Central and East European
Society for Phenomenology

Conference | Paper

The Total versus the Corporate State. The Political Phenomenology of Aurel Kolnai

Andrzej Gniazdowski

Thursday 2 December 2021

12:10 - 12:50

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This paper is conceived as a part of the broader research project The Political Applications of Phenomenology granted by the Institute for the Human Sciences in Vienna (October 1, 2021– February 28, 2022). The project objectives consist, on the one hand, in the reconstruction of the political philosophies developed by the chosen early phenomenologists, that is Edmund Husserl, Moritz Geiger, Max Scheler, Adolf Reinach, Edith Stein, Arnold Metzger, Adolf Grimme, Kurt Stavenhagen, Gerhart Husserl, Aurel Kolnai, and Gerda Walther. On the other hand, they concern the “critique of political phenomenology,” i.e., the attempt to distinguish the phenomenological “substance” of those approaches from their mere world-view “accidentality.” The aim of this paper is to reconstruct the relationship between Kolnai’s criticism of the total state, the embodiments of which were, according to him, both the national-socialist as well as the communist state, and his philosophical apology of the corporate state and also the social hierarchy presented in the pre-war articles published in Der Christliche Standesstaat as well as post-war articles published, e.g., in The Thomist. The aim of this critique and reconstruction is to contribute to both history of the phenomenological movement as well as to theory of the state by a systematic reconstruction of Kolnai’s phenomenology of the state as an unjustly unacknowledged position within the twentieth-century political theory.