Ángel Xolocotzi, Ricardo Gibu (coords.): Fenomenología del cuerpo y hermenéutica de la corporeidad

Fenomenología del cuerpo y hermenéutica de la corporeidad Book Cover Fenomenología del cuerpo y hermenéutica de la corporeidad
Filosofía
Ángel Xolocotzi Yáñez, Ricardo Gibu Shimabukuro (coordinadores)
Filosofía
Plaza y Valdés
2014
Tapa blanda 16,50 €
279

Reviewed by: Jean Orejarena Torres (Universidad Autónoma de Puebla)

El cuerpo como cosa misma

Descrito por Platón como “la cárcel del alma”, el cuerpo ha ocupado en la filosofía un lugar secundario respecto a la investigación acerca la verdad, a tal punto que se dice en el diálogo Fedón –en referencia a una sentencia órfica– que dicha investigación consiste en “el separar al máximo el alma del cuerpo” (67c). Sin embargo, y tal vez con una clara inspiración nietzscheana, el cuerpo, interpretado como un ‘fenómeno’, ha despertado en los últimos años la atención de gran parte de la filosofía contemporánea. En este sentido, el libro Fenomenología del cuerpo y hermenéutica de la corporeidad recoge una serie de investigaciones dedicadas a examinar las distintas interpretaciones de la noción de ‘cuerpo’ en el ámbito de los recientes estudios fenomenológicos y hermenéuticos. Este libro, editado por Ángel Xolocotzi y Ricardo Gibu, agrupa un total de catorce investigaciones en donde se da una revaloración y una resignificación del cuerpo como concepto filosófico fundamental, a partir de la conocida diferenciación entre los términos alemanes Leib y Körper.

A grandes rasgos, una tesis compartida por un conjunto amplio de fenomenológos consiste en diferenciar al cuerpo (Leib) como un fenómeno vivo –como “cuerpo vivido como propio”– frente a la concepción meramente parametral del cuerpo (Körper) en las ciencias físicas, donde es tomado como cosa con extensión, volumen, masa, etc. (cf., p. 15). En la primera determinación del cuerpo, fenomenológos y filósofos como Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Emmanuel Levinas, Michel Henry, Jean-Luc Nancy, entre otros, han observado el cuerpo como un concepto directriz en la configuración articulada de la comprensión del mundo, a partir de una recepción creativa de la obra de Edmund Husserl, especialmente de Ideas II. En esta peculiar recepción francesa de la fenomenología husserliana, el fenómeno de la ‘carne’ (chair) –enunciado por M. Merleau-Ponty, y profundizado por M. Henry– ha desempeñado un papel fundamental. Hasta podría decirse que, con dicha división terminológica –y con la primacía fenomenológica del Leib frente al Körper–, se ha abierto el camino para una retórica de la corporeidad. Si se revisa con detalle la construcción sobre la que descansan varios de los presupuestos del análisis de la corporeidad, se evidencia –a grandes rasgos– la inclusión de una narrativa acerca del cuerpo, en donde el tocar y la tactilidad emergen como conceptos fundamentales desde los que se ancla una comprensión intrínseca, vivida, del mundo.

Una de las notables ausencias que, en opinión de Sartre, caracterizó a Ser y tiempo fue la de un análisis del fenómeno del cuerpo. En efecto, Heidegger no se presenta –como sí sucede con los filósofos franceses– como un fenomenólogo que trata la comprensión del mundo a partir del anclaje al cuerpo; antes que eso, y como menciona el mismo Heidegger en los Zollikoner Seminare, el análisis de la Leiblichkeit es lo más díficil. Incluso, frente a la anotación nietzscheana que dice que “el fenómeno del cuerpo es el más rico, más claro, más comprensible (…)”, Heidegger objeta que el cuerpo no es ni lo más comprensible ni lo más claro; en su opinión, se lograría más, si contempláramos dicho fenómeno como un problema (cf., p. 9).

Esta ‘modestia’ heideggeriana –o mejor dicho este ‘escepticismo’– resulta bastante significativa frente a una serie de explicaciones valorativas expuestas, a veces libremente, en los análisis fenomenológicos “post-husserlianos”. En efecto, esta actitud restrictiva, si se observa con detalle, proporciona un aspecto metódico adecuado desde el que se pueden poner entre paréntesis algunas de las construcciones conceptuales alrededor del fenómeno del cuerpo; del mismo modo, uno puede preguntarse aquí si acaso la división tajante entre Leib y Körper es lo suficientemente conclusiva hasta el punto de quedarnos con una serie de descripciones de un cuerpo supuestamente vivo, y supuestamente encarnado, en donde el punto focal de la constitución de nuestra experiencia del mundo proviene de una noción de cuerpo (Leib) que pasa por alto al cuerpo físico (Körper). Sucede, en este caso, aquello mismo que sucede en una serie de interpretaciones heideggerianas que postulan una división radical y una concentración focal de lo ‘ontológico’ frente a lo ‘óntico’, pasando por alto que el mismo Heidegger postuló las raices innegables de lo primero en lo segundo. Los breves comentarios expresados así en los Zollikoner Seminare se dirigen, en este punto, a aclarar en qué sentido el anclaje de la apertura y la comprensión del Dasein no se realiza solamente desde un aspecto ‘mental’, sino que el Dasein mismo es de naturaleza corporal (leiblicher Natur). Sin embargo, a diferencia de la tradición puramente fenomenológica (aquí Heidegger parece aportar la nota disonante), lo verdaderamente importante consiste en obtener adecuadamente el acceso a dicho fenómeno, antes que aceptar de manera acrítica algunas construcciones conceptuales que sobre él se hacen.

¿Cómo logra esta reciente publicación una articulación adecuada entre los distintos enfoques fenomenológicos y hermenéuticos? ¿Cómo se da cuenta de la riqueza conceptual que se auna en el análisis del cuerpo? Conforme a estos interrogantes, la división capitular de la presente obra cumple satisfactoriamente con la intención de congregar una serie de estudios que se dirigen a analizar los diversos enfoques que tematizan el cuerpo. Las partes del libro “El cuerpo propio”, “El cuerpo mundo” y “El cuerpo otro” procuran abordar temáticamente los mencionados enfoques. En la primera parte se enmarcan las siguientes investigaciones de María Dolores Illescas Nájera: “La vivencia del cuerpo propio en la fenomenología de Edmund Husserl”, María del Carmen López Sáenz: “De Husserl a Merleau-Ponty: del cuerpo propio como localización de sensaciones al movimiento de la chair”, Eduardo González di Pierro: “Michel Henry lector de Husserl; del cuerpo propio al cuerpo encarnado, Ideas II en Encarnación”, Ricardo Gibu Shimabukuro: “Sensibilidad, corporeidad y significación en Levinas”, y Claudia Tame Domínguez: “¿Qué puede un cuerpo? Spinoza en Michel Henry”.

En la segunda parte del libro, “El cuerpo mundo”, se enmarcan las investigaciones de Ángel Xolocotzi Yáñez: “Dasein, cuerpo y diferencia ontológica”, Fernando Huesca Ramón: “Schelling en Heidegger: cuerpo y vida, fundamento y libertad”, Luis Tamayo Pérez: “El cuerpo mundo. Reflexiones sobre ontología, topología y psicosomática” y Rubén Mendoza Valdéz: “Bios y ethos: una fenomenología del cuerpo humano desde el horizonte del pensamiento heideggeriano”. En la tercera parte, “El cuerpo otro”, se enmarcan las investigaciones de Alberto Constante: “Escrito en el cuerpo mío, cuerpo extraño”, Arturo Aguirre: “Este cuerpo y esta su violencia. Meditaciones sobre el espaciamiento”, Ricardo Horneffer: “Cuerpo como símbolo”, Víctor Gerardo Rivas López: “De la afinidad ontológica entre corporalidad y cine. Y de la insubstancialidad contemporánea de la existencia” y Noé Héctor Esquivel Estrada: “Fenomenología de la medicina moderna y hermenéutica de la salud”.

Desde una perspectiva general, el enfoque fenomenológico y hermenéutico acerca del cuerpo es un intento sólido por explicitar la autonomía conceptual que exige dicho fenómeno a partir de su redescubrimiento como objeto temático. Con ello, se hace frente metódicamente al carácter reductivo (físico-biológico) que la ciencia actual plantea a partir de la tendencia cosificante frente al cuerpo y, a su vez, se abre un cuestionamiento hacia el primado de ciertos enfoques puramente psicológicos (derivados de la psyché) y mentales en el marco de la historia de la filosofía occidental. Este redescubrimiento cuestiona, en este sentido, el primado del ‘alma’ en la filosofía, a partir del olvido del cuerpo. No obstante, en la tradición fenomenológica ‘post-husserliana’ se echa de menos, por ejemplo, la importante labor metódica histórico-crítica, o arqueológica, de presentar y evaluar lo que se ha dicho sobre el cuerpo (aquello que Aristóteles metódicamente llamó “salvar tá phainómena” o “tá legómena”) en el marco de la filosofía occidental. Esta tarea –que ha sido suplida en parte por la investigación especializada– es supremamente importante para cuestionar o afirmar la univocidad de la tesis que trata de enunciar el hecho de que en la filosofía haya existido un olvido en torno al cuerpo. Sin embargo, en sus logros y en sus méritos, el enfoque fenomenológico y la hermenéutico ha supuesto una verdadera renovación del panorama filosófico occidental.

