Central and East European
Society for Phenomenology

Conference | Paper

“Good Europeans.” A Nietzschean Concept in Husserl's Thought?

Daniele de Santis

Thursday 2 December 2021

09:00 - 09:40

Zoom 1-3

The paper will discuss the manner, in which Husserl employs the Nietzschean expression of “Good European(s)” in some of his late writings on Europe to criticize the rampant “nationalism,” of which he himself was a victim. Besides asking the preliminary question to what extent Husserl was aware of the “Nietzschean” origin and implications of that concept (the question is far from being merely rhetorical, as Husserl owned a copy of F. Nietzsche’s Gesamtausgabe), the present paper will tackle two questions—one of historical and another of systematic nature.

In the first place, we will claim that the introduction of the notion of “Good Europeans” serves to express, within the wider framework of Husserl’s reflection on the nature of Europe, a conception of (political) community epitomized by what Husserl had already labeled “community of love” (in German: Liebesgemeinschaft). The latter, we will further argue, was first framed and developed by Husserl after he had read Arnold Metzger’s manuscript Phänomenologie der Revolution. In other words, Husserl borrows from Metzger the idea of a “community of love” (Metzger himself speaks of liebende Gemeinschaft), upon which he will later expand in his manuscripts on the many possible forms and types of community. Hence, the Nietzschean sounding expression “Good European(s)” is eventually introduced in his latest reflections to designate, at the level of the contemporary history of Europe, the idea of a community that stands opposite to all nationalisms.

At this point, this being the second question that we would like to address, a discussion of what Husserl means by the turn of the phrase “Good European(s)” will be provided. We will explain that what Husserl has mostly in mind is a “multi-language” sort of community or, better: a community whose boundaries and identity are neither dictated nor determined by the sharing of one language. The presentation will be brought to a conclusion by showing, on the basis of Husserl’s letters to T. G. Masaryk, that what Husserl had concretely in mind, when he spoke of “Good European(s),” is the Czechoslovakian First Republic founded by his former university peer.

The paper will be, hence, divided into three parts. After the first, quick introduction of the Nietzschean notion of “Good Europeans,” the second part will elaborate upon the Husserl-Metzger relation. Finally, the political implications for the concept of community will be drawn on the basis of what Husserl means to designate by “Good Europeans”-“community of love.”