) Weaknesses in the Readings So Far, and the Role

0/ "More"

(a) Commentaries tend to be weak on the ground of synthetic activity. One

rarely sees rigorously pursued a question like: What is it about the nature of
a single content of consciousness which provides the necessary and sufficient conditions for its combination with others?
(b) Commentaries tend to be weak on certain elements of the mechanism
of synthesis. In particular, one finds little direct analysis of three of the descriptive categories which Husserl frequently uses when describing synthetic
processes, namely those of the "passing over" (bergehen) of one content
into another, the "lifting off" (Abheben) of a discontinuous moment from an
undifferentiated flow, and the "reference-back" (Zurckverweisen) from the
final synthetic result to its history of origin-points.
Tugendhat (1977) despairs over the possiblity of clarifying even the simplest
synthesis of "connection" or "togetherness" (Zusammen, p. 333). But other
commentators show too little concern over the problematic character of synthesis. Descriptions of everyday cases of synthetic processes, and uncritical
metaphors and analogies of backgrounds and horizons substitute for arguments
in pursuit of the ground of synthesis. Even when commentators handle such
descriptions with colourful detail or with an eye to multi-levelled intracacies
(e.g. Carr, 1974, pp. 70ff.; Gurwitsch, 1929; Levin, 1970; Sokolowski, 1974,
pp. 9lff.), they rarely ask how these details and levels are possible.
To describe in metaphors ways in which theses appear "together" does
not explain Husserl's claim that theses in a synthesis "belong together" (zusammengehren). Among some commentators, the reason that the "passing over"
from one thesis to the next is not pursued is the presumption that phenomenology begins with the idea of complete cognitive identity, fullness, or
presence, and treats incomplete stages of synthesis only as parts of complete
wholes (e.g. Levin, 1970). On the other hand, commentators who think that
discontinuities contribute to the unity of consciousness (Sokolowski, 1974, pp.
101-9) through a schema whereby each thesis has a "next", struggle with
the degree of determinacy of "nextness". Positions range from the view that
each "entails" the next to the view that each simply makes the next plausible or available. When McKenna (1982, pp. 75-9) describes the syntheses
of perception as "pre-announcing" "what appearances should come next", or
when Miller (1984, pp. 87-9) wonders how to describe exhaustively the expectations that a single experience leads to, difficult problems are being raised.
Smith and McIntyre (1982) try out several articulations of the determinacy of the "next" moment, sometimes speaking of syntheses of identification
as "verification chains" (p. 281) which "motivate" (p. 248) a sequence of
cognitive acts, sometimes only of "manifolds" minimally "constrained" (p.
254), and sometimes as the "projection of an array of possible worlds" (p. 301)



extended from the actually perceived world. But whether on strong, weak,
or medium articulations, the analysis of "predesignation" or of "meaning-overand-beyond-itself" (ber-sich-hinaus-meinen, p. 229) is articulated in terms of
"possible acts whose senses are compatible with, but more determinate in
context than the sense of the (original) act" (p. 247).
The idea that a meaning contains "more" than it makes explicit, is at the
heart of the concept of synthesis. For de Almeida (1972), the category of
"more" has both objective and subjective aspects: in the combination of sensations, identifications correspond to an object's "possibility of being-other"
(Anders-sein-knnen, pp. 88-95); in knowledge motivated by a cognitive
"aim", the "pre-given" sides of the object correspond to the subject's "will
to know-more" (Mehr-wissenwollens, pp. 103-5).
The "more" and the "other" inherent in every experience in the form of
the next experience 's pre-givenness, is both the "more" of protended meanings
(Carr, 1974, p. 70), and the "more" of implicit consciousness (de Waelhens,
1959). The category of "more" turns the notion of the "flow" of consciousness into a notion of "overflow". Generally, "overflow" is treated in terms
of what Kant called the "ampliative" property of synthetic judgments, i.e. in
terms of the way perceptions add something to the concepts which they fulfil.
Hence Waldenfels (1971, p. 76) talks of the problem of incorporating new experiences which "overfill" (berflle), "mean more" than (Mehrmeinung), and
create an "excess" over, pre-given conceptual meanings. Mohanty (1982, p.
114) says that cognition "overflows" language, and Kern (1964, p. 270) speaks
of sensation overflowing apriori categories. Welton (1983, pp. 318-22) argues
that perception and language reciprocally "exceed" one another.
The flow of consciousness is constituted not only as the uninterrupted
succession of acts flowing one after another, but as the flowing of each act
into the next. Each act expands itself into the next, completes itself as its
own successor, and determines itself as that which is prior to its demanded
supplementation. An act's meaning consists not in what it contains, but in
that which "exceeds" or "doubles" it as its "other".

A wide range of concepts and descriptive motifs have emerged in pairs. Some
are named by the classifications which I have used to distinguish readings,
such as the distinction between the forms and contents of synthesis, the process
and the substrate of synthesis, or the cognition and the reference of synthesis. Others cut across those classifications, such as the distinction between
the creative and the restitutive powers of synthesis, the openness and closedness of synthesis, or the history and the teleology of synthesis. The strategy
of some commentators is to affirm the primacy in Husserl's thought of one
side of each of such pairs. But others think that both sides of each pair have
some place in Husserl's thought. Can Husserl's theory of synthesis accomo-



date the oppositions between the interpretations of it? Can the theory of
synthesis itself accomplish this accommodation?
The easiest way to attribute both sides of an opposition to Husserl is to
attribute one of the sides to the "early" Husserl and one to the "late". Some
commentators hold that Husserl simply replaced one concept of synthesis
with another, while others hold that Husserl, in discovering something new
about synthesis, also attempted to unify the new with the old.
Most commentators date the new concept of synthesis from Ideen 1, and
appeal to the novelty of the descriptions of passive synthesis, the life-world,
and horizons. The feeling is that in Husserl's early work, synthesis is a kind
of interpretative conjunction of self-sufficient meanings, but that that understanding of synthesis had to be abandoned as soon as Husserl recognized a
layer of experience, meaning, and activity prior to ideal units of meaning.
Hence many commentators classify LU as a logical work, and argue that
in later works Husserl attempted to ground essences in "This"-sensations (Eley)
and to explain intentions in their relation to pre-meaningful sensations without
the earlier matter-form duality (Sokolowski). More common is the idea that
in later works Husserl moved back from thetic unities to the pre-thetic unity
of the life-world. The unity that would have to have been passively constituted
before the articulation of any thetic assertion has been variously interpreted
as the presupposed context of flowing experience (Gurwitsch), as the perceptual
surroundings that make reference possible (Smith and Mclntyre), as the teleology of unified consciousness (Hoyos Vasquez), as the implicit motivation
to unify perspectives (Rang), and as the pre-discursive facticity of beingand living-in-the-world (Diemer, Landgrebe, Tugendhat). For others, the transition to a synthesis prior to thesis is also a transition to an intersubjectivity
prior to the subject (Yamaguchi).
These readings argue for the need to articulate the genesis or his tory of
the constituted world prior to objectifying assertions about its reality, to narrate
the story of reality "from below" (Levin), to tell how the rationality of
immanent experiences first let the world be real (Souche-Dagues). For some,
the historicization of meaning is centered around the introduCtion of time
into the phenomenology of meaning (Sokolowski, Larabee). But the idea that
Husserl comes to think that meanings change as they are thought through
time is associated with the idea that Husserl's theory of synthesis becomes,
in later works, a theory of "productive" consciousness (Welton) or to a transcendental idealism that inserts consciousness itself into a theory of essences
in LU (de Boer). For still others, the transition to a transcendentallife-world
lets Husserl finally recognize the force of form in the activity of consciousness (Schuhmann). On all versions, there is a transition from a theory of
synthesis that begins with those items which are ready and about-to be synthesized, to a theory which looks back to a prior (though still synthetic)
origination of those items.
De Almeida (1972) posits a paradox of the origin of the constituents of
synthesis (p. 193): If each constituent to-be-synthesized is determined by



prior constituents, then there is a regress in the process, which means that
the constituents are ultimately "ungrounded". But if the constituents are pure
facts, then their combination is ungrounded. This "aporia" of "endless regress
and irrational beginning" is due to Husserl's early theories of "static description" (p. 194). The problem is solved only if a new genetic phenomenology
can uncover, prior both to the constituent and to the process, an implicit and
original pre-experience of the world's horizons (p. 195). The unification of
discrete contents is not achieved by the "last moment" of a synthetic process,
whether progressive or regressive, but in the "totality" of temporality. In short,
the issues of meaning in later works become issues of passive synthesis, on
the understanding that the concept of synthesis itself cannot work, that synthesis always implicates either regress or irrationality. Only in the context of
a double movement forward to the world as totality (p. 201) and backward
to "pre" -thetic horizons, does synthesis achieve a grounded origin.
The problem of synthesis is thus taken to become a problem of origin which
must always have taken place before experience, before meaning and before
active synthesis, afore- (Vor-, de Almeida) and a before (frher, Aguirre, 1970,
p. 160). Now de Almeida thinks that Husserl adds this new level of synthesis only in later works. But can de Almeida's notion of a starting-point
that institutes itself as an experiential totality in the form of the before of experience, also provide a model for understanding how the alleged dualities in
Husserl's theory of synthesis may be present together even in Husserl's early
works? Could it be that when we observe in LU pairs of Husserlian oppositions such as form and matter, or essence and process, we are observing not
dualistic pairs which demand reconciliation in a new theory of passive synthesis, but are already observing a kind of mutual grounding wherein the
pair is originally grounded together in so far as each leads back to the other?
In the final two sections of this chapter, I will look at two strategies
employed by commentators who think that Husserl's theory of synthesis both
exhibits thematic dualities, and is systematic. One strategy holds that the
two sides (in whatever tension is at issue) are "dialectically" interdetermining;
the other holds that the two sides ground each other's origin, and ground the
whole process of origination itself, in so far as consciousness as a whole is
a kind of "referring-back", a unity of prior and posterior, origin and result.

Undeterred by the fact that Husserl never uses the vocabulary of dialectics (see
Rockmore, 1987), by Brentano's facile claim that "misled by paralogisms,
Hegel and his school even denied the law of contradiction", and by Heidegger's
concern that "dialectic is always introduced the moment opposition is mentioned" and hence nowadays means less than nothing (1940), a surprising
number of commentators use the term "dialectic" to characterize Husserl's
concept of synthesis. However, there have been few systematic attempts to
define "dialectic", either in general or as a reading of Hege!.



Many of those who have explicitly compared Husserl with Hegel have sympathized more with Hegel, and so accuse Husserl of lacking a fully dialectical
spirit. For some, dialectics requires a historieist interpretation of ideas (Lauer,
1974; Rockmore, 1987); for others, dialectics implies a transcendence beyond
phenomena into religious cognition (Kirkland, 1985). But those who have
developed the most systematic comparisons of Husserl and Hegel (Schrader,
1964; Harris, 1987; Westphal, 1987) have concentrated on the role of mediation in the constitution of world-interpretation. Schrader argues that Hegelian
phenomenology is "committed to the thesis that experiences can be self-interpreting" (p. 22). Harris says that Hegelian dialectics consists of a "logic of
coherence and system" (p. 98), within which the life-world is seen to be "at
once universally immanent and transcendent, both substance and subject,
Nature and Spirit" (p. 111; also Dove, 1974). Along similar lines, Westphal
argues that Hegelian dialectics must comprehend all experiences and explanations of experience as a totality, an absolute or holistic system where every
single experience is mediated by means of interpretations of all experiences
(pp. 104-113). Each part of experience is subject to the Aufhebung whereby
an interpretation of the whole brings subjective experience to truth (Watson,
1987). Now, these commentators tend to find that these features of Hegelian
dialectics are to some degree lacking in Husserl, i.e. that Husserl's phenomenology is formalist, subjectivist, ahistoricist, or founded on a theory of
experiential immediacy. While some of these authors try to locate some degree
of dialectics in Husserl, I have argued (Lampert, 1988) that Husserl's phenomenology is dialectical in just the senses usually attributed to Hegel,
particularly in the sense that "experiences are self-interpreting" within a selfpropelling dialectic of mutually mediating interpretations, constituting both the
parts and the whole of consciousness.
There are three subject-areas to which the notion of dialectical synthesis has
been attributed to Husserl (not inc1uding commentators interested in the
dialectic in Husserl's social philosophy, e.g. Adorno and Habermas): the
rational clarification of concepts, the subject-object relation, and the part-whole
Fink (1957, p. 70) defines Husserl 's "dialectical" methodology for clarifying phenomenological concepts as one which thematizes the simultaneous
unity and tension of productivity and receptivity in philosophising conceptualization. For de Muralt (1974), "dialectical" clarification in science (p. 11)
is not just methodological, but explicates the dual nature of all consciousness and all reality, namely the duality of actuality and infinite potentiality
(p. 49), or of data and norm (p. 301). Dialectical cognition does not just clarify
concepts, it brings consciousness from vagueness to precision (p. 22), and
hence transforms consciousness's relation to the world from one of ideality
to one of reality (p. 28). A dialectical unity of concepts is one whose results
would be new and not contained in its constituents, but real and constitutive
of the world nevertheless. Mller (1976, p. 39) grounds the product of dialectical synthesis by arguing that synthetic cognition is a social and technical



production, and for that reason, new synthetic categories get applied to reality
by the same subjects who cognize them. Ladriere (1960, pp. 191-95), on the
other hand, argues that Husserl's lesson is that reason today must be less
technological, and that the dualities of activity and passivity, determinacy
and indeterminacy, consciousness and body, can be overcome only if "dialectical" reason takes up the standpoints of art and religion, leading logos gently
into temporality.
Commentators for whom dialectics solves not the problem of clarification
but that of the experiencing subject's relation to real objects, still name the
dialectical relations as those of activity and passivity, determinacy and indeterminacy, actuality and potentiality, consciousness and body, etc. Kchler
(1974, pp. 142-450) suggests that a dialectical relation occurs when relata
determine each other reciprocally, i.e. when each simultaneously creates itself
and makes the other dependent on it. Hence, a subject's intern al "reflection"
is both its "self-creativity", and its entry into the factical world (pp. 170ff.).
Landgrebe (1981, pp. 64f.) contends that Husserl's "dialectic" is perfected
by Heidegger's analysis of the reciprocal acts of being-in-the-world and reflection to selfhood.
For Mensch (1981, pp. 84-9), the overcoming of solipsistic subjectivity
by reality-affirming subjectivity is interpreted in cognitive terms. Mensch refers
to a "dialectic of intention and fulfilment", wh ich joins meaning with sensation, and unitary experiences with manifold ones. Dialectics is a kind of
interpretative coherence. For Mensch, "dialectics" means something like a
"balance" of ideallaws and factual contingency, and the Aufhebung of solipsistic subjectivity amounts to a "mutual dependence" of subject and object
(also Edie, 1984).
The appeals to such ideas as the actualization of conceptualized potentialities, the simultaneity of reflection and being-in-the-world, the balance of
ideality and facticity, and the mutual dependence of subject and object, make
the notion of dialectics seem rather weak and easily translatable into other
terms. Strasser (1959, pp. 150-53) uses stronger language. Husserl, he says,
in his account of the synthesis of perspectives and the gradual disclosure of
objects, makes explicit an "intuitionistic principle of completion", but leaves
implicit the prior "dialectical principle". Husserllacked the word "dialectic",
but taught the dialectic in the shape of his transcendental reductions. In that
the reductions first transform mundane experience into ideal experience, and
then transform ideal experience into critical experience-in-the-world, they
function as a Hegelian "negation of the negation" (p. 153, also Schuhmann,
1971, p. ix). For Szilasi (1959, pp. 140-42), Husserl's dialectic involves
consciousness's history of self-questioning, which other dialecticians call
"sublation by immanent critique".
But what is lacking is any clear account of how the immanent operations
that go on within each term of the subject-object duality forge the connecti on of that term with the other. We have so far found commentators who
attribute to Husserl two of the three laws of dialectics formalized by the Young



Hegelians, namely the law of the Negation of the Negation, and the law of
the Interpenetration of Subject and Object. The idea that the external relations which bind terms in a duality are a function of the internal relations
within each term announces the third of these laws, namely the law of the
Transformation of Quantity into Quality and vice versa.
We have seen that Waldenfels (1971) and others speak of the "overflow"
of meanings into sensations and vice versa. Waldenfels ' first articulation of
the "overflow" is in terms of the "open dialectic" (p. 77) wherein meaning
and sensation "mutually condition and demand" each other (p. 78). Each can
only partially satisfy its own cognitive demands, and hence each includes
("behind itself", p. 76) the other as part of its own telos. Every act which
intends an essence is part of a "double" move, the other part of which intends
sensible givens, and vice versa. But Waldenfels lapses into a weaker articulation of dialectics wherein experience works out "ambiguities" (p. 78) through
"dialogue" (p. 80).
Welton (1983) at times follows Waldenfels' stronger articulation. Applying
the term "dialectical" to the relations of fulfilment and implication (p. 24)
and to language and perception (p. 298), Welton describes the "exceeding"
as a process whereby each relatum ideally completes, and is the "outer horizon"
of, the other (pp 318-22). At other times, Welton talks only of the mutual
"interaction and enrichment" of language and sensation (pp. 268ff.). But at
its most promising, Welton's interpretation points to a unity-through-difference
whereby identities of meaning and individuations of perceivable objects take
place as a result of a complex of perceptual systems and linguistic systems.
Each system acts intemally and yet "strives" (p. 252) for points of contact with
the other, so that the whole "schematic genesis" (pp. 256-68) is a web of
alternations, blendings, shiftings, complementary directions, and interplays
(pp. 304).
But how is it that that which goes on inside each system breaks out of its
limits to reach the other, and how does each system constitute its own outer
limit as the border with the other. Welton's attempt at a dialectic of "here"
and "there" (p. 318) looks like it begins a dialectic of perception that at a
later stage might need and become a dialectic of meanings and laws. (Hegel's
Phenomenology of Spirit opens with a genetic analysis of this sort.) But such
an analysis of the dialectic among parts which transforms the system as a
whole, which alone would count as a fully dialectical reading of Husserl,
has never fully been attempted. Eley (1972, pp. 342-44) speaks of a "dialectic
of This and That" at the origin of a Husserlian genesis of laws and conjunction. Strasser (1963, pp. 256-57) defines Husserl 's "dialectical" phenomenology as an investigation into the simultaneous "ordering" and
"neutralizing" of partial standpoints. Mller (1976), for whom the "dialectic
of givenness and totality" is connected to cultural backgrounds, does take
the dialectic of part and whole seriously. If experience orders perspectives
by providing each one with a successor beyond its limit, then the very origin
of each perspectival standpoint depends on the experiential system as a whole:



"The given is produced. Its reality is the result of a process" (p. 39). The
synthesis of This and That is a kind of production whose "economy" (p. 44)
trickles down into all levels: it produces "backgrounds" and "perspectives"
(p. 201) as weIl as the intentional "purposes" (p. 43) which guide epistemic
fulfilment; it produces an "open process" (p. 58-9) with creative possibilities for "innovation" and new "standpoints" (the most radical of which is
the ego standpoint, pp. 201-30) as weIl as the "fixed and static" relations within
and between these standpoints (pp. 58-9). In short, to work out a Husserlian
dialectic of whole and part, one would have to account not only for ways in
wh ich syntheses among part-experiences transform the structures of the whole
of experience, but also for ways in which each transformation of the whole
retroactively confers new meaning on each part, and changes wh at it means
to be apart.
Many commentators deny that Husserl's concept is dialectical. There is a
common feeling that it is impossible to speak without equivocation of experience as, for example, both active and passive. Natorp (1917-18) argues
that since consciousness is a "flux", it cannot also be governed by concrete
processes, as Husserl's "dialectical critics" (Adorno and EIey) claim. Mohanty
(1974, p. 189) suspects that aIl talk of a subject-object dialectic lapses into
subjectivism. Derrida (1967) argues that synthetic unities of meaning in
Husserl's account are not absolute dialectical resolutions of differences, but
rather defer the unity of interpretation infinitely. Souche-Dagues (1972) calls
Husserl's account of repeatable meanings "anti-dialectical" (p. 44).
The concern in all these readings is that the dialectical reading, which I have
portrayed as the description of relatively autonomous systems of consciousness activating their determinacy and limits in confrontation with each other,
collapses into the process reading, which I have portrayed as the description
of a relatively undifferentiated flow of experience splitting into apparently
autonomous systems. The concern is that the dialectical reading denies that
there is a genuine difference between language and perception, or between
universals and particulars, static and genetic, etc. The challenge for the dialectical reading is to ensure that the differentiation between spheres that emerge
in the course of their interaction achieve the status of logical or primordial
differentiations. It must show how the process that sets up differences sets them
up as always having been determining for consciousness. The process of
achieving synthetic unities must be the same process that refers back to original
The dialectic of achieving synthetic results by referring back to origins is
thus the strongest version of the mutual grounding of dualities that several
commentators aIlude to. When Sokolowski (1964, pp. 218-19) refers to the
"dialectic" between the two "poles" of constitution (namely of "subjectivity
and reality"), his idea is that subjectivity is the ground of material judgments
while judgments about matter ground in return the ego's reflection (though
Sokolowski thinks that Husserl insufficiently emphasized the latter). Dialectics
is the interaction which lets grounds appear as grounds or origins. Schuhmann's



(1971, pp. 192-94) last word on Husserl's "dialectic" of ego and nature is a
Fiehtean one. The ego is "independent and unconditioned", but only when
understood as the "ground-moment of its own self-division, i.e. into nonwill (nature) and will (phenomenology)". The ego-pole is independent only
when it returns to itself from the natural world; and the world appears as an
"absolutely given facticity" only when, "synthetically bound together", it functions as an "original result" (original Nachtrgliches), an aposteriority with
the status of apre-supposition. The most explicit reading is EIey's (1962,
pp. 31-6) account of the "dialectic" of essence and thisness as a "priusposterius difference". EIey argues that essences can only be constituted through
the unities and differences among individuals, but that once constituted,
essences count as independent of, and even as the source of the determinate
characterizations of, individuals. Citing (p. 35n.) Hegel 's category of "presupposition", Eley defines dialecties as the apriori "pre-supposition" that
is "conditioned" by the "conflict" of aposteriori moments.
Finally, then, we come to readings of Husserl's concept of synthesis in
terms of the originary result, the pre-supposition, or the reference backward
to origins.

Although few of the commentators who call Husserl's concept of synthesis

"dialectical" actually define the term, it is at least dear that it is a technical
term. In contrast, while many refer to the role of "backward (zurck-) reference" in Husserl 's concept of synthesis, few have explicated the prefix zurck
as a technical term.
The category of backward reference be ars on the status of implicit possibilities and of retentive inclusions. Three elements have been singled out by
commentators as that to which consciousness, according to Husserl, refers back;
simple sense-data, the ego and experiential totality.
First, complexes are said to refer back to simples. Geyser (1916, pp. 144-46)
discusses Husserl's account (in Ideen ss. 118-124) of how a single polythetie
act may be analysed in terms of a plurality of monothetic acts. Simples, even
when embedded in syntheses, continue to be given special "preference" and
"regard", Bevorzugen and Rcksicht, or on an alternative translation, they have
the status of being drawn-before and seen-after. Landgrebe (1981, pp. 52-9)
seeks to reconcile the idea that simple hyletic data are extracted from the
"primal stream" of consciousness by an accomplishment of the ego, with the
idea that such data are passively received. His solution is that when a subject
attends to simple data, he does not so much recapture previously experienced contents as constitute the data as having been presented in the past.
Some commentators emphasize a reference-back to the actual history of experiences that has led a subject to construct a synthesis. Hence McKenna (1982,
p. 164) says that a synthesis "contains pointings to possible recollections of



all past perceivings of the same object, and thus implicitly contains the past
synthetic cause within itself". De Muralt (1974, pp. Illff.) argues that science
can only progress if its goals are constantly being remembered. But other commentators, like Diemer (1956, pp. 96-102), argue that an intentionally complex
experience need not refer back to a chronologically prior experience, but
must refer back to something in this "present-now"-point out of which the
complex could have been constructed. The backward and forward (rck and
vor) references among experiences all depend on the intention "pointing
backward" (zurckweisen auf) to a passive "pre-givenness" in the present. Still
others, like Miller (1984), characterize referring-back through the futural
possibility of confirming or re-checking perceptions. Interpretations are confirmed when they "go back" to data and disconfirmed when they "go back"
on data (p. 64). Und er ideal conditions of coherence, all attributions "go
back" to one another (p. 71).
But if some commentators say that complex consciousness leads back to
simple sense-data, whether implicit or explicit, others say that that to which
consciousness refers back are ideallaws and/or the active ego. Dreyfus (1982,
p. 25) thinks that what phenomenology "uncovers" are rules and not states
of awareness. And Levinas (1973, p. 25) says that critical phenomenology
"refers back" from objective experience of things to subjectivity and the
existence of consciousness, though others argue conversely that critical phenomenology "refers back" in a new way to the same existing things that were
already present in naIve consciousness.
However, like the dialectical readings, readings which emphasize backward
reference often do not just choose one element over another (e.g. sensation
over meaning or subject over object) to be the backward-referent. Instead, they
argue that the process of backward reference is itself responsible for there being
several equally primordial elements in consciousness. Hence Landgrebe (1981)
says that consciousness leads back both to givenness and to the ego. Waldenfels
(1975, p. 76) says that experience refers "back" both to the "real given" and
to "expressed meaning", and de Almeida (1972) says that the "double"
movement (pp. 55, 77) of "pointing-back" or "leading-back" (Rckdeuten
and Zurckfhren) leads both to sensation and abstraction (pp. 38-9), both
to substrate and predicative determinations (pp. 103-4), and both to the pregiven beginnings of interpretation and to its ideal end-points (pp. 30-40).
That a single process of referring-back can ground heterogeneous elements
of consciousness, suggests that consciousness also refers back to its own
totality. When Hlsmann (1964, pp. 103-5, 154) says that reflection is directed
"back" towards the ego, he has in mind the temporally streaming ego as a
synthetic whole. Natorp (1917-18, p. 52) argues that the ego to which objectifying consciousness "relates back" (Zurckbeziehung) is a flowing synthetic
ego. Landgrebe (1980, pp. 64f.) argues that phenomenological analysis
lets consciousness "return (Rckgang) to ground" in the lifeworld. Mller
(1976, pp. 248-9) argues that individual meanings can be produced only if
the "absolute totality" of meaning is also a "taking-back" of the totality



(zurckgenommener Totalitt), so that consciousness produces divisions in

the very totality to which it refers back.
As to the nature of backward reference, I offer the following principle:
Immediate, originative elements count as the apriori grounds of synthetic consciousness precisely because the ongoing process of grounded consciousness
continuously refers back to those elements. The reference backward from
concrete synthetic experiences to simple data, to formal categories, to pure
structures of consciousness and to the implicit totality of the lifeworld is carried
out through the reference-backward from concrete synthetic experiences to one
another. It is for this reason that the problem of synthesis, i.e. the problem
of the combination of one experience with one another, lies at the heart of
the problem of grounds, and is the only realm within which questions of
whether consciousness is ideal and/or real, active and/or passive, etc., may
be addressed with rigour.
The problem of backward reference is the following: Are the backwardreferents of reflexive consciousness (namely immediate data, the pure ego, and
abstract structures) prior to synthetic experience in the sense that they existed
in consciousness before synthetic experience ever took place, or are they
prior only in the sense that synthetic experience lays out a logical history
behind itself as it proceeds? Commentators who emphasize the category of
referring backward tend to hold the latter.
Several commentators are prepared to say that the origins of synthesis are
products of synthetic backward references. Welton (1983, p. 313) praises
Husserl's reversals of ground and grounded (with respect to meaning and
perception), and Eley (1962, pp. 20-33) posits the "dialectic of prius-posterius"
(with respect to essence and individual). Diemer (1956) and Miller (1984) interpret the reference back to original data as the reference-forward to anticipated
verifications, and Schuhmann (1971) and Pietersma (1986) in different ways
interpret phenomenological reflection as a critical but ongoing return to naIve
consciousness (also Merleau-Ponty, 1945, pp. i-v). Landgrebe (1981) says that
the ego's status prior to synthesis is a result of consciousness's self-awareness lagging one step behind its own activity. And Hlsmann (1964, pp. 247ff.)
speaks of "the doubled character of the Voraus", suggesting that consciousness's references-backward to closed essences and references-forward to open
horizons of fulfilment articulate the same demand for supplementation.
But the reference-back reading is not that the search for origins is all that
actually exists in consciousness, and that the actuality of the origins and the
results of the search may be indefinitely postponed. Waldenfels's (1971)
emphasis on "openness" does tend in that direction. But the fact that the origins
of synthesis are results of synthetic backward references does not thereby make
those origins less original, but rather fixes their originality all the more
Aguirre (1970, pp. 158-66) argues that phenomenology explicates the
"genetic return (Rckgang) to the undifferentiated timeless beginning" of
experience. One mode of return is the "pointing-back" (Rckverweisung) to



sense-data. But while sensation does satisfy the search for beginnings, in
that sensation must have always taken place earlier (frher) than intentional
experience, nevertheless every sensation in a temporal field has a sense-history
to be explicated. No one sensation can dose the search for beginnings, or begin
a chronology of origins. But another mode of return, namely retlection to a
timeless transcendental subject, satisfies both the search for a prior intentional experience as weH as the closure of serial history. Aguirre foHows the
"reference-back" reading in so far as he holds that the syntheses of ongoing
experience lead back through contexts to a history of origins, but he backs
away from a fuH theory of the "before" both by rejecting the ultimacy of sensedata and by affirming the ultimacy of the subject. Aguirre rejects the ultimacy
of sense-data on the grounds that the chain of ever-earlier data can never be
closed, whereas for the reference-back reading the syntheses which identify
ever more detailed sense-data thereby do constitute a region of ideaHy simple
units of sense. And Aguirre affirms the ultimacy of the subject on the grounds
that consciousness refers back to an undifferentiated transcendental identity,
whereas for the reference-back reading the identity of the subject is a product
of consciousness's recognition of the continuous possibility of reflection
present in every synthetic combination. If Aguirre's conception of genetic phenomenology degenerates into subjective idealism, it is because his account
of the reference-back to pre-constitutive beginnings is not grounded in ongoing
synthetic experience.
Derrida (1967) seems to criticize Husserl by affirming a gap between the
uncloseable adumbrations of meaning which take place in the ongoing
anticipations and retentions of synthesizing consciousness and the ideally
dosed self-identity of the origins (sensible, structural, ideal, and transcendental)
of synthesis. The charge is that Husserl's theory of origins is always dispersed in his descriptions of the unfolding of meanings. Husserl's reply is
that the dissemination of meaning through experience implies not the dissolution of beginnings but only that the ideal starting-points I)f synthesis are
constituted by the backward-reference of unclosed syntheses. Derrida's criticism of phenomenology becomes rather his perfection of it, when he says of
the open possibilities which refer back to ideal units of meaning that "by
delayed reaction, a possibility produces that to which it is said to be added
Finally, according to de Almeida, the genesis of a meaning may be traced
back to an "origin" (Ursprung), but not to a "beginning" (Anfang) (1972,
pp. 18-23). The pre-suppositions of a meaning "point back" (Rckdeuten) or
"lead back" (Zurckfhren) to "end-points" (pp. 38-41), either to sensible
contents or to categorial forms. Sensible end-points ean only be pragmatic eonstmctions (p. 41), yet these construetions are already "preseribed" (vorschreibt)
by the meanings whose genesis pre-supposes them (p. 48). Categorial forms
can only exist as "operations" in, and not "before" or "after", interpretative
syntheses, yet these operations take the form of tautologie al mIes when refleetions "look back" (pp. 116-18). Both sense-data and eategorial forms, then,



occur as the end-points of synthetic processes; the primacy of the end-points

is both a necessary possibility of those processes, and yet is also a product
of those processes. The end-points must exist before synthesis but can exist
as such only after synthesis; they prescribe possible operations but only in
so far as those operations reflect back on them as such. De Almeida calls
this the paradox of "the rule which regulates its own construction" (p. 117).
Now, de Almeida thinks that the paradox of origin-points and end-points
of synthesis is dissolved at the pre-thetic level of passive synthesis and of
undivided temporal wholeness (p. 195). But the same paradox occurs any
time a synthetic act at any level of consciousness produces a synthetic result.
The paradox of backward reference has to be dealt with at the very point
from which de Almeida wishes to remove it, namely at the point of the "last"
content in any series of syntheses. Contrary to de Almeida's solution, the
paradox must resolve itself precisely by "coming back to" (zurckkommen auf)
the point of synthesis (p. 195).
This review of the literature on Husserl's concept of synthesis leads,
by means of a certain arrangement of the interpretative possibilities, to the
following project for an interpretation. The ground for the carrying out of
synthetic combinations of contents of consciousness resides in the originary
nature of several pure elements (given sensation, ideal structure, transcendental
subjectivity, experiential totality, etc.) which are themselves backwardreferents belonging to the carryings-out (Vollziehungen) of the synthetic acts
of consciousness themselves. The question of how synthesis can and must take
place, and the question of the pre-scription and self-limitation of synthetic
activity, gets pushed back, then, into problems concerning the conjunction
of data, the application of schematic rules, the identity of the ego and the
horizons of the life-world. But these latter problems are possible only in the
context of an analysis of what happens at the point of synthesis itself, its
backward and forward references, and the subsequent return from origin-points
and end-points to the point of synthetic movement. The detailed interpretations
of Husserl's LU in the pages to folIoware directed toward such an analysis.

I am going to refer to secondary works by citing in the body of the text the author, the
year of publication, and the page reference, and by citing the rest of the publication data
in the Bibliography.




In the first Logical Investigation, Husserl is concemed with what will count
as the identity of a meaning, given that expressions of meanings become and
perish in the flux of the experience of expression-users. While Husserl uses
the term "synthesis" only once in LU i, I will argue that Husserl 's ac counts
of meaning and intentionality, science and perception, expressions and consciousness, are dominated by the problematics of what Husserl calls " 'unity
in multiplicity' " (102).
In chapter 1, I will examine three unities in multiplicity in LU i: first, the
"intimately fused unity" between meaning-intentions and meaning-fulfilments,
second, the "web" of scientific thought-contents, and third, the replacement
of the fluctuating meanings of occasional ("This-Here-Now") expressions with
objective units of meaning. I will argue that there is a single problematic of
synthesis at work in intentionality in general, in science, and in perception.
The general problematic is that each intentional act of consciousness must pass
over into successors and unfold in a complex interpretation of the world of
experience, at the same time as they refer back to an underlying synthetic unity
of interpretative consciousness. The special problem in the intentionality
relation is to explain how meanings "prescribe" their own supplements; the
problem in a science of concepts, where meanings seem not to fluctuate at
all, is to describe the dynamic wherein one proposition "follows from" another;
the problem in occasional expressions like "This-Here-Now", where meanings
seem to fluctuate without restriction, is to explain how multiplicities of experience contribute to the possibility of ideal units of meaning. On my reading,
Husserl's account of synthesis takes consciousness to be a self-propelling
dynamic of interpretative activity. Whether stable or fluctuating, the meanings
of individual acts of consciousness prescribe and pass over into determinate
ranges of successors, which in turn refer back to their predecessors as
the ground of their unity. We will be looking for an account of the grounds,
the mechanisms, and the results of these prescriptions of multiplicity and



Husserl argues that meanings differ from mental states (17), from perceptual
intuitions (56-7, 66-7), and from linguistic expressions (s. 8). Meanings are
instead ideal articulations of states of affairs interconnected by subject-matter
and subject to analysis and verification independent of whether and by whom
and from what cause they are thought, and independent of whether or how




their objects have been perceived, and of what words are used to express them.
Husserl's version of the relation between meanings and perception introduces
the relation between intention and fulfilment. An expression has an "empty"
meaning-intention for an experiencing subject if it refers to an objective state
of affairs which he has not intuited; it acquires a meaning-fulfilment if the
subject has intuitively "confirmed" or "illustrated" its meaning.
The concept of synthesis is introduced to characterize the way in which
intuitions are unified under objectifying interpretations. Just as one meaning
may be illustrated by many intuitions, "the same intuition can offer fulfilment of different expressions: it can be categorically held fast in different ways
and synthetically combined (synthetisch verknpft) with other intuitions" (49).
An intuition succeeds in fulfilling an expression when, thanks to some interpretative category, it is synthetically combined with other intuitions. The
"intimately fused unity" of intention and fulfilment is therefore the result of
the "synthetic combination" of fulfilling intentions with one another.
We can consider the "intimately fused unity" from the standpoint either
of (a) the intention or (b) the fulfilment. Both sides exhibit the dynamic of
interpretative synthesis.
(a) An expression's meaning-intention is a kind of readiness: Once a thought
is formulated about some object, its meaning-content presents itself as a
meaning to be "carried out" (39). The "function" of a written or spoken word
is to "awaken" a meaning-intention, which in turn is to "point forwards to"
an intuitable object, and to "guide" our "interest" in the direction of fulfilling that intention (40). The readiness of meaning-intentions consists in their
"unactualized" potentiality, their inherent "capacity" for intuitive presentation (63). Every meaning prescribes "a sphere of possible fulfilment" (50).
It "circumscribes" a whole "range" of intuitions, a range that is both "determinate" (since distinguished from the perceptions prescribed by different
meanings) and "indeterminate" (since many different intuitions, some quite
unpredictable, may all illustrate the same meaning) (50).
The problem of a meaning's circumscription (or anticipation, or prescription) of a range of intuitions is at the heart of the problem of the synthetic
combination of contents of consciousness. On a strong reading, the determinacy of a meaning's prescription would be an algorithm for naming or
producing intuitions; on a weaker version, a meaning would simply be associated with a class of intuitions. But on either reading, meanings have implicit
possibilities, which unfold as their objects are experienced. Husserl uses a
metaphor from banking. A meaning-intention "draws a draft on (Wechsel
ausstellen auf) intuition" and a meaning-fulfilment "cashes" (eingelst) it (56).
The "drawing" takes place in-advance of the actualized intuitions, and so
the intuitive possibilites must be counted and evaluated ahead of their actualization. But now since "Wechsel" (the "draft") is also Husserl's technical
term in LU i for "fluctuation", the passage can take an alternative translation: "The fluctuation, which is exposed (ausstellen) in intuition, is taken up
(eingelst)". Husserl later attributes "fluctuation" to radically ambiguous



expressions. But here, every meaning fluctuates in the sense that its prescriptions of intuitions is relatively indeterminate. The point is not that
meanings are indifferent to which intuitions can fulfil them, but rather that they
must first undergo "exposition" in a multiplicity of intuitions before they
can be "taken up" as an interpretation of the objects of experience.
(b) From the standpoint of meaning-intentions, the problem of synthesis
is one of prescribing fulfilments; from the standpoint of meaning-fulfilments,
the problem is one of fitting intentions, and of the continuity of interpretations.
The plurality of an object's possible appearances must be synthesized in
advance by an ideal meaning's "covering unity" (58), which determines
whether given intuitions "coincide" with intentions. The synthesized plurality of fulfilments thus prevents the pluralization of the meant object itself.
While the appearances of an object are experienced in a "dispersed manifold"
(97), the dispersed intuitions are synthesized, and for this reason the intuitive manifold does not make "more" objects present than the single empty
expression already made present. The manifold of appearances unfolds in an
ongoing synthetic process of dispersal and co-incidence; but the result of the
synthesis of intentions with intuitions is a reference, mediated by an ideal
meaning, to a singular object.
From the standpoints both of the starting-point and the end-point of interpretative activity, then, the problematics of synthesis involve the way in
which each individual act of intentional consciousness prescribes in advance,
passes over into, and subsequently fuses with, its successors. But so far, the
concept of "synthesis" has been applied only to the connection between abstract
meanings and immediate intuitions. We will now consider the role of synthesis
within the spheres of even the most abstract meanings (in logical science)
and of even the most concrete (This-Here-Now) intuitions.

The argument in LU i for a pure science of ideal meanings that makes no

reference to empirical data, and hence seems to have no need for a synthesis
of ideal meanings with fulfilling intuitions, is of course the theme that makes
the investigations logical investigations. I will introduce the category of synthesis into this logical science (though Husserl does not do so explicitly), by
looking first at the analogies Husserl draws between ideal meanings and nonmeaningful signs, and second at Husserl's description of two distinguishing
features of logic, namely its articulation of exact boundaries between meanings,
and the operation of drawing a conclusion in ademonstration.
In s. 4, Husserl describes indicative signs, i.e. signs which, unlike "expressive signs", are not about anything, but are rather caused by the things they
signify (as smoke is a sign of fire) or are markers for things (like the X that
marks the spot), in terms of a certain kind of combination. An experienced
object A indicates another object B to the experiencing subject only if, in



addition to "summoning B into consciousness" and "recalling" B, it also "points

to", "provides evidence" for B, and "makes us immediately feeI" its "contextual connection" (29) with B. Sometimes A "reactively" indicates an object
which the subject has previous1y experienced and "associated" with A; sometimes it "creatively" makes the subject aware of its association with an object
not yet experienced.
Husserl 's first contrast between meanings and indicative signs is that
meanings limit the associative combinations of indicative signs. "Creative"
association has as its apriori limitation the principle that a new associative
connection "cannot disturb such unities as are grounded solelyon our mental
contents, e.g. the unity of visual contents in the visual fie1d" (29). The a
priori structure of the visual field limits the possibilities for producing
new associations. Similarly, "reactive" associations can "merely call back
(zurckrufen) contents to consciousness, and then leave it to them to combine
with the contents there present, as the essence or generic nature of either
may prescribe (vorschreibt)" (29). In brief, the possibility of associating a
signifying object with a signified object depends on combinatory laws. Each
content of consciousness has an "essence" which "inscribes in advance" a range
of possible associations.
It is worth quoting some of s. 4, to get a sense of the power of combinatory acts in the origin of the possibility of signs:
If A summons B into consciousness, we are not merely simultaneously or successively conscious of both A and B, but we really feel their connection forcing itself upon us, a connection
in which one points to the other and seems to belong to it. To turn mere co-existence into
mutual pertinence, or more precisely, to build cases of the former into intentional unities of things
wh ich seem mutually pertinent, is the constant achievement of associative functioning. All
unity of experience, all empirical unity, whether of a thing, an event, or of the order and relation
of things, becomes a phenomenological unity through the feit mutual belongingness of the
sides and parts that can be made to stand out as units in the apparent object be fore uso That
one thing points to another, in definite arrangement and combination, is itself apparent to uso
The single item itself in these various forward and back ward references (Hin- und Rckweisungen)
is no mere experienced content, but an apparent object (or part, property, etc., of the same)
that appears only in so far as experience endows contents with a new phenomenological
character, so that they no longer count separately, but help to present an object different from
themselves (29-30).

In order for one experience to be feIt to "pertain" to another, both must

already be taken to reveal the same world, whether by revealing sides and parts
of the object, or by revealing different objects in a single ordered field of
objects. One object can indicate another only if the association between the
two implicates an apriori unity of all objects of consciousness. Hence the
insertion of a new content into consciousness in such a way that it will coexist with those already present, conditions both its own meaning and its
connection with others - association becomes a double constitution of unit and
unity, or of part and whole. For the very act whereby "parts can be made to
stand out as units in the apparent object" is the act whereby those parts are
situated in the unity of that object. And if individual contents of experience



are "made to stand out" only within the unity of a single object, then "the single
item itself" is in turn constituted precisely in the "forward and backward
references" of its variously "ordered" appearances.
Indicative signs are thus embedded in apriori structures of combination.
Are meaningful signs also constituted as synthetic unities in multiplicity? There
are considerations that prevent us from drawing this analogy straightaway.
While a meaningful sign is also a kind of "summoning into consciousness",
it works not as a thought about A summons a thought about B into consciousness; rather, a thought about A summons A itself into consciousness.
Similarly, the "unity-in-multiplicity" (102) that pertains to meanings seems not
to combine meanings, but rather to let each one "count as a unit in itself"
throughout its multiple expressions (44, also 30). If a science of logic (whether
a formal logic or a phenomenological science of philosophical concepts) is
to be possible, its first principles, rules, and results must be meaningful independent of the stream of consciousness of logicians and their immediate
Yet Husserl says towards the end of LU i (94-6) that the science of logic
yields three unities of multiplicity of its own. The first involves the "abstraction" (96) from the experience of a material multiplicity to logical science
in general. When we merely "live in" an expression, we attend to its objects:
in order to reflect on, to analyse and draw inferences from, its meaning, we
must "glance back" (zurckblicken) at the meaning as an ideal actuality on
its own account. Only when we return from objective experience back to
a prior sphere of ideal intentional objects, can science proceed "step by
step" (schrittweise) along the path prescribed by the meanings themselves.
The simple units of meaning have to be constituted as such by synthetic
The second unity in multiplicity in the logical sciences involves "the complication of meanings to form novel meanings" (96). On the one hand, it seems
this would be a progressive science, generating new ideas, or complicating
old ones. On the other hand, it seems a regressive science, leading back to
basic terms which will be able to explain how the meanings we now work with
got compounded into their present form. The science of pure concepts circumscribes "an ideally closed set of general objects" (105), no matter how
many pure concepts there turn out to be. Just as the "endless" number-series
is "sharply circumscribed" in advance by an ideal law even though they can
never all be named, the set of pure meanings is closed not because they can
all be named, but because they stand in a coherent, law-governed order with
respect to one another.
"All theoretical science, in its objective content, is constituted as one homogeneous stuff: it is an ideal complex of meanings. We can go further and say
that the whole, ever so manifold complex web (Gewebe) of meanings that
we call the theoretical unity of science itself belongs under the very category
that circumspans all its elements: it constitutes itself as a unity of meaning"
(95). While an ideal meaning is a unit in relation to the multiplicity of expres-



sions of it, it is also part of a multiplicity which makes up the theoretical content
of science as a whole. Every meaning, as an ideal unit, implicates a unity of
meanings, yielding either agreement or absurdity, but in any case making up
a single interpretative system that may weIl include points of interpretative
conflict, gaps in explanation, failures of rigour, corruptions of univocity, crosspurposes in enquiry, etc.
The third unity in multiplicity in science involves "the relation of necessarily following (Folge)" (94). An inference (Schlsse, 94), as the "closure"
of a sequence of meanings, can only yield the certain results that it does,
because of the way it is based on the meanings of its premisses and not on
their subjective content. This "reflection" on premisses introduces an additional web-like structure of science, reminiscent of the "forward and backward
references" which structure the combinations of indicative signs:
Logical reflection is carried out in further steps [Le. after and beyond the apprehension of
perceivable objects.] A propositional meaning is meant in it continuously and for further (steps),
idealized and identified in our unified thought-context (einheitlichen Denkzusammenhang), and
interpreted as one and the same. The same is the case whenever a unified theoretical demonstration (Begrndung [the establishment of a grounding relation]) is being wound up (abwickelt).
We could utter no "therefore" (also) unless there was also a glance back (Hinblick) at the meaningcontent. In judging the premisses, we do not merely live in our judgments, but reflect on their
contents; only by glancing back at these does the conclusion appear motivated. Thus and only
thus can the logical form of the premisses - which of course is not stressed in that universalconceptual setting off in relief that finds expression in formulas of inference - determine with
insight the following (Folgerung) of the conclusion (104).

Even the scientific inferences that combine the objective contents of ideal
meanings must be grounded in the structure of the subjective possibility of
drawing conclusions. The logician who merely names the rules of syllogism,
fails to account for the "insight" with which conclusions are understood to
follow from the premisses.
The text does not say that to think about a propositional meaning is to
use it as apremiss for deriving other propositions. But it does say that in
order for a subject to use a proposition in a demonstration, or even to ask
whether one proposition implies another, each propositional meaning at work
in the demonstration must be meant "continuously" (fortgesetzt); it must
carry forwards. Meanings have their objective power to imply only in so far
as the apprehension of the "web" of essences takes place in a corresponding
"unified thought-context".
In part, the issue is one of memory: a subject only knows that C follows
from PI and P2 if he knows and remembers what each proposition means.
But more fundamentaIly, the issue concerns the force of the "follows from"
(Folgerung) or the "therefore" (also). A subject recognizes the force of the
premisses precisely by means of a "glancing back" and a "winding up" in
conclusions. Thinking makes use of unifying "contexts", and the objects of
thought are graspable just in their relations to one another. But the ideal
meanings are themselves already responsible for the possibility of contexts,



and an experiencing subject can remember relevant premisses just because

the conclusion's meaning is the completion of, and itself constitutes the
reference backward to, those premisses.
Now, to give a strong reading of Husserl's description of the forward and
baekward references at work in science, and to declare that the categories
and schemata of synthesis dominate the theory of ideal meanings, we have
to show how ideal meanings pass over into one another. To end this section
of chapter I, I will introduce the notion of ideal meanings which fluctuate,
along with the eategories of "passing over" and "setting off in relief" that come
to play greater and greater roles as LU progresses.
Husserl argues that intuitions at most aid in the clarification of concepts,
but never count as meanings or concepts. Yet this aid is essential to the
differentiation of blurred meanings:
Where meanings flowingly pass over into one another and unnoticed fluctuations (Schwanken)
blur (verwischt) the limits whose c10sure the sureness of judgments demands, there the intuitive illustration is the natural means of elucidation. In that the meaning-intention of the expression
is fulfilled by different intuitions that do not belong together conceptually, a sharp difference
in meaning-intentions steps forward with the sharply different directions of fulfilment (71-2).

This account of vague (as opposed to "exact", 88) meaning accounts both
for the shifting, flowing, or blurring, of meanings, and for the demand for
the unity, limit, or containment of meanings. The cause of a meaning's vagueness is neither the feebleness of the meaning-user nor the flux of intuitions,
but is located rather in the way the meanings themselves prescribe overlapping pereeptual fulfilments. When meanings are vague, it is the meanings
themselves that fai! to "sever themselves off from one another" (71). The
limit which each meaning ought to have belongs to that meaning, but so
does the act of "passing over" those limits. Individual meanings pressure the
theoretical web of meanings to fix, or to put an end to the effacement
(verwischen) of, their boundaries, to generate a more complieated meaning
to end the oscillations to and fro (Schwanken) over vague meanings, to set
different meanings apart once and for all, in short, to effect a transformation
from flux to fixedness.
The problematic of synthesis, both in terms of science and in terms of the
experience of perceptual objects, will foeus on these mechanisms whereby individual meaning-contents demand their own supplementation, draw their own
conclusions and prescribe their own intuitive illustrations, fix their own boundaries, and shift into their own eontexts.



Just as the most abstract units of meaning presuppose synthesizing interpretations, so also do the least unified of meanings.
Seetions 24-28 treat "oceasional" (okkasionelle) expressions, which use



demonstrative or indexical terms such as "I", "Now", "Here", or "This". Such

expressions are not "objective", in that one can not pin down their meaning
without knowing who is enunciating them and in what circumstances. Husserl
takes these expressions to threaten the theory of ideal units of meaning. For
whereas an expression like "human" has a self-identical meaning that can be
fulfilled by a variety of intuitions, expressions like "I" have meanings that
"fluctuate" (schwanken), "vary" (wechseln), or "alter" (sich verndern) every
time they are expressed. In the final analysis (90), Husserl's solution is simple:
every occasional expression (e.g. "This is a big city") can ideally be "replaced"
with an objective expression (e.g. "Berlin is a big city"). A sentence might
express different meanings on different occasions, but each of those meanings
is in principle objective and non-fluctuating. Yet while this is Husserl's last
word on occasional expressions, he deals in s. 26 with two problems relevant
to the concept of synthesis: namely, the problem of how a listener understands what a speaker me ans when he uses an occasional expression, and the
problem of whether the transformation of an occasional expression into an
objective expression can in practical terms be carried out exhaustively.
Husserl gives three examples of objective expressions: " '2 x 2 = 4' " (78),
"'lion'" (83), and "'There are regular solids'" (87). When uttered, these expressions "arouse", both for the speaker and for the listener, presentations of the
objects spoken about: they arouse these presentations "directly", and presentations present objects "in and for themselves" (83).
The meaning of occasional expressions is grasped differently by the speaker
and the listener. For the speaker, in a kind of "solitary speech", "the meaning
of 'I' is essentially carried out in the immediate presentation of one's own
personality"; each person has his own "I-presentation" (82). Words like demonstrative pronouns situate their meaning in two ways. First, they have a general
"function": every use of "I" points to "whatever speaker is designating himself"
(82). Second, they have an individuating function. A use of "here" "refers
to" a particular location and spatial environment (85), and so on. The meaning
expressed by such terms is fixed "on the ground of" the speaker's intuitive
and cognitive experiences.
The "immediacy" of a speaker's I-presentation to himself is contrasted
with the "mediation" by which a listener can "achieve understanding" of
another person's use of "I" (82-3). Again, the procedure has a general aspect,
in addition to an individuating one: first, the listener must recognize that the
demonstrative word he hears is an indicative sign that there is another ego
trying to communicate with him. (He need not make this assumption when
he hears words with objective meaning.) It is "through the mediation of"
this "operative" indication that the listener knows what is called for: he must
understand that the speaker's use of "I" is functionally identical to his own,
even though it is the "I" of another. Second, a speaker's use of "this" must
arouse in the listener "the idea or belief that he (the speaker) means something lying within his intuitive or thought-horizon l (Anschauungs- oder
Denkbereich), something he wishes to point out to the listener" (83-4). The



listener can pick out the meaning of an occasional expression only because
he can presume that the speaker has a "thought-horizon" within which are
situated the same intuitable objects which the listener can also intuit within his
own thought-horizon. The listener cannot immediately experience the circumstances which give the speaker's utterance an objective meaning, but he
can imagine how he would re-situate himself into the speaker's environment
by the mediation of the speaker's act of pointing out. "This-", "here-",
"now-", and even "I"-locations have objective meanings just because their
fluctuations are always situated in environments whose determinate order
allows a mutual locatability of speaker and listener.
In fact, "I"-points and "This"-points pivot on one another in the continuous shiftings of standpoint necessary for the comprehension of any demonstrative term. A listener can shift his standpoint either by holding constant
the items wh ich he sees as "these" items in his visual field while imaginatively
shifting his perspective to that which another "I" would have, or alternatively by holding constant the "I" -point of orientation and allowing the
fluctuation of the things which count as "these". In both cases, the possibility of understanding statements about the world of the speaker depends
on the shifting of standpoints, the establishment of ideal meaning through
experiential difference, and the manipulation of horizons. Husserl 's analysis
of occasional expressions is ultimately not an argument for pure experiential
self-presence, but is rather an account of the syntheses that constitute
indexical reference.
I will leave aside for now the question of whether immediacy is itself
mediated, and whether a speaker's understanding of his own use of "here",
"this", and "I" depends on shiftings of perspective, imaginative variation,
and intersubjective communication. But it is clear that the mediations occurring within a thought-horizon carry out the transformation of occasional
expressions into objective expressions, and so carry out the closure of the
boundaries that fix meanings. Husserl's description of these mediations characterizes both the horizon and the closure. The listener "orients" (orientieren,
81) himself in the speaker's "situation" (Lage, 81). In turn, the speaker must
have pointed to something "situated" (Liegendes, 83) within the "reach"
(-bereich, 83) of his institutions and thoughts, and must have wanted to
"convince" (berzeugung, 83, or to "carry his own conviction over into")
the listener of what he said, by getting the listener to extend his own reach
over the target situation. The occasional expression acts as a "clue"
(Anhaltspunkt, 81) for "guiding" (81) the listener to pick out the object meant.
For its utterance is part of a system of "normal" situatedness; its enunciation
calls upon the listener to stop in the tracks of fluctuating experience, to take
note of his own immediate surroundings and to use them as his "footing" or
"point of support", or even his "standing-" or "stopping-point" (all possible
translations of Anhaltungspunkt) for fixing the speaker's referent. In short,
the very recognition that a certain expression is a fluctuating expression
involves the beginnings of a kind of stopping-point. The point of stopping is



on the one hand no more than the "point of entry" (Einsatzpunkt), which as
we shall see (in discussing Ideen 1, 253) is the point of departure for carrying
out articulated syntheses, and on the other hand is already the beginning
of the end of the "stopping" (Innehaltung), which as we have already seen
(in discussing LU 11, I, 72) is the closure of the uncontrolled overflow of
Husserl goes further than to say that occasional expressions provide a clue
for manipulating intuitive and conceptual standpoints; the procedures for
manipulation can, in the ideal, terminate in the "replacement", without any loss
of sense, of the occasional expression by an objective expression (90). But
Husserl 's claim is a difficult one, since he also insists that any attempt to
carry out such an ideal, to express experiences in "unequivocal, objectively
fixed fashion", would be "plainly futile" (91). How does Husserl affirm the
ideal, while denying the practical possibility?
First, Husserl distinguishes "essentially" and "inessentially" occasional
experiences. The expression "this statement" is inessentially occasional if it
is uttered just after the statement in question: to replace the occasional expression with an objective one, the listener need only "glance back" (Rckblick,
84) at what has just been said. In contrast, an essentially occasional expression requires that the listener perform fresh intuitions, as when "this" refers
to a bird now in flight. Here, constantly "varying" intuitions "supplant" or
"stand in for" (supponieren, 84) the objective meaning of "this". Somehow the
"supplanting" of objective meanings by intuitions must be put in the service
of "replacing" intuitive contents with objective meanings. Even essentially
occasional expressions must glance back to an objective meaning - not to
an earlier utterance, but to a continuing possibility of giving objective expression to each new intuitive experience.
But if we try to find an actual pure language of objective expressions which
can be understood without having to look around into the speaker's intuitive

horizons, we find that the "occasional character" is "carried over" like a

communicable disease (bertrgt sich auf, 85) into many sorts of seemingly
non-occasional expressions. First, apparently objective expressions such as
"The lamp" and "It is raining" have occasional presuppositions, since they
really mean "This lamp" and "It is raining now" (87). It looks as though all
expressions that refer to individual objects as opposed to species, and that refer
to existing as opposed to possible objects, demand that their listeners look back
at their meanings by reaching out into intuitive horizons. Second, even so me
expressions which refer to ideal species are infected by fluctuation. "Vague"
terms such as "shrub" and "tree", and "hazy" terms such as colour-terms
"pass over into one another" (88) and vary in "application". When a listener
hears the word "tree" in a certain context, thinking he knows which things
count as trees, but realises that a different range of objects has been meant,
he is able to shrink, expand, or just shift the meaning of the term so as to
keep alive his ongoing interpretation of the discourse he is listening to. Vague
and hazy meanings operate within "spheres with vague limits, and flow



over into correlative spheres within the same genus, and so condition
spheres-that-pass-over (bergangssphre)" (88-89). Even within a single "train
of thought" (Gedankenzuge 88, Gedankenfolge 91), subjects make sense of
expressions only by continuously shifting their ideas of the objects and experiences they refer to. So now it looks as though all expressions with empirical
content can have multiple applications, and so are "subjectively muddied" (91)
by alternative view-points and thought-horizons.
At the end of these sections, Husserl seems to locate arealm of genuinely
"objectively fixed" expressions, by appealing to a "correlation" between "being
in itself" and "truths in themselves" (90). Meanings are unqualifiedly fixed
meanings only when the purest kind of logical science is directed to the
purest kind of subject-matter. Such a science would have to stipulate the
meanings of its basic terms and its rules for complicating those meanings would
have to guarantee that the resulting web of meanings includes no extrascientific intuitions or intra-scientific ambiguities. And yet we have seen that
even the scientific web of truths introduces a structure of passing-over from
proposition to proposition, and that even a "single train of thought" introduces a shifting of standpoint. Not only when referring to existing individuals
or empirical classifications, but also when engaging in scientific discourse, a
language-user's "distance" from an ideallanguage ofpurely objective meaning
remains "endless" (91). To the ever-narrowing sphere of pure language, the
occasional character of expressions puts up infinite resistance.
The most common interpretation of LU i is that Husserl's project is to
salvage a region, however smalI, of meanings untainted by intuitions. But
on my reading, Husserl does not first posit an ideal language wnose extrication from intuitions has been completed, and then measure corrupt expressions
according to their distance from the ideal; rather, Husserl starts with synthetic activity, that is, with the actual workings of fluctuating expressions,
and then characterizes the ideal meanings precisely from the standpoint of
the references backward and forward from fluctuating meanings to their own
ideal origins and completions. For Husserl is simply not worried by the fact
that the full replacement of occasional expressions with objective ones is
impossible. It is enough that objectifying replacement is "required as a
capacity" (90), even if we do not actually have that capacity.
Like a meaning-intention's readiness for an infinite range of intuitive fulfilments, the ideally objective clarification of the vague and the muddy,
impossible as it might be to complete in actuality, nevertheless has the status
of being given "in-advance" (von vorherein, 92). The "in-advance" fixability
of occasional expressions is the forward-referring corollary to their "backward
glance" to objective expressions. Both are categories of unity through the
transition to unity. Indeed the principle of the replaceability of occasional
expressions has its "ground" not so much in the disconnection of meanings
from intuitions, from subjects, and from each other, as in the principle that,
"Everything that is, is knowable 'in itself' .. (90). So for example if a "natural,
thing-like reality" has "quite determinate extension and position in space and



time and quite detenninate ways of persisting and changing" (90), it will be
described not by expressions without need of intuitive contexts, but on the
contrary, by expressions whose jluctuation of meaning is appropriate to the
object's own changes of position. Objects can be meant, in short, not because
they can be thought independent of intuitive contexts, but because they can
be cognitively pursued through contexts, and because the lawful determinacy of this pursuit is justified in-advance and referred backwards to the real
objects themselves.
The objectification of meanings requires turning occasional expressions into
their objective replacements. That is, the in-advance ideality of meaning is a
function of overcoming the resistances put up by the contextual situations
which occasion the expression of most if not a11 meanings. Consciousness
works through its movements towards objective interpretation, always situated
in the realm of the incomplete, where the problematics of synthesis are most
at issue. And the items to-be-synthesized are not just floating thoughts and
intuitions simpliciter, but thoughts and intuitions functioning simultaneously
as the readiness for, and the resistance against, the closure of objective interpretation.
Now most commentators who emphasize as I do the movements through
incomplete and interrupted syntheses in the objectification of fluctuating
meanings deny that there can be any genuine role for the theory of ideal
meanings that seemed to have been the goal of the Investigations. The final
pages of LU i, however, make such interpretations untenable. The prior and
independent status of ideal meanings, even if their priority consists precisely
in being taken as the ultimate backward and forward referents of meanings
in flux, must be interpreted in a strong sense. Husserlian phenomenology not
only posits, but depends on, the possibility of apprehending ideal "types" (88),
"Species" (102) or "universalities" (102), and indeed the "idea11y closed set
of general objects" (l05). How can the theory of ideal meanings be consistent with the fluid open-endedness of a11 intentional consciousness?
We know that even scientifica11y grasped "exact" theories must take the
form of a "web" of meanings implicating "fluid transitions" in a thoughthorizon. The problem of the phenomenological combination necessary for
the constitution of ideal meanings thus a110ws us to introduce the central
problems of synthesis into a11 regions of consciousness, the scientific as we11
as the pre-scientific, the conceptual, the intuitive, and the interpretative, the
objective, the subjective and the intersubjective, etc.: What is an individual
object of consciousness if individuals are always meant in context? What is
the status of "environments" and "horizons" on the one hand and of "universalities" on the other? What provides the impetus for "transitions" and their
"fluidity", and how is the schema of "forward and backward reference" built
into the very nature of what it is to be a content of consciousness? And
fina11y, to introduce issues that we will take up in the next chapter, in what
sense do universal laws ground the synthetic combinations of contents, and
in what sense are laws the results of identifications within those syntheses?




