Normativity and Teleology in Husserl’s Genetic Phenomenology

Husserl Studies 38 (1):17-35 (2021)
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Normative notions are central to Husserl’s account of intentionality: intending an object is a normative achievement, essentially admitting of fulfillment or disappointment. So is teleology: intentional conscious life is inseparable from a horizontal orientation toward “ideas in the Kantian sense.” How are they related? Is teleology essential for intentionality as a normative achievement? Or, in Husserl’s way of putting it, do relative truths “demand” ideal truths? This article explores some reasons for agreeing with Husserl that this is indeed the case. In Sec. 2, I will identify a “normative turn” in Husserl’s account of the basic structure of perceptual intentionality and spell out the teleological character of this normative account. This sense of teleology is a minimal one. A more robust teleology, in the sense of an orientation toward infinite ideality, is then justified in Sec. 3 by virtue of its function in the constitution of genuine objectivity. In Sec. 4, I will turn to the noetic, especially the ego-oriented side of Husserl’s analysis, in order to clarify the normative force of infinite telos. All in all, I will argue that the normative and the teleological sides of the story are inextricably intertwined in Husserl’s account of intentional conscious life.



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