spirit’s autonomy

The spirit and in fact only the spirit is a being in itself and for itself; it is autonomous and is capable of being handled in a genuinely rational, genuinely and thoroughly scientific way only in this autonomy*.

EDMUND HUSSERL: Philosophy and the Crisis of European Man

note *: ‘Dualism’ and ‘monism’ are terms whose meanings are not easily determined. As a convinced ‘idealist’ Husserl considered himself a monist, and he criticized Kant strongly for remaining a dualist. Hegel, on the other hand, criticizes Fichte (whom Husserl resembles closely in this) for not having escaped dualism. One might well make a case for designating as monism a theory that accepts only one kind of reality, to which both matter and spirit (of the ‘factual’ and the ‘ideal’) belong. By this criterion Husserl’s distinction would be ‘dualistic’. Perhaps the best that can be said is that Husserl is, in intention at least, epistemologically a monist. Spirit alone is being in the full sense, because only of spirit can there be science in the full sense. One conclusion from all this, it would seem, is that the terminology involved bears revision.


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