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The Common Good of the Common Life Of the Godly Person of a Higher Order

  • James G. Hart
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Part of the Phaenomenologica book series (PHAE, volume 126)

Abstract

The Husserlian social theory presented in this volume has parallels in the Western religious doctrines of monotheism, messianism, christology, and trinitarianism. In the first two sections we shall briefly contrast the functions of these doctrines in the establishment of the ideal community with the proposed Husserlian theory. In each case, with the exception of the Trinity, one or more of these religious doctrines, i.e., the one God, the Messiah, and the Christ, serves as the necessary supplement for the ultimate ethical requirement and as a necessary condition for the universal mutuality of wills and the community of intentions, goals and goods. Everyone can exist intentionally in everyone else and each’s agency can be part of everyone else’s if and only if there is a universal Other or Someone who stands in the same relation to each as ideal, beloved, and agent. Each is loved more profoundly in the ideal Other because each’s true self is realized through its unity with this ideal beloved; each’s agency is unified in this ideal Other, the abiding attention by whom, and the abiding intention of whom, purifies, joins and sustains the manifolds of interactions of the universal community. The logical development of the ideal of a universal community, wherein each is for each and all and all are for each is toward a centering ideal, symbol or actuality wherein each is truly re-presented. This unique intentional ideal or “symbolic presence” re-presents the actually absent others and deepens the commitment to those who are present. In so far as this community is a particular community tied to universal historical humanity and is the vehicle of the realization, in some sense, of ultimate value, the universal ideal Other tends to be envisaged as the ultimate teleological and originating divine principle of the community.1

Keywords

Common Good Common Life Common World Common Dilemma Juridic Person 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    See John Macmurray, Persons in Relation (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1961), 163–165.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Hermann Cohen, Ethik des reinen Willens (Berlin: Cassirer, 1907), 320.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ibid., 242 ff.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Ibid., 249.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Ibid., 240. Parallels with Hegel and Bosanquet could be drawn here.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ibid., 282 and 327.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Ibid., 274.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Ibid., 256–257.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Ibid., 232.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ibid., 244.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Ibid., 655.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ibid., 264.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Ibid., 266.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Ibid.,266–283.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    See Hermann Cohen, Der Begriff der Religion im System der Philosophie (Giessen: A. Toepelmann, 1915), 55–56.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    God for Cohen is essentially correlated to creation. There are some good formulations of this matter in the work cited in n. 15. Cohen uses Kant to state how this is so. As (for Kant) substance is not absolutely independent but only makes sense as the pre-condition for causality and change and only thereby merits the categorical status of being absolute, so the divine as “Being” is not absolutely independent but makes sense only as the pre-condition for “Becoming” and the world. Only thereby does it have its absolute prior status. As essentially the source the divine is essentially creator. And as the presupposition for all worldly process it is also the presupposition of the development of human moral being: As the infinite idea disclosed in reason’s wakefulness God is the presupposition of moral being; this disclosure (revelation) of God is the creation of reason. See Religion der Vernunft aus den Quellen des Judentums (Cologne: J.Melzer, 1959), ch. iii-v. This work has recently been translated as The Religion of Reason. Also of note are the selections from Cohen’s Jüdische Schriften, Reason and Hope ((New York: Norton, 1971).Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Religion der Vernunft, 153.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
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  19. 19.
