Rational a priori or Emotional a priori? Husserl and Scheler’s Criticisms of Kant Regarding the Foundation of Ethics

Cultura 8 (2):143-158 (2011)
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Based on the dispute between Protagoras and Socrates on the origin of ethics, one can ask the question of whether the principle of ethics is reason orfeeling/emotion, or whether ethics is grounded on reason or feeling/emotion. The development of Kant’s thoughts on ethics shows the tension between reason and feeling/emotion. In Kant’s final critical ethics, he held to a principle of “rational a priori.” On the one hand, this is presented as the rational a priori principle being the binding principle of judgment. On the other hand, it is presented as the doctrine of “rational fact” as the ultimate argument of his ethics. Husserl believed that Kant’s doctrine of a rational a priori totally disregarded the a priori essential laws of feeling. Like Husserl, Scheler criticized Kant’s doctrine of a rational a priori, and therefore developed his own theory of an “emotional a priori”. Both of them focused their critiques on the grounding level of ethics. Scheler, however, did not follow Husserl all the way, but criticized him and reflected on his thoughts. At last, he revealed the primary status of a phenomenological material ethics of value.
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