Calling to mind

PI90: “We feel as if we had to see right into phenomena: yet our investigation is directed not towards phenomena, but rather as one might say, towards the possibilities of phenomena. What that means is that we call to mind the kinds of statement that we make about phenomena. So too, Augustine calls to mind the different statements that are made about the duration of events, about their being past, present or future.(These are of course not philosophical statements about time, the past and the future). Our inquiry is a grammatical one. And this inquiry sheds light on our problem by clearing misunderstandings away. Misunderstanding concerning the use of words, brought about, among other things, by certain analogies between the forms of expression in different regions of our language. Some of them can be removed by substituting one form of expression for another; this may be called ‘analyzing’ our forms of expressions, for sometimes this procedure resembles taking a thing apart.”


Are there similarities between the concepts expressed by Brentano, (early) Husserl, Twardowski and Wittgenstein’s PI 90? Is there a relationship between Wittgenstein’s use of “calling to mind” and the concept of intentional inexistence in descriptive psychology, logic and philosophy in late 19th century Viennese circles around Brentano, Twardowski and Husserl? These are the questions we are dealing with in this paper. The emphasis will be on the use of the phrase ”calling to mind”. What are we calling to mind in this philosophical investigation PI90 with the kinds of statement we make about phenomena, about the possibilities of phenomena? Do we hear here a bell ringing reminding us of the intentional inexistence thesis worked out in the late 19th century (early) phenomenology? Our investigation is directed not towards phenomena but to the possibilities of phenomena. What that means is that we call to mind the kinds of statement that we make about phenomena. Do we use our imagination to do so? What actually happens if we call to mind the kinds of statement that we make about phenomena? In the last part of the sentence about the possibilities of phenomena we can even jump further back in philosophy: to Leibniz possible worlds and to the monad as the expression of the world. For Leibniz possibles do not exist in the real world. The question is how actual realism is for Wittgenstein. In “Remarks on the foundation of mathematics” he states: Not empiricism and yet realism in philosophy, that is the hardest thing. But let us focus now first on early phenomenological links and after that go on an expedition and jump back- and forwards in time.


Of course there is an abyss between PI90 and the question of intentionality in early phenomenology. In the history of philosophy this moment marks what is later called the linguistic turn and this has separated continental philosophy from analytic philosophy. So we are aware of the gap between Wittgenstein and his predecessors and they have different methodological orientations. But we are on this journey exploring the echoes from the late 19th century phenomenology in order to shed some light on PI90 and try to understand what “calling to mind” can mean from a phenomenological point of view. We want to explore if “calling to mind” can be understood as a continuity with the concept of presentation (Vorstellung) in early Husserl. Do we have to understand this “calling to mind“ in a logical or a more psychological way? What is the philosophical dimension? When Wittgenstein is speaking of “calling to mind” in combination with the “possibilities of phenomena” in this first sentence in PI90 there is an echo of Brentano’s concept of intentionality as the meaning-giving act for all intelligent being. Brentano’s concept consists of two theses: the intentional inexistence thesis and a synsemantic one. This synsemantic one comes pretty close to Wittgenstein’s “language in use thesis”. The first thesis assumes that if we think, imagine, judge, something is being thought of and this something has to be an object “existing” in our mind. This object has an intentional (in)existence. When we judge something is affirmed or to be denied; when we love something is loved. The intentionality is always part of psychic phenomena and it makes the difference with physical phenomena, that do not have intentionality.


Twardowski develops his view concerning the intentional inexistence in his dissertation “Inhalt und Gegenstand der Vorstellung” that appeared in 1894. He influenced Husserl (both were students of Brentano in Vienna) who has been working on “Intentionale Gegenstande”. Husserl changed his view after reading Twardowski’s dissertation. Twardowski follows Brentano in the classification of the psychic acts. The ground act is the presentation (Vorstellung). Presentations are characterized by their directedness to a content or an object. Yet this view seems to be contradicted by what Bolzano had called “objectless presentations”. Can a theory of intentionality be upheld if a good many of those objects (like unicorns or round squares) we apparently call to mind or present to ourselves manifestly do not exist?. Twardowski tries to solve, this so called Brentano – Bolzano paradox and tries to proof that there are no objectless presentations (Gegenstandlose Vorstellungen). In order to prove this he makes a tri-parted classification in act, content and object of the presentation. This reflects according to Twardowski the three functions that names have in the description that Anton Marty, another disciple of Brentano, made: 1.the name: manifests a presentation occurring in the users mind. 2.It produces a psychic content in the listener(who thereby grasps the meaning of the name). 3. And it names the presented object. Twardowski states that according to the first function of the name every presentation is an act that contains (possesses) an intentional object. According to the second function this intentional object is the sense of the act, by which the act refers to something. The third function is the meaning that represents the object. Twardowski analyses what is represented: the content or the object? He suggests that you can think in this analogy: a painter is painting a painting and he is painting a scenery. His intentionality is directed towards two things: the painting and the scenery. Twardowski is speaking of a presenting activity moving in a double direction. In this way Twardowski solves the Brentano – Bolzano paradox: there are presentations that have objects without an object in reality, cf.unicorns, round squares etc.. These objects have an intentional inexistence.


Against the duplication of the object. Husserl.


At the time of his Logical Investigations, at least, Husserl advocated a two-level ontology: objects (or beings) are either real or ideal. Real objects are divided into the physical and the psychic, where idealities are of one sort only: they are meanings and everything logical connected therewith.


