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Rationalism, Idealism, Nationalism

  • Philippe Ducat
Chapter
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Part of the Phaenomenologica book series (PHAE, volume 148)

Abstract

It is well known that transcendental phenomenology has nothing in common with the kinds of particularism (racism, antisemitism, nationalism…) which have devastated Europe during, at least, the first decades of our century. Husserl himself seems to have been especially lucid, unlike some of his masters and a few dissenting disciples. Barry Smith notes that “unlike Meinong and Frege he was not an antisemite”2. James G. Hart approbates: Husserl “is not a racist” and according to him “each people can be a ray of the divine light and divine idea”3. In the same way we could dwell on the fact that Husserl was no nationalist4: “his strong theoretical proclivities kept him out of the nationalistic maelstrom that devoured many of his contemporaries”5. This might be true not only concerning Husserl’s behaviour and state of mind during the nazi period, but also during the First World War. After the war, Husserl was proud not to have believed he could become in a Fichtean way a guide on the road to “the blessed life” 6. What did dissuade him from taking part in the war propaganda ? If he “never wrote any war text” (Kriegsschrift). 7 it was, on one hand, because of an almost supernatural premonition: “my daimonion warned me”8, Husserl says, like a new Socrates. On the other hand, there is an explanation for his prudent abstention from nationalistic involvement: Husserl did remain conscious of his duty as a promoter of philosophy as a rigorous science; either in peace or during the war, Husserl aims to live “resolutely and purely as a scientific philosopher”9.

