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Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 28, Issue 4, 2018

Philosophical Anthropology at the Crossroads

Andrzej Gniazdowski
Pages 195-214

The Political Anthropology of Edmund Husserl

The aim of this paper is to contribute to the debate on the relation between phenomenology and philosophical anthropology by analyzing it in the selected, theoretical as well as historical contexts. The author focuses primarily on the problem of Edmund Husserl’s criticism of anthropologism and analyzes the practical meaning of the rejection by him of anthropology as a true foundation of philosophy. The thesis of the paper is that already by rejecting anthropologism in the logic and theory of knowledge, Husserl presupposed some idea of philosophical anthropology in the “foundational” sense he criticized, and that this implicit idea was pursued by him not only from pure theoretical reason. In reference to Leszek Kołakowski and the methodology of the Warsaw School of the History of Ideas, which he applies in his interpretation of the idea of phenomenology, the author of the article attempts, unlike Kołakowski, to reveal not only the “religious” (in a vague sense), but also the specific political meaning of this idea. What is argued here is that the only possible reconciliation between anti-anthropologism on the one hand and the outspoken humanism of transcendental phenomenology on the other lies in the adoption by Husserl of Johann Gottlieb Fichte’s ideal of humanity as its practical, worldview framework. The practical, if not directly political, motif of Husserl’s radical criticism of anthropologism is, in author’s interpretation, Husserl’s attempt to answer, in the reference to this ideal, to the main political question of his times as consisting in the rising racist and anti-Semitic tendencies in the German naturalistic anthropology.

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