Husserl Studies 37 (2):127-146 (2021)
AbstractEdmund Husserl often characterizes essences and eidetic laws in normative terms. Many of his statements to this effect are however highly puzzling as they appear at odds with Husserl’s general understanding of normativity. In this paper I focus on this puzzle and I argue that we can reconcile most of the apparent tensions between these two dimensions of Husserl’s philosophical thought. In the first part of the paper, drawing on the contemporary literature on kinds of norms, I focus on Husserl’s work on the varieties of normativity. I submit that, on his view, essences and eidetic laws are never intrinsically normative, and that not all essences and not all corresponding eidetic laws can function as norms for their instances. Crucially, however, I argue that, according to Husserl, essences and eidetic laws can function as norms for a range of the subject’s acts. In the second part of the paper I further examine this thesis, thus explaining in what sense Husserl thinks that essences and eidetic laws can have this function. I show that formal eidetic laws can engender deontic and evaluative norms for correct or rational judgments, evaluations, desires, and acts of the will. I also contend that material essences and material eidetic laws also have a normative function for judgments. I conclude that this shows how Husserl’s view makes room for norms that are not context-dependent or subjectively grounded.
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