Husserl and the Fact of Practical Reason – Phenomenological Claims toward a Philosophical Ethics

Sophie Loidolt


The thesis of this paper is that Husserl, in his later ethics, reinterprets the philosophical content that discloses itself in the Kantian conception of a “fact of practical reason”. From 1917/18 on, Husserl increasingly ceases to pursue his initial idea of a scientific ethics. The reason for this move lies precisely in the phenomenological analysis of “Gemütsakte”, through which two main features of the fact of practical reason impose themselves more and more on Husserls thought: the personal concernment/obligation and the primacy of the practical with the coeval call for universal validity.

Husserl recognizes that the form of ethical facticity or entanglement cannot be grasped by a science of evidence, which speaks objectively and non-personally (apersonal) of acts of willing, valuing or preferring. Husserl thus gets to a reinterpretation of the fact of practical reason as the philosophical nucleus of his ethics, which is now a personal and affective ethics. He bestows a texture on this fact, however not as he would have thought in the first place: not as evident laws of a material apriori of “Gemüt”. In the person and her ethical experience as absolute affection Husserl rather discovers that which is per se not objectifiable and not to be made rationally evident. By this, Husserl captures and phenomenologically explains the non-objectifiable source of obligation and the possibility of complying with it.


Article in: English

Article published: 2009-09-15

Keyword(s): phenomenology; Husserl; Kant; ethics; practical reason

DOI: 10.3846/1822-430X.2009.17.3.50-61

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Coactivity: Philosophy, Communication / Santalka: Filosofija, Komunikacija ISSN 2029-6320, eISSN 2029-6339
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