El libro Fenomenología del cuerpo y hermenéutica de la corporeidad es una valiosa compilación de investigaciones escritas –casi en su totalidad– a partir de la recepción francesa de la obra de Husserl y a partir del enfoque heideggeriano. El valor de este libro consiste, no obstante, en saber leer entre lineas, en ejercer la pasión del preguntar. Sólo, en ese sentido, podríamos observar al cuerpo como lo que principalmente debe ser: antes de ser visto como un tema que, por ejemplo, ha sido agotado por la tradición ‘post-husserliana’, su verdadera naturaleza reside en ser visto como un auténtico problema. Así, sólo desde esa pespectiva, se abrirá el preguntar por el cuerpo como un preguntar por la cosa misma.

Peter Trawny: Martin Heidegger – Eine kritische Einführung

Martin Heidegger – Eine kritische Einführung Book Cover Martin Heidegger – Eine kritische Einführung
Klostermann RoteReihe 82
Peter Trawny
Klostermann
2016
Kt 17,80 €
184

Reviewed by: Guido Löhr (Humboldt-University Berlin)

Die wichtigste Frage, die sich die momentane Heidegger-Forschung stellen kann, ist nicht, ob Heidegger Antisemit war. Die wichtigste Frage setzt dies als Annahme voraus. Stattdessen geht es darum, inwiefern Heideggers philosophisches Werk von diesen Überzeugungen beeinflusst wurde. Die Frage ist zentral, da die Angst besteht, etwas von Heidegger und seinen Schülern und Schülerinnen gelernt zu haben, das unvereinbar mit einer kategorischen Ablehnung von Rassismus und Antisemitismus ist.

Peter Trawny ist Experte für diese Frage. Er ist Mitherausgeber der Heidegger Gesamtausgabe und Verfasser mehrerer Bücher, die sich unter anderem mit Heideggers Verhältnis zum Nationalsozialismus beschäftigen. Dabei nimmt er eine Mittelposition ein. Er verteufelt nicht, aber er verteidigt auch nicht.

2003 veröffentlichte Trawny ein Buch mit dem Titel Martin Heidegger – Eine Einführung. Das war 10 Jahre bevor er die Veröffentlichung der sogenannten Schwarzen Hefte Heideggers bekannt gab, jene Denktagebücher, die lange Zeit als verschollen galten und die posthum die Heidegger Interpretation in den öffentlichen Diskurs katapultierten. Für viele Kommentatoren wird in diesen Schriften Heideggers Antisemitismus expliziter denn je. Auch Trawny fühlte sich veranlasst, seine ursprüngliche Einführung zu überarbeiten und sie in einer kritischeren Betrachtungsweise zu vervollständigen.

Das Ziel von Martin Heidegger – Eine kritische Einführung ist es, einen kurzen Überblick über Heideggers Themen zu geben. Kritisch wird dieser Überblick dadurch, dass angestoßen wird, inwiefern Heideggers Antisemitismus und Nationalismus auf die Bearbeitung dieser Themen gewirkt haben könnten.

Es ist wichtig zu betonen, dass mehr nicht versucht wird. Es findet keine tiefgehende Einführung, Interpretation oder Erklärung zu den einzelnen Begriffen oder Positionen Heideggers statt. So mancher Leser wird davon enttäuscht sein, denn gerade das erwartet man von einem Buch, dessen Titel eine kritische Einführung verspricht, so zweideutig diese Formulierung auch ist. Doch dazu gibt es keinerlei Verlangen bei Trawny. Jede Erläuterung ist zu skizzenhaft, um dem Anfänger das Gefühl zu vermitteln, immerhin das Rohgebäude von Heideggers Denkens verstanden zu haben. Passend dazu ist die Auswahl der Themen. Viele Themen, die normalerweise im Zentrum stehen, wie die Analyse des Seinsbegriffs, erhalten nicht mehr Aufmerksamkeit als Heideggers frühe theologische Anfänge.

Paradigmatisch für diese Kürze ist Trawnys Behandlung der, für Heideggers Denken wichtigen, ontologischen Differenz. Bereits im ersten Paragraph dieses Kapitels nimmt er, scheinbar kapitulierend zur Kenntnis, dass keine Einführung im Stande sei, diese schwierige Unterscheidung treffend auszuführen. Man fragt sich, weshalb es nicht wenigstens versucht wird. Platz ist genug bei gerade einmal 168 Seiten für einen Denker, dessen veröffentlichte Gesamtausgabe momentan über 80 Werke umfasst.

Die Verantwortung für ein bleibendes Unverständnis der skizzierten Positionen ist, laut Trawny, beim Leser zu suchen. Der Autor gibt einen Hinweis, darauf wie er sich sein Publikum vorstellt. Er wünscht sich „Studierende die etwas mitarbeiten wollen, aber auch Liebhaber des Philosophen“ (15). Aber was genau heißt hier mitarbeiten? Heißt es selber nachzuschlagen was ein Begriff bedeutet? Wenn man es immer noch nicht versteht, eine zweite Einführung zu konsultieren? Genau das heißt es. Positiv ausgedrückt: Anstatt den Leser mit ausschweifenden Interpretationen zu überwältigen, strahlt der Text Vorsicht aus. Vorsicht nicht zu sehr von dem eigentlichen Thema abzulenken. Vorsicht dieses Thema nicht zu schnell interpretatorisch zu bestimmen.

Diese Vorsicht ist trügerisch. Für eine Einführung in Heideggers Denken in Bezug zum Antisemitismus ist Trawny nicht vorsichtig genug. Ironischerweise ist sie dies gerade der Fall, weil sie zu oberflächlich und zu kurz bleibt. Kürze von einer Autorität wie Trawny kann missverstanden werden. Was nicht kontrovers ist kann, normalerweise, schnell als zum common ground gehörend übergangen werden und muss nicht näher beachtet werden – so bestimmt es die Pragmatik.

Zu kurz geraten ist vor allem die Frage, wie sich Heideggers antisemitischen Ansichten auf seine Philosophie auswirken. Diese wird scheinbar schon von Anfang an beantwortet oder immerhin in eine bestimmte Richtung gelenkt. Trawny beginnt seine Ausführen damit, darauf hinzuweisen, dass man Heideggers eigenem Aufruf folgen sollte und den Fokus weniger auf sein Werk sondern auf seinen „Weg“ legen sollte. Für Trawny und Heidegger ist Denken somit etwas Performatives, etwas das vom Leben nicht getrennt werden kann. Leben und Werk sind somit eng verflochten. Dass Heidegger so dachte, ist nicht kontrovers. Kontrovers ist jedoch was dies für die Heidegger Interpretation bedeutet. Genau diese Frage bleibt bislang ungeklärt.

Es ist sicherlich wichtig, diesen Grundgedanken, „Wege statt Werke“, in einer kritischen Einführung aufzugreifen. Doch die Leser, vor allem die Anfänger, müssen auch verstanden werden. Sie folgen unweigerlich der oben genannten pragmatischen Regel und können nicht einschätzen, wann und wo sie nachhaken müssen, wenn über Schlüsselprobleme zu schnell hinweggegangen wird. Dass Leben und Werk verstrickt sind, kann somit so verstanden werden, dass es klar sei, dass Heideggers Philosophie von seinem antisemitischen Denken beeinflusst sein muss. Gerade diese implizite Schlussfolgerung ist problematisch. Es bedarf eine gewisse Bekanntheit mit der Debatte, um dies einzusehen. Genau das sollte eine kritische Einführung vermitteln. Trawnys Einführung wird diesem Anspruch nicht gerecht.

Wie stark diese unangebrachte Kürze auf den Leser wirken kann, möchte ich im Folgenden illustrieren. Schon auf Seite 19 zitiert Trawny Heideggers Satz: „Unser Leben ist unsere Welt“. Dabei gebe es „’irregeleitetes Leben’ wie ‘echtes Leben’“ (20). Auf derselben Seite spricht Trawny selbst: „[…] wenn der Philosoph nur dann über sein Thema sprechen kann, wenn er dieses Thema ‘lebt’, dann muss die Frage nach der ‘Wissenschaftlichkeit’ von Philosophie überhaupt gestellt werden.“ Laut Trawny sei nach Heideggers eigener Philosophie eine von diesen „Verstrickungen freie Erkenntnis“ nicht möglich (21).

Das klingt plausibel. Doch genau ein solcher Satz am Anfang eines Texts, der diese Frage erst noch beantworten sollte, oder besser, offen lassen sollte, ist unangemessen. Geäußert als scheinbare Banalität von einer Autorität wie Trawny, kommt der mitarbeitende Anfänger kaum daran vorbei, ihn nicht als gegeben hinzunehmen und ihn automatisch mit Heideggers Antisemitismus in Verbindung zu bringen. Das Projekt des Buchs ist somit schon zu Beginn gefährdet, die zentrale Frage schon auf Seite 19 beantwortet.

Zumindest für Heidegger scheint also klar zu sein, dass man Heidegger nicht von seinen Handlungen und seinen, vor allem in den Schwarzen Heften ausgedrückten Überzeugungen; trennen kann. Doch was genau bedeutet das? Wo sind die Schnittstellen besonders offensichtlich? Wenn sie so offensichtlich sind, wie Trawny im ersten Kapitel implizit ankündigt, erwartet der Leser klare offensichtliche Hinweise in Heideggers Werk. Trawny macht dazu ein paar Vorschläge. Zum Beispiel spekuliert er, ob Heideggers frühe Religionsphänomenologie bereits antisemitische Einflüsse enthalten (31). Er legt nahe, dass Heidegger aus antisemitischen Gründen verlangt, Hebräisch und das Judentum aus dem Christentum und seinen Lehren zu verbannen. Das ist wieder skizzenhaft. Zwar wird durch die Knappheit zum Lesen der Primärtexte und weiterer Sekundärliteratur gezwungen, doch da dieses niemals explizit gefordert wird, kann man nicht vermeiden, dass zumindest manche Leser Trawny einfach beim Wort nehmen werden. Das wäre schade und sicher nicht in Trawnys Interesse.

