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1The phenomenological school of thought owes a great deal to Theodor Lipps and to his research, which included pioneering work in many areas of contemporary psychology, in particular the psychology of esthetic experience and social psychology, because of the way he developed in greater depth the descriptive notion of Einfühlung or “empathy.” However, this contribution of Lipps’s œuvre to the flowering of phenomenology is paradoxical on several counts: on one hand, Lipps’s work can hardly be said to have exerted an influence on Husserl’s nascent phenomenology, since on the contrary the initial interactions between the two were concerned with Husserl’s radical critique of Lipps’s early psychologism. But on the other hand, it is from within the circle of Lipps’s best students that the first Husserlian phenomenologists would emerge—albeit at the price of a kind of theoretical rebellion against their former master. As for Husserl himself, having mercilessly condemned the young Lipps’s psychologism, once he had become the thinker of transcendental phenomenology he openly acknowledged his debt to the penetrating analyst of Einfühlung. The relations between the two men harbor further enigmas, but these more obvious paradoxes are enough to justify the interest to be had from a precise historical study of the relationship between early phenomenology and Theodor Lipps’s scientific development.

2What follows is only a very first sketch, still with many omissions. It has been written with the aim of clearly situating the development of Husserl’s thought in the context of a dialogue with the psychologists of his era. This study therefore proceeds within the framework of a phenomenological approach to psychology, based upon the methodological achievements of the Husserlian problematic of knowledge. It is neither the work of a psychologist nor of a straightforward historian of German psychology. Although this intention and this philosophical context no doubt contribute to determining the viewpoint adopted and the interpretation proposed, the author nevertheless hopes that the article will be of some interest even to a psychologist reader.

I – A researcher’s career

3Theodor Lipps began his academic career in 1877 at the University of Bonn, where from the age of twenty-six he taught as a Privatdozent. It was in this position that he wrote his first book, Basic Facts of Mental Life (Grundtatsachen des Seelenlebens), an impressive monograph in which he describes the main theoretical pillars of the psychology of the day. The book was published in 1883 and, after a second publication bringing together a selection of Studies in Psychology on various themes (Psychologische Studien, Heidelberg, 1885), he very soon began to specialize in the psychology of esthetics, a field of research to which, even today, he owes his reputation.

4His main interest at the time was in certain particular esthetic questions: not the theory of the perception of works of art, but the enigma of the comic and the question of the nature and origin of humor. Between 1888 and 1889 he published in Philosophische Monatshefte a series of six articles under the general title Psychology of the Comic. (He would continue to study this problem in ever greater depth, later including in his 1898 Contributions to Esthetics [Beiträge zur Ästhetik] a “psycho-esthetic study” entitled “The Comic and Humor”; these investigations were to culminate with the publication of Komik und Humor [Halle, 1902].) On the basis of his first two published works, in 1890 he was appointed at the University of Breslau, where he would stay for only four years.

5During this brief period he became particularly interested in the psychology of visual perception, phenomena of optical illusion (“Optische Streitfragen,” 1892, Zeitschrift für Psychologie und Physiologie der Sinnesorgane), and instances in which the perception of space and esthetic feeling intersect (as in his Esthetic Factors in the Intuition of Space (Ästhetische Faktoren der Raumanschauung), Hamburg and Leipzig, 1891). In the ensuing years these works would lead him to emphasize the psychological conditions of the esthetic perception of space, in an experimental study of optical illusions that was to exert an enduring influence upon contemporary research in this domain: Esthetics of Space and Optico-Geometric Illusions (Raumästhetik und geometrisch-optische Täuschungen, Leipzig, J.A. Barth, 1897). This confirmed his specialization as a psychologist of esthetics with an interest in the visual domain and the related arts.

6And yet he also kept himself apprised of themes that were being generally discussed at the time, those that dominated scientific debate among psychologists in the 1890s: psychological studies relating to epistemology, on questions of memory, and on logical thought. And, rather curiously, it was this, the least original aspect of his work at the time, represented by the rather banal little book entitled Basic Aspects of Logic (Grundzüge der Logik), that in 1899 would lead to Lipps being noticed and discussed by the author of the first volume of Logical Investigations.

7In 1894, Lipps had succeeded Carl Stumpf at the University of Munich, where he was to teach until his death in 1914. This was the most fruitful period of his research career. It was during this time that, on the basis of an analysis of the intersubjective psychological projection he saw at work both in the arts and in social behavior, he developed his general theory of “Einfühlung,” a term he adopted from Robert Vischer (1873) to designate the paradoxical internalization of the movements, sensations, and emotions of the other by way of a projective assimilation of the expressive elements of their behavior. [1] At the end of the nineteenth century and in the first years of the twentieth, he would apply this theoretical hypothesis to various different classes of psychic phenomena: on one hand ethical phenomena, on the basis of his psychology of the will (Die ethischen Grundfragen—a collection of a series of ten lectures, 1899); and on the other hand psycho-esthetic phenomena, the possibility of which seems to be clarified by the theory of Einfühlung. In this way he would move toward a general theory of fundamental psychic acts, as in his 1902 Feeling, Willing, and Thinking (Vom Fühlen, Wollen und Denken) and his 1903 Guide to Psychology (Leitfaden der Psychologie).

8Lipps’s last major publications were devoted to developing a general theory of esthetics: in particular his Psychology of the Beautiful and of Art (Ästhetik: Psychologie des Schönen und der Kunst: Grundlegung der Ästhetik, Erster Teil, Hamburg, 1903). This “first part” was followed in 1906 by a second in which he examined more specifically the relation between esthetic contemplation and the plastic arts (Die ästhetische Betrachtung und die bildende Kunst). The final version of his theory of the empathic origin of emotion was also formulated in this same year, 1906, in the synthetic work Empathy and Esthetic Pleasure (Einfühlung und ästhetischer Genuss).

II – Initial positivism and theory of representation

9This biographical sketch already brings out the paradox that was to mark the singular relationship that developed between Lipps and Husserl: although the founder of phenomenology would end up returning attentively to what certainly constitutes Lipps’s most original and specific contribution to psychology and philosophy, his theory of “empathy”—but only later, after 1903, when he was developing his transcendental phenomenology of intersubjectivity—it is an entirely different theme, far less central for the psychologist of visual perception and humor that Lipps was in the 1890s, that determined their intellectual encounter, in the context of the general epistemological debate on the supposed psychological bases of logic and knowledge. For it could well be said that the problem of the ontological status of logical laws, so decisive for the problematic of nascent phenomenology, hardly even registered as a question for Lipps prior to the appearance of book I of Logical Investigations.

