FAH/DPHIL Lecture Series – “Methodological Atheism: An Essay in the Second-Person Phenomenology of Commitment” by Prof. Steven Crowell, Rice University, USA
2021-11-17 @ 10:00 am ~ 11:30 am
This talk argues that reason is phenomenologically grounded in commitment, the experience of being the addressee of a normative claim. Such an experience is the topic of second-person phenomenology. I begin by defending a metaphysically neutral interpretation of phenomenological method (“methodological atheism”). I then contrast Stephen Darwall’s second-person standpoint, in which normative reasons presuppose symmetrical authority between addresser and addressee, with Emmanuel Levinas’s second-person phenomenology, which insists on an asymmetrical authority relation between the addresser and addressee. I argue that Levinas’s account transgresses the methodological atheism of phenomenology and conclude by examining Heidegger’s phenomenology of conscience and commitment. Heidegger shows that the addressee’s responsiveness to the normative is phenomenologically prior to identifying the addresser of the call, and so prior to Darwall-style “recognitional” accounts of normative reasons as well as Levinasian “metaphysical” accounts.