Auch Heideggers Kritik des „Man“ und seiner Beschreibung der anonymen Massenkultur im zwanzigsten Jahrhundert wird mit einem Brief in Verbindung gebracht, in dem Heidegger von „der Verjudung unserer Kultur und Universitäten“ spricht (52). Trawny schlägt vor, dass das „Man“ für Heidegger „geradezu ein Beschreibungsregister der Verjudung“ sei (52). Der ungeübte Leser weiß wieder nicht, was er davon halten soll. Ist sein Antisemitismus also Grund für Heideggers Kritik an der Massenkultur oder erfüllt „das Judentum“ lediglich eine Rolle, die bereits für sie angelegt war? Nur wer aus anderen Quellen weiß, dass Trawnys Position besonders hier kontrovers ist, kann vernünftig „mitarbeiten“.

Es wäre jedoch ein Fehler Trawnys Buch auf dieses Thema zu reduzieren. Sein Überblick ist grob aber weitreichend genug, dass die Leser schnell zum Mitarbeiten, das heißt, zum Lesen des eigentlichen Textes, kommen müssen. Denn um diesen geht es Trawny. Das Ziel des Buchs ist somit als Wegweiser zu fungieren, trotz der anfänglichen Tendenzen. Dennoch wird Heideggers Verhältnis zum Antisemitismus und Nationalismus zu jeder Zeit im Text aufgegriffen. Es bleibt das zentrale Thema des Buchs.

Besonders klar wird dies in Bezug auf Heideggers Hölderlin Interpretation. Nur kurz geht es hier um Heideggers sehr wichtige und interessante Sprachphilosophie. Umso schneller wird zitiert. In diesem Fall, dass Hölderlin den „Deutschen ihre Sprache und Geschichte liefert“. Was bedeutet das nun wieder? Der Leser kann nicht anders als hier eine implizite Parallele zu ziehen, die im gesamten Buch auf- und abgegriffen wird: Hat sich Heideggers Sprachphilosophie aus einem romantischen Nationalismus entwickelt, der untrennbar mit seinem Antisemitismus verbunden ist?

Am stärksten wird der Zusammenhang im darauf folgenden Abschnitt gemacht, in dem Trawny einen Bezug zwischen Heideggers Philosophie und den, für den damaligen Antisemitismus wichtigen, Protokollen der Weisen von Zion herstellt. Trawny zeigt hier Parallelen zwischen diesem Text und Heideggers Antisemitismus auf, ohne zu behaupten, Heidegger habe diesen Text bewusst gelesen. Dass er dennoch von ihm beeinflusst war, lässt Trawny als Möglichkeit offen und beruft sich auf den bekannten Antisemitismusforscher Jeffrey Sammons. Dieser sieht den Ursprung des zeitgenössischen Antisemitismus in denselben Protokollen der Weisen von Zion. Wieder lässt Trawny aus, dass gerade dieser Zusammenhang in der heutigen Debatte höchst kontrovers ist. Aber gerade diese Information ist wichtig für jeden, der sich für eine Einführung interessiert.

Im Großen und Ganzen bleibt Trawny jedoch bei seiner Mittelposition und schließt, dass sich Heideggers besonders problematischen Notizen in den Schwarzen Heften nicht unbedingt auf Heideggers Gesamtwerk übertragen lassen, das aber dennoch ein hermeneutischer Verdacht bestehen bleibt. Trawny empfiehlt den Lesern Heidegger aufmerksam, das heißt nicht ohne Heidegger, zu lesen. Wie dies zu verstehen ist, fasst er in dem mit nicht wenig Pathos verkündeten Paradox zusammen: „Das Denken über und auch mit Heidegger muss von seinem Denken frei bleiben. Es darf sich weder von der Kraft seiner Sprache verführen lassen, noch darf es sich seine Sprache und seine Begriffe aneignen“ (14). Das scheint auch für den Autor nicht immer leicht zu sein.

Was Trawny überhaupt nicht erwähnt, ist, dass es sich bei seiner Einführung wirklich hauptsächlich um das Denken Heideggers in Verbindung zum Antisemitismus und dem Nationalsozialismus handelt. Andere problematische Stellen in seinem Denken, die ebenso durch die Schwarzen Hefte zum Vorschein gekommen sind, könnten nicht weniger Einfluss auf seine Philosophie gehabt haben. So werden zum Beispiel weder die häufig vergessenen, antidemokratischen Züge bei Heidegger erwähnt, noch sein Antiamerikanismus. Dies jedoch sollte in einer kritischen Einführung zumindest angesprochen werden.

Im Rückblick lässt sich zusammenfassen, dass Peter Trawnys Kritische Einführung zu kurz und umrissartig ist, um dem Anfänger das eine oder andere Konzept in Heideggers Werk näher zu bringen, geschweige denn zu erklären. Für einen solchen Zweck wäre eine spezialisierte Einführung zu zum Beispiel Sein und Zeit angebrachter. Wer jedoch einen kurzen Text sucht, der einen Überblick über Heideggers Gesamtwerk bietet und wie dieses sich womöglich zum Antisemitismus verhält, kann Trawnys Text als solide Ressource nutzen, dessen Thesen jedoch kritisch zu betrachten sind.

William Large: Levinas’ ‘Totality and Infinity’: A Reader’s Guide

Levinas' 'Totality and Infinity': A Reader's Guide Book Cover Levinas' 'Totality and Infinity': A Reader's Guide
Reader's Guides
William Large
Bloomsbury
2015
Paperback £13.49
168

Reviewed by: Rami El Ali (Lebanese American University)

Levinas’ ‘Totality and Infinity’: A Reader’s Guide is a recent book in Bloomsbury’s series of reader’s guides. It is written by William Large, who has also written a guide on Heidegger’s Being and Time. Large’ guide comes shortly after James Mensch’s guide on Levinas’ Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority. Both books are extremely helpful in introducing the reader to Levinas in general and his Totality and Infinity (henceforth, TI) in specific, though their approaches are slightly different. Both focus on providing an expository commentary that follows Levinas’ text, but Mensch’s exposition is longer (just under twice as long) and as a result more detailed. Mensch also focuses on the specific connection between Levinas and Heidegger in a way that Large does not, beginning with an introduction on how the two philosophers’ works are related. Large’s book, by contrast, is divided into three main chapters. The first provides a quick overview of the context and themes of TI, the second and largest chapter (roughly a hundred pages) is a reading of the text, and finally the book ends with a brief look at TI’s reception and influence. As a result, the two guides serve slightly different purposes. Mensch’s book is more helpful for more advanced readers, Large’s is better for nonspecialists and students aiming to approach Levinas’ work. In particular, the brevity of Large’s book makes it a great text to assign along with TI. It helps students understand the text without being too distracting or time consuming, even if the guide has some drawbacks.

The need for Large’s (but also Mensch’s) guide is easiest to appreciate if one has tried to read TI without introduction. As a reader of Levinas coming largely from the analytic tradition, it is hard to overestimate how opaque Levinas’ writing can seem, particularly if one is not familiar with phenomenology. Even with a phenomenological background, TI remains daunting. Before one can approach the position Levinas develops over the course of the book through various distinctions, arguments, and observations, one is confronted with the book’s language and organization. In the first two pages, Levinas introduces some of his central themes, which include ideas like the philosophical understanding of being as war, the ‘eschatology of messianic peace’, infinity, and the connection Levinas sees between his position and Descartes’ proof of God in the third meditation. These ideas are initially obscure, seem to break with the phenomenological tradition, and sound deeply theological (with a cursory glance ahead only seeming to confirm this suspicion). Section I, which follows TI’s preface, is also one of the densest. It attempts to encapsulate the book’s argument using the full terminology that Levinas only develops in the subsequent sections. Compounding these difficulties is Levinas’ style, which often seems more focused on being poetic than precise, despite the clarity of his position (at least for the most part) once the book is understood.

Large’s text helps immensely with these problems. The first chapter prepares the reader by quickly looking at the connections between TI and ethics, phenomenology, and judaism. The first connection is central to Levinas’ project, since TI reinterprets metaphysics as a relation to another person, rather than as a relation to a noumenal world beyond the phenomena (e.g. see TI’s sections Ia and IIe). In this sense, Levinas seeks to replace traditional metaphysics with ‘ethics’. Large primarily focuses his discussion on contrasting TI’s view with traditional ethics. While traditional ethics begins with the subject who acts ethically by deliberating on principles that lead to action, Large argues that Levinasian ethics begins with the concrete experience of the other, rather than with any principles that govern the subjects’ encounter.

Though this captures the basic idea in TI, the discussion in this introductory chapter might have benefitted from more explicitly pointing out that Levinas is more interested in providing a metaethical position than a normative ethical one. Levinas does not explicitly say this, but it is clear that his focus is on the confrontation with the other as a source of moral obligations, rather than as a way of determining a particular theory of obligations.[i] For Levinas, by contrast to the silent world, which one can interrogate, but which cannot answer that interrogation (or as Levinas put it “To ask what is to ask as what: it is not to take the manifestation for itself.”[ii]), others are ‘self-presenting’; they have a face (e.g. Levinas writes “What we call the face is precisely this exceptional presentation of self by self”[iii]). While Levinas thinks the face has a sort of nonconceptual impact on us, the face’s significance is clearest when we appeal to the other’s use of language. Because another person can speak for herself, she can provide a way of comprehending her and her world. Her self-presentation also serves to interrupt the subject’s thinking or conception of the other, and indeed of her own world. The result is that the subject, insofar as she is already amidst others, finds herself in a situation in which these others make demands, and foremost moral demands, on her.

