Saturday, February 21, 2009

New Husserlian Themes

Intersubjectivity plays a central role in thinking of ourselves as acting, thinking subjects. Moreover, this type of acting and thinking conception of ourselves is what ethical theories construe as moral agency, but obviously without the capital P phenomenological language. For Husserl, intersubjectivity is part of the transcendental-we-community that co-constitutes elements of the lifeworld. The SEP lists three achievements of intersubjectivity as fundamental.

intersubjective experience plays a fundamental role in our constitution of both ourselves as objectively existing subjects, other experiencing subjects, and the objective spatio-temporal world. Transcendental phenomenology attempts to reconstruct the rational structures underlying — and making possible — these constitutive achievements. (SEP Entry on Husserl)

From this, I gather it is possible to explain what phenomenological structures of experience might be involved in thinking generally about the nature of values, and how such values -- which I define as reasons for acting -- relate to others as part of a moral community. My thought is that while values are ontologically mysterious (or better worded as metaphysically inadequate) in a non-natural way Husserl gives us a way to talk about values in such a way as to provide a cognitive architecture to the types of reasons we invoke in moral justification. I am resistant at strategies in ethics that seek to naturalize various domains of ethical analysis, and realize how much of a first start my effort is here. This is why I will outline what will concern me in the next few posts. The theme is that ethics is phenomenologically grounded and the type of properties used in moral justification and the nature of reasons that purport such properties are, in fact, irreducible. They are the type of thing that cannot be naturalized away under the weird umbrella term "evolutionary mechanism," but are readily manifest in moral experience.

In the next few posts, I will try and establish first exactly what is meant by empathy in the 5th Meditation. I will see what is in there that can help me explain the nature of values, their justification, scope and content.

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