    Ibid., see especially, ch. xiii.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Ibid., 185; cf. our discussion of ethical love in ch. iii and also Martin Buber, Eclipse of God (New York: Harper, 1952), 55–62.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    However, in Cohen’s discussions of prayer and ritual the common life begins to emerge as a theme. The common life, seemingly, is not to be found in anything like a secular community but only apart in the religious community. See Religion der Vernunft, 448 ff. and 462. Here he resembles typical Christian thinking also; see below.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Acts of the Apostles, ch. ii-v. For a utopian-poetic gloss on this text and on its commentaries, see Helmut Gollwitzer, Vortrupp des Lebens (Munich: Kaiser, 1975), 92 ff. My colleague, Luke Johnson, who encouraged me to see the Christian Trinity as a eutopian community, gives rich bibliographical help and a quite non-utopian reading of these famous passages in Acts. See his The Literary Function of Possessions in Luke-Acts (Missoula: Scholars Press, 1977). I wish to thank him here also for a helpful comments on an earlier draft of the discussion of the common good.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    See Thomas Prufer’s essay, “Creation, Solitude and Publicity,” in Essays in Phenomenological Theology, ed. Laycock and Hart; a version which corrects the editorial carelessness in the first published version will appear in a volume of essays by Prufer with Catholic University Press (1992–1993); see also Robert Sokolowski’s The God of Faith and Reason, especially ch. i-v, vii-ix.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    P. Teilhard de Chardin, Building the Earth (Wilres-Barre, Pennsylvania: Dimension, 1965), 94. Quite a few years after I wrote these pages I read Lewis Mumford’s persuasive interpretation of Teilhard as nightmare, wherein the “noosphere” is the most complete realization of the megamachine. This has considerably altered my appreciation for Teilhardian “eutopian” theology. See Lewis Mumford, The Pentagon of Power, Vol. II of The Myth of the Machine (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1970), 316–319.Google Scholar
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  28. 28.
    But the theological issues are complicated here. For example, St. Thomas holds that Christ was caput ecclesiae before the incarnation through the deeds of humans directed implicitly toward Him, and not conversely. That is, the saints before the time of Jesus were parts of the mystical body of Christ through their deeds of faith and good works, and not through Christ’s, i.e., the resurrected, glorified, metaphysically dense Jesus’ operations in them. See Summa Theologiae III, q. 6, a. 3, ad 3; III, q. 68, a. 1, ad 2.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Dietrich von Hildebrand, Metaphysik der Gemeinschaft (Regensburg: Habbel, 1954), 389390. The author was a student of Husserl in Göttingen; but in these matters he might well have been more indebted to Scheler than to Husserl.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., passim,but especially 104, 107–109, 141–150, 389 ff.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Of course, he takes his cues from the Judaeo-Christian tradition which often envisages the divine love for humanity/Israel/Church after the fashion of the love of a groom for his bride. See ibid., 65, 72–73, 126–127. But my concern is that this primacy of married love tends to function as a legitimation of the non-communitarian focus of modern “nuclear families” for which the mass society, the state, and the Sunday institution of the Church provide the wider concentric circles of “community.” Both eidetic analysis and historical-comparative research are needed for this matter. For example, does conjugal love mean the same in the context, e.g., of the “love-communism” (Troeltsch) of the early Christians and in the context of the modern statist society? This writer sees merits in assigning some exemplary status to conjugal love, (partners, mates, etc.) for the wider community, but confesses to being unclear about how best to say this because of unclarity about the essential status of “conjugal love.” The unclarity is tied to his confusion about the essence of gender, the relationship of sexually intimate love and friendship, the essential possibilities of “free love,” i.e., of an extension of the ideal of “conjugal love” to a wider circle of friends, etc. My theoretical difficulties are not practical ones. I know what my limits are, e.g., in being provoked helplessly to jealousy, etc., but these are not the problems of everyone, and apparently entire peoples are without these limits.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Ibid., 64–67. This founding of loveability in an eschatological dimension, and no way in the encountered present human, is the weakness that runs throughout Glenn Tinder’s The Political Meaning of Christianity (San Francisco: Harper, 1991).Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Ibid., 69, 73, 107–109.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
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  36. 36.