This is Findlay's (1970) translation. Findlay takes some liberty in translating Bereich as
"horizon". However, it seems to me that "horizon" does capture the sense in this paragraph, and indeed that a concept of horizon operates throughout, even at this early stage
of Husserl's work. Pietersma (1973) has argued for this point.





Is the ground of the synthesis of one content of consciousness with another

under a unifying interpretation located (a) in the categorial structures of the
interpretation and/or in the universal classifications of the interpreted objects,
or (b) in the power of singular presentations to pass over into one another
andJor in the references implicit in each apprehension of an object backward
and forward to others? The fact that meaning can only be fixed in the form
of ideal units freed from intuitive content, suggests that synthesis is ultimately grounded on some kind of universals; that the fixing of meaning always
takes place in the sphere of uncompletable webs and shifting horizons, suggests
that synthesis is ultimately grounded in some kind of particulars. To answer
such a question, we will have to sort out various features of universality
and individuality in Husserl's text. And in the end, we may not be able to
articulate the problem of the ground of synthesis in terms of the distinction
between universal categories and individual intuitions. For one thing, the
secondary literature contains process readings, some epistemological readings,
dialectical readings, and "backward reference" readings which make use
of rather sophisticated vers ions of the interpenetration of universals and particulars. For another, the first Investigation suggests that ideal units of meaning
and occasional expressions are not simply two things that consciousness can
think, one primordially and one derivatively, but that the two represent opposite
extremes of one and the same process of unifying cognition. Yet at the same
time, interpretations of Husserl which soften the universal-individual distinctions can neither be sound interpretations of Husserl, nor can they work as
ac counts of synthesis.
I will therefore argue both that Husserl really does hold in LU ii that the
apprehension of ideal uni versals is independent of the apprehension of
intuitable individuals, and that for Husserl the apprehension of universals is
embedded in the same ongoing synthetic interpretation of objects in which
the apprehension of individuals is embedded. I will begin by running through
Husserl's arguments for the instance-independence of the apprehension of
universal meanings, and will then develop difficulties in the text concerning
the "ground" and the application of universals. I am working towards a reading
of two passages: the passage in which the intuition of individuals is said to
"pass over" into an intuition of universals, so long as the individuals are
"synthetically combined" (168), and the passage in which universal meanings
are said to have their "scientific" value when they "refer back" to grounding
contexts of lived experience (198-9).
The interpretative problem in Husserl 's text centres around whether



universals ultimately have their "ground" (Grund) in the apprehension of

individuals. I will argue that the apprehension of uni versals is grounded on
the synthetic apprehension of individuals, but that because of the peculiar
nature of this grounding, the apprehension of universals counts as wholly
independent of the apprehension of individuals. The general scheme of synthetic production will be laid out as follows: The ongoing work of synthetic
activity (a) produces something novel (in this case universal meanings), (b)
renders the origin (apprehensions of individuals) possible in retrospect, and (c)
preserves the original difference (between universals and individuals) in the

Much of LU ii is a polemic against empirieist and psychologistic theories

according to which the apprehension of a universal is nothing but the apprehension of one or more individuals in a special way. To the question of what
a subject has to do, upon seeing a red object, in order to abstract to the universal Species Red, the empirieist, according to Husserl, can ans wer in five
ways: he can say that the subject (i) "attends" to the red quality (157-9), or
(ii) forms a "general image" of red things (126, 133), or (iii) forms an exemplary image to "represent" all red things (169-71, 175), or (iv) picks a name
to use for all red things (188), or (v) gets into the "habit" of remembering other
red things whenever he sees one (184-90).
According to Husserl, the motivation for all such theories is the empirieist principle that all experience begins with, and is "grounded on" the
experience of concrete, sensible individuals. Now, Husserl himself holds a
version of this principle. But he argues that the fact that the apprehension of
uni versals is "grounded on" particulars does not imply that individuals remain
"concurrently meant" or "marginally noticed" (159) in the apprehensions of
universals. Husserl provides three arguments for the ideal instance-independence of universals: (i) The difference between meaning-intentions directed
to universals and to particulars is "evident" in the different conditions under
which they count as fulfilled. Particular triangular things are brought to consciousness by perspectival perception, the Species Triangle by conceptual
analysis, etc. Furthermore, we can "talk" of universals independently of talking
about particulars; and we can make distinctions between kinds of universal
terms (e.g. between "All A" and "The A in general") that have no analogues
in distinctions between particulars. (ii) Particulars can only be compared by
specific "respects" of sameness, and so presuppose Species. (iii) The apprehension of collected particulars is neither sufficient nor necessary for the act
of abstraction.
Now it is not Husserl's claim that universal or Specific unities exist as
substances in the world alongside individuals. His claim is only that a subject
can objectify speeific unities which are autonomous in relation to the multi-

LU 11


plicity of individuals upon which apprehension of them is "grounded". In

fact, Husserl opposes a true sense of "abstraction" to supplement the false:
We directly apprehend the Specific Unity Redness on the ground of a singular intuition of
something red. We look to its moment of red, but we perform a peculiar act, whose intention
is directed to the 'Idea', the 'universal'. Abstraction in the sense of this act is wholly different
from the mere attention to, or emphasis on, the moment of red; to indicate this difference we
have repeatedly spoken of ideational or generalizing abstraction. This is the act aimed at by
traditional talk of 'abstraction': through 'abstraction' in this sense we do not get at individual
traits, but at general concepts (direct presentations of attributes as unities for thought) (223-24).

Why is the exegesis of LU ii not now closed? Why is the "ground" still
problematic even after Husserl has denied that the origin of universals in
singular intuitions could influence the content of universality? It is because
"ground" (Grund) is a technical term.


On eleven occasions in LU ii, Husserl says or implies that apprehensions of

universals are "grounded on" (begrndet), "founded on" (fundiert), "built
on" (bauen auf), or "abstracted from" apprehensions of individuals (106-7,
108-9,131,156,171,174,223-4). They are "constituted" (109,165) on
the basis of "underlying" (unterliegt 109, untergeordnet 142) individuals.
Sometimes Husserl says that the apprehensions of universals begin with the
same intuitive contents as do apprehensions of individuals, but proceed in a
different "manner" and "function" (107, 108, 130, 141). Nevertheless, this new
manner constitutes something "essentially new" (130, 171).
There are in the text several provocative articulations of the notion that
apprehensions of individuals are transformed into apprehensions of universals:
The apprehension of individuals is the ground of the "fulness" (156) and of
the "evidence" (189) of universal meaning-intentions. Apprehensions of individuals "repeatedly kindie" that of universals (189); universals "derive
(schpfen) clarity and self-evidence" from individuals (189); consciousness
takes unities of meaning and "turns them into (erheben) Ideal Species" (150);
and the phenomenologist takes empirical concepts and "makes them into" (verwandeln) ideal concepts (200).
At the same time there are counterparts in the text that seem to undermine these formulations: Universals are not "produced by" (bewirken)
individuals (151) and are not "direct products" (direkt entsprungen) of individuals (189), and individuals by themselves do not have the "power" (Kraft)
to produce universals (151). On five occasions, Husserl denies that apprehensions of individuals function as the "ground" for the apprehension of
universals (115, 151, 167, 174, 178-9): on one occasion he reverses the relation
and says that the Species is the "ground" of particular likenesses (113); on
three occasions he says that the "ground" of the apprehension of a universal
is just that intuitable universal itself (140-41, 157, 200). In addition, all five
uses of the term "genetic" (genetisch) in LU ii refer to psychologistic theories



of the production of concepts, and deny that the alleged genetic origination
of uni versals in individuals is even relevant to the meaning of universal terms
(187, 189, 192,210,217).
Still, the term Husserl most often uses to convey the sense of "grounding"
or "basing" is Grund and Grund is a technical term for Husserl. In the
"Prolegomena" (LU I, 231), Husserl sets out the first principle of all theory:
"Scientific knowledge is, as such, grounded knowledge". Husserl goes on to
say that individual truths (of fact) are grounded in explanations from prior
circumstances, while general truths (of law) are grounded in "grounding
laws" (LU I, 232). According to the "Prolegomena", to apprehend a ground
is to apprehend a sort of lawfulness of necessary origins. The phenomenological scientist is to characterize a given object in relation to that which
grounds it, since only its ground can render it intelligible, and exhibit the
sufficient reason for its being determined as it iso Nothing could be more
striking, then, than for Husserl to be saying in LU ii that apprehension of
individuals functions as the ground of apprehensions of uni versals.
Husserl's analysis in LU ii of individuals as the ground of universals is
not weIl handled in the secondary literature. Commentaries which interpret
Husserl as saying that some sort of transformation occurs in consciousness that
turns the apprehension of individuals into an apprehension of universals, may
be arranged on a continuum according to the degree of lasting importance
which they assign to the universal's origination in individuals. On one extreme,
empiricist, transcendentalist, process, and dialectical interpretations of Husserl' s
claim that uni versals are grounded in individuals hold that part of the very
meaning of universal terms consists in their genetic origination in individual
meanings. On the other extreme, rationalist interpretations read the act in which
universals are grounded in individuals as if it involves only the illustration
of universals by means of examples, at most indispensable examples. The
former interpretations surrender the autonomy of universals, the latter surrender
any serious sense of grounding. 1
Husserl does seem to hold so me theory of the transformation of individuals into universals. At the same time as he insists that a universal is not an
aggregate of individuals, he allows that universals can be explained "as the
results of certain fusions, as products (Produkte) really but unnoticeably
embracing their factors", as long as that is not taken to entail that the resulting
universal is not genuinely logically abstract (200). So also a universal can
be called a synthesis of individuals as long as synthesis is understood to
generate not just a new complex unit but an altogether novel sense of unity.
The result of abstracting a universal from instances cannot be just another
instance, and its meaning cannot be exhausted by references to previously
perceived instances, but the act of constituting a universal result on the ground
of individual presentations may be the same act in which individuals are
constituted as instances to which universals apply.
Husserl 's version of the transformation of individuals into uni versals hangs
on his use of "synthesis". To reconstruct Husserl's account, we may set in relief



six elements in Husserl's description of universals: (a) the role of "synthesis"

itself, (b) the sense of a universal's "self-evidence", (c) the applicability of universals, (d) the variability of individuals, (e) the analogy between universals
and individual substances, and (f) the universal's "backward reference" to
(A) Synthesis

In some sense universals are products of a manipulation of individuals, and

in some sense they are not. In the important passage where Husserl argues
that not even God could have sensible intuitions of universal laws, or understand a universal without the mediation of a web of thought-intentions and
fulfilment procedures, Husserl describes the way universals are constituted
for any subject whatsoever. The subject must "pass over" from an intuition
(Anschauung) of individuals to an intuition (Intuition) of universals;
the performance must be an "active" one, and must "cast these intuitions
(Anschauung) of individuals into categorial forms and combine them synthetically" 2 (168). We can look at this process both with respect to that into
which it passes over, and with respect to the synthetic activity which carries
out the passage.
The universals into which universalizing ideation passes over are not to
be taken as existing in aseparate realm of substances. Apprehensions of individuals and those of universals have the same intuitive ground and differ
only in "manner". A universal gets to be "what it is for us and what it counts
as for us" only once it is "first constituted" as such (165). The implication
is that a universal is primarily a new way of referring to the one and only world
given through experience. The phenomenologist, wanting to know about
universals, will want to know how a subject, starting with a manifold of
intuitive syntheses, simultaneously intends both universal and individual
Synthetic combination itself is described in this passage only by its purpose.
In passages where Husserl says that a universal is not a mere combination
or "bundle" (Bundei, 180) of individuals, his terms for combination are
"interweaving" (Verwebung, presumably a looser organization than the
"web" (Gewebe) of science), "sum" (Summe, 179) and "conglomeration"
(Konglomeration, 181). "Synthetic combination" must mean something other
than aggregation. It must produce a new region of objects and a new way of
intending them, no longer in a purely receptive intuition (Anschauung) but
in a scientific intuition (Intuition) capable of establishing the self-evidence
of its claims.
To analyse the "passing over" from individuals to universals, we therefore begin by considering the sort of self-evidence that Husserl has in mind
for the apprehension of universals.



(B) Self-Evidence

A universal object is brought to self-evidence in a manner different from

that in which an individual is brought to self-evidence, and the self-evidence
of this distinction itself proves that uni versals are distinct from individuals.
There are three ways in which a universal is said to have been known with
evidence, namely when it is (i) the content of an intellectual "seeing", or (ii)
the residue of identity which survives the imaginative variation of individuals, or (iii) the demonstratum of something like what Spinoza calls scientia
(I) Evidence as "Seeing" 3

Husserl frequently uses terminology drawn from visual sensation in characterizing evidence. In addition to such formulations as "I see the truth that 4
is an even number" (125, also 171), Husserl appeals to "insight" (201, 26),
"clarity" (108, 187), "the immediate given" (183), and "feIt" generality (187).
Hence the interpretation of self-evidence as direct, unmediated, quasi-visual,
The problem for this interpretation is the extent to which Husserl's talk
of the self-evidence of universal objects as a kind of "seeing" is metaphoricaI. Commentators who take the sight-analogy seriously tend either to approve
of it on the grounds that it heightens the indubitability and/or the passivity
of apprehensions of universals, or else disapprove of it on the grounds that
the criteria for deciding when an object is adequately seen are vague. At any
rate, Husserl hirnself is cautious about the analogy between sensuous and
intellectual apprehension (136).
(11) Evidence as Variability4

Husserl would not say that universals are self-evidently apprehended when
individuals are compared, their differences eliminated and their common
features held constant. But he is concerned about the variability of individuals in two ways; first, as a threat to objective judgments about universals, and
second, as something which can be turned into judgments about universals.
Abstraction to Species beg ins with the recognition that individuals survive
change in their appearances.
A certain fluctuation and flow of contents. and the uncertainty, even the impossibility, of
keeping them (the parts of a surface) completely identical, does not undermine the evidence of
these judgments. Like all purely descriptive judgments passed on intuitive data ... , they hold
the intuitions within a certain sphere of possible variation with a certain index, therefore, of
vagueness (206).

A white surface's divisibility is unaffected by the variations in the ways

it is actually divided up at different times. By analogy, a universal can be



univocally understood in spite of the fact that its instances exhibit a certain
range of varied appearances. But Husserl goes farther than to say that the
apprehension of a universal survives variations in apprehended individuals;
apprehensions of variable individuals are "made into" apprehensions of
uni versals.
If we make empirical concepts and relations info (verwandeln) exact ones, if we frame ideal
concepts of extension, surface, qualitiative likeness and continuity, etc., we arrive at exact, a
priori propositions which set forth what is grounded on the intentions of such strict concepts.
Compared with these, merely descriptive assertions are imprecise approximations. Though the
vague sphere of singular phenomenal individuality in general does not belong to the sphere of
exact knowledge (which operates merely with ideals), it is nonetheless not at all closed out of
the general sphere of knowledge (206-7).

We saw in the previous chapter that the delimitation of ideal meanings

operates as a kind of closure wh ich prevents the fluctuating referents of occasional expressions from undermining the continuity of thought-contexts. By
analogy, universal concepts exclude apprehended individuals from the sphere
of exact knowledge, though not from the sphere of all knowledge. Cognition
becomes exact by expelling individuals from its thought-context.
Hence many commentators read Husserl to be saying that a universal is
an ideal concept which we cognize as a result of limiting the variation of
individuals. A universal on this reading would be the ideal possibility of
there being individuals whose similarities and dissimilarities can be compared,
arranged, and defined, and of determining whether a given individual is to
be included in a certain group of individuals. The advantage of this reading
is that it provides a straightforward route for explaining how uni versals have
a psychological origin in apprehensions of individuals, and how they are
applied to temporally changing individuals. The disadvantage is that it fails
to capture Husserl's arguments for the autonomy of meaning-intentions directed
towards universal objects.
(III) Evidence as Scientia Intuitiva 5,6

The self-evidence of mathematical propositions originates not in examples

but in proofs, and the meaning-intentions of mathematical conclusions are
fulfilled when their premisses are understood. A universal concept is apprehended with self-evidence when the ground of its having just those features
it does have has been fully thought through, and unambiguously dem onstrated to be necessary.
Many commentators thus take Husserl 's theory of the self-evidence of
universals to be an account of the analyticity or apodicticity of judgments about
them. And many of these commentators in turn object to the ahistorical nature
of Husserl's account of meaning. However, Husserl does not think that the
sphere of universal meanings is exhausted by mathematical tautologies; empirical universals (such as Red) may be known with evidence just as weIl as
"pure" universals (such as Identity). What makes it possible for a universal



meaning-intention to be fulfilled is not that it is tautologous but that it has a

sufficient reason. To grasp a universal object is to explain how a certain Species
of objects is possible.
The interpretation according to which an object is brought to self-evidence
when it has been fully thought through, avoids both the receptivity of "seeing"
and the dependence on individuality of imaginative variation. We can contrast
the three interpretations of Husserl 's theory of evidence as three interpretations
of the return to immediacy, Le. of the retrieval of those originary experiences that satisfy the demand for self-evidence. If evidence is a kind of
"seeing", then the originary experiences that self-evidently present universal
objects, are immediate contents of intellectual intuitions; if evidence is the
result of imaginative variation, then the originary experiences that selfevidently present universal objects are more like the ordered patterns of associative synthesis; if evidence is a product of scientific reasoning, then the
originary experiences that self-evidently present universal objects are acts
which take apprehensions in general as startingpoints from which cognitive
developments are meant to follow.
I will make use of all three interpretations of the self-evidence of uni versals. I will argue that universals are directly intuited, and that syntheses of
variable individuals are responsible for the emergence of those direct intuitions,
and that thinking through the objects present to experience is responsible
both for the genesis of universal ideation and for the ahistorical science of
Where, then, does the apprehension of universals originate, and when
is the procedure for rendering universal objects self-evident c1osed? Do
uni versals in any essential way lead back to the apprehension of individuals?
(C) The Application of Universals to Individuals

Husserl rejects the theory that a universal concept is its applications, either
in the sense of being defined by the extension of individuals which it might
name (214) or in the sense of inc1uding in its meaning "in the fashion of a
bundle", the "individual presentations that fall under it" (180). But at the
same time, Husserl says several things that imply that a universal does determine ranges of individuals. The Species Triangle does function as a rule for
constructing individual triangles (133-4); the theory of Species does have to
explain how subjects know when to affirm similarities between individuals
(188, 206); and a universal object is at first "meant along with" the concrete
object (130). But in what sense can Husserl say that a universal meaning determines a range of possible instances?
The universal should provide a rule for c1assifying individuals, but it is
not about either the act or the object of application and does not create its
own instances. And the individual objects of experience provide the raw
material which trigger the application of universals, but they cannot function
as instances until uni versals have already defined them as such. In short, the

LU 11


motivation for the application of universals to individuals cannot inhere either

in universals or in individuals. Is there an act of consciousness responsible
for the apprehension of both individuals and universals, which allows Husserl
to say that universals are both grounded in and independent of individuals?
The problem is expressed accidentally by Pivcevic, who defines uni versalizing ideation as "an act of reason" whereby, by "positing" essences, "we
'turn things into examples' " (p. 63). But he does not notice the peculiar
workings of this self-causing circularity: individuals are not originally examples
of anything, but are originally discrete (indeed it is for this reason that Husserl
argues that respects of similarity cannot be extracted from experiences
of individuals alone); but as soon as an experiencing subject does first
posit universals, grounded by that which is not yet able to serve as ground,
he constitutes both the act of apprehending a universal as well as the conditions for that act. Paradoxically, the universal is that by virtue of which
individuals become the sorts of examples from which those universals could
have been grounded. Not that this move is new to philosophy. From Descartes
to Fichte, reason is thought to be self-caused; from Hegel to Gadamer, univeralizing interpretation is understood to posit its own genetic history; and
from Kant to James, the truth of categorical essences is said to consist in
the phenomenal pudding.
(D) The Individual as Variable and the Universal as "Function"

We finally begin to see the force of the "ground"; the apprehension of individuals qua variable is always already setting in motion of the apprehension
of universals.
"Without general meanings, one can make no assertions at all, not even such
as are singular" (167). A subject cannot describe the features of a singular
object (e.g. its redness) unless he has already been applying general categories (e.g. colour concepts) to it. The abstraction to a universal from an
individual is a re-discovery of what the individual was all along. The universal
is thus the "immanence of the individual act" (150). Universals cannot be
reduced to a special apprehension of individuals, precisely because universalization is already at work in the very origin of the apprehension of
For universalizing abstraction to work, the individual already has to be more
than it iso Husserl's first statement on abstraction in LU ii runs: "The primitive relation between Species and instance emerges: it becomes possible to
look over and compare a range of instances, and perhaps to judge with selfevidence: 'In all these cases individual aspects differ, but in each case the same
Species is realized .. .' " (109). Husserl places the act of comparing a range
of individuals prior to the act wh ich apprehends their Species (206). Something
in the apprehension of an individual property of an individual object causes
a subject to compare that individual with others, and to search for a Specific
respect of similarity. While the individual by itself is not a respect for



comparison, it is necessarily apprehended as comparable, "ready" to be apprehended under a universal.

Hence the Species, while not in an individual, is nevertheless implicit in
an individual in the form of its anticipated comparability with others. So
universals appear to be entirely different from individual objects, but the
function of universals in constituting unified interpretations of the world of
objects may not be separable from the apprehension of individuals.
Husserl talks in two ways about the universalizing "function". First, he
distinguishes manners "in wh ich individual images function in consciousness, according as we intend what is individual or what is Specific" (141).
Second, "the function of a general name in the predicate (' . . . an A')
certainly differs from its function in the subject ('The A ... '), and its function
varies, as noted above according to our logical forms, to the forms of the
thought-contexts into which our general meanings are fused" (181).
In the first of these passages, the universal is an intentional function of
an individual image, a result of the image's ability to bring a Species to
consciousness. In the second, the universal itself is differentiated intoits various
functions of applying one predicate to many subjects, or many predicates to
one subject; both functions of the universal depend on trains of thought
that make multiple attributions meaningful. In both passages, the ability of a
universal to function as such depends on the function that individual meanings
have. Experiencing subjects come to entertain universal concepts out of a need
to think through the respects of comparability exhibited in the individual
objects he experiences, and out of a need to keep a chain of thoughts on
If the universal is a distinct function of the variability of individuals, the
individual must already exhibit the function of, and already set in motion
the apprehension of, universal meanings. Wh at sort of an individual prefigures the characteristics of universality?
(E) Husserl's Analogy between Universals with Many Instances

and Individual Substances with Many Properties

The problem of "grounding" concems the way in which the apprehension of
an individual presupposes the very universality which it must ground. The individual, apprehended as individual and prior to the apprehension of its Species,
must already be a unity in multiplicity, namely a unity of possible variations,
comparisons, and abstractions. The apprehension of an individual must always
already be passing over into an apprehension of an instantiable universal, in
that the various re-appearances of an individual function, analogically
speaking, like re-instantiations of its presence. I am going to argue that when
Husserl draws an analogy between the unity of a universal over its instances
and the unity of a substance over its appearances, he is not just raising a distant
parallel, but is making the latter a phenomenological condition of the former.
Both individual and Specific objects are "universal" (102), in that both

LU 11


can be spoken of univocally through a plurality of determinations and

recognized through a plurality of presentations. Bismarck is an individual
who can be talked about in many ways (also 98), just as Four is a Species
that can appear under various formulae. A Species, to be recognized as such,
must be identified and re-identified through aseries of its apprehensions just
as an individual is recognized through its appearances. But while Husserl
says that the two are unities in "the same" sense (106), he continues to distinguish them (103): the individual appears in various ways but is not
instantiated in other individuals.
But Husserl does not raise the analogy merely in order to dismiss it. On
the contrary, the analogy is essential to Husserl's reply to Hume's skepticism with respect to universals (192-204). Husserl takes Hume to argue that
an object experienced by "abstraction" is not a genuine object at all but a fiction
of thought (195). The problem is in fact "one and the same for all abstract
contents" (196), namely that since abstract contents "correspond to nothing
in the phenomenon momentarily given they are not real moments lying in
the phenomenon and discoverable in it" (198). The same skepticism challenges
the legitimacy of talking either about universals which unify the multiplicity
of appearing instances or about substances which unify the multiplicity of
appearing properties. Indeed, such skepticism challenges phenomenology itself,
by challenging any structural analyses of phenomenal contents. Husserl's
response must therefore be a defence of the category of unity in general namely that the synthetic combination of contents is sufficient to legitimate
the objectification of the abstractions drawn from them. The universal Species
Red does not unite red phenomena by being a new red phenomenon, nor
does the "universal" designation "Hans" (158) unite the phenomenal properties of Hans by being a new phenomenal property of Hans. Rather, the unitary
meaning must be a new sort of meaning grounded in the ways that the individual contents are synthetically combined.
The analogy of Specific and individual unities in multiplicity thus assigns
a certain priority to the latter. For the model of grounding that refutes the
skepticism with respect to universals appeals to the syntheses that ground
the unified interpretation of individual objects. Universals are legitimate objects
of experience precisely because individual objects cannot be synthesized in
interpretation without universal objectifications.
But now if unities, Specific or substantial, do not appear in phenomena, then
what status do they have in relation to the individual contents that do appear?
(F) Backward Reference

The types of unity which differentiate Species from instances and substances
from appearances, instead of "corresponding to something real in the phenomenon momentarily given", "rather point back (zurckweisen) to contexts
of lived consciousness in which they appear coherently, in which they are experienced and determined scientifically" (198-99). All types of unity are



constituted in acts of pointing. It is not that unifying activity names special

phenomenal units, but rather that it points back, back to a context of
individuals. It is in this sense, finally, that the synthetic combination of apprehensions of individuals is the ground of apprehensions of universals: the
syntheses of individual acts form unified contexts, the discursive recognition
of which is called "science". Husserl's final reply to Hume's skepticism
requires the premiss that any synthesis required by the constituent theses themselves, will count as the presentation of a novel type of object whose ideal
reality is guaranteed. To prove this premiss is to prove that the synthetic
interpretation maximally directed to individual objects are therefore at the same
time maximally directed to unified thoughtcontexts. For when unified individual substances are reflected upon after their appearances have been
synthetically combined into an interpretation of them as individuals, it turns
out that their general forms have been set up in advance. And the reference
backward to those forms counts as the constitution of a novel sphere of objects,
namely abstract universal Species.
We said earlier that we would have to show three things to explain how universals are grounded in individuals: (a) that the synthesis of apprehension of
individuals produces the apprehension of a novel sort of universal objects,
(b) that the origination of universal meanings is possible only in retrospect,
and (c) that the same abstraction from individual to universal objects contributes to both the interpretation of individuals and the interpretation of the
difference between individuals and universals.


In this concluding section I am going to discuss in general, and without any

particular explication of passages in LU ii, the nature of the problem faced
by Husserl's theory of universals, and the nature of its solution. I will end
with aremark on the nature of logical investigation generally.
By looking at the comparability and variability of individuals and the applicability and functional contextualization of universals, we found that many of
the features of universality are already pre-figured in the synthetic combinations of individuals. To apprehend and interpret an individual as individual
is already to know what sorts of changes it can undergo, what types of groupings it can participate in, what specijic points of similarity it can have with
others, etc. Indeed, as soon as any interpretation of an individual is set in
motion, the individual is constituted as having a multiplicity of properties each
of whose alterability functions as a sort of place-holder for others. The individual object already conceals a logic of multiple instantiability. It is because
of this prefiguring that syntheses of individuals ground the abstraction to
Individuals cannot stand on their own as objects of consciousness. It is
only in relation to LU iii that we will fully substantiate this claim. We will
see there that purely discrete individuals are non-independent parts of lawfully

LU 11


ordered wholes. To be sure, individuals can be constituted as independent

of one another, but only in the contexts of certain wholes, and only because
of the processes and the universal ordering principles that constitute those
I will now give a summary, based on the elements discussed above, of
how I take Husserl's account of the grounding of universals to work.
The account takes three stages: first, the syntheses of the identification of
individuals arrange individual appearances according to determinate patterns
of comparability; second, these patterns take on the force of general, instanceindependent laws for combining individuals according to type; third, a
reflective reference back to the acts which determine syntheses of individuals allows uni versals to be referred to on their own.
First Stage

A subject identifies an individual when he recognizes that a range of appearances reveal one and the same object. This recognition beg ins to take place
even in the apprehension of a single presentation, as soon as the subject
treats the perceptual qualities of the presentation as subject to change along
determinate directions. As soon as he treats a colour-quality as variable, for
example, he distinguishes that which is coloured from the colour. This one
act has three consequences. (a) It establishes a place-holder for colourproperties, treating the object as a colourable substance in general, (b) it allows
that colours of other things may become the colour of this one; it thus establishes the degrees of comparability of this object with others, and (c) it
prescribes possible changes and combinations of colour, ruling out some and
demanding others; it thus sets minimal, maximal, and typicallimits to possible
chains of images and thoughts. In short, the identification of an individual
property of an object already constitutes that property in relation to the type
of its alterability, its comparability with others according to determinate
respects, and its functions in chains of possible experience and discursive
reasoning. Now, the psychologism which Husserl criticises simply identifies
uni versals with one of these features of variable individuals. Husserl regards
the synthesis of individuals as a breeding ground for the constitution of
universal objects, but only as the first stage in the syntheses that ground
Second Stage

For Husserl, the fact that universals are grounded in the syntheses which
identify individuals, cannot prevent universals from being instance-independent, or prevent reflective consciousness from treating universals as
instance-independent. A particular perceptual quality, as a property of an
individual object, appears as one of a multiplicity of instantiations; a red object,
qua variable, exhibits both the fact that that object could appear as an instance



of any colour, as weH as the fact that its shade of redness can appear in any
object. As soon as a subject treats an individual as variable in a determinate
manner, he has anticipated a general form, structure, or type of qualitative
identity, and has provided hirnself with the capacity to frame a universal
concept of which this individual is (actually or possibly) one of many possible
exemplifications. So as alterability guarantees a property's typical replaceability and relocatability, it generates the self-identity of types over instances.
When apprehensions of individuals pass over into one another, they are transformed into apprehensions of instance-independent universals. Universals, in
short, are grounded on individuals, and because of the grounding of universals in their instances, they are constituted as instance-independent.
Third Stage

The grounding of universals appeals in two ways to the "backward reference" of the syntheses that identify individual substances.
The first involves the reference from universals back to individuals. We
have found that grounded unities, including universals, "point back to contexts
of lived consciousness in which they appear coherently (einstimmig)". Now
Husserl cannot mean that a universal is a combination of experiences of individuals. Rather, a universal, when referred back to the lived experiences of
individuals, retraces the formation of a consistent interpretation. If universal
forms, types, laws, structures, or categories originate in an interpretation in
which all apprehensions of an object are made to speak, as it were, with one
voice, then we can now explain how universals are applied to individuals.
The syntheses which identify individuals, whose consistency grounds the
abstraction to a Species, are the same syntheses that prepare those individuals to be that to which the universal Species can refer back when it is applied.
In the final analysis, the same synthetic combinations of experiences that allow
a complex object to be recognized, for example, as a house, also aHow the
Species House to be considered on its own account, and in turn allow that
Species to be referred back in application to that and other individual houses.
But two questions remain. (a) To what syntheses of individuals do universals
whose instances have never been experienced refer back? (b) How is the
reference back to consistent interpretations in lived experience, a reflection
which I have suggested is necessary for the transformation of interpretative
patterns into the apprehension of instance-independent universals, itself
(a) Universals can be apprehended even when no individual instances have
been experienced. But uni versals are constituted by their reference back to
individuals. If these two statements are consistent, then a universal does not
so much consist in its reference back to particular instantiating individuals,
as to a general strategy for interpreting individuals as possible instantiations.
What the universal must refer back to is the world of individuals as the
sphere of being from which that universal could have been abstracted. They



refer back to syntheses of individuals whether or not those syntheses had

previously taken place. Hence the refIection on the syntheses that ground
universals simultaneously intends uni versals as objects in their own right,
and for the first time circumscribes the range of individuals to which they
can refer back.
(b) But we have not said much about the reflection itself, the moment of
abstraction proper. How is the identifying synthesis of individual objects
and their arrangement into typical and hence pre-figuratively instance-independent patterns sufficient to produce intuitions of the universal objects
themselves? Why must universalizing ideation take place once an interpretation of individual objects is set in motion? How does the interpretation of
an individual object set in motion processes which are not complete until it
refers back to its own guiding principles?
Now we could appeal to commonplaces and argue that an individual is
not fully understood until universal generalizations are drawn from what we
know about it; or that we cannot make assertions about an individual without
employing universal terms; or that we do not truly understand an individual
if we do not know wh at laws made it, and our knowledge of it, possible; or
that since all men desire to know, cognition does not rest until it conceptually thematizes whatever it finds.
None of these considerations proves the necessity of the backward reference from the interpretation of an individual to those patterns of interpretative
consistency that would ground universal meanings. But collectively they do
point to areversal in the order of grounding and referring back. As we refer
the ground of universals back to individuals, we find that what we have to
prove is rather that individuals refer back to universals. We see m to be faced
with a paradox of grounding. Husserl 's account requires that universal and
individual objects ground each other.
We have seen that many commentators, when faced with a pair of terms
such as universal and individual, structure and process, form and matter, etc.,
simply choose one side or the other to be the ground of synthetic interpretation and do not acknowledge any important cases of reciprocal grounding.
Among those who do acknowledge reciprocal grounding, several approaches
may be found. Some do not find mutual grounding troublesome and would
be content to say that universal concepts and individual meanings and individual perceptions complement one another in the interpretation of objects,
or in Kantian terms, that concepts and intuitions are equally necessary and
independent sources of experience. Others find that such a pluralism of sources
threatens the Husserlian phenomenological science and its attempt to ground
or explain or describe the logic of acts of consciousness. Many of these commentators affirm a primacy of process, and describe abstract uni versals and
discrete individuals alike as mere hypostatizations from the ongoing process
of interpreting the lived world. Still others, holding both that universals and
individuals are genuine grounding elements of synthetic consciousness, and
that the two do not just complement but also presuppose one another, develop



a reading based on the dialectic of prius-posterius and the category of backward

reference. I will conclude this chapter by applying this latter reading to the
issue of the mutual grounding of universals and individuals, in order to explain
why the apprehension of individuals must culminate in a backward reference
that constitutes universal meanings.
The "backward reference" reading holds that the sources of experience
are described neither by positing simples and arguing that lived objective experience is built up from these (though Husserl does occasionally speak this
way in LU ii and elsewhere), nor by picking out by immediate introspection
contents of lived experience and arguing that all intentional objects are derived
from these everyday immediacies. Sources of experience are defined rather
by following the ways in which it itself treats certain elements as originary.
The interpretative and epistemic demands of lived objective experience requires
that the experiencing subject abstract universal meanings from, and isolate
particular sensible data from, the ongoing process of his experience. The
"backward reference" reading will neither concede the paradox that universals and individuals each have to exist before the other, nor be satisfied with
their simultaneous presence, but will argue rather the following.
No elements or contents of consciousness exist in consciousness before
the ongoing interpretations of the objective world, interpretations which always
make use of multiplicities of cognitive interests, direct experiences, generalizations and chains of thoughts, etc. Syntheses of identification generate
interpretative unities by attributing multiplicities of features to a singular object.
But in this constitution of an individual qua individual, the demand is made
for the double backward reference to prior objects which had not before been
objects for consciousness. First, the combinatory strategies used to make
apprehensions agree with one another, make use of and hence appeal to general
respects. And the more an interpretation of objects is complicated, the more
it refers back to a pre-supposed system of universal rules supposed in advance.
The apprehension and clarification of universals on their own account is set
in motion by the apprehension of individuals just because the identification
of an individual carries out combinations of appearances that can only be
justified and sustained by repeatedly appealing back to, and hence by
re-inforcing the ideal status of, universal laws, categories, and meanings. In
turn, the universals, which in this way receive their instance-independence from
the synthetic apprehension of individuals, refer back to contexts of those
individuals. This second backward reference takes place not just because
universals are applied to individuals, or because the psychological genesis
of uni versals began with the consciousness of individuals. Rather, the reference back from universals to contexts of individuals occurs because in the
totality of cognitive processes in which thoughts about universals function,
each new judgment conceming a universal term can be traced back in the
web of interpretative possibilites within which individuals are apprehended.
To think through the nature of a universal is to restructure the laws according
to which an experiencing subject anticipates possible experiences of individ-



uals. The apprehension of a universal is a commitment to treating contexts

of individual meanings as having been synthetically combined in advance
and by law.
In general, then, the "backward reference" reading affirms a third option
between saying that abstract universals and sensible data are simply uncovered as elements that existed in consciousness all along awaiting description,
and saying that they are merely constructed as artificial devices in a philosophical explanation. It affirms instead that uni versals and individuals arise
within the ongoing process of interpreting objects, but always as the sources
of those interpretations which must have been given in advance of those
processes. It is just because cognition is directed forwards that it is always a
backward-directed pointing to the universal Species according to which the
object must have been classified.
I want to underline three consequences.
First, even individual sensations (and sensations of individuals) not yet
synthesized with others, and even abstract universals never to be confused with
the synthetic combination of individuals, both achieve their (in a certain sense)
non-synthetic nature from the ongoing syntheses of identification, recognition and contextuaIization. We found in the preceding chapter that ideal
meanings are just as much subject to webs of syntheses in scientific discourse as are individual intuitions in lived experience. We now find even a
stronger sense in which synthetic activity is the foundation of all regions of
consciousness: even non-synthesized elements in and objects of consciousness are consequences of the backward reference of synthesis.
Second, the idea that universals are grounded in and referred back to
contexts of individuals pertains to the whole question of logic in LU. Husserl 's
arguments in LU ii for the independence of universals from apprehensions
of individuals are parallel to his arguments in the "Prolegomena" for the
independence of logical propositions from psychic judgments about these
propositions. On a similar model, logic would concern the lawful forms presupposed by any coherent interpretation of the world, and its independence
from the actual interpretations of any given subject would be guaranteed in
advance by the ways in which particular interpretative acts demand formal
laws to govern their combinations and continuations. Further, the logician 's
enumeration of those formal laws and subsequently the phenomenologist's
investigation into their formality and their lawfulness would turn out to be consciousness's own reference back to the formal universals that determine it.
In the final chapter of this study, I will consider briefly Husserl's idea in
Ideen 1 that philosophical science both completes the synthetic unification
of experience and draws back (or withdraws) into the original point of departure of consciousness.
Finally, I want to restate in general terms the account of synthesis that
the present chapter's interpretation of Husserl's theory of universals is contributing to. At the end of the previous chapter, I said that Husserl 's treatment
of the relation between ideal meanings and occasional expressions raises



three problems for a concept of synthesis: What is an individual if individuals always appear in synthetic contexts? How are the schemata of "passing
over" from thesis to thesis and of "forward and backward references" built into
the very nature of meaning? And in what sense do universal laws, categories,
or structures ground the syntheses among experiences and in what sense are
the universals the result of identifications within these syntheses? In the present
chapter I have tried to show how the apprehension of objects progresses by
referring back to its grounds in structural universals and contexts of individuals. Universals do ground, provide the impetus for, and explain the limits
and the possibilities of, the ways in which contents of consciousness pass
over and are synthetically combined with one another; but uni versals are the
grounds of synthetic activity just because they are also the results of the
backward referring interpretative apprehension of individual objects. And the
consequence of Husserl's second Logical Investigation is that all consciousness of objects grounds itself in contexts of synthetic interpretations that
refer forwards to new interpretative unities and backwards to experiences
posited as having been given in advance. Consciousness distinguishes individual and universal objects as it aims at a unified interpretation of the world
as a whole. In what way individual objects can themselves be set in relief
for consciousness as individuated, in what way interpretative apprehension first
gets set in motion, and in what way individuals come to be apprehended as
parts that demand to be supplemented in the context of a whole, are the questions to be treated in the following chapter.

Starting with the lauer extreme, ten interpretations of Husserl's account of the transformation of apprehensions of individuals into apprehensions of universals may be arranged as
(i) The dischargeable starting-point: Husserl does say, in discussing the relation between
geometrical instances and their universal laws, that instances function as "mere aids" to
understanding (157, also 162 on the "help" (Mithilfe) of sensible intuition). Levinas (1973)
argues that for all essences an ego "must" start his apprehension of universals with an
apprehension of individuals; but "what I am looking at ... (is the) red in general" (p.
106). The universal "emerges from the attributes of individuals" ("d partir des attributs",
Scherer, 1967, p. 205), as an experiencing subject varies individuals in such a way that
the result is a non-individual invariant (Schutz, 1966, p. 36). The ground of a universal is
necessarily a concrete singular intuition, but once the ground has borne fruit in a
universal, it plays no continuing role in the universal's meaning.
This interpretation suffers from the same problem as empiricism. If consciousness starts
with an individual, then what it is looking at can only continue to be an individual. But
if, on the other hand, consciousness at some point does look at a universal which is
free of particularity, it is not clear why that consciousness must have started with an
(ii) The indispensable example: Piv~evic (1970) says that an individual triangle is "just
an 'example'" of the universal, but at the same time says that illustrations are "indispensible for our apprehending the universals which they exemplify." For "of course we must
have some experience of triangular objects" in order to apprehend the universal "Triangle"



(p. 60). Again, "the existential aspect recedes into the background" once formalized
(p. 62). In Gutting (1971), the use of examples does not just take place in the first step of
universalization; rather universal laws are to be verified in an ongoing way through the
act of defending them against alleged counter-examples, a process which Gutting calls
"variation" (p. 206).
The reading of instances as necessary ex am pies and as the necessity of considering counterexamples has problems parallel to those in (i). Pivcevic wants to, but cannot, account
for the cognition of those universals (e.g. the concept of Identity) which are so pure that
examples of them are always dispensible (p. 61). Nor would Husserl say that we must first
experience an example of a Species in order to apprehend the Species, which is clear both
from the Species of Centaur, and from Husserl's argument that only the presence of prefulfilled meaning-intentions makes it possible to interpret individuals at all (e.g., LU i, s.
21). If individuals are really indispensable for universal ideas, then they would have to
play more of a role than is captured by the theory of individuals as examples.
(iii) The imaginative or possible representation: According to Kersten (1974), when
Husserl says that genetic origins in individuals are not part of the meaning of universals,
what he means is that subjects need not experience real perceivable individuals in order to
"seize upon" ideal universals, but that they do require apprehensions of imaginary individuals
(p. 29). If Kersten has lancied images in mind, he is off track, but chances are that de
Boer's (1978) interpretation is at the root of Kersten's: apodicticity pertains to knowledge
not of actualities, but of possibilities (p. 247), and the extension of a concept includes all
the possible objects to which a law applies (p. 258). Husserl does hold, in the course of
arguing against representationalism, that "Individual ideas are therefore merely possible,
not actual, representatives for other similar individual ideas" (179).
The effect of this reading is to allow the function of the concrete ground to be replaced
by an imaginative grounding that can be carried out in the absence of all actual individuals. However, this de-basing of particular facts is not quite what Husserl has in mind
when he introduces universal laws. When Husserl says that a law grounds "the necessity
of [an individual's] being thus and so" (LU 1,231), the point is not that laws apply indiscriminately to the possibility of a world, but that laws contain the potential to hold for
different actualities in appropriately different ways.
(iv) The dropping 01 perspective: Mohanty's (1970) reading depends on the ability
of a result of cognition to take the form of something given. The ideal meaning of a
universal is the result which occurs after a subject begins with an individual object, and
by means of thought, removes all "perspectives". The product thus appears as an immediate,
self-evident datum of intellectual sense (p. 54). In empiricism, the dropping of perspective
produces a result that looks and/or acts as if universal; here the mediation is said to result
in a genuine immediacy (see also de Boer, 1970, p. 235).
The way in wh ich this reading treats the experiencing subject as the agent of formalization, makes it difficult to see how the object of a universal concept can be the Species
itself and not the subject's idea 01 a Species. What this reading in terms of a transformation of mediacy into immediacy needs is a prior phenomenology of individuality which would
account for how the apprehension of an individual can, without the intervention of a
prejudiced subject, produce its own realm of transcendent, intuitable universals.
(v) The move from epistemology to logic: Murphy (1980) and Welch (1965) argue that
questions about grounding are epistemological, whereas questions about meaning are logical.
Murphy's weaker version has it that Husserl's interest in the origin of concepts is a later
development, with LU being "content" to restrict itself to logic, and to "ignore" genetics
(p. 91). In Welch's stronger version, the distinction involves more than adecision about
the scope of enquiry. Rather, the nature of the enquiry itself demands that the genesis of
universals be "of no concern" to logic (p. 70) although it may be the subject of some other
enquiry (p. 72).
Such readings avoid the relation between the development of a concept and its meaning
by isolating types of enquiry. However, it is not clear how any simple distinction between


logic and epistemology would work in Husserlian phenomenology. For if the study of
logic is already a study of the ways in which consciousness must apprehend universal objects,
then it is already a study of how consciousness engages in knowing universals. So if the
genesis of the knowledge of universals is of no concern to logic, it must be in part due to
something about the epistemology of uni versals, and not to aseparation of logic from
(vi) The "common aspect": According to de Boer (1978), a "common aspect in the
acts (of individual meanings) is the basis for (universal) ideation" (p. 257, also p. 239).
The otherwise incomprehensible transformation from individual to universal is explained
by reference to an intermediary, viz., the commonness of individuals, which is both individual and universal. (De Boer's account can be somewhat confusing. He begins by saying
that a "universal is not an aspect of things", i.e. not something that can be perceived by
looking at one or many individuals as individuals, and de Boer is c1early right about setting
out this position as one that Husserl wants to reject. But on the same page (256), when de
Boer is tt;'ing to say that individuals are alike or unlike with respect to universals, he ends
up by saying that universals have a "concrete realization" in individuals, in the sense
that "things are not purely individual but also have a universal aspect". Perhaps there is
an equivocation in the word "aspect", but a universal cannot be an aspect of individual things.
One can sympathize with de Boer's argument that a universal must be recognizable in
some sense even when it is instantiated in a concrete particular, but the middle ground of
commonness between universality and individuality is unc\ear.)
De Boer's textual justification for his reading of LU ii involves an appeal to LU v,
343: "To meanings in specie correspond acts of meaning, the former being nothing but ideally
apprehended aspects of the latter". However, this passage speaks of species grounded in
acts of meaning or in aspects of acts of meaning, but not to "common" aspects at all. Husserl
wants to say that the individual is the ground for the universal. Whatever problems this raises
are not to be avoided by means of interpretative intermediaries.
(vii) The theme: Gurwitsch (1966) argues that to find an identity through the variation
of individuals is to "thematize" that identity. Onee thematized, the constant meaning is
rendered independent of the finite group of original variations, and is opened up into an
infinite possibility of variations (p. 382). A similar line is taken by Mensch (1981), who
understands that an instance validates a species by exhibiting a kind, and that a kind in
turn, by its very nature, can have a plurality of instances (p. 70).
This reading follows (iv) in holding that a mediation can transform an apprehension of
an individual into a direct apprehension of a universal. But here, the mediation is as much
objective as subjective. And perhaps because the transformation is said to take place in
the intended things themselves, this reading, more than any of the first six, maintains a
preservation of the original genesis in the result. At LU ii, 69, Husserl uses an example drawn
from arithmetical accumulation to argue that "It is plain that an act of fulfilment not only
corresponded to this final result, but to each individual step leading from one expression
of this number to the expression next in order, which c\arified it and enriched its content".
Gurwitsch says that it is necessary for a thematic universal to retain some form of
"reference to" its instances (p. 382). This seems inocuous enough until it is taken seriously. In fact, it posits a qualification of the instance-independence of the very meaning
of universals.
(viii) The circle: Some interpreters, apparently without noticing, attribute to Husserl
the view that individuals and universals are mutually grounding. Thus Cairns (1973) says
on one page that consciousness of a Species is carried out "on the basis of a clear perceiving or phantasying of at least possible instances" (p. 231) and on the next that "it is
only on the basis of the original givenness and seizedness of the kind as weH as the individual that one can judge 'with original insight': this is an instance of colour ... " (p.
232). Similarly de Boer (1978) deals with Species grounded on individuals (p. 239 and p.
257), and then refers casually to universal laws as the "basis" and "ground" of knowledge
of particulars (p. 258), with no comment on the reversal of priority.

LU 11



My own account of LU ii takes up the challenge of turning Husserl's apparently

ambiguous statements on transformation into a theory of reciprocal grounding.
(ix) The expression 0/ genesis: Levin (1970) wishes that Husserl's theory of evidence
had included genesis in meaning (p. 44). Gutting's (1971) variability interpretation
of evidence involves something much like that inclusion: When a subject abstracts the
predicate "green" from an experience of the green of this emerald, the universal Green
expresses two things. It expresses this green aspect of the individual, and it "expresses the
fact that I experience a given tendency (in the presently given greenness) to stability in
the future" (p. 225). Thus a green individual is perceived; an expectation of constancy through
time is produced; the constancy is objectified (or reified, or thematized, etc.) into a unitary
individual type; the universal is apprehended in the tendency of an individual property to
appear and reappear continuously.
Under this reading, the individual starting-point, whose mediation through meaning results
in direct apprehensions of instance-independent universals, retains its indispensability. One
might say that the individual ground is not so much the generative as the conserving cause
of the universal. Gutting, however, tends to identify the universal with the stability of appearance itself (which leads to psychologism), or with a tendency of certain individuals to
keep on appearing (wh ich is not instance-independent), or with an experience of a tendency
(which leads to nominalism.) Can generalizing ideation have an authentically double effect:
namely, the objectification of a universal and the constitution of a tendency?
(x) The transition in which the ground becomes the grounded: Tymieniecka (1962)
says that the transition "from empirical to categorial perception" occurs "without a cuttingoff of its roots in empirical perception" (p. 14), and Levinas (1973) says that an ideal
object "in some way refers us back to individual objects" (p. 106). Neither of these two commentators develop the notion of backward reference into a reading of the text. But Fink
(1981), who actually rejects such a reading, points the way to it. According to Fink, genesis
is not part of the "f1esh and blood" presence of a universal (p. 42), but only emerges in
the phenomenologist's explication of the prior acts of consciousness out of which intuitions of uni versals have originated. But if Levinas' "referring back" is understood to be a
corrollary of "referring forward", and if fulfilment is understood to be the completion of
an investigation that leads back to the immediate, then the movement towards bringing
the f1esh and blood of an object into consciousness must involve areturn through the
stages wh ich conditioned its appearances. The result may take a form logically distinct
from the forms of its genesis, but the reconstruction of a universal's genesis will have to
be one of the interwoven directions of objective adequation.
Now, Husserl consistently says in LU ii that genesis is irrelevant to meaning. Yet interpretations of uni versals as referring back to, containing, retaining, or expressing individuals,
seem to have at least some basis in the text. For if they were all simply mistakes, and not
articulations of Husserl's own subtle qualification, then Husserl's characterization of the
individual as the ground of a transformation from individuals to universals would be just
a red herring.
This is the only use of the term "synthesis" in LU ii.
See van Peursen, Levin, de Boer, Levinas, Pivcevic, Fink, and Kersten for readings which
explicitly or implicitly define Husserl's theory of evidence by this characterization.
See Schutz, Tymieniecka, Gurwitsch, Mohanty, Kersten, de Boer, Levinas, Null, Gutting,
Dougherty, and Mensch.
See Schutz, van Peursen, Levinas, Adorno, Gutting, Levin. Pietersma's account of evidence,
horizons, and optimal epistemic standpoints has influenced my own in this and other contexts.
This, of course, is not Husserl's term but Spinoza's. Spinoza knows "how easily we are
deceived when we confuse uni versals with individuals, and the entities of reason and abstractions with realities" (Ethics 2 Prop. XLIX S). His three "kinds of knowledge" sort out
ways of "framing universal ideas" (Ethics 2 XL S2). The first operates through sensation,
imagination, and recollection, and apprehends at best a mutilated image or an equivocal name
that passes for a representation. The second operates through generalization, and appre-


hends an "ens rationis" (something like Hume's "distinctio rationis" which Husserl rejects
in LU ii, ss. 36-37), an "abstraction", or a "common notion". The third (which cannot be
set in motion by the first) operates through "scientia intuitiva", and must, according to the
distinctions above, apprehend "realities" (Ethics 5 XXIX S): "This kind ofknowing advances
from an adequate idea of the formal essence of certain attributes of God to the adequate
knowledge of the essences of things". The goal is not knowledge of that which a plurality
of real individuals have in common, but knowledge of the realities themselves sub species
Now, we know that "from the necessity of the divine nature infinite things in infinite
ways must follow" (Ethics I XVI). To know the "essences of things" by scientia intuitiva
is to understand how they follow from the etemal attributes of that which is as such (substance, God, or Nature), i.e. to understand the chain of causes that makes them what they
are, and to understand that chain in such a way that the appeal to causes reaches a terminus
in a cause which is self-caused. And since "the order and connection of ideas is the same
as the order and connection of things" (Ethics 2 VII), the knowing takes the form of following through in thought the necessary and essential origin of the things themselves.
When I talk of interpretations of Husserl's theory of evidence as a theory of scientia
intuitiva, I have in mind a theory of reason as the thinking through of the ultimate explanatory order whereby the determinacy of real individuals is understood to "follow from" the
inherent attributes of what it means to be. Some of the readings which I have grouped
under this heading involve less challenging notions of reason, in particular notions of generalization (towards an ens rationis) and analyticity.




