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Santalka.Filosofija. 2009, t. 17, nr. 3.

ISSN 1822-430X print/1822-4318 online 29


James Dodd

Department of Philosophy, New School for Social Research,

6 East 16th Street, New York, NY 10003

This paper pursues a Kantian critique of Husserls theory of moral consciousness as it is found in his lectures
on ethics and other shorter pieces on political and moral philosophy from the interwar period. The critique
centers on Kants conception of moral personality (Persnlichkeit), arguing that Husserl fails to appreciate
the force of this idea, subsequently leaving himself open to the charge of moral perfectionism. The paper ends
with a positive assessment of Husserls thought, however, arguing that Husserl provides important resources
for understanding moral consciousness as a sensibility for the possible, adding an important dimension to
approaches in ethics that tend to center exclusively on questions of motivation and principle.

Keywords: Husserl, Kant, moral consciousness, phenomenology, ethics, method.

DOI: 10.3846/1822-430X.2009.17.3.29-38


The purpose of this paper is to consider some of that some of Husserls basic philosophical com-
the more perplexing and philosophically prob- mitments, embodied in the phenomenological
lematic aspects of Husserls treatment of moral method of eidetic investigation, coupled with
consciousness in his lectures and writings on his desire to shape phenomenological philoso-
ethics from the 1920s.1 I would like to suggest phy into a relevant public voice in the interwar
period, conspired to obscure the question of
1 Apart selfhood central to the problem of moral con-
from Husserls Die Krisis der europischen
Wissenschaften (Husserliana VI, ed. Walter Biemel, sciousness. On the other hand, I would also like
Hague 1954), texts we will be considering here are: to suggest that in the development of Husserls
(1) Fnf Aufstze ber Erneuerung, three of which thought, from the late 1920s up to the Crisis,
were published in the Japanese journal The Kaizo
in 1923, the German versions of which are publis one can discern a countermovement to this
hed in Husserliana XXVII, Aufstze und Vortrge obscurity, and that in the end Husserl offers us
(19221937), ed. Thomas Nenon and Hans-Rainer a potentially unique and significant perspec-
Sepp. (Dordrecht 1989); (2) Fichtes Menschheitside
al, three lectures held first in 1917 and twice again tive for a re-appraisal of the question of moral
in 1918, published in Husserliana XXV, Aufstze und selfhood.
Vortrge (19111921), ed. Thomas Nenon and Hans- Kant will play an important role in what fol-
Rainer Sepp (Dordrecht 1986); and (3) Einleitung in
die Ethik: Vorlesungen Sommersemester 1920/1924, lows, as is generally the case with Husserls own
Husserliana XXXVII, ed. Henning Peucker (Dordrecht reflections on ethics. In order to circumscribe

* Portions of this paper have appeared in German: James Dodd, Der Schatten des Politischen bei Husserl und Sche
ler, in Lebenswelt und Politik. Leghissa and Staudigl, eds. Wurzbrg: Knigshausen & Neumann, 2007: 91111.
30 James Dodd Husserl and kant on persnlichkeit