    For the “floating signifier” see C. Lévi-Strauss, Introduction to Marcel Maus, Sociologie et Anthropologie (Paris: PUF, 1966) XLI—XI. The floating signifier is devised to elucidate “mana”; “oomph” functions as a modern example.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    See G. Gilleman, The Primacy of Charity in Moral Theology (Westminster: Newman, 1961), 195 ff. See also Herbert Braun, “The Problem of a New Testament Theology,” in Toward a New Christianity, T. Altizer, ed. (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1967), especially 215. The translation of this approximation of a “Cohenian theology” leaves much to be desired. The original text can be found in H. Braun, Gesammelte Studien zum Neuen Testament and seiner Umwelt (Tübingen: Mohr, 1962).Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Thomas Aquinas, de Caritate, art. 3.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    See above, Chapter II, §14 and Chapter IV; also, e.g., A V 22, p. 61; E III 1, p. 5; and Hua XIV, p. 19.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    The experience of such a community life leads to the “inkling that there arches over the single individuals in their genuine self-love and love of neighbor the idea of a social individuality as an individuality of a higher order; or better, the human community has over itself in a similar manner to the single I an individual idea: The individual idea of the true human community and a true human life in community which makes for the community, just as for the human individual, its absolute ought” (F I 28, 189a—b).Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    At the end of the third London Lecture Husserl speaks of phenomenology itself as a “common good of humanity.” There are well-known parallels here with teachings of Plotinus and Augustine which we will note below.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    F. Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil (Aphorism 43); cited in R.B. Perry, General Theory of Value (New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1926), p. 684. I am indebted to Perry for the response to Nietzsche on this matter.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Josiah Royce, The Problem of Christianity, II (New York: MacMillan, 1913), 83–94).Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Royce, 430.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Because it is not a good among others but rather the teleological horizon of all goods it is improperly named “good.” In this sense it is closer to Scheler’s Wert than his Gut. Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    The position proposed here, and the text used to support it, finds instructive contrast in the views of Fichte and Aquinas who define the common good in its most proper sense as the actual transcendent divine being itself. For both, divinity, as the final and transcendent perfect cause of finite being, may be considered as the primary sense of the common good of the universe. Subordinate to this is the effect of the divine final cause immanent in the universe (in what Fichte calls the Endzweck, which resembles Husserl’s “entelechy,” and what Aquinas names the intrinsic order of the universe as a whole to which all parts are ordained). (These both approximate Husserl’s godly personality of a higher order.) For Thomas this intrinsic order of the universe is not, as ultimately it is for Fichte and Husserl, an infinite idea. Rather for Aquinas the intrinsic order is the not-yet fully actual perfect heavenly community, or as Augustine put it, “the city of God… the perfectly order and completely harmonious fellowship in the enjoyment of God and of each other in God.” This is the common good of the whole universe in as much as it is the collectivity for the sake of which all other creatures are. For Aquinas, see Summa Contra Gentiles III,12, §5; II, 39; Summa Theologiae, I, 2. 93, a. 2, ad 3; de Spir. creat. a. 8; also John H. Wright, The Order of the Universe in the Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas (Rome: Gregorian University Press, 1957). For Fichte see, e.g., Werke II (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1971), 657–687.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Summa Theologiae I—II, q. 92, a. 1, ad 3.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    T. H. Green, Prolegomena to Ethics, 288–289; cf. Fichte, Nachlass, Vol. III, 70–80.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Proudhon, Justice et Liberté, ed. Jacques Muglioni (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1974), 195.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Simon Weil: Anthology, ed. Sian Miles (New York: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1986), 61; see the essay entitled “Human Personality.”Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Adolf Reinach, Zur Phänomenologie des bürgerlichen Rechts (Munich: Kösel, 1913/1953), 137. Reinach’s theory of rights may be regarded as an extreme form of individualism in that his theory is developed by defining absolute rights in relation to absolute dominion over things, i.e., in relation to an individual’s property rights. Property appears then as something in relation to a person’s unrestricted dominion and therefore Reinach’s discussion of property (as Gerhart Husserl once noted) takes place in a space curiously free of the issue of Others and their rights. See Gerhart Husserl, Person, Sache, Verhalten (Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann, 1969), p. 4.Google Scholar
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    T. H. Green, Lectures on the Principles of Political Obligation (London: Longmans, 1852/1959), 144.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    This theory of rights is greatly indebted to Georges Gurvitch’s L’Idée du Droit Social (Aalen: Scientia Verlag, 1972/1932); on this particular point cf. pp. 119, 144–146. It would seem, however, that the normative fact for Gurvitch is not the transcendental phenomenological one of the constitution of a primal latent universal “we” but the fact that certain communities, in one and the same act, create the community and found rights. In my reading of Husserl and Fichte, the more basic and more universal “we” or community is in the coincidence of the Other, the common world, and the primal right.Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau, On the Social Contract, ed. R.D. Masters; trans. Judith R. Masters, (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1978), Book II, ch. iv; all of Book II is of interest for this discussion.Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    For the way the presence of the Other as such has a founding communalization upon which voluntary reciprocity builds, see J. G. Fichte, Grundlage des Naturrechts nach Prinzipien der Wissenschaftslehre, in Werke III (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1971), 85 ff. and also 41 ff. For the kind of Fichtean reflection which parallels the Husserlian establishment of the absolute ought, see Die Anweisung zum seligen Leben in Werke V (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1971), 410–413, 523–525; System der Sittenlehre in Nachgelassene Werke III (Bonn: Adolph Marcus, 1835), 77–81; Tatsachen des Bewusstseins (1810–11) in Werke II (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1971), 657–687; see the (1813) work of the same name in vol. I of Nachgelassene Werke, 556–561. For Husserl’s summary of Fichte’s version of these matters see Hua XXV, 275–292.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    See B. Barry, Political Argument (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1965), 187 ff.; John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971); R. Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia (New York: Basic Books, 1974). For a good communitarian critique of Rawls which applies ceteris paribus to the other writers, see Michael Sandel, Liberation and the Limits of Justice (New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1982).Google Scholar
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    Gurvitch, L’Idée du Droit Social, 132 ff.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
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  59. 59.