10To identify what it was that predisposed Lipps’s psychology—like many other contemporary psychological conceptions—to experience Husserl’s thematization of intentionality as a challenge to its presuppositions, it will be useful to recall some of the theoretical statements he posited as established scientific principles in his first work of 1883, the Grundtatsachen des Seelenlebens.

11In the first general and preparatory section of this book, [2] while admitting that, in psychic life in general, one can distinguish specifically different “activities”—sensing, perceiving, willing, imagining, reasoning—Lipps refuses the idea that this descriptive and verbal distinction expresses any real separation that would make it necessary to radically differentiate specific and distinct “activities” or “faculties.” In the second chapter (“The activities and faculties of the soul”), he writes:


However, I am not of the view that one must simply recognize the gulf that separates representing, sensing, and willing. Indeed I do not think that this gulf ever existed. Pleasure and desire are contents of representations as are blue and bitterness, and are so in just the same sense. [3]

13As is indicated by this reduction of psychic operations as different as willing and sensing (fühlen)—in all of its varieties and degrees (sensations, perception, emotion, affects in general)—to one homogeneous register of “contents of representations” (Vorstellungsinhalte), Lipps situates himself from the outset within the critical and anti-metaphysical attitude inherited from positivism that consists in according scientific validity and real existence only to that which is “given.” For, to his eyes, the fact of this being-given constitutes the only fundamental criterion that can guide psychological conceptualization:


That pleasure and desire are contents of our perception, or, what amounts to the same thing, products of our activity of representation, in the same way as blue, bitter, hard, is a result we could have attained from the proposed reflection, I believe, without making all of these detours. Nothing could be simpler than the question under consideration here. Only the contents that we designate by the names “blue,” “bitter,” “hard,” are given, and nothing else, no activity that produces these objects, nor any faculty that makes possible such activities. Similarly, pleasure and desire are given to us, and in just the same way, uniquely and simply given [gegeben]. If we nonetheless think it necessary to admit that there are different activities, their principle of differentiation can be drawn only from these contents. [4]

15From this ontologically exclusive point of view, that of the self-evidence of the “given” (gegeben) alone, Lipps proposes to conceive all of the operations, contents, and processes of the psychic sphere as different forms of the same fundamental act: Vorstellen, representation. The characteristic property via which he defines this “representation,” and which justifies its homogeneous universality, consists in the fact that it produces an “ideal object.” And the way in which he determines the status of this “ideelles Objekt,” and its relation to representing, places Lipps’s early psychology in line with classic philosophies of representation—with all of the metaphysical aporias and equivocations this implies:


Our starting point is none other than the current concept of representation. I represent an object to myself when I produce an image of this object, and “place it before me.” [5] It is the production of this image, or, as we said in the previous chapter, of the ideal object, [6] that constitutes the activity of representation. With regard to this image, I say that it cannot be there without being conscious, because its existence consists precisely in one’s consciousness of it. That this existence consists in such consciousness is precisely what differentiates the ideal object from the real object, which exists in itself and outside of consciousness. [7] And this renders yet more manifest the strangeness of unconscious representations, when we remark that they are thus designated as unremarked [unbemerkte], remaining outside of attention, and that we do not perceive[8] their presence in us. Now, to perceive, to remark, to pay attention, is certainly nothing less than the act of re-presenting to oneself, which covers all of these expressions—it is to produce an image or an ideal object. To repeat what has already been said in the preceding chapter, I do not make of the actual [wirklich] tree something that it was not already when I perceive it or remark it. I do not make it pass into another form of existence, I do not transform it from an unperceived-tree to a perceived-tree, from a tree existing outside of my consciousness into a tree that has actuality inside my consciousness; what I do is to form [hervorbringen] an image that may or may not correspond to it, and thus, without affecting the objective tree, to a certain extent I double its existence. Consequently, the perceiving or remarking of the representation of an object cannot designate an activity that relates to representation, or sets about modifying it, making it something other than it was before; on the contrary, here perceiving can mean nothing other than the fact that an image of the representation is produced [erzeugt], an image that leaves the representation itself intact, and in this way comes to supplement the image that is the representation [dem Vorstellungsbild]. [9]

17What is characteristic of this first stage in Lipps’s thinking is the conception of the represented as objectal correlate of the act of representation, as “image”: the ideal correlate of the act of representation is thus interpreted as a double of the actual object (whether it is really an actual object or only a supposed object), a double that forms a screen between consciousness and a possible actual object, that is to say between subjectivity and the real being. His position therefore participates in a conflation, typical of the psychologism of the time, between intentional object and mental image, a conflation that renders any coherent theory of knowledge impossible since, alongside the psychological point of view that envisages the act of representation as a subjective process of objectivation, it maintains as unspoken presupposition the metaphysical assumption that, if it actually exists, the object must exist in itself, outside the sphere of the represented. Lipps does not seem to see the slightest contradiction between his interpretation of every cognitive activity as “representation,” and therefore as the production of a subjective image or subjective double of the object, and on the other hand his affirmation of the absolute existence of the object in itself, which goes so far as to make him describe the production of this image as a “doubling” of this object’s “existence.”

18The presupposition at work here is that of the fundamental naturalism to which Husserl will later draw attention when he develops his phenomenological critique of knowledge qua intentional activity—what he will call the “natural attitude.” This strange paradox of a represented-correlate that both represents and acts as a screen, an image of the object that simultaneously hides that object, seems to Lipps so inevitable and natural that he understands reflective attention to a representation as an operation of the doubling of an image, the production of an image of an image. The text never even raises the question of how it is possible to identify such a relation of similitude, the relation of resemblance to a supposed model that constitutes every image in so far as it is an “image of” something, nor does the author seem at all troubled by this question.

19Given this initial position, we can understand what a major upheaval was caused by the introduction of Brentano’s concept of intentionality into the field of the descriptive psychology of knowledge—an introduction in which Husserl would play a major part, during the preparation and writing of his Logical Investigations.

III – Psychology and logic

20The other side of Theodor Lipps’s early work, which was to result in him entering into intellectual exchange and competition with early phenomenology, is his essay on the fundamental principles of logic, published in 1893 with the title Grundzüge der Logik. The author claims that this is not a fundamental treatise aiming to make a decisive new scientific advance in logic; it is a work that proposes a succinct synthetic exposition of the basic propositions that a psychology of cognitive activity might consider, at the beginning of the 1890s, as established scientific tenets concerning the origin and status of logical propositions.

