DF XXIII, 2013-2: THE IMPACT OF LEIBNIZ ON DEVELOPMENTS OF HUSSERLIAN PHENOMENOLOGY ed. by Francesco Bianchini and Enrico Pasini
“Thus phenomenology leads to the monadology anticipated by Leibniz in ingenious aperçu”; with these words, Husserl concluded his lecture about “First Philosophy” in the year 1924. Anticipation is a construct now barred from the history of philosophy, but it is impossible to deny all value to such first-hand allegations. Aim of this issue is to signalize the connections, or the very continuities, between certain elements of Leibniz’s philosophy and of Husserl’s phenomenology in its different stages of development. Starting from the aspects of Husserlian thought that in the eye of the scholar, or of Husserl himself, seem to be present in Leibniz’s thought, we shall analyse in some deepness the relation between these two different lines of theoretical and philosophical reflection. On the one hand, Leibniz and Husserl can be considered as the most significant stages of a philosophical view according to which thought is the lieu of abstract, ideal, and symbolic forms, that are not so distant, yet, nor separated from a reality entirely tangible. From this point of view, we can easily remark how strictly related Leibniz’s idea of mathesis universalis, and Husserl’s radicalization of pure logic as a theory of science – better, as a theory of every possible forms of theory – really are.
On the other hand there is the reprisal of Leibnizian monadology in the Husserlian treatment of intersubjectivity. “I myself am really a monadologist”, Husserl once wrote to Dietrich Mahnke, even though he added that he rather would not liken the monad’s law of development to that of a mathematical series, as Leibniz had done. But this interest of Husserl’s for certain ideas of Leibniz’s did not develop, neither in him nor in his school, into a proper interest for a study of Leibniz’s works and deeds, with the notable exception, precisely, of Mahnke’s early interest for a phenomenological reading of the Leibnizian project of a universal mathematics. In time, so many aspects of their theoretical connections have been explored: from the relation between both philosophies as regards formal sciences, to the influence of Leibniz’s and Husserl’s ideas on contemporary philosophy of mind, artificial intelligence and cognitive science; the relation of analysis and synthesis, of a priori truths and truths of fact, in their philosophical methods; continuities in the use of symbolism or in the rejection of psychological conceptions of mathematics or truth; the conception of “first philosophy” in the respective meanings; the relation between the themes of Husserlian formal ontology and the logical-ontological structure of Leibniz’s thought; up to the efforts to show that Leibniz’s metaphysics has been in truth a phenomenology.
The same richness is apparent in studies of late-Husserlian and post-Husserlian developments. Husserl’s and Heidegger’s attitude towards Leibniz and their readings of him; Gödel’s move from a Leibnizian frame to seeking in Husserl something that would set in motion the axiomatic machine; Nishida’s phenomenology of self and its relation to monadology; these and other themes have been studied with both theoretical and historical approaches. Important contributions as the collection edited by Cristin and Sakai have referred to the views of phenomenologically connotated authors, or to the presence in Leibniz’s writings of concepts that are typical of the phenomenological perspective.
And nevertheless, quite contrarily to this last attitude, phenomenological view of Leibniz’s thought may even have helped in the past to avoid or contrast a reading of Leibniz’s thought as sheer idealistic phenomenalism. Leibniz rather establishes the category of well-founded phenomena, with the realm of which, albeit not in full independence from metaphysics, natural philosophy, or physical science, concerns itself. In this sense, real phenomena are the world. In recent times Vincenzo De Risi has indeed pointed out a “phenomenological turn” in Leibniz’s late philosophy, when he arrived “to define (and not just characterize) quality and quantity through a co-perceptual act”.
In the following pages, the authors have not only tried to keep faith to this picture of continuities and analogies, but to shed light, as well, both on the complexities that a too much optimistic view has sometimes evaded, and on aspects that in that picture were not eminent enough. On the one hand, phenomenological analysis of the transcendental subject as person brings to quite different results, since the Identität des Ichs “is not substantial identity”. That is to say: Leibniz’s metaphysics is absent, there are neither substantial pre-established harmony nor creator, and Husserl’s monads clearly have windows; they are part, not of a republic of spirits, but of the human community. On the other hand, in a sense, Leibniz is innocent of the crisis of natural sciences: life, meaning, even teleology permeate his universe, although he is less eurocentric than Husserl in his views on world history. These and other connections have been raised by the authors of this issue. But Leibniz’s philosophy is a many-sided system of thought, and the analysis of its relationships with later philosophers is able to bring about new interpretations. Husserl, and phenomenological thought in general, have been for us and, we hope, will be again for others a philosophical buttress strong enough to bring to light new perspectives on Leibniz’s account of the world, of science, and of humanity.
(click on the titles to download the abstracts)
Francesco Bianchini, Enrico Pasini, Introduction
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Omnia in infinitum postremo resolvuntur (ed. by Enrico Pasini)
Enrico Pasini, Teleologia in Leibniz e Husserl. Brevi note a partire da un inedito leibniziano
Klaus Erich Kaehler, ‘Erste Philosophie’ bei Leibniz und Husserl: Nähe und grundlegende Differenz
Laurent Perreau, Phénoménologie et métaphysique : Les usages de Leibniz dans la philosophie husserlienne
Burt C. Hopkins, Leibniz and Husserl on universal science
Edoardo Caracciolo, Husserl e l’analysis situs leibniziana
Vincent Gérard, Loi et nécessité. Sur la distinction leibnizienne des vérités de fait et des vérités de raison chez Husserl
Andrea Altobrando, La variazione husserliana del concetto di monade
Michael K. Shim, Monad and consciousness in Husserl. A quasi-representationalist interpretation
Francesco Bianchini, L’approccio fenomenologico alla scienza cognitiva. Le forme della conoscenza tra Leibniz e Husserl