Keywords

Rigorous Science Transcendental Phenomenology German People German Soldier Nationalistic Maelstrom 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Hua 28/421.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Barry Smith, review of Husserl’s Briefwechsel, Husserl Studies 12, 1995, p. 103.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    James G. Hart, “Husserl’s Lectures about Fichte”, Husserl Studies 12, 1995, p. 141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Maybe Husserl once was a nationalist, according to his own testimony. But it was a long time before the foundation of phenomenology, as he still was a young student. Even in this time, Husserl explains in 1936, Thomas Masaryk’s influence “cured me of false, non-ethical nationalism” (quoted by Karl Schuhmann, Husserl-Chronik, Den Haag, Nijhoff, 1977, p. 5; on “unauthentic nationalism”, also see Husserl’s letter to Georg Pfeilschifter [1925, January the tenth], Briefwechsel VIII, p. 15). National egoism would have been only a youthful sin… But that letter remains quiet ambiguous: it does not say that nationalism is bad in itself, and that a “true, ethical nationalism” does not exist or even is not necessary. Is such a nationalism possible? What could its phenomenological meaning be? This paper is an attempt to deal with that questions.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    James G. Hart, “Husserl’s Lectures about Fichte”, Husserl Studies12, 1995, p. 139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    I never felt like being called the “Führer der nach `seligem Leben’ ringenden Menschheit”, Husserl positively states in a letter to Arnold Metzger (September 1919; quoted in the Einleitung to Hua 25/xxxii).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Hua 25/xxxii.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Hua 25/xxxii.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Hua 25/xxxii.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    “…nationale Phantasterei, die …ber Europa so viel Unheil verbreitet haben”, Briefe an Ingarden, Den Haag, Nijhoff, 1968, p.4.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Letter to Ingarden, 1917, July. Briefe an Ingarden, Den Haag, Nijhoff, 1968, p. 7.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    To Ingarden (same letter, p. 7).Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    April 1918, (Briefe an Ingarden, p.9).Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Letter to Ingarden, 1917 (July), Briefe an Ingarden, p.7.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Briefe an Ingarden, p. 6.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Briefe an Ingarden, p.7.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Could it become inaccessible, and why ? Husserl does not explain it.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Briefe an Ingarden, p.7.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    “Egoismus ist ein unbedingt schlechtes Lebensziel […]. Das betrifft den individuellen, wie den nationalen und staatlichen Egoismus in gleicher Weise”. Manuscript F I 40, 139 b.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    F 1 40, 138 a. On the possibility of murdering the soul of a nation, see Briefwechsel III, 6 (letter to Bell, 1919): “there is a soul of the German people […] and to murder this soul [,] has there ever been a more gruesome murder in the whole of world history ?” (quoted and translated by Barry Smith, Husserl Studies 12, 1995,p.103).Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    F 140, 139 b.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Briefwechsel III, 343.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Nothing human has to be seen during the epochè: See Krisis, è 54 a, Hua 6/187 (“in der Epochè […] zeigt sich eo ipso nichts menschliches”). Google Scholar
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    Hua 27/243 (text of the Prag-conference, 1934).Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Hua 6/187–188 (Krisis, §54 b).Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Letter to Albrecht, November 1934, Briefwechsel IX, 110.Google Scholar
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    On the transcendentality and historicity or facticity of phenomenology, see Hua 15/161, and Karl Schuhmann, Husserls Staatsphilosophie, Freiburg, Alber, 1988, p.145.Google Scholar
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    Hua 27/94 (early version of an essay on renewal, 1922/23).Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Hua 27/94.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Hua 27/95.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Hua 27/95.Google Scholar
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    Hua 27/117 (1922/23).Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Hua 27/94.Google Scholar
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    Letter to Ingarden, 1918, november the 16th. Briefe an Ingarden, p.12.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Same letter, Briefe an Ingarden, p.11.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    “chauvinistische After-Ideale”, same letter, p. 12.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Same letter, p. 12.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Hua 6/321 (Vienna-conference, 1935).Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Hua 6/322 (same conference). Compare Hua 27/73.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Manuscript K III 9, 52 a.Google Scholar
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    Briefwechsel IV, 313 (1933, July).Google Scholar
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    C 16 VII, 1933, May (“Revolutionszeit”, Husserl writes with a pencil), 105b.Google Scholar
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    K III 9, 59 b, quoted by Karl Schuhmann, Husserls Staatsphilosophie, Freiburg, Karl Alber, 1988, p. 152. According to Schuhmann’s interpretation (p. 153, note 22), Husserl did not draw the consequences of this doctrine. Our §5 will indirectly question that point.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    K III 9, 53 b.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Hua 14/220.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Hua 13/110.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Hua 14/220.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    K III 9, 59 b.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Hua 14/220.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Hua 14/220.Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Hua 14/220.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Hua 14/220.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Hua 14/220. This could be a reminiscence of an aristotelician remark about the apolis (Politics, Book I, Chapter 1I-9, 1253 a 3).Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    B IV 5/17 a+b, quoted by Karl Schuhmann, Husserls Staatsphilosophie, Alber, Freiburg, 1988, p. 149.Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    K III 9, 34 b.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    K III 9, 30 a.Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    K III 9, 54 a. But sometimes Husserl seems to think that the difference between national world and “the” (objective) world can only be understood in the theoretical attitude (that of the philosopher): see Hua 6/332,1.23–37.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    K III 10 (1935, July), 12 a.Google Scholar
