This volume is an excellent addition to a group of timely anthologies gathering scholarship on phenomenological approaches to the social world (cf. Moran & Parker, 2015; Moran & Szanto, 2016). Amidst these hot-off-the-presses approaches, the present text is unique in its tight thematic center of gravity. First, there is an explicit focus on hitherto lesser examined, though by no means less illuminating, phenomenologists. Second, the primary works of these phenomenologists (at least the ones thematized herein) arrive roughly within the first three decades of the twentieth century. Third, there is a specific focus on conceptual overlap between the projects of early phenomenologists and contemporary social ontologists from the end of the twentieth century to the present.
There are fifteen essays in total including an informative contextualization of the historical background of the chapter by the editors, Salice and Schmid. The volume’s remaining fourteen chapters, proceedings from a conference held in Vienna in 2013, are grouped into three sections: social and institutional facts, collective intentionality, and values. The historical background provided by the editors in their introduction anchors subsequent chapters by appeal to the three temporal markers of 1900/1901 (Husserl’s Logische Untersuchungen), 1913 (Reinach’s Die apriorischen Grundlagen des bürgerlichen Rechtes; Scheler’s Der Formalismus in der Ethik und die materiale Wertethik), and 1927 (Heidegger’s Sein und Zeit). Names that will likely come to mind in association with phenomenology are Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty. While these figures make an appearance here (there is one chapter on Husserl and one on Heidegger), they are by no means the stars. We are instead treated to works from and related to Reinach, Scheler, Stein, Schutz, Walther, Kelsen, Kaufmann, Schreier, Znamierowski, Löwith, Schmalenbach, Hildebrand, Ingarden, Schapp, and Otaka. Indeed, given the focus of a large number of the contributions, an alternative subtitle for this volume might have been: “Reinach’s Long Shadow”
Part I: “Social and Institutional Facts”
Kevin Mulligan’s contribution (“Persons and Acts – Collective and Social. From Ontology to Politics”) contrasts Searle’s social and political ontology with work by early phenomenologists, primarily in regard to connections with Reinach and those immediately influenced by him. Mulligan argues that the common denominator between Searle and early phenomenologists is their focus on what we now call speech acts. The chapter proceeds through a series of quick-fire comparisons and contrasts between distinctions in Reinach and similar distinctions in Searle. The transition from ontology to the political realm is accomplished by appeal to jural or deontic powers as found in Reinach and Searle, respectively (36). These powers are then juxtaposed with remarks on the role of collective beliefs for purposes of maintaining political legitimacy. This is driven home by appeal to the notion of collective belief in the social and political work of Ortega y Gasset. Mulligan’s chapter demonstrates the fertile possibilities that are open to contemporary social theorists, and the chapter is impressive for the ambitious task set by its author. It’s at times difficult to keep up with his admirable ability to channel a huge array of figures; Mulligan moves swiftly from Searle to Reinach, from Scheler to Berkeley, from Walther to Hume to Husserl. Positioned at the entryway to the text taken as a whole, though, this breadth demonstrates the optimism with which we should treat the overarching theme of connecting the early phenomenologists with contemporary social ontology.
Sophie Loidolt’s chapter (“Legal Reality and its A Priori Foundations – a Question of Acting or Interpreting? Felix Kaufmann, Fritz Schreier and Their Critique of Adolf Reinach”) continues a focus on Reinach by showing the ways that Kaufmann and Schreier oppose Reinach’s philosophy of law. Loidolt argues that contemporary theories have much to gain from the fundamental questions that were posed and at times the unique answers provided by the early phenomenologists who thematized social ontology and law. After first laying out fundamental components of Reinach’s legal theory, Loidolt turns to the challenges posed by Kaufmann and Schreier. Reinach had opposed Hans Kelsen on the topic of legal norms, and Kaufmann’s criticism of Reinach follows in this vein. While Kaufmann opposed what he took to be Kelsen’s neglect of valuing and rules of valuing, he retained Kelsen’s notion of legal norms as “schemes of interpretation” (54). Schreier follows suit in searching for the basic form of legal propositions and in appealing to Husserl’s eidetic method, but “instead of mapping out a general inventory of fundamental notions of a theory of science, Schreier works with the ‘a priori of correlation’ (Korrelationsapriori)” (60). Loidolt further examines the debate in regard to the use these thinkers make of the concept of the “a priori” (a theme that is returned to later on in the chapter by De Vecchi). To the question of whether legal reality requires acting or interpreting, Loidolt argues for a two-sided answer (68). Some legal matters, especially those in positive law, will require interpretation (68). At the same time, though, it’s argued that some elements of reality exist because of our actions, so perhaps we need Reinach as well (69); the acting of human beings in the life-world cannot be neglected (71-72).