The other’s self-presentation serves many different purposes in Levinas’ argument, but one thing it seems to imply is a commitment to moral noncognitivism, the view that there is a reality to moral discourse despite the absence of moral truths in the world (Levinas’ way of putting this is to say that the face cannot be grasped through representation e.g. in TI section IIIb1). More specifically, Levinas’ view seems to be a form of prescriptivism, where moral judgments express a subject’s prescriptions e.g. ‘Murder is wrong’ becomes ‘Let no one commit murder’, with priority given to the pronouncements of the other.[iv] Though much of what Large goes on to discuss in the book’s main chapter makes Levinas’ interest in metaethics clear, stating this explicitly would have helped better locate TI amongst contemporary discussions. It would also eliminate the confusion in Levinas’ own use of ethics, and prevent readers from looking for a normative theory in what he says.

The second connection Large focuses on is that between TI and phenomenology. Large’s discussion helpfully highlights how Levinas’ work breaks with Husserl’s and Heidegger’s, while also noting the importance of Plato and Descartes to TI. These connections and others are also further developed in the close reading of TI (in chapter 2). However, one limitation of this early discussion is that Large focuses exclusively on these philosophers’ treatment of alterity. Though this reflects Levinas’ own emphasis, Large’s discussion might have benefitted from beginning with a general overview of how TI provides an alternative to Husserl’s representation-heavy phenomenology and Heidegger’s phenomenology of practical engagement. Understanding that Levinas emphasizes receptivity (what he calls ‘sensibility’, which allows us to stand in the relation of ‘living from’) over theory (i.e. Levinas’ ‘representation’) or practice (i.e. Levinas’ ‘labor’) is helpful if one is already familiar with transcendental and existential phenomenology, or if one is trying to understand the relations between different phenomenologists.

Finally, Large considers a charge sometimes made against Levinas, that he is providing a distinctively Jewish philosophy. This discussion is supplemented by another in the book’s final chapter, where Large discusses criticisms of TI’s religious (even if not specifically Jewish) terminology. Large’s discussion on both these issues explains many of the important points in a simple way, making it easy to follow why TI is not fundamentally Judaic or religious. This is particularly important because one’s interest in the work might vary with whether one understands it to be religiously committed or not. It is also important because the text calls for this type of clarification. Levinas’ language undoubtedly sounds theological (e.g. Levinas calls the separation of the subject ‘atheism’), and sometimes specifically Judaic (e.g. in the use of ‘the stranger, the widow, and the orphan’[v]). But Large makes it clear that this language remains religiously noncommittal. On the one hand, he argues that to read Levinas as a Jewish philosopher is at worst ad hominem, and at best does not clearly recognize the hermeneutical features of the text. On the other hand, throughout his reading of the text, Large defines Levinas’ religious concepts, explains why Levinas uses them, and shows that on a straightforward reading these concepts do not commit us to any God or religion. Indeed Levinas’ view, coupled with his choice of words (e.g. infinity as an idea arising from the other person), might seem to altogether undermine traditional conceptions of religion or God as transcending human community. Whatever one might think of Levinas’ own commitments, or the fruitfulness of reading TI as part of a theological or Judaic philosophical canon, TI certainly does not assume a traditional theological framework.

This brings us to the central chapter of Large’s book, which is a reading of the text largely following TI’s sections and subsections. Large begins with Levinas’ dense preface, in which Levinas asks “whether we are not duped by morality”[vi], and to which his initial answer is that “being reveals itself as war to philosophical thought”. This ‘truth’ is what Levinas seeks to overcome in the remainder of TI’s four sections. In the first, Levinas presents a complete overview of his answer, beginning with the reinterpretation of metaphysics as a relation between one separated being and another (i.e. the ‘face to face’ relation), and concluding with the claim that truth presupposes justice, as a way of overcoming the ‘truth’ of history. In the second section, Levinas provides his account of the separated person. He argues that the phenomenological subject is foremost an enjoying being, one whose enjoyment (and therefore freedom) depends on an uncertain world (Levinas’ ‘the element’), which can only be overcome through the home, labor, and representation. This account also grounds Levinas’ critiques of existential (but also transcendental) phenomenology, which he sees as mistakenly beginning with radical freedom (e.g. in Sartre), reducing life and its enjoyment to bare existence, and mistakenly assuming the priority of representation (e.g. in Husserl) or labor (e.g. in Heidegger). In the third section, Levinas turns to the relation with others, arguing that unlike the world, which can be dominated and comprehended by sight and touch (which he associates with representation and labor), another person remains a separated being, genuinely accessible only through the face-to-face encounter, and ultimately speech. In the fourth and final section, Levinas turns to various related issues that go past the relation to the other. These include the issue of death (which arises first at the end of the third section) and the way it is overcome through the birth of subsequent generations, the erotic relation to another, and a sketch of political relations that begin from within the family rather than the state. As Large points out, these sections do not always seem to clearly fit with the rest of the book, and certainly seem more like sketches than fully worked out positions.

Large’s overviews, definitions, and explanations of these sections of TI are all simple to read and very informative. They help clarify TI’s organization, its language, and its content. Large sticks to writing in a simple and conversational tone, making his reading of the text easy to follow, and ideal as secondary reading for students learning Levinas. Large also does a nice job of locating Levinas’ position in the history of philosophy, he looks at the connections he discusses in the preface in more detail, but also further connections to other philosophers (e.g. Kant and Hegel). His approach is also critical in some places. For instance, although he preserves the distinctions Levinas makes using these concepts, he does not defend Levinas’ questionable use of ‘woman’ and ‘the feminine’ in the text. He also highlights the difficulties in the final section of the text, though his discussion of those sections is brief, and does away with the section by section reading of the text. The main drawback of this otherwise informative chapter is that Large sometimes sticks too closely to Levinas’ terminology and metaphors, which can be less helpful when one is confused about what Levinas is saying. For much of the text, however, Large’s guide will be valuable for a wide range of audiences.

This brings us to Large’s final chapter which considers TI’s critical reception. Large focuses on four main problems that emerge out of TI, but only introduces them, without going into details (each discussion is less than two pages long). The problems are those concerning the immediacy of speech, the lack of a substantive political theory, Levinas’ use of the feminine, and the difficulties that arise out of TI’s religious language. The first problem, developed by Blanchot and Derrida, concerns Levinas’ privileging of the other, and specifically her speech, as immediate in a way that e.g. her writings or other works are not. The second is that TI seems to provide a space for ethical relations between subjects who encounter one another directly, but seems to leave out more indirect relations to others such as those that arise in politics, or which concern justice amongst others.[vii] The third problem is Levinas’ use of the concepts of ‘woman’, ‘female’, and ‘feminine’ to designate relations that falls short of being the ‘ethical’ face-to-face relation (though they do not preclude it) in both his discussions of the ‘intimacy’ of the home, and the transcendence possible through the birth of future generations. And the final problem is that raised by the religious terminology. Given their brevity, these discussions only serve to point the reader in a direction of enquiry, or alert students to difficulties within the text. My own preference would have been for a slightly longer final section, as in many cases these critiques are interesting for readers not familiar with the phenomenological tradition and its aftermath. Overall, however, I thought Large’s book an extremely helpful read, and I would not hesitate to recommend it, particularly for beginning readers of TI.

Bibliography

Large, W. (2015). Levinas’ ‘Totality and Infinity’: A Reader’s Guide. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Levinas, E., & Lingis, A. (1969). Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Duquesne University Press.

Levinas, Emmanuel. 1989. “Ethics and Politics.” The Levinas Reader. Ed. Seán Hand, 289–97. Oxford: Blackwell.


[i] It should, however, be noted that Levinas does focus on one particular obligation which he thinks is grounded by the face. This is the obligation to not commit murder. The reason for this is that murder eliminates the other, and thus undermines the very source of moral obligation.

[ii] TI 1969 p. 177

[iii] TI 1969 p. 202

[iv] Another possibility is that Levinas endorses norm expressivism, the view that moral judgments involve the subject’s acceptance of a moral norm. To decide whether TI endorses prescriptivism or norm expressivism would require a longer discussion.

[v] It is worth pointing out that Bettina Bergo’s (2011) Stanford Encyclopedia entry on Levinas provides an interesting philosophical understanding of ‘the stranger, the widow, and the orphan’.

[vi] TI 1969 p. 21

[vii] This is exemplified, for instance, by the distinction Levinas has to make between two notions of the other in responding to the Sabra and Shatila massacres in an interview published in ‘Ethics and Politics’ (1989).

