Philosophy's Polis: The Place of Europe in Husserl's Critique of Reason
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This dissertation examines "political" philosophy of Edmund Husserl through a critique of the concept upon which it depends: Europe or The West. Although this concept comes to play a decisive role in Husserl's phenomenology as a whole, he never adequately clarifies its meaning or accounts for the significance it assumes in his final attempted treatise: The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology . Because the concept "Europe" connects the cognitive aims of philosophy and science with the defining aspirations of a single historically specified humanity, it has received due attention in ideologically charged discussions of Eurocentrism. In this context, philosophical questions as to why an epistemologically oriented reflection should have recourse to such a concept, and what its content might be, are too often forgotten. I take these questions up, showing that the concept is not a product of Husserl's historical circumstances, but rather functions in a fundamental reflection on the possibility of philosophical vocation as such. To understand what that function is, I situate Husserl's Europe within the problematic of political philosophy as presented in Plato's Republic , namely, whether and how philosophy might become a vocation of the polis. By rooting the possibility of Europe in the paradoxical conditions Socrates identifies for the existence of a philosophical polis, I provide a critical perspective on the issue that anchors it in the history of philosophy and puts challenging questions to Husserl's final conception of phenomenology.