Husserl on the Ethical Renewal of Sympathy and the One World of Solidarity

Southern Journal of Philosophy 43 (4):561-581 (2005)
Edmund Husserl’s Kaizo articles mark one of his first attempts at notions of cultural renewal and critique. (1) Central to both of these notions for Husserl is the idea of a best possible humanity. At the conclusion of the Kaizo articles, Husserl entertains some quite troubling and potentially dangerous descriptions of the best possible in terms of an Übernation or Weltvolk. Although merely provisional, these descriptions call for a cultural and ethical renewal through the reorientation of humanity in accord with a single, unified “world.” The Kaizo articles do represent Husserl’s most concentrated effort in developing a notion of cultural renewal but are not the only attempt made by Husserl at this time. In manuscripts written at nearly the exact same time period, Husserl had also taken up this notion of the best possible, but he did so in terms of the shared experiences in the acts of sympathy. (2) These sympathy manuscripts offer a genetic description of the origins of the best possible, in contrast to the static, eidetic method Husserl employed in the Kaizo articles. My aim in this paper is to show that a genetic phenomenological approach, grounding the best possible in the lived experiences of sympathy, offers a much more concrete telos for humanity. Solidarity among all human beings, rather than the idea of a “super nation,” would function as the best possible, as what we should and, thus, can become. Although certain shortcomings remain in the sympathy manuscripts, they indicate a much better beginning for a phenomenological approach to the question of a cultural renewal, a beginning that first emerges in genesis and the lived experience of the suffering of a fellow human being.
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DOI 10.1111/j.2041-6962.2005.tb01969.x
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Kenneth C. Bessant (2011). Authenticity, Community, and Modernity. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 41 (1):2-32.

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