    St. Augustine, De lib. arb. 2, 35 ff. This would seem to be a paraphrase of Plotinus, Enneads VI, 5, 10. See also, of course, Max Scheler, Formalismus in der Ethik and die Materiale Wertethik, Pt. I, ch. II, b. 3.Google Scholar
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    John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971). pp. 101–102. For Rawls, in spite of his strong individualist ethics, the individual is not the owner, but merely the repository and guardian of the talents and gifts which he or she just happens to possess. See Michael Sandel’s discussion of these matters, op. cit. (n. 56), pp. 70–101.Google Scholar
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    C. Wright Mills, Power, Politics and People (New York: Ballantine, 1963), especially the essays at 187 ff., 236 ff., and 577 ff.Google Scholar
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    See Ulrich Melle’s discussion of Peter Singer and Tom Regan in “Tiere in der Ethik. Die Frage nach der Grenze der moralischen Gemeinschaft,” Zeitschrift fuer Philosophische Forschung 42 (1988), 247–273.Google Scholar
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    Perceptual objects like land, sand, water, air, etc., clearly not ideal objects, concepts or universals, which do not lend themselves readily to being divided up into identifiable particular units, are called “mass terms” by many philosophers today.Google Scholar
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    In this regard it is noteworthy that both central party communism as well as liberal capitalism are equally opposed to communitarian anarchism or libertarian socialism.Google Scholar
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    For all this, see Brian Barry, Political Argument (New York: Humanities, 1965), 197–198, 204–205.Google Scholar
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    Elinor Ohstrom, “How Inexorable is the `Tragedy of the Commons?’: Institutional Arrangements for Changing the Structure of Social Dilemmas” (Bloomington: Indiana University Distinguished Faculty Research Lecture, 1986); see also Vandana Shiva, Staying Alive: Women, Ecology and Development (London: Zed Books, 1989), 83–95; Petr Kropotkin’s Mutual Aid (Boston: Porter Sargent, 1914), 220–242 contains discussions of French and Swiss village commons with which some critics of Commons Dilemma also deal. Of course, the entire book is about how non-human monads and human monads have thrived through cooperation.Google Scholar
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    This massive claim has coalesced in what today is called by some writers “peace research.” Aside from the theoretical efforts in this book, what further founds my concluding claim are the insights and arguments of the peace-research tradition which, as I envisage it, moves in a completely different sphere of assumptions from that of modern discussions of the public interest, Prisoner’s Dilemma game theory, the Tragedy of the Commons, etc. This tradition contains, among others, the writings of Kropotkin, e.g., on Mutual Aid, Lewis Mumford on the city and on The Transformations of Man, Pitrim Sorokin on The Reconstruction of Humanity, the life and writings of Gandhi and his followers, the theological writings of Helmut Gollwitzer, the numerous writings, e.g., of Ashley Montagu, on non-aggression in animals and so-called primitives, the analyses of structural violence by Johann Galtung, the study on competition as a neurosis by Alfie Kohn, Hal Pepinsky’s writings on the “criminal justice system,” the social-ecological writings of Murray Bookchin, Arne Naess, Johan Galtung, the feminist analyses of Birgit Brock-Utne, Maria Mies, Vandana Shiva, et alii, and the synthetic efforts of Rudolf Bahro.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • James G. Hart
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Religious StudiesIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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