While LU ii describes the dynamic of synthetic interpretation that constitutes universals as ideal objects, Husserl's theory of parts and wholes in the
third Logical Investigation describes the dynamic that constitutes individual
objects. I will develop three of Husserl's descriptive categories which commentators rarely thematize, namely the categories of "passing over borders"
(bergehen), of "lifting off in relief" (abheben), and of the "demand for supplementation" (Ergnzungsbedrjtigkeit). Parts pass over into, and lift off from,
one another, so that when we see an object partially, those parts demand that
we see more; when we know it partially, those parts demand that we interpret it further; and when our interpretations are only partially unified, those
parts demand a closed unity of consciousness. On this reading, the ideal closure
of the whole operates within systems of openness: each part opens up the
demands for larger contexts, while each whole opens up the demand for internal
articulation. How, then, does each part of an object demand its own supplementation? What is the ground of the dynamic of passing over from part to
part? How is a thing more than it is?
The best known commentary on this material is Sokolowski's (1967-68)
essay on "The Logic of Parts and Wholes in Husserl's lnvestigations".
According to Sokolowski, the theory of parts and wholes concerns the constitution of objectivity within subjectivity. It describes the ways in which
parts are "blended" according to "rules" in such a way as to "structure given
regions of reality" (p. 537). Since the blending of parts is law-governed, it may
be understood scientifically, and hence objectively. All of this is true enough.
But Sokolowski gives the impression, which Husserl himself sometimes gives,
that rules are static, that parts are given, that scientific knowledge is immediate, that wholes are stable, and that blending is easy. When Sokolowski
does give a sense of the dynamic of parts and wholes, saying that "each part
... contains within itself a rule dictating the necessary progression of supplementations", he does not consider the way that all of these terms are
problematical. What is the status of the implicit "containment" of rules in
parts? What does "dictation" or "prescription" amount to, and what kind of
potentiality for self-development is being ascribed to parts and/or to the consciousness of parts? What is the force of "progression"? How does each part
fix the directions whereby it passes over into the next part? And what is the
character of the "supplement", of the movement towards completion, and of
the fact that each part has its own self-subsistence deferred until the whole
to which it belongs is completed? What are wholes and parts after all if they
are both defined by progressions of supplementation? In general, I will argue



that part-whole relations are problematical just at the points where interpretations demand that their limits be exceeded, which are also the points at which
acts of conciousness point beyond themselves towards a unified interpretation of a world of objects. Furthermore, I will argue that the progression
towards supplementations is equally a progression towards apriori categories that must have been prior. It is precisely because interpretative
consciousness needs the supplements that it can only find by referring backwards, that part-whole relations are objectified within consciousness on the
one hand, and that subjectivity itself is constituted on the other.
This chapter has four sections. First, I will show how even simple, independent parts have to be actively constituted as such: namely through
"negation" and through "shrivelling up". Second, I will discuss Husserl's
categories of "passing over borders" and "lifting off in relief", and I will
treat Husserl's accounts (frequently unnoticed in the secondary literature) of
independent but non-separable parts and separable but non-independent parts.
Third, I will discuss Husserl's argument that the concept of "whole" can be
replaced by the concept of founded relations among parts. On my reading,
the whole is for that reason an open-ended system driving itself towards
completion, on account of the parts' "needs for supplementation". Fourth, I
will treat skeptical problems with respect to whether parts and wholes are arbitrarily designated, given that parts and wholes are ultimately only targets of
uncompleted interpretative activities. I will show that Husserl's argument is
based on the very open-endedness of interpretative activity. Parts are objectified precisely when they are passed over, and wholes are objectified even
as interpretation reaches towards and away from their boundaries.



An object can have two sorts of parts. It can have "pieces" (Stck), or
"members", (Glied) (e.g. as a table has legs), into which it can be "de-pieced"
(Zerstckung) or "dismembered", (Zergliederung) when those parts are "laid
out alongside one another" (auseinanderliegen) (227). Altematively, an object
can have "interpenetrating" parts (Durchdringung, or "moments") (e.g. the
redness and the shape of a table), which cannot be cut apart from one another,
but which can be "disjoined" in thought (disjunkte) (227, 267). An object is
"complex" if it has parts that can in any sense be set off from one another,
and "simple" otherwise (246). A whole is something in which a multiplicity
of objects are "placed together" (zusammengesetzt) according to some combinatory law (miteinander verknpfen) (227). In certain passages, Husserl
defines wholes as the build-up of parts, but in others, he defines parts as
divisions introduced into a whole. What has to be explained first is how an
object is de-pieced into its simple or independent parts. What makes an indi-



vidual object potentially separate (trennbar) from a context in which it actually

happens to appear?
Husserl's first definitions identify "independent" (selbststndig, unabhngig)
objects with those that can be "separately presented" (getrennt vorstellbar, later
gesondert). Apart is non-independent and inseparable from other parts if it
is the case that whenever the other parts "given together" with it undergo "alteration" (Alterung), or "sublation", (Aufheben), so too does that part (230).
Such a part is "essentially" in the whole that it is in, and is "functionally dependent" on those other parts. It is "unable-to-exist-for-itself" (240). In contrast,
apart is independent and separable if it can be and be conceived separately
from those other parts. The technique for deciding a part's separability is based
on "fantasy". If one can imagine altering the "surrounding" objects without
altering the target object, then one will have conceived of that object as existing
separately, or "for itself" (231). The independence of an object is a function
of the activity of free alteration, and can be defined only within systems of
objects given together. When Husserl says that non-independence can be
defined positively but independence only negatively (241), this is not because
independent objects do not need to have their relations to other objects
accounted for, but is rather because the independence of an object is in a certain
way dependent on relations of dependency, even though the non-independent object negates such relations.
There are two explanations in the text of how objects can be varied independently: first, objects can be cut off from contexts; and second, a whole
contextual field can be "shrivelled up" into something that can be treated as
an independent unit.
(A) Variation as Negation

In one sense, no content can be "ripped out" from the "unity of consciousness". Even a piece of an object, like the head of a horse, is always presented
in some context or other, and its separability can only consist in its being "lifted
off" (abheben) from a "background" of contexts that appear "with" it (235).
For an object to be independent, then, its "references to other objects"
must be actively "negated" (zunichte werden, 238). But since it is impossible to imagine an object without any background relations, the only way
to negate all backgrounds is to test whether all the relations between that object
and others can undergo "infinitely free variation" (235). Variation is free if
it can be carried out by "arbitrary will" (236), or "without a rule" (236).
If an object is independent if it can be varied without a rule, then its contextfree status is something that has to be achieved. Its unrelatedness to other
objects is just as much an open relatedness to all other objects in all directions. But how is an unlimited freedom of variation exhibited? It is not enough
to find that some of an object's relations may be violated without altering
the object itself; somehow the object will have to be interpreted as an independent unit all of whose determinate relations to other objects can be negated.



(B) Variation as Shrivelling Up

Husserl's solution to the question of how certain objects are constituted as

in principle freely variable, in spite of the ties which they always in fact
have to a background field, uses the category of "shrivelling up" (zusammenschrmpfen). An object, for example a visible object, is exhibited as
independent if we can establish the " 'logical' possibility" that "our visual field
'could' shrivel up together [or "shrink down"] into this one content" (238).
Husserl does not go into detail, but we can speculate that at least two things
have to happen to a field if it is to be shrivelled up into an ideally independent object: its extern al relations have to be internalized, and its outer
boundaries have to be marked off from within. That is to say, first, one must
imagine that the surrounding visual field shrinks down, leaving nothing beyond
the borders of the target object. Second, one must imagine that the object itself,
even if internally complex, shrivels up as if into a single indivisible unit,
and fills its borders with an unbroken continuity. By constricting that which
is external to it, and filling out that which is internal to it, a subject recognizes an independent unit by its unviolated borders. This is how an object
that is always in fact embedded in contexts can be in potency separable: its
potency consists in shrivelling up.
To understand Husserl 's theory of parts and wholes, then, we have to understand what goes on at the borders between objects. We will begin, as Husserl
does, with examples drawn from visual fields, but we will find that the problematics of passing over borders can only be resolved using examples of
perceivable substances. Yet in all cases of individuation and contextualization, the constitution of parts and wholes proceeds by setting a certain field
off in relief, negating and cutting off associative connections, shrivelling
up a contextual field into more or less exact borders, and setting in motion
systems of alterations that distinguish the fields falling on either side of those



We are concerned with individuation in continuous contexts. On the one

hand, individuation and discontinuity is a problem. For if every object is
defined in relation to others, then what is the sense of the line drawn between
individuals and their surroundings? Why is the world not just one big object,
where the only proper individual is the single continuous whole? On the
other hand, contextualization and continuity is a problem. Why must certain
objects be combined with surrounding objects into wholes? Does Husserl have
an argument against the atomism which holds that every object is an independent unit whose combination with others is an arbitrary effect of the
mind? We will look at three cases from ss. 8 and 9 to show, against both
monism and atomism, that individuals and contexts are constituted together:



(a) a perceivable thing whose non-independent parts are not normally distinguished, (b) a sensible field whose parts are independent but not separated,
and (c) a perceivable thing whose parts are separable but not independent.
(A) A Perceivable Thing Whose Non-Independent Parts

Are Not Normally Distinguished

An experiencing subject can see a physical thing without "noticing" its colour
or its shape (242-43). Yet colour and shape are "moments" of the whole object.
The subject will notice them, i.e. will find them "lifted off [or set off] in relief"
or "stressed" or "taken out of context" (all translations of Abheben, 243-48
and throughout LU iii), whenever a certain apprehension of the whole gives
hirn cause to disjoin those parts from the whole. That is to say, individual
moments become noticeable when an otherwise indeterminate whole is
presented in such a way as to require internal articulations.
Husserl's description of the way a subject notices shape (or "spatial configuration") holds for the stressing of moments generally: "The moment of
spatial configuration ... , beside other moments of unity, grounds the inner
closure of the sensuous mass that intrudes itself (sich aufdrngenden) as unity"
(243). A subject notices the sensuous shape of an object when something about
the arrangement of sensuous parts forces hirn to look at the outer limits of
its sensuous parts taken as a whole. When the whole is closed off in a certain
way, the whole intrudes itself as a particular kind of unity whose ground is
lifted into prominence in the form of a particular part, in this case the configurative part.
There are two things to notice about this account. First is the double priority
of wholes and parts. A whole is constituted by the outer limits of its parts.
But on the other hand, it is only upon the closure of the whole that the
object's borders intrude into the body of the whole and let the parts be distinguished (243). The outer border's "penetration into" (aufdringen) the whole
makes possible the "interpenetration" (durchdringen) of the parts. Both parts
and wholes depend on a discontinuity at the border between one whole object
and another.
Second, we notice the role of separating-"off" (ab-) in the parts that are
"set in relief" (abheben). Indeed every dependent (abhngig) part "hangs
off" another. Every part is by nature prepared to be lifted off, provided the
right conditions are given. What we have to show now is how the parts themselves provide the conditions for holding on and lifting off.
(B) A Sensible Field Whose Parts Are Independent But Not Separated

On a surface which gradually shades from white to grey, there is no obvious

point at which one colour stops and the next begins. Each point "flows over"
or "passes over" into the next (berfliessen 243, bergehen 244, berspringen
246). Two sense contents are "blended" or "fused" when a subject experi-



ences them as a continuity without "boundaries" or "limits" (244). In what

sense, then, does a continuous field have parts? We have to ask both about
the "passing over" and about the divisibility of the undivided field.
When a subject sees a surface whose whiteness "continuously shades off"
(abschatten) into grey, he sees it as an extended field made up of divisible
segments, even if he is not able to see the points of difference. He experiences the segments as "self-supporting but not severed" (selbststndig . .. aber
nicht gesondert, 244), or in other words, independent but not separate: capableof-existing-for-themselves, but not separately-presented. The unseen points
of division are only potential, yet that potential is always presupposed. Even
in an all-white surface, where each part "passes over into itself" (244), the
situation is not that no boundaries can be picked out within the surface. Rather,
the limit of each point has already been "passed over" as soon as it is reached.
Similarly, in speaking of temporal continuity, Husserl says: "each now-consciousness necessarily and steadily passes over into one that has just been (eben
Gewesen)" (259). This is the force of the repeated ber: in looking over an
"undifferentiated unity", the subject covers the surface's distance (Abstand)
by experiencing each spatial or temporal moment as the supplement needed
by the previous moment's lack of boundary, or better, by the previous moment's
self-exceeding boundary. But what is the ground of the presupposition of
divisibility within continuous fields? Why is an ab always hidden in the
Husserl says that if the parts of an undifferentiated field are to be separable, something must introduce "discontinuous" shapes and durations into
the field (244). Of course, divisions will always be to some extent implicit,
since on any field the smallest points can never actually be distinguished.
Yet all implicit boundaries must in some sense already crisscross the field,
since it is only "'at' a spatial or temporal boundary that one visual quality
springs over into another" (246). The idea is not that continuity is achieved
without any internal boundaries, or even just that boundaries have the status
of always already having been exceeded. The idea is that all the sensible
content along the continuous stretch has the status of overflowing, of exceeding
its own determinate location on the field and directing the glance to move
onwards. The very implicitness of discontinuous points is itself an accomplishment that the experiencing subject carries out every time his glance
keeps on moving. Boundaries do not just persist as a permanent possibility
in spite of not being noticed; they persist because the experiencing subject
passes over them without noticing. Points and borders are fixed only after their
limits have been exceeded. Discontinuity is what results when a unity refers
back to its parts; and the independent point is just the backward-referent of
a continuous field of passings-over.
But now if we press the question of how and why every sensible part must
pass over its own limits into another, and in general why parts need supplementations, we will at this point not have an answer. For while each
sense-content is visually inseparable from those on all sides of its borders,



it is nevertheless an independent part of the field. Each sense-content could

be displaced, rearranged, or eliminated. To show why parts must pass over into
one another, we will need a case not of parts that are independent but not
separable, but of parts that are separable but not independent. For this sort
of whole-part relation, we have to look not to sense-experience, but to objective intentionality.
(C) A Perceivable Thing Whose Parts Are Separable

But Not Independent

Husserl attributes his descriptions of the sensible field's "sharp" and "dull"
(stumpfen) "points and corners" (245) to Stumpf, but he says that Stumpf 's
dullness must be sharpened by widening the category of discontinuity into
one of cognitive distance in general, so that it will apply not only to senseobjects but to all objects.
The relevant paragraph reads as follows:
The concretum of sensible intuition owes its separation (Abtrennung) to the distance between
its bordering moments, but the setting in relief of the whole concretum occurs earlier than [the
setting in relief] of the moments of its content that are distanced from one another. This depends
on the peculiarly intimate blending of the different moments of the concretum, namely their
reciprocal 'presentation', which reveals itself in the reciprocal dependence of alteration and
negation. This blending is not a blurring into one another in the manner of the continuous or
in some other manner that sublates al1 severing (Sonderung); but it is al1 the same a sort of
peculiarly intimate belonging-together, which necessarily and at one stroke brings the totalcomplex of the mutual1y interpenetrating moments into relief, as soon as only one moment creates,
through discontinuity, the pre-conditions for it (247-48).

Here we are dealing with concrete perceivable, physical substances. The

passage says that the concretum is set in relief as a whole because its parts
are "blended". Its parts necessarily belong together, but not in a way that
"sublates all severing". In other words, its parts are separable but not independent. The object has discontinuous parts, but as soon as one such part is
set in relief, it provides the sufficient condition for setting in relief the whole
complex. Husserl does not pursue the matter, but we can speculate on why
he says that the parts of a spatial field are independent but not separable, while
the parts of a spatial thing are separable but not independent.
The difference rests on the sorts of wholes involved, and the ways these
wholes can support discontinuities without sacrificing their unity. A physical
substance incorporates a number of systems of continuity, and so can incorporate discontinuities in some systems without sacrificing its unity as a whole.
Certain parts can be severed from the systems they operate in, and can be
perceived distinctly and treated separately even though they could not exist
independent of the whole physical thing. (Husserl conducts similar analyses
under the headings of "relative independence" (s. 13) and of pieces embedded
in causal chains (s. 25. I will use a typical Husserlian example to name
three levels of non-independently separable parts of a thing.



(a) The non-independent separability of the parts of the colour of a roof:

a physical thing, of which colour is only one moment, can support discontinuities in the colour of its surface (as a roof can have adjacent red and green
tiles) just because such a break does not interrupt, for example, the thing's
spatial or material contintuity. The parts of its colour are separable from one
another (in that the parts can be viewed or painted one at a time), but are
not independent parts of the thing (in that the removal of a coloured piece
of the thing would interrupt the thing's physical continuity).
(b) The non-independent separability of a roof's moment of colour from
its moment of shape: shape and colour are separable in that one can work
on changing a roof's shape without working on its colour. Yet they are not
independent, since an expanded roof will have a greater surface that needs
colouring. On ce shape and colour are both interpreted as moments of the
same object, any alteration within each moment "brings the total-complex of
the mutually interpenetrating moments into relief".
(c) The non-independent separability of a wall and its house: the discontinuities that distinguish parts of a whole also distinguish that whole from
the objects that surround it. A substance stands out from its environment as
an autonomous entity. The wall of a house is in itself a paradigmatically
independent piece of the whole. But in so far as four walls and a roof together
are set off from the environment, the wall is a non-independent part of the
object interpreted as a house. A wall, like the head of a horse, can be taken
off, but the rest of the thing will fall down: a single alteration sets the whole
complex off in relief. Similarly, as soon as the last wall is erected, the whole
building is protected; if one part of the horse moves, the whole horse is alive:
the single part, working separately but not independently, is the pre-condition that sets a whole system of parts apart from the rest of the world as an
objective whole intended on its own account.
The relation of non-independent separability allows continuity and discontinuity to complement one another. Parts require separate treatment in order
that a concrete whole may hold its parts together as non-independent parts
of a single thing. This is the dynamic of self-propelling interpretation that opens
up a partial object into the demand for an interpretation of the whole. Each
viewing of a coloured patch on a roof demands that the colour of the next patch
be viewed too; the perception of the roof 's colour demands that its shape
be viewed too; an interpretation of the roof requires that the building be
interpreted too. Each part, precisely by its capacity to disengage itself from
its immediate background, has the character of pointing beyond itself, (a)
to the part which that part needs in order to be passed over, (b) to the
part which the thing needs in order to be an autonomous object, and (c)
to the part which consciousness needs in order to think through a unified
interpretation. Parts hang off one another because systems of parts "demand




An object has boundaries if each of its parts passes over into, and sets in relief,
the other parts of that object, but not the parts of other objects. Each part
exhibits a "demand/need to be supplemented/completed" by a certain limited
range of other parts (usually ErgnzungsbedrJtigkeit; Ergnzungserjorderung
at 278). A non-independent object "demands the supplementation" of other
objects both in order to "exist" and in order to be "what it is" (249); it can
"subsist only in combinations" (251) which are "prescribed" by "laws" and
"patterns" (249). The production of a non-independent object must also be
the production of its context.
A whole is what results when a part's demands for supplementation are met.
To justify talk of wholes, we have to explain how the flow of supplementation can in principle be closed off. In s. 14, Husserl articulates the requirement
of closure by redefining wholes through the concept of "foundation", wh ich
he says is equivalent to the concepts of the "demand for supplementation",
"necessary combination", and "non-independence" (261). If A requires B as
a supplement, then A is founded on B, and must be combined with B. A
whole is what results when a founded object's demand for supplementation
is "satisfied" or "stopped" or "silenced" (gestillt, 261) by its "founding" object.
When an object demands supplementation, it sets in motion aseries of syntheses, and in the temporal "flow of consciousness", these demands make so
much cognitive noise that consciousness cannot rest until it has thought through
the relations that that object has with others. Of course, a stream of consciousness never stops making "continuous demands on future consciousness"
(261). But even though these demands for supplementation are never fully
satisfied, the flow of consciousness keeps going on just because provisional
satisfactions are continually being reached and overreached.
I am going to use Husserl's descriptions of those wholes whose parts are
"stretched out" (Streckenaddition, 274), in order to show how non-independent parts determine, and expand into, their own contexts.
Husserl uses two distinctions to characterize relations of foundedness. First,
foundation may be either "reciprocal" or "reversible" (as in the mutual dependence of colour and shape) or else "one-sided" (as in the foundation of
judgments on perceptions) (265).
Second, foundation may be either "immediate" or "mediate" (265). A combination of two parts is "mediate" or "indirect" if the two parts must first be
combined with intermediate parts in order to be combined with one another
(265). Two mediately combined points on a line, for example, are connected
only by intermediaries, and so are "distanced" (275, 268). Unlike immediately combined parts, they share no common boundaries. Yet a combination
is no less necessary for being indirect. On the contrary, the necessity to
pass over from part to part is carried over step by step along a chain of
The dominating logical feature of Husserl 's laws of wholes and parts is



that of transitivity: If A is combined with B and B with C, then A is mediately combined with C (273, see also Proposition 3, 262). In the production
of a straight line, for example, there is a continuous adding of "next" points.
Each point becomes apart of the whole line by being indirect1y in contact with
the earlier line-segments, and by extending in the same direction, and hence
by following the same rule of combination that was at work within those earlier
segments. The same transitivity is exhibited in temporal streams, spatial configurations, qualitative continua, causal chains, historical progressions, in
horizons, environments, and all sorts of contexts, in the syntheses of epistemic fulfilment, which may stretch into many directions at once, and in general
in all unities of "enchainment" produced "through directed stretches" (274).
Each part must have a next part, a "neighbour" (274). Ordering the neighbour-hood in a determinate way counts as "fixing the 'direction of progress' "
(275). As each part comes into being, its outer limit determines the direction
for the "next" part, and once that direction is fixed, the whole complex of parts
extends out beyond its actual limits towards its supplements. And in the
orderings of numbers, times, spaces, causes, and interpretations, as soon as the
direction is fixed for the next moment, i.e. as so on as it is determined how
the chain can be added to, then the next moment has already been passed
over into: the next number has been named, the time has passed, a new pI ace
is mapped, a sufficient reason has actualized an effect, and a reasoned direction of interpretation has been pushed to its logical conclusion.
An individual object, constituted through the mediated distances among
its parts, fixes its own contexts by opening up the contextual space for its
neighbours to occupy. We have seen that a combination of parts constitutes
itself as an individual complex by setting itself off as a whole against
its surroundings. But it is also the case that the individual fixes its limits by
incorporating parts of its surroundings into its own self (by moving or
But now if individuals are defined by the ways they take on new parts
and pass over the limits between themselves and their surroundings, then
how is it that the boundaries which we use to individuate objects are not
arbitrary? And if the boundaries between a whole and its environment might
be arbitrary, then how is it that the boundaries that individuate parts within
the whole are not also arbitrary?

When an object is divided into parts, what is the ground for the ordering of
that division, and what guarantee is there that the parts constructed in the
activity of dividing genuinely belong to the object itself?
The problem for the objective reality of wholes and parts arises because



of the possibility of unlimited extensions of contexts. Every object can function

along with any other object in some sort of expanded whole, and can have parts
distinguished within it according to some rule of division. Wh at criterion
will count a group of objects as an objective whole rather than just an experiencing subject's arbitrary collection of items? And what will count a singular
part as an objective unit rather than just a composite which some subject has
arbitrarily chosen not to divide into still finer parts? How does any part control
the proliferation of supplements that define its sense? If the demand for supplementation is too open-ended, then combinations of parts will vary without
a law, interpretations will run free and meanings will be indeterminate; if
the demand for supplementation is too determinate, then combinations of parts
will never vary, and interpretative progress will degenerate into an etemal
reiteration of the same. In short, if demands for supplementation either disperse
or dry up, then there will be no dynamic of part-whole interpretation.
(A) The Objectivity of Wholes

In addition to the psychologistic argument for the arbitrariness of composition,

there is also a skeptical argument that challenges the principle of unity. The
argument that Husserl explicitly entertains is that the notion of "unity" leads
to an "endless regress of parts": If U is the "moment of unity that binds A
and B together", then there must be a further moment that binds U, A, and
B together, and so on (280). Husserl's reply is that the unity of an object is
not to be construed as a "piece" of the object (280) or even as a distinct abstract
"moment" of it (281), but only as a relation of foundedness among parts.
Wholeness, unity, or individuality (280, 276) is no more than the joint "inclusion" of parts "circumspanned" by their mutual demands for supplementation
(275). There is no regress of principles needed to hold parts together, since
the parts themselves already hold onto one another.
But even so, the substitution of wholes by founded inclusions can only
be a reply to skepticism if the notion of inclusion is strong enough. If "inclusion" (Inbegriff, 282) were nothing but a "mere being-together" (282), then
a whole would still be nothing but a subjective concept (Begriff), a product
of "free arbitrary will" (283).
What lies behind this skeptical rejoinder is the idea that two objects might
"lie beside one another" and yet still "not be bound" objectively (278). But
for Husserl, the very articulation of such a position points up its absurdity. The
hypothesis of juxtaposed but unbound objects already assurnes that the objects
exist side-by-side, and therefore already assurnes some spatial or other ordering
that belongs to the things themselves. So if it is impossible to explain what
sort of unity could unify essentially unconnected objects, it is because there
can be no such thing as essentially unconnected yet co-existing objects (279).
Husserl 's reply to skepticism regarding the objectivity of wholes is that the
objectivity of wholes is grounded in the ordering of parts.
On my reading, Husserl's theory of parts and wholes is among other things



designed to provide a phenomenological account of the processes responsible for the synthetic unity of consciousness in general. This approach has
been criticized by Seebohm (1973).1 Seebohm denies that Husserl is interested in the totalization of consciousness, and argues that Husserl avoids having
to compete with Hegelian phenomenology's "philosophy of concrete totality"
(p. 20). If Seebohm is right to say that Husserl is interested only in "relative"
and never in "absolute" wholes (p. 23), it would follow that Husserl would
also avoid the deconstructive issue of the indefinite deferral of totalized
Seebohm 's central argument is that wholes for Husserl are objects of consciousness only in the sense that consciousness can refer to complex objects
founded on simple presentations (p. 24). As such, a "concrete whole" is a
sensible object individuated relative to a context (p. 23). One can perceive
complex objects, and one can abstract from complex objects to formal categories of wholes and parts (p. 24), but one cannot presuppose that either the
world or consciousness makes up an absolute whole over and above the relative
wholes that are individuated in concrete experience (pp. 21, 30). I do not argue
with the claims that for Husserl, no given whole is necessary, and that wholes
are given relative to determinate interpretative activities. However, I will argue
that there is a sense in which totality is presupposed notwithstanding. It
is precisely the relativity of wholes in contexts, and the open-endedness
of interpretation that that entails, that entitles the phenomenologist to speak
of intentional unities that are as yet unachieved, and in the limiting case,
of a concrete totality towards which all interpretations pass over into one
(B) The Objectivity of Parts

In some cases, the principles ordering the division of an object into parts is
"evident", as for example when an object is divided into smaller and smaller
portions, or into levels of specific difference: a melody, for example, has
tones for parts, and each tone has volume as one of its parts, so volume is
an immediate part of the tone and a mediate part of the melody (271). But a
problem of ordered division emerges for "added stretches" , where it does
not matter which divisions are undertaken first. A ten-inch line may, on one
plan of division, first be divided into five-inch segments and then each segment
into five; or it may be directly divided into one-inch segments. On one ordering
the one-inch parts are mediate parts of the whole, and on the other they are
immediate. The limit at which the division into parts is silenced seems arbitrary; the order of division seems arbitrary; the boundaries between subordinate
complexes within the whole seem arbitrary; the isolation of "simples" seems
arbitrary; ultimately the self-subsistence of an "independent" part seems arbitrary; and in the end, onee again the autonomy of an ordered whole seems
Husserl has two ways of responding. First, certain kinds of wholes do allow



arbitrary orderings of division (270). The very fact that the ordering of division
is undetermined itself determines the nature of the divisibility of linear objects.
But at a deeper level, Husserl wants to ground the distinction between mediacy
and immediacy in principle, and not in "some psychologically compulsive
preference for a certain order of division" (271). Even in the case of addedstretches, where the order of division is arbitrary, Husserl insists that "the
physical whole genuinely has the parts first inspected; and these again no
less genuinely have the parts distinguished in them, which are therefore mediate
parts in relation to the whole; and so on for every step of the ongoing making
of parts" (270).
Husserl provides what he calls a "phenomenological" justification for the
principle of ordered mediation: "The particularizing grasp (or 'severing grasp',
Sondererfassung) of the mediate part presupposes the particularizing lifting off
in relief (Sonderabhebung) of the immediate part" (271). What does Husserl
mean when he says that the mediate presupposes the immediate? He means
that no matter what sort of mediate distance there is between any two parts,
the mere fact of their co-existence prescribes aspace in between the two, in
which other parts may be found. It is not that the immediate must be grasped
before the mediate is grasped, but that the mediate must be grasped as needing
the supplementation of the immediate. In the case of the stretched line, each
partial segment presupposes that there is intermediate ground to be covered
between the end of the segment and the end of the whole. The immediate is
able to play the role of setting directions and distances without necessarily
being grasped as an explicit object of consciousness. In short: it is the mediate
that is "grasped" (Sondererfassung) - the immediate is not grasped, but rather
"set in relief" (Sonderabhebung). It is in this sense that part-whole relations
belong not just to the phenomenology of grasping, but to the logic of objects.
Consciousness can supplement its graspings of mediate parts only by presupposing and objectifying prior immediacies which it never knew it had
been working with and which it may never actually grasp.
The notion of setting in relief is thus meant to solve the problem of the
ordering of parts, but in a surprising way. Earlier, the image of "passing
over" suggested that parts activate aseries of directed supplementations
which expand outwards from a single starting-point and fill out a mediated
space; so that the outer limits of that space fix the whole. Here, the description suggests parts that sUITound, and contract into, an indeterminate centre;
so that the filling-in of the centre fixes the whole. Instead of mediated objects
being built up out of immediate distances, the object from the start covers a
mediated distance. The grounding of ordered division and of real parts is
conducted from the outside in. If there are indivisible parts built into complex
objects, they are set in relief only as that from which the whole complex has
always already passed over. The indivisible point need never be grasped as
long as it is targetted as a required supplement by the backward reference of
something already passed-over. Particularizing setting-in-relief thus prescribes
ordered division in two ways. First, since the model of locating implicit parts



is a model of filling in the distance between two points already apprehended,

the question of the order of division never arises in a purely open-ended way.
A given part has a "next" neighbour just because the next again after that is
also already given in advance.
Second, and more concretely, an object is divisible into whatever parts it
needs to have in order to keep its outer boundaries intact. An object with a
spatial configuration has all the spatial points it needs in order to keep its figure
from collapsing; an object with extension has all the coloured fields it needs
in order to keep its extension from vanishing; a physical object has all the
three-dimensional sides it needs in order to keep its environment from displacing it; an organism has all the powers it needs in order to keep foreign
bodies from invading it, along with all the openings it needs in order to eat
and to be invaded with useful parasites; a conscious subject has all the synthetic acts of consciousness she needs in order to prevent her interpretations
from becoming schizophrenic, along with all the receptive faculties she needs
to accept communications; and so on. The ordered division of an object into
parts is prescribed by the needs that a given type of object has to preserve
its individuality and its contexts.
Husserl's arguments for the objectivity of wholes and parts thus involve a
certain rejection of wholes and parts. Wholes are objectively real just because
a whole is nothing more than the parts' demands for mutual supplementation. Parts are objectively real just because the ultimate indivisible parts which
compose objects are no thing more than the backward-referents of complexes
which are already mediated. Hence if the term "whoie" were to mean "closed
unity" and "part" were to mean "indivisible unit", then whole and part would
at best be hypothetical targets of combination and division; but if "whoie"
means "system of reciprocal supplementations" and "part" means "presupposed
content lying in-between borders", then whole and part are always in the
process of being objectified in the passings-over and settings-in-relief carried
out in the self-propelling interpretation of individuals-in-context.
What, then, is the phenomenological import of Husserl 's defence of a formal
science of parts and wholes? We have seen that Husserl's first examples of
part-whole structures are drawn from the parts and wholes of immanent experiences, but that problems with individuation and contextualization arise which
can only be resolved when the theory of parts and wholes is extended to
cover all objects in general. Husserl says that descriptions of the parts and
wholes in experience have a "wider" application in formal logic and in an
"ontology of nature" (291). If we press the metaphor of "widening" application, we imagine a narrower sphere passing over its limits, establishing both
its context and its borders. But while experiential part-whole relations "carry
over" into formal-ontological part-whole relations (261), the resulting categorial science is so constituted as to no longer "need" (bedarf) any "backward
reference" (Rckbeziehung) to actual experience (236, also 249). It is for this
reason that logical laws are perceived to be true apriori: not because they
are supremely obvious, but because all experience progresses on the basis of



certain structures which logic in turn analyses as a region prior to a11 experience. But fina11y, if the dynamic of parts and wholes renders individual
objects independent of sense-experience and categories independent of individuals, the same dynamic continues to refer back to the conscious subject
for whom parts and wholes first appear. For we have seen that all part-whole
objectification presupposes that systems of intermediate parts have already
been passed over and have already been interpreted, even if they have never
in fact appeared in the stream of consciousness. Experience refers back to
its own pure possibilities, to its own a priority. But whereas the return to
laws objectifies laws in logical investigation, the return to consciousness has
the sense of areturn to a part that is always immediately present but need never
be grasped. Consciousness, like the centre of an object whose parts are never
entirely filled in except as an ideal of completed supplementation - or like
anything that is pre-supposed (voraus-setzen), i.e. which has the status of
having been present "before" just because it is afterwards posited as having
been there a11 along - is the apriori centre of objective parts and wholes
just because it is the sort of centre that is always absent.
The dynamic of parts and wholes thus has many results: a priority just as
much as empirical determinacy, subjectivity as much as objectivity, continuity as weIl as discontinuity, individuation and contextualization, presence
and absence - a11 in the drive towards interpretative synthesis, a drive prope11ed by open-ended parts that continua11y fix boundaries even as they exceed

Commentary along similar Iines to an earlier version of this chapter was offered by Angela
Schneider O'Connell.






Husserl's account of syncategorematic terms in bis fourth Logical Investigation

has two motives. On the one hand, Husserl has a straightforward interest in
the medieval logical problem of whether words like "and" and "all" have
meaning in isolation, or alternatively only supplement meaningful words
such as nouns and verbs. But more important, Husserl uses this problem to
articulate certain features of meaning and synthesis.
Syncategorematic terms seem not to name things, properties or events,
but rather to connect terms that do name. They seem therefore to play the
role of representing in linguistic expressions the syntheses that combine
meanings. That is, words like "and", "because", or "forward to" represent
in ordinary sentences the synthetic relations essential for intentional consciousness: respectively, the combination of experiences, the dependency of
experiences on objective conditions, the anticipatory sense of intentions, and
so on. How, then, can syncategorematic terms both express synthetic connections and yet not refer to anything?
In general, we will find that Husserl defines categorematic terms as
those words that express independent meanings by naming or describing
things, qualities, actions, events, facts, and situations. Syncategorematic
terms express non-independent meanings, since they do not name or describe,
but do perform connective functions in the context of larger naming and
describing phrases; they "need the supplementation" of other meanings. (In
the sixth Investigation (LU 11 11 131, also 159, 167), Husserl develops
a parallel problem with the copula "is", which again seems not to name
anything but only to connect subject and predicate.) While the fourth
Investigation describes "incomplete", "abbreviated", "gap-filled", and "unclosed" meanings, it also promises to ground an ars combinatoria, a science
of laws governing the combination of fragments of meaning into complete,
senseful expressions.
The immediate problem is whether syncategorematic terms have a kind
of indirect ability to name or mean or represent synthetic activity, or alternatively only perform the "function" of combining the meanings of other
terms. Husserl's solution, to state it at the outset, is that syncategorematic
terms, though inherently incomplete and non-referring, do acquire a kind of
meaning of their own, precisely in their functioning. The very limitations on
the possibility of representing synthetic connections in linguistic expressions
testifies to the way in which those synthetic connections are always at work




in advance of all expression. Syncategorematic terms synthesize meanings

not by naming those syntheses but by activating them.
I will argue that Husserl's solution is that syncategorematic terms render
explicit the synthetic relations already potentially present within categorematic
names and descriptions. That is, I will argue that for Husserl all meanings have
to be open-ended synthesizing acts always in the midst of playing out
their implicit possibilities. I will therefore show how Husserlian analysis
challenges the very distinction, which Husserl himself never challenges,
between categorematic terms that allegedly have nominal sense in isolation
and syncategorematic terms that allegedly invoke synthetic connections without
naming anything. For on my reading, the acts that name are already constructing syntheses, and synthetic forms are always embedded in the
interpretation of identifiable and hence nameable objects. And for that matter,
my reading also challenges the distinction between the experiential contents
to-be-synthesized and the synthetic apriori forms according to which they
would be synthesized. For the reason why synthetic connectedness is never
strictly named is that synthetic activity always has the status of having already
been carried out in advance of its articulation, or to say it in other words,
that the structures of synthesis are apriori.
In the course of my analysis, I will look at three accounts of syncategorematic terms from which Husserl either does, or would, distinguish his own.
First, Husserl rejects the psychologistic and nominalist view that syncategorematic terms do not combine categorematic terms according to any objective
unity of meaning, but only signal that the speaking subject is collecting in a
certain way a multiplicity of co-existing ideas in his mind. Second, while
Husserl argues for the objective, non-psychological function of syncategorematic terms, he would also reject the idea that syncategorematic terms provide
purely mathematical mIes for combining terms. Husserl does say that a syncategorematic term regulates the "exchange" of categorematic terms (319f.),
so that, for example, the term "and" functions properly as long as it combines
two terms with "nominal material". This talk is reminiscent of structuralist linguistics, transformational-grammar, sentential calculus, or even of accounts
that would be given by Artificial Intelligence theorists. I will argue, however,
that Husserl does not appeal primarily to structured exchange but to the way
that the synthetic unity of interpretative consciousness unfolds without its
principles ever being named. Third, I will compare Husserl's account of
syncategorematic terms with Freud's account of the representation of logical
connectives in dreams (in The Interpretation 0/ Dreams, published in 1900,
the same year Husserl published the Logical Investigations). Freud is concerned
with the fact that a dream, which can only present a sequence of images,
and cannot present a disjunction or a causal power or a negation, may nevertheless have to be interpreted as a dream about an alternative, a causal relation,
or a non-existent thing. Freud appeals to connecting thoughts that underlie
perceptual consciousness, whereas Husserl appeals to lived syntheses that
sustain interpreted connections. We will see what difference this makes.



This chapter is divided into four sections, roughly following the fourth
Investigation, and injecting passages from the sixth. The first section (drawn
primarily from LU ii 295-307) introduces the problem of incomplete meanings
and the problem of the meaning of syncategorematic terms in isolation. The
second section (LU ii 308-16) discusses Husserl's treatment of a wider range
of "unclosed" meanings. The third section (LU ii 317-25) discusses Husserl's
account of syncategorematic terms as the regulators of possible exchanges
and combinations of meanings. I will argue here that combinatory laws are
given in advance of actual combinations in the form of the openness of interpretation. The fourth section (LU ii 326-40) treats Husserl's notion of the
ars combinatoria as the unfolding of the "Idea of meaning" into laws of synthesis and as the "pure construction" of synthetic combinations.



Oclcham (Summa Logicae 1:4) defines syncategorematic terms as terms which,

in contrast to categorematic terms, do not have "definite and determinate
signification". They do not "stand for" anything. Quantifying terms like "all"
and "every", and by analogy conjunctive and prepositional terms, do have a
kind of significance, but only because they contribute to the way other terms
do stand for things. Husserl's solution in the end is similar, but his concern
is with the way the consciousness of objects activates and is activated by
synthetic relations, and so his account of syncategorematica is guided by
the way fragmentary meanings contribute to the unity of interpretations of
Sections 1-5 of the fourth Investigation define syncategorematica in three
ways: as terms embedded in "complex" expressions, as terms that are "incomplete" in their ability to present objects, and as terms that perform the
"function" of "looking forwards to supplementation".
An expression is "complex", or "set together" (zusammengesetzte, 295ff.)
if its parts are expressions with meanings of their own. A sentence has a
complex meaning because the words that compose it have meaning in isolation. The division of expressions cannot proceed to infinity, since there are
smallest units of meaningful expressions, namely words, prefixes, etc.
The isolation of the parts of a meaningful expression is to be carried out
at the level of meaning. An expression could alternatively be divided at the
level of syntactical grammar, i.e. into letters. But syntaciical complexity is
not equivalent to complexity in meaning (298, 305): first, because the multiplicity of letters does not give a word multiple meanings; second, because a
compound lexeme (like "heartburn") may have a simple meaning; third,
because aprefix that would appear only as a fragment of a word in a lexicon
may have an autonomous meaning. Similarly, an expression could be divided
by dividing its referents. But again, a complexity of meant objects is not a
complexity of meaning: for example, the complex expression "simple object"



refers to simple objects, while the simple expressions "man" and "one" refer
to complex objects (296-97).
However, there are problem cases for Husserl's distinction between complex
and simple meaning, and the problem leads into the issue of syncategorematic terms. Husserl has not at this point defined "simple meaning" other
than as the limiting unit in the division of complex meanings into part-expressions. But the idea is that a meaning would be simple if it presented an object
"directly" rather than obliquely through descriptions, perspectival accounts,
or connotations. On this account, proper names should have simple meaning
par excellence. But the simplicity of the meaning of a proper name is already
problematic. For the meaning of a name seems to contain implicitly a complex
set of meanings, and to conceal a plurality of connotations, presupposed
predications, definite descriptions, etc. Furthermore, this implicit complexity
is always available to the name user: it is always the case that "forthcoming
explication and conceptual interpretation can be determinately drawn out
from [the name]" (298). Indeed the possibility of drawing out implicit descriptive meanings is an essential condition for the name-user's ability to know
which object it names. The name's meaning depends on there being "possibilities of more nearly determining" (298) that meaning. And these possibilities
are correlated with the "essential possibilities of fulfilling" its meaning (299),
that is, with knowing when the named object is actually present. The meaning
of a proper name, then, far from having paradigmatically simple meaning,
begins to look like a paradigm whole-complex, a unity always divisible into
parts which are sometimes "indefinite", "one-sided", or "incomplete", but
are at the same time always prescribed by determinate directions of division
(299,312). Why should Husserl insist that a name whose meaning can always
be explicated further, nevertheless has a simple meaning? He argues that
when a name is explicated, the resulting meaning is a "new" one, and not
one that had already been "set in relief" (Abhebung ) as a "real" (reel) part
of the name. But why should he insist that the meaning-content of the name
is simple?
Husserl's solution has two sides. First, a meaning can be called simple as
long as the possibilities of further explication remain only possibilities, and
do not in fact add part-expressions to the naming expression. Second (though
this has to be coaxed out of the text), a meaning is simple just because it is
that from which possibilities may be drawn out, and because it is that under
which a full range of descriptive explications may be re-unified. The name
is simple in the sense that it has its own meaning (and can make the explicated meanings its own), even while it is complex in the sense that it
"necessarily presupposes a wider intentional background of content" (299).
Background meanings are necessary for the meaning of the name, but are
extern al to the simplicity of that meaning.
If we now look at the form in which the "intentional background of content"
itself is expressed, we discover the motivation for introducing the problematic of syncategorematic terms. A name directly refers to an object in a



"one-rayed" manner, and takes the simple form "S"; in contrast, a descriptive or attributive phrase refers to an object in a "multi-rayed" manner, and
takes the complex form "S is a", or "The S which is a (and band c ... )",
etc. (300-301). The multiplicity of explicated meanings, when drawn out from
the name, requires a complex expression which exhibits that multi-rayed
compIexity by me ans of part-expressions like "which is" and "and". If a syncategorematic, non-naming phrase like "which is" marks the difference between
the simple and the explicated meaning, then we can say that syncategorematica
revive the possible but concealed meanings that the simplicity of names
Syncategorematica become an explicit issue in section 4, where Husserl asks
whether every word in a "word-complex" has a meaning. Husserl sides against
Bolzano's view that every word has some "designation", and holds the common
view that syncategorematic or "synsemantic" terms have "no meaning by themselves but acquire it in conjunction with other meanings" (302). With respect
to having meaning, syncategorematica are "incompIete" or "without full
standing" (unvollstndige), and categorematica are "complete", "full" (312) or
"closed". For Husserl, the issue behind the distinction between categorematic
and syncategorematic terms is that of the distinction between complete and
incomplete expressions, rather than the distinction between names and nonnames. Hence whereas others include in the class of categorematic expressions
only names, Husserl includes all self-enclosed expressions, including verbs,
adjectives, entire descriptive sentences, etc. (303).
A word is syncategorematic, then, if it fails on its own to express any
compIete meaning. Yet such a word is not without meaning; it is not merely
something akin to a punctuation mark. One can find four arguments from
the text to this effect. First, a word like "and" means the "same" thing whenever
it is used (168). Second, we can meaningfully ask whether two uses of a
word like "because" have the same sense (306). Third, whiIe naturallanguages
differ in all sorts of ways, every language must have some way of capturing
"the" form of conjunction, etc. (338-9). Fourth, and most important, syncategorematic terms arise in language out of its "need" to express "a plurality of
mutually belonging part-presentations and dependent presentational forms,
within an independent, closed, presentational unity" (304). Syncategorematic
terms convey the directions according to which non-independent objects need
the supplementation of, and pass over into, one another. In this way, they
"mirror" (305) relations of objective dependency. Consequently, when Husserl
asks whether syncategorematic terms have meaning, he is also asking how
language represents a non-independent object's incompleteness, its need for
supplementation, the complexity concealed in its individuality, the nonpresence of its implicit parts, the non-closure of its progress towards further
determination, and in general the synthetic combination of its internal and
external differentiations.
Thus, syncategorematic terms have meaning, and can be "understood even
standing in isolation" (306), just because they "play the same meaning-



function" whenever they appear (307). And when they do appear in context,
they "are interpreted as carriers of detenninate moments of meaning-content,
moments which look forward to a certain supplementation which, though it
may be indetenninate materially, is fonnally detennined together with the given
content, and is lawfully circumscribed thereby" (306). Two questions are made
emphatic by these passages. First, what is the relation between the meaning
and the function of syncategorematic terms? Second, in what sense do syncategorematic tenns require the supplementation of categorematic tenns in a
complex expression, and in what sense do they satisfy the needs that categorematic language has to mirror ontological relations of dependency?
When a syncategorematic expression like the connective "and" or like the
possessive" 's" occurs in a sentence, it follows a noun already given, and it
"looks forward" to the supplementation of a noun to follow. The choice of
the supplementary noun is "circumscribed" by the meaning of the noun (and
indeed of the whole descriptive context) already given. The syncategorematic
term thus requires the supplementation of the noun to follow; in order
to limit the possible completions to meaningful ones, it also requires the
supplementation of the noun already given.
Now, a group of letters, like "fi " , also "requires the supplementation"
(307) of other letters before and after it in order to make a complete word.
But Husserl argues that unlike the meaning-fragment '''s'', the word-fragment
"fi" does not express part of a thought but at best acts as a "possible stimulation to thought", and does not have in its various contexts "a common element
of meaning" (307). The word "and", in contrast, in addition to its "function"
of allowing one categorematic meaning to be conjoined with another, has some
sort of meaning that is its own.
Yet it seems that the only way we can talk about the meaning of a syncategorematic term is to talk about its function. In section 5, Husserl has
two ways of so talking, one negative and one positive.
In negative terms, the function of syncategorematica involves the way a
multiplicity of descriptive meanings (e.g. "The author of Bruno and the friend
of Hegei"), whose conjunction requires a syncategorematic term, may be
"fused" into a nominal term (i.e. "Schelling") which discharges the syncategorematic tenn (305). The syncategorematic tenn "and" seems on the one hand
to be a mere intermediary in the process of fusing together an interpretative
unity. But the price of the discharge of syncategorematic terms would be the
removal of the background of complexity necessarily presupposed by every
simple meaning. The introduction of "and" after a nominal expression on
the one hand interrupts the simple unity of the expression; on the other hand,
it sets in motion an expansion of the interpretation of the nominal tenn, an
expansion which begins the process of bringing a multiplicity together into
one unified context.
In positive terms, the function of syncategorematica involves the way
sentences employing them look forward to completion. The syncategorematic
tenn is without reference by itself but has a meaning of its own once in context,



where it requires the supplementation of the remainder of a sentence. But its

function is precisely to provide a kind of contextual ordering within which
categorematic meanings can be combined with one another. The expression
"and" lets two objects be interpreted together, the expression "'s" lets the
appropriative character of the preceding term be interpreted together with
the dependency of the following term, etc. The function of the syncategorematic term is thus to allow categorematic terms to supplement ne
another. As non-independent meanings, syncategorematica on the one hand
need supplementation and on the other hand are the very terms that permit

In section 6, Husserl distinguishes three kinds of incomplete expressions:

"abnormally foreshortened" (verkrzte), "gap-holding" (lckenhafte), and
"unclosed" expressions. I begin by describing and giving an example of each.
An expression is "foreshortened" or "abbreviated" if it lacks some syntactical element but nevertheless makes its full meaning clear to any attentive
listener. A listener will be able to take an expression like "Me Tarzan You
Jane" and interpret it as though its verbs had been supplied and its pronouns
corrected, provided that he is habituated to interpreting that particular abbreviation, and/or that he is familiar with the context in which that type of
abbreviation occurs, and/or that the normal expansion of that sort of expression is one that he has the facility to perform and anticipate. The expression's
discursive context and the listener's cognitive expectations combine to ensure
that an abbreviated expression, while needing syntactical supplementation, does
not lack anY parts of its meaning. It contains all the necessary clues for its own
An expression is "gap-holding" if it presents a string of disjointed words
in a way that could lead to a variety of interpretations, depending on which
other part-expressions fill the gaps. Hence the Parmenidean fragment " ... boys
on the right, girls on the left ... " may involve a theory about the womb, or
may be a metaphor for the duplicity of doxa, or it may be a part of a larger
Pythagorean table of opposites. The given expression does by itself begin to
determine ways of filling in the gaps, and contextualization does contribute
to this "nearer determination", but the meaning of the expression, and not
just its syntax, ultimately requires supplementations which are "foreign" to
it and not even implicitly specified by it.
The same absence of the specification of supplementations is present in
"relatively closed" but "non-independent" expressions, such as "Iarger than
a house". The expression "house" has an independent meaning on its own,
but the expression into which it is buHt is non-independent. As a predicative
expression, such a phrase does not lack anything that it ought to have, either



by way of syntax or of meaning, but the expression is not complete until it

is specified what is larger than a house. Again, a range of possible supplements
is suggested by the combination of the meanings of "house" and "Iarger
than", but the supplement is not fixed. Without expansion, the expression
fails to name or describe anything, though it does express adetermination
according to which some object could be described.
What makes this discussion problematical is not so much the problem of
whether the expressions enumerated are genuinely unclosed, as the problem
of whether any other expressions could be in an interesting sense closed.
Part of what makes the distinction between unclosed and closed expressions
immediately plausible is that the types of unclosed expressions that Husserl
lists are not sentences. But Husserl does not argue the point on that basis,
but wants rather to show that the "need for supplementation" whereby the
sentence fragment "points to a closure of speech" (309) is grounded on an
incompleteness in the expression's meaning-content. Yet it is not clear that any
single sentence, grammatically closed or not, ought to count as the complete
expression of any meaning. It is not clear, for example, that the expression
"I am Tarzan and you are Jane" would, any more than its abbreviated version,
be a meaningful description of identifiable personalities outside the context
of a certain cultural background. Both proper names and demonstrative terms
require some combination of background acquaintances and descriptions, and
may even require a certain style of nominalization and narrative. Similarly,
it is not clear that even a fuH senten ce with no syntactical gaps, once tom
out of the context of a larger text and a web of discourse, could express its
own meaning-content. Parmenides' much translated fragment "For the same
is both to think and to be", bears witness to the problem of deciding what
sorts of textual supplements complete a sentence's meaning. And again, the
meaning of a closed sentence like "A polar bear is larger than a house" reminds
us that the meaning of the term "house" was all along in need of supplementary
completion as to type. It is not clear what sort of context-free, independent
meaning can be had by a word that normally names townhouses but in some
contexts names igloos. Indeed, since any situation in the world has endless
determinations, and each expression can describe only parts of it, the closure
of meaning ought to be explicated in terms of the expansion of interpretation that traces out the ways in which meanings pass over into one another,
rather than in terms of anything like the coordination of one nominal term with
one predicative term through one copulative term. Why, then, should the
satisfaction of a syncategorematic term's need for supplementation in a single
syntactically complete senten ce be the sort of thing that Husserl would count
as the expression of a complete meaning?
We know that Husserl's general strategy for individuating meanings is in
terms of the circumscription of intuitive fulfilments. A naming or descriptive expression would thus express a relatively independent meaning in
a relatively closed way provided that there is a relatively fixed range
of intuitions which present the meant thing itself. Hence the expression



"house" expresses a complete meaning to the extent that a range of houserevealing intuitions can be circumscribed, even if no one of those intuitions
is necessary for some house or other being present, and even if no group of
intuitions will ever reveal the house completely. Similarly, the expression
"A bear is larger than a house" expresses a complete meaning if intuitions
exhibiting such astate of affairs can be circumscribed, even if the ambiguity
in the expression as to the type of house requires circumscribing several disjunctive ranges of possible fulfiHing intuitions. But the defective expressions
enumerated, and in particular purely syncategorematic expressions, do not
suggest any ranges of fulfiHing intuitions: we know how to intuitively fulfil
the meaning of the expression "a house and a tree", but not the expression
"and" (315, also section 42).
But two problems remain. First, there is the problem of fixing a meaning
for syncategorematic terms once it is supposed that all meanings are fixed
by ranges of possible meaning-fulfilments and that syncategorematic terms
have no proper meaning-fulfilments. Second, we have not yet shown why
complete sentences mirror complete meanings.
Husserl's solution to the problem of the meaning of syncategorematic
terms is that syncategorematic terms can have their meanings fulfilled by
intuitive experience, but only "indirectly" or in a "founded" way. Hence the
meaning of "and" is indirect1y fulfilled by those intuitions that direct1y fulfil
the meaning of expressions like "A and B" or "a house and a tree", that is,
expressions where the need for syntactic supplementation of the word "and"
is satisfied by determinate categorical completions. In general, the word
"and" has meaning out of contexts just because it indirectly retains the meaning
it had in contexts. So when an experiencing subject grasps the meaning of
"and" in isolation, it must either be the case that an "indirect, verbally unexpressed thought of a certain familiar conjunction" gives the expression meaning
for hirn, or else that "vague, unverbalized presentations of things help us to
form a thought of the type A and B" (316). In the first case, the meaning of
"and" is founded on a reference backward to already experienced conjunctions,
in the second case on a reference forward to possible constructions of combinations; in the first case, the founded experience conjoins familiar, likely
sensible, individual concreta, in the second, familiar symbolic abstractions.
In both cases, the isolated syncategorematic term gains its meaning when it
"has undergone a completion of meaning in some context or other, so that
the syncategorematic term itself is an incomplete expression of this momentarilly activated, completed meaning" (316). The understanding of "and" is
given only "with" or "in" the understanding of determinate experienced
collections (LU 11 11 160, 169). The copula works the same way: the intuitive fulfilment of the meaning of "is" is given only through a reflective turn
(LU 11 11 178) based on the intuitions that fulfil determinate copulative judgments (LU I 11 169). The fulfilment of universal, structural, synthetic, and
"forming" meanings occurs in the course of the intuitions of appropriately
"formed" material (LU 11 11 143). It is on the foundation of determinate intu-



itions that syncategorematic terms achieve the "new phenomenological

character" of being able in isolation to represent forms of connection (LU 11
11 154, 168).
There are two dangers. First, Husserl wants to say that a syncategorematic
term has meaning out of context only when supplemented by some actual
familiar or constructable context, that is, by some "momentarily lived meaning"
which is "inwardly carried out" by the experiencing subject (316). But he wants
to avoid the psychologistic principle that logical concepts are about and/or
are confirmed in empirical intuitions.
The second problem is that of how sensible intuitions are sufficient to found
syncategorematic meanings. This problem finds articulation in Freud's account
of logical connectives in dreams. Freud holds that a dream consists of a
sequence of images manifesting "dream-work" carried out in the unconscious.
Freud's concem is that the unconscious thought lying behind the dream may
involve the thought of a disjunction of events, the absence or negation of an
event, the causal dependence of one event on another, etc., but that the dream's
mere sequence of images is not capable of representing such connections. If
the dream-content is limited to the sequence of pictured events, then it will
not be able to exhibit the difference between events that are conjoined and
events that are disjoined, or the difference between an event that succeeds
another and one that follows from another, or the difference between an event
posited as existing and one posited as non-existing, and it would not be able
to perform a synthesis of identification so as to display that two dreamcharacters with different appearances are both in fact images of the same
intended person. Furthermore, Freud argues that even if the words "or",
"because", "not", or "is the same as" (respectively) were spoken aloud within
the dream, the syncategorematic terms would thereby only be mentioned in the
dream-content and would not necessarily be used by the thought underlying
the dream to connect the dream 's represented meanings in the ways mentioned.
The problem for Freud is how one can interpret the logical connectives that
a dream-thought actually does have, given that the dream-images can never
exhibit those connectives. Or in Husserlian terms, the problem is how syncategorematic meanings can be founded on intuitions.
The key to the hermeneutic of Freud's solution is that clues to the logical
connectives will be, in Husserl 's terms, indicated but not expressed in the
dream. Hence for example, assuming as Freud does that dreams always express
wish-fulfilment, the presence of a certain feared object indicates that the dream
must be expressing the non-existence of that object. Or again, assuming as
Freud does that Oedipal hatred cannot be expressed openly, the presence of
two distinct hated male objects in one dream may indicate that the dream is
expressing an identity of both objects with the figure of the father. Freud
uses the very limitations on the dream 's emotional capacity to represent
complete thoughts in order to interpret the dream as expressing a meaning
that includes logical connectives. For Freud, the thought that incorporates
logical connectives is quite separate from and prior to the experienced



sequences of images. Yet since clues for its interpretation are given in the
dream, the interpretation of logically connected meanings is founded on those
Now, Freud's project of interpreting the logical connectives in dreams
does not require a generalized treatment of logical connectives in waking
intuition, nor does it require a treatment of the meaning of syncategorematic
terms in isolation. But Freud's discussion does point to the untenability of a
psychologistic construal of Husserl's claim that the meaning of syncategorematic terms in isolation are founded on syntheses "inwardly carried out".
For the psychologist, the connective "or" gets its meaning from the immediate experience a subject has when he intuits two objects disjoined from
one another; for Freud, disjunction cannot be represented at the level of
intuition, so the interpretation of intuitions as presenting disjunctions must
appeal to a level of thought that precedes intuition. Now, Husserl too says
that the meaning of syncategorematic terms in isolation is founded on inwardlycarried-out syntheses of concrete intuitions. But I will argue that what Husserl
means by this is that every intuitive situation makes possible the synthetic connections represented by syncategorematic terms. Husserl does not mean that
syncategorematic terms name or picture anything that is present in intuition.
The word "and" has meaning not because the meaning-user remembers or
artificially creates a conjunction on which to pin the isolated word "and",
but because there are always situations whose interpretation requires conceiving the situated things in their combination and separation, their relative
dependence and mutual exclusion, etc. No one feature of a sensible intuition
fulfils the meaning of a syncategorematic term. But in the permanent pos sibilities of combining intuitions, those meanings are indirectly given intuitive
Finally, the founded meaning of syncategorematic terms explains why
Husserl holds that sentences express paradigmatically complete meanings. A
sentence may not be closed with respect to its interpretation or even with
respect to the circumscription of the range of intuitions that fulfil its meaning.
But it does exhibit, through the satisfaction of the needs for supplementation
inherent in its supplementary terms, the completion of some synthetic connection. And in addition to representing some synthetic completion, a full
sentence exhibits a readiness to be joined, by means of a connecting term,
to another meaning which is complete in the same sense. Of course, incomplete meanings can be combined by syncategorematic terms (e.g. "Iarger or
smaller than a house") just as weIl as complete meanings can be (e.g. "x is
larger than a house or y is larger than a house"). For that matter, a complete
sentence may not express a single unified meaning, as when "and" conjoins
mutually irrelevant sentences. But the general point is that a syntactically
complete sentence opens the unfolding of aseries of meaning-combinations,
expresses by means of words like "is ..." and "and ..." a certain amount
of the various meanings' needs for mutual supplementation, and closes off
at least the formal demands of those needs for supplementation. A sentence



is the normal nexus of meaning-combination, and the completion of a sentence

normally expresses a synthetic unity that has been thought through (even if
it also demands that other synthetic unities be thought through). In a wellformed sentence, the formal gramm ar ensures that the meanings combined with
one another be thought through according to some form of unity.