Dragoş Duicu : Phénoménologie du mouvement. Patočka et l’héritage de la physique aristotélicienne

Phénoménologie du mouvement. Patočka et l’héritage de la physique aristotélicienne Book Cover Phénoménologie du mouvement. Patočka et l’héritage de la physique aristotélicienne
Collection Hermann Philosophie
Dragoş Duicu
Essai
Hermann
2014
Broché 35.00 €
569

Reviewed by: Valeria De Luca (Centre de Recherches Sémiotiques, Université de Limoges, France)

Introduction

L’ouvrage très étoffé de Dragoş Duicu, Phénoménologie du mouvement. Patočka et l’héritage de la physique aristotélicienne, paru en 2014, constitue le prolongement et la systématisation de plusieurs travaux de l’auteur qui avaient été présentés sous une première forme unitaire dans sa thèse de doctorat en philosophie à Paris-1 Sorbonne. Dans la postface à l’ouvrage, Renaud Barbaras définit le livre de Duicu comme un travail à la fois d’histoire de la philosophie et comme un ouvrage philosophique à part entière. En effet, l’ouvrage se présente et se déploie comme une interrogation radicale du projet phénoménologique de Patočka. D’abord, cette radicalité de l’interrogation tient au propos de reconsidérer la pensée de Patočka à la lumière à la fois de l’héritage aristotélicien, de la phénoménologie fribourgeoise de Husserl et Heidegger, et d’un examen critique de ce qui, selon l’auteur, constituerait un dualisme résiduel présent dans la conception du chiasme chair-monde chez le dernier Merleau-Ponty. Deuxièmement, la radicalité du geste théorique de Duicu se manifeste dans l’élaboration d’un fil rouge interprétatif qui, tout au long des chapitres et des sous-parties de l’ouvrage, développe une thèse que l’on pourrait résumer en les termes d’un primat du mouvement.

Le primat du mouvement

En présentant longuement la reprise de la théorie aristotélicienne du mouvement au sein de l’ouvre phénoménologique de Patočka, Duicu propose une thèse intéressante et qui est restée longtemps cachée ou, du moins, non pleinement thématisée dans l’histoire de la philosophie occidentale, à savoir la thèse selon laquelle le mouvement est une donnée phénoménologique et ontologique première. En effet, le mouvement se présente d’abord comme une donnée phénoménologique première, car toute perception et effectuation peuvent être reconduites au mouvement :

« nous ne pouvons percevoir que du mouvement (changement, séparation de la tache sur le fond, d’où…vers où) et nous ne pouvons percevoir que par du mouvement. Nos effectuations, même les plus abstraites, sont des actualisations de possibles (des mouvements). Et aussi, tout ce que nous faisons est en fait changement, metabolè, immixtion dans, altération du monde. Autrement dit, seul le mouvement peut apparaître à nous et nous sommes de part en part mouvement » (p. 523-24).

De ce point de vue, en commentant cette primauté du mouvement chez Patočka, Duicu argumente que l’existence doit être complexifiée par rapport à la conception heideggerienne et doit être comprise en les termes d’une réalisation des possibilités. Mais si le mouvement est phénoménologiquement premier au sens du se mouvoir corporel, tel que Patočka l’a conçu, il est néanmoins premier aussi du point de vue ontologique, dans la mesure où le possible n’est pas seulement le résultat d’une projection subjective, il est surtout le résultat d’une rencontre dans le mouvement. En effet, ce primat ontologique du mouvement se révèle en ceci que

« ce n’est pas le phénoménal, l’apparaître à moi qui introduit le mouvement dans le monde, mais c’est le mouvement dans le monde qui porte déjà la phénoménalisation » (p. 524).

C’est pour ces raisons que l’ouvrage de Duicu représente un livre important : il permet de restituer la richesse et la profondeur historique et théorétique de la phénoménologie de Patočka, en éclaircissant de nombreux aspects de la pensée du phénoménologue tchèque qui demeurent éparpillés et dans lesquels les lecteurs ont souvent l’impression de s’égarer. De surcroît, dans le sillage de la phénoménologie du mouvement de Patočka, regroupant dans un seul dispositif une théorie des mouvements de l’existence ainsi qu’une conception de l’apparition du champ phénoménal qui implique et destine le sujet en tant que corps en mouvement, l’ouvrage de Duicu propose un projet philosophique dont l’enjeu principal est celui de promouvoir une reprise de certains concepts et thèmes phénoménologiques dans le cadre d’un ambitieuse phénoménologie a-subjective qui puisse concevoir le sujet non pas comme un sujet constituant au sens husserlien, mais comme le destinataire de l’apparaître et comme pôle du mouvement du monde.
Dans ce cadre, une telle de-subjectivation de l’intentionnalité est possible en vertu du fait que les intentions sont les lignes de force de l’apparaître. Par conséquent, l’intentionnalité n’est plus à comprendre comme une propriété ou un mode d’être de la conscience, mais comme la marque de la structure d’horizon de l’apparaître, l’abandon d’un schéma intentionnel étant envisageable sous la plume de Patočka en les termes suivants :

« le champ [d’apparition] comme tel n’a donc pas une structure intentionnelle et il n’y a pas lieu de partir d’un schéma de description intentionnel ; il faudra au contraire, suivre les rapports internes au champ qui seuls déterminent quelles structures sont à considérer comme relevant du moi et quelle est la structure d’apparition du psychique en tant que tel » (Patočka, Papiers phénoménologiques, p. 198).

Les points d’argumentation

La conception du mouvement comme donnée ontologique première est davantage manifeste lorsque Duicu affirme que

« nous ne décidons pas de l’entrée dans notre champ phénoménal de tel ou tel étant; ce sont les choses qui changent ou persistent dans le changement là-bas, c’est un autre mouvement que le nôtre qui les fait apparaître à nous, qui les dépose ou les retire hors de notre champ phénoménal. Même sans variation (de notre part) du champ, il y a variation, metabolè, kinesis, dans celui-ci » (p. 525).

En d’autres termes, en creusant la définition aristotélicienne du mouvement à la lumière de la lecture phénoménologique de Patočka, Duicu propose d’en rediscuter la radicalité, en prônant l’unité ontologique du mouvement. C’est à cette unité que l’on doit reconduire toute la multiplicité de ses moments et de ses dimensions – tant existentiels qu’extatiques – qui en scandent, pour ainsi dire, son unité originaire paradoxale. La cohérence de la pensée de Patočka se fonde sur cette reprise de l’unité originaire du mouvement garantissant non seulement la multiplicité du champ phénoménal, mais aussi l’analyse de l’existence en les termes de ses propres mouvements d’extases et de sédimentation. En redéfinissant, d’après Aristote, le mouvement comme acte de la puissance en tant que puissance, Patočka essaie de comprendre l’existence, ou mieux essaie d’inscrire le mouvement de l’existence dans cette définition originaire de mouvement. Autrement dit, le mouvement dépose ses propres extases, à savoir la distinction entre acte et puissance, mais aussi la triplicité de la matière, de la forme et de la privation.
Selon Duicu, la puissance de la pensée de Patočka réside en ce geste philosophique, qui vise à une reprise critique de la compréhension heideggerienne du Dasein en s’appuyant sur la conception aristotélicienne du mouvement. Ainsi, selon l’auteur :

« la nécessité de proposer une alternative au subjectivisme et à l’idéalisme implicites de la phénoménologie husserlienne découle chez Patočka d’une volonté de rendre compte plus authentiquement, c’est-à-dire plus phénoménologiquement, de la structure et de la modalité de l’apparaître. En effet, c’est en s’interrogeant sur le comment de l’apparaître que Patočka est conduit à affirmer que l’apparition (le phénomène) ne peut pas être expliquée à partir d’un sujet qui, avant tout, est lui-même quelque chose d’apparaissant. S’il apparaît à son tour, c’est qu’il est soumis lui-même à la légalité de l’apparaître, au lieu d’en être principe » (p. 422).

La phénoménologie a-subjective que Duicu tire de la phénoménologie de Patočka, se résume finalement en un geste vertigineux couplant une analyse de l’existence en trois mouvements et l’émergence du monde à la fois comme champ phénoménal et comme mouvement originaire de l’apparaître. Il s’agit d’une phénoménologie qui

« reconnaît l’indépendance du mouvement de l’apparaître par rapport au mouvement qu’est le sujet (…). La philosophie de la vie que la phénoménologie du mouvement permet d’ébaucher pourrait sans doute rendre compte de la différence anthropologique présente au sein de la vie, par la capacité qu’ont les hommes d’arrêter le mouvement ontogénétique, de l’obliger à se reposer dans le concept, c’est-à-dire de forger du possible » (p. 530).

Pour arriver à ce genre de conclusions caractérisant l’enjeu de la pensée de Patočka, Duicu déploie son argumentation à partir de la thématisation du mouvement en tant que dimension originaire. Ainsi, la première partie de l’ouvrage focalise en particulier la reprise de la notion aristotélicienne de mouvement chez Patočka, ainsi que la nécessité d’un retour sur le « vocabulaire du possible » conçu comme l’un de sédiments propre du mouvement. La première partie, qui s’étale sur plusieurs chapitres, est consacrée à l’interprétation patočkienne de la définition aristotélicienne du mouvement comme acte de la puissance en tant que puissance. La description phénoménologique de l’existence met en relief l’inscription de cette dernière dans un mouvement général qui l’englobe et la définit comme moment de son apparition. Autrement dit, la première partie de l’ouvrage est consacrée à définir le mouvement par ses extases :

« ainsi, l’acte et la puissance seraient ce que le mouvement en générale dépose (c’est-à-dire différencie et sédimente) et unifie à chaque fois » (p. 132).

Ce mouvement général et originaire, qui unifie le mouvement corporel et existentiel et l’apparition du champ phénoménal du monde, sédimente et dépose ses extases, à savoir l’acte et la puissance, ainsi que ses modalités de matière, forme et privation. Après avoir établi ce mouvement du mouvement, l’auteur pose la question des déterminations quantitatives du mouvement, à savoir l’espace et le temps :

« si le mouvement sédimente ontiquement et divise logiquement ses extases ou ce qu’on appelle ses composantes (…) que sont la durée et le trajet du mouvement ? » (p. 132).