the scope of the question of moral selfhood principles and ends with concepts, for it is pre-
that is at issue here, let us begin by proposing cisely our consciousness of reason as a faculty of
a reformulation of the classical Kantian ques- principles that serves as the point of departure
tion of whether pure reason can be said to be for the entire project4.
practical. We can, in anticipation of Husserls discus-
Kants version, from the Critique of Practical sion, reformulate Kants question in the follow-
Reason, is as follows: Is pure reason of itself ing way: Can the will be inwardly determined
enough to determine the will, or is it only as by the rational?5. The question is largely the
empirically conditioned that it can be a deter- same, but it now indicates a possible path of
mining ground of the same?2. The question is reflection other than Kants, one that is not from
whether reason has the capacity not only to be the beginning committed to the idea that reason
the origin, but the sole determining origin of must be established as a source independent
the will. Thus the question is not: can the will of empirical conditions in order for it to be
be rational can it follow a rational course of accepted as an absolutely determining ground
action but rather: can reason itself emerge of the will. The result is that an important pos-
in life precisely in the shape of a rational will, sibility is left open, one that, I would argue,
from out of its own resources? This formula- is important to recognize in any discussion
tion, for Kant, immediately gives a central role of Husserls appropriation of Kants practical
to the concept of freedom, where free means philosophy, namely: the possibility that the
unconditioned 3. Kants path of reflection in very absolute character of practical reason is
the Critique of Practical Reason is thus of an something conditioned, in that it can only be
elucidation of the practical faculty of reason meaningfully thematic as a movement within
as it is manifest in the authority of the moral the possibilities of moral life as such, and not as
law, which in fact asserts itself as a source of a demand that arises from a source external to
determination independent of any empirical the conditions of such a life. This does not need
condition, thus freely. And more, this source to be taken as a rejection of the role of freedom,
asserts itself independently of any insight into but can on the contrary be seen as the point of
the nature of the human, or conception of the departure for a different manner of its introduc-
essence of the human. This is why, unlike the tion. For the question: can the will be inwardly
critique of the theoretical function of reason, determined by the rational? can be taken to
the critique of practical reason begins with ask: under what conditions can a will encounter
the possibility of its own unconditional (or free)
2 Hier
determination as a rational will? The point of
ist also die erste Frage: ob reine Vernunft zur
Bestimmung des Willens fr sich allein zulange, oder
ob sie nur als empirisch-bedingte ein Bestimmungs 4 KpV
grund desselben sein knne? Kant, Kritik der prak- 17; this seemingly technical detail is arguably de
tischen Vernunft (KpV), ed. Karl Vorlnder (Meiner cisive, since it suggests that moral reasoning is not pri
1990), 16. marily a question of the clarification of insight, thus
of conceptualization, but of the adoption of a basis,
3 Cf. a principium, from which to judge a course of acti
Kritik der reinen Vernunft (KrV), A 533 B 561. on. To be sure, this is something that is also stressed
The passage from KpV we are quoting here continues: by Husserl, though in such a way that not only is its
und wenn wir jetzt Grnde ausfindig machen kn legitimacy founded in the (conceptual) clarification of
nen zu beweisen, dass diese Eigenschaft [Freiheit jd] the essence of human beings, but also its potency for
dem menschlichen Willen (und so auch dem Willen us where such a for us is emphatically social-com
aller vernnftigen Wesen) in der Tat zukomme, so munal. Cf. Hua XXVII, 22: 3036, 24: 3425:5, and
wird dadurch nicht allein dargetan, dass reine Ver 26: 1217.
nunft praktisch sein knne, sondern, dass sie allein,
und nicht die empirisch beschrnkte, unbedingterwei 5 Inwardly (innerlich) for Husserl in the Kaizo arti
se praktisch sei. KpV 1617. cles is equivalent to spiritual. See in particular Hua
XXVII, 8: 716.
Santalka. Filosofija, 2009, 17(3): 2938 31

departure, in other words, can be understood as formulation of the question would have to
the question of the emergence of both freedom presuppose a positive answer to the first, in
and the imperatives of practical reason from order to evade even the possibility of finding
within the horizon of human possibility6. oneself arguing that an unconditional (free)
Still, the two ways of formulating the ques- determination of the will is itself conditioned,
tion are close enough to at least initially recog- a logical conundrum that cannot be handled
nize the latter as still distinctly Kantian. For at the level of formality at which Kant desires
even if we stress, with Kant, that freedom is the to operate. Yet for all that, Kants affirmation
idea of a source of determination that is in one of an autonomy embodied in reason as such is
sense external to the causal series, it is never- not as univocal as it looks, but it in fact forces
theless, if for no other reason than the idea that an ambiguity in the very notion of rational de-
a cause has its effect, an engagement with this termination, one that expresses itself precisely
series, which is far from excluding a reflection in the formal character of the categorical
on the emergence of freedom within the hori- imperative. Whatever formal means in Kants
zon of possibility. Yet I would like to suggest that practical philosophy, it is not meant to signify
this reformulation of the question of practical a cognitive determination; but it is meant to
reason could be used to illustrate how Husserls be intrinsically intellectual. It is precisely this
attempt to appropriate two basic elements of ambiguity that would arguably provide the bul-
Kants moral philosophy is troubled from the wark against the paradox lurking in the second
start. The two elements are: (1) the argument formulation above, by staving off the impression
that all of human life stands under a categorical that the moral law owes its validity or force to
imperative7, and (2) that all individual persons an insight into the essence or nature of the self
are subject to a higher order moral personality, subject to the law. The will is unconditionally
or what Kant in the Critique of Practical Reason determined by reason not through its being
calls Persnlichkeit8. cognized; in an imperative, the will is not being
One could perhaps say that, from a Kantian known. Yet it is being unmistakably conceived.
perspective, any coherent answer to the second Kants strategy is in fact to affirm that all the