In sections 10 and 11, Husserl begins to turn the discussion of non-independent meanings towards the notion of an ars combinatoria that would proscribe
senseless combinations of meanings. In the present section, I will discuss
the relevance for a theory of synthesis of two features of the ars combinatoria which arise in connection with syncategorematic meanings: the first
concerns the "exchange" of categorematic material prescribed by laws of
combination; the second concerns restrictions on the semantic contexts in
which syncategorematic meanings may be exchanged with categorematic
All meanings, whether independent or non-independent, "stand under a
priori laws which rule their combination into new meanings" (317).
"Combinatory forms" set limits to the type and quantity of combinations which
any given meaning may undergo. The laws of combination must therefore
on the one hand be essential, generic, or categorial rather than "arbitrary" (318),
or ad hoc, and must on the other hand "unfold" in ways that are not indifferent to the meanings to be combined. Such laws are apriori in that their
necessity is given "before" (318) combinations can produce meaningful results.
Their results count as singular (318) meaning-complexes, not merely "heaps
of meaning".
The expression "This tree is green" thus combines "tree" and "green" under
the combinatory form "This S is P" (319). Any number of terms may likewise
be combined with "green" under the same form, as long as the term substituting for S has the appropriate "nominal material" (319). As long as the
same kind of material is "freely exchanged" (Vertauschung, 319) for "tree"
(e.g. "paint", or even "moon"), the resulting combination will have a "unified
meaning", even though it may be "false, dumb, or laughable" (319). A form
for combining meanings is thus a form all of whose correct substitutioninstances count as unified meanings. The ars combinatoria is an art of
"exchange" (319), "replacement" (320), or "substitution" (320).
I will show first how syncategorematic meanings carry in expressions the
force of those rules for the combination of meanings, and second how Husserl
prevents the art of exchange from degenerating into a structuralist theory of
A syncategorematic term like "and" functions properly as long as a categorematic term is placed on either side of it. "This S is P" is a form of



combination properly applied as 10ng as substitutions of terms in the "s"

and "P" places do not violate the meaning of the "This ... is ... " form. It
seems, then, that pronouns, copulas, and connectives are the very part-expressions that represent formal rules of combination and provide the structure of
expression whereby formally similar terms may be substituted for one another
without loss of the expression 's meaningfulness. And even more important than
the way in which syncategorematic terms mirror at the level of expression
that which laws of combination prescribe at the level of meaning, is the way
in which they convey the combinations of intuitions needed to fulfil the
meaning of the expression as a whole. The term "and" in the expression "A
and B", for example, prescribes that intuitions fulfilling the meaning of "A"
and intuitions fulfilling the meaning of "B" would have to be combined in
the manner of co-existence in order for the expression as a whole to be intuitively fulfilled; the term "if" prescribes that fulfilling intuitions be combined
in the manner of conditional dependency, etc. In general, syncategorematic
terms express laws of combination both in the way they prescribe combinations of meaning and in the way they prescribe ranges of complex intuitive
The second problem, concerning laws regulating exchange, arises in several
ways. Just as it was difficult to assign meanings to syncategorematic terms
over and above their functions, it is here difficult to assign meaning to a
combinatory form over and above its capacity to have substitution-instances.
Husserl's account sounds like a structuralist one. His comparison of combinatory forms with arithmetical rules of "transformation" (324) suggests a
recursive transformational gramm ar in the style of Chomsky (see Edie, 1972);
his reluctance to say that syncategorematic terms have meaning over and above
the way categorematic terms are placed on either side suggests a theory where
meanings are defined only by their differences from one another, in the structuralist style of de Saussure; and his talk of the formal exchange of terms
regardless of their thought-content sounds like a theory of mechanical combinations of meaning, in the style of AI theorists (see Dreyfus, 1982, and
for that matter, Derrida, 1967).
But when Husserl defines a combinatory form as a rule governing the
exchange of its substitution-instances, his point is not to define laws of combination in terms of mechanical rule-structures, but is rather to define
combinable meanings in terms of the rules by wh ich their internal and external
relations may be thought through. A law for the combination of meaning
does not treat meanings as pre-formed units that are simply plugged into forms,
but rather as synthetic unities that can be opened according to rules for their
possible combination, and closed when those possibilities are exhausted. The
reason terms are mutually exchangeable in certain syntactic contexts is that
they refer to the sorts of things that can be thought through in the same ways.
This is why Husserl wants to say that a term is exchangeable for "s" in the
combinatory form "This S is P" only if that term has nominal material: for
only meanings that refer to substantial objects can be thought through in



terms of the qualitative predicates that belong together with them, and so on
for exchanges under other combinatory forms. Bence mIes of exchange cannot
be construed as entirely structural, or as indifferent to the thought-content of
the exchangeable meanings, since these mIes are grounded in the demands
of the exchangeable meaning-contents to be thought through in combination
with supplementary meanings in order for intentional objects to be made
present to consciousness. The proper use of a combinatory form closes off a
sequence of word-meanings into an independent sentence-meaning by thinking
a meaning through its synthetic context.
Syncategorematic terms thus exhibit laws of combination and exchange that
are grounded in meanings themselves. Psychologistic, psychoanalytic, and
structuralist theories of syncategorematic terms mistakenly locate the ground
of the meaning of syncategorematic terms in subjective activity, preconscious thoughts, or mechanical mIes, respectively. In adding levels of interpretative processing to meanings themselves in order to account for the
combination of meanings, they assume that meanings in themselves do not
pass over into one another. Busserl 's ars combinatoria, in contrast, accounts
for syncategorematic meanings solely by unpacking the combinatory force
of the categorematic meanings themselves.
But now when we say that syncategorematic terms carry the load of conveying in expressions the mIes for the combination of categorematic meanings,
we find once again the problem of the meaning of the syncategorematic terms
themselves. For the word "and" does not name the mle of collection or conjunction; a syncategorematic meaning is not just a categorematic meaning with
a peculiar sort of referent. And this leads to a second feature of the ars combinatoria, namely that a syncategorematic term cannot be exchanged for a
categorematic term to produce an expression like "This tree is and" (320, 326).
There are of course other terms besides syncategorematic terms wh ich
also do not have nominal content and thus also could not replace "s" in
"This S is P". But adjectival terms (e.g. "green"), verbal terms ("walks"),
etc., may undergo "transformation" or "modification" (321, 324) and take
on a nominal sense ("greenness", "the act of walking") which allows them
to become proper subjects of predication. "And" cannot be transformed into
"the and" or "andness".
Now, Busserl does allow one way in which syncategorematic terms can
be nominalized, namely in expressions like " 'And' is a syncategorematic
word". But used as a name, the word "and" does not name a universal or
categorial object, as does the nominalized term "greenness", but rather "names
itself" (322). The word '''and' " can be used as a noun, but the word "and"
cannot be. Busserl goes so far as to say that there must accordingly be two
senses of predication: properties (e.g. "non-independent") predicated of
nominalized syncategorematic terms "modify" (modifizieren) those terms qua
expressions or acts of consciousness, whereas properties (e.g. "green") predicated of all other names "determine" (determinieren) the named objects (323).
So while Busserl does not follow the medieval nominalists in identifying



universals with capacities in the intellect, he does come c10se to giving syncategorematic meanings that status. Husserl appropriates Kant's dictum that
"Being is no real predicate" (LU 11 11 137, also 204-5): for when "is" undergoes nominalizing transformation to "being", it names a mode of expression,
but names nothing in any real state of affairs.
In sum, the price of nominalizing the syncategorematic term "and" is that
the new term" 'and' " names the syncategorematic term and does not in a direct
way name the connective relation which the syncategorematic term "and" in
an indirect way expresses in "A and B". For all that has been said about how
the meaning of "and" is founded on actually experienced collections, or at least
on the ideal possibility of collectibility inherent in the actual experience of any
object, it turns out nevertheless that the possibility of collection is not named
by the nominalization of the term that expresses the actuality of particular
collections. It seems one more time that that which "and" expresses may be
functionally activated, but may not be represented. What is the significance
of the fact that "andness" is not the name for anything, and is not equivalent
to nouns such as "collection" or "conjunction"?
One could read Husserl's restriction against nominalizing syncategorematic meanings simply as the claim that "and" has a second-order rather
than a first-order meaning, that is, that "and" refers not to something real
but to a way of referring to something real (namely the way of referring to
it in conjunction with something else). But the point is stronger. For one feature
of the nominalization of syncategorematic terms is that once nominalized as
categorematic terms they are themselves explicated in sentences that include
syncategorematic terms. In the proposition "The word 'and' sometimes
expresses the collection of items and sometimes the conjunction of propositions", or the proposition" 'is' is a term whose meaning is supplementary",
the functions of the syncategorematic terms qua syncategorematic are still
regulating the possibility of unpacking and interpreting the meanings of the
terms "'and' " and "'is' " which have been "modified" to categorematic form.
One cannot discharge all the syncategorematic meaning present in a complex
expression in the same way that we can replace all demonstrative terms in
an expression with objective descriptions (LU i). Or in other words, complex
expressions can never be built up entirely of categorematic expressions; it must
always be the case that some of the meaning of a complex expression only
be given "with" (syn-) the categorematic meaning. In short, a sentence can
name combinatory laws, but whatever it names, it is already activating, presupposing, or unfolding according to such laws. This is the reason why the
theory of syncategorematic meanings is not just a theory of second-order
meanings: the interesting feature of syncategorematic terms is not that one
can formalize the laws of combination which they in some way embody, but
that their connective force is always already at work in the possibility of all
While words like "collection" and "disjunction" do name "synthetic objectforms" (LU 11 11 159) like the "and-form" (LU 11 11 192) or the "or-form",



the words "and" and "or" do not name forms; rather, their function is to
open up possibilities of further determination in the words preceding
them. A name, like "collection", could not perform this latter function.
Syncategorematic terms are therefore not understood any better either when
they are themselves nominalized or when other terms are introduced to name
the rules which syncategorematica activate. They are understood only when
the sense of their syncategorematicity is understood.
The syncategorematic term has a kind of meaning even when tom out of
the contexts in which it connects categorematic terms, then, in a rather surprising way. It gets its meaning not by a reflection that abstracts from
combinations already experienced, but because demands for combination are
given in advance of any particular complex experience. The word "and" is
guaranteed in advance always to have the same meaning no matter what
nominal meanings replace "A" and "B" in the combinatory form "A and B",
just because every nameable object refers back to the possibility of such
combination apriori. Syncategorematic terms have objective, and not just
psychological, meaning just because they activate pre-determined demands for
thinking objects through. The syntheses that regulate combination and interpretation operate, in Begel's words, behind the back of consciousness - not
in Freud's sense of operating at a concealed level of consciousness, but in
the sense that consciousness is always already engaged in living through
combinatory activity.


In sections 12-14, Busserl returns to the issue with which the Investigation
began, namely of the ars combinatoria as a science for "avoiding" "nonsense"
and "countersense" (Unsinn and Widersinn) (333). The final section of this
chapter treats three points in the relation between the ars combinatoria, the
meaning of syncategorematic terms, and the concept of synthesis. First, it introduces two ways in which Busserl explicitly talks of "synthesis" in the fourth
Investigation. Second, it asks whether and how the particular rules that Busserl
suggests for an ars combinatoria contribute to a phenomenological account
of synthesis in general. Busserl says that particular Iaws for an ars combinatoria follow from the very "Idea of meaning" and that particular
combinations in turn follow from these laws by "pure construction". With
the help of this latter notion, I will turn to seetion 57 of the sixth Investigation,
concerning the relation between founded syncategorematic meaning and synthetic interpretation.
Busserl says that the "universal grammar conceived by seventeenth and
eighteenth century rationalists" was correct in principle, but unanalysed in
foundation. Busserl envisages a science of the laws for the combination of
meanings which, by preventing the construction of meaningless compounds,
will be a fortiori a science of the essential "structures" of meaning (328).
But whereas traditional theories of judgment cite such patterns of grammar



without an understanding of the "primitive forms of meaning" and the "primitive forms of complication and modification", the task of a logical theory of
meanings is to fix the forms of independent and non-independent meanings
in principle (329-30). Indeed, Husserl supposes that the science of laws of
combination has a "systematic dependence" on a "small number of primitive
forms" of combination which are in turn subject to a "fixed typic" of "categorial structures" (333). The Leibnizian model for an ars combinatoria requires
as a principle of intelligibility that its basic terms and self-evident axioms
be small in number. But for Husserl, what is most important is that the patterns
of judgment-forms be "built apriori into the general Idea (generellen Idee)
of meaning" (333). The regularity of the use of syncategorematic terms is
only of relevance to logic in so far as it mirrors the way in which meanings
belong together qua meanings.
Husserl uses the term "synthesis" in two ways in the course of this account
of the ars combinatoria. First, he describes a senseless expression like "And
is green" as one where "we have only an indirect presentation, aiming at the
synthesis of part-meanings into a single meaning", but where that aim cannot
be met (327). No syntheses of part-meanings would satisfy a nonsensical
expression's aim at meaningfulness. So when a complex expression does
have sense, it is because there is a possible law-ordered synthesis which can
combine the meanings of each of its component terms into a singular interpretation of those meanings in a joint context.
Second, Husserl says that laws of combination are determined by "forms
of synthesis" (328). His examples are drawn from mathematics (e.g. the form
"a + b", 328) and from the logic of judgments (e.g. "M and N", 330). A
form of synthesis is an ordering of meanings such that any proper substitution for the variable terms produces a complex expression whose simple
terms are guaranteed to be combined in a meaningful way.
The syntheses expressed by the proper use of syncategorematic terms may
thus be characterized in two ways. The second emphasizes the formal structures whose constant re-application to the ongoing production of expressions
produces intelligible interpretations of meanings in combination. The first
emphasizes the fixing of meanings and contexts in the satisfaction of each partmeaning's demands for supplementation.
If syncategorematic terms express the synthetic force of acts of consciousness, then the particular syncategorematic meanings, laws of combination, and "forms of synthesis" that Husserl uses as examples ought to be
important for a construal of his concept of synthesis in general. 1 will not go
into detail on such speculations here, but 1 will point in the direction of such
an analysis.
We have already seen some discussion of the role of "and", "or", '''s'',
and "that is" in expressing the constitution of unity, difference, dependency,
and identity respectively. Husserl's examples of "forms of synthesis" drawn
from mathematics include "a + b" "a X b" and "ab" and their "'inverse'
operations" "a - b", "alb", and "b..J~" (328).' It would ~o doubt be too much



to posit a one-to-one correspondence between mathematical connectives and

structures of synthesis in general, or to associate quantitative relations with
qualitative forms of combination and separability, repetition and differentiation, self-relatedness and orderedness, etc. On the other hand, quantitative rules
of combination do in part presuppose and in part supply the conditions for
qualitative syntheses of identification, as the tradition of employing an ars
combinatoria as a methodology for metaphysics assumes. And it does seem
significant that laws have corresponding "inversions" - not that combinations of interpretations are always reversible, but rather that combinability
and separability, comparison and distinction, etc., are pairs of functions, both
of which are made possible by the same synthetic acts.
As examples of "analytic" laws of syntactical forms that ought to have counterparts in the "more interesting" region of "synthetic" laws (which govern not
just the form but the material of combinable meanings), Husserl names laws
of Modus Ponens and Double Negation (334). As examples of laws for the
grammatical combination of terms, Husserl envisages laws to stipulate that
if "M" and "N" are meaningful propositions, then "If M then N", "M, that
is to say, N", etc., are meaningful propositions as weIl (330-1). Again, formal
laws of inference and syntax should indicate how functions of consequentiality,
conjunction, nominalization, etc., regulate all possibilities of synthetic interpretation in general. But beyond such generalizations, what grounds can there
be for carrying over relations drawn from the rules of syntax, inference, and
mathematics, into the region of a phenomenology of synthetic meaning in
There are commentators who think that no speculative phenomenological
conclusions based on Husserl's laws for an ars combinatoria are either possible
or desirable, and who interpret Husserl's account of syncategorematic meanings
as primarily a theory of logical connectives in a sentential calculus. Tugendhat
(1977), for example, criticises Husserl's account of syncategorematic terms for
failing to recognize that the meaning of logical connectives like "and" and "or"
is exhausted by the way they determine the truth conditions for compound
sentences. Smith and McIntyre (1982) think that this is just what Husserl
does analyse, and they argue further that his account of meaning in terms of
ranges of possible intuitions is consistent with, if not aversion of, a possibleworlds semantics. Other commentators follow Tugendhat in claiming that
syncategorematic terms explain the generation of compound terms from atomic
terms, but do not take his route, based on the extensional theory of meaning
advocated by Davidson (1984) and others, according to which the meaning
of an expression is identical to the class of real states of affairs wh ich would
satisfy the expression 's truth-conditions. These commentators appeal to an
intentional theory of meaning, and ground the compounding of meanings in
the operation of grammatical deep-structures (Edie, 1972), which generate
objectifying expressions (Welton, 1983). However, the second route, like the
first, treats the syncategorematica as rules that generate objectifying meaning
without having any objective meaning of their own. Indeed Bar-Rillel (1957)



argues that Husserl's account of logical connectives might have been worthy
of being called a predecessor to Carnap's if only Husserl had restricted his
account to the realm of "grammatical categories", and had left aside the "superfIuous ... labyrinth" of the "realm of meanings" (p. 365). Mohanty (1964),
on the other hand, argues that the attempt to assign syncategorematic terms
an objective meaning of their "own" is at the he art of Husserl's enterprise.
Some commentators who interpret Husserl to ground the objective meaning
of syncategorematica, appeal to intersubjective communication. Hence both
Eley (1969) and Tugendhat hirnself (1977) ground "A and B", for example,
in events where a speaker has to prove two things about the world to a skeptical listener. But Eley also argues, with some explicit and some implicit
reference to Hegel (Phenomenology of Spirit, ch. 1) that lying behind every
objectifying act are underlying connective syntheses that have already taken
place. Hence for Eley, every "This" is already based on experiences compounded over time, space, sense-content, and interpretative variation, and
consequently is already a "This and This and This ... , etc." Eley thus interprets Husserl's theory of syncategorematic terms as a theory of the terms
that make explicit the "schemata" of synthetic acts which had already been
presupposed, though not named, du ring the perfonnances of consciousness that
constitute any and all meanings, both simple and complex.
The move from the logic of connectives to the phenomenology of
synthetic apriori schemata of interpretative consciousness seems possible only
if we take Husserl seriously when he says that laws of combination are "subject
to" a "fixed typic" which is in turn "built apriori into the general Idea of
meaning", and if we take it to be possible to reconstruct this "building" in
phenomenological science. In some sense, we have to be able to derive the
diverse laws of combination from an analysis of the very concept of meaning.
If some such analysis is possible, then syncategorematic terms like "and",
"if ... then", and "that is" would provide, to use Kantian vocabulary, "transcendental clues" for the nature of the synthetic unity of apperception, but
would then require a "transcendental deduction" of the laws of synthetic
unity themselves.
What Husserl says is that the possibility of combining meanings is subject
to categorial structures, and because those structures are built into the Idea
of meaning, actual combinations of interpretations are "led forth [or "derived"]
from them through pure construction" (durch reine Konstruktion hergeleitet,
333). At first glance, "construction" here seems to mean something like "application", so that combinations of meanings would be generated by the
mechanical application of structures to given tenns. But the fact that the ground
of this construction is said in turn to be built into the Idea of meaning requires
a different construal of the passage. It requires that we think of the Idea of
meaning as the ground whereby any act of consciousness that aims at a unified
meaning is constructed into a pattern that satisfies certain fonnal demands.
Pure construction of synthetic interpretation is not so much a matter of applying
fonns as building towards forms.



In the final analysis, syncategorematic terms do not just signal the presence
of synthetic activity at the level of hidden deep structures, hidden unconscious thoughts, or hidden pre-interpreted sense-data; they rather articulate
the unfolding of the unity of consciousness. Syncategorematic terms function
in the pure construction of meaningful combination, just because the demands
for synthetic unity are already given apriori with the possibility of all determinate consciousness; and the laws for synthetic combination are given in
advance just because the possibility of meaning demands that synthetic unity
of interpretation and experience be that at which all expression and all consciousness aims. So when Husserl argues that combinations of meanings are
"built apriori into the general Idea of meaning", the sense is that in the construction of any given meaning, the possibilities of combining that meaning
with others in a unified thought-context is constructed along with it.
Does Husserl want to say that the meaning of "and", or even that the combinatory law of conjunction, is derivable from the very Idea of meaning? I will
conclude this chapter by looking at a passage from section 57 of the sixth
Investigation wh ich relates the meaning of syncategorematic terms to the origin
of synthetic activity in every act of meaning.
The general sense of this passage is that it is in the lived carrying-out of
synthesizing acts that categorial forms and laws of combination are bound
up with synthesized, identifiable objects. The immediate issue concems the
intuitive fulfilment of founded meanings:
The complete synthetic intuition [of categorial forms, laws of combination, and the meanings
of syncategorematic terms] therefore arises ... in so far as the psychic content wh ich binds
the founding acts itself is interpreted as the objective unity of the founded objects, as their relation
of identity, of part to whole, etc." (LU II II 177).

The intuitive fulfilment of the meaning of a syncategorematic term is not

provided by any special sensation of connectedness, but arises when the
contents of consciousness are interpreted as the making present of objective
unities. The activity of forming a combinatory experience gives rise to the
possibility of thinking a law of combination on its own, and hence is itself
that from which specific laws of combination are "derived". Synthetic forms
are not named by syncategorematic terms, then, just because syncategorematic
terms are the expressions that make explicit the need for meanings to be
built up into synthetic forms. Syncategorematic terms paradoxically articulate both the need to build up to synthetic forms and the fact that synthetic
forms have always already been articulated.
Synthetic form is prior to complex meaning just because it is that which
the experiential act of putting together a complex meaning leads towards.
The synthetic form is therefore that to which the meanings of syncategorematic terms refers back just because synthetic form is that to which the
meanings of syncategorematic terms refer forward. The reason why synthetic
activity itself is never represented in the combinatory unity of experience
is that synthetic activity is the performance of the forward and backward



references that are responsible for the putting together of every single meaning
whatsoever. And the reason why forms of synthesis are never themselves
represented in the combinatory unity of experience is that synthetic form
always already lies behind the possibility of meaningful experience and
because it always lies ahead in the form of that which is demanded. The
synthetic meaning of syncategorematic terms is founded on ac tu al interpretative experience just because it is also founding for it; synthetic meaning
is the result of interpretation just because it is also that which underlies
synthetic interpretation. The lived syntheses which sustain the interpretation
of objects as unities are characterized both as that which supports founded
meanings and as that which generates an ongoing combination of mutually
supplementary contents passing over into one another in unified and unifying




My interest in LU v focuses on Husserl 's descriptive category of "referring

backward". Husserl says that names refer back to judgments, but he also
says that judgments refer back to names, and in the course of this analysis,
he says a number of important things about the nature of backward reference generaIly and about the status of those parts of an act of consciousness
which exist only as the targets of backward reference. In chapters 1-4, we have
considered other issues on which Husserl describes a mutual priority of two
correlative terms, namely the mutual priorities of occasional and objective
expressions, of universal and particular objects, of parts and wholes, and of
syncategorematic and categorematic terms. In LU v, the relative priority in
question is that between names and judgments, but Husserl's claims are general
enough to allow us to speak of backward reference as such and the problem
of the "implicit".
Husserl introduces the problem of names and judgments as part of an
account of whether all acts of consciousness are founded on "underlying
presentations". I will therefore say a few words about the relations in LU
between the origin of intentional meaning, the synthetic reference back to
origins, and the nature of consciousness.
This chapter has four subsections. In the first, I will summarize just enough
of LU v to set up the issue of names and judgments that begins at LU v 456.
In the second subsection, I will discuss the sense in which names refer back
to judgments (466-479), and in the third, the sense in which judgments refer
back to names (472-489). In the fourth subsection, I will draw conclusions
about the problematic of backward reference and about the theory of synthesis which Husserl has to present in LU vi part 1 in order to resolve those


LU v promises to explain what it is about acts of consciousness that allows

them to have meaning. Meaning, whether intuitively fulfiIled or not, is an act's
directedness towards objects. Hence the "origin" (343) of the entire genus
of meaning consists in the "presentation" of objects in acts of consciousness.
Every act of consciousness has a meaning-intention because "every act either
is a presentation or has presentations as its ground" (e.g. 345). The sense of
this "weIl known proposition" (345) is the concem of LU v.
Husserl begins by running through three common definitions of "consciousness". First, consciousness has been defined as a unified stream of



experiences. Understood psychologistically, the idea of a stream suggests

that consciousness is a "thing-like" psycho-physical aggregate or "bundle",
which is false; but the idea of a stream, understood as a stream of intentionally connected meanings, does contribute to a phenomenological definition
of consciousness. Second, consciousness has been described as inner awareness. Understood in a Cartesian way, the "inner" suggests first that all acts
of consciousness are about consciousness, and second that consciousness is
always completely and adequately apprehended, both of which are false; but
the idea of the inner act, understood as an act of living through meanings,
an act carried out in consciousness but directed outside consciousness towards
the world, also contributes to a phenomenological idea. The phenomenological conception proper defines consciousness by its intentional directedness
to objects: an act of consciousness is not something that an experiencing subject
can "have", but something he performs when he carries out "objective interpretations" (summary of 345-370).
Husserl has three ways of characterizing the function of the presentations
whereby an act of consciousness is directed towards some particular object.
First, presentations "determine" (404) the intentional content of experiences.
Second, they are the "building-stones" (383) on which intentional experiences and interpretations are founded. Third, we "find" (e.g. 383) presentations
when we look at acts of consciousness with a view to picking out their objectifying content. The first of these three ways of characterizing the presentation
treats it as an act's fixed determinacy; the second treats the presentation as
the original "point of support" (374) which sets interpretations in motion;
and the third treats it as the final target of a certain kind of reflective analysis.
The presentation, as the locus of the original determinacy of meaning, appears
both as that which refers forward to interpretation and as that to which interpretation refers back.
Husserl entertains four theories about wh at presentations are. The first
two are introduced from the start of LU v, the others emerge gradually. The
first, and the only one Husserl rejects wholly, is that there are distinct and independent experiences, rightly called "mere presentations", in which a conscious
subject is direct1y aware of an object or a meaning without any interpretation. Such a theory would treat the "building-stones" of intentional experience
as experiences that can exist on their own. The prime candidates would be
sense-9ata, which allegedly present the sensible make-up of the world without
yet being interpreted as qualities of objects, and propositional contents, which
allegedly present states of affairs without making judgments that affirm or deny
their existence.
The second possibility, which Husserl supports against the first, is that
the mere presentation of an object can only exist as the non-independent
"material" part of an experience, the whole of which must also include a
"qualitative part". That is, any material determination of an object must be
experienced in one of a variety of ways (as perceived, as imagined, as remembered, etc.). An object merely sensed is already interpreted according to a



specific mode of objectivity (i.e. as sensible) just as is an object perceived

as real or remembered as past; similarly, a proposition merely entertained is
as much interpreted under a propositional attitude (i.e. as possible) as is a
meaning affirmed as true or hypothesized as probable, etc. On Husserl's view,
every act of consciousness "needs" (426) a presentation and "includes" (426)
it as the ground of its reference to the objective world, and every complex
act "interweaves" a multiplicity of presentations; but for there to be an actual
experience, an object must be presented in (or must be "supplemented by",
456) a certain type of apprehension and according to a certain interpretation.
In short, a sense content counts as a presentation only in the context of a
whole world-interpretation. It is already more than it is, not only because it
fixes its limits by passing-over into prior and posterior sense-contents, but
also because it presents objects in such a way as to make some ontological
But Husserl's interpretation of presentation as the matter of interpretation
raises questions which give rise to his third and fourth characterizations of
presentation. On the one hand, the theory of presentation is supposed to
describe already interpretative experiences in so far as they let objects be
present. Yet Husserl acknowledges that some experiences primarily pick out
individuals as simply present, and others primarily analyse the differentiated
properties of objects. Husserl's concession that certain composite acts may
be called "mere presentations" relative to others leads hirn to a third characterization, which classifies names as merely presentative and predicate
judgments as interpretative.
On this construal, the apprehension (perceptual, imaginative, or otherwise)
of any named object or state of affairs, counts as a presentative experience.
A name can be a noun (e.g. "tree") or noun-phrase (e.g. "the tree"), though
it does not matter whether its object is real or unreal (i.e. whether the name
is "positing" or "non-positing"), or whether its meaning is intuitively fulfilled or not. What is important is that a presentative experience apprehends
its object in a "single-rayed" grasping, whereas a complex experience indirect1y founded on presentative experiences apprehends its object in a
"multi-rayed" grasping. Objects are presented as singulars.
The contrast between presentation and interpretation, now located in the distinction between names and judgments, appears first in terms of a syntactical
contrast between singularity and multiplicity in expression. Hence Husserl says
that any name is formally a single term "S" while any judgment has the twotermed form "The S is P" (461). It seems that presentation picks out one
thing and interpretation combines two or more things already picked out.
But Husserl wants to' say that every judgment "S is P" may be transformed
into the nominal phrase "S's P-ness", or "the fact that S is P", or "the S
which is P". The nominalization of the judgment transforms an interpretative act into a presentative act, and a name may objectify the same state
of affairs as a judgment. It is impossible, then, to distinguish nominal
terms from predications by saying that the name uses just one term and the



predication many. It seems rather that presentations are defined simply as

anything upon which predication (466), explication (469), and analysis (482)
may be directed.
If a judgment can be transformed into a name (and in some cases a name
can be transformed into a judgment), then the sense in which names are prior
to the judgments founded on them, and presentations prior to interpretations,
becomes problematic. How are judgments concealed within names, multi-rayed
acts within single-rayed acts, and interpretations within presentations? We will
be pursuing these problems by examining Husserl's statements regarding the
way names and judgments "refer back" to one another.


"Many names, including all attributive names, have 'arisen' immediately or

mediately from judgments, and because of this origin, refer back (zurckweisen) to judgments" (468).
That names refer back to judgments begins as a restricted claim about
"attributive names", that is, nominal expressions that include reference to
attributes of the named object. Hence when a judgment "S is P" (e.g. "The
postman is hurrying by") is transformed into the attributive name "The S
which is P" (e.g. "The postman, who is hurrying by"), the name refers back
to an earlier judgment. Husserl's first statement applies only to those names
that refer back to judgments that someone has actually made. But it seems
that the same relation should hold even if no one has actually expressed
the judgment to which the attribution refers back. Further, it seems that any
name that includes some adjective (e.g. "the red house") refers back to
a judgment in exactly the same sense. Do all names then refer back to
At first, it seems that Husserl answers in the negative, but in implicit ways
he answers affirmatively. At first, nominal phrases like "he" or "the Minister"
(468), seem not to include attributions that require a reference backward to
an underlying judgment. But there is one kind of judgment to which all names
refer back. Husserl has argued that no presentation exists except as part
of an experience with a certain type of quality (perceptual, imaginary, or
otherwise). Hence no name names an object except as real, as fictional, as
of unknown status, etc. Each time a name is used, the existence, the nonexistence, or the indeterminacy of the named object is presupposed as if
by a judgment previously made. While a name may not refer back to any
predicative judgment, it must refer back to some "positing" (i.e. existenceaffirming) or else "non-positing" judgment.
But it seems there is a sense in which all names do refer back to predicative judgments, just as all categorial terms may be unpacked (as we saw in
LU iv). It seems Husserl ought to say that every name refers back to all those
predicative judgments which express the properties that the named object
implicitly has, or could have. The scope of Husserl's claim that names refer



back to judgments depends on the force of the claim that a name refers back
to those judgments which it already contained "implicitly".
Husserl 's statements on implicitness point to the problem. On the one
hand, Husserl says that once a judgment is transformed into an attributive name,
"the carrying out of the modified act [the name] does not include the unmodified [the judgment)" (468). But on the next page, he says that "the 'original'
judgment in a certain way 'logically' 'lies in' the 'modified' act" (469). And
again: "The single-rayed intention directed towards [the state of affairs] presupposes the many-rayed Uudging intention] and refers back to it as part of
its own sense" (473-74). And finally, any name that refers back to judgments does so because those judgments are "implicit" (implizierte) in it (483).
The sense in which simple names do not refer back to judgments is clear
enough. In terms of explicit syntax, the name "the red house" does not appear
as "the house - it is red". What is included in a name is not the judgment itself.
And from the other direction, a judgment does not have to be transformed
into a name, and is itself "not yet" an attributive name (468). It provides the
"basis" for an attributive name, but "falls away" once the name is articulated; only the name "remains over" (469). That an attributive name refers back
to a judgment that has already fallen away from it, indicates that backward
reference does not simply rearrange a meaning's actual parts, but rather unfolds
aseries of prior meanings whose synthesis led to the meaning that "remains".
But now if backward reference was never supposed to be restricted to the
re arrangement of actual part-experiences, then the reason given above for
denying that syntactically simple names refer back to judgments is vitiated.
For backward reference is in alt cases a reference from one meaning to another
meaning of a different status, i.e. to a meaning that plays a different sort of
role than the directly expressed meaning. Husserl says that in "the very talk
of arising and referring back it is already said that names and judgments are
different" (468). A name refers back not to apart of a judgment but to an
act that determines the properties of the named object. Single-rayed nominal
presentations refer back to multi-rayed predicative interpretations, not by
including them, but rather by transforming a diversity of meanings into one
which now appears as one that is synthetic.
We have seen that Husserl uses the vocabulary of "unfolding" (in the
German as weIl as the Latin root plico-) to express the constitution of synthesis. Something complex (Komplex) is folded together in such a way that
that which has been folded into it (implizierte) can have its concealed parts
unfolded from it (explizierte) by means of an unfolding analysis (Explikation).
Philosophical science thus has the double task of showing how meanings can
be folded together (Komplikation) and how they can be unfolded (entfaltet)
into ranges of possible fulfilling intuitions that may be carried out step by step.
Presentation and interpretation, name and judgment, single- and multi-rayed
meanings, all "come back" to the issue of thesis and synthesis (42).
Husserl talks about unfolding both in subjective and in objective terms.
From both directions, it will turn out that to refer a name back to judgments



is to produce a unity of reference to objects, or in other words, to produce a

unified meaning for the name itself, and hence to refer judgments in turn
back to names.
From the subjective side, Husserl says that the backward referring transformation of names into judgments is what we accomplish when we "analyse"
(482) an attributive name, and he emphasizes that it is only when the name
is "analysed" into judgments that it is "realized" (469) as complex in meaning.
The status of the implicit judgment consists in the fact that in our interpretation of the name,
we must appeal to the corresponding predicative judgment, we must carry it out, and take out
the nominal presentations from it as from an 'origin', let them go forth from it, derive them
from it (469) ... A certain mediation therefore lies phenomenologically in the essence of the
attributive presentation, to which the talk of arising, derivation, and from the other side, referring back, gives expression (470).

All of the experiencing subject's appeals and derivations, and in general

his introduction of mediations into the singularity of a nominal term, are
"phenomenological". We have seen that in many passages of LU, "phenomenological" means "psychological". We understand an attributive name when
we understand the grounds on which its corresponding predicative and positing
judgments could be explicated.
But Husserl does not stop with the claim that psychological demands for
explication motivate the reference backward from name to judgment, presentation to interpretation, simplicity to combination. He distinguishes the
phenomenological relation between name and judgment from the psychological (469); the former is governed by "contexts of ideal law" and "operative
belonging-togetherness" (470) grounded in an "ordering of being" (471).
Naming presentations and interpretative predications are distinct acts, but by
virtue of the very meaning of each, they are ordered in joint contexts of cognitive operation. Indeed, one could work out an analysis of several types of
"ordering": to refer a name back to judgments is to activate an ordered
sequence of interpretations to be carried out, an ordered sequence for thinking
through the implications of experiences, an ordered sequence in which fulfilling intuitions may be anticipated, an ordered sequence of contextualizations
wherein meanings and intuitions may be synthesized, an ordered sequence
of presupposed ontological dependencies among parts of the meant objects
along with an ordered sequence of dependencies among the grammatical
parts of the discourse which expresses those dependencies, etc.
What the reference back from names to judgments orders by law, then, is
aseries of different types of acts, some judgments, some further namings, some
anticipations of perception, some hypothesizings, etc. Further (although Husserl
does not suggest this as such), we may imagine unfoldings in which the
"qualities" of acts are sequentially ordered by law as weIl. In experiencing
an object by trial and error, to choose just one example, a sequence of acts
is demanded by quality: first a positing perception of an object, then a neutral



consideration of some aspect of that object, then a denial of the reality of

that aspect of the object and an affirmation of another, and so on. Hence in
general, when Husserl says that a matter can only become "concrete" with
the "supplementation" of an act-quality (456), this need for supplementation
must be read in a strong sense. It is not just the case that an experience with
matter must have some act-quality or other, although Husserl sometimes
lets the issue rest there. Husserl's point also has to be that the explication
of a presentation demands a specific sequence of acts whose matter and
quality are ordered by law, so as to work out interpretatively its objective
The idea that the explication of names leads, by referring backward to judgments, to a unified objective interpretation of the named object, motivates
Husserl's fourth definition of "presentation" as any "objectifying act" (479).
If we look back at the series of definitions of presentation in relation to
complete experience, we find that a subtle reversal has taken place. Presentation
began as a mere starting-point for experience, and now turns out to be the
full experience itself, even as the goal of completely articulated and intuitively
fulfilled experience. The moment of an act that was supposed to be a "merely
presentative" awareness in contrast to a subject's consequent interpretation,
is now found to incorporate, or at least to be a result of ordering, interpretative judgments. And with this widening of the concept of presentation, emerges
the peculiarity of the mechanism of backward reference. For the interpretations to which the nominal presentations refer backwards, in turn refer back
to objectifying presentations. Now this would not pose any problems if it meant
only that names are explicated in such a way as to fill in the details of the
name-user's understanding of the named object. But Husserl is serious when
he says that backward reference is a reference to something prior, and this
leaves us with two problems. First, if it is synthetic combination that is responsible for the presentation as an objectifying act, and reflective analysis that
is responsible for the presentation as a material content, then presentation seems
always consequent upon conscious activity. How, then, can Husserl say that
interpretations are founded on presentation, which is the overriding doctrine
of LU v? Second, when Husserl does say that judgments in turn refer back
to names, interpretations to presentations, and multi-rayed to single-rayed acts,
he does not just say that judgments refer back to totalities of interpretation;
he says instead that judgments refer back to "simples". If Husserl's final considered definition of "presentation" is in terms of the interpretative explications
of objectifying acts, why does he then want to say that the presentations that
judgments refer back to are "simples"?


The objectivity that a multiplicity of judgments arrives at is a "synthetic"

one in which a plurality of "theses" are systematically "grounded on one
another" (473). The result is a unified reference to a single object, and is



presentative of a "state of affairs" which can in turn be named as a singular

object (472). Hence when Husserl says that objectification is the "operation
of naming, changing many-rayed synthesis into single-rayed naming with
backward-referring matter belonging to it" (482), objectification is a sort of
gathering-together of diverse intentions into a single interpretation of a contextually unified state of affairs - singularity seems to be a product of
difference, multiplicity, and synthesis. On such a construal, the single-rayedness of a nominal presentation consists only in the fact that a complex state
of affairs may be treated as a single unit for the purpose of pursuing further
interpretation of the whole complex all at once, in the same way that the
judgment "The S is P" may be turned into "the S which is P" in order to
predicate additional properties of the S-as-P whole-complex all at once. Even
when Husserl insists on the "authentically pervasive antithesis" between "synthetic many-rayed unified acts and single-rayed acts posited in a single thesis
as having something just-standing-there" (481), and between judgments that
affirm a complex state of affairs and glances of the eye that take in an object
in one instant, the status of singularity would remain a byproduct of synthetic unity. The single glance would see its object in a single moment just
because a complex interpretation had already allowed that object to be understood as a unit. In short, to present a meaning in a single ray would be precisely
to gather a multiplicity into an objective reference, or to synthesize a manifold.
To res tore phenomenological priority to the notion of presentation, a priority
which it was supposed to have in LU v, we will need a stronger sense in
which judgments refer back to naming presentations, and multi-rayed acts to
single-rayed acts.
Husserl makes claims along these lines only in passages added in the second
(1913) edition of LU (481-85). He says here, as in earlier passages, that the
distinction between presentation and explication makes us "come back" to
the distinction between one- and many-rayed acts, thesis and synthesis (482).
But here Husserl goes farther in his claim about how phenomenological
"analysis" distinguishes the synthetic and thetic moments of an act of consciousness. Analysis "leads" in one direction to the "synthetic forms" which
account for combinatory order in the interpretative sense of that act. In another
direction, analysis leads back to the "members" of the act, the terms and names
which make it up, the intuitive and conceptual contents wherein objects are
presented. This analysis is not complete until consciousness apprehends
"simple" parts (483).
Husserl works out three stages in the reference back from judgments to
simple names. Because he says that the ultimate backward-referent is a simple
from which no further backward references can be thought, it is tempting to
read these statements as the central ones in his account of judgments and
names. That is, it is tempting to think that for Husserl, judgments ultimately
refer back to names, and that if names sometimes refer back to judgments, it
is only as an intermediate step in dividing complex names into simple names
via explicative judgments. However, the difficulty in deciding what Husserl



can mean by an ultimately simple name, keeps alive the problem of the
mutual backward reference of names and judgments, and indeed makes
backward reference central to both names and predicates.
The reference back from complex to simple meanings is thus construed
as the reference back from judgments to names, which can also be exhibited
as the reference back from nominalized judgments to their constituent
members. Husserl treats three levels of simplicity. First, as soon as any
judgment is made into a name, it expresses "one thesis" (Einer Thesis, 481).
In this sense, every meaning is already simple; it has one meaning, it names
one objective state of affairs, even if one complex one. Still, to count a
nominalized judgment like "The S which is P and Q" as a simple would
cover over an explicit complexity within the name.
The first step of simplification removes complexities carried over from
complexities in the judgment which had been nominalized. Hence just as the
complex judgment "S is P and Q" can be "analysed" into the simple judgments
"S is P" and "S is Q", so the nominalized term "The S which is P and
Q" can be analysed into "The S which is P" and "The S which is Q". The
elimination of "synthetic forms" like conjunction resolves nominal meanings,
which all al ready express "one" meaning, into atomic nominal meanings
which express single subjects and predicates. Husserl calls this second type
of unitariness a "one-fold" (einfaltig), "one-streamed" (einstrahlig), or "simple"
(einfach) unity (483).
But the technique for removing synthetic connections does not yet give a
method for deciding when names are simple. The "series of backward references contained in a nominalization" may not have been "pursued" (483) to
"primitive" terms. The meanings arrived at may still contain "implicit"
member-meanings (483), as, for example, if naming "S" depends on the possibility of naming its parts, its properties, or its relations. It is only if a meaning
can no longer have its parts "set out beside one another", that is, if it "no longer
refers back" (483), that it is simple in the third, and primitive, sense of being
a "straightforward" (schlicht, 483) unity.
The claim that complex meanings ultimately refer back to straightforwardly
simple meanings is deceptively easy. Two questions are difficult. What counts
as a simple name? And what principle could put an end to the process of
referring a name back to further explication?
Husserl's two examples of names to which judgments ultimately refer back,
suggest two quite different things. In the paragraph which introduces the idea
of the primitive backward-referent, Husserl's examples of straightforwardly
simple names include "proper name presentations, along with one-membered
percepts, imaginations, etc., which do not set their members out alongside
one another in explicative syntheses" (483). But while it is not surprising
that names containing judgments ("The S which is P") would refer back to
proper names ("S"), there are three problems. First, it does not seem likely that
Husserl would say that "Socrates, who is mortal" would refer back to the proper
name "Socrates" as a simpk constituent, but would fail to refer back to the



specifying term "mortal", solelyon the grounds that "mortal" is not a proper
name. Nor does it seem likely that Busserl would deny that "men, who are
mortal" refers back to the simple subject-term "men" just because "men" is
not a proper name. In short, it is not clear why Busserl would say that names
are simple only if they are proper.
Second, even if Busserl meant to say that complex names refer back to
proper names, we have seen (chapter 4) that Busserl cannot hold that proper
names are independent of all prior explicative syntheses.
Third, even if Busserl held that proper names and no others can be simple,
it is odd to class proper names with simple perceptions and imaginations.
Bow did the subdivision of a name lead back to something that is not apart
of the linguistic expression at all, but a perceptual presentation? And why
would any name, complex or simple, refer back to a simple perceptual datum
rather than to complex ranges of possible perceptions?
Busserl 's second example of the simples to which judgments refer back contrasts the judgment "2 x 2 equals 5" with the name "that 2 x 2 equals 5"
(484). We can see why one might want to count the latter as a straightforwardly
simple name, since even though there are other names contained in it, as a
whole it names a single relation. We might allow that Busserl's point is that
judgments refer back to straightforwardly objective intentionalities. It would
not matter, then, if in different contexts judgments refer back to straightforwardly referring names, straightforwardly object-exhibiting perceptions,
or straightforwardly fact-apprehending thoughts. But such a reading gets no
further in pinning down the idea of a simple. For "that 2 x 2 equals 5" is
regarded as a simple just because it articulates a single state of affairs. If the
final backward reference of a judgment is to the singularity of the fact that
it expresses, the "straightforwardly" singular simple is nothing more than
the "one-ness" of the synthesized unity of the judgment that we started with.
The synthetically unified judgment seemed complex, but the simples which
it refers back to seem no less complex.
But now if it is difficult to define the scope of simples, it is because the
notion of the primitive simple is itself a complicated one. We now turn to
the process of referring back itself, and to the problem of how it terminates.
When Busserl says that judgments ultimately refer back to straightforwardly
objectifying names, he means at least three things: (i) that every judgment
has some object that it is about, and in terms of which it is explicated, (ii)
that every nominal term in a judgment is simple in the sense that it is independently variable and could appear again with other terms in other judgments,
and (iii) that certain parts of a judgment may be separated from other parts and
have meaning on their own.
The second of these characterizations of simple meanings, i.e. in terms of
their independent variability, would by itself beg the question of what simple
backward referents are. But we will find that only such a functional definition of simplicity will reconcile the first and the third characterizations.
On the first characterization, judgments refer back to subjects requiring



explication, either to subject terms to which predicates may be assigned, or

to predicate-terms which can be assigned to subjects. A simple term would
be one that is not yet determined - an undetermined thisness. Pushed to this
extreme, the simple name as subject of predication would never pick out an
object that could actually be apprehended as it was named (and presentations after all are not supposed to be experiences on their own), i.e. as it
was before a multiplicity of properties attached to it. But it would still count
as the ultimate backward-referent just because a multiplicity of presentations
and predications collect around that unitary substance which the simple name
names straightforwardly.
The third characterization of the simple backward-referent gives a different sense. Here a simple name is the name not of an undetermined substance,
but of just one material determination, one property, one experiential atom.
Again at this extreme, the simple name as simplest determination would
never pick out an object that could be apprehended as it was before it was
contextualized along with others as the determination of some substance, but
it would still count as the ultimate backward referent, just because a complex
of presentations and predications is divisible into those unitary determinations which simple names name straightforwardly. This idea of the simplest
determinate unit has an advantage over the idea of the simple undetermined
subject in that it preserves the idea of the underlying presentation as a buildingblock for interpretations and as a simple content of judgment. It has the
disadvantage of being less like a proper name than an atomic predication:
as the simple bearer of an atom of sense-content, it does not provide the
ground for referring a multiplicity of sense-content back to a single nameable
On the first characterization, the name refers to the substance which still
needs predications; on the third, it refers to the datum of sense which still needs
a substance. Neither of these routes alone seems satisfactory as an ac count
of the simples to which a phenomenological ontology should refer back. And
after all, Husserl is neither a philosopher of substance nor a philosopher of
sense-data. How can the ultimate backward referent of complex meanings
be both the subject of predication and the smallest determinate unit?
The difficulty in interpreting the logical and phenomenological character
of simple names, like the difficulty in deciding on their scope, leads us back
to the functional characterization of simple names, that is, to their function
of being (a) those meanings that are independently variable in complex
meanings, and (b) those meanings beyond which no meanings can refer back.
This characterization has to be treated not just as a substitute for being able
to say what a simple name really is, but rather as the true content of Husserl's
notion of simplicity. We should look not for special experiences or special parts
of experience to carry the content from which interpretative sense is built
up. Rather, we should look for the ground of the demand that acts caught up
in ongoing synthetic interpretations refer back to a unitary substance on the
one hand and to maximally divisible sense-contents on the other.



On this reading, areversal of emphasis takes place during the three-stage

division of a complex nominalized judgment first into "one synthetic unity",
second into a one-fold simple unit, and third into a straightforwardly simple
unit. The one-fold meaning was not supposed to be absolutely simple. For
that reason, it could be defined as any part of a meaning separable from a
complex by means of the removal of some synthesizing category. Yet this
was only an intermediate simple on route to absolute simples. But the straightforward simple turned out to be hard to classify except as that beyond which
the interpretative sense of an experience cannot refer back. In short, intermediate simples can be very small parts of a meaning, but absolute simples
are inherently contextualized in the progress of synthetic interpretation towards
a unification of a singular subject-matter and a clarification of detailed contents
one at a time. That is, simplicity is a function of complex interpretation running
its backward referring course all the way to the end. Simplicity is defined
just as that beyond which interpretation need not go. In this way, the straightforward simples to which complex judgments refer back can thus include
the proper names that individuate subject-matter, and the smallest perceptions that pick out details, and the propositional meanings that express
multi-relational complexes as singular states of affairs.
I am not arguing that the simple name names the same synthetic totality that
the judgment expresses. But I am arguing that only in so far as a complex
of judgments is coherent enough to lead forwards to a synthetic interpretation of one named thing, can "analysis" lead back to a single subject-term to
which the whole manifold interpretation can pertain, and to the array of
sense-content into which the whole is divisible. It might sound paradoxie al
to say that the proper name and the simple sense-datum turn out to be the
ultimate synthetic unities of interpretation. But Husserl's talk of simples cannot
be made sense of except as the backward referents of the unification of complex
judgments. For it is a necessary condition of a unified interpretation of a
multiplicity of contents as a system, that the system be capable of being
given a single proper name and that there be no obstacle to the detailed exegesis
of its divisible parts. And it is a sufficient condition of the synthetic unity
of interpretation that it identify the differences and relations among the parts
of the interpreted object in so far as they were determined in advance.
Backward reference, understood as the appeal to simples carried out by interpretative complexes, is the sufficient condition for the forward reference to
an ideal completion of interpretation.
It seems to me that Husserl has to be read as holding seriously, and in
full awareness of the consequences, that all intentional experiences refer back
to simples. If some process readings and some dialectical readings of Husserl
hold that simples must be denied if Husserl is to be saved from sense-data
epistemologies, it is because they have not worked out the relation between
the claim that there really are experiential simples and the claim that conscious
experience refers back to originating structures and contents. For Husserl,
the claim that experience refers back to simples is not incompatible with the



claim that the simples themselves always have to have occurred too far back
in the past to be present as the content of any actual experience - we do not
experience empty substances or sense-data despite the fact that experience ultimately, genuinely, and successfully, refers back to them.
This, finally, is Husserl 's account of the reference back from judgments
to names. Names refer back to judgments because they demand explication;
judgments refer back to names because they need to be about fixed referents. But just as the reference backward from names to judgments via
explication ultimately returns back to names because of a demand for a unified
interpretation, so the reference back from judgments to names via the fixing
of reference ultimately returns back to judgments because of a demand for
interpretative complexity. Judgments and names thus refer back to one another
as to their respective grounds and presuppositions. The forwards-directed completion of interpretation and the backwards-directed origins of interpretation
constitute each other as already having been carried out in advance, and at
the same time demand one another as still needed supplementations.


In this concluding section, I will clarify my position on referring backward

in relation to the three problems of synthesis that guide this study.
The category of referring backward is hidden in a variety of Husserlian
principles. If I am right about the revers als that take place within Husserlian
analyses of origins, i.e. if it is only in the act of referring backward that origins
ac hieve the status of already having been determined in advance, then commentators will have to be more careful with the Husserlian doctrines that
phenomenological description goes back to the things themselves, that analysis
leads back to the immediate, that the perceptual noema is built out of simple
hyle, that the reductions find a way back to the pure ego as to an absolute
presuppositionless origin, that the crisis of the sciences force us to look back
to grounds, etc. On my reading, all such Husserlian appeals to referring back
are to be read neither with reservation nor with too quick a presumption that
we know what it means to go backwards.
So while I am arguing that forward and backward references are reversible,
that complexes and simples, judgments and names, full interpretations and
immediate materials, etc., become the backward-referents for each other, I
want to maintain that there really are simple presentations, and that those
simples really are that upon which all meaningful experience is founded. I
do not hold that the activities that lead back to original simples invent them,
as if origins were merely necessary fictions. When we refer back, we come
up with genuine referents. Even though the reference forward towards full
interpretation is interchangeable with the reference backward towards startingpoints, interpretation genuinely progresses towards completion and analysis of
origins genuinely retraces the order of what had already been passed over in



On the other hand, while 1 am arguing that immediate ongms are

genuinely originary, 1 want to maintain that the order whereby originary
experiences proceed to complex interpretation are not uni-directional. On
rationalist, empiricist, and transcendentalist readings of Husserl 's concept
of synthesis, simple categories, simple sense-contents, simple unreflective
experiences, and the simple ego respectively, would be Husserl's attempts to
posit phenomenological givens which (a) need no explanation, (b) exist on
their own, (c) are the materials whose combination generates all experiential
complexity, and (d) are unproblematically "found" by phenomenological
descriptions that divide experiences into simple parts or refer them back to
their first stages. While 1 want to argue for the genuine priority of all of
these backward referents, 1 am arguing that experiential simples require the
most rigorous of all phenomenological explanations, that their status is by
nature the problematic which every experience has to work out and think
through, that they are as much guaranteed as generating, and as much produced
as found.
The problem of backward reference thus articulates the three fundamental
problems of synthesis. It articulates the problem of the original motivation
for synthesizing one content of consciousness with another in terms of the
simple presentation which must be synthesized just because it has already been
passed over. It articulates the problem of the mechanism for joining two
contents together in terms of implicit capacities within each presentation for
explication into simple units and complex interpretations. And in particular,
it articulates the problem of the results of synthesis in terms of the demand
that a reference back to simples must be closed off at the point where it
yields a direct, straightforward contact with, and complete, adequate interpretation of, a world of objects.
The problem of referring backward is essential to that of objectivity. For
the problem of the ultimate divisibility of complex meanings into simples is
also the problem of what makes an object what it is, i.e. what makes it the
one thing that it is, the one named object of presentation. Both the simple
substance and the simple qualitative determination are responsible for the experiencing subject's capacity to interpret his experiences as presenting a world
of objects. The stages of referring backward are stages both in the explication of meanings, as weIl as in the syntheses of identification and epistemic
fulfilment, which 1 will be examining in the next chapter. For it is only
in the interactivation of the simple unit of meaning and the complex unity
of meaning that an experiencing subject can, in the face of the incompleteness under which the world of objects is always presented, intend objects as
existing and as knowable.
The problem of referring back thus opens up into the broadest range of
phenomenological descriptive categories relevant to the problem of synthesis.
The final account that Husserl gives in LU v of the principle that complex
meaning is founded on underlying presentations, is that "each intentional experience is grounded on an objectifying act" (493-94). The issue of originary



presentations thus turns into the issue of how a founded meaning takes up a
"positing stance" (491). The "origin" of meaning (343), consists not so much
in the presence of uncomplicated simples or finished products of interpretation, but in the simultaneous references forward and backward from one to
the other in an experience of a world of objects. And consciousness itself,
in order to be a continuous stream of determinations, a reflective inner awareness, and/or an intentional directedness towards objects (see subsection 1),
must likewise be constituted as a reciprocal activation of starting-points and
end-points, of simples and complexes, of units and unities.
By working on specific problems of synthesis in each of Husserl's first five
Logical Investigations, we have built up a certain categorial vocabulary.
Some of these categories, such as those of the web, the whole-complex,
the implicit, and the forward and backward reference, were introduced by
Husserl in his broadest attempts to define intentional consciousness, and so
directly warrant our use of them in an exposition of Husserlian ontology.
Others, such as the categories of the ground, the in-advance, passing-over
and setting-in-relief, independent non-separability, and the need for supplementation, have to be drawn out. In asense, all such categories should,
along with the concept of synthesis itself, be subject to what Kant would
call a deduction from the possibilty of any experience. In the next chapter,
I will use these categories as tools for developing the overall thesis of this
study, namely that consciousness and its acts of meaning are constituted as a
self-propelling synthetic system of forward and backward references. What
these mechanisms must provide is a rigourous phenomenological explanation of why and how every single interpretative act can and must refer forward
and backward to all other acts, and thus constitute the syntheses that intend
and identify objects. My approach, as always, will be to interpret Husserl
as having the strongest theory of synthesis that can be extracted from the
However, I will argue that there is one area of the mechanics of synthesis
that Husserl does not treat in LU, namely the problem of the location in
consciousness of non-activated but potentially influential retentions. On my
reading of Husserl's concept of synthesis, an act's demand to be synthesized
makes use of the structure of potential combination that had been built in
by its own originative history. But the content is not its his tory, nor is
that history present to the consciousness of an experiencing subject. The
problem of locating grounds of synthesis that a conscious subject is not aware
of is, on my reading, the problem of locating backward referents which in
some sense must be in consciousness without being present to consciousness. How can there be a storage space within consciousness? On my reading,
the only way consciousness can make room for the backward referents that
make synthetic connections and intentional objects possible, is by more
backward references, i.e. by referring back to its own prior capacities to
incorporate backward referents. It is only in Ideen 1, where Husserl works



out the possibility of withdrawing or drawing back into the backgrounds 01'
the ego, in Cartesian Meditations, where he works out the warrant for presupposing the accumulated intersubjective knowledge of a community of other
egos, and in the Crisis, where he treats the sedimentation of history in culture,
that the problem of the retention of the non-present ground of synthesis is fully
developed. In the Appendix, I will advance to the first of these three developments.




