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Journal: Horizon. Studies in Phenomenology (Vol.10, No. 2)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 553-576

Keywords : Alexandre Koyré; Hedwig Conrad-Martius; Early Phenomenology; Descartes; Boehme; Theosophy; Martin Heidegger; Atheism;

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Alexandre Koyré from Taganrog in Southern Russia, later teaching in France and the US, and Hedwig Conrad-Martius from Rostock in Northern Germany, eventually teaching in Munich, got to know each other as students of Edmund Husserl's at Göttingen. Members of the Philosophische Gesellschaft Göttingen, they then also belonged to the Bergzabern Circle which came into existence during World War I and has been named this way as the group usually met in Conrad-Martius' and her husband Theodor Conrad's house in Bergzabern, a small town in Southern Palatinate, close to Germany's border with France. Common to the circle was their critical reception of Husserl's “transcendental turn” and their adhesion to Adolf Reinach whom they understood as the “real phenomenologist” because of upholding a rather realist view on things and consciousness. Also typical for the Bergzabern phenomenologists, both Koyré and Conrad-Martius spent much effort on religious and theological questions. So beginning from the second half of the war, inspired by Reinach's writing on religious philosophy, and intensifying during the early 20s, Koyré and Conrad-Martius shared the interest e.g. in the idea of God, considerations on God's existence which then led to common endeavors on René Descartes and similar investigations of theosophical thinkers like Jakob Boehme. Together with Jean Hering, Edith Stein and Alfred von Sybel they struggled and intensely questioned Martin Heidegger's philosophical and academic activity and sharply argued—especially after the publication of Sein und Zeit in 1927 and Husserl's 70th birthday in 1929—against Heidegger's “Atheist philosophy,” as they would call it. Though being one the most compelling relationships inside the early phenomenological movement, the interconnection of Koyré and Conrad-Martius by now has unfortunately merely been scratched on its surface, let alone has been analyzed in depth. Following some minor recent contributions of the author on the topic, the article highlights Koyré's and Conrad-Martius' correspondence from the time before World War I until Summer 1933, in particular the nine letters and postcards preserved in Munich's Bavarian State Library. It may show not only the personal and philosophical relationship between Koyré and Conrad-Martius, but hopefully raise the interest in further research on this topic, i.e. to what degree Koyré's claim that phenomenology can't do without a samovar should be followed and lived up to.

Last modified: 2022-01-12 01:50:51