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Adolf Bernhard Philipp Reinach (December 23 1883, Mainz, Germany – November 16, 1917, Diksmuide, Belgium), German philosopher, phenomenologist (from the Munich phenomenology perspective) and law theorist.

Life and Works

Adolf Reinach studied at the Ostergymnasium in Mainz (where he became at first interested in Plato) and later entered the University of Munich in 1901 where he studied mainly psychology and philosophy under Theodor Lipps. In the circle of Lipps' students he came in contact with Moritz Geiger, Otto Selz, Aloys Fischer and above all Johannes Daubert. From onward 1903/4 he was increasingly busy with the works of Edmund Husserl, especially his Logische Untersuchungen (Logical Investigations).

In 1904 Reinach obtained his doctorate in philosophy under Lipps with his work Über den Ursachenbegriff im geltenden Strafrecht (On the concept of cause in penal law). By 1905 he still intended to continue his studies in Munich (where in the meanwhile he had also befriended Alexander Pfänder), to obtain a degree in law, but then decided to go to study with Husserl in Göttingen. In that period more students of Lipps (captained by Daubert) had decided to abandon Munich and to head for Göttingen, inspired by Husserl's works (which is referred to as the Munich invasion of Göttingen).

Later in 1905 Reinach returned to Munich to complete his studies in law and then continued in 1906-1907 in Tübingen. He attended several lectures and seminars on penal law by the legal theorist Ernst Beling, by which he was quite impressed and to which he owes a great deal of inspiration of his later works. In the summer of 1907 he took the First State Examination in Law, but also went later to Göttingen to attend discussion circles with Husserl.

With the support of Husserl, Reinach was able to obtain habilitation for university teaching at Göttingen in 1909. From his lectures and research, we can see that at the time he was influenced also by Anton Marty and Johannes Daubert, besides obviously and greatly by Husserl. On his turn Reinach appears to have inspired several young phenomenologists (like Wilhelm Schapp, Dietrich von Hildebrand, Alexandre Koyré and Edith Stein) with his lectures. Besides giving an introduction to phenomenology, he lectured i.a. on Plato and Immanuel Kant.

In this period, Husserl embarked on a thorough revision of his main work, the Logical Investigations, and asked Reinach’s assistance in this endeavour. Moreover, in 1912 Reinach, together with Moritz Geiger and Alexander Pfänder founded the famous Jahrbuch für Philosophie und phänomenologische Forschung, with Husserl as main editor.

Besides his work in the area of phenomenology and philosophy in general, Reinach is credited for the development of a forerunner to the theory of speech acts by Austin and Searle: Die apriorischen Grundlagen des bürgerlichen Rechtes (The A Priori Foundations of Civil Law) is a systematic treatment of social acts as performative utterances and a priori foundations of civil law. Reinach's work was based mostly on Husserl's analysis of meaning in the Logical Investigations, but also on Daubert's criticism of it. Alexander Pfänder (1870-1941) had also been doing research on commands, promises and the like in the same period.

After Husserl's publication of the Ideen (Ideas) in 1913, many phenomenologists took a critical stance towards his new theories and the current of Munich phenomenology came effectively into being, as Reinach, Daubert and others chose to remain closer to Husserl's earlier work, the Logical investigations. Instead of following Husserl into idealism and transcendental phenomenology, the Munich group remained a realist current.

At the outbreak of World War I Reinach volunteered to join the army. After many battles and having received the Iron Cross, Reinach fell outside Diksmuide in Flanders on 16 November 1917.

See also

List of main works

  • Über den Ursachenbegriff im geltenden Strafrecht Leipzig: J. A. Barth 1905.
  • "William James und der Pragmatismus," in Welt und Wissen. Hannoversche Blätter für Kunst, Literatur und Leben (198): 45-65 1910.
  • "Kants Auffassung des Humeschen Problems" in Zeitschrift für Philosophie und philosophische Kritik 141: 176-209 1911.
  • "Die obersten Regeln der Vernunftschlüsse bei Kant" in Kant Studien 16: 214-233 1911.
  • Zur Theorie des negativen Urteils. in Münchener Philosophische Abhandlungen. Festschrift für Theodor Lipps. Ed. A. Pfänder. Leipzig: J. A. Barth 1911. pp. 196-254
  • "Die Überlegung: ihre ethische und rechtliche Bedeutung I" in Zeitschrift für Philosophie und philosophische Kritik 148: 181-196 1912.
  • "Die Überlegung: ihre ethische und rechtliche Bedeutung II" in Zeitschrift für Philosophie und philosophische Kritik 149: 30-58 1913.
  • "Die apriorischen Grundlagen des bürgerlichen Rechtes" in Jahrbuch für Philosophie und phänomenologische Forschung 1: 685-847 1913.
  • Re-edited as: "Zur Phänomenologie des Rechts. Die apriorischen Grundlagen des bürgerlichen Rechts" (with a preface by Anna Reinach) München, Kösel, 1953.
  • "Paul Natorps 'Allgemeine Psychologie nach kritischer Methode'" in Göttingische gelehrte Anzeigen 4: 193-214 1914.

His collected works: Sämtliche Werke. Kritische Ausgabe mit Kommentar (in two volumes) München: Philosophia Verlag 1989. Eds. K. Schuhmann & B. Smith.


  • Karl Schumann and Barry Smith, "Adolf Reinach: An Intellectual Biography" in K. Mulligan, ed., Speech Act and Sachverhalt: Reinach and the Foundations of Realist Phenomenology, Dordrecht/Boston/Lancaster: Nijhoff, 1987, 1–27. PDF
  • Kevin Mulligan (ed.), Speech Act and Sachverhalt. Reinach and the Foundations of Realist Phenomenology. Dordrecht, Martinus Nijhoff, 1987.
  • Barry Smith, Towards a History of Speech Act Theory in A. Burkhardt (ed.), Speech Acts, Meanings and Intentions. Critical Approaches to the Philosophy of John R. Searle, Berlin/New York: de Gruyter (1990), p. 29-61 HTML.

External links

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