The first part of LU vi is concerned to describe the connection between

meaning-intention and meaning fulfilment. It is meant to explain (1) how a
subject comes to know when an object is truly be fore hirn, and (2) how a
subject can identify a singular object in the face of a plurality of experiences. Husserl's analyses describe graduated chains of fulfilment whereby a
meaning-intention is brought step by step to adequate intuition: All expressions
"aim at" (Abzielen) the intuitions which would fulfill their meaning-intentions,
and as those intuitions are achieved, the identity of the meant objects is realized
in experience and the experiencing subject is brought into the full cognitive
presence of the objects themselves. These achievements, the combinations
of meaning-intentions and meaning-fulfilments, carry out the syntheses of identification and epistemic fulfilment.
In this chapter, I will generalize the problematic of synthesis that arose in
the first five chapters in the contexts of specific issues in logic and ontology.
First, what is the sense of "aim at"? How is it possible for a meaning-intention to function as an anticipation (or a protention) or a merely potential
experience of an object? How'does something present contain or prescribe
something absent? What is the mechanism of the teleology of truth-seeking?
What makes a determinate content "go beyond" itself? What is the ultimate
ground for the synthesis of intuitions with one another under the unity of an
interpretation of a singular object? How does an epistemologically incomplete experience refer forwards to the possiblity of a direct experience that
would complete it? Second, how does the end result at which an object is
fully present preserve the chains of synthesis during which it emerged? When
Husserl discusses the way a number is understood by breaking it down into
units, or the way a physical object is perceived from one side and then another,
he is concerned with how an experience of the final decomposition or the
last side can count as the full experience of the original object. What status
does the process of knowing have in the final stage, possibly only ideal, of
knowing? How would a completely adequate perception of an object include
incomplete perspectives? How does identification preserve original difference?
How does an epistemically complete experience refer back to the incomplete
intuitions of which it counts as the synthesis?
The three basic questions in the problematic of synthesis, which I have been
developing throughout this study, are most explicitly at issue in Husserl's
account of knowing. Once again: (1) What is the ground of the demand that
each interpretative act be synthetically combined with others? (2) What are the
mechanisms whereby each content of consciousness passes over into the next
content? (3) How do the results of synthesis, in the form of ongoing forward



and backward references to the ideal end-points and ideal starting-points of

cognitive, interpretative, and perceptual consciousness, account both for the
carrying-out of synthetic activity in medias res, as weH as for the very constitution of those origin- and completion-points?
I will organize my treatment of LU vi around five descriptive categories
in Husserl 's account of the syntheses of epistemic fulfilment in LU vi
part 1:
i) The Categories of Universal Names (drawn especially from LU 11 11 14-32)
ii) The Categories of Context (35-48)
iii) The Categories of Perspective and Cognitive Ordering (41, 50-8, 80-6)
iv) The Categories of Closure and Limit (115-27)
v) The Categories of Referring-Back (drawn from passages throughout
LU vi).
My intention is to organize Husserl's various descriptions of the syntheses
of identification and fulfilment in LU vi in order both to pursue the problematic
systematicaHy, and to develop a progressively complex Husserlian resolution. The earlier categories ground synthesis in a universal requirement that
each experiential content pass over into other experiences of the same object,
but this universality then has to be articulated further in terms of determinate contexts for including some contents and not others, for ordering contexts
by perceptual perspectives and cognitive advance, for limiting the proliferation of perspectives and presupposing an ideal completion of epistemic
advance, and for re-interpreting the incomplete standpoints which must always
already have been leading up to those ideals. Each of these categories solves
certain problems of synthesis, but in articulating and leaving other problems
behind, each demands the supplementation of the next, until the fun account
closes itself off and systematizes the results of the categories that led up to
it. The analysis of synthesis will thus turn out to model the demand for selfexplicating synthetic activity at work in an consciousness.


We have seen that rationalist construals of synthesis can explain the ground
of the synthesis of one content of consciousness with another only by appealing
to categorial universals which determine which contents belong together.
Now since Husserl grounds universals in synthetic combinations of individuals, he cannot in any straightforward way ground synthesis in universals.
But he can describe the individual content of interpretative consciousness in
terms of the way it picks out an object of experience which in turn can be
experienced in a range of other ways. In other words, he can describe the
meaning-intention of each content as a kind of universal name whose instances
are the other contents subsumable within the experience of the same object.
This description provides an abstract framework for explaining the grounds,
the mechanisms, and the end-points of the synthesis of one content with the



Husserl's analysis of epistemic fulfilment in LU vi begins with the theory

of intentions and fulfilments in LU i, taking over from LU v the notion of
the name as a carrier of potential explications. There is a sense for Husserl
in which all words are "universal" (LU 11, 11, 17ff.). For all names, including
(and indeed especially including) proper names such as "Hans" or "Berlin"
(31) as weIl as class names such as "red" (27, 31), refer to objects which
can appear in a plurality of intuitions. The singularity of any nameable object
is such that its unity has to be "recognized" (erkennen) through a multiplicity
of perceptions (29).
Husserl's description of the syntheses of epistemic fulfilment in terms of
"universality" is limited to ss. 4-7, after which the vocabulary of "universality"
is replaced successively by that of "context", "perspective", "limit" and "referring backward". But within ss. 4-7, universality plays four roles, bearing on
the analysis of (a) words and perceptions, (b) this-ness, (c) calling by name,
and (d) in general, the synthesis of identification.
(a) These sections beg in with Husserl's ongoing concern about the relation
between the meaning of an expression and the perceptual intuitions which
decide its truth or falsity. Husserl's solution here takes up where LU i leaves
off: The same percept can give rise to many descriptive expressions, just as
the same expression may be fulfilled by many percepts (14-15). This independent variability of word-meaning and percept characterizes the word as
"universal" (17) and the percept as individual (15). In this text, Husserl insists
on the universality of all words. How and why is it helpful to think of all names
as universal?
We can clarify the issues by asking two questions about the cognition of
self-identical objects: (1) If a subject understands the meaning of a name
without having perceived the object named, how does he know which perceptions would present the self-identical object named? (2) If a subject
perceives an object, how does he know what name to give it and when to
use the same name to refer to objects presented by different perceptions?
The answer to both these questions (as in LU i) depends on the universality
of names being a universality of "range", of a roughly defined "circumference", or "periphery" (all translations of Umfnge). To name an object (singular
or specific) is to pick out the name's "range of ideally possible realizations
(Realisierung)" (31), the result of a "synthesis of possible intuitions" (31).
A subject knows which possible intuitions are circumscribed by the name of
a previously unintuited object, just because the name's intuition-independent
universality already prefigured its own "unfolding" in intuition (19). And a
subject who has a perception knows how to name self-identical objects
to be found within it, just because the perception was already given as a
realization of an already prescribed possibility (19).
For Husserl, as for the rationalist but not the empiricist, the name incorporates mIes for collecting and separating intuitions under the naming concept;
but for Husserl, as for the empiricist but not the rationalist, the universal
terms which determine the synthesis of perceptions do not name types but



individuals, not general structures but particular organizations, not principles

for reasoned inferenees but prineiples for the unfolding of possibilities.
The synthesis of a multiplicity of appearances, actual and possible, under
the heading of (the name of, and the boundary of) a unified range of possible
appearances, is the ground of the possibility of individuating meanings and the
objects of meaning.
(b) "Hans" and "Berlin" are universal terms. A proper name always has
the "same sense", no matter which (if any) appearance of the named object
occasions the use of that name (31). The reason for this univocity of the proper
name through appearances of the named object is just that the thing named
is the object and not the object's appearances. It is the unchanging identity that
a subject manages to refer to in spite of the change of appearances that makes
it possible for individual substances to be meant (30), to be "aimed at" or
"pointed at" (20).
An objeet known only by name or by verbal description (21) or by means
of some indicator (23), is only "indirectly" known as an individual; in contrast,
an intuited object is meant "directly", even when only partially intuited, since
it is known to be related to some actual (synthesis of) appearances.
Here lies the differenee between a proper name and the pointing pronoun
"This": When a listener he ars (or a speaker says) "this", he knows that something presently appearing is being referred to, but he may not know what. When
a listener hears "Hans", there are several intuitive situations that he may be
in: If he is familiar with the named object's appearanees, he can directly
refer to Hans whether or not Hans is present; if he has had Hans deseribed
to hirn, or otherwise indirectly knows how Hans makes his presence feit in
the world, he can indirectly refer to Hans whether or not Hans is present;
but if the listener who he ars "Hans" is in the same position that the listener
who hears "this" is in, and has only a field of uneharaeterized appearanees
at his cognitive disposal, he will not know what the word means, i.e. he will
not know whether or how it refers to any real objeet (drawn from 22-23).
In short, the pointing name "this" picks out an object with a range of
possible appearanees to fix its reference, whereas the proper name picks out
an objeet with a range of possible appearances by using the deseription of
appearances. They differ on the conditions of present appearances that make
their use meaningful to a subject, but they share the function of pieking out
an individual by appealing to spheres of actual and possible appearances.
The universality of names characterizes several aspeets of a meaning's
reference to individuals: (1) It characterizes the way that a plurality of appearanees belong in common to the experience of an object. (2) It charaeterizes
the directness of referenees to objects onee a double eondition is satisfied,
that is, once the propriety of the name individuates a self-identical object
and the thisness of pointing instantiates some of that object's range of
appearances. (3) It characterizes the cumulative "unfolding" of the object in
appearance. It will turn out that a subject makes use of the universality of
names in actively pursuing the realization of the objeet's possible appearances.



(4) It characterizes the differentiation of individual objects. The meaning of

each name is fulfilled by its own peculiar "circle" of perceptions and imaginations (19); perceptions from outside the circle fail to present the named
object. (5) Finally, these circles of an object's possible appearances characterizes relations among intuitions. Within such a circle, perceptions may be
substituted for one another, or an image may replace or "intercede for" or "step
in for" (eintreten fr, 19) a percept; but when the outer limit is overstepped
(i.e. once the rule of "stepping in for" is transgressed), perceptions no Ion ger
substitute for, but "supplant" (supponiert, 19) each other, they remove the
ground from under each other, they no longer jointly contribute to an experience or an interpretation of any recognizable, nameable, individual object.
What is the activity of identifying recognition? Is it the subsumption
of two intuitions under a common universal name, or the substitution of one
intuition by another within a jointly circumscribed range? If we continue to
say (as we have throughout) that the synthesis of intuitions with objects is
carried by means of the synthesis of intuitions with one another, then we
will want to say here that the univocity of the name is the result of, and the
rule for, the mutual substitutions of intuitions. But what is the origin of the
name in the act of knowing? Why is it that an object must be named in order
for a synthesis of its appearances to take place? What is the role of calling
something by name?
(c) That intentional reference to an individual may be made without any
perception of it as "this, here and now", is "shown by the case of our knowing
a person or a thing by name (namenlichen), as being called so-and-so" (20).
How does the knowing subject "put into service" the "concept of 'being
called' " (Begriff des Heissens) (21)?
Two examples:
In this sphere let us glance at a static relation of unity, where a meaning-conferring thought is
grounded on intuition, and through that related to its object. I speak, for example, of my inkpot,
and my inkpot also stands before me, I see it. The name names the object of my perception,
and it names it through the mediation of the act of meaning which stamps its character and
form onto the form of the name ... the name "my inkpot" seems to "overlay" the perceived
object and to belong sensibly to it. This belonging is of a peculiar kind ... We undergo a
certain sequence of experiences of the class of sensations, unified by sense and strung together
in some determinate way, and enspirited with a certain act-character of "interpretation"
("Auffassung"), which endows it with objective sense....
What brings these acts [of naming and perceiving] into unity? The answer seems clear. The
relation, as one of naming, is mediated, not merely by acts of meaning, but by acts of recognition, which are here also acts of classification.

A name does not appear as one perceptual object alongside others.

Rather, it provides a way of classifying an "endless multiplicity of possible
intuitions" (26); perceptions are interpreted in the name of individual objects.
The pointing-name "my inkpot" is universal in the sense that it invokes a
classification in order to participate in an objectifying interpretation. In fact,
the name carries out classification at two levels: it classifies those sensations



in which the inkpot appears, and it describes this object as an instance of things
that look and behave as inkpots. The name invokes these two classifications
without being identical to either; the name calls appearances and Species
into play, as it were, when it calls the individual by name. This "overlay"
of the signifier, the baptism of the referent, the act of calling things by
name, is the activity whereby a subject provides hirnself with the rules (the
"universals" and the "circles" of relevant intuitions) for recognizing the identity
of a variously appearing individual.
2. "The word names the red thing as red" (27).
Phenomenologically, we find before us no mere sum (of name and intuition), but an intimate,
and in fact an intentional unity; we can rightly say that the two acts, one of which constitutes
the full word and the other the thing, are intentionally locked together in a unity 0/ aet. What
lies before us can be naturally described equally weil with the words, "the name 'red' names
(nennt) the red object red", as with the words "the red object is reeognized as red and named
'red' through the mediation of this recognition". To name red - in the aetual sense of naming,
which presupposes an underlying intuition of the thing named - and to reeognize something as
red, are expressions which are in their ground identical in meaning: they only differ in so far
as the latter brings out more c1early that there exists here no mere duality (Zweiheit), but a
unity set up (hergestellte) by a single act-character (28).
The "universality of the word" means, therefore, that the unified sense of one and the
same word circumspans (or in the case of a non-sense word, "pretends" to circumspan) an ideally
delimited manifold of possible intuitions, each of which could function as the ground for an
act of recognitive nominalization with the same sense. To the word "red", for example, belongs
the possibility of both knowing as, and calling "red", all red objects that might be given in possible
intuitions. This possibility connects up, with an apriori guarantee, to the further possibility of
becoming conscious, through an identifying synthesis of all such naming recognitions, of a
sameness of meaning of one with the other: this A is red, and that A is the same, i.e. also red:
the two intuited singulars belong under one and the same "concept" (29).

The name institutes a tripie relation of "belonging": (1) Two appearances

of something red belong together either as two appearances of the same
object or as appearances of two comparable objects. (2) The red intuition
belongs to a "concept" in the same way that an instance belongs to a Species.
(3) The red percept belongs to the name as the realization of a possibility which
the name enunciates and anticipates.
To "give something a name" and to "recognize something" are "synonomous" expressions. Both names and recognitions are "set up" (hergestellte)
within a "single act-character". What is the name of this act-character? If
we look back to the first words spoken about names, both proper and occasional, about the act which lays signifiers over percepts, we find the act in
question to be that of "pointing" (Hinweisen, 18-19), of identifying objects.
When something is pointed at, the intentions of both the speaker and the listener
exhibit a certain "doubleness" (Doppelheit, 22, 23) of indicator and indicated: the person who hears the pointing name uses the pointing-word as an
"index" or "indicator" (22) and seeks intuitions to attach to it (22); the speaker,
even when his pointing is simultaneous with his intuiting, deploys the
"universal character of pointing" and "narrows it down" (schrnkt . .. ein)
to a determinately directed indication (23). No object can be recognized until



it is doubled by the pointing signifier. (The intentional "doubleness" wherein

a single act performs two functions involved in the same reference, is not a
"mere duality (Zweiheit)" (28), a performance of two separate acts.) The role
of the pointer in the identification of objects comes into play not only when
pointer and object correspond "from the start" or "in advance" (von vornherein,
23). The pointer also operates when its relation to intuitions is only anticipated
and when the intuitions needed to "supplement" (23) the indicators have
occurred in the intentional history of an experience (e.g. as an unstated theorem
presupposed by a mathematical proof, 22) and need to be retrieved by a
"backward pointing" (Rckweisung, 22) to something which "remains behind"
(zurckbleiben, 22).
In short, intentional reference always makes use of an indicating term, a
tag around which fulfilling intuitions are gathered. And the act of calling by
name is correlated with the act of knowing by intuition through mechanisms
which work in-advance, or in possibility, or in backward references. The
"intimate fusion" of naming and recognizing (of meaning-intention and
meaning-fulfilment), or the doubleness of the "synthesis of identification" (29),
is the ground of possibility of any objective reference; it precedes every thesis.
(d) Through the "identifying synthesis of naming recognitions", a subject
becomes conscious that "two intuited singulars belong under the same
'concept' " (29). The universality of the proper name "consists in the fact
that a synthesis of possible intuitions belongs to a single individual object"
(31). The recognizability of the individual is correlated with the universality
of its name. The recognitions carried out in the realization of possibilities,
the substitution of appearances, and the classification of properties, are correlated with the institution of the name, carried out in the baptism of singulars,
the synonymy among multiple uses of a name, and the translatability of a name
across languages (28). Neither universal names nor individual intuitions alone
can account for the synthesis of identification, since these are but two sides
of the doubleness of objective reference.
On the one hand, Husserl implicitly rejects the Humean theory of synthesis, on the grounds that the cognitive reference to an object via a single
appearance depends on the prior capacity of a naming concept to pick out other
appearances in a range of possible intuitions of that object. It is not the accidental repetition of constant conjunction that allows for the endurance of the
world of objects, but the renewal moment by moment of the continuous ranges
of possibilities correlated with the repetition of universal names.
On the other hand, Husserl implicitly rejects the Leibnizian theory, on the
grounds that the universal terms which determine sequences of experiences
are proper to singular individuals, and must be so in order to express the
this-ness, the locatability in possible intuitions, of their referents; the law
goveming the combination of intuitions under an interpretation cannot be a
generic one, indifferent to the specificity of particular objects.
In short, there is a resistance in Husserl's text against deciding the priority
of the respective roles of singular intuitions and universal concepts in the



synthetic cognition of individual objects. Yet there are in the text several
locutions which assign priority to one or another of the elements involved in
objective reference. For example, in the penultimate paragraph of s. 7, underlining such locutions:
[The universality of the proper name] consists in the fact that a synthesis of possible intuitions
belongs (gehrt) to a single individual object, intuitions made one by (durch) the common
intentional character conferred by every relation to the same object, despite all phenomenological difference among individual intuitions. This unity [of intentional character] is thus the
foundation (Fundament) for the unity of recognition, which belongs to the "universality of
word-meaning", to the range of ideally possible realizations. In this way the naming word has
a recognitive relation to an unlimited multiplicity of intuitions, whose single and identical
object it recognizes and thereby (dadurch) names" (31).

What is interesting here is not so much the linear development from

individual intuitions to individual objects to ranges of appearances to universal
names, as the constant backings-up in the explanatory hierarchy in order
to ground the earlier stages: each single intuition has a relation to an
object; the intentional reference prescribes a range of intuitions; the possible
realizations of this range allows one object to be identified in various intuitions; this identifiability allows each single intuition to have a relation to an
We can also observe this pattern of description by considering Husserl's
uses, at first glance antithetical, of the vocabulary of "belonging" (Zugehrigkeit): (1) "Two (red) intuited singulars belong under the same 'concept' "
(29). (2) "The unity of recognition ... belongs to the 'universality of proper
names', to its range of ideally possible realizations" (31). (3) "The name
'my inkpot' seems to overlay the perceived object, to belong sensibly to it"
(24, also 28), although the "belonging is of a peculiar kind" in that (4) "The
words do not belong to the objective context of physical thinghood that they
express" (24). (5) "A synthesis of possible intuitions belongs to a single individual object" (31). The first and second of these statements attribute priority
to the name, its concept, its universality, or its range of possible realizations,
and attributes the dependency of belonging to intuited singulars and
intuitive recognitions. The third statement attributes priority to the perceived
object and dependency to its name, with the proviso of the fourth statement
that only perceptual appearances, and not names, can belong to the objective
context of the thing.
We have to account for both the reversibility and the non-reversibility of
belongingness. Universal names and intuitions of individual objects both
have a kind of priority in relation to one another, and ongoing interpretation
leads back simultaneously to both naming concepts and singular intuitions
as to two primordial sources of consciousness; the respective priorities are
activated in the actual identifications during wh ich names and intuitions are
set up to belong to one another.
This last reading is suggested in the fifth statement of belonging: "A synthesis of possible intuitions belongs to a single individual object, intuitions



made one by the common intentional character conferred by every relation

to the same object" (31). Intuition is a1ways related to objects; relatedness
to objects opens ranges of intuitions; and ranges of intuitions are always in
the act of being synthesized. Or again, objective reference takes place when
a singular intuition sets in motion the syntheses of recognition (actual and
possible) which allow that intuition to be joined by others, to belong to a
common "objective context".
The problem of "belonging" thus leads at various points to a problem of
"context" (Zusammenhang).
What is a "context"? How do contexts originate and operate in the syntheses
of epistemic fulfilment? And what does it mean to say that presentations of
objects are situated, distributed, and in general synthesized within a context?
It is only in so far as intuitions fit into joint contexts of interpretation that intentional objects can be identified therein, and that names and things, and
intentions and intuitions, can be "intentionally locked together in a unity of
act" (28). In short, the problem of determining how ranges of intuitions
"belong" to naming intentions leads Husserl to a second characterization of
the ground of synthetic interpretative consciousness, based no longer on an
extended category of universals, but on categories of context.


Intuitions belong together under unifying interpretations. We are left with

versions of the three problems of synthesis. First, we have to explain why every
act of consciousness must be interpreted in contexts. Second, we have to
describe the mechanisms inherent in each act that determine the types and
quantities of other acts able to fit into its contexts, as weIl as the mechanisms whereby each act projects into and demands the contexts in which it
itself can be situated. Third, we have to speculate on the way the ideal of
completed interpretation functions in the unification of contexts.
In sections 1-7 of LU vi, Husserl describes the relation between a name and
the intuitions which fulfil its meaning as a "static" relation. At least in the case
of simple names, which refer to immediately perceivable objects, there is an
"exact fit" (genaue Anpassung, 34) between the meaning of the name and
the intuition that fulfils it. The meaning is fulfilled, as it were, at a single blow.
In section 8, Husserl proposes to deal with relations between intention and
fulfilment that are not "static" but "dynamic" (32), Le. in which meaning-intentions are fulfilled not all at once with an exact fit, but gradually and
approximately over time. It seems on the surface that identifications carried
out step by step are worth discussing primarily for methodological reasons:
first, because after treating the "simple" case of static identity we should
pass on to more complicated cases (5, also 24); and second, because our observations of temporally distinct phases of perceptual fulfilment might alert us
to distinct logical moments of fulfilment.
But the shift of concern from static to dynamic unity arises from a problem



within the static itself. The problem is that even in cases where there is a
one-to-one correspondence between meaning and intuition, the meaning must
still "prescribe" a range of possible intuitions "in advance" (even if a range
of one). The "belonging" of intuitions to names, we found, depends not just
on the abstract universality of the name, but also on the acts of calling something by name, on recognizing similar uses of the name, and on reapplying
the name to multiple presentations of the named object. Hence the "belonging" ,
even in static identity, must make the intuition belong to the intention, and
set up the relation of identification. The explanation of static identification
needs an account of the dynamic of looking forwards to an identifying completion, of coming up with a sequence of fulfilling acts, and of gathering
intuitions together in such a way that the result will count as the "interpretation" of the intended object. The dynamic of interpretation interrupts the
"quiet" unity of static identity, but only thereby are possibilities prescribed and
differences rendered unifiable.
In this section of chapter 6, I will look at the way in which categories of
"context" (Zusammenhang) contribute early in LU vi (especially ss. 8-12,
pp. 32-48) to an explication of the grounds, mechanisms, and ideal startingand end-points of the syntheses of identification. First, I will introduce the
problematics of the "dynamic" and the metaphor of "fitting into" epistemic
contexts. Second, I will look at the role of differences, distinctions, and distances in the unification of interpretative contexts. Third, I will introduce
problems involving interacting contexts, contexts within contexts, and latent
contexts, and in particular, the problem of the coherence of contexts and of
the storage in consciousness of implicit contexts. I will articulate Husserl 's
solutions in terms of lived interpretative synthesis, lived prescription, and lived
habit. Fourth, I will press the problem of the determinacy of interpretative
"needs for supplementation". I will argue that the categories of "context" are
inadequate to this task, in that they do not explain how partial interpretations fix directions for further enquiry, or how each contextualized act
anticipates the next, or how contexts are ideally limited or closed off. Only
Husserl 's categories of "perspective" in the succeeding sections of LU vi can
resolve these deficiencies. Finally, I will return to the metaphor of "fitting
in", and to a general account of Husserl's concept of synthesis.
(A) The Dynamics of Fitting-In

The unity of a meaning-intention and a meaning-fulfilment is dynamic if

there is a temporal distance between them (33). An intuition renders a signified object present provided that the signification and the intuition have the
same act-matter, Le. if the intuition presents the same aspects of the object
as had been meant (64, 88). Identification depends on there being no change
in the matter of the meaning during the dynamic in which contents of consciousness "are drawn outside one another and unfold in a temporal shape"
(19, 34). Yet if the matter of a meaning-intention is not changed when



intuitions are combined with it, neither is it indifferent to fulfilling intuitions.

Intention and fulfilment "point beyond themselves" to one another (89), as
meanings and intuitions satisfy each other's "needs for supplementation". Every
meaning has an "interpretative matter", which expresses "what" an object is;
it has an "interpretative form" which prescribes its "unity-form"; and it has
an "interpreted content" , a "representation" of the object itself in so far as
it is present in signs or in perceptions (90-91). In one sense intuitions
stand in a "contingent and external" relation to the meaning-intention,
which might never be fulfilled. But in another sense, the act-matter already
anticipates perceptions, and so indirectly does absorb contexts of fulfilling
The problem concerns how an intention determines in advance intuitions
that will "fit" it. The image of "fitting-in" suggests that a meaning-intention
is an empty space that can be covered (like a garment over a body, 25, 44)
only by certain intuitions, or a jig-saw puzzle piece with which only certain
intuitions will interlock. The intention prescribes in advance and the intuition satisfies requirements previously set. Identity "is not first brought into
[experience] from outside, through comparative and cognitively mediated
reflection, but is rather there from the beginning (von vornherein da) as lived
experience (Erlebnis), unexpressed and unconceptualized lived experience"
The Kantian argument that the capacity to compare contents of consciousness must precede their actual juxtaposition if the latter is ever to lead
a subject to make a comparison, is only one motive for Husserl's account of
experience lived in advance. Husserl's concern is with fitting an intuition
onto a name. The problem is that a name and an intuition do not have a
similar sensible appearance (54).
Now in the case of certain kinds of objects, two phenomena may not look
alike, but may nevertheless together make up a homogeneous whole. Two
dissimilar parts of a melody, for example, may "fit together" in so far as the
two together make up a single longer melody in which each part completes
those that precede it. But the synthesis of name and intuition is more problematic, for together they do not make up either one longer name or one longer
intuition. The passages we have looked at so far give the first two eIues to
the nature of "fitting in", one in terms of living-through experience, the other
in terms of the transition from free to fixed demands of interpretation.
The role of "lived" experience in the syntheses of identification begins
with Husserl's use of the connection between "concept" (Begriff) and "grasp"
(begreifen) (35). An empty intention refers to an object by planning how to
grasp hold of it, just as an interpretation (Auffassung) of an object is an attempt
to "fasten on" to it. A meaning-intention frames the goal to "live the passingover" (bergangserlebnis, 49) to fulfilment which, if successful, would identify
the meant object in the world that the subject actually lives in. The grasping
of the meaning-intention (the starting-point of intention-fulfilment relations),
thus intemalizes the dynamic of interpretation into the intention itself, provided



that it is always already passing over into a grasp of the world of already
intuited objects.
Similarly, the meaning-fulfilment (the end-point of intention-fulfilment relations), ac counts from the other direction for the same absorption of the
intention-fulfilment relation into the meaning-intention. To the extent that a
subject is presented with intuitions, he ceases to be "wholly free" in his interpretations of the object before hirn (92). Intuitions "set limits" (93) to the
interpretations a subject can frame about the world.
But this phenomenon renders problematic the sense in which possible
fulfilling intuitions are prescribed in advance by a meaning-intention. The
intention prescribes a range of possible intuitions, but it is precisely those
intuitions that limit the range of possibilities that an intention may prescribe.
Understood in one way, the fact that intuitions prescribe intentions is not
incompatible with the idea that intentions prescribe intuitions. There is no
problem in saying that an intention prescribes ways in which certain
intuitions either complement or restrict it, or cause it to be expanded or revised.
But the idea that intuitions set limits to how the world may be interpreted
suggests that meaning-intentions have their capacity to anticipate intuitions
fixed only after those intuitions are given, and that meaning-intentions alter
once they are fulfilled by intuitions. Husserl says on the one hand that an intention undergoes "a certain modification in character" once the intended object
has been intuited (38); but he says on the other hand that the intention does
not "suffer" this modification, that is, that its meaning is not changed when
it is limited (38). How does the process of freeing and fixing interpretations
account for the act of "fitting" intentions and intuitions into joint contexts?
I will examine three of Husserl's examples in ss. 9 and 10.
(I) The Manipulation

0/ Spatial Backgrounds

In the passage where Husserl explains the "unbroken unity" of intention and
fulfilment in terms of the way intuitions set boundaries to the freedom of
meaning-interpretation, he raises an analogy borrowed from geometry that calls
into play the notions of "context" and "background". The first point is that
intentions can anticipate intuitions that will fit them only if intentions are
already embedded in contexts of intuitions:
The same act of meaning-intention, which occurs as the empty symbolic presentation, also dweIls
in the complex act of recognition; but the meaning-intention, which was earlier 'free', is in the
stage of coincidence [Deckung, or covering], 'bound', or brought to 'indifference' [Indifferenz].
It is so peculiarly woven into or fused into this complex, that its meaning-essence, though it
does not suffer thereunder, nevertheless does experience, in a certain way, a modification.
Approximately the same holds universaIly, whenever we consider contents first for themselves, and the next time in combination with others, as parts of wholes woven together. The
combinations would not be combined if the combined contents experienced nothing through those
combinations .... One considers a stretched line first for itself, as something on an empty
white background and then the same stretch as a segment of a figure. In the latter case, it
collides in the context of other lines, it is touched by them, cut up, etc .... The same stretch



(namely the same according to its inner substance) appears to us over and over as something
different, depending on whether it enters into this or that phenomenal context; and if we fit
onto it a line or surface qualitatively identical with it, it becomes in fact 'indistinguishable' in
this background, it loses its phenomenal separation and its ability to count on its own (38).

The original line, the analogue of the meaning-intention, appears first in an

"empty" background, where the background is the analogue of the intuitions
that propose themselves as possible fulfilments of the intention. On a totally
empty background, we would probably not even speak of the direction of
the line, nor in a void would we speak of its length. The line must be broken,
cut apart, rivalled by other lines, and so must be obscured and hidden behind
complex patterns of other lines and shapes in order for it to be measurable
and fixed. It must recede into backgrounds before it can step forth from them.
But once background fusions have occurred, or can be presupposed, then the
line and its surrounding shapes may be considered as movable relative to
one another. Just as novice geometers re-arrange triangles on a page to find
equivalences to "fit" angles and sides, so the li ne will have possible equivalences on the background, and will be indistinguishable on the field from
the latter if moved to cover the same position. So by analogy, a meaning-intention is virtually indeterminate if conceived on an absolutely empty field of
intuitions. But on ce a subject has a complex field of intuitions to work with,
then a meaning-intention is interrupted by, and hence given possible grounds
for interpretation by, a system of background experiences. The meaning can
then be considered from various points of view; it can be compared with
intuitions in order to measure the distance between the object as meant and
the world as we know it, and it can be moved about, reconsidered, or reinterpreted with variations to determine whether unactualized intuitions might
fulfil it or whether alternate meanings would more closely fit the phenomena.
Should an intuitive content be found that fits the intention, the epistemic distances are "neutralized" or rendered "indifferent". It is not that the intention
becomes once again independent of intuitive context once it is covered by
an intuition that fits it and sets it off against the background. Rather, intention and intuition, here as ideal shape and sensuous mass, fit just because
each fixes the outlines of the other, so that they both stop lacking contextualization at the same time.
In this first analogy of contextual fittings-in, intentions and intuitions sometimes merge, and sometimes separate. Husserl needs a way of construing
meanings and intuitions as background for one another, each always cutting
into the other, where exact fit is defined as distance overcome, and difference as merging still to take place, where continuity is defined by its
possibilities of being cut into, and discontinuity by the persistence of figures
through backgrounds and coverings-over. Moments of interpretation must be
shown to constantly appear and reappear in manipulatable contexts, to alternately lose their phenomenal separateness and achieve new capacities to stand
out on their own, or in short, to alternately enter into and pass out of contexts.
Consequently, the subject matter under investigation must not be construed



to be the distinct acts of meaning and intuiting, but to be the system of experiential contexts as an ongoing project, within which intentions and intuitions
are constantly being fixed and violated in the act of fitting objective interpretations together.
(11) The Acting Out of Habitual Expectations
In Husserl's next version of the contextual fitting in of intentions and fulfilments, the emphasis shifts from the manipulability of spatial figures to the
acting out of habitual expectations.
Husserl argues that the anticipation-fulfilment relation is not limited to
the cognitive recognition of intended objects in perception, but can also be
found in the satisfaction of desires, the resolution of doubts, and so on. Of
the many forms of "lived fulfilment", the paradigm is that of actual and
expected intuitions, as in the playing out of a continuous melody:
When the beginning of a familiar melody sounds a tone, there emerge determinate intentions,
which find their fulfilment in the step by step filling out of the shape [Ausgestaltung] of the
melody. In approximately the same way, it finds [fulfilment] when the melody is alien to uso
The lawful regularities prevailing in the melody condition intentions, which to be sure lack
fuB objective determinacy, but still find or can find fulfilments (39).

The melody fragment, no matter how short or how unfamiliar, leaves the
listener with an "expectation" (Erwartung, 40), a "demand for supplementation from a lawfully circumscribed sphere" of determinations (40). The
fragment consists of a "pointing" by way of a "direction" (Richtung, 40)
towards a relatively "indeterminate" range of possibilities. The relations
between determinacies and indeterminacies are at the centre of this problematic. A straightforward account would be three-fold. First, the melody fragment
that has actually been experienced is itself fully determinate. Second, the range
of expected completions is indeterminate in its limits - a listener could not
be expected to name in advance all the melody-fragments which would satisfy
his expectations nor even to be able to tell without hearing it whether a
certain score would be satisfying. Third, the sounds that do satisfy hirn will
again make a determinate sound.
There are two problems. The first concems the extent to which "directions" of possible fulfilment have to be fixed in order for an experience to carry
a determinate expectation. The second concerns how expectations are possible
at all. Husserl's solution in these passages will be to say the expectations
are fixed by "habit", a solution that seems at first too easy, but in fact introduces subtle and complex issues of retention.
We may pursue the problem of the determinacy of expectations by developing the example drawn from melody. Most Western listeners would expect
not to have a Mozart melody followed by, or supplemented in the background
by, a blues line. It is no doubt the tones themselves that supply the context
to which subsequent tones must be added. 1 (Two notes will have more possible



completions, and hence raise fewer determinate expectations, than three.)

But if a lived experience is an experience with emergent expectations, it seems
that the trained listener actually hears more of the determinacy of the sounded
tones than does the listener who is not used to hearing such tones or to framing
such expectations. But if the determinacy of the actual sounds depends on
the determinacy of the ranges of their fulfilments, then it seems after all that
the actual sounds are themselves only relatively determinate. Melodies are only
recognizable for what they are on ce they have already been placed in the
context of larger systems of melodies.
It may seem at first a cheat to explain how directions of possibility become
determined by saying that experiencing subjects draw on their past experience (40), as if they already have to have known an object in order to know
how to know it. Yet on the model of picking intuitions and fulfilments out
of "perceptual contexts" (40-1), intentions and intuitions are drawn from,
and drawn out in, contexts of experience which are in a sense already "there"
(von vornherein da) for the experiencing subject.
But now if we take the seemingly easy route of appealing to habit to explain
how much expectation an experiential content will raise, it becomes especially difficult to explain how it happens at all. If expectation is prescribed
not by universals but by "habitual contexts" (60) of expectation running all
through experience under the surface, then the ground of synthesis in general
remains problematic. Whatever the virtues of grounding synthetic interpretation in ongoing processes of interpretation already in progress, an account
that only appeals to an always deferred prior experience, i.e. which explains
each expectation by referring back to an earlier expectation, is ultimately no
account at all.
In the section where Husserl draws the example from melody, he draws
two more examples which we can use to fill out his theory of expectation
and habit. One deals with obstacles to the visibility of backgrounds, the other
with perspectival continuities. The second (which I will deal with in the next
section) approaches the problem of how an actual experience sets expectations in motion, namely by being a "side" of an object that "shadows-off"
into the "next" side. The theory of perspective will explain how a present experience re-absorbs in an ongoing way those expectations built up in the past.
The first example presses the problem of background expectations further back
into the realm of merely implicit experience.
(III) The Re-Moving of Obstacles

The relation of intentions to possible fulfilments is broader than the

phenomenon of "expecting" or "awaiting" objects to come into presence.
Husserl describes two cases in which the intention-fulfilment relation holds
even where a subject cannot really be said to expect to see an intention's
fulfilling intuition. First, when experience is "at rest" rather than "in flux" (41),
a subject may not be explicitly thinking ahead at all. The second case is



more complicated, and involves the presence of physical obstacles preventing

intuitive fulfilment:
If I see an incomplete decorative pattern, e.g. in this tapestry which is partly covered over by
pieces of furniture [Mbelstcke], the piece [Stck] seen is as it were afflicted with intentions,
which point to supplementations (we feel, so to speak, that the lines and colour-shapes continue
to go on in the 'sense' of that which has been seen); but we expect nothing. We would be able
to expect something, if movement were to promise us further seeing. But possible expectations
or provocations towards possible expectations are not themselves expectations (40).

I will say a few things about the account of backgrounds in this passage,
and then I will introduce two problems which I will be working on from this
point forward in the present chapter.
The fact that the subject does not expect to see the tapestry when he looks
at the furniture in front of it, is itself a kind of expectation, which has to be
explained just like any other. How is the expectation that further viewings
will be blocked grounded in what is actually viewed, and how does Husserl's
account of the peculiar expectation of absences of fulfilling intuitions contribute to the general account of expectation?
The "step by step" process of "going on" with perception occurs "piece
by piece". The fragment of the tapestry's pattern (Muster), interrupted by
the piece of furniture, is a "non-independent" shape which, "in the manner
of a part" (teilweise), Le. of a non-independent part, passes over its limits
towards a whole with outer limits. The pattern-fragment is thus a "model"
(an alternate translation of Muster) for going on (fortgehen) towards the next
lines and colours hidden by the furniture. But instead of seeing the next "piece"
of the pattern, an experiencing subject will see the "piece" of furniture. The
latter piece takes the place of the former. But now the very reason why the
viewing subject does not expect to see the rest of the pattern is that he expects
it to be under the piece of furniture. He knows that the pattern is in the background covered over by the foreground furniture. Or to say the same thing with
the pattern as the object in question, he knows that it has been submerged under
an obstacle which, epistemically speaking, is in the background. The very
fact that the object and its covering could each be given the title "foreground"
or "background", indicates that they "cover" the same space, just as lines in
manipulated figures "cover" one another, and just as intentions and fulfilments
"cover" one another (38). To be sure, the latter two cases of covering (Deckung,
38) have the sense of "coincidence", while the other has the sense of "coveringup" (verdecken, 40). But in fact there is little difference in the intentionfulfilment relations. For the furniture is only taken to "cover over" the pattern
once it is understood that under the furniture is the very pattern which will
"coincide" with expectations set in motion by the visible pattern fragment. The
subject fails to expect to see the remainder of the pattern under the
furniture just because he expects that he would see it under the furniture.
Are wh at we might call transcendentally grounded expectations - not
the explicit expectations for experiences coming up soon, but the implicit
expectations for certain experiences under certain conditions - indifferent to



what we might call merely factical obstacles? In short, are cases of expectation blocked by physical obstacles irrelevant to the ground of expectation in
In fact, there are three features of the pattern-behind-the-furniture model
of intention and fulfilment not present in the line-on-a-surface model and
the melody-with-a-finale model. First, we are offered here the possibility of
"movements" that would render explicit, and then satisfy the expectations
for, seeing the hidden pattern. The manipulation of the lines and the projection of the melody are also movements of sorts, but here the subject recognizes
possibilities in what he perceives in part by recognizing his own ability to
change his point of viewing. Second, we are here dealing not just with shapes
and sounds, but with shaped substances whose backgrounds are their own backsides. Third, we operate here through counterfactuals, through the opening
of possibilities from out of absences, through the overcoming of obstacles.
'If movement were to disclose a new point of view, then ... etc.'. Indeed statements like this define expectations of as yet unexperienced perceptions, even
if no explicit obstacles are in the way: 'If this melody were completed, it would
have to sound like ... ', and so on. Far from being incidental to the constitution of expectations, the presence of implicit obstacles, as the limitations
over wh ich intuitions must pass if meaning-intentions are to be fulfilled, is
the condition of all expectations.
If we put these three features together, we arrive at the following results.
An object is experienced in a lived way when its presence is seen through
its absent sides, sides which are in turn made present by the viewer's movements and made possible by the object's many-sidedness.
We can still say that an experience activates expectations by reaching back
into background contexts and activating habituated possibilities, but this takes
on a new sense. When a subject looks at a pattern-fragment cut off by furniture, he unreflectively assurnes that the pattern continues below the cut-off
point. We can say that he does so out of habit, but we would not mean that
he has experienced such patterns before, or that he has formed an inductive
rule that objects whose visibility is cut off by another object must continue
behind it in roughly the same way. Rather, the habituality that governs expectations is co-extensive with the unreflectiveness of the assumptions that there
are always backgrounds and that multi-sided objects always have sides not
in view. The sense in which it is through habit that meaning-contents anticipate fulfilment, is that an object is experienced as being already present to
the vi ewer in more ways than he is yet aware of. When a subject implicitly
realizes that the tapestry's pattern could be seen if only he could look under
the furniture, he also recognizes that there is more to the objective situation
which as yet lies under the surface of his experience. And when he recognizes that an obstacle is covering over apart of the object he is experiencing,
he also recognizes that he can re-cover the hidden parts. And when he
recognizes that he can move the furniture and find the rest of the pattern, he
also recognizes that, having been interrupted, he can later find it again. In short,



every viewing carries with it a context, (a) because whatever surroundings it

has inevitably count as its backgrounds, (b) because every viewing is a rediscovery of a new view on something that was already implicit in previous
viewings, and (c) because every viewing aHows for re-viewings and so gives
every viewing still to come the status of habitual reproduction. The possibility of contextualizing an experience is the possibility of referring-back to
what the object has been all along, and at the same time of pre-supposing
and pre-scribing the object's underlying properties and its sides that lie under
other things.
Now, the grounding of contexts of fulfilment in the fact that every experience occurs in medias res and so already consists of the coming into
foreground and the leaving behind in background of a whole mass of perceptual
and interpretative material that it has not yet reflected upon, has a peculiar consequence for the question of how determinate intuitive contexts have to be
in order to be relevant to the fulfilment of a given meaning-intention. We
have to say that every possible intuition will exhibit some part of the background world of objects. All experience demands to be interpreted together
in a joint context. In asense, of course, that is just wh at we want to say.
Every object is the background for every other; and for every object whatsoever, every other object is in a certain sense an obstacle from some point
of view. But more is needed for an account of contexts than the ground of
the contextualization of experience as a whole; more is needed than a totalizing drive towards synthetic interpretation. Also needed is an account of
how synthesis can lead to an interpretation that is coherent, as weH as an
account of differentiated sub-contexts for interpreting individual objects and
spheres of objects.
But before moving to these topics, I want to outline two problems of the
synthesis of contexts that will largely guide the sections following. I will
refer to the first as the problem of the location in consciousness of non-explicit
backgrounds. The account which I am giving grounds synthetic activity in
the ongoing movements towards interpretation carried out by actual systems
of experience operating as self-propelling interpretative wholes. It locates
the individual meaning's capacity to prescribe fulfilments in advance in its
ability to absorb a whole-complex of experiential dynamics. We have just seen
Husserl say that the individual "piece" of experience is "infected" with intentions that point towards supplements, as if the organic autonomy of each
piece is threatened with a disease leading to its dispersal into various interpretative directions, a plague spreading from part to part until all is infected
with anticipations. But the problem for my reading concerns the status of
the non-explicit complex which resides in and guides the completion of, but
is not part of, actual experiences. Not all readings of Husserl's concept of
synthesis would have such a problem. If synthesis were grounded on
universal categories or on an active ego, there would be aseparate faculty
to give the meaning-intention its anticipatory force without being apart of
it. Alternatively, there are readings that would have such a problem but no way



to resolve it. If synthesis were grounded on and limited to empirical bundles

of experiences, there could be nothing in consciousness that is not an explicit
content in the stream of consciousness, and hence nothing that could ground
an intention's anticipations that is not apart of the meaning. On my reading,
empiricist and process-accounts of synthesis are correct in limiting consciousness to the actual process of conscious experiences. But I have been
arguing that if the process reading incorporates a dialectic of backwardreference, then it can also allow a role for apriori categories and originary
but non-explicit grounds of conscious activity which a subject is never actually
aware of but does always refer back to. But how can the present content of
experience, which exhausts all that consciousness is at that moment, include
any implicit reference or absent influence that is not an explicit part of its
content? How is it possible for a subject to go back to, or to withdraw his attention into, a background that has ceased to be, or has never yet been, apart
of his explicit stream of consciousness?
The second problem I will refer to as the problem of the interpenetration
of contextual systems. When a subject looks at a tapestry's pattern, the lines
and colours fit together as a system of shapes and intensities, and constitute
a single spatial context. But as soon as the tapestry is interrupted by the furniture, the context splits up into a multiplicity of contexts. For the context
of the pattern's own extended possibilities continues implicitly as if uninterrupted, but the spatial context that includes a pattern-fragment and a piece
of furniture is superimposed on top of it. How does a subject work with
partially superimposed contexts? The matter is complicated by additionallayers
of phenomena, e.g. by the melodies that a subject may be imaginatively completing while he inspects the tapestry, or by a conversation about the tapestry
that may at times prompt his interest in the hidden fragment and at other
times make hirn forget it, and so on. If we imagine a context as a sort of
conceptual space, then we should expect a continuous mapping-system on
which meanings and intuitive fulfilments would be organized in a manageable number of directions and with straightforward measures of distance. But
if contexts work by not only plotting the cutting-apart and the organization
of contents contextualized within it, but also by being cut across by other
relatively independent contexts, then the problem of contexts is not just the
problem of how individual contents have contexts, but also of how contexts
have contexts. It is not just the problem of how two contents exist under a
single interpretation, but also of how consciousness is a system of contexts
that confers a world-interpretation on all experience as a system of systems
of interpretation.
(B) Conflict and Complexity

The introduction of disunities into and between the contexts in which

intuitions are fit into intentions, appears first to threaten the notion that consciousness as a whole is a unifiable context of world-interpretation. If an object



is experienced in different contexts, it seems that no single interpretation

will consistently describe the object as a whole. But if disunities can be unified,
then "paradoxically" (109) "unity is founded by conflict" and there seems
no real distinction between ifientifying and differentiating interpretations.
There are two places in LU vi, 1 where Husserl discusses the role of disunity
in contexts of interpretation: ss. 11-12 (41-48), where he discusses the unitydisunity relation first as an identity-non-identity relation (s. 11) and second
as a whole-part relation (s. 12); and s. 33 (108-111), on consistency. I will
articulate three senses in the earlier treatment in which disunity contributes
to unity in interpretation, and then will bring out the "positive" role of disunity
in the later passage.
A meaning-intention prescribes a range of intuitive fulfilments, and intuitions outside that range fail to fulfil that meaning. In cases where a subject
does not expect to have a given meaning fulfilled, the presence of an
intuition that does not fall within the range prescribed by that meaning would
be a mere "privation" (Privation, 41, 112) of its fulfilment. But when he
does expect to find the meaning fulfilled in an upcoming experience, and
that experience fails to occur, the failure is more than privative - instead, in
a "positive" way (positiv, 112), it "frustrates" or "puts the lie to", or "uncovers
the delusion of" (Enttuschung, 4lf.), or "conflicts with" (42ff.), or "disagrees
with" or "is disharmonious with respect to" (42) the meaning-intention. The
conflict between what was expected and what occurs "separates" (42) intention and fulfilment. Instead of exhibiting the identity of the meant object
with the object present, it exhibits their "distinctness".
In at least two ways, non-fulfilling intuitions are as necessary to interpretative consciousness as fulfilling intuitions. First, on the assumption that
there is more than one object in the world, there will have to be intuitions
which privatively fail to satisfy any given meaning-intention. Second, on the
assumption that no subject will be able to correctly anticipate every way in
which every object will ever appear, there will have to be intuitions which
conflict with given meaning-intentions.
The recognition that an intuition frustrates a meaning-intention is similar
to the recognition that an intuition fulfils a meaning-intention. Both invoke
"forms of synthesis" (42), and attempt to fit intuitions into the context of
meanings. When the fitting fails, the subject recognizes that the object before
hirn is not what he thought it was but something else. From Husserl's descriptions of cognitive frustration, we can specify three senses in which the negative
results of unsuccessful synthetic activity have positive consequences for
a subject's interpretation of the world. These in turn bear on how intentions
anticipate fulfilments in the first place.
First, the experience of conflict between what was meant and what appears
"presupposes" an "agreement" as its "basis" (42). When a subject is given
grounds to make a judgment like "S is not P after an" (e.g. "The roof is not
red after an", to adapt one of Husserl's examples), after having expected that
S would be P, he sets aside his reference to P, but he continues to identify



one and the same S. Each failure to synthesize an intuition with a meaning
includes a successful synthesis. Underlying the recognition that an object,
and therefore the world as a whole, is not as expected, is the recognition
that it is that object, or at least the world, which is not as expected.
Second, frustrating intuitions give the subject grounds to distinguish,
compare, and contrast the expected content with the one present. When a
subject judges that "The roof is red" and then finds that it is not red but
green, he recognizes the mutual exclusion of red and green. As long as he
has already identified the expected red surface and the perceived green surface
as one and the same surface, he may then consider contrasts between various
colour-properties that that surface does or could have had. That certain
intuitions can frustrate a meaning-intention indicates that the meaningintention already contained rules for the exclusion of certain intuitions. It
not only included the expectation to find P but also the expectation not to
find not-Po
Intuitive frustrations thus differentiate possibilities in the context of interpretative wholes. Needless to say, many sorts of experience and judgment
operate in this way. Two objects, for example, are thought to be different when
the meanings that refer to them anticipate essentially different fulfilments.
An object is shown to be different than it was thought to be, when the meaning
is frustrated in particular points while being satisfied in essential points; and
so on. To be sure, there will always be a problem of deciding which
intuitions in a range of anticipated intuitions are sufficient to put the lie to a
meaning-intention. But such a problematic is to be expected of a theory of
knowledge based on a theory of contexts. Every unexpected intuition problematizes the world-interpretation that had failed to anticipate the intuition
at hand. It forces are-evaluation and, within limits, are-interpretation of the
whole-context of previous interpretation. It requires a new interpretation, one
that can consistently inc1ude the unexpected member.
The third positive result of failed anticipations is that they demand the
pursuit of more comprehensive interpretations. Indeed successful anticipations
work in exactly the same way. Every content prescribes not just one but a
multiplicity of possible fulfilments and so opens itself to a range of possible
interpretations. It al ready differentiates the parts of its own meaning by
differentiating partial fulfilments. When meanings which are not "simple" or
"isolated" but rather "complex" or "contextual" suffer intuitive frustration, they
do not undergo an out and out "contradiction" (Widersinn); rather, they undergo
a "counter-struggle" (Widerstreit) among their possible interpretations. Indeed
strictly speaking, "conflict" (Widerstreit) does not pertain to "simple" acts at
all (43).
Husserl's descriptions of failed anticipation are frequently articulated in
formal terms. Thus he formalizes the difference between (a) an intended object
8 with properties (e, 11, L), which is so dependent on the property that an
intuition of -e would be taken to negate the existence of 8; (b) an intended
object contextualized as the substance with properties 8(e, 11, L) which



is open to comparison with the slightly different object 8ee, TI, t); (c) an
intention 8(e, TI) which could just as easily be identified as 8(e, TI, t) if e
should be intuited, as it could be identified as 8ee, TI, t) if -e should be
intuited, and so on. But such formalizations are always grounded in the
synthetic activities of consciousness which render such forms possible. Hence
every exclusion of one intuitive possibility by another "leads back" to the
fact that the "pre-given self-frustrated intuition is one part of a comprehensive intention" (44), and that frustrations ground the "intersections" (44) of
interpretative possibilities in the web-like context of lived experience.
Thus when a subject's intention "This red-tiled roof" "excludes" (Exklusion,
45) the intuition of something that is green, or aluminum, or not a roof but
a facade, it is not that the subject simply lacks an anticipation of those other
intuitions. And upon experiencing those intuitions, he would not merely fail
to incorporate them into his interpretation. Rather "exclusion" (Ausscheidung,
46) is the subject's way of establishing that which is "outside the borderline" of the interpretation he has been working with, as, for example, "tiled"
excludes all sorts of properties included under the idea of aluminum siding,
from technical properties such as rust-preventing, to economic properties
such as warranteed, to colour properties such as enamel off-whites, to sociological properties such as bungalow, and so on. Once an interpretation of an
object previously thought to be a roof is challenged by the intuitive apprehension that the object present is in fact only a facade, are-interpretation of
other attributions of properties to the object will also have to take place. The
subject will have to reconsider whether it had other features which had been
present all along but had gone unnoticed or had been similarly misinterpreted. If it is not a roof but a facade, the subject will have to rethink whether
it is a religious building, its date of construction, and whether its colouring
will vary with the play of light on its sculpted surfaces, etc. In short, the
syntheses of exclusion force the subject to return to contextual backgrounds
and their differentiated possibilities for re-interpretation.
The same result is found in "inclusion" (Inklusion, 46). An intuitive
fulfilment may contain not only that which an intention "needed", but "more".
But again, to add to a meaning-intention, or to "fit" new determinations into
it, is not just to subsume new properties into an interpretation in the way
that members are "subsumed" into a class (Subsumption, 49). To subsume properties under an interpretation is rather to "order them into" (Einordnung, 46)
a stream of experience. An interpretation always already begins as a complex,
and new determinations construct out of it a larger complex. An interpretation is a context with the capacity to separate itself off from, and/or to absorb
other such contexts, and to persist in its self-identity by widening and
narrowing the explicitness of its ranges of anticipations.
An intuition that conflicts with a meaning-intention neither undermines that
meaning in its entirety nor fits smoothly into it as just one more fact (albeit
a negative fact) known about the intended object. For Husserl, the principle
that "conflict can found unity" (we move now to s. 33, 108-111) means that



when a particular point of interpretation is discarded in the face of conflict,

an old unity of interpretation must be superceded and a new unity thought:
"The failure of the unity W characterizes the conflict combining P and Q
... - in the context determined through the idea of W. But that does not
create the unity W, but an other unity" (111). When a subject expects to see
a roof that is red but sees something green instead, he does not construct a
unity of red and green and so think of a two-toned roof. Nevertheless, there
are other unities that he is forced to attend to. He can think red and green
together under the class of "things which conflict" (111), or he can recognize that both colours are alleged to occupy the same bodily space (108).
Conflict is a spur to re-interpretation. The discovery that two contents of
consciousness are "incompatible" (unvertrglich, 109) is the discovery that
each content "does not bear connection" with, or "carry over into" (nicht
vertragen, 109), certain others. When conflict forces the subject to "refer back"
(Rcksicht, 109) to an intention, the backward referent, e.g. the redness of
the roof, must thereby already have been the pre-thinking of the surface's exclusion of other colours. That is, the actual world is interpreted as excluding
possibilities by virtue of being interpreted as including possibilities - or
taken together, as a world whose actual possibilities are determinately distanced from its non-actual possibilities. And the whole reconstituted unity of
interpretative elements, which understands the world as a system of systems
(or a context of contexts) of inclusion and exclusion, is implicit in the unity
of each intention. Each intention is a "guiding" or "mastering intention"
(herrschende Intention, 110, also 73) in so far as it will unfold, given the introduction of any discontinuity, into a whole world-interpretation.
The issue of whether negations contribute positively to understanding goes
back to Hegel, and in a broader sense, to Plato's Sophist. Stated narrowly,
the problem of "determinate negation" is whether the discovery that something
is not the case implies that something else is the case. I am attributing a
strong sense of determinate negation to Husserl. But there are problems both
in attributing this doctrine to Husserl and in the doctrine itself. To be sure,
there is no problem in cases where a discovery conflicts with expectations, and
so presents some actual intuition absent from the expectation. A subject in such
a case is not in a position to see that the roof is not red until he sees the
roof as other than red, e.g. as green (though if he were told that the roof is
not red without being told what colour it really is, this negation would not
contribute to his knowledge of the roof 's colour). Yet it seems to overstate
the case to say that replacing the quality "red" with the quality "green" in
the subject's experience would force hirn to re-interpret the whole-complex
system of intentions and identities. It seems simpler to say that the interpretations of all qualities of the roof other than its colour would remain unaffected.
There seems no guarantee that when the negation of a property (e.g. the discovery that the roof is not red) leaves a gap in that object's interpretation
(Le. with respect to colour), the subject will be determinately directed towards
filling that gap (i.e. that he will be closer to knowing what its colour is).



Nor need the replacement of an expected with a discovered property yield a

more comprehensive interpretation rather than just a different one.
Now, we could mini.mize the difficulty. For one thing, Husserl would not
say that all conflict leads to unity. We might save the idea that conflict leads
to the re-interpretation of contexts by saying that a simple property like the
object's shade of colour can be added or subtracted without affecting the
other properties of the objective interpretation, but that the alteration of a
complex property like the object's cultural function or its overall visual appearance activates the need for arevision of a complex system of interpretations.
But such qualifications seem ad hoc. There is no obvious reason why simple
properties should be less contextualized in an interpretative system than
complex properties. And even in cases where it is plausible to think that a
frustrating intuition would call for interpretative revisions of the background
context of properties also attributed to the object in question, we have still
not accounted for the determinacy of the direction of those needs for revision
and supplementation (see 39). How does conflict "lead" to the "next" (70)
interpretative revision? I have argued that the model of the context with
members that belong-together in it is supposed to provide a stronger sense
of synthetic combination than does the name with properties that are predicated of it. According to the categories of context, determinations belong to
an object not as a list of items belong under a heading, but as a system of
meanings anticipate, carry over into, and differentiate themselves from, each
other. But if we still have not uncovered the ground of "implicit" expectation, then the discovery that an object is not red but green could just as easily
be explained with the category of classes of predicates as with the category
of contextual systems. What we still need is an account of individual determinations that intrinsically contain the directions for passing over into one
another. In the next section, we will discuss the advance that can be made
on this problem using Husserl's descriptive category of the perspective that
shades off into the "next".
But there is still one characterization of contextual re-interpretation whose
possibilities for grounding synthetic interpretation we have not yet exhausted.
We have suggested that demands for re-interpretation in the face of conflict
become more plausible as the unexpected determination becomes more
complex, or conflicts with more aspects of what was expected. That is, it seems
most plausible to think that synthesis works through contexts in cases where
the subject is already treating his world-interpretation as a single wholecomplex, a lived synthetic whole. And indeed I have been arguing throughout
that it is only through the ongoing synthetic processes of lived experience as
a self-unifying but differentiated whole that individual acts of consciousness
take on the capacity to ground the synthetic relations with one another that
then in turn ground the ongoing synthetic processes of the whole.



