Volume 25, Issue 1, Spring 2021

The Everywhere and the Nowhere of Phenomenological Ethics

Rawb Leon-Carlyle
Pages 39-59

Love and the Shadow of Sacrifice
Husserl at the Limits of Relational Ethics

In this article, I foreground the role of relationality in Husserl’s later reflections on ethics and self-constitution, with a particular interest in Husserl’s account of sacrifice. I exposit how Husserl’s account of self-constitution and the conflict of absolute values between competing vocations offers a solution to Brentano’s rendering of the obligation to “choose the best among the ends attainable.” I explore the numerous instances in which Husserl uses the parent-child relation to illustrate the absolute value of our relation to an individual and how this absolute value triumphs over other seemingly rational maxims. Although problematic in several ways, Husserl’s account of motherhood grounds his notion of self-constitution in particular relations with others, rather than in a general category of nation or humanity. I conclude by considering how his emphasis on phenomenological constitution and his approach to value and sacrifice may inform future projects in phenomenological relational ethics.