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For a forthcoming volume of The New Yearbook for Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy I have prepared a collection of (translations of) reviews of Edmund Husserl’s first work: the Philosophy of Arithmetic (PA). The first of such reviews to come to mind is probably Frege’s notorious one of 1894, which according to large part of the secondary literature is considered to have converted Husserl overnight to anti-psychologism (I beg to differ, but that is a point for another post or article). Since this review is already so widely known, I did not include it in my collection. Practically all other reviews of the PA are overshadowed by Frege’s to such a degree that they are practically unknown, while certainly meriting more attention if we want to obtain a balanced picture of the reception of Husserl’s first work.

What struck me, and will probably also surprise many readers, is that there seem to be so many of them: there are no less than seventeen reviews of the PA, published between 1891 and 1895. Moreover, I don’t expect my list to be comprehensive.

To give you a quick impression of the mix of reviews: three were in mathematical journals (Jahrbuch über die Fortschritte der Mathematik, Zeitschrift für Mathematik und Physik and Zeitschrift für mathematischen und naturwissenschaftlichen Unterricht), three were in English journals (The Philosophical Review, The Monist, Mind), two were by members of the School of Brentano (Hillebrand and Höfler).

Some reviews are very superficial, consisting merely of paraphrases, while others engage deeply with Husserl’s theories. Höfler’s review is one of the more substantial and significant reviews, discussing Husserl in the context of the other Brentanists who wrote about mathematics at the time (i.e. Kerry and Von Ehrenfels), even cross-referencing other reviews of the work (i.a. Hillebrand’s).

Many of the reviewers observe that the PA is merely the first volume and look forward to the more substantial second volume. Indeed, Husserl sets such expectations quite explicitly in his preface, going so far as to announce the second volume for the next year. Unfortunately, while Husserl kept working on the second volume up to at least 1894, it was never completed, though large collections of material pertaining to and intended for this work have been subsequently made available in the Husserliana editions (in volumes XII and XXI).

My article and the collection of reviews is scheduled to appear in volume XII of The New Yearbook for Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy later this year.