The chapter co-authored by Giuseppe Lorini and Wojciech Żełaniec (“Czesław Znamierowski’s Social Ontology and Its Phenomenological Roots”) again highlights the influence of Reinach, this time in regard to Znamierowski’s development of the concept of “society in the generic sense.” This fundamental concept for Znamierowski is wide enough to encapsulate “any social system, structure or organism whatever” (77). Lorini and Żełaniec show how this concept from Znamierowski focuses on groups of two or more persons, especially insofar as feelings such as sympathy function as social bonds (79). While it’s shown that Znamierowski did not develop his concept of the person in much detail (80), his account of social acts as embedded in a society’s “environment” is crucial (81). Two additional key concepts within Znamierowski’s system are his accounts of “social bearing” and “social function” (84-85). This chapter clearly brings the major conceptual framework of Znamierowski to the fore, showing actual and potential indebtedness to Reinach and perhaps also to Husserl. The authors sketch how this theory is innovative and how we might in the future go forward in working through Znamierowski’s theory in the context of contemporary discourses.
As a supplement to the contextualizing essay provided by the volume’s editors, Jo-Jo Koo’s article (“Early Heidegger on Social Reality”) does excellent stage-setting work for delimiting the fundamental axes of debate in regard to contemporary social ontology. Readers with little or no familiarity with this tradition would do well to begin with Koo’s introduction. Within this framework, Koo argues that Heidegger’s early phenomenology can contribute to debates within social ontology, specifically regarding debates of atomism versus holism as well as debates on singularism versus corporatism (93). Motivated by a lacuna in the work of analytic social ontologists, Koo proposes that Heidegger can fill in what might otherwise remain as taken for granted assumptions on the necessary conditions of intelligibility of social entities (94). Koo lays out some of the underlying presuppositions of a few of the major figures in analytic social ontology before turning to the early Heidegger’s account of human social existence. On Koo’s account, Heidegger presents compelling reasons for the position of holism in the context of social ontology debates (99). On this basis, Heidegger’s anyone (das Man) is interpreted as the normative intelligibility of the world permeating the background of human social existence (103). This normative background “serves as the reservoir of possibilities” that enables individual human beings in their projects (106). In the final section, Koo argues that in addition to reading Heidegger’s account of sociality as a version of holism (as opposed to atomism), we should also read his account as an endorsement of corporatism (as opposed to singularism), which is “the view that corporate persons or corporate agency are ontologically irreducible or at least explanatorily indispensable” (93). These endorsements amount not simply to taking a position on a contemporary debate; by appealing to Heidegger’s early phenomenology of sociality, Koo argues that we should avoid taking the background conditions of social intelligibility for granted in the first place.
Wrapping up Part I is Gerhard Thonhauser’s chapter on the topic of “Karl Löwith’s Understanding of Sociality.” Thonhauser focuses primarily on Löwith’s under-appreciated concepts of “social roles” and “correflexivity” as they were developed in his habilitation thesis (122). By examining these concepts, Thonhauser attempts to show how Löwith can be deployed for social ontological questions regarding collective intentionality and action. The main aim of Löwith’s thesis is to “highlight and investigate how being an individual always already presupposes a relation to fellow human beings and social structures” (123). The chapter begins by illustrating Löwith’s understanding of Heidegger (under whose supervision the habilitation thesis was written) and shows three specific sites where he disagrees with his supervisor. Though highly influenced by the early Heidegger, Löwith apparently preferred the earlier early Heidegger, committing to a “hermeneutic of facticity” in opposition to the turn to fundamental ontology (and apparently, as Thonhauser suggests, to any type of ontology at all) in Being and Time (131). For me, the most interesting developments of this chapter come in the fifth section as Thonhauser presents three main themes of Löwith’s theory of sociality. The first is his understanding of social artifacts as made intelligible through our ordinary projects and practices. The second is his unique conception of “correflexivity,” which amounts to our actions and attitudes toward others being co-determined with our anticipations of others’ responses (137). This concept of correflexivity is supplemented by appeal to the ways we engage with others as embodying social roles. The third theme is Löwith’s account of the communicative nature of the emotions. Thonhauser’s chapter nicely present Löwith’s work in an area that he’s not ordinarily associated with. Löwith is put into close conversation with Heidegger, showing the points of motivations, convergence, and divergence. In a few places, gestures are also made to how Löwith’s work could be deployed in the context of contemporary analytic social ontology (129).