L’hypothèse de Duicu est que le trajet et la durée doivent être compris et ressaisis à partir du mouvement, en tant que sédiments de son unité originaire. A partir de cette hypothèse interprétative, et après avoir proposé une confrontation éclairante et riche d’intérêt sur Patočka et Merleau-Ponty (en particulier sur le dualisme auquel la conception du chiasme chair-monde du phénoménologue français n’arrive pas à échapper), l’auteur analyse les reconductions de l’espace et du temps au mouvement. Sans rentrer dans le détail des argumentations que nous laissons découvrir au lecteur, les chapitres qui composent la deuxième partie de l’ouvrage se focalisent sur la temporalité comme proto-mouvement d’individuation déposant le temps en tant que unité du monde. Ils visent également à éclairer, suivant une formule synthétique de Barbaras, la « forme pronominale de la proto-structure spatialisante » déposant l’espace comme unité du monde. Cela permet de souligner et thématiser le point d’articulation de l’espace et du temps, à savoir le corps comme mobile, qui se présente à son tour comme en analogie avec l’ici et le maintenant, ou, mieux, avec le mouvement comme structure originaire déposant ses sédiments.
Ainsi, comme le remarque Barbaras dans la postface de l’ouvrage, Duicu débouche sur la thèse la plus audacieuse de l’ouvrage : l’interprétation de la théorie des trois mouvements de l’existence. Cette triplicité des mouvements de l’existence scande la conclusion de la deuxième partie et toute la troisième partie, consacrée au corps comme sédiment du mouvement et au projet d’une phénoménologie a-subjective. Comme Barbaras le montre, on peut repérer cette dimension de triplicité à l’œuvre tant dans les proto-structures spatialisante et temporalisante, que dans les modalités de sédimentation du corps en tant que mobile : le besoin ou le manque et le sacrifice. La possibilité de ces mouvements – suggère Barbaras – réside en le fait que le mouvement dépose toujours ses extases et ses déterminations quantitatives, et en le fait que « la triplicité du mouvement doit pouvoir être déclinée au niveau de ces déterminations, et en particulier au plan de l’espace et du temps ».
Cependant, les conséquences de l’analyse de la corporéité et de l’existence doivent être toujours reconduites, selon la leçon de Patočka, au mouvement originaire que nous sommes, à la nature originaire du mouvement et à sa primauté ontologique. Comme Duicu le rappelle dans les conclusions de cet ouvrage important dans le cadre des études de phénoménologie et au sein des études sur Patočka, cette possibilité ne peut se réaliser qu’à condition de défendre une phénoménologie a-subjective, où phénoménologie et ontologie sont quasi-synonymes :

« l’analogie entre le phénoménologique et l’ontologique pourrait aboutir à une synonymie. Cette synonymie est déjà donnée si l’on ramène ses deux termes à une physique où l’apparaître à moi et la manifestation sont pensés tous deux comme mouvement: mouvement de l’existence et proto-mouvement d’individuation […]. Seules peuvent se rencontrer – car ils sont déjà synonymes – le mouvement que nous sommes et le mouvement de la physis, et c’est seulement dans une physique que peuvent être pensés ensemble, car ils y sont déjà synonymes, le phénoménal et l’ontologique. Bref, le phénoménal et l’ontologie sont une physique, la même physique » (pp. 531-532).

Pour conclure, la phénoménologie du mouvement chez Patočka que Duicu nous livre, invite donc à repenser cette physique où le phénoménologique et l’ontologique constituent l’un le visage de l’autre.

Mark van Atten: Essays on Gödel’s Reception of Leibniz, Husserl and Brouwer

Essays on Gödel’s Reception of Leibniz, Husserl and Brouwer Book Cover Essays on Gödel’s Reception of Leibniz, Husserl and Brouwer
Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science
Mark van Atten
Philosophy
Springer
2015
Hardcover $179.00
327

Reviewed by: Dale Jacquette (University of Bern)

Mark van Atten in this author-edited volume brings together eleven previously published or at time of writing about to independently appear essays in the history of the phenomenology of mathematics. Kurt Gödel’s relation to the work of G.W. Leibniz, Edmund Husserl and L.E.J. Brouwer makes Gödel’s philosophy as influenced by these thinkers the connecting theme of van Atten’s studies. Van Atten in turn seems to be strongly influenced in his reading of Gödel’s involvement with the limits of logic clearing the way for a phenomenology of logical-mathematical reasoning by Hao Wang’s frequently cited interviews with and commentary on Gödel’s philosophy of logic and mathematics.

Gödel in his 1931 ‘Über formal unentscheidbare Sätze der Principia mathematica und verwandter Systeme. Pt. 1’ proves that there are arithmetical truths that cannot be nontrivially deduced or formally algorithmically verified by logically sound decision method, except from syntactically inconsistent assumptions by which classically any proposition and its negation are validly deduced. Having rigorously demonstrated that there are unprovable arithmetical truths, Gödel cancels logicism from the stark Fregean choices of pure logicism versus some form of psychologism. He meticulously constructs an unprovable undecidable sentence of arithmetic with implied inherent plans for designing as many counterexamples as desired. All that is strictly needed is one steady counterexample, although Gödel’s method suggests an unlimited structurally isomorphic plurality.

Gödel in 1931 thereby explodes Fregean-Russellian pure logicism in philosophy of arithmetic. The result leaves him to consider what psychological, phenomenological, intuitive or intuitionistic alternative might hold the best promise of shoring up the gap left in the foundations of mathematics by the deductive incompleteness of infinitary first-order arithmetic with addition and multiplication functions together with an identity relation. If objective mind-independent pure logical form cannot be the answer, then the mind is surely somehow involved. Mind ‘sees’ that the Gödel sentence implying its own deductive unprovability must be true, at least if first-order arithmetic is to remain syntactically consistent. Gödel sentences are guaranteed by indirectly self-referential construction to fail in deduction and decision if they are true. Mind judges that the Gödel sentence is true if arithmetic is to be contradiction-free, although the sentence is so constructed as to be true only if it is deductively unprovable from logically consistent assumptions. Pure logicism’s loss is phenomenology’s gain in Gödel’s evolving philosophy of mathematics, on the Wang interpretation that van Atten favors.

Recalled interviews with Gödel indicate that his turn toward phenomenology especially in the Princeton years after fleeing Vienna around the time of the Nazi Aschluß was not merely coincidental, like a medievalist with a side-interest in Jean-Paul Sartre. Setting that nonstarter aside, what is not answered, which is understandable given scanty equivocal historical documentation, and less satisfyingly unaddressed on philosophical grounds in van Atten or for that matter Wang is whether Gödel turns to phenomenology after the 1931 limiting metalogical proofs, or whether Gödel’s always latent phenomenological tendencies might have motivated and philosophically inclined him toward the discovery of the formal deductive incompleteness and sound algorithmic undecidability of infinitary first-order arithmetic. We underestimate Gödel one way or the other if we cannot imagine either of these interpretations being true of his intellectual depth and development. If Gödel gravitates especially toward the thinkers van Atten highlights in his essay-chapter investigations of each in historical turn, from Leibniz in the seventeenth century to Husserl and Brouwer among his closer contemporaries, then Gödel like other philosophers is presumably seeking out ideological antipodes and fellow-travelers.

Gödel-1 turns toward phenomenology and intuitionism after 1931, almost out of desperation and surprise. It as though the incompleteness proofs drive Gödel-1 unexpectedly away from pure logic and deductively valid mechanical syntax manipulation, once the discovery is made. Gödel-2 was always at heart a phenomenologist and intuitionist. He is impressed as were some members of the unofficially named Vienna Circle after Albert Einstein’s success in emphasizing the observer’s role in relativity physics when judging the position, speed and like factors of objects moving in spacetime. The application to logic may prove that the reasoning like the observing subject in physics needs to be included in the determination of logical truth, that there is no truth without thought, along with many other theoretically juicy suggestions. The choice of historical-philosophical interpretations of Gödel as Gödel-1 or Gödel-2 is arguably a if not the fundamental problem in understanding Gödel’s complex relationship with his discoveries in metamathematical logic and sustained interest in psychology, phenomenology and intuitionism. Qualifying my general admiration for van Atten’s accomplishment in this book is therefore a touch of disappointment that the essays do not address or even acknowledge this essential interpretive challenge.

Gödel after ‘Unentscheidbare Sätze’ concludes that the incompleteness of first-order arithmetic implies that minds are not mere syntax-processing machines like logically consistent formal symbolic deductive logical systems and mechanical decision methods. Van Atten does not take up the topic here, but says, p. 129: ‘We will leave a discussion of Gödel’s efforts on the question of minds and machines for another time’. There is a footnote (83) attached at the bottom of the page that mentions an in-progress essay with Leon Horsten and Rudy Rucker titled ‘Evolving a Mind’. This must be an essential piece of the puzzle in trying to reconstruct Gödel’s intellectual involvement with psychology, phenomenology and logical-mathematical intuitionism.

Van Atten seems to prefer Gödel-1, although he does not thematize in this way the history and philosophical dimensions of Gödel’s reception of Leibniz, Husserl and Brouwer. Nor does he recognize or try to argue the matter one way or another. He does not juxtapose the interpretations labeled here as Gödel-1 and Gödel-2 that could be recognized under any terminology. I find this a disappointing omission in the essays van Atten brings together in the book under review. It is one of the things that intrigues me most about the relation of Gödel’s metamathematics to his involvement with phenomenology and intuitionism, and I do not come away from van Atten’s discussions with a sense of how these things stand in Gödel’s thought.