6 Or more precisely, from within the horizon of the his 7 Hua XXVII, 36: 19.
torico-social modalities of belief. This is the theme of
one of the unpublished Kaizo articles, Formale Typen 8 See KpV 101: Es ist nichts anderes als die Persn-
der Kultur in der Menschheitsentwicklung, where lichkeit, d.i. die Freiheit und Unabhngigkeit von dem
Husserl pursues the theme of freedom in terms of the Mechanismus der ganzen Natur, doch zugleich als ein
re-fashioning of the mode of belief and faith from a Vermgen eines Wesens betrachtet, welches eigentm
nave, mythical acceptance of established, received be lichen, nmlich von seiner eigenen Vernunft gegebe
lief to the emergence of the questionability of the reli nen reinen praktischen Gesetzen, die Person also als
gious ideal, thus the birth of the individual conscience, zur Sinnenwelt gehrig ihrer eigenen Persnlichkeit
to the ultimate emergence of belief as the insightful unterworfen ist, sofern sie zugleich zur intelligibelen
adherence to the evident in scientific culture (Hua Welt gehrt []; also cf. Kant, Die Religion inner-
XXVII, 59:10-94:12). Freedom here is nothing less halb der Grenzen den blossen Vernunft, ed. Karl
than the capacity for the renewal of the idea of hu Vorlnder (Meiner 1990), 2528, and Metaphysik
manity itself in ever-new and more explicit decisions der Sitten, ed. Karl Vorlnder (Meiner 1966) 290201
of belief and conviction, a renewal always conditio fn. The tension at issue can be seen by simply com
ned qua inner movement of a given historical phase paring this passage with the following from the Kaizo
of concrete subjectivity: Freiheit ist ein Ausdruck fr articles: Hua XXVII, 39: 2429: Wir nennen jedes
das Vermgen und vor allem fr den erworbenen (auch das nicht vllig konsequente) Leben der Selbs
Habitus kritischer Stellungnahme zu dem, was sich, tregierung, gemss der kategorischen Forderung der
zunchst reflexionslos, als wahr, als wertvoll, als prak ethischen Zweckidee, allgemein und im weitesten Sin-
tisch seinsollend bewusstseinsmssig gibt, und zwar ne ein ethisches Leben; sein Subjekt, als sich selbst zur
als Grundlage fr das daraufhin sich vollziehende fre ethischen Selbstzucht bestimmendes, eine wieder im
ie Entscheiden. Hua XXVII, 63: 1722. weitesten Sinne ethische Persnlichkeit.
32 James Dodd Husserl and kant on persnlichkeit

movements of rational thought are in place as a morally bound subject, or even that eidetic
within moral consciousness, but in a manner evidence would secure its ideal subjection to
distinguishable, if not fully distinct, from their the moral law. Thus the ambiguity: a matura-
functioning in and as understanding thus the tion of the theoretical is here not meant as the
analogy with natural laws; the invocation of the successful completion of a science, that of pure
necessary, the universal, and the objective; the ethics, but of a form of life, and with that of self-
move from principles to postulated objects consciousness, one in which a life has shaped
that have their force and validity without at itself into a subject (an ethical personality) that
the same time being the objects of objective stands under the imperative of the moral law
knowledge. The ambiguity is productive, but or practical reason as such. Thus Husserls task
only if efforts are made to keep these different in these articles cannot be simply to apply the
dimensions of thinking minimally separate, or method of eidetic investigation to a reflection
else the functions of practical reason look very on the question of the good, or the eidetic laws
much like the attempt to gain an insight, or that govern moral conduct; yet nor is the idea
evidence with respect to that which can be said of a renewal an arbitrary act of self-creation
to be absolutely true with respect to the nature that brings personal and cultural life into ac-
or being of the will. cordance with an ought, or a moral ideal fixed
One could say that it is just this ambiguity in advance by rational insight.
that is allowed to run rampant in Husserls ar- Kant, of course, believed himself able to
ticles written for the Japanese journal The Kaizo argue for the legitimacy of the moral ideal
in the early 1920s. Here, as in the later Vienna independently from the empirical conditions
Lecture and the Crisis, the practical impact of of its realization, a gesture that for him defines
reason is cast in terms of the orientation of a the very idea of a moral personality as such.
rational culture on the basis of what can only The moral personality is something to which
be a maturation of theoretical insight; though, the empirical self is subject, and its authority is
to be sure, it is not an insight into the nature secured by its autonomy vis--vis the empirical
of things so much as an insight into the neces-
sity of the task of understanding itself. This 9 See Hua XXVII, 26: 1225: So versteht sich das Ei
is where the ambiguity mentioned with Kant gentmliche des Vernunftstrebens, als eines Stre
begins to weigh in: to be practical, reason for bens, dem persnlichen Leben hinsichtlich seiner
Husserl is intimately tied to a theoretical self- jeweiligen urteilenden, wertenden und praktischen
Stellungnahmen die Form der Einsichtigkeit bzw., in
articulation, yet one that not only functions anmessender Beziehung auf sie, die der Rechtmssig-
only to delimit the scope of the rational for life, keit oder Vernnftigkeit zu geben. Es ist, korrelativ
but is in fact constitutive of its very force. For ausgedrckt, das Streben, das in den entsprechenden
Hinsichten Wahre wahres Sein, wahre Urteilsin
Husserl, it is insight that ultimately gives shape halte, wahre oder echte Werte und Gter in der
to our humanity9. The practical force of the ra- einsichtigen Selbsterfassung herauszustellen, an dem
tional, though distinct, is not clearly separated die blossen Meinungen das normierende Mass der
Richtigkeit und Unrichtigkeit haben. Dieses aber selbst
from the theoretical force of evidence; both are einsehen zu knnen und sich davon motivieren zu las
intimately part of the same actual existence, sen gehrt mit zu den menschlichen Wesensmglich
operating on the same level as two types of the keiten. Des weiteren dann auch die Mglichkeit, dass
der Mensch sich selbst nach Normen der Vernunft be
same species of motivation. werte und praktisch umgestalte. The result of giving
Still, the argument in the Kaizo articles is free reign to the ambiguity we ascribed to Kant is more
not that an insight into the truth or essence Cartesian than Kantian the project of the rationali
zation of my opinions, and the insight into the nature
of the will directly yields its unconditional of thought requisite for such a project, opens the way
determination in fact, as if either the mere for a restructuring or reshaping of the human frame
concept of the will would determine it apriori itself.
Santalka. Filosofija, 2009, 17(3): 2938 33