21The first of these tenets is necessarily a determinate concept of logic itself. In Section 1 of the work, in the first chapter entitled “The Task,” Lipps defines logic as “the theory of the forms and laws of thought.” To further explain this definition, he adds:


To expressly declare that it is the science of the normative laws of thought, or the theory of correct [richtig] thought is not necessary, since we always think correctly in so far as we think at all. It would be entirely irrelevant to designate logic as a normative science, if we are to understand this as implying an opposition between it and sciences that deal with facts [Wissenschaften von Tatsachen]. The question of what we ought [solle] to do always comes down to the question of knowing what we must [müsse] do if we are to achieve a certain goal; and this question in turn is equivalent to asking how the goal is in fact achieved. [10]

23Apart from the fact that it renders the possibility of logical error rather enigmatic, the position taken by Lipps here, against any distinction between the ideal course of thought and its empirical psychological development, indicates clearly the author’s positivistic intentions: for him it is a matter of founding the validity of logical laws upon the sole ontological basis of facts, and consequently of accounting for the referential or normative value of logic in terms of factual givens. This position obviously entails a certain theoretical blindness in regard to normativity. But this drawback seems less detrimental to logical science than the interpretation of the laws of thought in terms of “oughts.” And indeed, since the point of view he adopts in psychology is inspired by positivism, he prohibits himself from distinguishing between ideality and the “ought.”

24This was rather a longstanding conviction for Lipps—even an original conviction, we might say—which had already been expressed in 1880 in an article in Philosophische Monatshefte entitled “The task of the theory of knowledge [Die Aufgabe der Erkenntnistheorie].” Here we read that:


.. . [t]he rules, therefore, on which one must proceed in order to think rightly are merely rules on which one must proceed in order to think as the nature of thought, its specific lawfulness, demands. They are, in short, identical with the natural laws of thinking itself. Logic is a physics of thinking or it is nothing at all. [11]

26Given this explicitly naturalistic presupposition, the young Lipps can only conceive and determine logical thought as the exercise of a factually determined psychic activity, and therefore as a wholly and entirely psychological process. Thus he writes in his 1893 Grundzüge der Logik:


Logic is a psychological discipline, to the extent that knowing only occurs [vorkommt] in the psyche, and the act of thinking that results in that knowing is a psychic event. The fact that, unlike logic, psychology does not take into consideration the opposition between knowledge and error, cannot mean that psychology takes these two different psychic situations [Tatbestände] to be identical, only that it needs to render both of them comprehensible. But of course, nobody can defend the idea that psychology can be absorbed into logic. Precisely the fact that logic is a special subdiscipline of psychology is enough to distinguish them clearly.

28In the first sentence of this extract we recognize the verbal syllogism that Husserl first identifies when, in §18 of his Prolegomena, he formulates a synthetic “line of proof of the psychologistic thinkers.” The consequence of this reasoning, which rests upon the immediate objectivation of subjectivity, now renamed “the psyche,” is to absorb logic into psychology as a particular, dependent part.

29If, therefore, prior to 1900, Lipps appears to Husserl as one of the exemplary and typical representatives—alongside Wundt and Sigwart—of psychologism in the theory of knowledge, [12] it is in so far as the author of the Prolegomena to Pure Logic comes to Lipps’s pre-1896 work from the specific angle prescribed by his own problematic: the question of the relation between logico-mathematical idealities and real empirical acts of thought. Many other dimensions of Lipps’s research—on esthetics, on space, on humor, on the theory of psychic acts in general—apparently remained unknown to him, at least up to the point of the publication of the Logical Investigations. The correspondence between Lipps and Husserl, at least that which is available to us, comprises only three letters, spread out between December 1903 and May 1904. It therefore does not allow us to evaluate just how familiar Husserl may have been with Lipps’s works on subjects other than epistemology. The only text of Husserl’s later than the publication of the Grundzüge der Logik but prior to 1902 is his review of an article by Lipps in his “Report on German Writings in Logic from the year 1894,” published in 1897. Lipps’s article, which defended the distinction, in judgment, between “subjective” and “objective” categories, limits itself to the logical problematic in the strict sense, and does not broach the question of the psychological bedrock of these categories. What is more, in his review Husserl chooses, no doubt for very practical reasons, to go no further than a factual report, simply summing up the content without any comment on his part. While saluting the quality and richness of Lipps’s thought, he apologizes for not being able to engage in a more involved discussion:


The author provides us with a serious bit of systematic, logical work in this treatise, originally drafted as one chapter of his Grundzüge. [13] My brief report can have no thought of exhausting its full conceptual content, which would provide the starting points for many stimulating discussions. The task here can only be to characterize the main ideas and their systematic interconnection. [14]

31In fact, in this review we find no indication, however minimal, of the personal analytical work that the future author of the Logical Investigations is pursuing.

32According to the documents to which we have access, it therefore seems that, up until the publication of the Investigations, Husserl saw Lipps as a psychologist of logic, a typical spokesman for the most radical thesis of logical psychologism. What is more, to Husserl’s eyes, this radicalism constituted Lipps’s principal merit: even though, as he notes, just like Wundt’s, Lipps’s logic “hardly touches on ultimate doubts of principle,” he adds that in Lipps’s work “psychologism is so originally and so consistently sustained, so free from compromise and so thoroughly carried out in all branches of the discipline, as has not been the case since the time of Beneke.” [15]

IV – Around the publication of the Logical Investigations: first direct contact and exchange of letters

33That such was Husserl’s perception of Lipps and his work around 1900–1901 makes the later development of relations between the two all the more remarkable, even mysterious: while Lipps’s initial trenchant psychologism could hardly have survived the invalidating critical scrutiny inflicted on it by the author of the Prolegomena, on the other hand, the 1913 preface Husserl wrote for the second edition of the Logical Investigations acknowledges Lipps’s profound revision of his theoretical convictions after 1901, and marks a corresponding change in Husserl’s attitude. Husserl writes:


I must emphasize the relation of this piece to 1899, the precise date at which I merely rewrote it. Since its appearance, some authors that I looked on as representing logical psychologism have essentially changed their position. Th. Lipps, e.g., in his extremely significant, original writings, has since 1902 not at all been the man that is here quoted. [16]