There is surprisingly little said about Gödel’s proof at all in van Atten’s chapters, which as the book progresses becomes increasingly the unmentioned fabled elephant in the room. If van Atten has an opinion about the priorities of logical proof and intuition in Gödel’s thought, it would have been invaluable to have had his arguments and preferred interpretive analyses of this aspect of Gödel’s philosophy made explicit, the question raised even if only considered and deliberately unanswered. Gödel undoubtedly interested himself in phenomenology and intuitionism, as he did with respect to religious and mystic traditions, reflected in his personal library shelves inventoried at his death as reported by van Atten. The irrepressible historical-philosophical biographical question is which came first in Gödel’s lifework, the chicken of phenomenological and intuitionistic proclivities, or the deductive incompleteness egg of purely logically uncomprehended logical truth?

Working forward from Leibniz as the first important figure for Gödel in van Atten’s exposition, there seems to be an explanatory misconnection. Leibniz’s La Monadologie (1714) hypothesizes a God-chosen universal relation of interconnections among windowless monads that cannot bring about any changes in one another’s intrinsic natures or individual essences. Van Atten characterizes the parts of Leibniz’s metaphysics he regards as significant for Gödel in set theoretical language. The relation in Leibniz however is not naturally characterized in set theory, but more a matter of mereology, of part-whole or inferential connections among the truths of property instantiations by which each distinct monad is defined. If there are set theoretical commitments in Leibniz’s Monadology, they can only emerge after heavy interpretive overlay, given that set theory in anything like the modern sense does not appear in the history of mathematics as van Atten knows better than most until the mid-nineteenth century.

Van Atten relies heavily on Leibnizian references to the ‘reflection’ and ‘reflectiveness’ of each monad in every other monad distributed throughout the universe, but he does not explain what he takes Leibniz to mean by reflectiveness. Monad inter-reflectiveness in Leibniz is arguably better regarded as a purely abstract inferential network. Every monad is logically inferentially connected with every other monad if each monad’s interrelational properties is considered as its haecceity or uniquely individuating essence consisting of all its identifying conditions. Take any part of the universe and its relations like Leibniz’s contemporary Isaac Newton’s universal gravitation in which every physical object touches, attracts or repels but anyway affects every other object no matter how distant or with how weak and practically negligible a force. Leibniz’s monadology makes it possible in principle analogously to deduce from any object’s haecceity the haecceity of every other object. Information about all mutually causally untouchable interactively free unchangable Leibnizian monads is already fully contained in the information load of any and every monad. The role of set theory in understanding what Leibniz seems to mean beyond the summary just sketched seems negligible in identifying what Gödel might have found interesting in the inferential network of information about individual haecceities of all monads in Leibniz’s God-willed universe, the interlinkages of truths or truth-makers united together holistically in an unimaginably vast system of deductive implicational connections. That Gödel is highly interested in Leibniz and in set theory is not in dispute. The question is whether van Atten rightly interprets Gödel’s reasons for curiousity about Leibniz as plausibly explainable in set theoretical terms.

I admit to being confused by some aspects of van Atten’s recounting of Gödel’s interest in Husserl’s phenomenology. Gödel seems to have studied Husserl’s Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie (1913) with some care, as he did Husserl’s Logische Untersuchungen (1900/1913) and popularly more accessible 1929 Paris Sorbonne Lectures published in translation as Cartesianische Meditationen und Pariser Vorträge (1931). An example of the difficulty I had of following van Atten’s thread appears on p. 45. There van Atten begins with a substantial quotation from Wang’s (1996) A Logical Journey entries in his personal notebooks from 8.7.13-14. The passage is insightful, but attribution of the view expressed is first extended without further ado from Wang to Gödel. This is reasonable if in fact Wang is recalling the details of his conversations with Gödel. Remarkably, if I parse these passages correctly, the same proposition is then ascribed to Leibniz, again without special preparation or segue that I could uncover after several attempts squinting in the light of my desk lamp.

Van Atten in this instance writes: ‘The approach is “theological” [to adopt Wang’s language in the quoted text] because in the monadological setting, it is a central monad or God who creates a universe of objects.’ This may be true as far as it goes about Leibniz, but it is unclear from van Atten’s surround discussion whether Wang is exactly quoting Gödel and whether either Wang or Gödel would have had Leibniz’s monadology in mind in mentioning ‘monads’ and ‘the closeness aspect to what lies within the monad and in between the monads’. Leibniz is not the only thinker to invoke monads, and nothing prevents Wang or Gödel from picking up a useful terminology and turning it to their own very different non-Leibnizian ends. These are relations that for whatever reasons of lacunae in my education I anyway do not recognize as belonging to the Leibniz with whom I am familiar in the relatively late work Monadology, relatively early Discours de métaphysique (1686), Nouveaux essais sur l’entendement humain (1764), or others of his major writings on speculative metaphysics and scientific method. Perhaps the associations with Leibniz are obvious upon delving more deeply into Wang and Gödel as van Atten has, but things did not piece themselves together in my own efforts to connect the dots as van Atten presents them in his historical-philosophical narrative.

The linkage between Gödel and Husserl and Brouwer is more easily understood than Gödel’s fascination with Leibniz. Beyond its integrated metaphysics of logical interconnections and every logician’s taking Leibniz’s projection of a Characteristica universalis as an ideal for symbolic logic’s formal aspirations, as well as a German ancestor of logic, mathematics and so much more, it is not obvious at first what might have interested Gödel in Leibniz’s philosophy. There is a potential tension in van Atten’s efforts to subjoin Gödel’s interest in and affinity with Leibniz understood as set theoretical relations among representations of any monad’s properties with every other’s, and Husserl’s rejection of a specifically representational phenomenology. Leibnizian ‘reflection’ and ‘reflectiveness’ among monads understood as van Atten seems to interpret it as some kind of representation of their respective contents is not immediately compatible with Husserl’s rejection of representation in the phenomenology of perception.

Husserl’s reasonable argument is that mind does not represent an external reality if the two cannot be compared with one another for accuracy or inaccuracy of depiction. Given that one thought content can only be compared with another, there is no meaningful judgment of accuracy or inaccurancy of representation, and hence no sense in speaking of representation. If Leibniz’s ‘reflection’ and ‘reflectiveness’ of monads in other monads is understood set theoretically and representationally as van Atten seems to encourage, then there is a sudden breakdown between Leibniz and Husserl that van Atten does not acknowledge. It could be that there is in truth a basic disagreement between Leibniz and Husserl on the mutual representation of contents among monads, but that Gödel did not know it or fixed, on more positive applications of Husserl’s phenomenology, knew something about the incongruity but did not care. Did Gödel come to conclude that Leibniz so interpreted was right to regard monads as interconnected by representational ‘reflections’, or was he at some point convinced by Husserl that thought content does not represent in anything like the way that the plastic and performance arts, languages and artifacts can purposefully reference objects and states of affairs? It would be useful to consider attempts to rectify or smooth over the apparent disharmony in explaining the influence of these two thinkers on Gödel. The problem only arises on the assumption that what Leibniz means by the mutual reflectiveness of monads is representational. The difficulty disappears if reflectiveness is not interpreted representationally as van Atten proposes. The question is raised reading van Atten’s book, but the problem is not recognized nor answer provided.

Van Atten’s studies of Gödel’s interest in and influence on his philosophy of mathematics especially by Leibniz, Husserl and Brouwer, in different ways, with different effects and influences, despite the focus above on the reviewer’s burden of grudging critique, are extraordinarily rich in exploring the book’s chosen topics. Many more pages should be devoted to van Atten’s important contributions in the collection to begin to do it justice. The reader is strongly recommended to take up this detailed examination of Gödel’s selective reading in logic-related branches of phenomenological philosophy, as much for the questions it provokes as its detailed authoritative analysis of historical-philosophical themes.

Phillip Honenberger (Ed.): Naturalism and Philosophical Anthropology

Naturalism and Philosophical Anthropology: Nature, Life, and the Human between Transcendental and Empirical Perspectives Book Cover Naturalism and Philosophical Anthropology: Nature, Life, and the Human between Transcendental and Empirical Perspectives
Phillip Honenberger (ed.)
Philosophy
Palgrave Macmillan
2016
Hardcover $100.00
258

Reviewed by: Andrew Cooper (University of Bonn)

This book will surprise both natural scientists and philosophers. Not only does it argue that naturalism – the thesis that natural science is best equipped to tell us what there is in the world – requires philosophy to account for human life, it also claims that philosophy must be coupled with natural science if it is to ground human beings in nature.

The aim of Naturalism and Philosophical Anthropology is to draw the fragmented heritage of philosophical anthropology into a single tradition that provides a fresh approach to contemporary epistemic quagmires in scientific inquiry. The “puzzling subject-object doublet” (p. 14) at the core of philosophical anthropology – the combination of the scientist and specimen – means that to account for human life is simultaneously to open our understanding of “nature” to question. If nature arises through human speech, action, and investigate practices, then a research program adequate to human life requires both the naturalist, evolutionary-biological tradition and the idealist, phenomenological tradition. The thesis of the book is as provocative as it is compelling: that a truly naturalist research program is possible only when these opposing methodologies are drawn together, opening a field of inquiry “between transcendental and empirical perspectives,” as the title states.

