The Fate of the Act of Synthesis
Kant, Frege, and Husserl on the Role of Subjectivity in Presentation and Judgment
I investigate the role of the subject in judgment in Kant, Frege, and Husserl, situating it in the broader and less-often-considered context of their accounts of presentation (Vorstellung) as well as judgment. Contemporary philosophical usage of “representation” tends to elide the question of what Kant called the constitution of content, because of a reluctance, traced to Frege’s anti-psychologism, to attend to subjectivity. But for Kant and Husserl, anti-psychologism allows for synthesis as the subjective act necessary for both “mere presentation” and judgment. In Begriffshrift, Frege alludes to a significant logical role for the subjective act of judgment, and in later work, traces of this logical role remain in the intensional notions of grasping a thought and judging as acknowledging its truth. But Frege’s anti-psychologism blocks interpreting these subjective notions in term of synthesis. Although similar in certain ways to Frege and equally anti-psychologistic, Husserl’s theory of judgment in the Logical Investigations maintains a role for subjective syntheses for presentations and judgments, and goes beyond Kant in allowing for a kind of objectivity at the level of non-judgment presentations. These two great anti-psychologists at the dawn of the parallel heydays of linguistic and phenomenological analysis are thus differentiated by the fates they assign to the act of synthesis.
Beaney, Michael, 2007. “Conceptions of Analysis in the Early Analytic and Phenomenological Traditions: Some Comparisons and Relationships.” In The Analytic Turn Analysis in Early Analytic Philosophy and Phenomenology, edited by Michael Beaney, pp. 196–216. New York: Routledge.
Bell, David, 1987. “The Art of Judgment.” Mind 96(382): 221–44.
Benoist, Jocelyn, 2008. “Fulfilment.” In Phenomenology as Grammar, edited by J. P. Gálvez, p. 77–96. Frankfurt a. M.: Ontos.
Burge, Tyler, 1979. “Sinning Against Frege.” Philosophical Review 88(3): 398–432.
Drummond, John, 2002. “The Logical Investigations: Paving the Way to a Transcendental Logic.” In One Hundred Years of Phenomenology: Husserl’s Logical Investigations Revisited, edited by Frederik Stjernfelt and Dan Zahavi, p. ??. Dordrecht: Kluwer.
Dummett, Michael, 1982. “Frege and Kant on Geometry.” Inquiry 25(2): 233–54.
Frege, Gottlob, 1879 . “Begriffsschrift Selections.” In Frege (1997), pp. 47–78.
———, 1884 . The Foundations of Arithmetic, Second revised edition. Oxford: Blackwell.
———, 1892 . “On Concept and Object.” In Frege (1997), pp. 181–93.
———, 1918 . “Negation.” In Frege (1997), pp. 346–61.
———, 1918 . “The Thought: A Logical Inquiry.” Mind 65: 289–311. Tranlated by Anthony M. Quinton and Marcelle Quinton.
———, 1980. Philosophical and Mathematical Correspondence, edited by Gottfried Gabriel, Hans Hermes, Friedrich Kambartel, Christian Thiel and Albert Veraart. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
———, 1997. The Frege Reader, edited by Michael Beaney. Oxford: Blackwell.
Gabriel, Gottfried, 2013. “Frege and the German Background to Analytic Philosophy.” In The Oxford Handbook of the History of Analytic Philosophy, edited by Michael Beaney, pp. 280–97. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Geach, Peter, 1976. “Saying and Showing in Frege and Wittgenstein.” Acta Philosophica Fennica 28: 54–70.
Green, Mitchell S., 2002. “The Inferential Significance of Frege’s Assertion Sign.” Facta Philosophica 4: 201–29.
Heffernan, George, 1983. Bedeutung und Evidenz Bei Edmund Husserl. Bonn: Bouvier Verlag.
Heis, Jeremy, 2014. “The Priority Principle from Kant to Frege.” Noûs 48(2): 268–97.
Husserl, Edmund, 1999. The Idea of Phenomenology, translated by Lee Hardy. Dordrecht: Kluwer.
———, 2001. Logical Investigations, translated by J. N. Findlay. New York: Routledge.
———, 2014. Ideas for a Pure Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy: First Book: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology, translated by Dan Dahlstrom. Indianapolis: Hackett.
Jourdain, Phillip E. B., 1980. “Gottlob Frege.” In Frege (1980), pp. 179–206.
Kant, Immanuel, 1781-87 . Critique of Pure Reason, edited and translated by Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
———, 1783 . Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics that will be able to come forward as Science, translated by Gary Hatfield. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kidd, Chad, 2021. “Husserl’s Theory of Judgment and Its Contemporary Relevance.” In The Husserlian Mind, edited by Hanne Jacobs, p. 232–44. New York: Routledge.
Kitcher, Patricia, 1990. Kant’s Transcendental Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.
Kremer, Michael, 2000. “Judgment and Truth in Frege.” Journal of the History of Philosophy 38(4): 549–81.
Longuenesse, Beatrice, 2017. I, Me, Mine: Back to Kant, and Back Again. New York: Oxford University Press.
Martin, Wayne M., 1999. “Husserl’s Relapse: Concerning a Fregean Challenge to Phenomenology.” Inquiry 42(3–4): 343–69.
———, 2006. Theories of Judgment: Psychology, Logic, Phenomenology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Mohanty, Jitendranath, 1982. Husserl and Frege. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Moltmann, Friederike and Mark Textor, eds., 2017. Act-Based Conceptions of Propositional Content. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Nunez, Tyke, 2021. “Kant, Frege, and the Normativity of Logic: MacFarlane’s Argument for Common Ground.” European Journal of Philosophy.
Pereboom, Derk, 1988. “Kant on Intentionality.” Synthese 77(3): 321–52.
Romano, Claude, 2015. At the Heart of Reason. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.
Rump, Jacob, 2020. “Synthesis.” In The Routledge Handbook of Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy, edited by Daniele De Santis, Burt C. Hopkins and Claudio Majolino, pp. 376–88. New York: Routledge.
Sethi, Janum, 2020. “ ‘For Me, In My Present State’: Kant on Judgments of Perception and Mere Subjective Validity.” Journal of Modern Philosophy 2(9): 1–20.
Sheredos, Benjamin, 2017. “Act Psychology and Phenomenology: Husserl on Egoic Acts.” Husserl Studies 33(3): 191–209.
Shieh, Sanford, 2019. Necessity Lost: Modality and Logic in Early Analytic Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Sluga, Hans D., 1980. Gottlob Frege. New York: Routledge.
Smith, Nicholas J. J., 2009. “Frege’s Judgement Stroke and the Conception of Logic as the Study of Inference not Consequence.” Philosophy Compass 4: 639–65.
Textor, Mark, 2010. “Frege on Judging As Acknowledging the Truth.” Mind 119(475): 615–55.
van der Schaar, Maria, 2018. “Frege on Judgment and the Judging Agent.” Mind 127(505): 225–50.
van Mazijk, Corijn, 2019. “Husserl’s Covert Critique of Kant in the Sixth Book of Logical Investigations.” Continental Philosophy Review 52(1): 15–33.
The Public Knowledge Project recommends the use of the Creative Commons license. The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy requires authors to agree to a Creative Commons Attribution /Non-commercial license. Authors who publish with the Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC license.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.