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Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Yale University


To understand and to describe the feeling we call "respect" is the purpose of this thesis. Relying primarily upon the method of phenomenology, the contours of this often. invoked moral feeling are developed and a pattern and structure are therein discerned.

General issues of methodology as well as specific problems of access to the phenomenon of respect are first considered. Respect for persons qua persons is eschewed as a focus~ in order that our analysis not become excessively entangled in the nature of personhood. Rather, we turn to those particular individuals for whom we each have at some time felt respect, and seek to describe that experience.

As a preparation and a supplement to phenomenology, we discuss the linguistic usage of "respect 11 and separate out the affective use which is primarily relevant for us. The etymology of the word is explored in detail, and compared briefly with that of the German "Achtung", although it is not made authoritative for our investigation.

Building especially upon the work of Otto Friedrich Bollnow, the feeling of respect is contrasted with feelings which have been alleged by others to be identical or analogous: love, valuing, esteem, admiration and reverence. Although respect has some affinities here (especially to admiration), it turns out surprisingly to be quite distinct from valuing, under which it is sometimes subsumed. These contrasts serve both to delimit the boundaries of respect and to heighten our perplexity at its nature, so that our further observation may avoid being overly facile. Direct phenomenological description of the feeling of respect occupies us centrally and at length, and, as might be supposed, concerns primarily the noema or intentional object of respect. Via the revelation of such characteristics as solidity, unity, and trans-temporality, we arrive at the core of that which is respected, which might be summarized as "directed power".

Because the respected has been shown to be self-transcending, problems are posed if we wish to call those we respect "ends-in-themselves". These problems are explored in a separate chapter under the rubrics of "self-respect" and "fairness". The work of Immanuel Kant is here examined. Our phenomenology is concluded with a delineation of the actions which do and do not necessarily follow from the feeling of respect. A large measure of practical indeterminacy prevents us from concluding, for example, that respect results in toleration; but we are able to illuminate two formal categories of respectful action, which we call "consideration" and "acknowledgment".


A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Yale University in Candidacy for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.