(C) Lived Synthesis

Lived synthesis activates a whole context of interpretation. At the end of LU

i, Husserl uses the idea of "lived experience" to articulate the idea that experiencing apremiss in an argument is not like passively registering its presence,
but is the active recognition that the premise "points forwards to" a conclusion. The lived experience of a meaning is the circumscription of a wholecontext of meanings that follow from it.
This idea allows us to develop the idea of the "mastering" (herrschend,
73) or "all-capturing" (berwinden, 67) intention. The circumscription "in
advance" (70-73) of a "whoIe synthesis" of intentions and fulfilments, is an
act in which the "imperfection of one-sided presentation is overcome in an
all-sided one" (67). Now it may not be necessary for all possible supplementations to be included in a meaning in the same sense. A meaning might
include so me possibilities by explicitly calling for certain intuitions, but others
only in that it could capture them in an interpretation were they to arise. The
whole intention-fulfilment relation does not take place "in a single blow" (in
einem Schlage, 67). But if the "capture" of an object's many-sided determinations takes place not in one blow, then how does a meaning-intention capture
all the sides of an object in advance?
A whole, as we saw in LU iii, is a founded relation between member parts,
and the recognition of a whole is the re-membering of those parts. To "capture"
intuitions under a meaning is to "carry out" interpretations "piece by piece".
The alternative to the type of whole-synthesis that captures a unity of experiences in a single blow is therefore one that adds each new piece onto the
last (67). The circumscription (umschreiben) of anticipated experiences is on
this model an "attribution" (zuschreiben, 80) of possibilities onto a meaning
that it belongs with (mitmeinen, 80), and it inscribes that anticipated part in
the manner of an "addition", a "postscript", or "something posited also"
(Zusatz, 67). To activate a whole-synthesis of interpretation is to master the
possibility of including additions, qualifications, and limitations, to "capture"
the multi-sidedness of a meaning as it winds its way through the thickening
plot of experience.
Contextuality depends on the active ordering of experiential contents into
interpretative developments. A synthesis is "lived" unity because it is a development of increasingly complex interpretation whereby each new experience
is added into the standing complex. And each meaning has a context in so
far as it arises as the content to be added to the last meaning. It is in this
sense that habit determines the possibility of future contexts: only meanings
which fit into pre-existing contexts can demand future contexts. It is in this
sense too that unity underlies conflict: conflicting meanings lead to re-interpretation, but for that matter every series of meanings is aseries of
re-interpretations. The act-matter which acts as the "carrier" (Trger, 64) of
meaning also brings that meaning into a relation of "consistency" (Trglichkeit,
102) with surrounding act-matters: the cognition of each act "carries the matter



along" through aseries of fittings-in and non-fittings-in, all of which demand

the carriers' joint "unifiability through re-interpretation" (Vereinbarkeit, 105,
giving Ver- the sense of "different" or "anew").
The idea of a meaning-context that only works when whole systems of interpretation are carried over from each part-presentation into the one which is
immediately outside it, is in effect the idea of a perspective.
Husserl's most developed account of "complexes" and "contexts" is also
an account of the continuity and independence of perspectives. Husserl distinguishes two senses in which intuitive presentations can be both complex and
singular. First, a complex perception with a manifold of visual and interpretative content may still be called a simple presentation if it presents a single
object in a single content, as a single perspectival perception can do. The
perception of an object has parts (e.g. points of sensation) but no one part independently presents that object. Second, a complex perception mayaiso be a
complex presentation if each part of the perception is already a presentation
of the object. For example, a continuous series of perspectival perceptions may
be both singular (since it incorporates a single continuous view) and complex
(in that each moment in the series is already a perspectival presentation of
the object.) The first type of complex act can only count as a presentation
of an object if it is present all at once and in a single blow; the second type
continues to be a presentation of an object even though it is extended over
aseries of acts which are temporally and cognitively distanced from each
The distances and differences between the parts of a presentation that is
complex in the second sense are precisely those whose unification produces
an identification of one external "thing" (Ding, 99). To see that "the object
itself" (100) is self-identically present, it is not enough to have an intuition
that fits as apart into the first sort of complex presentation; to see that a
green house is present, it is not enough to have asensation of greenness, or
to combine the sensation of greenness with the shape of a house, or to fit
the sensation into a perspectival field. The green house itself is presented
only when a perspectival perception fits into the interpretative context of an
ongoing sequence of perspectival perceptions, when one of its sides is
combined with its other sides.
The transition from the category of context to that of perspective is thus
the transition from a category of bringing unitary contents into a unified
interpretation to one of producing a unified interpretation out of aseries of
contents each of which is already a unified interpretation. A perspectival
system constitutes both the "continuous syntheses" of sides and the perspectival independence of each side. Lived synthesis forces synthetic interpretation
to continuously pass beyond itself into aseries of extended additions and completions. It both allows experiential contents to be separated off in the form
of distinct perspectives, and also allows the unification of those perspectives
- not all at once, but in the transitions from one to the next - to count as
the presentation of "the object itself".



To lead into a discussion of perspectives, I will give a final statement of

the problem of "fitting in".
(D) The Beginning and the End of the "Fit"

Once the model of "fitting like a garment" (25, 44) is dismissed, Husserl
has three ways of characterizing the "fit": (i) in terms of intentions that "flow
over" into intuitions, and so prescribe forms of fitting-in from the beginning,
(ii) in terms of contextual systems that fit intentions and intuitions together
in medias res, and (iii) in terms of intuitions that complete interpretations
and so set criteria for fitting intuitions into interpretations from the standpoint of the ideal end-point of those interpretations.
(i) Intention and intuition "fit" together in the sense that they "belong"
together (64). In "dynamic" identification, intention and intuition are temporally distinct, and although they "flow over into one another" (34), the goal
of "exact fit" cannot apply. In this reciprocal overflow, an identification of
an object occurs - not "brought in from outside through comparison", but
presupposed "in advance" or "from the beginning" (von vornherein) in the
form of mutual demands for supplementation (35). In other words, intuitions
"fit" intentions just because an intention picks out "the object itself" and so
looks forward towards its own intuitive supplements (100).
(ii) Once each intention is characterized in terms of its prescription of
supplements, then the whole system of acts is characterized as an ongoing
process of interpretations fitting into one another. Each act both generates,
and is subject to, contexts, functioning as a signpost that indicates routes
and directions for locating acts that might come "next" on a cognitive map.
The point here is that the beginning of a joumey on a map is relative to the
choice of a point of origin. Each prescription of determinate supplements
depends on determinacy already having been attributed to that content (e.g.
44) and retained out of habit (e.g. 60). In one sense, every content "fits" into
the whole. In another, the blending of larger interpretative contexts is possible
only once local and limited contexts take on enough complexity to be able
to establish determinate relations to others (106). That is, each new experience
fixes the determinacy with which all past and future contents are able to fit
with one another.
(iii) Contexts remain underdetermined until they point forwards to a finality
of interpretative wholeness. Up to a point, contents of consciousness can fit
together even if an absolute unity of interpretation cannot yet be envisaged.
An uninterpreted perception, for example, can be "weIl-fitting" (121), provided
that it is a "lead" (Hinsicht, 121) to "getting nearer" to an interpretation. But
any provisional fit depends on the possibility of a good fit, on the ideal possibility of a last phase of interpretative completion, one wh ich would bring
the object itself to full presence, would render contextual expectations fully
determinate, and would close off the possibility of expanding the range of
potential intuitive inclusions. But what this means is that the category of



perspectives will itself have to be supplemented by a category of the ideal

possibility of interpretative c1osure. And in turn, while this ideal c10sure may
never in fact take place, it nevertheless has consequences for the ongoing interpretation of interpretations (60). The ideal end-points of interpretation will thus
activate both forward references and backward references. This argument
will carry us to the end of the chapter, through sections dealing with Husserl's
categories of "perspective", "limit", and "referring backward".

Early in LU vi, Husserl describes perceptions of partially apprehended objects

as "perspectivally foreshortened and projected" (perspektivisch verkurtzt und
abgeschattet, 41, 56). In this section of Chapter 6, I will begin by reviewing
the problems of synthesis that the categories of perspective are designed to
solve. I will then discuss four categories of perspective: Namely, "shadowingoff" (Abschattung, LU vi 50-58), "perspectival foreshortening" (41),
"ordering" (Einordnung, 80-86) and the "limit-point" (67). But first I will
say a few words about the historical and systematic background of the concept
of perspective.
The modern concept of perspective originates in Leon Battista Alberti 's
(Della Pittura, 1435) notion of one-point perspective. The idea was that a visual
field should be represented in a painting as converging on a central point of
focus, a vanishing point against which all other figures on the field would
be measured. Foreshortening techniques create the illusion of multi-sided
figures, and also create a double zero-point for the viewing subject's entry into
the world. First, the painting is to be seen from a certain perspective point,
namely the viewer's eye. Second, it is to be seen as converging on a single
perspective point, namely the pictorial and narrative centre of the composition.
In phenomenological terms, there is one subjective unity from which synthetic interpretation takes place, and one objective unity towards which
synthetic interpretation leads forwards. The multiplicity of experience converges at both the subject-pole and the object-pole.
But one-point perspective ran into problems from the beginning. Already
in Piero della Francesca's De Prospectiva Pigendi (c. 1480) we find the idea
that a painted bust will look more real if elements from three separate views
(top, front, and profile) are superimposed as if from a single frontal viewpoint. Alberti himself designed his perspective system not to keep the eye fixed
on one point, but to guide the eye through aseries of perspectives around
the composition's narrative history (istoria). The implication for our purposes
is that one-point perspective is phenomenologically artificial. The eye rather
can, and indeed must, see according to more than one perspective at a time:
it focuses not on units but on founded multiplicities, not on points but on
The account of syntheses of identification and fulfilment that we have



developed so far in this chapter leaves us with four problems. First, there
remains the problem of the determinate incompleteness of a partial meaning's
need for supplementation. We still have to explain the ground of passing
over from one interpretative standpoint to the next, and we have to locate
non-explicit yet anticipated perspectives. I will show how the perspective is
a self-situating experiential content which incorporates the directions for
fulfilling intuitions and enriched meaning-intentions within the boundaries
of its own complex content. The perspectival content marks a place for itself
within a larger context, and then re-interprets itself in the light of its nextneighbours before the latter are experienced.
Second, there remains the problem of fixing the ideal limit towards which
the ongoing expansions of interpretations aim. The perspective will co-ordinate
these targets, and will provide directions for zeroing in on the things themselves.
Third, there remains the problem of what happens to a partial interpretation once it has been overcome in a more comprehensive unity, i.e. of how
contents that are no longer present can be preserved for retrieval, and implicitly retained in successive interpretations. By re-using the space of its
precedents, the perspective will account for the sense in which precedents
are stored.
Fourth, the problem immediately at hand is that of how a given content
sets up expectations for the next. The synthesis of epistemic fulfilment must
not merely place each content into the context of whatever happens to co me
up next, but must actively set up the investigative conditions for figuring
each content out and looking for the next. The relevant passage reads as
Nonna11y, intentions lack the character of expectations, they lack it in a11 cases of tranquil
perceiving or picturing, and they eam it only when perception is in flux, when it is spread out
into a continuous series of percepts, all belonging to the perceptual manifold of one and the
same object. Objectively stated: the object shows itself from different sides; what from one
side was seen only as a pictorial suggestion becomes from another side a confinning and fu11y
satisfying perception; or what was in one side only meant in conjunction with something else
(mitgemeint), meant indirectly through its adjoining sides [or through what is "marginal" or
"at its borders", AngrenzungJ, only pre-indicated (vorgedeutet), becomes in another side at
least a pictorial outline ["suggestion", or "indication at the side", Andeutung (contrasted with,
yet combining elements from, An-grenzung and vor-gedeutet)], it appears perspectiva11y foreshortened and projected (perspektivisch verkurtzt und abgeschattet), in order to appear for the
first time from a new side "just exactly as it is". According to our interpretation, each perception and imagination is a web of partial intentions, fused into the unity of one total intention.
The correlate of this latter is the thing, while the correlates of each partial intention are thingrelated parts and moments. Only thus can one understand how consciousness can reach out beyond
(hinausreichen ber) actual lived experience. It can, so to speak, mean what is beyond (hinausmeinen), and that meaning can be fulfilled (41).

In the final analysis, the intentions wh ich lack expectations are not "normal".
As soon as consciousness is spread out, syntheses of expectations are activated.
When consciousness "reaches beyond" to intend objects in an objective world,



it positions itse1f in relation to that world and interprets its own experience
as perspectivally ordered. The task of consciousness is to de-marginalize its
own experiences, to move through a web of partial intentions, to res tore an
objectively direct viewpoint on the thing "as it is", or at least to fuse together
a well-rounded combination of viewpoints.
Each perspective, in so far as it is recognized as limited, demands to be
corrected or adjusted by other perspectives on the same object. The objectification of the intended object is thus an interpretative achievement:
consciousness must fill in the gaps in its perspectival viewpoints. In one
sense, perceptual experience is by nature "gap-holding" (lckenhaft, 100),
in that no object is present in a single blow. Indeed phenomenology in
general is an account of how synthesis achieves objective knowledge in the
face of inherent incompleteness. But while the gaps in the web of perspective motivate investigative consciousness, they also threaten it. For if the
experiencing subject does not know how to close off or control the adjoining
viewpoints needed to complete the picture he is seeing, he will lose control
of his interpretation of the object altogether (its shape and place, its front
and back, its distance and depth). He will lose his ability to distinguish the
object's true and apparent face, its essential and inessential determinations,
its substance and its shadows.
(A) "Shadowing-Off" or "Projection" (Abschattung) 2

In section 14, Husserl defines the intention-fulfilment relation in terms of sides,

perspectives and shadowings-off:
The object is not actually given, it is not given fully and wholly as that which it itself iso It appears
only "from the front-side", only "perspectivally foreshortened and shadowed-off", etc .... The
component pieces of the invisible back-side (unsichtigen Rckseite) of the interior, etc., are to
be sure meant along with it in a more or less detenninate way, they are symbolically suggested
through the primary appearance, but do not themselves fall into the intuitive (perceptive
[perzeptiv] or imaginary) substance of the perception (Wahrnehmung). In this way, there is a contextualization of the possibility of infinitely many perceptions of one and the same object differing
in content ... (56-57).
In one perception, the object appears from this side, in another from that, at one time near,
at another time far, etc. In each, despite all of that, one and the same object is "there", in each
it is intended according to the whole run by wh ich it is known to us and is present in this
perception. To this corresponds phenomenologically the continuous f1ux of fulfilment or
identification, in the steady ranking one-after-another of the perceptions "belonging to the same
object". Each singular [perception] is therein a mixture of fulfilled and unfulfilled intentions.
To the fonner corresponds that in the object which is given in this singular perception as more
or less perfect shadowing-off, to the lauer that which is not yet given of it, so that it would in
new perceptions come to actual and fulfilling presence (58).

The theory of perspectives is meant to account for the continuity and

objectivity of syntheses of identification: first by ensuring that intentions cover
by anticipation the same range of possibilities that fulfilling intuitions cover
("To each shadowing-off of the intention coriesponds a precisely similar



shadowing-off of the correlate fulfilment, and likewise, of the self-fulfilment

(sich Erfllens) in the sense of the act of synthesis", 50-51); second, by
ensuring that intentional and intuitive contents together cover all the ways
in which the object can be presented ("The 'purely perceptive' substance [of
an act] values all of its parts and moments as the self-shadowing-off of
corresponding parts and moments of the perceptual object, and so imparts to
the whole content the character of the 'perceptual picture', of the perceptive
shadowing-off of the object", 57).
The flux of experience only has objective sense in so far as singular perceptions are "ranked one after the other" (Aneinanderreihen) in a continuous
picture of singular but many-sided objects. The continuity of perspectival interpretation, as Kant says, provides the transcendental ground of the doctrine
that "the world has no gaps" (in mundo non datur hiatus, CPR, A229B282).
But what sort of metaphor is "shadowing-off"? I will discuss Abschattung first
as a kind of shadow, and second as a kind of projection.
The metaphor of "shadowing-off' is meant to throw light on the relation
between the intended sides of an object. Perhaps due to the rationalist view
that perception of things at a distance are unclear and indistinct, or due to
linguistic philosophy's notion of "fuzzy" concepts which overlap in extension, or due to the observation that it is hard to see what is over the horizon
or to go beyond the obvious, many commentators treat "shadowing-off" in
terms of the way thoughts and perceptions are fuzzy at the edges. Each perception makes its own inadequacy feIt, and anticipates some successor, just
by fading away at its borders and trailing off into darkness.
But if some metaphor of shadows is to work, it will have to show not just
how perceptions fade away, but also how they actually lift off (ab-) apart
of the next perception and already incorporate it as part of its own content.
A model of the shadows that shadow-off may be found in the history of
Renaissance art's solutions to the colouring of shadows in the folds of c1othing.
The practice of Piero della Francesca in the Quattrocento was to colour the
shadows in the folds with the same colour as that of the clothing itself, only
darker; the shadow would indicate depth, but would involve no fuzziness of
borders or loss of visibility. In the Cinquecento, Leonardo da Vinci 's sfumato
technique was to blend the local colour of the clothing with black, and so to
associate depth and shadow with loss of visibility. Objects in shadow would
fade away, but still would not anticipate a determinate transition to the colour
of the neighboring objects. The anticipatory force of shadows beg an to emerge
in the Seicento with Titian's colouristic techniques involving the juxtaposition of similarly coloured objects. A red carpet in the vicinity of a red-robed
subject, for example, would seduce the eye into projecting each object into
a wider context. But it is finally with Rembrandt in the Baroque that neighboring colours are incorporated right into the shadowings-off of each other.
Here, the shadowy folds of a garment are not just darkened, but are also flecked
with the colours of neigbouring objects, as if the shadows of one object had
actually picked up some of the properties of the next. On this model, each



object has parts that it has already borrowed from the next. Even if an object's
neighbours are not actually present in the painted scene, the spectator can
still tell its colour, its size, its brightness, and sometimes can even tell what
it is (if the colour is peculiar to a certain sort of thing, as in the case of
armour, or the sea). Each object must anticipate the next in its shadows. It must
be a mirror reflection of, or to mix Albertian metaphors, a window onto, the
It is a commonplace that objects appear to have a different size, colour,
figure, and individuation depending on their surroundings. It is more difficult to explain how individual contents of consciousness in themselves ground
the more active interpretative act of looking for or projecting onto invisible
next parts, sides, and neighbours. 1 will indicate three features of shadowingoff as "projection": (1) the momentum inherent in singular contents, (2) their
gradual overlapping, and (3) the objective correlates of projective activity.
(1) When a viewer looks at a barber-pole, he assurnes that the same
spiralling pattern that he sees from one perspective will continue all around
the pole. Even when standing in one spot in front of a motionless pole, the
fact that his eye is already being drawn along a curved line even within that
one viewing-point primes hirn to continue drawing that curve. Each onesided viewing is already a multiplicity of standpoints each carrying over
from the last.
(2) The quantity of looking that has always already been covered within a
single perspective is not replaced all at once when the vi ewer moves slightly
to one side, but bit by bit. Some of the distance already covered remains present
in the next perspectival viewpoint. A projecting content appropriates bits of
its successors in order to ensure itself against the loss necessitated by its
own internal movement. It is because the movement within each content can
claim parts of absent contents as its own, that absent sides can be anticipated in advance.
(3) Perspectival projection contributes to objectification in at least three
ways. First, all the perspectives on the whole object in the round can be projected on the basis of the internal multiplicity seen from a single perspectival
viewpoint. A whole sequence of shadowings-off is thus potentially a selfenclosed sequence belonging to the original viewpoint itself. (The line
fragments that the viewer of a barber-pole sees from a given perspective can
be picked up as parts of the same line only if each fragment is projected all
the way around the pole.) The self-enclosure of the sequence allows each
perspective to reveal the same object as its successors.
Second, when the notion of "shadowing-off" describes the activity of getting
to the next perspective, it also describes the activity of getting back to the backs
of objects that were there all along. The rear-side (Rckseite) of an object is
not just something in the background (Hintergrund), but also something that
has been turned away from or that can be moved back to. The possibility of
projection treats the opposite side as though it had been the content of a
possible frontal perception all along.



Third, the viewer's capacity to project a spiral onto the backside of the
barber pole is coordinated with the fact that the pole itself can spin. The
transition from one perspectival interpretation of an object to the next is
motivated by the principle that things carry themselves from one standpoint
to the next, becoming more of what they were to be.
What is important both for the subject's interpretative activity and for the
object's interpreted unity is that each individual content of consciousness itself
contains a complex ordering of parts which guarantee that as soon as the
singular content makes up a single perspective, it has already made up a
series of perspectives all within the boundaries of that one content. And by
moving bit by bit to the next viewpoint, each perspectival content contains
parts that reflect traces of the next even be fore the next is actualized. The
category of perspective accounts (as the category of context does not) for
each content's internal capacity to anticipate the determinate parts of the
But there is a problem with the individuation of sides, and there is a problem
with ensuring that the world of perspectival experience has no gaps. First, if
perspectives are constituted by the projection of each experiential content onto
the next, then every content cannot help but be a perspective on every other,
a foreshortening of the absolute totality of all possible experience. No one side
is an individual side, but is overladen with overlapping and overflowing
meanings, not only into other perspectives, but also an indefinite number of
auditory and tactile perspectives, epistemic, speculative, and emotional perspectives, and so on. The notion of perspectives has to account for multiple
systems of perspectives.
Second, there is no guarantee that the perspective that each content anticipates as the next, is the one that would reveal the object's adjacent side.
Nor is there a guarantee that an experiencing subject will even be able to
tell whether one perspective seen just after another is exactly the next one
and not one that has taken some small leap. These problems are handled by
Husserl's metaphor of "foreshortening", and by his example of filling in a
(B) "Foreshortening" (Verkrzung) and the "Sketch" (Skizze)

In both passages in LU vi where Husserl speaks of perceptions "perspectivally foreshortened and shadowed-off", he says that while some are essentially perspectival and limited, others present the object "just as it is" (41),
or that while some present only the object's front or back, others present it
in full actuality (56-58). In a properly organized perspective, the limitations
of viewpoint, though not abolished, are in some way internally adjusted,
corrected, or accounted for. It is not that Husserl privileges the frontal perspective, as if every object had a natural front (though some objects have faces),
or a natural core property. But he does privilege the perspective that is "selfgiving" or "self-fulfilling" (51), or that "shadows-off into itself" (57). Certain



perspectives arrange to show both frontal and rear views, not by actually
showing both, but by instructing the viewer as to how back-sides can be turned
around. This is the role played by foreshortening.
When a figure in a painting is foreshortened, its exaggerated limbs seem
to jut forward from the canvas, even to intrude into the space of the viewer,
while its compressed limbs seem to recede behind the canvas plane. The
foreshortened perspective does not itself contain the object "just as it is",
but it does provide a kind of pathway or "map" (74) into a multiplicity of
perspectives in and around the viewed object. If the foreshortened figure is
meant to extend six feet from front to rear, the painting's perspective will
incIude all the receding planar view-points along that si x-foot stretch. A single
view can contain many, though only by "abridging" them (another translation of verkrzen).
The foreshortened quality of a perspective thus ac counts for some features
of the ordering of perspectives and the recession into "next"-contents. But there
remain four problems. First, rear and inner sides have been described only
as potential frontal sides. And of course objects have fronts, backs, and insides
all at once. While cognition must think such a multiplicity all at once, a
visual perspective can only assume such a simultaneity; it cannot show it.
To account for layers of superimposed viewpoints, we require a more sophisticated sense of multiple systems of standpoints and orderings.
Second, why are some perspectives better than Others at suggesting others?
Once we emphasize asymmetrically valued perspectives and epistemic
ordering, we leave the categories of perspective behind.
Third, what will the last viewpoint in an ordered progression through
increasingly adjusted standpoints look like?
Fourth, even while a given perspective's projection into the next is quite
different from its projection into its own greater detail, the latter seems to
ground the former. It is because a perspective can be filled in that it can
spread out into others.
This group of problems is at issue in Husserl's description of filling in a
pencil-sketch (67):
Another example of an intuitive fulfilment-series is perhaps offered by the passing-over from
a rough outline-drawing to a more exactly finished pencil-sketch, from this to a ready-to-go
picture, and then up to the full-of-life finish of the painting, and to be sure [all as views] on
the same and visibly the same object (67).3

Fulfilment of intentions here is a constructive process that leads up to a finished

product for visual recognition by adding new levels of pictorial definition.
Yet the developments are not entirely new, since the finishing touches do no
more than fill in the elements already intended by the first sketch.
How does the first sketch prescribe its developments in advance, and how
do these developments refer back to their starting-points? Husserl speaks of
the end-result as a "living finish". The finished painting is "living" if it is
life-like, if it fully represents its subject-matter. But it is also "living" if it



brings its own imaginative ideal to life, if it carries through an anticipatory

vision, and perhaps also if it allows the spectator's imaginative response to
be lively. On this model, a sketch has anticipatory force if it provokes the
vi ewer into making lively improvements on it and provides hirn with paths
for doing so. But to see how the outline "provokes" developments, we have
to work from the other direction, and ask in what sense a preliminary sketch
continues to be present in the living finish, and how the outline continues to
be the ordering principle of the painting even once the finished product prevents
the vi ewer from seeing any of the original pencilled outline.
Three sorts of phenomena will suffice. First, it is common for individual
painters to favour certain geometrical forms: Michaelangelo the spiral, Raphael
the tri angle, and so on. Without the dots being connected in the final version,
the viewer's eye is drawn along the contours of these implicit forms. No matter
how complex the painting gets, the sketch controls the painting's proliferation of compositional elements.
Second, it is common for Annunciation scenes to place a column between
Mary and the Angel which interrupts the perspective scheme and abruptly
brings the viewer back out of the painting. A few well-placed lines cut through
the painting's detail to reinforce an interpretation of Mary's modesty and God's
transcendence. The moral of foreshortening is not just to locate relative perspective points within a painting's map of fictional objects, but is also to
transfer to the viewer an ability to take up new interpretations of his actual
Third, a Cubist Man With Pipe pI aces pipe-fragments at various places on
the canvas. Here there is no geometrical form that serves as the rough sketch
which the painting fills out, but only syntheses according to which the pipe
will be identified as one and the same object no matter how many gaps interrupt the pipe-fragments. The joke in Cubism, like the ideology of Assumption
scenes, and like the harmony of forms in the Renaissance, consists in the
way the eye is manipulated by structures that it is always already too late to
see in themselves.
On this model, then, a pre-fulfilled meaning is a kind of outline always
in the process of being retraced, even in the finished product which has dispensed with it. To take in a finished painting at one glance is at the same
time to let one's glance traverse the articulated directions of the work itself,
to find its centres and peripheries. The act of filling in a painting's details
constitutes both the perspective's origin in the sketch and its completion
in the whole picture. The completion of epistemic fulfilment requires a reconstruction of the anticipatory structures which will have led up to that
completion, and which continue to allow that completion to work in an ordered
It is in this complex of senses, then, that an individual content of consciousness, in the form of a perspectival content with internal complexity,
momentum, foreshortening-maps, and implicitly retained outlines, anticipates
possible fulfilling intuitions in advance. But there remain five problems, and



each of these leads from the categories of perceptual perspectives to broader

categories of cognitive ordering.
First, the back-side of an object seen from a given perspective must be
understood not just as a potential frontal viewing, but also as a side that is
already actually ordered into the cognition of the object from the original
frontal perspective.
Second, there remains the problem of constituting a gap-free continuity
of view-points. In general, a visual scan will not, and need not, pass through
every "next" perspective. But if subjects do not stop to notice whether all points
along a continuum have been covered, but interpret objects as having backsides notwithstanding, then the transition from perspective to perspective
does not guarantee a continuity of perspectives after all. And in that case,
the objective correlate of the perspectival scan has at most been constituted
as a many-sided object, but not yet as an all-sided object that exists, as it
were, fully sculpted in the round. No amount of purely pictorial perceptual
synthesis can bring a synthesis of perspectival interpretations to completion.
Third, we have been treating the perspective as a fact of consciousness
without pressing the question of why it is necessary in principle that every
content of consciousness have the force of projecting perspectivally into the
Fourth, we have to account for what it would mean to have finished the
process of running through perspectives, to experience the last in aseries of
perspectives, to know that no more perspectives are possible, to know that
perspectives have been ordered along all possible directions.
Fifth, there remains the technical problem of how many spheres of experiential content can fit into a single perspective system. An object being viewed
in one order may be touched in another and thought about in still another order.
The ordering of perceptual perspectives is just one way that epistemic and
experiential stand points may be ordered. Indeed once we think about how to
arrange a gap-free continuity of epistemic standpoints, we find that the issue
of ordering one content of consciousness after the next (e.g. in predicting
whether a subject who has just identified a certain house by its colour
will "next" interpret the house by its shape, or as a cultural artifact, or as a
likely destination), is not ultimately an issue of purely perceptual perspectives at all. It is an issue of the ordering of cognitive acts in general,
of giving each objectifying act its weight and rank in aseries of demands
for supplementation.
The issue of passing over into the "next" content, an issue that gives
provisional value to the categories of perspective, is for Husserl not to be
decided as an issue of the nature of perspectives. The laUer is too narrowly
limited to syntheses in the sphere of perception, or of the "image" or the
"painting" (Bild). Wh at is needed is an analysis of the wider concept of



(C) "Ordering" (Ordnung, Anordnung, Einordnung) and

"Going through Levels" (Stufengang)

Husserl refers to the stream of consciousness within which perceptions and

images intend and fulfil one another as "a unity that belongs together in precisely 'this' order and form" (62). How is the order for passing over from
one epistemic apprehension of an object to the next prescribed in advance? 1
will emphasize Husserl's various characterizations of levels of knowledge
(especially 62-66, 80-85, but covering eh. 3, 62-101), along with his one
extended example (from arithmetie).
(I) Levels of Fulfilment

Conseiousness passes over from one aet to the next aeeording to an order
that leads from lesser to greater knowledge of the objeet "itself":
What an intention means, but makes present in a more or less inauthentic and inadequate [or
"unsuitable", unangemessen] way, the fulfilment ... sets directly before us; or at least more
directly, relative to the intention. In the fulfilment we live, as it were, an experience of "This
is the thing itself" ... It is possible that in the step-by-step progress (Fortschritt) of knowledge, in the ascent [or "increase", Emporsteigen] by levels [or "grades", stufenweise] from acts
of poorer to acts of rieher epistemie fullness (Erkenntnisflle), one must always finally reach
fulfilling perceptions ... The relative talk of "more or less direct" and of "[the thing] itself"
points us generally towards the principal issue: that the synthesis of fulfilment draws an inequality
of value among the combined members, that is, that the fulfilling act brings with it a pre-eminence
[or "priority", Vorzug] whieh the mere intention lacks ... Each such ranking of levels points
forward to an ideal limit, or realizes it in its final member [or "end-point", Endglied], which
posits for every advance through levels a goal that cannot be over-stepped: the goal of absolute
knowledge, of the adequate (adquat) self-presentation of the object of knowledge (65-66).

The notions of "progress", of "grades" or "levels" of "priority", of

"inequality of value" and of "end-point" are all measures of the extent to which
an intentional experience "direedy" apprehends the intended objeet as it itself
really iso It seems at first straightforward to say that an intention whieh preseribes a range of possible intuitions is epistemically fulfilled to the degree
that those intuitions are realized. But in faet there is a double inerease in
what I have ealled the double synthesis, namely the synthesis of one eontent
of eonseiousness with other eontents and the synthesis of eontents in general
with objeets.
The double progress of synthesis is artieulated in the third ehapter of LU
vi in three ways. First, Husserl speaks of a two-stage "reduetion" (Reduktion)
of an intentional aet to its perceptual eontent (80-82), first in matehing
meanings with intuitions in general, and seeond in moving from imaginative
intuitions towards pereeptual intuitions. Seeond, Husserl speaks (at the end
of S. 23) of three senses of the "gradation" of fulness in intuitive eontent
(83-84). A fulfilment's "liveliness" (or life-likeness) and its "reality-eontent"
(its degree of indubitability) inerease the points of eonnection between contents
of eonsciousness, whereas its "extent" of intuitive detail increases the richness



of those contents themse1ves. Third, there are two sorts of "extent" of intuitive fulfilments (29, 97-100): if an object is only meant according to some few
of its parts, the perception of those parts will fulfil the intention as given
but it will not be "adequate" to the object as it is in itself and as a whole.
In these three ways, Husserl distinguishes progress in the knowledge of
objects themselves from progress in the detailing of meanings, in the multiplication of intuitive presentations, and in the interpretation of objects'
inessential parts. Synthetic combinations of the latter sorts may be the material
for properly epistemic syntheses, but each by itself could degenerate into
repetitive or tangential experiences that do not result in an object being any
better known. But this distinction is problematical. Given that even unfruitful
proliferations of presentations follow some regular principles of ordered
increase, how can Husserl distinguish increase in epistemic fu1ness from
increase in marginal detail?
Husserl sometimes takes a hard line on this problem. In sections 18-21
(70-77) he distinguishes "mediate presentations", in which an object is viewed
"indirect1y", e.g. from an oblique angle yet nevertheless en route to seeing it
straight on, from acts which interrupt the stream of presentations of the object
altogether and present the presentations themselves. The former may lead
towards an experience of the object itself, and so are ordered into an epistemically progressive chain. The latter proliferation of presentations does not
contribute to the knowledge of objects at all. In the same way, a map (or a
painting, 76, or a likeness, 83) may contribute to imagining the mapped object,
but not if the map itself becomes the object of attention (74).
Husserl wants to avoid the possibility of "endless" (unendlich) presentations of an object. If any and all orderings were possib1e, there would be a
"loss of va1uation" in the relative epistemic value of any given presentation
(e.g. 66-67). But it is not dear how far Husserl wou1d or could maintain the
distinction between mediate presentations and presentations of presentations.
If in so me sense every content is a perspective on every other, i.e. if there
are ordered chains along which every content can contribute to the interpretation of every other, then it is not dear that reflective and marginal directions
for progress are different in kind from indirect directions for progress. It is
not dear that a better painting does not add to the viewer's knowledge of
the painted object, or that seemingly random peripheral perspectives will not
contribute to an increase in perceptual organization, and so on. For that matter,
Husserl's own distinction between complete presentations of objects (which
are adequate to the objects) and partial presentations of objects (which are
adequate only to the expectations of prior presentations) implies that completing the content of presentations does make objects appear. The point of
the distinction between mediate presentations and presentations of presentations can not so much be to exdude the latter from the sphere of epistemic
fulfilments as to establish different orderings according to which experiential contents may be interpretatively pursued, and multiple schemes for deciding
epistemic value operating within a single unity of interpretative consciousness.



The category of order advances over that of perspective by disengaging

the continuity of interpretative consciousness from the continuity of visual perception. But the cost is twofold. First, the advantage of the notion of perspective
is that the determinacy of the anticipation of the "next" content of consciousness is straightforwardly buHt into the visual borderlines of each visual
content. In contrast, non-perceptual meanings can interpret objects as
continuous even over perceptual gaps, and therefore need a new form of
determinate anticipation. Second, the categories of perspective account for
the unity of consciousness whether or not a given content passes over into
a reasonable successor. Any two perceptions can be ordered into a perspectival map. In contrast, the category of epistemic order prescribes what
one content of consciousness should pass over into. How, then, can it
account for the way that contents th'at are contiguous but do not advance
epistemically, may nonetheless be interpretatively continuous in a unified
There are four advantages of the category of ordering.
First, it explains not only how consciousness generates more and more views
on an object, but also how "more and more" has a cumulative effect. A content
does not have to include more in order to advance (as a perspective would have
to include more details or more foreshortenings in order to be a superior
perspective). Rather, to retain and surpass precedents, a content has only to
be ordered into aseries of acts in such a way as to present (or predict) some
feature of an object that previous contents were not yet in a position to present.
It need only outgrow the need for them, or give them the status of what is
pre-supposed, i.e. of what may be referred back to.
Second, the category of order gives content to the ideal end-point of epistemic progress. Its demand for getting from one point to the next is that the
object itself be forced to appear. The advance from signitive intentions to
fulfilments works by overcoming distances (85): "It plainly lies in this talk
[of 'sides'] ... that the not-presented (Nicht-Dargestelltes) is also meant in
a marginal way in the intuitive presentation" (80). Synthesis is motivated as
long as there is non-presence, i.e. as long as the object is still posited as missing
and the end-point of ordered presentations posited as lacking.
Third, the category of order also gives content to the (ideal) starting-point.
A perspectival viewpoint borders only on its proximate successor and predecessor. In contrast, if a subject is to order the relative worth of his perceptions,
he must know from the very first perception or intention what the complete
object should look like.
Yet for all the talk about cumulation and the ordering of contents into
sequences bounded by beginning- and end-points, the category of order can
only account for synthetic unity if it can give determinate ac counts of how
individual contents of consciousness undergo ordered transition from one to
the next. The fourth advantage of the category of epistemic order is that there
is a sphere of objects that can serve as a natural paradigm, namely that of
ordered number-concepts.



(11) The Example from Arithmetic

Husserl offers this example as a paradigm of ordered increase in the

synthesis of epistemic fulfilment:
The fonnation of every mathematical concept which unfolds itself in a definition-chain shows
us the possibility of fulfilment-chains, which build up member upon member from signitive intentions. We make the concept 5 34 clear to ourselves through a going-back (Rckgang) to the
definitory presentation: "the number which comes to have standing if one fonns the product 53
53 53 53". If we [then] want to make this last presentation clear in turn, we must go back
(zurckgehen) to the sense of 53, and thus to the fonnation 5 5 5. Going back still further,
we would then have to clarify 5 through the definition-chain 5 = 4 + 1,4 = 3 + 1,3 = 2 + I,
2 = 1 + 1. After each step, however, we would have to carry out a substitution (Substitution)
in the previously fonned complex expression, or thought, and should this be produceable for each
such thought again and again (and it certainly is so in itse/f, though it is just as certainly not
so for us), we would finally come to the fully explicit sum of ones [units] of which it is said:
that is the number 5 34 "itself". Plainly the act of fulfilment would not really have corresponded
only to the end-result (Endresultat), but [would have corresponded] already to each single step
which led over (berleiten) from one expression to the next (nchste), clarifying it and enriching
its content (69).

On the next page, Husserl makes the general point:

The content of the presentation [in all such examples] - speaking pointedly, the matter prescribes apriori a detenninate progress through levels of fulfilment. The fulfilment, which
follows here mediately, can never likewise follow immediately. To each signitive intention of
this class, detennined fulfilment (or a detennined group of fulfilments) belongs as next, and to
this in turn there is one detennined as next again, etc. (70)
... Every mediate intention demands a mediate fuljilment, wh ich of course after a finite
(endlich) number of steps ends up (endet) in an immediate intuition (71).

We may divide this example of fulfilling an intention into four stages. First,
the intended object is treated as a complex implicitly built up through some
sort of enchainment of member-parts. Second, a clarification goes back through
the chain of previous members. Third, there are step by step substitutions of
each member for the next. Fourth, there is an end-result, a simple unit which
is fuUy explicit. Once the object's order has been clarified, aseries of ordered
intuitions will present the thing "itself".
I will point to three issues: (1) the generalizability of the concept of order,
(2) the goal of progress, and (3) the status of pre-designation. I will then
turn to the problem of the end-point itself.
(1) Wh at makes it especiaUy plausible to say that a number concept is
epistemically fulfilled through ordered advance is that numbers are in so me
sense nothing but pure order. But if we try to extend Husserl's description
to the ordered fulfilment of objectifying intentions in general, there will be
difficulties. It seems more plausible to say that a number has a built-up
"definition-chain" which can be traced back to units than to say that a threedimensional object has a definition-chain that can be traced back to any
particular ordering of perspectives or to properties. Moreover on closer inspection, the ordering of number-concepts can be just as problematic as that of
other objects. While it is true that 5 34 is made up of a certain number of



one's it is not constituted by the continuous addition of units from 1 through

to 244,140,625. Rather, the operation of addition is interrupted at a certain
point (5), at which a different operation takes over (namely self-multiplication); and this is in turn broken off (at 53) so that the same operation may
be started again, this time upon the product of the previous operation taken
all at once as a standing whole. Similarly, there is a plurality of ordered
routes for "going back" through its definitory chain, intuiting each moment
after the next.
These are not considerations that Husserl hirnself introduces, but we may
draw two consequences that are not inconsistent with Husserl's account. First,
it is cognitive interest that selects one of the multiple directions for ordering
fulfilments. Or in terms of the object, objects always have standing in a plurality of ways which may each in its turn direct the work of interpretation.
Second, the fact that the next-points of ordered fulfilment do not necessarily
all follow by the same operation, shows that the final presentation must retain
in so me implicit but recognizable way the history of those shifting ordering
principles. Only if the subject remembers how many times he has performed
which operations, will his intuition of many one's be a fulfilment of the
meaning of "5 34".
(2) The example from arithmetic might seem to imply that intuitive fulfilment is essentially a matter of understanding how an object is divisible
into unitary parts and then intuiting those parts one by one. But in what sense
should the presentation of decomposed units count as the final presentation
of the composite with which we start? Indeed, in the example of filling in
the pencil-sketch, ordered fulfilment seems a matter of composition and of
adding complexity, rather than of decomposition and of eliminating complexity.
In fact, however, composition and decomposition are not mutually exclusive
models of fulfilment; rather, both operate in each of the two examples. The
finished painting adds new levels of pictorial definition, but in so doing
brings into relief the originaloutlinear components which are present all along;
the arithmetical analysis disentangles original components, but in so doing
generates new complication in the object as intended.
(3) Husserl makes two claims concerning the "pre-designation" of a
number's fulfilment-chain. On the one hand, "the content of the presentation
... pre-designates apriori the determinate progress through levels of fulfilment" (70). On the other hand, "one can hardly seriously suppose that in the
[lived meaning-intention] all the complication [of substitutions] is present in
advance (von vornherein)" (70). To put these two claims together, the determinate progress through levels of substitution is not present in the original
meaning-content, but it is nevertheless prescribed therein. While thinking of
5 34 does not automatically involve thinking of 244,140, 625 (by "a kind of
tautology", 70), the former does give rules for a step by step identification with
the latter. Yet it seems that prescriptions cannot be altogether given in advance,
but have to be "produced" (herstellen) by the very same syntheses that fill
those prescriptions.



Indeed, in another example drawn from arithmetic, Husserl says that

it simply does not matter whether aprescription was included in advance.
(Here the fulfilment of the number-concept "1000" is interpreted by means
of the presentation "103" and hence is fulfilled by presentations of that
The increase in "fulness" consists step by step in nothing other than that one after another all
presentations of presentations have been fulfilled, whether they are woven in in advance, or
whether they have emerged as new presentations in the [process of] fulfilment through a realizing "construction" (Konstruktion) of those presented presentations, and through the intuition
of them once realized, so that finally the mastering whole-intention with its [structure] of intentions [that pass] over- and within-one-another, appears identified with an immediate intention

The order of "productive"/"construetive" interpretation is grounded not so

much at the starting-point of synthetic activity, as with the final mastering
whole-intention, i.e. with the end-point. Or better, synthetic activity is predesignated just because it is completable in a final presentation of the whole
object through its original units.
(D) The Problem

0/ Order and the

"End-Result" (Endresultat)

Virtually every example and analysis of fulfilment in Husserl's text makes

referenee to an end-point. In the example from arithmetic, the substitutions
of numerical articulations for the original must "finally eome to the fully
explicit sum ... to the end-result" (69); mediate fulfilment must "end (endet)
after a finite (endlich) number of steps" (71). I will diseuss three problems:
(1) eoncerning how all anticipations of next-moments depend on the anticipation of an end-point, (2) eoncerning how the ordered sequenee of fulfilling
acts is retained onee the final me mb er of the fulfilment-series is reaehed,
and (3) coneerning the appeal to end-points in eases where an actual endpoint is not possible.
(1) The first eoncerns the role of ultimate closure. The categories of perspeetive ground synthesis by appealing to the potential all-sidedness of the
final picture. The eonstitution of gap-free anticipations in advance and gapfree interpretative syntheses in progress, thus depend on the possibility of
arriving at the last side of a many-sided objeet, or of putting the finishing
touches on a completed sketch, or of isolating atomic units in analysis and
of unifying the object as a singular totality. The question of the ground of
anticipatory force thus shifts from the beginning to the end of synthetic interpretation. The capacity of a given content to anticipate the next is received
retrospeetively from its eventual fulfilment - or in other words, consciousness must return from its ideal end-points in order to confer the capacity of
anticipating those end-points on its contents as it concretely experiences them
in the present.
(2) If the end-point is now responsible for the ordering of "next"-contents
in much the same way as the origin-point was said to be, it will have a



parallel problem, namely as to how a singular content can implicitly contain

a range of possible contents. For the last perspective in aseries is still one
limited perspective and not an omni-perspectival presentation; likewise, the
last step in the division of a number into units is the presentation of some units
and not of the intended number as a totality, and so on. In order for the "last"
presentation to be one of the synthesized totality, it will have to retain all
limited presentations along with the order of their passings-over and their
mutual limitations. The problem is whether there is a sense in which interpretative unities retain the genesis of their development.
(3) Intentional objects are adequately perceived insofar as epistemic acts
get "nearer" to completion. But except for rare exceptions in mathematics
and pure science (and these only with qualifications), complete adequation can
never actually be reached. There is no omni-perspectival perception, no
absolutely exhaustive definition, and no interpretative totality to which no conceivable addition could be made. Yet if the capacity for anticipation depends
on the determinacy of the end-point, the infinite deferral of the end-point raises
serious problems. In terms of the synthetic unity of consciousness, there will
be no completed interpretation that ever appears within the stream of consciousness that will exhibit all relations between any two contents or will
even guarantee that any two contents can be brought under a joint interpretation of a common world of objects. And in terms of the synthesis of contents
with their objects, there is no actual end-point at which objects are adequately presented. The presumption that experiences exhibit real objects by
getting "nearer" to them is only a working hypothesis. Both syntheses in
principle must have an end-point, but equally in principle, they do not end.
Yet after all, this demand that end-directed synthesis be carried out in the
face of perspectival gaps, discontinuities, and endless proliferations is inherent
in the categories of order themselves. The purpose of grounding synthesis
not in names or contexts but in ordering activity is to say that implicit possibilities are not named or included in original intentions, but are rather carried
along in an unspoken way. All-sided interpretation, which in one sense ends
synthesis, is not merely to be given later, but is rather carried along and retained
as each content passes over into the next. The end-points that limit ordered
interpretation have their status precisely in the ordered interpretations which
demand them as supplements, precisely in perspectival gaps, discontinuities,
and proliferations. And if the end of synthesis is located not just at the end,
when synthesis is no longer being carried out, but also at each step, then
the categories of end, limit, and closure will characterize the entire process
of synthesis: beginning, middle, and end.


The categories of limit offer solutions to the problems raised in the categories of names, contexts, and perspectives.
The problem of how general names prescribe a range of intuitions is solved



by the fact that the experience of the named object can be completed. The
problem of how contexts prescribe backgrounds is solved by the fact that
contextual relations are exhausted in a perception of the object "itself". The
problem of how perspectives determine an epistemic ranking scheme is solved
by the fact that a content of consciousness can be measured by its "nearness"
to a presentation of the object as it really iso The mere possibility of such
adequation fixes the sense in wh ich one viewing-point comes "next" after
The categories of limit also offer solutions to the three general problems
of synthesis. The problem of the ground of synthesis is solved by the fact
that the end-point of the perception of the thing "itself" draws each conte nt
towards the ideal. The problem of the mechanisms of passing over is solved
by the way each content reaches a limit in its ability to present the object,
and so advances in whatever direction is required by the ideal. The problem
of ideal forward- and backward-references in the face of the fact that experience in progress never actually ends or begins, is solved by the way
end-points are prescribed from the beginning of epistemic progress. Synthesis
begins where it ends, and the end-point is the possibility that inheres in all
of its mid-points.
The categories of limit also offer solutions to the special problems of perspective. The problem of whether there is a privileged viewing-point, within
which other perspectives are implicitly ordered, is solved by the way all perspectives can be reconciled in a final presentation of the object "itself". The
problem of how to guarantee that interpretation not be filled with gaps in expectation is solved by the fact that the ideal end-point of perceptual adequation
ex hypothesi includes all ordered standpoints. It not only finishes off a stream
of contents but also holds all partial contents together at the end.
The categories of limit themselves work by means of a certain problematic exemplified by Husserl 's use of the Scholastic notion of an intention
that "terminates" (terminieren, 118). A terminating intention, in Scholastic
terms, is simply one that intends a term: to terminate in an object is simply
to refer to the object. But in phenomenological terms, a terminating intention is one that brings an interpretative dynamic to its climax, synthesizing
consciousness with its objects. Does synthesis terminate with the immediate
presence of the object, or alternatively with syntheses carried out by the
subject? Is the "end-result" of synthesis a single perfect presentation at the end
of aseries of imperfect presentations, or is it the series itself gathering itself
together as it goes?
I will focus on the fifth and final chapter of LU vi, 1 on "The Ideal of
Adequation" (115-127), along with descriptions of end-points throughout
LU vi, 1. First, I will look at the teleological sense of synthesis: the "endresult" is an "ideal limit". Second, I will consider whether synthesis ends
with a single flash or alternatively keeps on ending with each new presentation: the "end-result" problematizes the "last side" in perspectival viewing and
the "last member" in analysis. Third, I will consider how contents can retain



their histories and their differenees onee they are overeome in a final unity:
the "end-result" is a "living finish", a closure that reeonstitutes the series as
it proeeeds.
(A) End-Result as Ideal Limit

Husserl says four things about the end-point as the "goal" (Ziel) toward whieh
synthesis "aims" (abzielen). First, no matter how much perspeetival viewings
inerease in eomplexity, if no omni-perspeetival "goal" is envisaged, pereeptions will not fulfil a self-identieal meaning-intention (67). Second, the
end-result must be a "goal which is closed off" (abschliessendes Ziel, 117)
(i) in that a subject must be able to imagine getting to the point where the
intended object is "itself' present, and (ii) in that the goal is the final arbiter
for whether a given eontent measures up to epistemie demands. Third, the endresult is a "goal whieh one cannot stride over" (unberschreitsbaren Ziel, 121).
The final eontent must assure that onee it has been carried out, the subjeet
will know that nothing more is needed - it must provide "evidenee" not only
of the objeet's presenee, but also of its own completedness. Fourth, the goal
operates as final eause which, although it may not in fact be reaehed, nevertheless pulls synthetic activity along behind it.
We have seen that a presentation reaehes "perfection" (117) or "eompletion" (118) when it is brought from merely signitive to pereeptual matter
(116). An "absolute" or "all-sided presentation" (117) "direetly" presents the
object "itself" as it is "in truth", or "in its being". It "verifies" assertorie
judgments with "evidence" (121) as it reaehes an "ideal limit" (ideale Grenze,
The consideration of the possible fulfilment relations thus points forwards to a goal of closing
off the levels of fulfilment, in which the full and whole intention has reached its fulfilment,
and to be sure not an intermediary and partial one, but has reached a last fulfilment whose
value is at the end [eine endgltige und letzte Erfllung erreicht hat]. The intuitive substance
of this closing-off presentation is the absolute sum of possible fulness; the intuitive representant is the object itself, as it is in itself. Representing and represented content are here identically
one. And where a presentative intention has achieved, through this ideally perfect perception,
its last fulfilment. there is produced the genuine adaequatio rei et intellectus: The objective is
precisely as it is intended. really "present" or "given"; no partial intention is any longer implicit,
which lacks its fulfilment (117-118).

An intention is adequated when all of its implicit possibilities have been

actualized in intuition. But this eould mean either that an intention is adequated
when the expectations it has had from the beginning have been satisfied, or
alternatively when its aeeompanying intuitions leave nothing to the imagination. On the one hand, fulfilment processes achieve value only at the end
(endgltig); on the other hand, in a fulfilled intention "no partial intention is
any longer implicit" (117), and a "fulfilling intuition implieates nothing any
longer in the way of unsatisfied intentions" (117). The anticipatory demands
of fulfilment proeesses in progress and the perfectedness of the limit-point



are defined together. This simultaneous openness and closure of limit-reaching

interpretation is represented in the doubled structure of adequation, and the
interactivation of gap and system.
Husserl 's talk of a "doubled" (doppelt) adequation (118-119) corresponds
to the "doubled" concept of complexity (98-101) discussed above. A green
house, for example, may be presented either as green, or as a green house.
An intuition may thus adequately fulfil an intention directed to part of an object,
or else may adequate an intention directed to the object itself and as a whole,
all-sided thing in all of its determinations. The former presents essentially
disconnected, fragmented, or "dispersed" (verstreuten, 105) parts of an object.
Adequations based on them are "objectively gap-holding" (100). Only an intention directed towards the whole object itself can objectify and unify that
open-ended, gap-holding series.
Interpretative consciousness both avoids gaps and uses them. We could even
say that the second demand for adequation, by demanding a unified interpretation to reconcile adequations of partial intentions, actually introduces gaps
in order to overcome them. A systematic chain of intuitions may be needed
to fulfil a perspectivally limited intention. But since the object "itself" requires
omni-perspectival adequation, the chain-systems of intuitions needed to
fulfil different perspectivally limited intentions is a system of systems of
such chains. The doubleness of adequation first allows for infinite systems
of fulfilment, and then masters that multiplicity by demanding a unity of
interpretation. The completion-point sets in relief gaps within incomplete
interpretations, and thereby posits an interpretation which has ideally filled
all gaps.
To say that fulfilment has an ideal limit is not to say that all possibilities
are known in advance, but rather that there is a demand in advance that openended descriptions be unified, and discontinuities negated for as long as the
intended object fails to be self-evidently present. Husserl's doctrine that
adequated intentions no longer have implicit parts does not mean that their
potentiality for intuitive progress has dried up, but that synthetic activity is
therein being carried out to capacity.
"Evidence is the act of this most perfect synthesis of fulfilment" (122).
Husserl lists four ways in which his account of perfected syntheses of
fulfilment incorporates traditional concepts of "truth" and "self-evidence"
(122-126). "Truth" can be used to describe (i) a particular lived "agreement"
between a meaning and astate of affairs, (ii) an abstract "Idea" of epistemology,
namely the theory of adequation, (iii) the truth about an object, i.e. the object
as given to intuition (or in older terms, the object in so far as it informs the
intellect), and (iv) the "correctness" of an intention when it represents an object
as it in fact is (122-23). Husserl contrasts (i) and (iii), which emphasize
objective correlates, with (ii) and (iv), which emphasize the meaningconferring acts. We might also draw a contrast between (i), which describes
agreement as an achievement, with (ii), (iii), and (iv), which characterize
agreement as a static fait accompli. Under (i):



this agreement is lived in evidence in so far as evidence is the actual carrying-out of the
adequate identification ... The carrying-out of an identifying coincidence is not yet an actual
perception of objective agreement, but first becomes so through its own act of objectifying
interpretation, through its own glance towards the truth which is ready-to-hand (122-23).

In (i), adequation is a lived interpretation, actually carried out, of an object

which draws the glance forwards. We need not conclude that for Husserl the
notion of carrying out the last level of agreement is the primary sense of
evidence, and that the notions of abstract correspondence, objective presence,
and propositional correctness are secondary senses. But we can conclude that
the activity of coming to the end and talk of the content present at the end
differ only in emphasis.
One of Husserl's final arguments in LU vi, 1 is that it is absurd to suggest
that two people might disagree about whether a certain perception would render
some object self-evidently present. Since the object's self-evident presence
is defined as the complete intuitive fulfilment of all the ways the object was
meant, it follows that if two people are not satisfied by the same intuitions,
they must have intended different objects in the first pI ace (127). As long as
the two subjects intend the same object, and both aim at adequate presentation, they will not have blind spots to the expectations of the other.
Much recent criticism of intentionality-theory is directed against this
analysis. Critics point to cases where intentional descriptions vary while the
objects present do not. While one person thinks she sees a woman with a
martini in the corner of the room, and has corresponding expectations, and
another thinks he sees a man there and has different expectations, the two might
in fact be seeing one and the same object. Such examples are used to argue
that all theories of the opacity of reference, according to which objects are
intended under descriptive interpretations, fail to explain the identification
of referents. It is argued that such theories attach so much descriptive content
to a referent that no one could ever find that an object he had intended has
characteristics other than those he thought it had, since it would follow that
once a subject revises his perceptual expectations, he has intended a new object.
It is preferable, the critics argue, to define reference not through intentional
descriptions and their fulfilment, but through extension alone, so that the
two viewers refer to the same person in the corner of the room, whether they
think they do or not, just because there is only one person in the corner.
Intentionality offers a solution based on the system of interpretative systems
and the interdetermination of open and closed expectations. We have said
that an intention anticipates hoth an adequation of the object under limited
descriptions, and an adequation of the object "itself". Two viewers expect
different results under the first form of adequation. If the second form were
rigidly determined by the first, it would follow that the two viewers intend
different objects. But the second adequation is not on Husserl's account just
an aggregate of cases of the first, but treats adequations of limited descriptions as a discontinuous gap-filled chain leading towards the object itself. What
allows any two subjects to intend the same object is not that they are in total



agreement over an object's description, but that they agree on how to fill in
the gaps of their respective perceptions. The openness, and even the partial
incorrectness, of incomplete intuitions, does not prevent different intentions
from converging on a single object through revision, since the end to which
those different intentions lead forward is in all cases an apprehension of what
there "is". If synthesis were grounded at the beginning of cognitive investigation, then if two subjects expected different intuitions, they could only be
satisfied by the presence of different objects. But if the subjects aim at the
end of interpretation, then they both aim to actualize different possibilities and
aim at the complete presentation of one and the same object.
There is, however, a peculiarity in this account, namely that the meaning
of an expression may be fulfilled by intuitions quite different from those which
the expression-user believes will satisfy it. If the end-point may be misapprehended at the beginning, then in order to guide interpretation from the
beginning, it must do so implicitly, not only when a subject does not think
of articulating it, but also when he would not or could not express it. Husserl
distinguishes the syntheses that adequately fulfil part-intentions, which are
expressed, from those that present the object "itself", which are "not expressed"
We find here [in evidence] several agreements brought to synthesis: one of these, the partial,
predicative one, is meant in the form of a claim, and adequately presented, and so is given
itself ... This is the agreement between subject and predicate, the fit of the latter to the
former. But in the second case, we have the agreement which produces the synthetic form of
the act of evidence, and thus produces the total coincidence between the meaning-intention of
the assertion (Aussage) and of the perception of the state of affairs itself, a coincidence naturally carried out step by step, which here ceases to be at issue. This agreement is plainly not
asserted [or "said out loud", ausgesagt], it is not objective like the first, wh ich belongs to the
judged state of affairs. Doubtless it can at any time be asserted, and be asserted with evidence.
It then becomes the truth-generating (wahrmachend) state of affairs of a new evidence, of
which the same holds, and so on (124).

