Philosophy and the Disdain for History: Reflections on Husserl's Ergänzungsband to the Crisis

Philosophy and the Disdain for History: Reflections on Husserl's Ergiinzungsband to the Crisis GAIL SOFFER HUSSERL'S RECENTLY PUBLISHED Erganzungsband to the Cr/s/s' is a highly inti- mate statement, almost a confession, of hope and despair at the end of a philosophical life, a compendium of urgent, world-historical tasks not yet laid to rest. Above all, it abounds in reflections on history. In these, two things are poignantly clear: the late Husserl is completely convinced that history is of the utmost importance to philosophy; he is not certain why. On a superfi- cial interpretation, the reason may seem obvious: Husserl's philosophical proj- ect is founded on the ideal of presuppositionless rational insight, and hence is Cartesian and ahistorical in its essence. The turn to history is to something external, and an implicit admission of the limitations of phenomenology itself, its inability to address the most pressing and meaningful problems of human existence: the crisis in European society and values, the ultimate significance of a man's life, work, and death. For those who would seek external motives for Husserl's turn to history, material is not lacking in this volume. There are moving philosophical discussions -- set in the atemporal phenomenological present tense -- of nationalism, of territoriality and the search for Lebensraum, of racism and xenophobia, of the forced emigration of families to a "no man's land. '' There is an attack on...
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DOI 10.1353/hph.2008.1717
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