Volume 16, Issue 2, Fall/Automne 2012
Husserl and the Göttingen Circle
Edith Stein’s Political Ontology
What is a society? What is political power? John Searle claims that previous political philosophers not only neglected these fundamental questions but also lacked the means to effectively address them. Good answers, he thinks, depend on theories of speech acts, intentionality, and constitutive rules first developed by analytic philosophers. But Searle is mistaken. Early phenomenologists had already developed the requisite theories. Reinach’s philosophy of law includes a theory of speech acts. This theory is based on Husserl’s account of intentionality. Edith Stein extended that account by offering a detailed description of collective intentionality. And it was Stein who brought these strands of early phenomenological research together to address the very questions of political philosophy Searle regards as both fundamental and neglected. In this paper, I recount Stein’s answers to these questions and argue that they compare favourably with
those of Searle.