This article deals with Jacques Derrida’s critique of the phenomenological concepts of spirituality and spirit, particularly in the context of his 1987 book Of Spirit
. As the article shows, Derrida’s interpretation of these concepts was based on a seemingly minor, yet extremely important misreading of Edmund Husserl’s key passages on the relationship between spirituality and Europe. Unlike Derrida claims, Husserl did not equate Europe with the universal teleology of humankind. Instead, what the concept of spirituality opened up was a new way of understanding transcendental modes of experience as embedded in a particular historical situation of a particular community. Philosophy, understood as a “spiritual” phenomenon, denoted for Husserl a fundamentally intersubjective and intergenerational phenomenon that is by no means separate from empirical history.
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