35If Husserl sees 1902 as the point at which Lipps began to develop a new understanding and practice of psychology, it is because 1902 saw the appearance of two major new texts by Lipps, which he made sure to bring to Husserl’s attention in a letter of December 8, 1903, accompanying a copy of his most recent essay, the Summary of Psychology (Leitfaden der Psychologie), which had just been published. In sending Husserl a copy of his latest work, Lipps is principally addressing the author of the critical reviews published in 1897 in the Archiv für systematische Philosophie, which had alerted the public to the quality and seriousness of his analyses. But at the same time he takes the opportunity to ask Husserl to examine, or at least to mention, the two books that had appeared previously in 1902: Sensing, Willing, and Thinking (Vom Fühlen, Wollen und Denken), and Units and Relations (Einheiten und Relationen). But Lipps’s letter is not prompted solely by a legitimate concern for publicity: above all it manifests, quite frankly, a desire to bring himself closer to Husserl and to gain both his scientific esteem and his personal sympathy. Several phrases make it obvious that the author of this letter is trying to establish a privileged relation of complicity with the addressee:


Munich, December 8, 1903
Most esteemed colleague,
Along with these lines, I take the liberty of sending you a copy of my Summary of Psychology. Its exposition is a little dogmatic in parts; but the aim of the book calls for this. Perhaps a critique would afford me an opportunity to add some justifications and a fuller development. Since I am also concerned with establishing logical concepts, I will probably also fall within the scope of your review in the Archiv für systematische Philosophie. I await this review with very particular interest; you are assuredly one of the very few who know what logical facts are, and consequently also psychological facts. In case you feel it necessary to also mention the two books entitled Vom Fühlen, Wollen und Denken and Einheiten und Relationen, I pray that you consider them in light of the Summary.

37The remainder of the letter indicates that a first exchange of letters had already taken place, Husserl having sent Lipps an offprint of his review articles published in 1903. In the fourth article in particular, Husserl proved a staunch critic of Wilhelm Jerusalem’s most recent book, The Function of Judgment (Die Urteilsfunktion), published in 1895. Lipps uses this negative critical appraisal as an opportunity to place himself on Husserl’s side, and thus to distance himself from the perfunctory form of psychologism of which Jerusalem and Cornelius were the representatives.


I very much enjoyed the critical articles that you just sent me, and I thank you infinitely for them. I am in complete agreement with you, above all as far as M. Jerusalem is concerned. Generally speaking, it seems to me that you and I are both moving forward on the same path, although I sometimes have some difficulty in familiarizing myself with your terminology. It seems to me that it could be simpler. Sometimes for me it is too—psychologistic. Once, half jokingly, half seriously, I said to my closest students—who are studying your Logical Investigations most diligently—that some day one of them will have to write a polemical essay against you with the title “Husserl’s Psychologism.” In truth, though, at the moment the psychologism of Cornelius—who has such a sharp mind but passes by the real problems—is more evident to us. The man is not as confused as Jerusalem, but he is perhaps more incurable. [17]

39This attitude on Lipps’s part suggests that the Logical Investigations had probably led to his developing a serious critical consciousness, prompting him to clarify—if not modify—his conception of the object and method of psychology. Following the publication of the Prolegomena to Pure Logic, the problem for German psychologists who had studied under Wundt became: How to escape the aporias of psychologism, while remaining a psychologist? Which, methodologically speaking, meant: How to conceive the objectivity of psychic processes without thinking them according to the categories of the physical object, without making them realities?

40In this regard, it is significant to see how Lipps is at pains to point out to Husserl that it is “in light of the Summary” that his two 1902 publications must now be interpreted, one of which touches on general psychology, the other the psychology of fundamental logical categories—Lipps himself designates his texts of 1902–1903 as a turning point in his development as he presents it to Husserl. It is his 1903 Leitfaden der psychologie that, to his eyes, is the reference text for his new, post-psychologistic conception of psychology. Indeed, toward the end of the letter, in reference to another, older work going back to 1899, he repeats:


From what I have heard, you are now working on the logic of ethical knowledge. That generally speaking you think there is such a logic only goes to prove to me that we two shall converge on this point also. Unfortunately, in my Fundamental Ethical Questions I do not entirely do justice to this logic. There also, the Summary seeks to furnish additional detail.

42Lipps was evidently very anxious to bring himself closer to Husserl, and to convince him that he is on his side in the controversy around the epistemological status of psychology, which, at this time, during 1902–1904, was at its height. The new debate revolved largely around the question of “psychologism”: because of the powerful effect produced by the systematic clarity of Husserl’s critique of any psychological foundation of logic, many of the philosophers and epistemologists concerned felt the need to put forward their own position on the relation of psychology to logic and to philosophy: the great Dilthey himself decided to dedicate his seminar at the University of Berlin to the Logical Investigations; Natorp, Schuppe, and many others took a position, in their reviews, on the significance of Husserl’s declared anti-psychologism. Theodor Lipps’s approach in this context was to adopt a position methodologically very close to the position that Logical Investigations characterized as “phenomenology.” Lipps insists repeatedly on his feeling of a theoretical convergence between himself and Husserl. And there is a certain lucidity and pertinence in the way he somewhat mischievously points out the existence of a form of psychologism, attenuated but nonetheless real, in the conception and practice of this (first) “phenomenology,” which sought to be and expressly declared itself as a “descriptive psychology.”

V – Lipps as phenomenologist, and “Husserl’s psychologism”

43Lipps’s evident eagerness to be considered by Husserl as theoretically close to him on the question of the psychological approach to knowledge, and to demarcate himself from the most obstinate of the naturalist psychologists, of which Hans Cornelius represents the perfect type, obliges the historian-interpreter to ask two questions:

44(1) Did Lipps, a former pupil of Wundt, ever really alter his understanding and practice of the psychological approach to cognitive experience from that expressed at the time of the 1892 Grundzüge der Logik?

45(2) What was Husserl’s reaction to this attempt at a scientific rapprochement that aimed to surpass the trenchant opposition established by the Prolegomena between Lipps’s philosophical position and the descriptive phenomenology of intentional lived experience?

