Even the Papuan is a Man and Not a Beast: Husserl on Universalism and the Relativity of Cultures

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Title: Even the Papuan is a Man and Not a Beast: Husserl on Universalism and the Relativity of Cultures
Authors: Moran, Dermot
Permanent link: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/4165
Date: Oct-2011
Abstract: Edmund Husserl’s account, especially in his Crisis of European Sciences (1936) and Vienna Lecture (1935), of the Greek philosophical breakthrough to universal rationality has been criticized as Eurocentric. Husserl speaks of the universality inherent in ‘European’ philosophical culture of the logos and contrasts it with other communal life-worlds, which are, in his view, merely ‘empirical-anthropological’ types, with their own peculiar ‘historicities’ and ‘relativities’. In this paper, I propose to defend Husserl’s appeal to critical universal reason by situating it within the political context, especially the National Socialist inspired philosophy and anthropology of Germany in the 1930s. Husserl’s stance in favour of universal rationality as an enduring telos for humanity is an explicit rejection of National Socialist race-based ideologies that made reason relative to race. Husserl’s assertion in the Vienna Lecture that ‘there is, for essential reasons, no zoology of peoples’ must surely be read as a clear repudiation of race-based doctrines. Moreover, philosophy, for Husserl, is essentially international and every culture contains within it an implicit openness to the universal, although, as a matter of contingent history, it was the ‘a few Greek eccentrics’ who made the actual breakthrough to the concept of rationality open to infinite tasks.
Type of material: Journal Article
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Copyright (published version): 2011 Johns Hopkins University Press
Keywords: Husserl;Eurocentrism universalism;Race;Relativism;National socialism
Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:Philosophy Research Collection

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