Part II: “Doing Things Together”
The second section is kicked off by Thomas Szanto’s article, “Husserl on Collective Intentionality.” Szanto focuses on the extent to which fine-grained distinctions can be made within Husserl’s account of different types of human collectives. This is done by developing what the author takes to be a potentially novel though definitely nascent notion of collective intentionality in Husserl: “However unsystematic and admittedly half-baked at some junctures, Husserl’s account of CI foreshadowes all the relevant issues that, decades later, would be discussed in extenso in the analytic debates” (167-168). Szanto highlights four Husserlian constitutional processes as distinct kinds of social intentionality, which he refers to as “intersubjective, social or socio-communicative, communal and collective intentionality” (149). After examining each of these four kinds of intentionality in detail and grounding them in Husserl’s writings, Szanto presents us with a recapitulation of the contemporary literature, laying out four major models of “non-summative” collective intentionality. The point of appealing to contemporary models is to set the stage for his Husserl-inspired taxonomy of social intentionalities as a plausible alternative. While Szanto admits that Husserl’s account isn’t “easily harmonized” (156) with contemporary accounts, it “resonates” (157) with specific elements from each of them. Szanto is on this basis able to present a synthesized, systematic reading of Husserl’s version of collective intentionality. The chapter concludes with a defense of this new model of collective intentionality against potential objections. Szanto suggests that this new model is not only different, but that these differences allow for Husserl’s account of collective intentionality to guard against some of the disadvantages of other models (168).
The chapter by Matthias Schloßberger (“The Varieties of Togetherness: Scheler on Collective Affective Intentionality”) argues that there are two versions of collective intentionality at work in Scheler’s writings, and that these provide us with different manners of being with others. Schloßberger examines the relationship between Scheler’s theory of feelings and his theory of the different forms of sympathy. The four classes of feelings, which for Scheler bring with them a correlated fourfold of values, are explained as a) purely sensory feelings, b) vital feelings, c) psychic feelings, and d) purely spiritual feelings (178-179). This distinction is necessary for the purposes of Schloßberger’s chapter insofar as he wants to overlay these feelings with Scheler’s account of different social bonds. Schloßberger brings these feelings into contact with Scheler’s account of forms of sympathy, overlaying the two sets. The three forms of sympathy are 1) unification (Einsfühlung), 2) sensing (Nachfühlen), and 3) fellow feeling (Mitfühlen). We are presented with Scheler’s two forms of collective intentionality. There is both a primitive feeling together and a developed feeling together, and the “crucial difference lies in the motive or reason for the feeling” (187). While Schloßberger demonstrates a few points of contact between Scheler and contemporary debates in collective intentionality (185-186), these are put forth more as potential points of departure for future research rather than topics addressed in the space of the chapter.
Hans Bernhard Schmid’s chapter (“Communal Feelings and Implicit Self-Knowledge. Hermann Schmalenbach on the Nature of the Social Bond”) counteracts an “undeserved neglect” (198) of Schmalenbach’s work by exploring his concepts of community and communion. In order to clarify these concepts, Schmid suggests that we need to appeal to a Schmalenbach’s relatively more well-known work in the philosophy of mind on pre-reflective self-knowledge (200). For Schmalenbach, the dichotomy between community and society as advanced by Tönnies and Durkheim is too staunch, and Schmid examines the concept of communion that Schmalenbach deploys as an intermediary (203). On Schmalenbach’s account, communion is similar to community insofar as it isn’t pursued for instrumental reasons; we purposely choose communions. It is similar to society insofar as it’s consciously opted into by members (203). There is a crucial affective, emotional component to communions that brings them above instances of joint attention or temporary joint actions (204). Schmalenbach’s revision of the concept of community, on the other hand, proceeds insofar as our membership can remain transparent: “[According to Schmalenbach,] communities may exist even where they are not recognized, or acknowledged, as existing by their members” (211). Schmid appeals to Aron Gurwitsch’s reading of Schmalenbach as suggesting that communions are capable of being “initiated anew” in ways that communities, as taken-for-granted traditions, are not (213). But as Schmid recognizes, this still requires us to provide an answer for how communities continue to exist, especially when they aren’t recognized or perhaps even rejected by members. It’s at this point that Schmid returns to Schmalenbach’s conception of implicit, pre-reflective self-awareness as an answer: “We may be plurally self-aware of us, as a group, without having a corresponding reflective attitude, or even in the face of conflicting self-(mis)representations” (215).