Again, there is a double end-point. First, each property which can be predicated of the object in an assertion, may be perceived in a single act. While
no one of those predication-verifying perceptions is an adequate presentation of the object itself, the latter is only ever present as perspectivally
determined. The object itself, as the correlate of the totality of all synthetic
activity, is always present but never articulated as wholly present. The second
adequation, which closes the open system of part-adequations, is never present
as a whole-adequation that is carried out, but is always present in the form
of new part-adequations that can be carried out.
The end-point exists as that which underlies, generates, and lives on through
the steps of, the very open-ended end-points which it is supposed to close
off. The end-point must both be the ideal at which interpretative multiplicities aim to co-terminate, and also the system of non-terminating part-intentions
understood in their unexpressed unity. But how can the end-point be both an
absolute closure of interpretation and yet exist only as the reopening of inter-



pretative development? How might we understand the ideal limit of synthesis

not as the moment wherein synthesis is no more, but as that characteristic of
ongoing synthetic activity which guarantees that each act anticipates, and
achieves, "more" determinacy in the "next" act?
(B) End-Result as Last Fulfilment

Husserl sometimes writes as though an intention is a kind of checklist adequated at the moment when the last intuition on the list is checked off. On
this model, the last moment in a synthesis of fulfilment is a single intuitive
content like any other - a sense-datum, a limited perspectival perception, an
idea-fragment, etc. - whose only distinction is that it was the last one needed
to complete the collection. At other times, he writes as though an intention
creates the demand to see the object as a whole. On this model, the last moment
in a synthesis of fulfilment is an intuition which is no longer limited, perspectival, or fragmentary, but complete, omni-perspectival, and totalizing all
by itself - an intuition which at one blow makes the entire object present in
all possible ways. Of course, neither of these kinds of end-points could actually
be reached in the case of three-dimensional corporeal objects, and possibly not
in the case of categorial objects either. Nevertheless, it makes a difference
which model Husserl intends, both for the ac count of completion-points (e.g.
for whether 53 is understood when the last unit has been counted or when
the total product has been calculated), and for the account of synthetic activity
(e.g. for whether synthesis is grounded in immediate dator intuitions or
in genetic histories). These alternatives emerge in the contrasts between
(i) the last unit and the sum, (ii) the product and the process, and (iii) the
immediate and the mediate. I will argue that both models must be held
simultaneously - the end-point must be both a singular intuition and a history
of intuitions.
Each ascending series points forwards to an ideal limit, or realizes it in its final member
[Endglied}, which sets for every advance an unsurpassable goal: the goal of absolute knowl
edge, of the adequate self-representation of the knowledge-object (66).

On the one hand, the self-presentation of the object suggests a unification of

the series of fulfilments, wherein "the imperfection of the one-sided representation is relatively overcome in the all-sided representation" (67). The ideal
limit should be the sum of "all" the "one" -sided representations that precede
it (also 117). Yet Husserl does not equate the all-sided representation with
all the one-sided representations as aseries, but rather compresses the all-sided
ideal into the "last member" (Endglied) of the series.
In so me sense, the "last fulfilment" (letzte Erfllung, 118) must present
all there is of the object: "The intuitive substance of this closing-off presentation is the absolute sum [absolute Summe] of possible fulness" (118). But
is it the last of many, or the sum of many fulfilments? In Husserl's example



from arithmetic, the "end-result" (Endresultat) which "ends" (endet) the

"member by member" (Glied fr Glied) fulfilment of the expression 534 the member which comes "last" or "in the manner of elosure" - is "the completely explicated sum of ones, of which it is said: that is the number 534
'itself'" (69-71). After we divide up 5 34, it may be that all that remains are
units, but what remains is a "sum" of units only if the units removed one by
one from 534 are simultaneously re-compiled in such a way that the end-result
is not really a multiplicity of units after all, but a newly ordered totality. If
analysis is to yield the object "itself", the result must adequate the object
not in pieces, but in its original form.
The same holds for sense-perception. In the "ideal limit-case" of perceptual adequation, an intention guarantees that the object is present as meant (57).
It verifies by its completeness. But later, Husserl describes the "limit-case"
of pure intuition by saying that "there is not one part, not one side, not one
determinacy of its object which is not intuitively represented, not one which
is meant along with it merely indirectly" (81). In the advance towards
intuiting the sum total of an object's properties, the intuition of the last one
will elose off the self-presentation of the object Uust as the removal of the
last one removes the object entirely from presence).
Yet while a house may have to be seen from all sides in order to be seen
as it "itself" is, nevertheless when all sides but one have been seen and then
the last side is seen, the last side by itself does not present the house itself
unless it completes the sum of sides. The last side has to inelude all sides.
Yet there is no all-sided perception of a three-dimensional object except as
the completion of aseries of acts that runs through one side at a time. Given
both that objects can only be seen one side at a time, and that the last fulfilment must be all-sided, the last fulfilment cannot strictly speaking be just
the last in the series, but must incorporate all those in the series.
Yet the end-result cannot just be a recollection of prior intuitions - it must
elose the process by achieving the last remaining intention. While the endresult must be all-sided, it must, if it is to come last in the chain, be the sort
of content that can actually be intuited, and therefore must in some sense be
the intuition of some one side or other.
(H) The problem of the end-point can also be found in the relation between
the process of fulfilment and its product. In fact, the end-point is supposed
to solve two different problems. One problem concerns the necessity for one
content to advance to the next; the end-point ensures that fulfilment-processes
continue as long as there is still more to be perceived, and does not end prematurely. The other concerns the satisfaction of cognitive demands; the
end-point ensures that fulfilment processes do end (66--67). The end-point must
explain both what happens during the process and wh at happens on ce it is
Similarly, when Husserl contrasts syntheses that "lead towards" completion with syntheses which, as the "last goal", "give to the intention an absolute
fulness of content" (121), there are two ways of construing the process-product



relation. The goal may be one of pushing the process of fulfilment until it
has included at some point or other every content that it could include, or it
may be one which produces a single absolutely full content which no longer
has any need to refer back to any previously experienced content.
(iii) Finally, we can ask whether the end-point is an immediate result or a
mediated one. In discussing "the achievement of intuited intentions", Husserl
says that "the last outcome of the whole mediate process is an immediate
intention" (75). Yet it is not in an uninterpreted datum that the fulfilmentprocess ends, but as a synthetic achievement, "the last ideal of perfection"
(121). Likewise in "the negative ideal of the last frustration" (126), it is by
arriving at the end of a search that an intuition falsifies a hypothesis. The
last intuition is last only in the context of other intentions and intuitions
which it either proves or challenges.
How, then, can synthesis result in immediacy? When Husserl says that
the ideal of adequation requires all-sided representation "in a single blow" (67),
is "singularity" achieved through a gradual process that is nevertheless unitary
in content, or alternatively achieved in a single instant that is nevertheless
manifold in content? Either way, the singularity of the blow is something
that has to be worked up to.
The final outcome of fulfilment must be both mediated and single-blowed,
both purified of, and full of, synthesis. On the one hand, Husserl writes: "Since
the last fulfilment may include nothing at all in the way of unfulfilled intentions, it must, by the nature of its ground, follow from a pure perception; an
objectively complete perception, which nevertheless is carried out in the
manner of a continuous synthesis of impure perceptions, cannot suffice for us"
(119). Aseries of partial perceptions, synthesized in an ongoing way but incomplete at every moment and so never enclosed within a single content of
consciousness, can never count as ended even if every possible perspective has
been viewed at some time or other during the series. Yet evidence is also
"the act of the most perfect synthesis of fulfilment".
We may now draw the following conclusions. Having a perception of the
last side of an object does not count as having the object evidently present
unless the perception of the last side fits into, and finishes, a viewing that
continues to be present to consciousness. The last side without its history is
not a last fulfilment. But even as the last next-content in a continuous history,
the last side is not the ideal limit-point unless it presents the object in a
single blow. But for its side, the "single blow" is a synthetic achievement. It
cannot collapse multiple perspectives into a one-sided viewing, nor can it
turn a number-concept or a scientific category from something that can be
defined in many ways into something that can be defined only in a single
way, nor can it take something that is by nature the result of a certain ordering
of its parts (e.g. a number, a narrative picture, or a history) and turn it into
something that can be seen or understood all at once, or with no order, or
with any order at all. The all-sided perception without a history is no more
a last fulfilment than is the one last side. The end-point must be both a singular



content of consciousness, i.e. a new and complete percept added to the

series previously experienced, and a totality of those previous contents, i.e.
a unifying principle underlying, mastering, and retaining those contents from
the beginning.
We have been asking how incomplete contents implicitly incorporate their
end-points. We now have to ask how an end-point implicitly incorporates
the incomplete contents which it completes by totalizing and singularizing.
(C) End-Result as Closure, as Finishing Touch,
as Living End, and as Reconstruction

What is the actual content of an act of consciousness which closes off a

range of anticipations? The last perception of a three-dimensional object is
one-sided like all the rest. If such a perception is to bring an object to allsided presentation, it must recollect in order those previous contents as the
context which is now closed off. Even if the last content were all-sided (as
if our hands were filled with eyes and could see all sides of whatever we
could hold), it would still by itself be incomplete. For without recollecting that
the object was previously seen from only one side at a time, or that the viewing
could degenerate into one-sided perspectives, the subject would not really
perceive the object as it is, i.e. as an object that presents different sides to
different viewing-points. His experience would not be all-sided, since he would
not understand what it means to have sides. Similarly, without recollecting
premises, he would not really understand a conclusion, since he would not
have before his mind the reasoning that presents the conclusion as the truth,
or as the solution to some problem.
What does it mean for incomplete standpoints to be retained even once
complete standpoints have been achieved? How is it that different perspectives
and interpretations are not simply telescoped into a single blow of intuition,
but rather retain their integrity even once they have been contextualized in a
larger system? The problem of the retention of difference within unity is at
the heart of metaphysics from Parmenides to Hegel, and guides a wide range
of philosophical projects in early twentieth-Century European philosophy.
Heidegger's ontological difference, which recalls the origin of being-in-theworld in its continuing strangeness, or Bloch's dialectical non-synchronicity,
which aims to appropriate a past not as a fascist myth of the fatherland but
as a distanced history of possibilities, or Bultmann's critique of eschatology,
which locates the redemptive future not in transcendent ideality but in the
distance between the present and its creation - these projects and others all
rework the Hegelian problematic of the end of history. The challenge is to
prevent synthetic unity from being an identity within which differences are
indistinguishable and its own generation is forgotten. It might sound strange
to say that Husserl's syntheses of identification are designed to avoid identity.
It sounds less strange to say that identity is the ordered interpretation of
differentiated moments preserved as such.



The problem of how a last fulfilment can include its predecessors is

articulated in Husserl' s description of closure:
If we imaginatively think to ourselves of an object rotating and turning itself to every side, the
succession of images is constantly being combined through syntheses of fulfilment with regard
to its partial intentions; but each new image-presentation is, as a whole, not a fulfilment of the
foregoing one, and the whole range of presentations [operates] without any onward-striding
progress nearing a goal. Such is precisely the case for the multiplicity of perceptions belonging
to the same extemal thing. Gain and loss balance at every step; the new act is richer in fulness
with reference to some determinations, but for the sake of those determinations, it sacrifices in
exchange its fulness with reference to other determinations. Against this we can say that the whole
synthesis of the succession [Folge] of imaginations, or of percepts, represents a growth in
fulness in comparison with an act singled out from such a succession; the imperfection of the
one-sided presentation being relatively overcome in the all-sided presentation (66-67).

The problem for the end-point is that every time perception moves to make
one side of an object present, it loses the presence of the previous side. The
all-sided object is no more present in the last fulfilment than in the first, and
the process of epistemic fulfilment is an infinite fading-away where every
perceptual achievement is instantly forgotten. It is true that there are some
senses of synthesis that would apply even to pointless rotations: perceptions
could still "follow" one another in the right order, and identify sides of the
same object. But on this model there is no synthesis which gradually builds
up a viewing of the whole object. There cannot, on the model of balanced
gain and loss, be any ideal end-point, and hence there could be no limit on
the directions for further viewing, and hence no principle to distinguish direct
from digressive side-views, and finally no principle to decide whether one side
really "follows" next after another. For a "whoIe synthesis" requires growth
towards a "non-oversteppable goal". It requires that "succession" operate in
the whole-system of interpretative synthesis, and not just in individual twists
and turns. It requires that some cognitive act compensate for the perceptual
losses incurred step by step.
The issue of the retention of incomplete standpoints in synthetic unity
is, however, difficult to pin down as a Husserlian issue. For while Husserl
articulates the problem of fulfilment as one of loss-management, and defines
the end-point as the "closure" of a chain (73, 117), he nevertheless insists
throughout LU that meaning-fulfilments are not "genetic" in their presentative content:
Many an element of fulness counts for us, as a presentation that counts as the end - always
independent of all those that are genetic, since those latter, like all similar variations, grow by
virtue of association (117).

While a many-sided object is only present as a whole in so far as its

previously experienced sides remain present, the sides are indifferent to
the order in which they are viewed. If a subject were to identify the house
with the genetic history of his viewing, he would be interpreting his
intuitions as fulfilments not of an intention directed at the house, but of an



intention directed at his own thought-processes. Yet the lesson is not that
incomplete presentations cease to be necessary once perception becomes
allsided, but rather that they must be re-ordered once the whole is mapped
out. The very fact that it does not matter which perception followed which
in subjective experience, shows that objective interpretation redistributes them
in a new order based on the relations among the object's own parts.
On my construal, the end-point is constituted in the redistribution of always
incomplete standpoints according to interpretations whose telos is a wholesynthesis. A new content avoids losing its predecessor, then, by re-ordering
it in a new mastering intention; the predecessor is interpreted no Ion ger as
something experienced at a particular time, but as an ideal possibility subsumed
within a whole. Both ideality and wholeness are constituted in this reconstruction: ideality because factual histories are transformed into possibilities
for re-interpretation, and wholeness because new acts demand the re-arrangement of all its predecessors in a new objectifying interpretation.
My construal of the end-point bears not only on the end-point of synthesis, but also on its starting-point and its mid-points. In terms of the end-point
itself, my construal permanently problematizes the sense in which an object
may be present "in one blow" (67, 70, 73). For on my construal, the "endpoint" is not a name for a super-content which solves the problem of unified
interpretation, but rather a name for any content in so far as it demands the
re-ordering of its predecessors.
For example, when all four right-angled sides of a house have been seen
in order, and the fourth corner is rounded and the first side is seen again,
the experience of the several sides is transformed into an experience of the
house as present in all sides. It is not that all sides are really present at once;
nor does the experience of a side exactly similar to one already seen guarantee that the same side is being seen a second time; nor does a succession
of four one-sided viewings guarantee that the viewer's image of the whole
ground-plan is correct; nor indeed do four perceptions in succession, even if
that is all there are, present the object as a whole and all at on ce in one final
view. What is important about the completion of the fourth side and the
return to the first is the way the succession is closed off. To complete the
viewing, the last side must be interpreted as leaving no room for a fifth right
angle on the floor-plan, and it must do this by fixing the relative place of
each of the four sides already viewed. The perception of the fourth side
avoids losing the evidence of the first just because, in setting limits to the
re-ordering of its precedents, i.e. in counting them up, it leaves room for
nothing around the next corner except the first side. Of course, this closure
of possible sides is neither absolute (since if "side" is construed broadly as any
aspect, there will always be infinite "sides" to be seen), nor indeed peculiar
to the fourth side. It is in this sense that synthetic closure is a feature not
just of the very last experience but also of every moment interpreted as the
end of its predecessors. The perception of the second side anticipates a third
just because, in attaching to the first, it cannot close off the outer walls of



the house without a third side; the second side uses the problematics of closure
to refer back to the first so as to anticipate the third. Even the experience of
the first side gets interpreted as the side of a house only because the closure
of the house's walls is already having a backward effect, differentiating the
walled object from previously experienced objects and demanding the supplementation of its other sides. It is by referring backward from an end-point
which has not been reached that ongoing acts of interpretation master whole
syntheses. A single incomplete content, "singled out from the succession" (67),
Le. as one moment in the pointless side-to-side rotation of a perceived object,
by itself can neither count as an end-point, nor ground the passing over to
the next side. Yet incomplete contents are precisely those within which completion is recognized - not in so far as they are assessed one at a time, but
in so far as each one re-places its precedents into the succession which it closes,
and is already re-placed into a more fully closed succession which cannot
yet even have taken place.
Hence, in discussing the last fulfilment of the number concept 5 34, Husserl
Plainly the act of fulfilment would not really have corresponded only to the end-result, but [would
have corresponded] already to each single step wh ich led over from one expression to the next,
clarifying it and enriching its content (69).

The intuition of units does not itself count as the intuition of 5 34 unless the
subject reconstructs the complex number even as he divides it up. The synthesis of fulfilment locates within every act both openness (since each act
runs through its predecessors in a fresh way) and closure (since each act
introduces a new end-point by which to order its predecessors). The counting
subject must at every step not forget his place, he must not forget what number
he began counting down from or how small the units are that he expects
to end with, he must not forget whether he is counting by ones, twos,
or multiples of five, and he must not forget what the countability of a unit
amounts to. That is, he must experience each division as a unit which makes
the next part of the whole present - not so as to forget the last part, but
so as to remember that the next was implicit all along and that past and
present units are to be recounted together. Each number in the chain of divisions retains the foregoing numbers, then, not because any one of the numbers
counting down from five to one includes its predecessors, nor because any
one formula (e.g. 3 + 1 + 1) or equation (e.g. 5 = 3 + 1 + 1) names its
predecessor (4 + 1 or 5 = 4 + 1), but just because the countdown is closed
by the reaching of ultimate units, and because this ideal closure, reachable
or not, confers upon each step the characteristic of referring back to its
origination in its predecessor.
The pencil-sketch too suggests that closure corresponds not only to the
last step but to all steps constituted by the last as the foregoing. Husserl
introduced the pencil-sketch as a fulfilment series achieved "in a synthetic
multiplicity" which "is achieved piece by piece and always muddied through



such additions" (67). While falling short of the one-blowed "ideal of adequation", it reaches precisely the kind of finish appropriate to it. It is finished
precisely because of its endless "additions" or "postscripts" (Zusatz) and is
clarified precisely because its outline is "muddied" by its details. Its last fulfilment is "the full-of-life finish of the painting", or differently translated,
"the lived having-been-carried-out painting" (lebensvoll ausgefhrte Gemlde,
67). Now, when one says that a painting has come to life, one often means
that the fictional object has been represented in a way that is true to life.
But Husserl, for whom paintings are never to be confused with authentie
perceptions, says here that it is the painting itself that lives. Or to be precise,
it is the painting in the final state of having been carried out that is full of
life. It is the end-result that is lived. Finishing touches on their own, as the
last flecks of colour, the last figure to complete the narrative, and so on,
would not be much to look at. Indeed the same holds true for the last conclusion to an argument, the last effect in a causal sequence, or of course the
last percept in a visual examination - the finishing touch (almost a translation of Zusatz) is in itself merely a detail that touches up, and sets off in
relief, the foregoing series. We have said that the filled-in painting reactivates its outlines. But the end-point not only "puts into practice" (again
ausfhren) the outlines themselves, but also reactivates the "whoie synthesis"
as aseries of "passings over" from drawing to sketch to picture to painting.
The last fleck is the missing link whieh allows the whole series of interactivating flecks to be run through anew.
The end-point is a living finish, and corresponds to the whole process
leading up to it, just because it is by nature the re-making of unending incomplete parts into a new totality; the end-point is a new version of the series,
a new individual content of experience, but it brings the object "itself"
to presence in so far as it reopens the incomplete versions as closing
themselves off. The object "itself" is absolutely present if it is present in
a way that allows all of its possibilities to be run through explicitly. The
end-point is experienced when all imaginable perceptions are constituted as
having been previously experienced, and when every previous intuition
is re-interpreted as one which has led to the point where the experience
now stands. It is reached in so far as an experience refers back to prior
experiences as referring forward to it.
If we now go back to ask the most general questions about synthetie activity,
namely why contents of consciousness anticipate objectifying completionpoints, or why there is a dynamic for contents to synthetically pass over in
succession, the categories of limit supply the answer in reverse. Instead of
treating each content as the starting-point for a synthetic combination, the
categories of limit treat each content as an end-point. The individual content
is not at first something that needs to have its synthetic combinations explained,
but rather from the first is the explication of synthetic connections, of forward
and backward references. A perspectival perception, or a stage in an argument,
anticipates the next side or the next conclusion just because it is already closing



off aseries of sides and conclusions whose order is constituted as determined in advance by the final closure of self-evident perception or systematic
science. Each moment has forward and backward references just because it
is already the backward referent of ideal end-points and the forward referent
of ideal starting-points. Ideal starting-points and end-points are grounded just
because ongoing interpretative contents must appeal to them, and contents must
appeal to starting-points and end-points just because those latter are already
constituted as having demanded that those contents appeal to them.



Husserl's eategories of referring backward are not predominant in major

seetions of LU vi, 1 in the way that the eategories of universal names are in
eh. 1, or eategories of eontext in eh. 2 and eh. 4, or eategories of perspeetival ordering in eh. 3, or eategories of limit in eh. 5. Yet the problematie of
referring backward funetions at every level of analysis in LU vi, in deseriptions of associative histories, in the example from arithmetic, in general
deseriptions of the syntheses of epistemie fulfilment, and in deseriptions of the
methodology of phenomenology. On my reading, they provide the finishing
touehes and henee the grounding prineiple of every analysis in which they
appear. In this eoncluding seetion of my treatment of the sixth Investigation
and of LU as a whole, I will develop a rather speeulative reading to show
how the eategories of referring backward strueture Husserl's solution to the
problem of synthesis in general. I will begin by indicating how the eategories of referring backward resolve the problems of synthesis raised by the
eategories of names, eontexts, perspeetives and limits, namely the problems
of determinate inclusion, next-eontents, gap-free ordering, and retention respeetively. I will then indicate how they resolve the problems of synthesis in the
first five Investigations, namely the problems of oeeasional expressions,
grounded universals, part-whole struetures, syneategorematie terms, and
subjeet-predieate relations. Following this review, I will examine passages
in LU vi, 1 where Husserl explicitly uses the voeabulary of referring backward,
in order to diseuss the retention whieh posits and orders contents that have
been before or will be afterwards. I will organize that diseussion under three
subseetions, eorresponding to the three problems of synthesis, namely the
problems of the ground, the results, and the ongoing meehanisms of synthesis. I will end with the problem of the storage in eonsciousness of implicit
backward referents, whieh has to be solved if Husserl's eoneept of synthesis
is to work, and if eonseiousness is to be intelligible as a self-propelling
system of synthetic aetivities. In the Appendix, I will argue that Husserl solves
this problem in Ideen 1 with the eoneeption of pure eonsciousness as the
ultimate ground and eontent of backward referenee.
The problems that arise for the five eategories of synthesis under whieh I
have diseussed the sixth Investigation are all developments of the problem
of how an intention antieipates a range of fulfilments. If the intention is a
kind of name, there is a problem eoneerning how it eireumseribes the class
of intuitions. Seeond, if the intention is a kind of eontext, the cireumseription is explained by the way intuitions themselves earry over into their own



next-neighbours and fix common boundaries. But there remains a problem concerning the determinacy of the next content. Third, if the intention is a kind
of perspective- or cognitive-system ordered by weight, the determinacy of nextcontents is grounded by the fact that the complexity of each content generates
the momentum for filling in its successor. But then there is a problem concerning interpretative gaps. Finally, if the intention is a kind of limit point
to an object's presentation, excess and missing intuitions are avoided by the
way an intention includes all and only those intuitions whose presence would
be demanded in a perfect presentation of the object "itself". That is, the
intention anticipates a range of intuitions from the beginning of synthesizing
activity just because it is al ready a product of the limit point at the end. The
end-point orders its own precedents into a succession of next-points.
An act of consciousness intends an object, then, by (a) tracing back a history
of previous acts, (b) reorganizing those previous acts into a common interpretation, (c) re-tracing that history back up to the present act so as to fix
its degree of completion in the present, and (d) referring forwards to a content
that would complete, by completely referring back to, the epistemic project
posited to have begun. The dynamic for passing over from each act to the
next from beginning to end is located in each singular act, as it simultaneously divides itself into aseries of actual and/or possible experiences and
unifies itself into a potentially all-sided totality. The content of each act refers
forwards and backwards by setting in motion a system of tracings and retracings according to which it is itself a forward- and backward-referent of ideal
starting- and end-points.
It is because the end-point is a Jorward-referring point from which predecessors are re-ordered, that contents differentiate themselves from their
predecessors. If the all-sided result of epistemic synthesis had to consist in
the very last act in aseries somehow holding all its predecessors in one, the
problem of the retention of precedessors as incomplete standpoints would be
unresolvable. But the last fulfilment rather unifies a singular interpretation precisely by reconstructing the limitations of its many sides. It is not that
everything experienced is remembered, or that a meaning is identical to the
history of its associative connections. The point is rather that an interpretation is the transformation of an experiential content into an actual or possible
history whose re-tracing can warrant future progress. That is to say, the
starting-point for interpretation is a backward-referring point from which
implicit anticipations are grounded.
This preview allows us to resolve the four problems of synthesis drawn from
LU vi.
(i) The fourth, namely that of how a content incorporates its predecessors, is solved by the way each content interprets the world by redistributing
previous experiences along achain within which that content constitutes an
(ii) The third problem, namely that of how an end-content closes off epistemic advance in the midst of endless series of perceptions, is solved by the



way each content fixes its further needs for supplementation precisely by
retracing those already achieved. A content carries an expectation to intuit
all and only those properties whose presence once perceived can be interpreted
as already having unfolded in prior contents.
(iii) The second problem, namely that of "next"-contents, is solved by the
way that each content both has and is a backward referent. Each is automatically a next-point, and anticipates that perception which will have to refer
back to it as immediately past.
(iv) The first problem, namely that of how intuitions are subsumed under
an intention in general, is solved by the way each content refers back, through
previous experiences of the same object, to the ideal possibility of experiencing
that object in general, which is to say to the ideal meaning-intention, and to
the ideal meaning-fulfilment.
The categories of referring back also solve the problems of synthesis in
the first five Investigations.
(i) The problem of synthesis in the first Investigation concerns how there
can be ideal units of meaning even though every expression is embedded in
the thought-horizons of individual subjects at individual times and places. I
argued that ideal meanings are constituted by those acts which purge occasional associations. Though every meaning carries accidental associations,
every occasion of meaning-use refers back to the sense that that meaning would
have had prior to its associations. Even the purest syllogism operates within
synthetic combinations, though its task is to derive only that which is implicit
in the terms it refers back to.
(ii) The problem in the second Investigation concerns how there can be
universal objects given their ground in synthetic combinations of individuals. The solution is that synthesis produces novel intentional objects
interpreted as not being so produced. Uni versals and individuals both become
possible objects just when universals refer back to syntheses of individuals
in such a way as to exclude those very references.
(iii) The problem in the third Investigation eoncerns the objectivity
of wholes and parts. Parts are divisible only with reference back to the
whole which is thereby detailed, and the whole can be composed only
with reference back to the parts' mutually satisfying demands for supplementation. Referring backward in both directions at onee gives to objeetifying
interpretation what I have called a self-propelling dynamic towards selfexplieation.
(iv) The problem in the fourth Investigation is that this self-propelling explieation is represented in expressions by syncategorematic terms, which have no
meaning on their own. Synthetic connectedness always has the character
of having already been given in advance as the apriori history of all possibilities of expression.
(v) The problem in the fifth Investigation concerns the eompeting priorities of names and predications, perceptions and judgments. The structure of
competing priorities of seemingly distinct types of acts is precisely what



gives consciousness the dynamic to advance towards a cognition that is

both more concrete and more universal, more subjectively oriented and more
objective, more explicit and yet richer in implicit presuppositions. Forwardreferring syntheses refer back both to pre-interpreted intuitions and to an
ideal end-point of interpretative judgments posited as having been present in
In the remainder of this section, I will show, with reference to LU vi, how
the categories of referring back solve the three problems of synthesis. I will
treat first the problem of the results of synthetic activity. In earlier contexts,
I would have dealt with this problem last. But now it appears that the result
of synthesis is the cause of the processes which lead up to it. I will then
return to the starting-point, focussing on Husserl's account of backward
reference in "wordless recognition." I will end with the middle of synthetic
activity, with my construal of consciousness as a self-propelling dynamic of
synthetic activity, and with my thesis that synthetic interpretation is grounded
not in uni versals, sense contents, apriori categories, the spontaneous ego,
or an ideal of science, but in the ongoing system of backward and forward
references of conscious activity itself. In the end, it is the "self" in what I
am calling "the self-propelling system of consciousness" that will offer a
solution to what I have called the problem of the storage of ultimate backward
(A) Referring Backward and Husserl's Solution to the Problem

of the Results of Synthetic Activity

I have been articulating two problems with the result of synthesis. First, I asked
how results of synthesis are objectively grounded. Why should the demands
for unified consciousness connect experiences according to connections present
in the objects themselves? Second, I asked how consciousness can refer to,
let alone predict, end-results, given that interpretations are in principle endless.
How can ideal results guide epistemic progress, given that the ideal is never
Since the end-point is always deferred, its efficacy in fixing next-points
depends on its being a function of a starting-point that actually is present.
Husserl 's most general statement on referring backward introduces the
problematic of end-points and immediacies:
... The fulfilment of mediate intentions leads back [zurckfohrt] to the fulfilment, indeed to
the intuitive fulfilment; and it has also tumed out that the last outcome of the whole mediate
process is an immediate intention (75).

There are of course several ways of construing this passage. It might just
mean that complex fulfilments are buHt up out of, or are divisible into, simple
or partial fulfilments; or that indirect presentations (e.g. presentations of an
object at a distance) are possible only if they give some evidence as to how
an object could be directly presented (e.g. up close); or that complete fulfil-



ment presupposes prior incomplete fulfilments. Yet the passage does not
say that mediate acts are inferior versions of immediate acts, but instead
attributes to mediate fulfilments a proper activity of their own, namely that
they refer backward. And while the passage does attribute a kind of firstness to immediate intentions, it does so just because the achievement of
immediate intentions is the very last thing that mediate fulfilments achieve.
Hence, for example, the experience of a house leads back to intuitions of
sides of, or bricks of, the house, not because those latter were seen first, but
because the experience sets in motion a process of retrieving intuitions whose
objects are posited as "already" there. Furthermore, the end-result not only
decides which intuitions were closer to the end; it also designates certain
intuitions and intentions as always having been present no matter how the
house is interpreted, i.e. it also fixes absolute starting-points for epistemic
The question of the results of synthesis is thus a question of how cognition posits immediate intentions as having been present all along. Cognition
has end-points only in so far as it can produce the implicitness of beginningpoints. A subject can refer forwards to a complete presentation of a house
(or a theory or a subject) only in so far as he can refer back through the
his tory of his actual experiences to an ideal history of immediate sensecontents, of one-at-a-time fulfilments, of simple judgments, and of infinite
one-sided perspectives narrowing and expanding and shifting in focus and
The notion that the result of synthetic activity is a function of interpretation that refers back to what there was all along can be described either (i)
from the standpoint of the result itself as a goal, or (ii) from that of the
process which has that goal.
(i) The result of synthetic activity is the identification of an object as that
which it was meant to be from the beginning. The identification is thus what
Aristotle calls .o.l tfv elvut, the "what it was to be", the final cause. And
as for Aristotle, the ultimate final cause is for Husserl the ultimate efficient
cause and the ultimate formal cause: it is that which allows immediate intentions to generate complex intentions and that which gives order to multiplicities
of interpretative matter. One could say that this order is grounded at the
beginning from the end: each content, as a content whose epistemic worth is
conferred retrospectively by an ideal end-point, acquires thereby the potential to rate the value of succeeding contents. Each presupposes an end-point
in order to be drawn to the next content in succession. Alternatively, we
could say that the order is grounded from the beginning at the end: any completion is determined as such by counting back to see how far it has come.
Each content presupposes a starting-point in order to have been drawn from
the previous content. In short, even though no single experience may be
absolutely immediate or complete, both end-point and starting-point are
presupposed as prior. The results of synthesis are in this sense always absent,
but because their absence takes the form of being posited in order for indi-



vidual contents to be named, placed in context, put in perspective, and epistemica11y pursued, it is precisely this absence of results that a110ws
synthesis to have results.
(ii) Husserl's clearest use of referring backward occurs in the example
from arithmetic, where he speaks of"going backward" (zurckgehen, Rckgang)
through a succession of contents each of which "passes over" to the "next"
(69-70). Knowledge of objects proceeds by retracing its steps and finding
that the results of epistemic syntheses had been emerging all along. We may
draw three conclusions.
First, synthetic activity is nothing but results. Every content is already a
re-interpretation of past contents in an effort to treat its object as already having
been an object of consciousness in the past, i.e. as a thing about which something is already known, if only something about how it was previously absent.
It is because of this backward-referring feature of acts that there can be no
pure sense-contents prior to interpretation, no pure thesis prior to synthesis,
no pure meanings prior to background fulfilment-chains, and so on. An immediate sense-content, for example, has already been constituted as the target
of a backward-referring attempt to see what a whole object will look like when
fu11y presented.
The second conclusion, then, is that every content, qua result, is engaged
in searching out the traces within it of other contents, and the traces by which
it is retained in others.
The third is that the objectivity of the results of synthesis is just what is
always going on in ongoing consciousness. The struggle for objectivity and
the struggle for a stream of consciousness depend on one and the same presupposition, namely that what is present now has been accessible a11 along.
Objectivity is stored in the past. And in so far as objectivity depends on an
ideal of epistemic closure which is always deferred, it is the present's reference backward to the past that is the storehouse of the future 's backward
But now to make the argument for the implicit storage of interpretations,
we have to press one last time the problem of the original ground of
synthetic activity.
(B) Re/erringBack and Husserl's Solution to the Problem

0/ the Ground 0/ Synthetic Activity

I have articulated the problem of the ground of synthetic activity by asking

what it is that demands in advance that every content be synthesized with
others. 1 will draw a solution from two of Husserl's descriptions of referring
backward: (i) in "wordless recognition", and (ii) in the methodology of
phenomenological science.



(I) "Wordless Recognition" (Wortlose Erkennen)

The fulfilment of meanings which were never actually expressed in words is
similar to the fulfilment of other non-linguistic acts (e.g. of a melody-fragment
by its continuation). Husserl's description of wordless recognition allows for
intuitions to generate retrospectively the signitive intentions of which they
can then count as the fulfilments:
We recognize an object, for example, as an ancient Roman milestone, its scratchings as weatherworn inscriptions, without any words being employed at that moment or indeed at all; we
recognize a work-tool as a drill, but the word will just not occ.JIr to us; and to say it genetically, through the present intuition there will be an association that arises in a dispositional
way [dispositionelle], which is directed to the meaningful expression; but the meaning-component of this expression alone is actualized, and thus now shines back [zurckstrhlt] in reversed
direction [in umgekehrter Richtung] into the intuition which arouses it, and overflows into the
intuition with the character of a fulfilled intention. These cases of wordless recognition are
thus none other than fulfilments of meaning intentions, but of such meaning intentions that
have phenomenologically released themselves from the signitive contents which otherwise would
belong to them. Comparable examples are also suggested by reflection on habitual contexts of
scientific contemplation (60).

We generally describe fulfilment as if subjects first express an intention and

then fit intuitions into them. But of course a subject does not as a rule speak
about an object prior to experiencing it. In cases of wordless recognition,
the intuition must give rise to the intention into which it must fit. In order
to recognize that visible markings on an ancient stone are meaningful, or
that that handwriting is Goethe's (61), a subject must be able to say 'This is
what we expected Roman writingiGoethe's handwriting to look like'. Without
ever having been expressed, the intention is "dispositionally" associated with
the intuition. Whenever a subject sees an object as something, he disposes
hirnself to make judgments about what he sees and to treat what he sees as
a confirmation that those judgments were true; he could then say 'This is
what we would have expected such an object to look like'. It is in this sense
that wordless recognition retroactively supposes that intentions were operating
in advance; intentions, which the intuitions give rise to, "stream back" to
take up a position in advance 0/ the intuitions.
I will discuss: (1) "flowing over" and "streaming back", and (2) Husserl's
examples of instruments and writings.
(1) Syntheses of recognition go on all the time without being noticed. One
keeps track of time and place while speeding along a highway even without
being aware of having counted down the milestones, without having noticed
exactly when the signposts stopped looking German and began to look Roman,
and so on. When a subject recognizes the objects around hirn, it is not because
objects have their names inscribed directly on them, as it were, at their base,
but precisely because the flow of experience makes use of synthesizing interpretations that underlie experience. It is not that unannounced intentions were
unconsciously or absent-mindedly present before the intuitions, but that the
stream of intuitions generates background intentions as its own meaning-



overflow. In general, the content of an act in transit, having found in its past
the meaning content that it itself put into the past, and indeed having constructed the past out of its own excess, henceforth possesses a context from
which it can draw anticipations for its successors and final goals. This backtracking interpretation for the sake of interpretative progress is wordless, since
the very distinction between prior words and posterior intuitions is already a
product of interpretative synthesis.
So a subject sees by the side of the road an unnamed object; the intuition
actualizes some interpretation, so that the object is seen as a milestone; the
interpretation then streams backwards, so that earlier experiences are interpreted to have anticipated the present intuition, as if the sentence 'There is
another milestone ahead' had earlier been expressed; the present intuition is
thus interpreted as the fulfilment of a prior meaning-intention; the interpreted
present and the present's re-interpreted past together make up a continuous
progression generated from the present end-point but precisely for that reason
interpreted as having been grounded in earlier experiences; the experience
of the object as an ancient Roman milestone is an experience of being in the
middle of a joumey with miles al ready covered and more still to go: the present
streams back in order for the future to be grounded in the past. That consciousness must refer back in order to interpret the present is exhibited even
more strikingly in cases where the interpretation of an object marks its novelty
rather than its continuity with the past. If an object were interpreted as posting
a different mileage than expected, or as a book in Hlderlin's handwriting
instead of Goethe's, the subject's response would be 'So that is what I have
been looking atlsearching for all along', and so on. On Husserl's doctrine of
reminiscience, an act of knowing is always grounded in the most distant past
just because each act fixes an object as something which has been guiding
interpretation all along.
There is an obvious problem. I have so far articulated the categories of
referring backward, which start with acts requiring a history, without
reference to those forward-referring categories that start with acts with the
potential for future explications. But if the ground of an interpretation is
conferred entirely retrospectively, a given content could set in motion any
interpretation whatsoever, and so validate any anticipations whatsoever. The
categories of referring backward seem to show that the very experiential history
that a subject would appeal to when verifying interpretations is itself an arbitrary result of the synthesis of identification that it was supposed to have
When Husserl describes the looseness of interpretation that result~ from
the insufficient determinacy of the past in relation topossible re-interpretations, his descriptions both ac count for a common phenomenon and warn
against an excess of skepticism. He describes two apparently opposite phenomena: first, where "the re-production (Reproduktion) of imagined words lags
far behind (zurckbleibt) the trains of thought re-productively re-vived through
each intuition" (61); second, involving "the extraordinary ease with which



imagined words allow themse1ves to be re-produced through the given

intuitions" (61). The first case produces uncontrolled ideas with which expressions cannot keep up, and which are treated as though they still fit into
interpretative contexts that have in fact become obsolete. The second case
produces uncontrolled meaning-intentions underdetermined with respect to
intuitive fulfilments. In both cases, whether the intuition re-produces too much
or too little expressed meaning, it reproduces intentions which there is in
fact no cause to refer back to, and "there will be only too many false and
even absurd recognitions" (61).
Husserl wants to distinguish between the reproduction of absurd and
reasonable intentions. But if all unspoken intentions are products of revisionist
histories, that distinction becomes problematic. At the end of the passage
(61), Husserl appeals to levels of knowledge (64ff.) for a distinction between
complete and incomplete evidence. But if, as I have argued, the culminating
level of knowledge is the end-result's ability to re-interpret its cognitive history
as having led up to it, the prescriptions remain problematic. To ac count for
a non-arbitrary ground of synthesis, the categories of referring backward must
be reconnected with those of referring forward. For this, I will use Husserl's
examples of wordless recognition drawn from tools and language-use.
(2) "We recognize a work-tool as a drill, but the word will just not occur
to us."
Although in some sense all intentions are tools for producing anticipations, Husserl 's examples rarely deal with tools. The Husserlian armory
includes numbers and colours, lines and melodies, red houses and postmen
passing by, Hans, Berlin, and sometimes the Kaiser (or his adjutant), an
unfinished (and in any case non-descript) painting and a tapestry which some
philistine has hidden behind a stick of furniture, but nothing much that can
be used. It is not surprising, though, that an instrument should turn up as
one of Husserl 's examples of wordless recognition. For in so far as recognizing
an object as an instrument involves being able to use it, it involves an anticipation not by way of propositions but by way of wordlessly activated
dispositions. The instrumentality of an object is neither a perceptual nor a
specific property, but is rather like the final cause of an organism that explains
its actual states by appealing to a purpose present from the start (whether as
the prior purpose of its artisan, or a principle unifying its non-independent
parts, etc.). Just as turning on a tool shows how it was meant to work, so
reactivating an object's history shows how it is can be known.
If we consider what sorts of prior intentions have to be targetted as backward
referents in order for an object to be recognized as a tool, we can see how their
non-arbitrariness is grounded, and we can see how the categories of referring backward themselves refer back to the categories of limit, perspective,
context, and universal names.
First, when a subject recognizes a drill as a work-tool, he must first interpret it as already having been designed with a certain purpose ( though without
necessarily knowing what it is), that is, as falling under the categories of



end-results. The actual content of his experience is the wordless recognition

of the object as an instrument. But that recognition demands aseries of
references back to the mechanisms built into it, starting with the usefulness
of its directly visible parts and ideaHy leading back to its complete mechanical structure.
Second, while he may see the object without knowing its insides, he must
presuppose that there is some internal mechanism whereby the thing works,
that it has moving parts which shift relative position, and operate in sequences
that can be checked in order, and so on. That is, he must interpret it under
categories of perspective and ordering. The recognition demands aseries of
references back to internal perspectives and working orders, starting with
the "next" state of the device, and ideally leading back to its complete crosssectioned, time-Iapsed appearance.
Third, he must interpret it in the context of other objects into which it
drills holes, and of other ways of recognizing it (e.g. as a relic). The wordless
recognition demands aseries of references back to possible contextualizations,
ideally leading back to its complete instruction manual.
Fourth, he must interpret the object as being, in general, a drill (even if
the name simply will not occur to hirn): a hole-drilling device comparable
to others, compatible with parts taken from similar machines, recognizable
in ancient analogues, etc. Without defining its essential characteristics, his
recognition presupposes that it performs functions within a certain range.
That is, he must interpret the object under the categories of universal names.
The wordless recognition demands aseries of references back to general
designations, ideaHy leading back to a name that declares its essence, and
anticipates its fuH range of possible states.
In short, when an intuition generates intentions thereby constituted as having
existed in advance, it is in order to be interpreted as the culmination of some
process, as ordered into some perspectival scheme, as fitting into some background, and as specified under some classification. When a subject looks
back from the standpoint of a current intuition and says that it had been
anticipated by an unexpressed intention, he does not just invent an arbitrary
intention to refer back to; rather, he has to find just that intention whose
Jorward-referring anticipations can account for the working mechanisms
already built into what is now present, and making it work as it does.
We can now also determine the form of linguistic expression that captures
the synthetic character of meaning. In dealing with uni versals, contexts, perspectives, and limits, we find corresponding roles for simple names, groups
of predications, open descriptions, and closed texts. It might seem that
backward referring syntheses, which recognize objects through intentions
that had never been put into words, are without need of linguistic expression (60, 124). Yet two of Husserl's examples have to do with words: the
recognition of scratchings as inscriptions (Inschriften, 60), and of handwriting
(Handschrift, 61) as Goethe's. Both involve written signs recognized to have
contained more meanings or more associations than have as yet been put



into words. The idea is not just that experience contains unnamed designations waiting to get expressed. Syntheses of recognition get expressed neither
in complete or incomplete sets of names, sentences, passages, or books, nor
in a peculiar wordless text, but rather in a total discourse continuously tuming
back towards its own prior expressions and indications in order to draw new
grounds for self-explication. More unified than a closed text precisely because
of the gaps between texts that it presupposes (in unexpressed possibilities), the
expression of synthetic interpretation takes the form of an archive full of
mutually accessible texts, each of which consists of a re-reading of the others.
Wordless recognition is an intertextual system's self-exegesis of its own history.
To conclude, the ground of synthesis is given "in advance" (von vornherein)
just because current cognition always recognizes that something was there
before all along. Synthesis is grounded not in immediate contents, but in the
references back from mediate to immediate contents; not in simple judgments, but in the references back from ongoing interpretation to a background
of objective states of affairs; not in a pure ego but in the references back
from open-ended directions of interpretative consciousness to an underlying
unity and structure of consciousness. Synthesis is grounded in the ongoing
processes of consciousness, precisely in so far as those processes refer back
to apriori structures of subjectivity and objectivity.
The self-interpretation of intentional consciousness thus leads back to the
unity of consciousness in three directions. First, to a unified world of objects;
second, to a gap-free stream of interpretation carried out by a unified subjective
consciousness; and third, to the processes of interpretation themselves, to
the structures of its own understanding, Le. to the phenomenological science
of the apriori grounds of synthesis. In LU, it is the reference back to science,
rather than to the lived world or the transcendental ego, that is decisive.

"Comparable Examples [of Wordless Recognition] Are Also Suggested

by Reflection on Habitual Contexts of Scientific Contemplation" (60)

Like any other experiential sequence, scientific "thought-rankings, when

storming forwards (vorwarts strmend), are in large part not bound to the words
that belong to them, but arise through the flow of intuitive images or through
their own associative blendings" (60). Evidence may propel scientific thinking
forwards even if it is never put into words, and even if subsequent advances
then have to appeal back to inferences that never actually took place in explicit
But references back to scientific thought-contents are not limited to a special
sphere of scientific experience. The possibility of referring back in every sphere
depends on a reference back to the laws of potential succession that are discovered within scientific thinking. While laws for synthesis on the one hand
belong not to "dispersed individuals" but to laws based on their Species (105-6,
109), they are activated "at once" (nun) as soon as some individual synthesis
has been carried out "once" (einmal) (105)~ Every synthetic combination refers



back to a law of its possibility in general; it refers back to an underlying whole

capable of subsuming the multiplicity of combinations in total; and it refers
back to some his tory of actual synthesis for an individual precedent. Hence
when ordinary, pre-synthetic forward-storming streams of consciousness carry
out a "backward reference" (Rcksicht) from dispersed individuals to the
unifying wholes (109), or when conflicting interpretations "lead back" (zurckfhren) to "pregiven" possibilities of coherent agreement (44), they indirectly
refer back to the same web of scientific laws that streams of scientific consciousness refer back to. The reference back from pre-scientific contents to
laws is precisely the project of science. And if wordless recognition
ultimately refers back to the laws of possible synthesis which science pursues,
then, in asense, scientific discourse is the word that wordless recognition
Yet the reference back from individuals to laws is only one side of the
system of reciprocal priorities which grounds the possibility of synthetic
activity. Husserl argues that a meaning is possible if it satisfies laws of consistent interpretation (102-4). But he also argues that appealing to a meaning's
lawfulness is "equivalent" to "leading back (zurckfhren) to the possibility
of corresponding individuals" (103). A meaning is possible in advance in
the abstract just because it can be fulfilled subsequently in the concrete.
Leading back to a law of the possible synthesis of meanings does not lead consciousness out of the realm of the experience of the individual things around
us and into aseparate realm of abstract possibilities, except in the sense that
scientific discourse is the method that pre-scientific consciousness has of
producing through backward references the presuppositions it needs in order
to storm forwards. A subject's ongoing experience remains both the startingpoint for references backward to grounds, as weH as the ultimate backward
referent of those references backward to grounds. The ground of synthesis is
in the end located in the mechanisms of those ongoing processes of always
already grounded synthesis.
(C) Relerring Backward and Husserl's Solution to the Problem

01 the M echanisms 01 Synthetic Activity

I have articulated the problem of the mechanisms of synthesis by asking why

and how each content in the stream of consciousness is synthesized with the
next. The interpretations of Husserl which I surveyed in the Introduction
treat the stream of syntheses either as that which needs to be explained by
some starting-point (as the rationalist, empiricist, and transcendentalist readings
ground synthesis in universals, in associations, or in the ego), or by some
telos (as epistemological readings appeal to a demand for coherence and
verification) or else as the entirety of consciousness which has no need for
starting-points or end-points (as in some process and dialectical readings). I
have argued that for Husserl the mechanisms of synthesis do constitute the



entirety of consciousness, but as such do refer back to ideal starting- and

end-points which in turn explain why synthesis occurs and detennine its directions. On my reading, it is at the point of every individual meaning-content
that references back to interpretative history ground the passing over to the
next content, and that references forward to possible completions set in motion
re-interpretations of past contents.
It is no cheat to say that synthesis starts in medias res, always having
prior material to make use of and put together, and never having to start
from scratch. It is not that we presuppose what we wanted to explain, namely
the starting-point of synthesis. For each content of consciousness carries out
that presupposition. Experiencing subjects find themselves in the middle of
interpretations already carried out, complete with habits, histories, futures, and
unnoticed presents. Every act of consciousness carries the problematic of
grounding as it aims to recover its own content. Synthetic consciousness always
occurs too late to get started, yet all it ever does is work at constituting the
ground for moving to something that can come next, which is to say, at constituting its starting-point.
On my reading also, the ongoing processes of synthesis drive their
own advance. Consciousness is a self-interpreting system that continually
regenerates its own motivating ground. As lived carriers of the systematic selfdevelopment of an interpretation of the world, all contents carry out the
self-hood of consciousness. To paraphrase Hegel, interpretative substance
becomes subject.
The ongoing mechanisms of synthesis, then, are cognition's self-critique.
The content of an act of consciousness cannot be named without being contextualized, cannot be contextualized without passing through ordered
perspectives, cannot be viewed in perspective without referring forwards to
a limit-point, and cannot refer forward to a limit point without being a
backward referent and in turn referring backwards and then forwards to the
processes of its own history. The meaning of each content is in a sense independent of its precedents and successors, but only because the internal demands
for self-explication that ground its necessary unity with the whole also set in
motion systems of differentiations.
FinaIly, contents of consciousness refer back both to proximate contents
ordered prior and posterior to it along chains of next possibilities, as weIl as
to ideal origins and totalities. A number of distinct regions are thus constituted simultaneously once each individual content passes over into the next:
the web-like region of scientific laws as weIl as the struCtures of temporality,
the streams of inner experience as weIl as the interpretation of transcendent
objects, the capacity to arrange colours, the interest in values, and so on.
The system of all the systems of synthetically ordered experience has as its
source-point the forward and backward references carried out in every single
act of synthesis.
There remain three problems. First, we need a general ac count of the
references back and forth between spheres of experience, of the mechanisms



whereby consciousness draws away from one system of investigation into

(or back to) another, or of the system of interpretative systems.
Second, this underlying unity of acts and regions of interpretative consciousness is, on my reading, a product of the syntheses that have to leam
to presuppose it. On the surface, it seems that Husserl in LU treats consciousness as a succession of individual acts (especially the note added after
the writing of Ideen at LU v 354n.), and only in Ideen I conceives of a transcendental ego underlying those acts. Yet all of the central features of the
concept of synthesis in LU - implicit possibilities, implicit judgments, implicit
immediacies and implicit mediations, implicit grounds and implicit end-points
- presuppose some sort of underlying unity of acts and possibilities most of
which are never in fact present to consciousness. Consciousness may be limited
to its individual acts, but only if each act leads back to an implicit unity. I
will argue in the next chapter that pure consciousness for Husserl is never more
than it is in LU, namely the result of a synthesis whereby interpretations implicate their own substratum of grounds and possibilities. What Ideen has that
LU does not have is an account of the mechanisms whereby individual synthetic acts pass over backwards to a pure ground of activity, a substrate for
implicit content, a conducting body for the transition from one region of
meaning to another, and a storage-space for implicit backward referents.
Third, then, there is the problem of what I have called the storage-space
for implicit backward referents. In asense, all the problems of synthesis
concern the status of meanings and intuitions which are posited and referred
back to as possible but which are not in fact present. We have still to explain
how the actual mechanisms of consciousness refer back step by step to a region
of underlying consciousness which can in turn serve as the source from which
to retrieve backward referents and as the basis on which to refer forwards.


For an analysis of music along these lines, see Zuckerkandl (1969).

I will make use of both of these translations of Abschattung. Findlay, in his translation
of sections 13-14, renders Abschattung variously as "shadowing-forth", "nuance", and
"projection". Elsewhere, he renders it as "profile".
Ein anderes Beispiel einer intuitiven Erfiillungsreihe bietet etwa der bergang von einer
rohen Umrisszeichnung zu einer genauer ausgefiihrten BleistiJtskizze, von dieser zu einen
fertigen Bild, bis zum lebensvoll ausgefiihrten Gemlde, und zwar fiir denselben und sichtlich
denselbem Gegenstand.




Husserl's account of synthesis and the single ego in Ideen 1 finally explains
how the ongoing process of interpretative consciousness lays out its own
intentional history behind it as it goes. One tends to remember the central
themes of Ideen 1 as being issues surrounding the absolute ego and the methodology of the transcendental reductions. But if we concentrate on sections
118-124 where Husserl discusses the problem of synthesis, we find that while
ego and science are still in some sense treated as prior to ongoing consciousness, they are here treated as having been constituted as prior by those
I offer the following pages not as a complete reading of Ideen 1, or as
a general account of the relation between Husserl's early and later works, or
even as a close exegesis of sections 118-124, but as a speculative reading
of the theories of the ego, of synthesis, and of phenomenology, and in particular a reading of Husserl's descriptive category of "drawing back", that
suggests a solution to the problems of synthesis left over from the Logical
I nvestigations.
The problem we have to solve is how the synthetic interpretation of actual
experience both grounds and depends on the implicit containment of backward
references in consciousness. Consciousness must be so constituted as to extend
beyond its actualities into a prior unity of all that is possible; it must be so
active as to have prepared for the passive reception of any experience whatsoever; so unified as to establish rational connections between distinct spheres
of meaning; so committed to natural experience as to reflect back on phenomenological science. In short, for the synthesis of acts of consciousness
to keep going on, interpretative consciousness must in each act be going
back for more of its own synthetic unity.
The issues which guide sections 118-124 concern the unification of a
plurality of acts of consciousness into a single, "all-enveloping", "original"
unity or "stream" of consciousness. "Synthetic consciousness" is an "intentional combination" wherein one act of consciousness is "bound up" with
another into "one consciousness" (245). At the outset of s. 118, there is a
proposal not to begin with the "unity of immanent time-consciousness", in
spite of the fact that temporal unity is "the all-enveloping unity of all the
experiences of a stream of experience", in which no act can be "foreign" (245).
Instead, Husserl proposes to deal in these sections with syntheses which are
not continuous but "jointed" (246), where the foreignness of the experiences
is precisely what is at issue in the effort to synthesize them. As in LU, the
account of synthesis in Ideen holds that individual contents of consciousness
are each "self-limiting", and hence have a contributory value towards com196



pletable interpretation; they are therefore "bound" together as a plurality;

the plurality can then be "crossed over" into a synthetic singularity of interpretation (248); the "original" plurality thus functions as a "peculiar attachment of thesis to synthesis" (248); finally, the singular synthesized result
"removes" plurality from the content of the experiences, and the "simple" result
presents a new object that is "original" to the synthetic consciousness (248).
The "attachment" of a thetic assertion to a synthetic interpretation, and
the constitution of the synthetic object, can occur only "through the backward reference (Rckbeziehung) of a simple thesis to the originally constituted collection" (248). The synthetic multiplicity of the result is at once
the completion of, the removal of, and the return to, an original plurality of
It is in s. 122 that the details of the process and the results of "articulated
synthesis" are spelled out (253-55). Husserl describes four "modes" in "the
realm of theses and syntheses" (253). I will refer to these as the syntheses
of (i) "insertion" (Einsetzen, 253), (ii) "grasping" (Ergreiffen, 253), (iii) "still
retaining" (noch behalten, 253), and (iv) the ego's "drawing back" or "withdrawal" (zurckziehen, 254). It is primarily the fourth that will concern uso
(I) "Insertion"
A synthesis can be carried out (vollzogen) step by step; it becomes, it comes into being in original
production. This originariness of becoming in the stream of consciousness is a quite peculiar one.
The thesis or synthesis comes into being, in so far as the pure ego actually takes the step, and
takes every new step; itself lives in the step and "steps on" with it. Itsfree spontaneity and activity
consists in positing, positing-as-result, positing-beforehand and positing-afterwards (Setzen,
Daraufsetzen, Voraus- und Nachsetzen); it does not live within the theses as a passive indweller;
rather the theses radiate from it as from an original source of generation. Every thesis begins with
a point 0/ insertion (Einsatzpunkt), with a point of original positing; so it is with this first
thesis, and with each further one in the synthetic context. This "inserting" even belongs to
thesis as such, as a remarkable mode of original actuality. It is somewhat like the fiat, a point
of insertion of will and action (253).

In the activity of synthesis, the subject deliberately gives himself so me thing

new to experience. He interrupts whatever is going on in the stream of consciousness, and inserts a thesis of his own choosing. And in this insertion,
the subject becomes aware 0/ himself as the controller of the stream of consciousness; the ego, as the self-identical "I" who thinks, steps onto the scene
of experience.
But there is more to the spontaneous insertion of theses than the deliberateness and self-awareness of the experiencing subject. A "positing" act situates
a thesis by declaring that its place follows or precedes some other. It differentiates the insertion-point from an otherwise undifferentiated stream of beliefs,
desires, feelings, etc. It is for this reason that the ego itself comes into being
at the same time as its free positings come into being; not just because the
ego notices its own power therein, but because it is due to the ego's intrusion that there is any point of origin for recognizing differences among theses



and relations within syntheses, for recognizing the distance between the steps
and their relative priority and posteriority.
For all the Kantian tradition of the transcendental ego as the agent of the
synthetic unity of apperception, and for all of Husserl's talk earlier in Ideen
of the absolute being of the ego as the necessary and indubitable phenomenological residuum (ss. 33-49), the role of the ego's directedness towards
objects and capacity for synthesizing is quite specific, and even in a sense
derivative, in s. 122. The ego's "free spontaneity and activity" consists just
in the potentiality which the synthesis has of being "drawn out" or "completed"
(11) "Having in One's Grasp"

The second mode of carrying out articulated syntheses follows from the first
with "essential necessity". The insertion-point "grasps" a new synthesizable
content, and this inserting is "forthwith and without a break changed into
'having in one's grasp' ("im Griff haben")" (255). The self-giving character
of the inserted thesis is tumed into the character of having been given. Husserl
does not mention the active ego in describing the second mode - not because
there is no longer an ego who has the thesis in his grasp, but because the
grasping takes the form of receptivity.
(III) "Still Retaining"
The pure ego carries out a new step, and now in the pervading unity of the synthetic consciousness
"still retains" in its grasp what it had just grasped (253).