determinations of the worldly, heteronomous result of which is the demarcation of a space

self. Personality for Kant thus stands apart within which a uniquely moral existence stakes
from the person, in a manner that marks out its claim on life. In Kants account, the subject
a distance thanks to which it can function as a of desire and inclination is interrupted, struck
unique origin; it is reason itself functioning as a down, even humiliated in the face of the moral
something that sets itself above the inclinations law12. In Husserl, there is no such irruption,
and concrete purposes belonging to the natural or even the promise of one, at least not of the
self, as if issuing from a self other than me, yet same order; on the contrary, subjection to the
with which I am nevertheless identified10. moral law can only take the form of an ac-
For Husserl, however, the height of the complishment of a life engaging its essential
ought does not address the self thanks to a fun- possibilities, one that reveals itself to itself as the
damental division between the self of the sen- self-fashioning drive to a life in truth.
sible and that of the supersensible, but thanks The result is that Husserls ethical thought is
to an orientation accomplished, so to speak, dangerously exposed to a Kantian objection of
within the empirical self, on its own terms. For being, at best, a facile perfectionism, and at worst
the rationally striving self in Husserl, the con- a moral fanaticism, a criticism that can be fed by
frontation with the moral ideal is always already a number of passages from Husserls writings of
an engagement with an inner possibility of ac- this period, especially in the Kaizo articles13. Even
complishment, and with that self-formation, a
possibility of subjective life that presents itself 11 Thus Husserl, in commenting on Kants practical phi
as an ideal (or essential) sense. Thus the second losophy, argues in his lectures on ethics: Aber dieser
formulation of Kants question proposed above. ganze Kontrast zwischen Sinnlichkeit und Vernunft,
Since Husserls point of departure is the theme wobei auf Seiten der Sinnlichkeit die Empfindungssin
lichkeit, die Gefhls- und Triebsinnlichkeit steht, auf
of the practical realization of the self in light of Seiten der Vernunft die unsinnlichen und Sinnlichkeit
its own essential possibilities, the result is an allererst formenden Kategorien, ist grundverkehrt
inner continuity in the emergence of the ratio- [] Hua XXXVII, 220: 1014.
nal within the motivational nexus of spiritual 12 Thisis the origin of respect: Was nun unserem Ei
existence11. In Kant, by contrast, there is not a gendnkel in unserem eigenen Urteil Abbruch tut, das
continuity, but an irruption of the rational, the demtigt. Also demtigt das moralische Gesetz un
vermeidlich jeden Menschen, indem dieser mit dem
selben den sinnlichen Hang seiner Natur vergleicht.
10 Cf. the rather Calvinist passages from Kants Metap- Dasjenige, dessen Vorstellung als Bestimmungsgrund
hysik der Sitten, 289, where Kant speaks of conscien unseres Willens, uns in unserem Selbstbewusstsein
ce as an innerer Gerichtshof , and following on 290: demtigt, erweckt, sofern es positiv und Bestimmungs
Jeder Mensch hat Gewissen und findet sich durch grund ist, fr sich Achtung. KpV 87.
einen inneren Richter beobachtet, bedroht und ber
haupt im Respekt (mit Furcht verbundener Achtung) 13 Themost striking is perhaps at Hua XXVII, 33: 37
gehalten, und diese ber die Gesetze in ihm wachende 34:8: Der absolute Limes, der ber alle Endlichkeit
Gewalt ist nicht etwas, was er sich selbst (willkrlich) hinausliegende Pol, auf den alles echt humane Stre
macht, sondern es ist seinem Wesen einverleibt. Yet ben gerichtet ist, ist die Gottesidee. Sie selbst ist das
cf. Religion 210, where Kant characterizes the judge echte und wahre Ich, das, wie noch zu zeigen sein
of conscience thus: Das Gewissen richtet nicht die wird, jeder ethische Mensch in sich trgt, das er unen
Handlungen als Kasus, die unter dem Gesetz stehen; dlich ersehnt und liebt und von dem er sich immer
[]; sondern hier richtet die Vernunft sich selbst, ob zu unendlich fern weiss. Gegenber diesem absoluten
sie auch wirklich jene Beurteilung der Handlungen Vollkommenheitsideal steht das relative, das Ideal des
mit aller Behutsamkeit (ob sie recht oder unrecht sind) vollkommen menschlichen Menschen, des Menschen
bernommen habe, habe, und stellt den Menschen wi des besten Knnens, des Lebens in jeweils fr ihn
der oder fr sich selbst zum Zeugen auf, dass dieses bestmglichem Gewissen ein Ideal, das immer noch
geschehen oder nicht geschehen sei. For Kant, ethical den Stempel der Unendlichkeit in sich trgt. The ideal
personality takes the form of a diligent, conscientious is not an object postulated for the sake of the moral
reflexivity in the inner self; for Husserl, as we have al law, as it is in Kant, but rather an ideal objectivity in
ready seen quoting Hua XXVII, 39: 2429, it takes the its own right motivating from within, yet as an unat
form of a self-disciplined, accomplished life. tainable desideratum. Cf. KpV 141.
34 James Dodd Husserl and kant on persnlichkeit

