From Phenomenology to Metaphysics
Chapter 3: Motivation and Value
Motivation and Value
Stein’s phenomenology of value and motivation integrates insights she found in Reinach, Scheler and Husserl. Where Reinach stressed the a priori of the values and Scheler the hierarchy they form, Husserl was interested in describing the act of valuation and sees values as founded on things.1 Stein’s account stands between Sartre’s later subjectivist existentialism and Levinas’ insistence on the Other as the ground of obligation.2 Because of ← 27 | 28 → her ability to synthesise the best from Scheler and Husserl, and because she started with the notion of empathy that allowed her to include the hermeneutical tradition from Dilthey, Stein elaborates a phenomenological theory of motivation in which value plays the role of motivation’s object or formal explanation (analogous to how the perceived is the specific object of perception and its formal explanation). Motivation is like perception in that it is experienced as identified by its object. It is unlike perception in that it is essentially felt and in that it can be followed or infelt (empathised) in others, in texts, and in other things marked by spirit.3 Motivatedness reveals to us the entire inner world of persons and is in fact, according to Stein, what we understand by spirit.
It is the simplicity of this understanding – spirit is motivatedness – that allows Stein to develop her comprehensive theory of what in German is called the ‘sciences of the spirit’, and which we in English call ‘the humanities’ (Geisteswissenschaften). As values...
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