Closing out the volume’s section on collective intentionality is a comparative chapter by Felipe León and Dan Zahavi (“Phenomenology of Experiential Sharing: The Contribution of Schutz and Walther”). León and Zahavi argue that contemporary debates on collective intentionality can be bolstered by appeal to the works of Schutz and Walther, especially through appeal to their accounts of the structures of experiential sharing. Schutz develops his notion of the social surrounding world, especially emphasizing the primacy of the “face-to-face encounter” (222). While this can in principle be a unilateral relationship, the coming together of a plurality of individuals leads to Schutz’s notion of the “we-relationship” or a “living social relationship” (223). León and Zahavi point out that Schutz’s account of the “we-relationship” amounts to an “interlocking of perspectives” in such a way that the results not in an aggregation (224), but creates a “we” insofar as there is a joint focus on the world (225). From here, León and Zahavi turn to the work of Walther, whose account of we-intentionality is put forth as more robust than the account offered by Schutz. For Walther, “it is not enough that [individuals] simply have the same kind of intentional state and are directed to the same kind of object” (227). In addition to this, Walther thinks that the individuals must have knowledge of the other individuals if we’re to get to the level of a social community, and this additional component amounts to “the presence of an inner bond or connection […], a feeling of togetherness” (227). León and Zahavi carefully tease apart Walther’s notion of communal, experiential sharing from her other conceptions of intersubjective life such as empathy, imitation, and sympathy (228). The authors demonstrate how Walther’s account is more developed than Schutz’s by way of her account of the way personal communities can be unified by either direct contact with others or as mediated by other objects (229). While Schutz leaned heavily on the importance of the face-to-face relationship, Walther recognizes that communities organized based on external objects place far less emphasis on concrete interpersonal interactions (230).
Part III: “The Values and Ontological Status of Social Reality.”
Alessandro Salice (“Communities and Values. Dietrich von Hildebrand’s Social Ontology”) clearly spells out what’s going on in von Hildebrand, showing how his account relates both to other phenomenologists as well as contemporary social ontologists. Salice claims that this account of communities is unique insofar as it requires more than subjective, internal moments. An appeal to the unifying principle of values, then, is taken to be an external unifying force. Von Hildebrand argues that there are different types of social groups, yet he differs from both phenomenologists and other social ontologists insofar as he denies the importance of groups’ internal, subjective features (240). Instead, von Hildebrand fixes his gaze on external conditions of group organization, especially the concept of the “virtus unitiva,” “the unifying virtue or force that values can exert over individuals and that might bring them to constitute a community” (240). Salice explains that there are two ways that von Hildebrand uses the term “community.” Communities in the weak sense are I-Thou relationships (241). Communities in the strong sense of the term refer to individuals who are jointly directed to the world in the form of we-unifications, and Salice presents these unifications as given in four different stages (243-244). These communities are quasi-substances according to von Hildebrand, and we-communities are real wholes. Salice unpacks this claim by appeal to von Hildebrand’s mereology, showing his three different understandings of parts and wholes (246-247). It’s shown that we-communities are only wholes in the sense that their parts (individual human beings) are capable of existing “before and independently of communities” (247). Other conceptions of relations between parts and wholes, however, aren’t applicable to we-communities, and Salice shows how von Hildebrand uses this appeal to mereology to show why communities cannot be considered as higher order persons (247).
