Husserl and the Idea of Europe
Imprint: Northwestern University Press
Husserl and the Idea of Europe argues that Edmund Husserl’s late reflections on Europe should not be read either as departures from his early transcendental phenomenology or as simple exercises of cultural criticism but rather as systematic phenomenological reflections on generativity and historicity. Timo Miettinen shows that Husserl’s deliberations on Europe contain his most compelling and radical interpretation of the intersubjective, communal, and historical dimensions of phenomenology.
Husserl and his generation worked in the aftermath of World War I, as Europe struggled to redefine itself, and he penned his late writings as the clouds of World War II gathered. Decades later, the fall of the Soviet Union again altered the continent’s identity and its political and economic divisions. Miettinen writes as a European involved in the question of Europe, and many of the recent authors and critics he addresses in this work—such as Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Giorgio Agamben—likewise deeply engaged with this new problem of European identity. The book illuminates the multifaceted problem of the idea of European rationality, and it defends novel conceptions of universalism and teleology as necessary components of radical philosophical reflection.
“Miettinen’s book is a masterful exposition and defense of Husserl’s idea of Europe. He follows Husserl’s reflections on the classical sources of Europe’s identity and considers its past, its present, and its future. In the end, Miettinen’s book is a deeply erudite reflection not only on Husserl but on the idea of Europe itself. At a moment when Europe’s identity and self-understanding are in crisis, as they were in Husserl’s time, this book is timely indeed.” —David Carr, author of Phenomenology and the Problem of History
“In Husserl and the Idea of Europe, Timo Miettinen develops an insightful, erudite, and nuanced account of the complexities and challenges of Husserl's evolving understanding of history, politics, and social existence through the prism of his idea of Europe. Miettinen's study will prove indispensable for revising an established image of Husserl as an 'apolitical' and 'ahistorical' thinker while also delineating a political and social phenomenology along Husserlian lines in critical dialogue with other European thinkers." —Nicolas De Warren, author of A Momentary Breathlessness in the Sadness of Time and Husserl and the Promise of Time: Subjectivity in Transcendental Phenomenology.
"What obviously makes Miettinen’s study stand apart, is its unique position at the crossroads of traditional Husserl scholarship, history of ideas, and contemporary political philosophy. It not only shows how Husserl’s ideas about historicity, situatedness, and teleology emerged out of the interplay of his phenomenological endeavor and the cultural context saturated with crisis-consciousness; it also seeks to bring these ideas to fruition in the contemporary political and philosophical setting." —Tommi Hjelt, Phenomenological Reviews
"Meticulous and ultimately fascinating, Miettinen’s hermeneutic approach introduces a new way to look into Husserl’s views on European universalism." —L. A. Wilkinson, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, CHOICE
"If Timo Miettinen’s Husserl and the Idea of Europe stands out as a timely book of crucial theoretical importance, it is above all because it attempts to give us an ontological validation of . . . practical renewals of political universalism. Although the book has the thematic scope and style of a historical-philosophical investigation, its argument goes far beyond the results of a conventional exegesis. Thinking through Husserl’s mature reflections on the crisis of European sciences and showing that these reflections are best understood in terms of Husserl’s concepts of historicity and generativity, Miettinen provides an original phenomenological account of the ethical and political connotations of universalism." —Boris Pantev, EuropeNow