April 6, 2010 Leave a comment
By: Jay Dyer
Modern philosophy since Immanuel Kant has tended to deny the possibility of making a synthetic a priori claim about experience. An analytic statement is one in which the concept of the predicate is contained in the subject. Synthetic statements are not this way; here, the predicate is not contained in the meaning or definition of the subject and additional information may be added, based upon experience. Such was Kant’s argument in his Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics. Thus, Kant thought, no necessary, a priori laws of experience could be posited—which are themselves the foundations of metaphysical claims, and, without these, he proclaimed, metaphysics was no longer possible. The purpose of this paper is to present Husserl’s argument from mereology for synthetic a priori truths of experience.
Mereology is the logic of the relationship of parts to wholes. In Husserl’s 1901 Logical Investigations, Volume II, “Investigation III” takes up the topic of mereology, following Brentano’s lead. Here, Husserl thinks, necessary a priori truths about experience may be given. A “part,” Husserl argues, is anything which can be distinguished in an object, such as color, shape, or extension, in contrast to the intentional object as a whole. However, an important distinction must be made: some parts are independent, while others are dependent. A dependent part is defined according to “its inability to exist by itself.” That is, “non-independent objects are objects belonging to such pure Species as are governed by a law of essence to the effect that they only exist, if at all, as parts of more inclusive wholes of a certain appropriate Species.” Read more of this post