Human Studies 25 (1):55-88 (2002)

Can a phenomenology of culture be at the same time a philosophy of culture? In other words, can a descriptive exploration of acts and objects of culture serve at the same time as a critical reflection on those acts and objects? Or does cultural critique imply a separate and additional task, that of a normative examination of the explored cultural phenomena? What would be the founding values of such an examination? How would it be established? Furthermore, what would be the importance of recognizing the distinct nature of this task compared to the exploratory-descriptive one? How would the two tasks relate to one another? Finally, is a full-fledged philosophy of culture, i.e. a critical exploration of cultural phenomena, needed? And if yes, why? These are the questions addressed by this paper. Answers are sought in a close examination of the work of Ernst Cassirer which involved both a phenomenology of cultural forms as well as an attempt at their normative-critical evaluation. And yet his work was criticized by many for its lack of an ethical dimension, a critique endorsed by another phenomenologist of culture, Alfred Schutz, whose work itself was accused for being non-critical. Beginning with a presentation of these two phenomenologies of culture this paper examines closely the charges directed against Cassirer's comprehensive philosophy of culture, namely, its idealism and its a-moralism. Through this examination the paper aims to shed light on a number of issues pertaining to the questions formulated above.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Modern Philosophy   Philosophy of the Social Sciences   Political Philosophy   Sociolinguistics
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1014858006149
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Phenomenology of the Social World.Alfred Schutz - 1967 - Northwestern University Press.
The Field of Consciousness.Aron Gurwitsch - 1964 - Duquesne University Press.
The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms.ERNST CASSIRER - 1953 - New Haven: Yale University Press.
Studies in Phenomenology and Psychology.Aron Gurwitsch - 1966 - Northwestern University Press.

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