if one concedes that such passages represent inexplicable influence on the faculty of pleasure
something more philosophically respectable and pain. Instead, the subject inwardly reflects
than crass theosophical daydreams, the heart its own moral personality; its universality made
of the Kantian objection nevertheless lies in its own, the perspective of a concrete subject is
the conviction that the only legitimate incen- now identified as an immanent manifestation,
tive of the ideal lies in respect, and not in any thus reality (Wirklichkeit), of the universal,
weight of evidence, even one that could be said without the force of the universal thereby
to actually take possession of a life, whether becoming fetishized. This kind of dialectic
in the form of a divine possession or a mov- thus provides a positive answer to the second
ing idealistic enthusiasm. For Kant, the inner formulation of the question above, can reason
moment of our subjection to the moral law is inwardly determine the will?, precisely by
originary, and must be placed before our being providing an account of inwardness that does
moved to dedicate our life to being an artifice not contradict the universality of the rational,
for its expression. but on the contrary provides for its objective
At this point it is perhaps instructive to expression.
take note of the Hegelian alternative, where the Nevertheless, this Hegelian alternative
individual moral agent is conceived as the nega- in fact preserves an important element from
tion of the negation of the universal in the form Kants account of moral personality, one that
of what Hegel describes as the pure, though should be kept in mind when turning back
abstract moral personality (the term is again to Husserls own attempt to appropriate the
Persnlichkeit). The concrete moral subject theme of moral personality. Namely, for Hegel,
represents the mediation, within the individual the opposition or tension between person and
conscience, of the opposition between the par- personality remains critical to understanding
ticular and the universality of abstract moral the perspective of morality, even if the dynamic
personality (the subject of the sphere of right). of this tension (or its logic) is understood very
The establishment of this mediateness results differently. So for example in the chapter in the
in a mode of personal particularity which does Critique of Practical Reason on the incentives of
not stand in a brute opposition to the infinity pure practical reason, Kant seeks to show how
of universal personality, but manifests itself as practical reason (by this point identified as the
a standpoint in which this universal is reflected moral law) influences sensibility, representing
in itself, in an inwardness thanks to which the what for Kant is the only possible example of a
moral personality has itself as its object14. direct influence of the faculty of reason on the
Against Kant, the concrete individual in feeling of pleasure and pain. The demand of the
Hegel is more than a contingent being simply moral law thus does not merely outline a path to
subjected to an abstract universality, the latter be followed, but the very emergence within the
above to provide incentives only through some subject of this demand is a uniquely constitutive
event. This is a key point: the moral subject
14 Hegel,
is not merely the realization of possibility that
Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts (Suhr
kamp 1986), 104, esp. 198: Seine Persnlichkeit,
projects in advance the particular formation of
als welche der Wille im abstrakten Rechte nur ist, hat a self; nor is the empirical person on whom
derselbe so nunmehr zu seinem Gegenstande; die so the demand is to be made simply a subject
fr sich unendliche Subjektivitt der Freiheit macht
das Prinzip des moralischen Standpunkts aus. And
that chooses, whether morally or not. Even for
in the Zusatz to 104, p. 202: Im Recht hat der Wil Kant or perhaps especially for Kant the pos-
le sein Dasein in einem usserlichen; das Weitere ist sibility of a particular manner of confronting
aber, dass der Wille dasselbe in ihm selbst, in einem
Innerlichen habe: er muss fr sich selbst, Subjektivitt
the determining ground that gathers and dis-
sein und sich sich selbst gegenber haben. criminates among possible principles of action
Santalka. Filosofija, 2009, 17(3): 2938 35