This later development in Husserl’s thinking does not contradict his early writings. He saw meanings not so much as constituting a special class of entities but rather as functions possessed by presentations in certain judgmental contexts. Thus in the Twardowski review he states that objects inhere in presentations only in a functional way, namely insofar as this presentation functions in judgments positing the identity of certain presentations. This is the position he had already taken in the early 1890s. Therefore Husserl is against de duplication of the object in the presentation in the sense Twardowski states. According to Husserl Twardowski is completely overlooking the ideal concept of meaning in the presentation. Here Husserl seems to come nearer to Wittgenstein’s “calling to mind” in PI90 than Twardowski because Twardowski enlarged ontology by a special kind of object, the intentional ones. The important point is that for Husserl meanings are never real or constitutive part of presentations conceived as psychic entities. Since objects do not inhere in the acts presenting them either, Husserl concludes that a presentation cannot be such that there exists any real pictorial relation between something inside the presentation and something outside it. It is therefore useless to distinguish between an immanent or intentional object of a presentation and a corresponding real one. Presenting activity does not move in two directions at the same time: to a content and to an object; it is directed exclusively towards the object. Remember that Twardowski introduced this intentional in-existence in order to solve the Brentano-Bolzano paradox. The term existence is used in an improper way in this context. Husserl sticks to the normal meaning of our statements about existence and non–existence. To say that Zeus does not exist does not mean that this God would exist in certain mental acts. Moreover he also does not exist extra mentem, for he does not exist at all.( Hua XIX/1,p.387). How can we have a presentation of Zeus then? Well we can pass a positive judgment on the existence of Zeus when we install ourselves on the given soil of Greek mythology. So there are judgments possible about non-existing objects. We will not go into detail here how Husserl worked this out. But what is important in relation to Wittgenstein’s PI90 is that Husserl reduces the difference between presentations having an object and those which do not. Objects inhere in presentations only in a functional way, namely insofar as this presentation functions in judgments positing the identity of certain presentations. This paves the way not only for Husserl’s own phenomenology which is a doctrine of acts, and of objects only insofar as they are correlates of acts, but also for us to grasp the idea where Wittgenstein is heading in PI90. Existence, this is to say for Husserl, cannot be modified. Speech however can.


This leaves us with another problem mentioned above: the possibilities of phenomena and intersubjectivity. We will jump over here to Deleuze. According to Deleuze: we have to consider a field of experience taken as a real world, no longer in relation to a self that is “calling to mind kinds of statement that we make about phenomena” but to a simple “there is”. There is, at some moment, a calm and restful world. Suddenly a frightened face looms up that looks at something out on the field. The other person appears here as neither subject nor object but as something that is very different: a possible world, the possibility of a frightening world. This possible world is not real, or not yet, but it exists nonetheless: it is an expressed that exists only in its expression. This brings us to a philosophical problem that is also involved in phenomenology: I can only know your experience of the phenomena by spoken words, by what you tell me. “The other is a possible world as it exists in a face that expresses it and takes shape in a language that gives it a reality. In this sense it is a concept with three inseparable components: possible world, existing face, and real language or speech”(Deleuze). This concept of the other person goes back to Leibniz, to his possible worlds and to the monad as expression of the world. In Leibniz possibles do not exist in the real world. It is also found in the modal logic of propositions. These do not confer on possible worlds the reality that corresponds to their truth conditions. “Calling to mind kinds of statement about possibilities of phenomena”: even Wittgenstein envisages propositions as fear of pain not as modalities that can be expressed in a position of the other person because he leaves the other person oscillating between another subject and a special object. This leaves the other person out there. What is the ethical consequence of this? How is this related to the intentional inexistence of phenomena in the subject? Husserl stated that there is no intentional inexistence, because he is against the duplication of the object. Objects only inhere in a functional way. Wittgenstein goes on in PI 90 “Our inquiry is a grammatical one. And this inquiry sheds light on our problems by clearing misunderstandings away. Misunderstanding concerning the use of words, brought about, among other things, by certain analogies between the forms of expression in different regions of our language. Some of them can be removed by substituting one form of expression for another; this may be called analyzing our forms of expressions, for sometimes this procedure resembles taking a thing apart”. So in Husserl maybe the concept of the other presupposes the determination of a sensory world as a condition. Empiricism! Here the similarities between early phenomenology, PI90 and Deleuze’s on concepts in ”What is philosophy?” seem to form a triangle in our search for similarities. When we stay within this vicious triangle we are heading towards an infinity because every concept extends to infinity and concepts being created are never created from nothing. So we have to install ourselves on the given soil of a sensory world out there that we share. And this is what phenomenology stands for.


Working Notes:
I took “calling to mind“ PI90 very literal in order to be able to explore PI90 against an early phenomenological background. I understand the way Wittgenstein prefers the expression “calling to mind” as the translation for the German verb besinnen PU90 rather than “remind ourselves”. But for me as a native Dutch speaker the German verb besinnen PU90, also has a connotation that has to do with reflection and giving sense. Of course we have to reflect what we do when we speak about the world. When there is a world out there and we have a language and we can imagine things in presentations in our mind we have to reflect on the way these speech acts, acts of presentation and judgments about true or false relate to each other.




References:
Brentano,F. 1874 Psychologie vom empirischen Standpunkt, Leipzig: Dunker& Humblot
Deleuze and Guattari 1991 Qu’est-ce que la philosophie?, Paris: Les Editions de Minuit
Husserl,E. 1983 Husserliana volume XXI and XXII, Den Haag: Stromeyer
Schumann, K. 1991 Brentanostudien, Dettelbach: Roll
Twardowski, K. 1894 Zur Lehre vom Inhalt und Gegenstand der Vorstellung, Vienna: Holder
Wittgenstein, L. 2009 Philosophical Investigations, Oxford: Basil Blackwell






Published: Proceedings ALWS Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein foundation. 2013.