Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Pol Vandevelde

Second Advisor

Andrew Tallon

Third Advisor

Javier Ibanez-Noe

Fourth Advisor

Sebastian Luft


It is often the case in philosophy that a term used to address a problem in the thought of the original philosopher itself becomes the name of a problem. There is hardly any better illustration of this unique, albeit common, characteristic of philosophical discourse than the term noema which Edmund Husserl uses to explicate his theory of COGNITIVE intentionality. Since its introduction by the German philosopher, the term has been the subject of conflicting interpretations by renowned scholars. The purpose of this dissertation is to undertake a philosophical confrontation of two such interpretations, the Gestalt interpretation as formulated by Aron Gurwitsch and the analytic interpretation as articulated by the Frege scholars, David Woodruff Smith and Ronald McIntyre. These interpretations are so pivotal in the history of the controversy regarding the noema that numerous monographs have been, and are still being, written about them.

In view of this great number of studies, the question arises as to why one should add a further work to the list. What fruit could it yield to study anew noema interpretations about which so much work has been done? Is such an endeavor not doomed, from the very outset, to result in a mere repetition of what has already been found and explicated? I think, however, that such an enterprise is nevertheless worth pursuing, for what matters in a genuinely philosophical study is that something be brought forth about the matter to be thought (Sache des Denkens). I have no interest here in merely drawing up a catalogue of common traits and points of difference between Gurwitsch and his opponents, Smith and McIntyre. For such a procedure would amount to no more than a curiosity, an idle comparison which bears no fruit. What interests me instead is the Sache, the matter which presents itself for thought, which in the case of these thinkers, is the problem of the meaning and role of the noema in Husserl's theory of intentionality.




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