is revealed as a uniquely concrete dimension of tial for an apprehension of ideal objectivities as

existence, or a mode of inward self-encounter, determinative of the will all seem to fall short.
wherein one is compelled to take stock of who For an account of the incentives of pure practi-
one is as a being responsible for the possibili- cal reason for Kant and Hegel requires more
ties of ones existence. In Kant, this compulsion than simply a description of a particular species
is given its due in the description of an inward of evidence. The question, even for Husserl, is
experience of the rupture of self-conceit or not simply whether morality can be reduced to a
contentment, of submission and humiliation, as set of practical axiomatic truths, but of grasping
well as of respect and genuine moral feeling the essence of morality as an originary encoun-
that has its ultimate expression in a being that ter of the self within itself as a being set before
is accountable15. a task. To be sure, this necessarily involves the
Despite all of his criticisms, there is a similar apprehension of a truth of oneself, but it is a
gesture in Hegel: the moral agent is not simply human truth that does not merely compel, but
the successful expression of abstract right, also creates within the self a unique place for
or personality as such, on the level of the the conduct of a free existence. The truth of
individual; it is also the constitution of self- oneself in this sense is not simply there to be
consciousness as space that reflects a tension, discovered, an idea of humanity or a stamp of
even as it mediates it, between the universality the infinite given to us, whether it be as an idea
of personality with a particularity that is always of reason or an intuitive, eidetic insight into the
potentially other. In neither Kant nor Hegel is essence of human existence. Instead, the issue
this tension a simple, outright conflict: in Kant, at hand is the possibility of a ground thanks
it takes the form of a reflection that results in to which there emerges, within the subject, a
the sublime moment of humility; in Hegel, it is freedom capable of choosing itself as freedom,
a reflection that results in a dynamic unity that and it is only around the manifestation of such
synthesizes the perspectives of particularity and a ground of freedom that the moral subject, in
universality within the individual conscience. both Kant and Hegel, crystallizes.
If we take this tradition seriously, it indeed Though this criticism can certainly be lev-
makes sense to not only ask whether Husserl eled against Husserl, it is far from being the end
lapses into a facile moral perfectionism, but of the story. For Husserls apparent retreat from
also, and perhaps more importantly, it makes this tradition in the end emphasizes, and with
sense to ask to what extent Husserl can explain that reengages on a different level, something
the nature of the incentives of practical reason. essential to any conception of moral personality,
The various discussions of value-intentionality including that of Kant and Hegel namely, the
scattered in Husserls works, the critique of Kant theme of self-articulation. In Kant, freedom
in 44b of the 1920 lectures on ethics, where first has traction in our self-understanding in
Husserl argues that Kant overlooked the poten- the form of a theoretical idea of reason, and it
is within the scope of this idea that its practical
15 Cf.
interest is accomplished. However ambigu-
Religion, 25, where the basis for Persnlichkeit
is identified as both rationality and the capacity to be ously, practical reason speaks the language of
held accountable, and which is then elaborated on 27: freedom. This must mean that the incentives of
Die Anlage fr die Persnlichkeit ist die Empfn pure practical reason operate, at least in part, in
glichkeit der Achtung fr das moralische Gesetz als
einer fr sich hinreichenden Triebfeder der Will- accordance with the meaning such a language
kr. The two steps here should not be collapsedfirst of freedom can have for us a meaning which,
is the susceptibility for incentives, for the influence of presumably, cannot be taken to be indiffer-
the moral law; the second is personality as eines ver
nnftigen und zugleich der Zurechnung fhigen We ent to the manner in which it is articulated.
sens. (25) Hegels critique of Kant can be seen as in part
36 James Dodd Husserl and kant on persnlichkeit