46To answer the first of these questions, we must turn to the Summary of Psychology published by Lipps in 1903, and which he recommended to Husserl as the text of reference for his current position. Do we find in this book any sign of an epistemological mutation that would bring Lipps’s conception of psychology closer to the phenomenological practice of the early Husserl? In fact, what we observe is that, from the introduction of chapter 1, Lipps takes care to define psychology no longer as a science of the processes of thought or of representation, but as the theory of the “contents of consciousness, or the lived experiences of consciousness as such,” and to clarify the ontological status of these “contents” or “lived experiences” by reference to their sole appearing, as “phenomena of consciousness.” He writes:


Psychology is the theory of the contents of consciousness, or the lived experiences of consciousness as such. It is the same thing whether I say: “It is the theory of the appearings of consciousness [Bewusstseinserscheinungen],” or “phenomena of consciousness”. However, it will be objected: All “appearings” presuppose something that appears in them. Let us explain.
“Contents of consciousness” cannot be defined; one can only propose other, synonymous expressions: they are the immediately found-already-there [Vorgefundene] or the lived experience, that which is immediately present to me, before the mind [vorschwebende]; the “images” I have; that which, through the senses or internally, is seen by me, or heard, etc.; the sensed, perceived, that which is felt [Gefühlte] by me.
But we can in perfectly determinate fashion say what makes the contents of consciousness, for us or for our consciousness, the contents of consciousness that they are, or what characterizes them as such, for example what lived experience I have in view when I say of a blue that I see or represent to myself, not only that it is a light or dark, more or less saturated blue, but also, in addition, that it is a content of consciousness [es sei Bewusstseinsinhalt].
This lived experience is precisely the found-already-there [Vorfinden], or the being-found-already-there [Vorgefundensein]. It is the presence-before-my-mind [das mir Vorschweben] of contents or images, or my internal having of them. It is the “sensing” or “representing.” That is to say that it consists in the relation, co-lived or co-found with each content, entirely well known to all but impossible to describe more clearly, of contents to the central point of the life of consciousness, the so-called “I,” which I designate precisely with that name. It is consciousness of a belonging to me, or to this I; consciousness of a “being mine,” as expressed in phrases such as “the contents of my consciousness,” “my sensation,” or “my representation.” [18]

48The difference in definitional criteria is quite clear: the object of psychology is no longer characterized by the representing function, attributed to an act of thought that itself could be unproblematically ascertained as a fact (Tatsache). Instead it is a pure appearing-as-already-given, in a “finding-already-there” or “being-found-in-advance” (vorfinden, Vorgefundene) that merges with the being-given of phenomenological lived experience, accessible to pure description, as extolled in the Logical Investigations. In exactly this same sense, Husserl, also in 1903, in the celebrated review of Elsenhans’s article in which he redefines his own sense of “phenomenology,” describes the objects of this phenomenology as the “immediate givens of consciousness [unmittelbare Bewusstseinsgegebenheiten].” [19] It is this pure and simple appearing to consciousness that Lipps designates, without being able to define it, as that which is immediately present to the mind, or “hovers before [Vorschwebende]” it. The factuality of the empirical fact, which in positivist thought assumes the status of a pure given—purged of all metaphysical residues—is thus replaced by the phenomenally given, simple immediately conscious appearing; which already marks a new development in the direction of a “phenomenological” apprehension of psychic lived experiences.

49However, in introducing this immediate phenomenality of lived experience as simple already-found “content” of the current state of consciousness, Lipps still hesitates to address it in its full purity, that is to say to detach it from any subsistent fundamental substratum: he retains the distinction between these appearings that he calls phenomena and “something that appears in them.”

50On the contrary, his methodical strategy will consist, on one hand, in defining as criteria, foundation, and limit of this phenomenality a simple belonging to the conscious I, called the “affective-I” or “felt I” (Gefühls-Ich)—and, on the other hand, in referring the whole set of these fluent contents of the consciousness of the felt I to a real I, which he calls “the psychic real [das psychisch Reale],” and which he regards as constituting the substratum that manifests itself through psychic phenomena or “appearings [Erscheinungen],” and which is subject to a causal chain whose explanation falls to psychology, this time understood as explicative science of nature.


The first stage of this distinction is posited in the introduction of Lipps’s first chapter, on page 2 of the original edition:
I insist on this point: The I of which I speak is the immediately lived, the immediate conscious I, or, we might say, anticipating what is to come, the affective I [Gefühls-Ich] or the feeling-of-I [Ichgefühl]. Similarly, the feeling and representing-to-oneself we are dealing with here is immediately lived feeling and representing. It is the phenomenal “act” of feeling and representing-to-oneself, the contents’ being-related-to-the-I qua immediate lived experience of consciousness.
This being-related-to-the-I is something proper to all contents of consciousness or phenomena of consciousness as such; it is a partial phenomenon of them, one face of the phenomena, namely that very face that is the reason why I designate the contents of consciousness precisely as contents of consciousness. To every content of consciousness belongs this relation to the I. And therefore to every content of consciousness also belongs the immediately lived I, or affective I, or feeling-of-I.
It is in the relation of all contents of consciousness to this central point, or indeed in the belonging of all contents of consciousness to the unique conscious-I, that the unity of consciousness consists. [20]

52If Lipps is in agreement here with the author of the fifth Logical Investigation on the identification of the I with the unity of consciousness, and on the immediate belonging of lived phenomenal contents to the conscious I, on the other hand he is not so clear as Husserl on the relation between the immediately self-conscious I and the flux or “complex” of the lived experiences of consciousness: whereas in the fifth Investigation Husserl directly identifies the I with the unity of the complex of intentional lived experiences, and by virtue of this alone recuses any idea of a pure I or an ego that would remain identical through the flux, Lipps’s exposition remains far more ambiguous, since the I is both named as the “central point” and described as “a partial phenomenon” of the phenomena of consciousness, as if the I were present as an internal moment of each act of consciousness. This last position, the immanence of the ego qua pure ego to the structure of every intentional lived experience, will—as we know—be that of the author of Ideas 1, in 1913; but it will come at the price of a formal retraction, in the second edition of Logical Investigations, of the thesis initially set out in the 1901 edition.

53On the other hand, the second stage of the distinction—the real I qua “psychic reality”—is imposed upon Lipps in virtue of the methodological and scientific need to go beyond the domain of contents of consciousness to develop a psychology that is not simply descriptive but explicative, capable of establishing causal relations between contents of consciousness. Indeed, in this same Introduction, Lipps sets out what he calls “the task” of psychology, dividing this task into two operations: classification, analysis, and comparison on one hand, and insertion into a causal sequence on the other:


But psychology has, in relation to the contents of consciousness, two tasks. The first is that of registering, analyzing, comparing, and systematically ordering the found-already-there [vorgefundenen] contents, and of bringing to light the lawfulness that is to be found, so to speak, immediately in them. The other task is to bring them into the order of a causal chain. The first is the phenomenological task [die phänomenologische], or the task of pure description; the latter is the explicative [erklärende] task.
Now, this second task immediately leads psychology to go beyond the contents of consciousness. In so far as I limit myself to considering only the contents of consciousness as I see them, or as I immediately find them, I can find no relation of causality between them, no necessary formation [notwendiges Hervorgehen] of one on the basis of the other, but, instead of this, arbitrariness [Willkür].