The guiding motif weaved throughout the essays is Arnold Gehlen’s the notion of the human as a “deficient being” (Mängelwesen). As editor Phillip Honenberger explains, the deficiency of the biological function distinguishes human beings “from non-human forms of life by their capacity to take a position regarding this dynamic relationship [of interiority] itself” (p. 12). Biological deficiency necessities the development of an integrated “habit-set” or “character” to extend the natural – what Aristotle called the “second nature” – meaning that a unique combination of natural science and social and cultural approaches are required to capture the dynamism of humans being. Given the aim of the book to outline a research program adequate to this task, my approach here will not be exhaustive but rather to identify how each essay conceives philosophical anthropology as a project that opens a properly naturalist field of inquiry.

In the opening essay, Beth Cykowski draws philosophical anthropology into continuity with phenomenology by examining Martin Heidegger as an anthropological thinker. By turning our attention from the regional suppositions of institutional anthropology to the fundamental question of human being there, Heidegger elucidates the human as both “part of” and “irreducible to” nature (p. 29), for the human is that through which nature is given expression. This move is fundamental to philosophical anthropology, Cykowski argues, for it alerts us to the human being as the incomplete creature, a being in “limbo” between the organic and the spiritual, a being for whom entities are “hyper-available” rather that available insofar as they are “relevant” (p. 44). Cykowski contends that, like phenomenology, philosophical anthropology provides an alternative to reductionist sciences that limit research to the physical.

Richard Schlacht also expands the tradition of philosophical anthropology by identifying Friedrich Nietzsche as an important predecessor of Gehlen. He argues that Gehlen’s work is “naturalizing” in Nietzsche’s sense of the term to the extent that it considers the human constitution as a “structural response to practical necessities arrived at in purely mundane ways” (p. 58). The entanglement of Nietzsche and Gehlen opens the core thesis of philosophical anthropology: that “something more than mere Darwinian ‘natural selection’ was involved in the transformation of ‘deficiency’ of fixed structures into man’s biological constitution into a kind of advantage in the struggle for survival, by the flexibility it made possible” (p. 63). Schlacht claims that for both Nietzsche and Gehlen this something is human action.

Vida Pavesich examines Hans Blumenberg’s contribution to philosophical anthropology to identify the vital role of consolation in anthropogenesis. Consolation constitutes a key site of ethical reflection by presupposing “a complex intersubjective and cognitive reflexivity as well as an empathic perspective-taking capacity,” embracing and soothing “the existential vulnerability for which there is ultimately no solace” (p. 66). At the center of Blumenberg’s work is the claim that the preservation of the human world “involves compensating for the provisional nature of our existence” (p. 66). This lack entails “a biologically deficient being burdened with cares and anxious about lacking guarantees for its continuing being-in-the-world” (p. 69). The deficiency of biological specialization drives human beings to action within “the context of a lifeworld that supports, shapes, informs, and stabilizes biological plasticity” (p. 71).

In his essay “Naturalism, Pluralism, and the Human Place in the Worlds,” Honenberger traces the role of locality that ties the disparate threads of philosophical anthropology into a single discipline. From Thomas Huxley’s Evidence as to Man’s Place in Nature (1863) to contemporary work, philosophical anthropology raises the question “what is man’s place in nature?” as its central analytic. For Honenberger, the question of placement concerns the relation between higher-order organization of human systems and the lower natural strata. By examining this relation philosophical anthropology resists the monist tendencies of contemporary naturalism, identifying the “‘emergence’ of plurality from monistic (or monistcally articulated) conditions” (p. 96). Honenberger’s emergentist thesis entails a “pluricartographic” approach to human locality, connecting philosophical anthropology with the recent pluralist turn in epistemology of philosophers such as Helen Longino and Huw Price. Like contemporary pluralism philosophical anthropology does not separate metaphysics from epistemology but rather entwines the philosophical in the anthropological, holding that “knowing subjects are part of the world they seek to know” (p. 114). Contemporary pluralists are returning to what philosophical anthropology has known all along: that “we humans (our thought and talk included) are surely part of the natural world” (Price 2012, 5).

Scott Davis examines Helmuth Plessner’s conceptual investigation of the concept of “life” in terms of “structural narratology” (p. 121). While biology in the tradition of Ernst Mayr is characterized as the study of individuals, philosophical anthropology as practiced by Plessner is concerned with “characters introduced as modalities of being” (p. 123). In this way the “position and role of the observer could be built reflexively into the scientific activity along with the observations and results.” Plessner calls this irreversible double-aspectivity of object perception as “positionality” (p. 125). Positionality serves as an alternative to the Cartesian view from nowhere, capturing “living configurations of the biological world as living things.” Even human life and culture must be included within the spectrum of positionalities, for we ourselves are “agents of this reflective, classificatory effort at outlining positionalities in the first place” (p. 128). Davis proposes the idea of “mediated immediacy” as the central analytic of philosophical anthropology, identifying the uniqueness of the human in their capacity to “lead a life,” to undertake the task of making “themselves into what they already are” (p. 140).

Sally Wasmuth demonstrates how a philosophical anthropology attentive to Gehlen’s notion of the excessive vulnerability of human life can contribute toward contemporary understanding of addiction in clinical settings. Guidelines rooted in philosophical anthropology can “help recognize and distinguish addictions from ‘healthy’ occupations” by “contextualizing these criteria in a broader theory of human nature” (p. 152). Wasmuth highlights the foreignness of philosophical anthropology to contemporary biological or reductionist approaches to the human, which lack Gehlen’s attunement to the humans as “deficient life forms” (p. 153). She links Gehlen’s thesis of world-openness to biological work on detachment and neuroscience, which emphasizes the lack of instinctual organization in human behavior in conceptions of human wellness. Addiction can be seen as a form of “replacement for the biological instincts lost in detachment” (p. 160) by persons who are “overwhelmed by their biological precariousness” (p. 162).

While the emphasis on human deficiency throughout the book provides a guiding thread for philosophical anthropology, it sometimes feels a little overblown. Is the focus on compensating for the lack of being is warranted given the remarkable human capacity for fullness? A naturalist reading of the lack of specialization characteristic of human life must also account for how this detachment from biological function features as a selected function that contributes to human flourishing. Lenny Moss raises this question in his chapter “The Hybrid Hominin: A Renewed Point of Departure for Philosophical Anthropology.” Moss’s aim is to challenge the “overemphasis on human deficiency” in philosophical anthropology that examines humans “problems to themselves” (p. 172). His notion of the “Hybrid Hominin” draws attention to the group as the unit of normative transition, bringing human development under the broader biological principle that “life moves in the direction of increasingly being able to constitute its own norms.” While detachment entails some kind of loss, it equally entails “an increase in relative independence vis-à-vis its surround.” Increasing detachment leads to the development of a system which “acts in such a way as to determine its own outcome,” actively “biasing its own future states” through the “presence of a norm” (p. 174). This is precisely what life is; the “threshold of natural development in which nature increasingly moves in the direction of being able to constitute its own norms.” Thus the point of departure for philosophical anthropology is not the emergence of a physiologically challenged being but rather “the partial and perhaps progressive detachment of hominin individuals from the primordial Group” (p. 180). Moss argues that this development opens “new dimensions of normative autonomy,” casting philosophical anthropology along more Hegelian lines than those provided by Gehlen.

Hans-Peter Krüger continues this normative approach by examining the work of Michael Tomasello, which combines the horizontal analysis of human culture with the vertical analysis of humans as animals. Tomosello’s work demonstrates how philosophical anthropology uniquely enables a research program that spans the accepted methodological dualism between the natural and human sciences, or between nature and mind. Krüger contends that a methodology that is attentive to both biological and cultural inheritance leads to an understanding of human dependence that “does not determine but rather enables” (p. 188). The biological development of human understanding serves as an enabling structure that conditions the development of human culture. This is a kind of “transcendental naturalism” (p. 189) in which the enabling structures serve as the a priori conditions of experience which result in the a posteriori generation of normative directedness. The questions of inheritance that are often restricted to the brain are thus extended to include “the recursive symbolism of a historical process of interaction” (p. 192).

Joseph Margolis’ provocative essay examines the “neglected” relationship between biological and culture (p. 219). His central claim is that neither the development of language nor the emergence of persons “can be satisfactorily accounted for solely or primarily in biological terms,” which is to say that “Darwinian evolution must itself be transformed when it addresses the evolution of Homo Sapiens” (p. 220). We require a theory that does not simply explain the mastery of language and the emergence of associated symbolic forms of expression as accidental features but as a “sui generis form of emergence unique (as far as we know) to societies of human persons” (p. 221). Margolis argues that the “‘second-naturing’, essentially cultural (or enculturing) transformative process” expresses the continuity of biology and culture (p. 221) while maintaining that “[i]ntentioned things and properties … are fundamentally different from the material things and properties of the natural world (p. 222). To balance the continuity of emergence with the distinctness of intentionality Margolis avows a pragmatist framework for philosophical anthropology made up of “an open-ended succession of a continually revised array of patchwork models” (p. 227).

In the final essay of the volume Sami Pihlström reflects on the unique methodological standing of philosophical anthropology that investigates both the “factual” and the “normative” dimensions of human beings (p. 229). He argues that philosophical anthropology gives a uniquely “transcendental perspective on human finitude as something that must be reflexively explored ‘from within’ that conditions itself” (p. 230). Pihlström’s aim is to link the pragmatic tradition with transcendental inquiry in order to raise the metaphilosophical question of whether there is a dimension of human being that can be elucidated philosophically. This is essentially a question about naturalism: naturalism claims that there is no first-philosophy, no philosophical perspective more fundamental to natural science. