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Studia Phaenomenologica

Volume 18, 2018

The Promise of Genetic Phenomenology

Tammo Mintken
Pages 207-228

Verantwortung in Gottes Grund
Zur Bedeutung der genetischen Phänomenologie in ethischer und religionsphilosophischer Perspektive

Many genetic approaches in philosophy, psychology or sociology lead to a partially or fully deterministic understanding of the self and its position-taking. In this article, I argue that Husserl’s view of genesis differs broadly from such deterministic conceptions, as he investigates the genesis as the awakening of consciousness as consciousness or spirit as spirit. Husserl claims that the passive foundation of conscious life is the topsoil of activity and rational position-taking. But still the genetic process of the awakening of the ego, far from being an automatism, demands a primary responsibility to proceed with the awakening itself. I discuss the issue of the responsibility of wakefulness in three interconnected ways. Drawing on Edith Stein, I first develop some theological implications to demonstrate how the paradox of responsibility points toward its divine ratio, because the unfounded givenness of responsibility links the awakening person to a phenomenological understanding of theosis: the more a person cultivates her responsibility the more she resembles the divine actus purus. In a second step, I show how the ethical implications of the responsibility of awakening connect it with the truth of will. The manifold obstacles that tend to undermine ethical love reveal a new level of both responsible position-taking and practical faith in the divine entelechy. Finally, the theological and ethical results motivate a social renewal, in which responsibility embraces the Other and longs for the communitization of the truth of wills. Clearly, the Husserlian view of genetic philosophy enables deep theological and ethical insights, that remain hidden from the method of static phenomenology and that are denied by most empirical genetic approaches.

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