55Now, the introduction of causal relations into the element of the psyche obliges us to establish relations of necessary dependency, not between the appearings or phenomena immediately given to consciousness, but between objective events, conceived as transcending the sphere of consciousness and representation:


But causal relation is a relation of necessity, the consciousness of this relation being the consciousness that, under certain determinate conditions, such and such must happen, while another event, in its place, cannot possibly happen.
What is more, causal relation is a relation of necessity between objectively actual realities [zwischen objectiv Wirklichem]. That some thing, an A, should be the cause of another thing, a B, means: if I suppose that A exists, then I must not just represent B to myself, but think or recognize B as existing independently of my consciousness. Causal thinking thus leads us, by its very nature, to go beyond the lived experiences of consciousness. It is implied in the meaning of the causal relation, that it cannot be a relation between lived experiences of consciousness as such. And yet we still need to establish a causal connection equally between the lived experiences of consciousness or phenomena of consciousness. But this precisely can take place only via the mediation of an objectively actual reality, or through a real—that is to say in such a way that the lived experiences of consciousness are attached to a real. The causal connection between lived experiences of consciousness, in other words, is nothing other than, and can be nothing other than, the causal connection of a real that we find posited at their foundation [das ihnen zugrunde gelegt wird], and whose “appearings” we conceive them as. [21]

57Thus it is in virtue of the methodological need to constitute an explicative causative psychology capable of transposing into psychology the procedures of a natural science, that Lipps comes to posit, certainly not as a metaphysical reality or a substantial given, but as a necessary correlate of scientific thought, the trans-phenomenal and infra-conscious unity of a real I that supposedly constitutes the infra-phenomenal, inapparent substratum of all psychic activity:


In this way we simultaneously establish the meaning of the “psychic real.” This psychically real is the real element [das Reale] that we co-posit in thought in the lived experiences of consciousness as such, and that we must think [das wir... denken müssen] in virtue of the need to conceive the immediately already-found sequencing of the latter, or, in short, phenomenal psychic sequencing, as a causal sequence.[22] Like the physical real, the psychic real ends up being thought as it must be thought, in accordance with the nature of appearings and their “phenomenal” sequencing, in virtue of the necessity of their placing in causal connection. Yet at the same time, qua psychically real, it can only be thought or determined with the particular determinations demanded precisely by psychic phenomena, in so far as they are psychic. [23]

59Lipps is thus led to determine the relation between the phenomenal I (the “affective-I”) and this real trans-phenomenal I in such a way that the former ends up being the appearing (“Erscheinung”) or conscious manifestation of the latter:


And owing to the fact that we conceive the phenomenal sequence as the appearing of a causal sequence of the real element, the real I becomes necessarily the first condition, or the permanent real foundation [bleibenden realen Grunde] of the existence of psychic processes [Vorgänge]. It becomes their substrate. [24] And this for no other reason than the following—as we have seen above: all the lived experiences of consciousness appear immediately linked to the invariable [gleichbleibende] phenomenal I as to the condition of their existence. This substrate is the “soul.” [25]

61As we can see, although in his 1903 Manual of Psychology Lipps adopts a descriptive and phenomenological approach to the lived experiences of consciousness that does indeed recall the descriptive psychology practiced by Husserl in his Logical Investigations, and which he was already calling “phenomenology,” this phenomenal determination of psychic events as “contents of consciousness” simply found in their immediate state is only a first stage in Lipps’s psychology, and does not at all prevent him from making the sphere of phenomenal lived experience depend on the positing of a trans-phenomenal psychic Real in itself, designed to satisfy the needs of a causal explicative science of psychic life. To this extent, Lipps’s renovated psychology after 1902 is not properly speaking phenomenological, if by “phenomenology” we understand an analysis of the acts of consciousness detached from any preoccupation with a real, natural, and transcendent psychic substrate. Consequently, we may consider that Lipps’s psychology, even after the Logical Investigations, remains basically a realist psychology of the soul. And yet it is true that in this later work Lipps assumes more clearly and more systematically the presupposition also shared by the author of the first edition of the Logical Investigations: namely, that the phenomenal sequencing of the lived experiences of consciousness is only an apparent manifestation of a real process.

62If this position endorsed in the 1901 Logical Investigations, which consists in attributing to the flux of consciousness a mode of being that relates to what Husserl, later, will call the “natural attitude,” and which it will be the task of the transcendental reduction to suspend, can be characterized as a residue of “psychologism,” we might say that after 1902 Theodor Lipps remains a psychologist, even if only in a restricted sense. But we must add straight away that Husserl remains no less of a psychologist, and basically in the same way, even if this dependency of phenomenal lived experience upon a real psychic sphere is not so clearly emphasized by him, in so far as he purely and simply abandons any concern for a causative, explicative interpretation of the phenomena of consciousness. To summarize, in 1903 it is exactly right to say that Lipps has become partly a phenomenologist, but only in so far as Husserl remains partly a psychologist, even if not in the same sense as a psychologist preoccupied with causal explanation, but more like an heir of Brentano, essentially preoccupied with intentional descriptions.

63Lipps was therefore not wrong to point out the persistence, in the author of the Logical Investigations he had just read, of the remnants of a certain “psychologism.” This remark, formulated with humor, and not without a certain irony, in Lipps’s letter of December 1903, would elicit a reaction from Husserl, who in January 1904 would write a text entitled “My position on the psychologism of—Husserl.” In this text of methodological self-interpretation, he seeks to set out the precise criteria that, according to him, define the frontier between the psychologism he combats and the phenomenology he advocates:


My position on the psychologism of—Husserl.
1. The theory of knowledge must not be confined to the “transcendental method,” even though it is impossible to found pure logic upon psychology.
2. A “psychological foundation” in the sense of a foundation on empirical psychology (the inductive theoretical science of psychic life) is psychologism. In virtue of this, logic qua technology is different from pure logic. “Pure logic” extends as far as “pure mathematics.” The same error in every attempt at an empirical foundation, for example on biological principles of adaptation to the milieu (economics of thought, etc.). […]
4. Revealing the internal contradictions of the attempt to derive the formal conditions of the possibility of science in general from the content of a particular science, formal truths from material truths, a priori laws from induced facts, the ultimate principles of possible objectivity from the factual objectivity of a contingent psychophysical constitution, is not enough to resolve the problem of the theory of knowledge. We must clarify the reason for the impossibility of a psychological foundation […].
5. Such research cannot be carried out by a theoretical science (mathematics, or a material science). The theory of knowledge should not explain, but should elucidate [aufklären], that is to say make clear the meaning of knowledge, of science, of being, of states-of-affairs, etc. In so far as the meaning of scientific knowledge in general is not clarified, skepticism reigns in every science. […]
6. I found the theory of knowledge upon phenomenology, upon the analytic and abstractive exploration [Erforschung] of the givens of “internal,” that is to say adequate, perception.
The phenomenologist analyzes the givens of his consciousness, carries out operations of abstraction upon them, and clearly observes internal connections, but never makes any claims whatsoever about these lived experiences, or about the lived experiences of any other individual whatsoever. For him, the I is not a given, and neither is the body or a tree. All are subject to Cartesian doubt [Skepsis].
It is only through empirical apperception that the phenomenological receives its subjective meaning, it is solely through such apperception that it becomes a “lived experience” in the proper sense; something, which is something for an I, is inscribed in an objective thing-like reality. It is only in this way that the phenomenological acquires a psychological meaning. This apparently fine nuance <is linked to> fundamentally different modes of consideration. [26]

65This particularly clear statement of January 1904 decisively reveals the difference between the properly phenomenological mode of apprehension and the psychological mode of apprehension: Husserl indicates the necessity, in order to pass from one to the other, of bringing in what he calls “empirical apperception,” that is to say the act of apprehending the immediately given as an empirical fact that belongs to ordinary objectivating experience. He expressly declares that it is this mode of apprehension that confers upon the phenomenological given the status of a “lived experience,” that is to say a psychic event, inscribed within “an objective, thing-like reality.” So the novelty here in relation to the 1901 text is that the status of the psychological lived experience is conceived and presented as the secondary result of a particular interpretation, a second reinterpretation of the phenomenological, that is to say of the phenomenon in its immediate state. The Husserl of 1904 takes great care to detach the act of knowledge that phenomenology analyzes from the conceptual framework proper to the terminology and the mode of apprehension of psychology: the givens of internal perception must not be considered as being in themselves “subjective,” since this term can designate at the very most a “signification,” a late product of empirical apperception; and the strictly phenomenological given is not yet a “lived experience,” nor does it involve a reference to any “I” whatsoever. For, at this moment, and until 1908 at least, Husserl conceives the immediate givens of conscious experience as anonymous, free of any self-evident and immediate ontological attachment to any egoity whatsoever.

66This strictly essentialistic and eidetic conception of the object of phenomenology advocated by Husserl at the beginning of 1904 corresponds exactly to the revised definition he gives of his method, as “phenomenological reduction,” in the course entitled “General Theory of Knowledge” (Allgemeine Erkenntnistheorie) in winter 1902–1903: the phenomenological given is reduced to the sole actual act of consciousness as it appears and is lived, independently of any attachment to an existent object or to any thinking subject whatsoever. Thus, at the very moment when Lipps strives to bring his method closer to the phenomenological approach illustrated by Husserl by re-determining the object of his psychology in terms of immediate appearing, Husserl is constantly distancing himself more and more radically from any psychologizing understanding of the act of consciousness, explicitly and totally repudiating the presuppositions still contained in the residual psychologism of the 1902 Investigations.

VI – The 1904 meeting in Munich

67Under these conditions, it is not difficult to understand Lipps’s enthusiastic interest, in winter 1903–1904, in arranging a direct meeting with Husserl, to whom he writes at the end of his December letter:


I would greatly welcome the opportunity to speak directly with you about this and that. If only Göttingen was not so very far off the beaten track for me! But I am sure you will not stay in Göttingen forever. I really cannot imagine you alongside Müller, or indeed Baumann.

69But we can also understand very well how clear was the methodological divergence that Husserl was establishing at this time between his own approach to cognitive consciousness and every kind of psychology in general. We might hypothesize that it is the convergence, at the same moment—Spring 1904—of this attraction that Husserl and his research exerted on Lipps and his group of young Munich psychologists, and Husserl’s frank methodical break from any still-psychologizing apprehension of intentionality, that motivated Lipps’s invitation for Husserl to come and present some of his work in Munich. For it is in this context that a one-off visit was made by Husserl—who had already been regularly in contact since 1902 with Johannes Daubert, one of Lipps’s students—to the “Psychological Association [psychologischer Verein]” established by Lipps at Munich University.

70This conjunction enables us to understand how the direct students of Theodor Lipps so rapidly became aware of the profound incompatibility between the approaches of the two masters. It is in this way that the discovery of Husserlian radicalism and its a priori objectivism, which finally rendered possible an exploration of conscious intentionality free of all the relativistic obstacles linked to psychologism, produced its well-known effects on the young Munich psychologists—Pfänder, Daubert, Geiger, and Reinach in particular: confirmed in the conviction that the phenomenology of the Logical Investigations opened up a new path to the theory of knowledge and being, they had then to detach themselves from Lippsian psychology, and commence a radical critique of its presuppositions.

71Husserl arrived in Munich on May 26, 1904, and remained there until May 30. His lecture took place the day after his arrival, on May 27, and, according to witnesses, was “on imagination [Phantasie] and time-consciousness,” themes that Husserl had addressed with his own students during the previous semester at Göttingen. This lecture thus had the character and style of a seminar, during which Husserl was able to give an exemplary insight of the application of his method, rather than being a synthetic exposition of his results or thesis considered as complete. In fact, the exposition was followed by a long debate, which it seems likely was rather heated: beginning around eight in the evening, the philosophical soirée lasted until... three in the morning!

72The next day, Husserl was invited to lunch and dinner at Theodor Lipps’s home, where the frank cordiality of the meeting and of their conversation was confirmed. So that relations between Husserl and Lipps, which could have remained distant, or at least formal, or could even have become embittered given the critical tone they had taken at first, took a more fruitful and liberal turn, with Lipps willing to recognize—not without generosity—the pertinence and interest of his colleague’s arguments.

73The philosophical debate between Lipps and Husserl is thus rather paradoxical in many ways. At first it is unilateral, since it consists principally in the critical refutation of Lipps’s initial naturalistic psychologism by the author of the Prolegomena to Pure Logic. Lipps does not seem to have responded to this critique with a counter-refutation, but, very intelligently, with a partial revision of his fundamental position on method. Following the publication of the second volume of the Logical Investigations, his psychology takes an at least partially phenomenological turn. But the Husserl with whom he strives to converge has already changed course and, at the same moment (1902–1903) has radicalized his own methodological position through a self-critique of the residual psychologism of his own early works. For the second time, consequently, a divergence develops between the two. And when their dialogue is finally established more directly, firstly by an exchange of letters, and then by a meeting in person in May 1904 in Munich, the debate is once more displaced, since it is now taken over by Lipps’s students, who break from him and subject his method to critique. And it is then, from 1904 onward, within the nascent phenomenological movement, that this problematic debate between pure phenomenology and descriptive psychology will manifest itself.