a rejection of what Kant takes this language to cannot be presupposed as a pre-given, coherent
be, or what he takes to be the necessary way in horizon of lucidity within which the universal
which we are to talk about freedom, both in a is encountered; it requires the constitution of
purely theoretical context and within the space its own space, its own subjectivity. More, for
of moral consciousness. More specifically, the Husserl this task of meaning, so to speak, is
debate between Kant and Hegel turns precisely an explicitly theoretical task, or in Kantian lan-
on the sharp division between the finite and the guage, and against Kant, the very problem of
infinite that runs through Kants philosophy: meaning points to a sense in which theoretical
in Kant, the infinity of freedom encounters the reason is intrinsically practical. It is not practi-
finite subject as a merely thought (noumenal) cal in the sense of being determinative of the
other, from the start short-circuiting any con- will, but in the sense of the intrinsic practicality
crete experience of a movement of identifica- of a consciousness that fashions the horizons
tion between the two; for Hegel, this results of self-elucidation in which reason itself can
in the unacceptable notion of a moral subject become practical.
arbitrarily placed within the horizon of what Many of the basic elements of such a line
is ultimately a merely intellectual and abstract of reflection are present in the Kaizo articles,
challenge to the shape and form of life. though they are obscured by the overarching
Formulated in this way, the question of the emphasis on the idea of an inner, teleologi-
meaning of the idea of freedom is thus not only cal drive of a spirit in the grip of the ideal of
the question of freedom, it is also the question humanity. This teleology is in fact gradually
of freedom as idea, or of how to understand de-emphasized in Husserls writings through
what is meant when one speaks of ideas. If the 1920s and 30s in favor of a more sophis-
the question of incentives is the question of ticated picture of the human engagement with
how universality inscribes itself in subjective universality, one that finds its perhaps most nu-
life, then this must necessarily involve a deci- anced formulation in the notion of reflection as
sion about the possibilities of a discourse about Besinnung in Formal and Transcendental Logic
ideas. That is, universality has the place it has, and the Crisis. The line of thinking behind this
in part, thanks to its articulation; and perhaps picture can be outlined in five theses, which
we could even argue that one condition of its together can be taken as a response to the refor-
influence is precisely an unfolding, whether mulation of another Kantian question, namely:
discursive or not, of this articulation within what needs to be in place, what needs to be
the subject. Moral agency, in other words, not presupposed, in order for the unconditionally
only crystallizes around the manifestation of rational to be motivating, not only theoretically
the ground for freedom, as a bare irruption of (which is the problem of evidence) but practi
the rational constitutive of conscience, but one cally as well?16.
that must take the form of an articulateness, or
a meaningfulness. The theses are the following:
This is in fact Husserls real starting point, Thesis 1: What is decisive for the practical
and why his reflections remain relevant to the incentives of reason is not so much the idea
tradition of moral philosophy represented by of freedom as the ideality of the idea. Ideality
Kant and Hegel. His innovation is to in ef-
fect argue that the expression of the idea, the 16 Infact, Kant skirts this question as unanswerable:
articulateness or meaningfulness of the univer- Denn wie ein Gesetz fr sich und unmittelbar Bes
sal, already in itself takes the form of a task, and timmungsgrund des Willens sein knne (welches doch
with that of a particular mode of accountability. das Wesentliche aller Moralitt ist), das ist ein fr die
menschliche Vernunft unauflsliches Problem und mit
The meaningfulness or sense of the universal dem einerlei: wie ein freier Wille mglich sei.
Santalka. Filosofija, 2009, 17(3): 2938 37

