The Transcendental-Phenomenological Ontology of Persons and the Singularity of Love


Reference to persons with personal pronouns raises the issue of the primary referent and its nature. “I” does not refer to a property or cluster of properties. This contrasts with our identifying grasp of persons. A person is a radical singularity and thus stands in contrast to a kind or sortal term. The individuation of persons is not adequately grasped by “definite descriptions” or “eidetic singularities.” In spite of the seeming possibility of persons being wholly identical in terms of properties, in other words, “doubles,” the core referent of reference to persons is not to what is individuated merely by mere numerical differences or spatial-temporal, and essential-eidetic determinations. Rather we have to do with a “non-sortal unique essence.” What “I” refers to is a self-individuating substance. This raises questions for the proper referent of “love.” What is it that love intends or loves if persons are basically radical singularities. What does one love and why does one love if whom one loves is most essentially non-sortal? The question of the ontological status of persons requires integrating the status of being transcendental I’s, and thus being non-temporal, non-spatial, non-sortal, simple (non-composite) substances and thus not homogenous with the experienced world.


Husserl, Sokolowski, Klawonn, first-person reference, substance, individuation, eidos, love, immortality

How to cite:

Hart, James G. “The Transcendental-Phenomenological Ontology of Persons and the Singularity of Love.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 4, no. 4 (2020): 136-174. https://doi.org/10.14394/eidos.jpc.2020.0045.


James G. Hart (Professor Emeritus)
Department of Religious Studies, Indiana University Bloomington
College of Arts and Sciences, Sycamore Hall 230, 1033 E 3rd St., Bloomington, IN 47405-7005, USA


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