Date of Award

Spring 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Luft, Sebastian

Second Advisor

Monahan, Michael

Third Advisor

Tallon, Andrew


This dissertation attempts to articulate the concept of personhood in Husserl. In his research manuscripts, Husserl recognized the need for a concrete description of subjectivity that still remained within the transcendental register. The concept of personhood, although never fully worked out, is intended to provide this description by demonstrating how the embodied, enworlded, intersubjective, and axiological dimensions of experience are integrated.

After briefly outlining the characteristics of a transcendental phenomenological account of personhood, this dissertation outlines the essential structures of personhood. The person, for Husserl, includes the passive dimension with the instinctive and affective dimensions of subjectivity, which become sedimented into habits, and the worldliness of subjectivity that provides a background horizon for the subject's actions. However, the full concept of personhood does not yet emerge in the passive sphere. The active dimension of position-taking acts, especially with respect to the loved values that make up one's vocation, is what constitutes the person as a unity of intentional activity, history, and striving, and makes it possible to speak about the transcendental person, as opposed to merely the transcendental subject or ego. Because the person lives in a community with others, the choice of a vocation can be subjected to critical scrutiny on the part of the community, and the community itself ought to critically reflect upon its own telos.

After outlining the structures of personhood, this dissertation argues that there is a teleology running from the lowest dimensions of passive experience all the way up to the highest ideal of a person and his or her community. This teleology is ultimately a teleology of reason, and it reveals the philosophical task of living a life that can be absolutely justified. This dissertation concludes by describing the person as an entelechy of reason, which captures the teleological striving of reason inherent in Husserl's concept of personhood.

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