Normativity, Meaning, and the Promise of Phenomenology  book cover
1st Edition

Normativity, Meaning, and the Promise of Phenomenology

ISBN 9781032092393
Published June 30, 2021 by Routledge
378 Pages

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Book Description

The aim of this volume is to critically assess the philosophical importance of phenomenology as a method for studying the normativity of meaning and its transcendental conditions. Using the pioneering work of Steven Crowell as a springboard, phenomenologists from all over the world examine the promise of phenomenology for illuminating long-standing problems in epistemology, the philosophy of mind, action theory, the philosophy of religion, and moral psychology. The essays are unique in that they engage with the phenomenological tradition not as a collection of authorities to whom we must defer, or a set of historical artifacts we must preserve, but rather as a community of interlocutors with views that bear on important issues in contemporary philosophy.

The book is divided into three thematic sections, each examining different clusters of issues aimed at moving the phenomenological project forward. The first section explores the connection between normativity and meaning, and asks us to rethink the relation between the factual realm and the categories of validity in terms of which things can show up as what they are. The second section examines the nature of the self that is capable of experiencing meaning. It includes essays on intentionality, agency, consciousness, naturalism, and moral normativity. The third section addresses questions of philosophical methodology, examining if and why phenomenology should have priority in the analysis of meaning. Finally, the book concludes with an afterword written by Steven Crowell.

Normativity, Meaning, and the Promise of Phenomenology will be a key resource for students and scholars interested in the phenomenological tradition, the transcendental tradition from Kant to Davidson, and existentialism. Additionally, its forward-looking focus yields crucial insights into pressing philosophical problems that will appeal to scholars working across all areas of the discipline.

Table of Contents


 Matthew Burch, Jack Marsh, and Irene McMullin

Section I: Normativity, Meaning, and the Limits of Phenomenology

1. Constitutive, Prescriptive, Technical or Ideal? On the Ambiguity of the Term ‘Norm’

Sara Heinämaa

2. The Space of Meaning, Phenomenology, and the Normative Turn

Leslie MacAvoy 

3. Mind, Meaning and Metaphysics: Another Look

Dan Zahavi

4. Ground, Background, and Rough Ground:  Dreyfus, Wittgenstein, and Phenomenology

David Cerbone

5. Inauthentic Theologizing and Phenomenological Method

Martin Kavka

Section II: Sources of Normativity

6. Intentionality and (Moral) Normativity

John Drummond

7. The Sources of Practical Normativity Reconsidered – with Kant and Levinas

Inga Römer

8. Resoluteness and Gratitude for the Good

Irene McMullin

Section III: Normativity and Nature

9. On Being a Human Self

Mark Okrent 

10. Normativity with a Human Face: Placing Intentional Norms and Intentional Agents back in Nature

Glenda Satne & Bernardo Ainbinder

11. World-Articulating Animals

Joseph Rouse

Section IV: Attuned Agency

12. Moods as Active

Joe Schear

13. Against Our Better Judgment

Matthew Burch

14. Everyday Eros: Toward a Phenomenology of Erotic Inception

Jack Marsh

Section V: Epistemic Normativity

15. Normativity and Knowledge

Walter Hopp

16. Appearance, Judgment, and Norms

Charles Siewert

17. Husserl’s and Heidegger’s Transcendental Projects: From the Natural Attitude to Functioning Intentionality

Dermot Moran 


A Philosophy of Mind: Phenomenology, Normativity, and Meaning

Steven Crowell

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Matthew Burch is a philosophy lecturer at the University of Essex. His research interests lie at the intersection of phenomenology and the cognitive and social sciences. He has published in Inquiry, The European Journal of Philosophy, and Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences. He is currently a Research Fellow with the Independent Social Research Foundation.

Jack Marsh is a St. Leonard’s Scholar in Religion at the University of St. Andrews. He is the author of Saying Violence: Levinas, Chauvinism, Disinterest (forthcoming). His work has appeared in many journals, including Philosophy and Social Criticism, Levinas Studies, and Philosophy Today.

Irene McMullin teaches philosophy at the University of Essex. She specializes in Ethics and 20th Century European philosophy. In 2013 she published Time and the Shared World: Heidegger on Social Relations. Her second book, Existential Flourishing: A Phenomenology of the Virtues, is forthcoming.


"Sensibly organized by the editors, I found this book be a deeply absorbing and intellectually entertaining read. Above all, I applaud the provocative boldness and daring of its contributors. Although addressed to an audience familiar enough with the phenomenological tradition, because almost all of the contributors write in clear, plain English, I'm sure curious philosophers from outside the tradition, if open-minded and willing enough to put in a bit of work, should also find it accessible."Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews