Real and ideal determination in Husserl's 'Logical Investigations'
One of the permanent factors driving philosophy is the puzzle presented by our embodiment. Our consciousness is embodied. We are its embodiment; we are that curious amalgam that we try to describe in terms of mind and body. Philosophy has sought again and again to describe their relation. Yet each time it attempts this from one of these aspects, the other hides itself. From the perspective of mind, everything appears as a content of consciousness. Yet, from the perspective of the body, there are no conscious contents. There are only neural pathways and chemical processes. As thinkers as early as Locke and Leibniz realized, we may search the brain as thoroughly as we wish; within its material structure, we will never find a conscious content.[i] Both perspectives are obviously one-sided. We are both mind and body; we are determined by our conscious contents and our physical makeup. Husserl’s Logical Investigations takes account of this fact in speaking of the real and ideal determination of the subject. As embodied beings, we are subject to real causal laws. Such laws, insofar as the relate to our mental contents, take these as determined by the contents temporally proceeding them.[ii] As engaged in mind, we are also subject to the ideal laws of “authentic thought.” These are nontemporal, logical laws governing “the compatibility or incompatibility of mentally realizable contents.” In the Investigations, the problem of the mind’s relation to the body comes to a head in these two determinations. How can the same set of mental acts be subject to both causal and logical laws? How can a causally determined subject grasp an apodictically certain set of logical relations? As Theodor DeBoer puts this question: “on the one hand, these acts are empirically necessary and determined; on the other hand, an idea realizes itself in them through which they claim apodeictic validity. How can both these views be combined?”[iii]
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