Phenomenology and political idealism

Continental Philosophy Review 48 (2):237-253 (2015)
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This article considers the possibility of articulating a renewed understanding of the principle of political idealism on the basis of Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology. By taking its point of departure from one of the most interesting political applications of Husserl’s phenomenological method, the ordoliberal tradition of the so-called Freiburg School of Economics, the article raises the question of the normative implications of Husserl’s eidetic method. Contrary to the “static” idealism of the ordoliberal tradition, the article proposes that the phenomenological concept of political idealism ought to be understood as a fundamentally dynamic principle. As opposed to the classical understanding of political idealism as the implementation of a particular normative model—political utopianism—the phenomenological reformulation of this idea denoted a radically critical principle of self-reflection that can only be realized on the basis of perpetual renewal. In order to illustrate this point, the article considers Husserl’s distinction between two types of ideals of perfection, the absolute and the relative, and argues for their relevance for political philosophy

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