  • [1]
    See “Ästhetische Einfühlung” (“Esthetic Empathy”), Zeitschrift für psychologie und Physiologie der Sinnesorgane, Leipzig, 1900; “Über psychische Absorption” (“On Mental Absorption”), Sitzungsbericht der königl. bayer, Akademie der Wissenschaften, Munich, 1901; Einfühlung, innere Nachahmung, und Organempfindungen (Empathy, Internal Mimetism and Organic Sensations), 1903.
  • [2]
    The section entitled “Preliminary Critical Remarks” (“Kritische Vorbemerkungen”).
  • [3]
    “Trotzdem bin ich nicht der Meinung, dass man die Kluft zwischen Vorstellen, Fühlen und Wollen einfach anerkennen solle. Ich denke vielmehr, diese Kluft habe nie bestanden. Lust und Strebung sind Vorstellungsinhalte so gut wie Blau und Sauer, und sie sind es in demselben Sinne.” Theodor Lipps, Grundtatsachen des Seelenlebens (Bonn: Max Cohen & Sohn, 1883), 20. Translator’s note: Unless otherwise stated, all translations of cited foreign language material in this article are our own, based on the French version of this article.
  • [4]
    Lipps, Grundtatsachen des Seelenlebens, 23.
  • [5]
    Here Lipps simply extends the literal sense of the German verb vorstellen, and the metaphor it contains (vor: before; stellen: place, posit).
  • [6]
    Emphasis ours.
  • [7]
    Emphasis ours.
  • [8]
    Italics the author’s.
  • [9]
    Lipps, Grundtatsachen des Seelenlebens, section 1, chapter 3, 29. “On representation and consciousness.”
  • [10]
    Theodor Lipps, Grundzüge der Logik (1893), §1.
  • [11]
    Theodor Lipps, Die Aufgabe der Erkenntnistheorie. Philosophische Monatshefte XVI (1880): 530–31. Cited in Edmund Husserl, Logical Investigations, Volume 1, trans. J.N. Findlay (London and New York: Routledge, 2001), “Prolegomena to Pure Logic,” 42 [55].
  • [12]
    On this point in particular, see Logical Investigations, Volume 1, 90–91 [§40, 137].
  • [13]
    The reference is of course to the Grundzüge der Logik published by Lipps in 1893, whose theses were simultaneously being examined and critiqued in the manuscript of his Prolegomena to a Pure Logic, underway at the time.
  • [14]
    Edmund Husserl, review of Theodor Lipps, “Subjektive Kategorien in objektiven Urteilen,” Philosophische Monatschrift 30 (1894), in “Bericht über deutsche Schriften zur Logik aus dem Jahre
    1894,” Archiv für systematische Philosophie 3 (1897): 235–238; reference edition Husserliana XXII:
    Aufsätze und Rezensionen (1890–1910) (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1979), 142–145; “Report on German Writings in Logic from the Year 1894,” in Early Writings in the Philosophy of Logic and Mathematics, trans. Dallas Willard (Dordrecht: Springer Science+Business Media, 1994), 171–96: 188.
  • [15]
    Husserl, Logical Investigations, Volume 1, 90 [§40].
  • [16]
    Husserl, Logical Investigations, Volume 1, 6 [Emphasis ours].
  • [17]
    Edmund Husserl, Briefwechsel, vol. 2, Die münchener Phänomenologen (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1994), 121–22.
  • [18]
    Theodor Lipps, Leitfaden der Psychologie (1903), Section 1, chapter 1, 1–2.
  • [19]
    See Edmund Husserl, Archiv für systematische Philosophie 9 (1903): 398; Husserliana XXII, 206, 1. 16–17.
  • [20]
    Lipps, Leitfaden, section 1, Foundation, chapter 1: “Introduction: Task and Methods. Consciousness,” 1–2.
  • [21]
    Lipps, Leitfaden, 5–6.
  • [22]
    Emphasis ours.
  • [23]
    Lipps, Leitfaden, 7.
  • [24]
    Emphasis ours.
  • [25]
    Lipps, Leitfaden, 9.
  • [26]
    Edmund Husserl, Letter to Lipps, January 1904 (copy of J. Daubert) (extracts); see E. Husserls Briefwechsel, Hua Dok. III, II, 122–25 (passim).

This brief study is devoted to the particular aspect of Theodor Lipps’s scientific development that was to play a decisive role in the initial shaping of Husserl’s phenomenology and the early “phenomenological movement” in Munich and Göttingen. After a short survey of Lipps’s biography and publications, the author gives an account of Lipps’s original theoretical positions in both general psychology and logic. A close examination of Lipps’s letters to Husserl and Husserl’s responses, together with the new methodological approach developed by Lipps after 1902, allows us to confirm the simultaneous development of the two thinkers: whereas Lipps comes closer to a phenomenalistic conception and practice of psychology, Husserl moves toward a more radical, eidetic and anti-psychologistic form of phenomenology. This twofold development helps us understand the path taken, from 1904–1905 onwards, by those students of Lipps’s who were to form the first generation of “phenomenologists.”


Cette étude brève porte sur un aspect de la carrière et de l’évolution scientifique de Th. Lipps qui fut déterminant pour la naissance de la phénoménologie husserlienne, et du premier « mouvement phénoménologique » à Munich et Göttingen. Après un aperçu biographique d’ensemble, l’auteur caractérise les positions théoriques initiales de Lipps, tant en psychologie générale qu’en logique, afin d’éclairer la première rencontre théorique avec la problématique de Husserl, dans les Prolégomènes à la logique pure. L’examen de la correspondance Lipps-Husserl, puis de la nouvelle méthodologie lippsienne de 1902-1903 permet de mettre en évidence une évolution simultanée des deux penseurs : rapprochement de Lipps avec une position phénoménaliste, radicalisation essentialiste et antipsychologique de la conception husserlienne de la phénoménologie. Cette double évolution éclaire l’orientation prise, à partir de 1904-1905, par les élèves de Lipps qui formèrent le premier cercle des jeunes « phénoménologues ».

Jean-François Lavigne
Université Paul-Valéry-Montpellier (Paul Valéry University, Montpellier III)
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