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    Hua 6/14.Google Scholar
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  61. 61.
    “die Eskimos oder Indianer der Jahrrnarktsmenagerien”. Hua 6/318, 1. 39.Google Scholar
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    “Auf dem Jahrmarkt mögen Indianen, Löwen usw. als Menagerie gezeigt werden, oder in der Stadt rag dauernd ein zoologischer Garten sein. Dann gehört er in seiner Bedeutung als Darstellung fremden Menschen und Tiere […] zu unseren Umwelt”. K III 9, 33 b. Compare K III 9, 31 b: “a papou has […] no biography and a papouan tribe has no history of its life, no history as a people”. Google Scholar
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    K III 9, 33 b.Google Scholar
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    Hua 6/322–323. Compare Hua 27/68,1.3–9.Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    E III 7 (1934, January), 5 a.Google Scholar
  66. 66.
    Hua 6/335.Google Scholar
  67. 67.
    Hua 6/334.Google Scholar
  68. 68.
    “sicherlich wird der Kampf [the fight between promoters of the new theoretical attitude and the conservatives] sich in der politischen Machtsphäre abspielen”, Hua 6/335.Google Scholar
  69. 69.
    Actes du huitiéme congrés international de philosophie à Prague 2–7 septembre 1934, Prag, 1936, p.XLI = Hua 27/240.Google Scholar
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    Hua 6/335.Google Scholar
  71. 71.
    Hua 6/336.Google Scholar
  72. 72.
    Hua 6/336.Google Scholar
  73. 73.
    Hua 6/320.Google Scholar
  74. 74.
    Would Husserl make a distinction between “bad Indians” and “good Indians”? See Jacques Derrida, De l’esprit, Paris, Galilèe, 1987, p. 95 (footnote, 1. 11–18).Google Scholar
  75. 75.
    See Hua 6/318, 1. 38.Google Scholar
  76. 76.
    Hua 27/95.Google Scholar
  77. 77.
    Last words of the Vienna-conference (1935), Hua 6/348.Google Scholar
  78. 78.
    Let us not forget that devotion to pure ideals and Ideas is a “mortal enemy” of capitalism (“Todfeind […] allem ”Kapitalismus“ (letter to Arnold Metzger, 1919, quoted in Hua 25/???).Google Scholar
  79. 79.
    Hua 27/122.Google Scholar
  80. 80.
    Hua 27/112. On the “tragedy” of modern scientific culture and the transformation of science into an irresponsible theoretical technology, compare Formal and transcendental logic, Introduction (Hua 17/7). On the opposition between the spirit of German Idealism and “the domination of the new exact sciences and the special technical culture deriving from them”, see the first lecture on “Fichte ‘s ideal of humanity”, Hua 25/267–268 (translation by James G. Hart, Husserl Studies 12, 1995, p.111).Google Scholar
  81. 81.
    Letter to Georg Pfeilschifter (1925), Briefwechsel VIII, 15.Google Scholar
  82. 82.
    Hua 6/347.Google Scholar
  83. 83.
    Actes du huitiéme congrésé, p. XLIII = Hua 27/242.Google Scholar
  84. 84.
    Hua 6/348.Google Scholar
  85. 85.
    Hua 27/117 (1922/23).Google Scholar
  86. 86.
    Hua 17/117.Google Scholar
  87. 87.
    Hua 17/117. On the need for a “spiritual organ” (a “German academy”, for example) to be the nation’s “highest Hegemonikon”, see Briefwechsel VIII, 15.Google Scholar
  88. 88.
    Hua 17/117.Google Scholar
  89. 89.
    Actes du huitiéme congrés…, p. XLIV = Hua 27/243.Google Scholar
  90. 90.
    Hua 27/243.Google Scholar
  91. 91.
    Letter to Pfeilschifter (allready quoted before), Briefwechsel VIII, 15.Google Scholar
  92. 92.
    Briefwechsel VIII, 15.Google Scholar
  93. 93.
    Letter to Kaufmann (1919), Briefwechsel III, 343. Husserl reminds Albrecht at the end of 1936 that he is not a foreigner to the German philosophy (and nation) (“… daβ ich in der deutschen Philosophie [also auch in dieser Nation] kein Fremdling bin”, Briefwechsel IX, 128).Google Scholar
  94. 94.
    Briefwechsel VIII, 16.Google Scholar
  95. 95.
    Briefwechsel VIII, 16.Google Scholar
  96. 96.
    Briefwechsel VIII, 16 (the last sentence has been quoted and translated by Barry Smith, review of Husserl’s Briefwechsel, Husserl Studies 12, 1995, p. 103).Google Scholar
  97. 97.
    Briefwechsel VIII, 16–17.Google Scholar
  98. 98.
    Briefwechsel VIII, 17.Google Scholar
  99. 99.
    Letter to Hugo Münsterberg (published by him in The Peace and America, New York and London, 1915), Hua 25/293–294.Google Scholar
  100. 100.
    Letter to Flora Darkow, 1923, Briefwechsel IX, 168. “The ignoble war is going on”, Husserl adds; a false, non-ethical peace is worse than hot war.Google Scholar
  101. 101.
    Letter to Münsterberg, Hua 25/293.Google Scholar
  102. 102.
    Lectures on Fichte, Hua25/268 (Engl. transl. in Husserl Studies 12, 1995, p. 112 ).Google Scholar
  103. 103.
    Letter to Bell (1919), Briefwechsel III, 6.Google Scholar
  104. 104.
    Letter to Münsterberg, Hua 25/294.Google Scholar
  105. 105.
    On America’s former and apparently “jung and […] authentic idealism”, see a letter to Flora Darkow (1923, February)) Briefwechsel IX, 168.Google Scholar
  106. 106.
    On “American unctuous politicians” see a letter to Flora Darkow (1915, June), Briefwechsel IX, 158, 1. 11.Google Scholar
  107. 107.
    Letter to Münsterberg, Hua 25/294. On “made in USA” shells, also see the letter to Flora Darkow (1915, June), Briefwechsel IX, 158, 1. 1–3.Google Scholar
  108. 108.
    Letter to Münsterberg, Hua 25/294.Google Scholar
  109. 109.
    Lectures on Fichte, Hua25/269 (Engl. transl. in Husserl Studies12, 1995, p. 112 ).Google Scholar
  110. 110.
    Lectures on Fichte, Hua25/269 (Engl. transl. in Husserl Studies12, 1995, p. 112 ).Google Scholar
  111. 111.
    “My two sons […] are in [the field] too”. Letter to M…nsterberg, Hua 25/293.Google Scholar
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    Letter to Münsterberg, Hua 25/293–294.Google Scholar
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    Lectures on Fichte, Hua25/292 (Engl. transl. in Husserl Studies12, 1995, p. 131 ).Google Scholar
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    Lectures on Fichte, Hua25/268 (Engl. transl. in Husserl Studies12, 1995, p. 112 ).Google Scholar
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    Letter to Münsterberg, Hua 25/293.Google Scholar
  116. 116.
    Letter to Münsterberg, Hua 25/293.Google Scholar
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    Letter to Münsterberg, Hua 25/294.Google Scholar
  118. 118.
    Letter to Münsterberg, Hua 25/293.Google Scholar
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    Lectures on Fichte, Hua25/292 (Engl. transi. in Husserl Studies12, 1995, p. 131 ).Google Scholar
  120. 120.
    Lectures on Fichte, Hua25/293 (Engl. transi. in Husserl Studies12, 1995, p. 131 ).Google Scholar
  121. 121.
    “Das Schicksal des Nichtariers im 3. Reich — seine innere u. aβere Tragik — […] ob ich arbeiten kann, leben kann, als Nicht-A entnationalisiert?” (1933, November; Briefe an Ingarden, p. 83).Google Scholar
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    Barry Smith, review of Husserl’s Briefwechsel, Husserl Studies 12, 1995, p.104.Google Scholar
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    Paul Valéry, “La crise de l’esprit”, CEuvres complètes, Paris, Gallimard, “Biles iothèque de la Plèiade”, 1957, first tome, p. 988. I thank Professor R. Bernet, the Director of the Husserl-Archives, for his kind permission to quote from unpublished Husserl-materials.Google Scholar

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  • Philippe Ducat

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