In his contribution, Edward Świderski (“Ingarden’s ‘Material-Value’ Conception of Socio-Cultural Reality”) suggests that Roman Ingarden’s career, which is not ostensibly concerned with matters of social ontology, could have been otherwise. According to Świderski, we can uncover sociality as an implicit component of Ingarden’s work if we look at the crucial role that values play in human existence (262). Świderski motivates this project by examining Ingarden’s phenomenology of artworks, especially works of literature, insofar as they are bearers of value. Świderski attempts to distill an enormous amount from Ingarden’s writings in the direction of an account of communal life, especially given his admission that he has “no textual evidence to this effect” (262). This approach is then furthered by comparing his analysis with a contemporary interpretation of Ingarden put forth by Amie Thomasson. He also briefly compares Ingarden’s conception of responsibility with Margaret Gilbert’s account of joint commitment. Świderski suggests that Thomasson hasn’t paid enough attention to Ingarden’s account of values, yet that doing so will allow us to say more about the latter’s potential in the domain of social theory.
Francesca De Vecchi’s chapter (“A Priori of the Law and Values in the Social Ontology of Wilhelm Schapp and Adolf Reinach”) begins by addressing ways in which the work of Schapp and Reinach are complementary. In the face of these intertwinements, however, De Vecchi points out a site of criticism volleyed from Schapp to Reinach, namely, the former’s criticism of latter’s neglect of the role of values in the context of social and legal acts (282). De Vecchi is especially interested in an analysis of the use of the concept of the “a priori” in these two thinkers, and ultimately argues that Schapp’s a priori is not “genuine” insofar as it does not target both necessary and universal relations (301). De Vecchi suggests, however, that Schapp’s analyses on the topic of values in their relation to law are much needed, especially in the context of background presuppositions for contemporary social ontology. More specifically, De Vecchi argues that Schapp’s originality comes from contributing “an account of the relation between values and law as an existential relation, as a relation embedded in the quality of existence both of values and of human beings” (287). De Vecchi unpacks five claims that speak to Schapp’s ontology of values (289-291), before turning to their existential character and necessary sociality. Even though Schapp provides us with a social theory of values, De Vecchi argues that his account is not fully developed and even confusing in some places. Nevertheless, Schapp’s account is put forth as providing a welcoming addition to social ontology insofar as he thematizes the “quality of the existence of social entities” and their existence in the lifeworld (306). The bulk of this chapter is focused on Schapp, with Reinach making a brief appearance near the end. Contra Schapp, De Vecchi shows that Reinach’s account of the a priori connections at the foundations of positive law has nothing to do with values (311). While Reinach’s account allows him to develop a genuine a priori, the chapter’s author suggests this is done at the expense of neglecting the values.
The contribution from Sonja Rinofner-Kreidl (“Disenchanting the Fact/Value Dichotomy: A Critique of Felix Kaufmann’s Views on Value and Social Reality”) begins by investigating the background motivations of Kaufmann’s work in order to show that there is a methodological tension at play in his work. Rinofner-Kreidl highlights the extent to which Kaufmann held simultaneous allegiances to logical positivism and Hans Kelsen’s theory of law, on the one hand, and Husserl’s phenomenology on the other (318). These allegiances lead to a position on the relation between facts and values that doesn’t seem to be in the spirit of some of his other commitments, namely, the fundamental methodological commitments of 1) distinguishing distinct strata of experience and 2) being on guard against “the philosopher’s fallacy” of confusing statements about reality with problems of meaning (319). More specifically, Rinofner-Kreidl suggests that Kaufmann treats values according only to logical analysis, whereas he would have likely come to different conclusions had he engaged in a phenomenological approach (322). Kaufmann brings values into consideration through axiological rules, as clarified sentences of value terms (324), and in this way the fact/value dichotomy is taken to be “disenchanted” (325). We’re also presented with three shortcomings that thereby arise on the topic of values. Rinofner-Kreidl suggests that we should appeal to Husserl, who was already an influence for Kaufmann, to circumvent these shortcomings; we should look to Husserl on an analysis of evaluative intentionality (329). It’s suggested that Kaufmann’s attempt to disenchant the fact/value dichotomy in the way he did was motivated by a desire to distance himself from “value Platonism,” but Rinofner-Kreidl argues that opposing Platonism need not amount to abandoning a descriptive-phenomenological approach to values (330-331). After presenting an in-depth account of Husserl on the structures of evaluative intentionality, Rinofner-Kreidl argues that an appeal to a “two tiered constitution of values in evaluative acts” can help to get Kaufmann out of a pickle. This two-tiered approach makes room both for phenomenological analysis and for a logical analysis of meaning. It’s argued that Kaufmann’s manner of disenchanting the fact/value dichotomy unfolds due to an undue separation between lifeworld practices and scientific investigations, and this this “amount to denying that both words have referential weight” (343). However, Rinofner-Kreidl argues in a Husserlian vein that “what it means to talk about ‘facts’ and ‘values’ varies with regard to different theoretical context” (344), and that both sides can be done justice insofar as we remain aware of our “point of view” (345).
