Husserl’s Phenomenology of Will in His Reflections on Ethics

  • Karl Mertens
Part of the Phaenomenologica book series (PHAE, volume 148)


For a long time it was a commonplace in phenomenological literature that Husserl’s philosophical views are determined by logical and epistemological questions. Consequently the theory of action and practical life was at best considered to be a neglected subject in his phenomenology. In recent years this judgement has begun to be corrected. A growing number of enquiries deal with questions of Husserl’s practical philosophy.2 Such studies received an important impetus in 1988 with the edition of the lectures on ethics and value theory which Husserl held in the years between 1908 and 1914.3 There is no doubt that because of these facts the usual picture of Husserl has to be altered. Ethics and the practical life constitute a distinct topic in Husserl’s thought, and his interests in this sphere date back to the time before Logical Investigations. 4 Remembering Husserl’s well-known and offensive remark about the responsibility of philosophers as ‘functionaries of mankind’,5 there are even reasons for considering the ethical dimension as the more or less secret goal of Husserl’s whole philosophy.6 But nevertheless, the above-mentioned edition of the early lectures corroborates at least partly the formerly-held opinion that Husserl’s approach to philosophy is primarily theoretical.


Phenomenological Analysis Formal Practic Practical Life Volitional Action Absolute Validity 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1998

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  • Karl Mertens

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