The logic of "still retaining" theses wh ich have since been synthesized holds
both in perception ("When collecting things together I do not allow the object
just perceptually apprehended to slip away while I turn my apprehending glance
to the new object", 253) and in reason ("In carrying out a proof, I run through
in steps the thoughts that serve as premisses; I do not surrender any synthetic step; I do not lose my grasp of what I have won", 253-4). In s. 119,
the plurality of theses was said to be "removed" in synthesis; in s. 122, the
distinct meaning of each is preserved.
The first mode of articulated synthesis constitutes a discontinuity in the
flux of consciousness; the second apprehends the meaning given to the discontinuous moment; the third transforms that moment into, and preserves
it as, a "member" or "joint" belonging to a "jointed synthesis" (246), i.e. to
a continuity of discontinuous theses. Every grasping of an object keeps its
content in mind long enough to be connected with the next grasping of the



(IV) "Drawing Back"

The third mode plays the role that the syntheses of identification play in LU
vi, but only in cases where one apprehension of an object is succeeded by other
apprehensions of the same object. Yet synthetic activity must allow a subject
not only to focus continuously on one object, but also to stop looking at one
object long enough to look at another; a subject must be able to treat the object
no longer noticed as something that co-exists with whatever is being noticed,
and as something that could be noticed aga in.
The pure ego can draw itself back (zurckziehen) wholly from the theses; it releases the thetic
correlates "from its hold": it "turns to another theme". What had just been its theme has not
disappeared from consciousness; it is still consciously apprehended, but no longer in thematic
grasp (254).

The category of "drawing back" (zurckziehen) completes the "completing" or

the "drawing out" (vollziehen) of synthesis. Husserl's example suggests that
differentiations between objects are possible only if the ego can distance
itself from the world of objects in general.
I am at present meditating; a whistle from the street distracts me momentarily from my theme
(in this case a thought-theme). For an instant I am turned towards the sound, but forthwith
turn back (Rckkehr) to the old theme. The apprehension of the sound is not extinguished, the
whistle is still consciously apprehended in a modified way, but no longer in amental grasp. It
does not belong to the theme, not even to a parallel theme. One notices that this possibility of
simultaneous themata and thematic syntheses which may cut across and 'interrupt' each other
points to still further modifications ... (254-5).

Here we have adescription, not to be found in LU, of the mechanism of synthetic activity whereby consciousness constitutes itself as having unnoticed
and implicit experiential contents. Consciousness creates a storage space for
the multiplicities it "releases", precisely by "drawing back" to its own self.
This "drawing back" completes the developments of the ego and of the continuity of discontinuitites. The ego, which from the start was responsible for
inserting discontinuities into the stream of consciousness, is only now capable
of intemalizing or withdrawing into or retuming back to itself and distinguishing itself from its objective world. But to understand the function of
the subject's "withdrawal" from objectivity in the constitution of the synthesis of objectivity, we will have to consider Husserl's description of the
possibility of withdrawal as a culmination of his description of possibility in
general in sections 109-115.
In ss. 109-113, there is a description of four types of acts of consciousness whose objects are experienced as possible but not real. First, a proposition
not known to be true may be "assumed". Second, an object may be "fantasized" in fictions or paintings, or in imagination. Unlike recollection, whose
objects likewise do not exist, fantasy requires no basis in any previous realityaffirming experience. Third, an object may be posited as "potential" rather than
"actual". In fact, every apprehension contains a surplus of meaning in potential form (234, 229). "Potential positings" subsist for consciousness as the



"background" of, for example, a perception; they are the perceptions's

"environment" (231), though they remain "hidden" (229). Fourth, there is a
suggestion in s. 109 that the general form of positing objects while remaining
neutral about their actual existence has, as one of its variations, the "bracketing" of existence which appears early in Ideen (s. 31) as the pre-condition
of phenomenological science. The various "neutrality-modifications", which
lead to the open-endedness of fantasy and the directedness of potentiality,
lead further to scientific reflection on consciousness as such (also ss. 77-8).
Taken together, consciousness's ability to construct hypotheses, fantasies,
possibilities, and reflections expands the region of consciousness beyond actual
experiences. The background experience which in some sense is contained
within consciousness is opened indefinitely, with partly determined, partly
undetermined, limits. The ego of actual experience has room to move around
in, and this room is the space of the objective world. No matter what it actually
experiences, the ego claims the right to experience whatever else may even
possibly exist. Hence the opening of the region of consciousness beyond actual
experience opens into the ideal completedness or closure of both consciousness and the world; consciousness is closed when the open potentiality of its
theses is exhausted, the world is closed in that an of its actuality can be
experienced. But until the closure takes place (and after all it can never be
more than ideal), the ego will continue to make demands on its experience,
and will continue to be affected by the reception of new data about the world.
The possibility of making space for possibilities in the actual world is
correlated with the possibility of setting one theme aside in a storage space
from which it may be retrieved, as wen as with both the ego's transcendental
activity and its passive receptivity to what is actual. The guarantee (in Kantian
terms) that all my experiences are mine, or in other words that the ego is
transcendental, depends on the synthesis which involves stepping back from
actual experiencing and subsequently returning to actuality through the
mediation of the differences between themata within the medium of their coexistence. The reason why the pure ego is not prominent in Husserl's decription
of the building up of the modes of synthesis, even in the description of spontaneous thetic insertions, is that the pure ego does not fully come into being
until a relatively late stage in the development of synthetic consciousness.
The theory of the ego's absolute necessity in Ideen does not differ from the
theory of the synthetic unity of acts in LU except in that the former draws
an even more radical conclusion about the synthetic character of consciousness, namely that contents of consciouness not only combine with one another,
but also step aside in favour of a synthesis with what is posited as no content
of consciousness. For while the ego may claim to control the stream of consciousness when it inserts thetic interruptions into the flow of experience, it
achieves transcendental identity only by its ability to step back from the activity
of experiencing in order to let the being of the world be, or in other words,
in order to regard as simply given from an external cause, the material contents
of experience and their associative order.



The ego posits its activity and its passivity, its transcendentality and the
transcendence of its objects, the empirical world and the ideal sciences, the
unity of its world-interpretation and the different spheres of intentionality,
its actualities and its potentialities, all in the same synthesis of drawing back.
For by grasping its points of entry into the world as something still retained,
consciousness treats every new content of experience as a distraction - potentially innocuous, potentially an explication of what has been, potentially a new
thematic altogether - but in itself some kind of whistle that forces two distanced contents to be inserted and retained in one interpretation not quite
big enough or organized enough to hold them both. At once meditating at
his study and hearing the outside whistle, Husserl's ego takes up two perspective points at once; unlike Descartes's ego at a similar desk, Husserl's
can be distracted, and this call from the external world to abandon a perceptual standpoint is at the same time a division between external causes and inner
experience, and a confirrnation that the world is intact despite the distances
that separate its parts. In fact, every look is a look away, every point of insertion is a point of departure, every location leaves other locations behind behind as behind. Indeed this is the only way that locations ever were and ever
can be, namely in so far as they have had their places saved for them in advance
by other places. Just as Fichte's ego posits an external world as non-ego,
Husserl's ego posits itself by constituting a world-interpretation as the storage
space for its own past experience. The underlying unity of interpretation stores
the prior conditions for syntheses of identification and fulfilment by interpreting each content as that which the ego recognizes itself as being drawn
back to. The ego withdraws from current concerns into self-reflection at precisely the same point as the map of the world itself is drawn up. The storage
space in consciousness for presupposed conditions of experience, and the
storage space in the world for co-existing states of affairs, are constituted in
one and the same withdrawal/drawing back. In short, no content can gain a
point of entry into consciousness except in so far as it is relocated into a storage
space for retentions and backward referents.
While the above is by no means a complete account of Husserl's theory
of the ego in Ideen I, it does suggest an account. The ego is a product of
completed synthesis. Yet at the same time, it would be correct to say that
the ego is a pure identity prior to and indifferent to its experiences, its synthesizing interpretations, and its objective world. For the priority of its own
underlying self-identity is something that consciousness, as it were, slips
underneath itself every time it synthesizes experiences under objectifying
interpretations. The ego is a receptacle, a framework, and a storage space
for actual and possible experience, and for explicit and implicit forward and
backward referents, just because along with the insertion of any experiential
content, consciousness achieves receptivity, prescriptive structure, and the selfreflective ability to draw upon its own achievements.
Finally, in addition to offering a solution to the problem of the storage of
implicit backward referents, the synthesis of drawing back to the ego also



suggests a solution to the problem of the system of interpretative systems. If

we consider now the connections between what Husserl calls the "spheres"
of consciousness, we may draw final conc1usions about what becomes of the
science of phenomenological description if the problematic of synthesis is
placed at its forefront.
In s. 121, Husserl affirms the parallel structure of cognitive, emotive, and
valuative syntheses in so far as each has to "split up", "distribute", and "collect"
phenomena together in order to intend synthetic objects (251). In asense,
the whole phenomenological story is one of splitting and re-collecting Here
and There, Now and Then, units and unity, ego and world, perception and
emotion and cognition, formal science and concrete description. But in this
division and recovery, the science of phenomenology plays a double role.
For phenomenology is both one of the many themes separated out in the
unity of self-explicating consciousness, and is also the most developed sense
in which all of consciousness is a self-explicating system. How is the unity
of the detachable "spheres" of consciousness carried out by, or by returning
to, one of those spheres?
The drive towards science begins with every insertion-point of intentional
consciousness, since every articulation of a content is a drawing-back from
an obscure background (254). Every interpretative "scheme" is a search for
"ground" (256-8), and the greatest degree of explicitness in the identification of objects is attained when expressions are "lifted" into, and "reflected
back" in, "the realm of the 'Logos' " (257). Hence what I have called mutual
priority or backward reference pertains finally to the relation between everyday
synthetic experience and scientific thought-contexts. For while it takes a
transformative act to abstract to the "logical understanding" that everyday
experience needs for its own self-comprehension (260), this transformation
is carried out every time a synthesis is brought to life.
When synthetic consciousness draws back to a prior unity so as to hold apart
discontinuous spheres of intentional objects, each with its own relatively
autonomous syntheses of intentions and fulfilments, it draws back to an ego
whose distinguishing function is to look back on the logic of its own selfreflection. And when synthetic interpretation refers back to what was implicit,
it refers back to the rationality of synthetic activity as such and its ability to
separate and unify regions of interpretation. The challenge for the phenomenologist, and in this sense we might say that the task of every ego is to be a
phenomenologist, is to describe the "interlacing of the different regions" (318),
to provide a theory of evidence which "holds for all thetic spheres, and particularly also for the important rational relations that run between them" (290).
This reconstruction of the spheres, which takes place at the end of the
phenomenological enterprise, depends on the ability of the phenomenological end-point to reach back to an original unity of experience. The
"interlacing" of spheres depends on that which "lies before" all thinking, the
ultimate backward referent, the ground ofthe ego's storage spaces, the material



"source" to which rationality "leads back" (320), namely the whole "system
of manifolds" (318).
The final section of Ideen 1 returns to the question of the unity of
the philosophical sciences and its role in the unity of consciousness.
Phenomenology marks out a region for itself as a distinct endeavor of consciousness, namely to describe the structures of the rest of consciousness,
and furthermore grounds its own possibility in its relations to the rest of consciousness. In thereby carrying the demands for the unification of all synthetic
consciousness, phenomenological science refers its rationality backward to
its source and so reconstitutes the whole system of distinguished spheres of
conscious acts under a new system of ordering, wherein consciousness as a
whole is a system devoted to grounding its own rationality. In so far as phenomenological science looks back on its own results, it finds without exception
objectivities which were at first given (or thought of in Idea as given) in monothetic acts, in
mere experiences, let us say, can be made subject to the play of synthetic operations, and
through synthetic objectivities constitute increasingly higher formations which in the unity of
the total thesis contain a plurality of theses, and in the unity of their total material contain a
plurality of mutually detachable materials (320-1).

Phenomenology determines the constitution of collections, of parts and wholes,

of the centerings and decenterings of frames of reference. Synthesis constitutes a world of objectivities both by the forms of the detachability of its
parts, and by the logic of its ultimate closures and origins. The carrying out
of objectifying syntheses must be reasoned in order for consciousness to
function, and consciousness doubles back on itself when it thematizes its
functions for the sake of the completion of those same functions. The
phenomenology of reason thus coincides with phenomenology as a whole:
An all-sided unravelling of the problems of constitution, looking back (bercksichtigend) equally
to the noetic and the noematic levels of consciousness would be manifestly equivalent to a
complete phenomenology of reason in respect of all its formal and material formations, both
anomalous (negatively rational) and normal (positively rational). But it emerges further that
such a complete phenomenology of reason would coincide with phenomenology in general,
and that a systematic working through of all descriptions of consciousness, which are demanded
under the collective title "constitution of the object", would have to concern itself with all descriptions of consciousness whatsoever (323).

Phenomenology is all-sided when its categories are unravelled, systematized

when its knot of problems is dissolved in a solution which separates and orders
its elements. It is complete when it takes up a position from which it can
look back on all of consciousness, when it can look back on itself, which it
determines as the "normal" par excellence, but also on the anomalous, the
negative, the corrupt, the gap-holding, the discontinuous, and the incomplete
modes of synthetic consciousness in general.
In one sense, the Copernican Revolution has not been entirely put down,



and the spheres of synthetic objectivities still revolve about consciousness. But
in another sense, it is only when the spheres separate off that there is any centre
to refer back to. The workings-through of the demands of objective constitution make one solution out of both the rational and the not yet rational.
The science of phenomenology is precisely the self-explicating dynamic that
consciousness always already had to have been in advance. And consciousness's investigation of the logic of its categories becomes the synthesis of
backward reference that is its investigation of itself and of the world.
Consciousness is Logical Investigations.


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Leibniz to Husserl, 4-10, 33-7

as grounding category, 182-95
in logic, 40-4
in objectification, 47-9
in universals and individuals, 61-7
in wholes and parts, 78, 85-7
in syncategorematic terms, 96,103,107-8
in names and judgments, 110, 112-23
in syntheses of fulfi1ment, 132, 139,
142-3, 146-7, 156, 158, 163-5, 168,
and the ego, 196-204
Back sides (Rckseite) in perspective, 154,
Background,54n, 75-6,91,93,136-43,148,
156, 168, 188, 200
Bar-Hillel, Yohoshua, 105
Beginnings of interpretation (see startingpoint), 34-6, 46-7, 52, 135, 146, 151,
Belonging together (zusammengehren), 13,
Beyond (hinaus), pointing, 26, 80, 82, 120,
135, 150, 153
Blending, 73, 77, 79
Bloch, Ernst, 176
Blurring, 44
Bolzano, Bernard, 92
Borders, 76-9, 81-2, 86, 146, 153-7, 163
Bracketing, 200
Building, 53, 85, 106-7, 110, 164
Bultrnann, Rudolf Karl, 176

Apriori, 2, 5, 14, 18-20, 26, 41-2, 57, 99

as backward referent, 33, 35,74, 86-7,
89, 103, 106-7, 143, 165, 192
Absence, 97, 140-1, 163, 187
Absolute, 5-6, 29, 32-3, 35,121,173-4,200
Abstraction, 4, 42, 44, 52-4, 59-66
Activity, 17,38, 156-7, 166, 199-201
as starting-point, 7, 48, 52, 55, 67-8, 89,
106-8, 129, 173, 187-8
Actualization, of objective presence, 91, 157
as fulfilment, 16, 30, 35,111-3,171,176,
189, 193,200
ofpossibilities, 39, 47-8, 56,102,137-9,
142-3, 147, 157, 188, 193
Adequation, 110, 125, 161-2, 166-76
Adorno, Theodor, 16,29,32
Aggregates, 54-5, 110
Agreement, 23, 144, 170-3, 193
Aguirre, Antonio, 28, 35-6
Aim, 17,26,125,128,169,171-2
Alberti, Leon Battista, 152
Always already, 59-60, 78, 85, 102, 107,
156, 159, 193,204
Alteration, 45, 62-4, 75, 80, 148
Analysis, 4-5,17,23, 105, 114, 116-7, 120,
168, 174
Anticipation, 1-3,7,36,39,66,94, 114,
135-7, 138, 141-2, 146, 154-5, 159,
indeterminacy, 144-6, 155-7, 163, 173
and backward reference, 159, 181, 183-4,
189, 191
Application, ofrules, 5,15-6,37,47,58-60,
64, 100, 104, 106, 134
Arbitrariness, 75, 82-7, 189-92
Arithmetic, 164-6, 173-4, 179, 187
Ars combinatoria, 88, 99, 101, 103-6
Artificial intelligence, 89, 100
Assertion, 172, 197
Association, 3-4, 40-2
Atoms, 76, 105, 117, 119
Attention, 33, 42, 52-3

Calling by name, 129-31

Caputo, John D., 24
Carr, David, 15, 25-6
Carrying out (vollziehen) syntheses, 37, 39,
180, 197-8
over into (vertragen), 147, 149, 157
Cartesian Meditations, 124
Categorematic terms, 24, 88-108
Chains, 83, 164-5, 170-1, 179
Chomski, Noam, 97
Circumscription of anticipations, 39, 42, 83,
93,96, 127, 129, 138, 149
Closure, problem of, 6, 16, 19, 35-6

Bachelard, S., 16
Backward Reference (zurckweisen, and
other zurck terms), problem of, 1-3




and law, 42, 57

of meanings, 88, 92, 94-6, 98
and completion, 43, 46-7, 49, 73, 77,
Coherence, 29-30, 64, 142
Combination (Verknpfen, Verbindung), 4-5,
13, 39-40, 55
Comparability, 52, 56--7, 60, 62-3, 135
Completion, problem of, 3-7, 22, 25-6
in meanings, 44, 48-9
in wholes and parts, 81, 87, 94-9
in interpretation, 120-2, 125, 134, 141,
150-1, 159, 163, 165-6, 169-71, 17380
in consciousness, 199-204
and backward reference, 65, 183, 186,
Complex, wholes, 42, 74, 76, 79-82, 84, 86
expressions, 90-4, 102-4, 107-8, 113,
conflict, 143-8
perspectives, 150-1
ordering, 164-5, 170, 179, 183
Composition, 82-3, 86, 165
Concept, 130-2, 135, 143, 155
Conc1usion, 43-4, 57, 176, 180-1
Concrete, vs. abstract, 15, 40, 58-9, 84, 115
Conflict, in unifying synthesis, 33, 143-50
Conjunction, 92-4,96--9, 102-3, 117
Connection, 3-4, 25, 88-9,97-9, 105-6
Consciousness, problems and definitions of,
1-9, 15, 17-21, 32, 34, 109-10
as self-explication, 30-2, 34-7
and unconscious, 97, 103, 107
synthetic unity of, 66--7, 73-4, 78, 81, 84,
107, 123, 142-3, 148, 153-4, 167,
187, 192, 194-5
as backward referent, 86--7, 109, 192-3,
Construction (Konstruktion), 22, 58, 67, 106,
Context (Zusammenhang), 2, 22
of meanings, 43-4, 48-9, 57
of universals, 61, 64
of parts, 73, 75-6, 81-4, 86--7
of expressions, 93-7, 103, 11
of names and judgments, 114, 119
in syntheses of fulfilment, 133-53, 157,
167-8, 191
Continuity, in streams of interpretation, 14,
35, 40, 43, 76, 138-9, 141, 150,
154-6, 163, 165, 198-9
of parts, 76--80

Contradiction (and opposition), 6, 19, 28-9,

Copula, 88, 96, 102
Crisis of the European Sciences, 124
Davidson, Donald, 105
Oe Almeida, G. A., 15,22,26--8,34,36--7
Oe Boer, Theodore, 16, 27, 54n
De Muralt, Andre, 18,29,34
De Saussure, Ferdinand, 100
De Waelhens, Alphonse, 20, 26
Oeferral, 19, 32, 73, 84, 139, 165-6, 185
Definition, 4, 164-5, 175
Oerrida, Jacques, 19, 24, 32, 36, 100
Oescartes, Rene, 9, 59, 110, 201
Description, 91-3, 95, 128, 144, 171-2
Oeterminacy of anticipations, 2, 25, 39-40,
of parts in wholes, 78, 82-3, 85
in fulfilment, 119, 130, 135, 138-9, 142,
147-9, 151-2, 155-7, 163-7, 171-3
and backward reference, 186, 189-90
Development, in Husserl's philosophy, 26--8
of consciousness, 194
Dialectic, 6, 9, 28-33, 65, 120, 143, 193
Diemer, Alwin, 17,27,34-5
Difference, role in synthesis, 2, 6, 18,21,
elimination of, for identification, 56--7,
125, 134
undifferentiated stream of consciousness,
35,78, 197
differentiation of meanings, 44, 60, 78,
100, 129, 145-6, 148, 183, 199
Direction (Richtung), 39, 73, 82, 85, 138,
151-3, 159
multiplicity of, 122, 142-3, 160, 165,
Directness, 45, 56, 91-2, 96, 102, 122, 128,
154, 161-2, 169, 177
Directedness, 78, 109-10, 167
Discontinuity, 25, 76--80,137,147,167,171,
Disposition, 188, 190
Distance, 48, 78-9, 81-2, 85-6, 134, 137,
143, 150, 156, 163, 198-9
Division, 56, 74, 78, 82-6, 90-1, 119-20,
165, 167, 174, 179,202
Double movement of consciousness, 2, 18,
26, 31, 35, 41, 66, 130-1, 152, 161,
170, 172, 202
Dove, Kenley R., 29
Drawing back, see Withdrawal

Dreyfus, Hubert L., 15-7, 23, 34, 100
Dynamic, 9, 73, 87, 133-5, 151, 183
&lie, James Mo, 18, 100, 105
Ego, 2, 20, 32-5, 45, 142
as backward referent, 121, 192, 196-204
Eley, Lothar, 16-8,20,22,27,31-3,35, 106
Empiricism, 14, 16-7,52,54, 122, 127, 143
Empty meaning-intention, 40, 134-7
End-results, problem of, I, 3, 21, 34, 36-7
in meaning, 40, 46-7, 85, 117
content of, 125, 151-2, 158, 163-7, 202
and backward reference, 120, 183-7,
189-91, 194
as limit, 169-73
as last fulfilment, 173-6
as closure, 176-81
Endless continuity, 28, 42, 48, 83, 95, 129,
162, 180, 183
Epistemological interpretations of Husserl,
14, 21-3, 54n
Ergnzungsbedrjtigkeit, see Supplementation, demand/need for
Evans, Jo Claude, 19
Evidence, 21, 53, 55-8, 169, 170, 172, 175
Exactness, 44, 49, 57, 133, 151
Excess, 26, 183, 189
Exchange (Vertauschung) (see Replacement,
Substitution), 99-102
Exclusion, 57, 92, 98-9, 145-7
Expansion, 47, 81, 83, 85, 93-6
Expectation, 6, 25-6, 94,138-48, 153, 1712, 183, 188
Experience, lived (and lifeworld), 7, 35,64,
Explication, of singular meanings into judgments, 91-2, 102, 112, 114-9, 121-2,
and reference forward, 189, 194
self-, I, 184, 192, 202, 204
Explicit, 26, 113, 139-41, 142-3, 149, 166,
180, 185, 202
Expression, 23-4, 38-49
linguistic, 88-106
in linguistic philosophy, 105-6, 134-5
in dreams, 97-8
in names and judgments, 112, 117, 120
and fulfulment, 125, 127, 172, 188-92
Fantasy, 75, 199
Fein, Ho, 20
Fichte, Johann Gottlieb, 33, 59
Fields, visual, 41, 46, 75-9, 86, 137, 150, 152


Filling in/out, 76, 85-7, 94, 115, 138-9, 147,

154, 157-9, 170-2, 180
Finish, of fulfilment, 158-9, 165-6, 335
finishing touch, 180-1
Fink, Eugen, 29, 54n
Fitting, 40, 134-8, 144, 151-2, 172, 190
Fixing reference, 23, 44-9, 51, 78, 82, 87,
95-6, 103-4, 121, 128, 134-9, 168
and backward reference, 178, 183-4, 189
Flow, 18-20, 26-7, 32, 44, 81, 200
Fluctuation, 38-40, 44-9, 56-7
Flux, 2, 24, 32, 38, 44, 139, 153-4
F011esdal, Dagfinn, 23
Following, 4, 38, 43, 58, 97, 103, 138, 164,
Foreground, 140-2
Foreshortening (Verkrzung), 94, 152-4,
Form, and content, 1~-9, 36, 55, 62-4, 84,
89, 106-8, 116-7, 135, 159, 186
Formallogic, 15-7,42,60,67,86,92-3,96,
98-108, 145-6, 202
Forward reference (Hinweisen), problem of,
Leibniz to Husserl, 4-10
to universals, 67-8
to categorematic terms, 88, 90, 93, 96,
to complete fulfilment, 35, 39, 43,120-1,
125, 134, 151-2, 168, 180, 183, 1856, 188-95
Foundation, 53, 67, 132
of wholes in parts, 81-5
of syncategorematic terms in synthetic
experiences, 94, 96-8, 102, 107-8
of expressions in presentations, 109-12,
115, 121-3
of unity in conflict, 144-7
Fragment, 90-1, 93-5, 138, 140-1, 143, 156,
159, 170, 173
Freud, Sigmund, 89, 97-8, 103
Frustration of meaning-fulfilment, 144-8,
Fulfilment, problem of, 1-2, 6-7
in secondary literature, 13, 17, 22, 26, 30,
and intention, 38-40, 44
and universals, 52, 55, 58
of names and judgments, 91, 95-100,
syntheses of, 125, 127-9, 133-46, 154-5,
157, 159, 161-6
end of, 170-1, 173-80, 185-6, 188-90,



Functional distinction, 39, 45, 53, 59-60, 75,

88, 90-4, 102, 119
Futural anticipation, 6, 18, 176, 187, 189
Gadamer, Hans-Georg, 59
Gap-holding (lckenhaft), 36, 43, 94-5, 147,
154-5, 157, 159-60, 163, 167
role in synthesis, 170--2, 192, 203
gap-free synthesis, 160, 166, 168, 192
Genetic, 19, 28, 35-6, 53-4, 54n, 59, 177,
Gestalt interpretations of Husserl, 17-9
Geyser, Joseph, 33
Givenness, synthesis prior to, 5, 7, 56, 75,
136, 193, 198,200
in secondary literature, 17, 21, 26, 31-4,
Glancing back ward and forward, 42-4, 47-8,
116, 159, 171, 198
Graduated fulfilment, 125, 133, 161-5
gradual alteration, 77, 156, 175, 177
Grammar, 24, 90, 98-100, 103-6
Grasping, 5, 85-7, 135, 197-9
Ground (Grund), 1-3, 20, 25, 28, 32, 35,
of universals in individuals, 52-68
Gurwitsch, Aron, 17,19,27, 54n
Gutting, Gary, 54n
Habit, 2-4, 52, 138-42, 149, 151, 192
Hanna, Robert, 21
Harris, Errol E., 29
Hegel, G. W. F., 5-6, 8-9, 28-33, 59, 84,
103, 106, 147, 176, 194
Heidegger, Martin, 13, 24, 28, 30, 176
Herbart, Johann Friedrich, 17
History , in secondary literature, 6, 16, 27,
29-30, 33-6
retention of in synthetic results, 57, 59,
123-4, 131, 152, 165, 175-6, 178,
183, 187, 189-90, 193, 194
Horizon, 22, 28, 31, 45-9
Hoyos Vasquez, Guillermo, 18, 27
Hlsmann, Heinz, 18
Hume, David, 3-4, 8, 61-2, 131
Idealism, 17, 20--1, 27, 36
Idea, 3-4, 5, 58, 103-4, 106-7, 170
Ideal, 19, 30, 36
units of meaning, 38, 40--4, 46--9
Species, 51, 53, 57, 66
closure, 73, 125, 151, 163, 166, 169-80,
182, 186-7,200

Ideen I, 27, 33, 47,123,195,196-204

Identification, 5-7, 13, 16, 23-4, 36, 38,
43-5,63-7,125,127-35,144-5,150-1, 176, 183, 186, 197-8, 201-2
Images, 46, 52, 54n, 58, 60, 75, 97-8, 129,
Immanence, 19-21,29,30
Immediacy, 35, 45-6, 54n, 56-8,66, 81-2,
Implicit possibilities, 2, 33-5, 39, 60, 73,
78, 85-6, 91, 113-4, 140--3, 167,
and backward reference, 183-6, 195-6,
In advance (von vornherien), 2, 18, 62, 668, 86, 88-9, 103, 120--1, 131, 134-6,
138, 149, 151, 156, 166, 170
and backward reference, 48-9, 181, 184,
188, 191-3,201
Inclusion (Inklusion, Inbegriff), 57, 83, 1113, 120, 145-7, 149, 163, 166-8
and closure, 174-6, 179, 183
Incompleteness, 49, 90--8, 125-6, 154, 170,
172, 175-80, 183
Independence, 3,'9, 20--1, 23, 33, 49, 67
of universals, 52, 59, 63-4, 66
of parts, 63, 74-82, 87
of meanings, 88,92, 94-5, 101,104
of names, 110, 118-9
in synthesis, 143, 150, 194
Indeterminacy, 39-40, 83, 85, 138
Indexing (see Occasional), 14, 23-4, 45-6,
Indicative signs, 40--6, 97, 128, 130--1
Individuals, 2, 7, 9, 33-7, 40--2
meanings, 44-5, 48
and universals, 51-68
parts, 76-7, 82-4, 86-7
synthesis of, 128-33, 156-7, 159, 180,
Ingarden, Roman, 20
Inseparability, 75-9
Insertion, 197-8, 200--202
Insight, 43, 56
Instruments (and tools), 16, 18, 188, 190--1
Interpenetrating parts, 74, 77-80, 143
Interruption, 49, 80, 93, 134, 137, 140--3,
159, 162, 197, 199
Intuition, 4-5, 7,13, 16-7,21,30,38-40,
and universals, 51, 53-5, 57-8
and syncategorematic terms, 95-8, 100,
and names and judgments, 113-5

and synthesis, 125, 127-36, 142, 145-6,
151, 169-76
and backward reference, 179-80, 183,
186, 188-91
Itself, the object, 42, 48, 150-1, 157-8, 1614, 168-74, 180, 183
Judgment, 24, 57, 67, 96, 103-4, 109-21,
144-5, 169
Kant, Immanuel, 5, 8-9, 15,20,26,59,69,
102, 106, 123, 135, 155, 198,200
Kern, Iso, 17, 26
Kersten, Fred, 15, 54n
Kirkland, Frank, 29
Knowledge, 5-6, 14, 18, 21-2, 26
and meaning, 43, 54, 56-7, 62, 65
and synthesis, 125, 127-8, 139, 145, 147,
154, 161-2, 169, 171-3, 187, 189-91,
Kohak, Erazim, 21
Kunz, Hans, 18
Landgrebe, Ludwig, 27, 30, 33-5
Language, 23-4,38,47-8,88-9,92-3, 1178, 131, 188-92
Lauer, Quentin, 29
Law, 4, 41-2,54, 63,67-8, 74, 81-2, 86-7,
92,99-107, 114, 131, 192-3
Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhe1m von, 4-5, 8, 104,
Levin, David Michael, 16, 19,27, 54n
Levinas, Emmanuel, 21, 34, 54n
Lifeworld, see Experience, lived
Lifting off (setting off in relief, Abheben),
43-4,73,76-81,85-6,91, 155, 165,
170, 180
Limit, 5-8, 31-2, 44, 57, 63
of parts and wholes, 77-8, 82, 84-7
of meanings, 99, 129
of synthesis, 136, 138, 140-1, 153-4, 157,
167-81, 183, 194, 196
86,88-9,96-8, 104-6,204
Margins, 22, 52, 153-4, 162-3
Mastering intention (herrschende Intention),
147, 149, 166, 178
McKenna, William R., 25, 33
Meaning, 2, 7, 13,38-40,57,83
ideal units of, 40-8
complete and incomplete, 88-108


and presentations, 109-11, 117, 119-20,

fu1filment of, 125, 129-30, 135-6, 149,
Mechanisms of synthesis, 1-3,25, 123, 168,
Mediation, 6, 29, 46, 54n, 55, 81-2, 84-5,
Medieva1 philosophy, 88, 101, 168
Melody, 84, 135, 138-9, 141, 143
Memory, 33-4, 43-4, 98, 165, 179, 183, 189
Mensch, James R., 18, 19-20,30
Merleau-Ponty, Maurice, 35
Metaphysics, 8, 20, 176
MiIler, Ischak, 25, 34-5
Modification, 102, 113, 136, 200
Mohanty, J. N., 24, 26, 32, 54n, 106
Moments, 6, 28, 74, 77-80, 83, 97,143,173,
178-9, 199
More (Mehr-), 2, 25-6, 59,111,141,146,
157, 163, 191, 196
Movement, 137, 141-2, 156-7, 177,200
Multiplicity (and plurality), 5-6, 13, 74
unity in multiplicity, 38, 40-3, 48, 52-3
of individuals, and universals, 60-3, 66
and synthesis, 90, 92-3,111,115-6,119,
125, 129, 143, 145, 149, 152, 156-8,
163-6, 170, 173-4, 176, 180, 192-3,
194-5, 196-7,203
Multi-rayed acts, 13, 92, 111-6
Murphy, Richard T., 54n
Mutual (reciprocal) grounding, 28-33, 46,
54n, 65-7, 80-1, 83, 86, 92, 107-8,
115-7, 121-3, 132, 192,202
Name (see Nominalization), 52, 88,90-2,95,
99-103, 109-21, 126-32, 135
proper, 91, 95,117-8,120,127-8,131
Natorp, Paul, 20, 32, 34
Necessity, 3, 8,19,43,54,57,65,73,81,84,
Negation, 6, 30, 74-6, 97, 105, 144-7
Neutrality, 137, 200
Next-contents, 2, 25-6
in wholes, 77, 80, 82, 86, 140, 148
in synthesis, 151, 155-8, 163-7, 175,
Nominalization, 93,101-2,111,117,120,
Nominalism, 89, 101
Non-independent parts, 75, 77-9, 92, 94, 104,
non-independent separability, 80-1



Objectivity, 2-3, 7-8, 20, 23-4, 39, 44-9, 56,

73-4, 79, 82-7, 89
and fulfilment, 110-1, 130-3, 141-2,
153-6, 169-72, 178, 187, 192, 199200,203-4
Occasional expression (see Indexing), 38,
Open-endedness, 8, 16, 19,36,49
of wholes, 73-5, 82-4, 86-7
of meanings, 98, 103
of fulfilment, 141, 145, 170, 172, 179,
Order, 4, 7,42,82-6,94,104-5,114,121-2,
149, 157-67, 176-81, 183, 194
Origins, 1-7
in secondary literature, 15, 17-8, 27-8,
of universals, 52-4, 59, 66-8
of meaning, 109-10, 113-4, 120-3
in fulfilment, 159, 165-7, 179, 194, 1967,202-3
Over- (ber-), -flow (berfliessen), 26, 47,
77-8, 151, 157, 188-9
-come, 49, 149, 170, 173, 177
carry- (bertragen), 81, 86, 147-8, 150,
other "over"-terms, 46, 77-8, 129, 155,
see also Passing over
Paradox, 24, 27, 37, 65-6, 120, 144
Part, 32, 43, 73-87,93,113,119,135,142-4,
150, 155, 170, 179
Passing over (bergehen), 1-3, 5, 25
in fluctuating meanings, 44, 48
from individuals to universals, 55, 60, 64
from parts to wholes, 73-4, 76-82, 84-7
from non-independent to independent
meanings, 95, 101
in syntheses of fulfilment, 135, 150, 158,
163, 167-8, 180, 183, 187, 194-5
Passivity, 16-7,27-8,33-4,56,149, 196-7,
Past, 6, 33-4,111,139,151,176,179,183-4,
Pattern, 23-4, 63-5, 81, 137, 139-43, 156
Perspective (see Projection, Shadowing-off),
2, 22-3, 31-2, 45-6, 54n, 91, 150,
152-64, 166-9, 173, 175-6, 180-1,
Phenomenology, 1, 14-5,20-1,25,29, 34,
196, 198,200-3

Pietersma, Henry, 21-2, 35

Pivcevic, Edo, 54n, 59
Pointing, 33, 45, 61-2, 128-31, 138
backward, 34-5, 67, 131
Posit, 59, 97, 111-2, 114, 116, 163, 197,
Possibility, 34-4, 36, 39, 54n, 57, 64, 76,
78, 89, 91-2, 130-2, 141, 145, 147,
Possible worlds, 25, 105
Predication, 24, 60, 88, 91, 94, 101-2, 111-5,
Prescription (Vorschreiben), 36-7, 39-41, 73,
81, 86, 100, 127, 134, 136, 139, 142,
151, 165, 186, 190
Presence,6-7, 13, 19,34,46,87, 107, 110-1,
123-4, 128, 134-5, 141, 150, 163,
168-74, 177, 180, 183, 187
Presentation,79, 104, 109-16, 119, 121-3,
Presupposition (Voraussetzung), 33, 47, 52,
163, 186-7, 193-4,201
Process, 14-15, 17-19,32,35,64-7,120,
Production, 4, 8, 17,21,32,35-7,39,52-5,
122, 165-6, 174-5, 184, 189-90
Progress, 73-4, 82-3, 121, 161-6
Projection (see Perspective, Shadowing-off),
141, 152-160
Proposition, 24, 43, 48, 67, 105, 110-1, 171
Psychologism, 9-10, 21, 23,52-4,57,63,83,
85, 89, 97-8, 101, 110, 114
Rationalism, 15-6,54, 103, 122, 127, 155
Re-interpretation, 145-50, 178, 180, 187,
189-90, 193-4
Re-ordering, 177-9, 183
Re-production, 142, 189-90
Readiness, 39, 48-9, 60, 171
Realism, 20-1
Reason, 4, 57-9, 63, 82, 163, 198,203-4
Receptivity, 8, 17,55,58, 196, 198,200-1
Recognition, 43, 61, 64, 76, 127, 129-33,
Reduction, 20, 30, 121, 161
Reference, 6-8, 23-5, 35
meaning, 39-40, 45-9
universals, 63-6
independent, 75, 88, 90-2, 100-2
names, 111-6, 119-21
synthesis, 127-33, 144-5, 168, 171-2

Regress, 28, 42, 83
Relation, 75-6, 81, 178, 202-3
internal, 6, 31, 76, 100, 135
Replacement (see Exchange, Substitution),
45, 47-9, 99, 101-3, 129, 156
Result (Endresultat), 3, 6-7, 33, 35-7, 54, 68,
81, 125, 158, 164-81, 185-7, 189-90,
Retention, 18,96,151,163-7,175-9,183,
198, 201
Rockmore, Tom, 28-9
Rosen, Klaus, 22
Rules, 3, 5, 15-7, 43, 58, 66, 75, 82-3, 89,
99-106, 130, 141, 165
Scherer, Rene, 54n
Schrader, George A., 29
Schuhmann, Kar!, 18, 27, 30, 32-3, 35
Schutz, Alfred, 54n
Science, 38, 40-4, 48, 54-5, 57-8, 61-2, 86,
103, 106, 167, 192-3, 196,200--4
Scientia intuitiva, 57-8
Seebohm, Thomas, 20, 84
Seeing, 56-8
Self, 192, 194
Self-explication, 1, 192, 194, 202-3
Self-evidence, 53, 56-8, 104, 181
Self-identity, 45,127-8,146,150,170--1,
Self-propelling, 7, 80, 86
Self-consciousness (and related terms), 6,
Self-directing (and related terms), 6, 8,
59,78, 194
Self-fulfilling (and related terms), 155,
Self-limiting (and related terms), 92, 153,
156, 196
Self-presence (and related terms), 46, 75,
78, 84, 173-4, 319
Semantic, 23-4, 92, 99, 105
Sensation, 4-5, 15-7, 26-7, 52, 56, 66-7,
77-9, 98, 110-1, 119-21, 129-30,
135, 150, 174, 187
Sense-data,7, 16-7,33,36,66,110,119-21,
Separability (Ab trennung , Sonderung), 41,
60,74-80, 105, 118-20, 137, 144-6,
Severing, 44, 78-9, 85
Shadowing-off (Abschattung, see Perspective, Projection), 154-7
Sides, 41, 78, 83, 139-42, 152-60, 163,
166-7, 169-70, 173-81, 183, 186


Signification, 40--2, 45, 90, 130--1, 134,

163-4, 188
Simplicity, 4, 7, 13, 33, 36, 42, 66
of parts, 74, 84
of expressions, 90--2, 93, 104, 109, 113,
in synthesis, 145, 148, 150, 185-6,
Single-rayed acts, 13, 92, 111-7, 203
Singularity, 5-6, 13, 41-3
and universals, 53, 59, 63, 66
in parts, 76, 80, 83
in expression, 95-6, 98, 104, 111-20
and fulfilment, 127, 130--3, 143-4, 14950,152,154,156-8,172-6,179,183,
Situation, 46, 153, 197
Skepticism, 61-2, 83, 189
Smith, David Woodruff, and McIntyre,
Ronald, 16, 23-7, 105
Sokolowski, Robert, 15-6, 18-9, 25, 27, 32,
Souche-Dagues, D., 21, 27, 32
Spatiality, 45, 77-83, 85-7,140--1,143,147,
Spiegelberg, Herbert, 22
Spinoza, Baruch, 56-7
Splitting (Spaltung), 17-19,202
Stapelton, Timothy J., 20
Starting-point, 6, 21, 28, 36, 40, 46-7, 54n,
Static, 18-9, 28, 32, 129, 133-4
Storage space in consciousness, 123, 153,
187, 199-203
Strasser, Stephan, 30--1
Stream of consciousness, 2, 18,42,81-2,87,
109-10, 123, 143, 161, 168, 188-9,
192-3, 196-7
Structure, 15, 17-8,43,51,64,89,99-101,
Structuralism, 99-101, 105
Stumpf, Karl, 17,79
Subjectivity,8-9, 16,20--1,30,32-4,36,43,
48,73-4,83,101,113-4, 152, 178,
Sublation, 30, 75, 79
Substitution (Substitution) (see Exchange,
Replacement), 83, 99-100, 104, 129,
Supplementation, demand/need for (Ergnzungsbedrjtigkeit), 19, 73-4, 80--3,
85-8, 90, 92-6, 98, 102, 111, 115,
131, 138-40, 167



Surroundings, 45-6, 75-6, 80, 82, 85, 137,

141, 156
Syncategorematic terms, 24, 88-108
Syntax, 90, 94-6, 98, 100, 105, 111, 113
Synthesis, problem of, 1-3
Leibniz to Husserl, 3-9
in secondary literature, 15-37
in First Investigation, 38-40, 42, 44, 46,
in Second Investigation, 51-2, 54-6, 58,
in Third Investigation, 81, 86
in Fourth Investigation, 88-90, 97-101,
in Fifth Investigation, 113-24
in Sixth Investigation, 125-95
Husserl's uses, 39, 51, 55,102,104-5,
180, 196-8
System, 5-6, 8, 29, 104, 203
Szilasi, Wilhelm, 30
Temporality, 5-6, 27, 36, 46, 78, 82, 133-4,
Theme, 54n, 198-9,202-3
Thetic acts, 13,27, 115-7, 197-9,202-3
"This", 17-8,27,38,45-7,106,128-9
Totality, 29, 34-5, 79-80, 84,157,167,172,
174, 176, 180, 183, 203
Transcendental, 5, 19-21, 27, 36, 54, 106,
122, 140, 155, 192, 198,200--1
Truth, 21-2, 24, 48, 56, 127, 169-72
conditions, 17, 23-4, 105-6
Tugendhat, Ernst, 20, 24-5, 105-6
Tymieniecka, Anna-Teresa, 54n
Unexpressed (and unnoticed, see Wordless
recognition), 44, 52, 77-8, 96-8, 135,
Unexperienced (and related terms), 78, 85,
107-8, 141-3, 155-6, 158, 167-8,
185, 192-3
Unfolding, 99, 113-4, 127-8, 164
Unification, 5, 43-4, 51, 60--2, 73-4,107-9,
114-5,118-21,133-4,143-4,14850, 170, 176, 178, 183, 192-3, 196,

Units, 41-3, 54, 62, 75-6, 83, 90--2, 100, 116,

Unity, problem of, 5-7, 25, 31
of meanings, 38-43, 48,60
of universals, 53-4, 60--2
of wholes, 75-9, 83-4, 86
of independent expressions, 91, 93, 99,
ofnamesandjudgments, 114, 117-8, 120,
through synthesis, 129-30, 132-6, 144,
146-7, 149, 151, 153, 161,163, 1767, 192, 194-6,201-3
Universals, 6, 15,49,51-68, 101, 126-33
Vagueness, 44, 47-8, 56-7, 96, 155
Van Peursen, Cornelius A., 17
Variation, 45-7, 54n, 56-60, 62-4, 74-6, 83,
Viewpoint, 152-8, 163
Waldenfels, Bernhard, 16, 18,26, 31, 345
Watson, Stephen, 29
Web (Gewebe), 42-4, 48-9, 55, 153-4,
Welch, E. Pari, 54n
Welton, Donn, 17, 19,26-7, 31, 35, 105
Westphal, Merold, 29
Whole, 6, 31-2, 63, 73-87, 91,116,140,
142-5, 147-9, 151, 154-6, 162, 1656, 172-80, 194, 202-3
Withdraw (drawing back, zurckziehen), 143,
Word, 39, 45, 47, 88, 90--8, 101-3, 128-32,
Wordless recognition (Wortlose erkennen),
World interpretation, 111-2, 114, 135, 14352, 200--1
Wundt, Wilhelm, 17
Yamaguchi, Ichiro, 17, 27
Zahavi, Dan, 22
Zurckweisen, and other zurck terms, see
Backward reference





E. Holenstein: Phnomenologie der Assoziation. Zu Struktur und Funktion eines

ISBN 90-247-1175-4
Grundprinzips der passiven Genesis bei E. Husser!. 1972
F. Hammer: Theonome Anthropologie? Max Schelers Menschenbild und seine
Grenzen. 1972
ISBN 90-247-1186-X
A. Paianin: Wissenschaft und Geschichte in der Phnomenologie Edmund Husserls.
ISBN 90-247-1194-0
G.A. de Almeida: Sinn und Inhalt in der genetischen Phnomenologie E. Husserls.
ISBN 90-247-1318-8
J. Rolland de Reneville: Aventure de l'absolu. 1972
ISBN 90-247-1319-6
U. Claesges und K. Held (eds.): Perspektiven transzendental-phnomenologischer
Forschung. Fr Ludwig Landgrebe zum 70. Geburtstag von seiner Klner Schlern.
ISBN 90-247-1313-7
F. Kersten and R. Zaner (eds.): Phenomenology: Continuation and Criticism. Essays
in Memory of Dorion Cairns. 1973
ISBN 90-247-1302-1
W. Biemel (ed.): Phnomenologie Heute. Festschrift fr Ludwig Landgrebe. 1972
ISBN 90-247-1336-6
D. Souche-Dagues: Le developpement de l'intentionnalite dans la phenomenologie
husserlienne. 1972
ISBN 90-247-1354-4
B. Rang: Kausalitt und Motivation. Untersuchungen zum Verhltnis von Perspektivitt und Objektivitt in der Phnomenologie Edmund Husserls. 1973
ISBN 90-247-1353-6
E. Levinas: Autrement qu'etre ou au-delil de l'essence. 2nd. ed.: 1978
ISBN 90-247-2030-3
D. Cairns: Guidefor Translating Husser/. 1973
ISBN (Pb) 90-247-1452-4
K. Schuhmann: Die Dialektik der Phnomenologie, I. Husserl ber Pfnder. 1973
ISBN 90-247-1316-1
K. Schuhmann: Die Dialektik der Phnomenologie, II. Reine Phnomenologie und
phnomenologische Philosophie. Historisch-analytische Monographie ber Husserls
'Ideen 1'. 1973
ISBN 90-247-1307-2
R. Williame: Les fondements phinomenologiques de la sociologie comprehensive:
Alfred Schutz et Max Weber. 1973
ISBN 90-247-1531-8
E. Marbach: Das Problem des Ich in der Phnomenologie Husserls. 1974
ISBN 90-247-1587-3
R. Stevens: fames and Husser/. The Foundations of Meaning. 1974
ISBN 90-247-1631-4
H.L. van Breda (ed.): Virite et Virification / Wahrheit und Verifikation. Actes du
quatrieme Colloque International de Phenomeno10gie / Akten des vierten Internationalen Kolloquiums fr Phnomenologie (Schwabisch Hall, Baden-Wrttemberg,
8.-11. September 1969). 1974
ISBN 90-247-1702-7
Ph.J. Bossert (ed.): Phenomenological Perspectives. Historical and Systematic Essays
in Honor of Herbert Spiegelberg. 1975.
ISBN 90-247-1701-9
H. Spiegelberg: Doing Phenomenology. Essays on and in Phenomenology. 1975
ISBN 90-247-1725-6
R. Ingarden: On the Motives which Led Husserl to Transcendental Idealism. 1975
ISBN 90-247-1751-5
H. Kuhn, E. Ave-Lallemant and R. Gladiator (eds.): Die Mnchener Phnomenologie.
Vortrge des Internationalen Kongresses in Mnchen (13.-18. April 1971). 1975
ISBN 90-247-1740-X



D. Caims: Conversations with Husserl and Fink. Edited by the Husserl-Archives in

Louvain. With a foreword by R.M. Zaner. 1975
ISBN 90-247-1793-0
G. Hoyos Vasquez: Intentionalitt als Verantwortung. Geschichtsteleologie und
Teleologie der Intentionalitt bei Husser!. 1976
ISBN 90-247-1794-9
J. Patocka: Le Monde naturel comme probleme philosophique. 1976
ISBN 90-247-1795-7
W.W. Fuchs: Phenomenology and the Metaphysics of Presence. An Essay in the
Philosophy ofEdmund Husser!. 1976
ISBN 90-247-1822-8
S. Cunningham: Language and the Phenomenological Reductions of Edmund Husserl.
ISBN 90-247-1823-6
G.C. Moneta: On Identity. A Study in Genetic Phenomenology. 1976
ISBN 90-247-1860-0
W. Biemel und das Husserl-Archiv zu Lwen (eds.): Die Welt des Menschen - Die
Welt der Philosophie. Festschrift fr Jan Patocka. 1976
ISBN 90-247-1899-6
M. Richir: Au-dem du renversement copemicien. La question de la phenomenologie
et son fondement. 1976
ISBN 90-247-1903-8
H. Mongis: Heidegger et la critique de la notion de valeur. La destruction de la
fondation metaphysique. Lettre-preface de Martin Heidegger. 1976
ISBN 90-247-1904-6
J. Taminiaux: Le regard et l'excident. 1977
ISBN 90-247-2028-1
Tb. de Boer: The Development of Husserl's Thought. 1978
ISBN Hb: 90-247-2039-7; Pb: 90-247-2124-5
R.R. Cox: Schutz's Theory of Relevance. A Phenomenological Critique. 1978
ISBN 90-247-2041-9
S. Strasser: Jenseits von Sein und Zeit. Eine Einfhrung in Emmanuel Levinas'
ISBN 90-247-2068-0
Philosophie. 1978
R.T. Murphy: Hume and Husserl. Towards Radical Subjectivism. 1980
ISBN 90-247-2172-5
H. Spiegelberg: The Context of the Phenomenological Movement. 1981
ISBN 90-247-2392-2
J.R. Mensch: The Question of Being in Husserl's Logical Investigations. 1981
ISBN 90-247-2413-9
J. Loscerbo: Being and Technology. A Study in the Philsophy of Martin Heidegger.
ISBN 90-247-2411-2
R. Boehm: Vom Gesichtspunkt der Phnomenologie 11. Studien zur Phnomenologie
der Epoche. 1981
ISBN 90-247-2415-5
H. Spiegelberg and E. Ave-Lallemant (eds.): Pfnder-Studien. 1982
ISBN 90-247-2490-2
S. Valdinoci: Les fondements de la phenomenologie husserlienne. 1982
ISBN 90-247-2504-6
I. Yamaguchi: Passive Synthesis und Intersubjektivitt bei Edmund Husserl. 1982
ISBN 90-247-2505-4
J. Libertson: Proximity. Levinas, Blanchot, Bataille and Communication. 1982
ISBN 90-247-2506-2

88. D. Welton: The Origins of Meaning. A Critical Study of the Thresholds of Husserlian
ISBN 90-247-2618-2
89. W.R. McKenna: Husserl's 'Introductions to Phenomenology'. Interpretation and
Critique. 1982
ISBN 90-247-2665-4
90. lP. Miller: Numbers in Presence and Absence. A Study of Husserl's Philosophy of
Mathematics. 1982
ISBN 90-247-2709-X
91. U. Meile: Das Wahmehmungsproblem und seine Verwandlung in phnomenologischer Einstellung. Untersuchungen zu den phnomenologischen Wahrnehmungstheorien von Husserl, Gurwitsch und Merleau-Ponty. 1983
ISBN 90-247-2761-8
92. W.S. Hamrick (ed.): Phenomenology in Practice and Theory. Essays for Herbert
Spiegelberg. 1984
ISBN 90-247-2926-2
93. H. Reiner: Duty and Inclination. The Fundamentals of Morality Discussed and
Redefined with Special Regard to Kant and Schiller. 1983
ISBN 90-247-2818-6
94. M. l Harney: Intentionality, Sense and the Mind. 1984
ISBN 90-247-2891-6
95. Kah Kyung Cho (ed.): Philosophy and Science in Phenomenological Perspective.
ISBN 90-247-2922-X
96. A. Lingis: Phenomenological Explanations. 1986
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97. N. Rotenstreich: Reflection and Action. 1985
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98. lN. Mohanty: The Possibility ofTranscendental Philosophy. 1985
ISBN Hb: 90-247-2991-2; Pb: 90-247-3146-1
99. lJ. Kockelmans: Heideggeron Art and Art Works. 1985
ISBN 90-247-3102-X
100. E. Levinas: Collected Philosophical Papers. 1987
ISBN Hb: 90-247-3272-7; Pb: 90-247-3395-2
101. R. Regvald: Heidegger et le Probleme du Neant. 1986
ISBN 90-247-3388-X
102. I.A. Barash: Martin Heidegger and the Problem of Historical Meaning. 1987
ISBN 90-247-3493-2
103 lJ. Kockelmans (ed.): Phenomenological Psychology. The Dutch School. 1987
ISBN 90-247-3501-7
104. W.S. Hamrick: An Existential Phenomenology of Law: Maurice Merleau-Ponty. 1987
ISBN 90-247-3520-3
105. I.C. Sallis, G. Moneta and I. Taminiaux (eds.): The Collegium Phaenomenologium.
ISBN 90-247-3709-5
The First Ten Years. 1988
106. D. Carr: Interpreting Husserl. Critical and Comparative Studies. 1987.
ISBN 90-247-3505-X
107. G. Heffernan: Isagoge in die phnomenologische Apophantik. Eine Einfhrung in die
phnomenologische Urteilslogik durch die Auslegung des Textes der Fonnalen und
transzendenten Logik von Edmund Husserl. 1989
ISBN 90-247-3710-9
108. F. Volpi, l-F. Mattei, Th. Sheenan, J.-F. Courtine, I. Taminiaux, l Sallis, D.
Ianicaud, A.L. Kelkel, R. Bernet, R. Brisart, K. Held, M. Haar et S. IJsseling:
Heidegger et I 'Idee de la Phenomenologie. 1988
ISBN 90-247-3586-6
109. C. Singevin: Dramaturgie de I 'Esprit. 1988
ISBN 90-247-3557-2

110. J. Patocka: Le monde naturel et le mouvement de l'existence humaine. 1988
ISBN 90-247-3577-7
111. K.-H. Lembeck: Gegenstand Geschichte. Geschichtswissenschaft in Husserls
ISBN 90-247-3635-8
Phnomenologie. 1988
112. J.K. Cooper-Wiele: The Totalizing Act. Key to Husserl's Early Philosophy. 1989
ISBN 0-7923-0077-7
113. S. Valdinoci: Le principe d'existence. Un devenir psychiatrique de la phenoISBN 0-7923-0125-0
menologie. 1989
114. D. Lohmar: Phnomenologie der Mathematik. 1989
ISBN 0-7923-0187-0
115. S. IJsseling (Hrsgb.): Husserl-Ausgabe und Husserl-Forschung. 1990
ISBN 0-7923-0372-5
116. R. Cobb-Stevens: Husserl and Analytic Philosophy. 1990
ISBN 0-7923-0467-5
117. R. Klockenbusch: Husserl und Cohn. Widerspruch, Reflexion und Telos in
Phnomenologie und Dialektik. 1989
ISBN 0-7923-0515-9
118. S. Vaitkus: How is Society Possible? Intersubjectivity and the Fiduciary Attitude as
Problems ofthe Social Group in Mead, Gurwitsch, and Schutz. 1991
ISBN 0-7923-0820-4
119. C. Macann: Presence and Coincidence. The Transformation of Transcendental into
ISBN 0-7923-0923-5
Ontological Phenomenology. 1991
120. G. Shpet: Appearance and Sense. Phenomenology as the Fundamental Science and Its
Problems. Translated from Russian by Th. Nemeth. 1991
ISBN 0-7923-1098-5
121. B. Stevens: L'Apprentissage des Signes. Lecture de Paul Ricreur. 1991
ISBN 0-7923-1244-9
122. G. Soffer: Husserl and the Question of Relativism. 1991
ISBN 0-7923-1291-0
123. G. Rmpp: Husserls Phnomenologie der Intersubjektivitt. Und Ihre Bedeutung fr
eine Theorie intersubjektiver Objektivitt und die Konzeption einer phnomenologischen. 1991
ISBN 0-7923-1361-5
124. S. Strasser: Welt im Widerspruch. Gedanken zu einer Phnomenologie als ethischer
Fundamentalphilosophie. 1991
ISBN Hb: 0-7923-1404-2; Pb: 0-7923-1551-0
125. R. P. Buckley: Husserl, Heidegger and the Crisis of Philosophical Responsibility.
ISBN 0-7923-1633-9
126. 1. G. Hart: The Person and the Common Life. Studies in a Husserlian Social Ethics.
ISBN 0-7923-1724-6
127. P. van Tongeren, P. Sars, C. Bremmers and K. Boey (eds.): Eros and Eris. Contributions to a Hermeneutical Phenomenology. Liber Amicorum for Adriaan Peperzak.
ISBN 0-7923-1917-6
128. Nam-In Lee: Edmund Husserls Phnomenologie der Instinkte. 1993
ISBN 0-7923-2041-7
129. P. Burke and 1. Van der Veken (eds.): Merleau-Ponty in Contemporary Perspective.
ISBN 0-7923-2142-1
130. G. Haefliger: ber Existenz: Die Ontologie Roman Ingardens. 1994
ISBN 0-7923-2227-4
131. 1. Lampert: Synthesis and Backward Reference in Husserl's Logical Investigations.
ISBN 0-7923-3105-2
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