defines the very sense of the rational, that with Husserl calls genuine life (echtes Leben) in the
which we must be in tune, whether theoreti- Kaizo articles, such a self-responsible intellect
cally or practically, in order to follow its lead. is nothing less than a life for which the idea of
In Husserl against Kant ideality fixes the reason is both articulated and motivating, thus
contours of experience as a dimension of in- a combination of the achievement of a life to
tuitivity itself, thus represents a mode of given articulate the rational, and the achievement of
conceptuality that has a dynamic character, the rational to determine the course of a life.
as well as a historicity that is absent from the Thesis 4: the possibility of securing a genu-
Kantian apriori. Thus in Husserl one speaks of ine life from the latent, unexpressed primordi-
the givenness of the ideal, of the horizon of its ality of the rational consists in the formation of
encounter, of the different modes of its being- an articulate self-consciousness in accordance
experienced, and not simply of the marks of with the figure of method.
universality, or of the principles for the appro- Thesis 5: A genuine method that is, a
priate or inappropriate application of the idea, self-conscious formation of articulate rational-
either in theory or practice. ity is possible only if reflection takes the form
Thesis 2: The primordial, originary intention of phenomenology, which securely places the
of the idea in its ideality is inarticulate, and it attempt at self-elucidation in a transcendental
proceeds only thanks to an immanent demand apprehension of the drama of manifestation.
for explication and understanding, a demand The basic idea is that if the horizon of our
that in the most general sense takes the form of engagement with the possibility of the rational
a dissatisfaction or disturbance. This is a key, if in general is dynamic, if it is open at all only
contentious idea: it is not in its fully articulate given a mode of reflection (method) in which
glory as a functioning faculty that reason drives its articulateness is at stake (and understood as a
us as an incentive, but as an inarticulate, silent task), then the primary issue is the demarcation,
dissatisfaction that demands to be given a voice. and discovery, of the very possibility of some-
It is responding to this demand, and grasping it thing like reason having any weight at all. The
as a task for thinking, that represents the basis conditions for such a reflection lie in what we
for what Husserl calls renewal, and is an idea could call the development of a special kind of
that connects the articles from The Kaizo to the sensitivity, one for what we could call the prom-
problematic of the Crisis. ise of reason the promise of reason to provide
Thesis 3: The possibility of a renewal, which coherence, lucidity, determinateness. Thus be-
inaugurates not only a life in reason but, more fore we make our theme the claims of reason,
importantly, the self-fashioning of a life for or the demands of freedom, we must first tackle
reason, or for the sake of reason, is actualized the notion of what it is to make a claim or a
in the thinking experience of crisis. Crisis is demand at all; before we speak for reason, we
the dissatisfaction of the original experience must reflect on what it means to speak, what is
of the ideal shaped into a fully self-responsible possible with respect to the manifestation of the
intellectual personality. The crisis of reason (sci- real and the moral from out of speech.
ence) is thus something that is fully expressed A sense for such possibilities is not, at least
only in a thinking response, or the response of for the Husserl of the Crisis, a given. It must be
those who have accepted the task of speaking developed, more: a kind of inner sense for what
for the rational from the basis of the progress it is to encounter the rational, or the idea in its
of their lives, and thus have accepted the risk ideality, is necessary in order to be able to orient
of the possible meaninglessness of the rational oneself to such possibilities. What is required,
(or its inability to function as an incentive). to invoke a concept that Husserl developed late
Recalling, but considerably improving on what in his philosophical career, is a transcendental
38 James Dodd Husserl and kant on persnlichkeit

inwardness. Inwardness does not justify reason, Hegel, G. W. F. 1986. Grundlinien der Philosophie
des Rechts. Suhrkamp.
nor does it provide a critique of practical rea-
son; it provides, instead, the space in which the Husserl, E. 1954. Die Krisis der europischen Wis-
meaning of such an inquiry finds its place, its senschaften, in Husserliana VI, ed. Walter Biemel,
potential force it is, in short, the philosophical Hague.
space in which the pursuit of the issue at all is Husserl, E. 1989. Fnf Aufstze ber Erneuerung,
secured. The sense that such a space cannot be in Husserliana XXVII, Aufstze und Vortrge
taken as given, represents a deep philosophical (19221937), ed. Thomas Nenon and Hans-Rainer
chasm that separates Husserl from Kant, and Sepp. Dordrecht.
perhaps the 20th century as a whole from the Husserl, E. 1986. Fichtes Menschheitsideal, in
18th. And it points to the important fact that the Husserliana XXV, Aufstze und Vortrge (1911
approach to such questions at all, whereby one 1921), ed. Thomas Nenon and Hans-Rainer Sepp.
meaningfully poses the question of pure prac- Dordrecht.
tical reason, is by itself a unique and powerful Husserl, E. 2004. Einleitung in die Ethik: Vor-
spiritual accomplishment. lesungen Sommersemester 1920/1924, in Husser
liana XXXVII, ed. Henning Peucker. Dordrecht.

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den blossen Vernunft, ed. Karl Vorlnder. Meiner.
Dodd, J. 2007. Der Schatten des Politischen bei Kant, I. 1990. Kritik der praktischen Vernunft, ed.
Husserl und Scheler, in Lebenswelt und Politik, ed. Karl Vorlnder. Meiner.
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James Dodd

Straipsnyje kritikuojama Husserlio tarpukario moralins smons teorijos, suformuluotos etikos

paskaitose ir kituose trumpesniuose politins bei morals filosofijos tekstuose i kantikosios
kritikos, perspektyvos. Kritika remiasi Kanto moralinio asmenikumo (Persnlichkeit) samprata
ir teigiama, kad Husserlis deramai nevertina ios idjos, kartu leidia save kaltinti moraliniu per-
fekcionizmu. Nepaisant to, straipsnio pabaigoje teigiamai vertinamos Husserlio idjos ir teigiama,
kad Husserlis suformuluoja reikmingas prielaidas moralinei smonei, kaip jautrumo galimybei
(sensibility for the possible), suvokti, taip priduria nauj dimensij prie toki etikos perspektyv,
kurios susitelkia iimtinai ties motyvacijos ir princip klausimais.

Reikminiai odiai: Husserlis, Kantas, moralin smon, fenomenologija, etika, metodas.

teikta 2009-03-25; priimta 2009-06-11