Panos Theodorou
University of Crete
Phenomenologists are yet another group of philosophers who have also dealt with the problem of values and valuation. What do they have to say about it? Heidegger, to be sure, emphatically warned that we’d better stop approaching serious philosophical problems in terms of valuing and values. It is actually the result of all the efforts to the contrary, he claimed, that has brought nihilism into history and has continued to enhance it along with the accompanying despair. Values and nihilism are in fact the outcome prepared by the dynamics of the traditional metaphysical dichotomy between a positing subject and a posited there-standing object with properties—valuing and values being just one of its latest expressions. Scheler and Hartmann, on the other hand, devoted their lives to the effort of elucidating valuing and values. However, here we will focus on the thoughts that Husserl, the founder of the phenomenological movement, developed regarding this problem. This is necessary if we want to deepen our understanding of the intensity and the breadth of the work that the phenomenologists he inspired developed on the possibility (or impossibility) of a philosophy of values. It is also necessary for an assessment of the real prospects of such a project, which today seems to attract progressively greater attention. To this effect, the structure of the present paper is as follows. In §2, I describe the basic features of the way Husserl carried out phenomenological-philosophical research. I will focus in particular on the meaning of “intentionality,” of “phenomenological method,” and of “intentional constitution.” In §3, I present Husserl’s idea regarding the possibility and meaning of a phenomenological critique of reason in general. The general outline and fundamental orientation of Husserl’s original project for a critique of the axiological and practical reason as well as of his essentialist-normative philosophy of valuing and of values is presented in §4. Section 5 contains an account of Husserl’s approach to emotive phenomena and to value-appearance in the Logical Investigations (1900/01) and in subsequent treatments of the issue along the lines of that original project. In §6, I present the key issue and the key problem in Husserl’s essentialist-normative Axiology. Finally, in §7 I sum up the conclusions and make some further critical remarks.
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