Husserl’s Philosophy of the Categories and His Development toward Absolute Idealism

Grazer Philosophische Studien 94 (3):460-493 (2017)
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In recent work, Amie Thomasson has sought to develop a new approach to the philosophy of the categories which is metaphysically neutral between traditional realist and conceptualist approaches, and which has its roots in the ‘correlationalist’ approach to categories put forward in Husserl’s writings in the 1900s–1910s and systematically charted over the past few decades by David Woodruff Smith in his studies of Husserl’s philosophy. Here the author aims to provide a recontextualization and critical assessment of correlationalism in a Husserlian vein. To this end, the author presents, first, the reasons why, later in his life, Husserl himself found his earlier treatment of categories philosophically naive, and why he increasingly advocated for a more genetic-teleological account. The author then draws upon arguments made a century earlier by Schelling and Hegel, in criticism of Fichte, to point up what might remain philosophically unsatisfying about even the post-correlationalist genetic position of the later Husserl, in light of the pronounced trend in Husserl’s own development, on the questions of reason and spirit, toward absolute idealism.



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Clinton Tolley
University of California, San Diego

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