The final chapter of the book is co-authored by Genki Uemura and Toru Yaegashi (“The Actuality of States and Other Social Groups. Tomoo Otaka’s Transcendental Project?”). They begin with a biographical portrait of Husserl’s “best Japanese student” (350) and then move to a systematic presentation of Otaka’s phenomenology. The primary philosophical focus of Otaka’s work was on theories of state, law, and society. Uemura and Yaegashi suggest that the most important social-ontological project for Otaka was reconciling the twofold status of certain social groups (primarily states) as being both ideal and actual (353). For Otaka, this means that a correct account of the state will have to be a “multi-aspect” approach (370). Otaka’s concerns are presented as being motivated by his different theories of state as well as Husserl’s phenomenology. Uemura and Yaegashi show that Otaka’s solution to accounting for the actuality of states draws from Husserl’s account of reason and actuality from the final section of Husserl’s Ideen I (360) and “categorial intuition” from the Logische Untersuchungen (361). There are, nevertheless, important ways in which Otaka “is not a mere follower of Husserl,” and the authors demonstrate where he departs from Husserl (362). By comparing the actuality of states with other examples that Otaka provided of spiritual formations (woodblock prints, tools, and works of music), the authors highlight a distinction between homogeneous and heterogeneous foundation (364). Influenced by Reinach, Otaka’s account of the actuality of social groups is shown to be founded in mutual understanding through social acts (368). While states are one kind of social group, they have unique features that don’t belong to all forms of social groups. As mentioned before, states have a “multi-sidedness” that requires a “multi-aspect” approach (370) in order to account for their social, legal, and political aspects. Uemura and Yaegashi highlight the role that territoriality and nationality can play in Otaka’s account of states that aren’t components of other actual social groups (371). In addition to their status of actuality, states also have an ideality that accounts for their existence over time despite changes (e.g., the coming and going of members), and this ideality is accounted for by appeal to Otaka’s account of the historicity of states (372). In the concluding sections of their chapter, Uemura and Yaegashi highlight a dilemma that arises based on Otaka’s account of “supersensible or meaningful intuition,” but go on to argue that this dilemma can be avoided while maintaining the phenomenological character of his thought by appealing to Husserl’s accounts of axiological and volitional intentionality (375). Uemura and Yaegashi present a comprehensive account of Otaka’s phenomenological approach to the actuality of states while also highlighting in their conclusion directions for future research, including how this topic might be productively pursued by appeal to works by Reinach, Scheler, Pfänder, and Walther.
This is an exciting and inviting book, lending itself to engagement with the reader (my margins are now quite full, in a good way). This volume is undoubtedly of interest to a surprising number of philosophical camps due both to its content and to the clarity of the authors’ writing. It is also a welcome addition due to the willingness of the authors to work across philosophical divides. Phenomenologists will find it of interest both for its focus on phenomenological philosophers and themes and also insofar as the articles bridge the disciplines of phenomenology and social ontology. Social ontologists will find it of interest both insofar as it develops and in some places extends the discipline in new directions, and also insofar as the chapters clearly bridge social ontology themes into phenomenology. Philosophers and phenomenologists of law are provided with a wealth of information, and historians of philosophy will find countless reasons for enthusiasm. This text as a whole accomplishes the difficult task of resonating with a wide range of topics while also maintaining its focus on conceptual overlap between early phenomenology and lively topics of twenty-first century social theory.
Moran, Dermot, Rodney Parker (eds.), Studia Phaenomenologica, XV: Early Phenomenology (2015).
Moran, Dermot, Thomas Szanto (eds.), Phenomenology of Sociality: Discovering the ‘We’ (New York: Routledge, 2016).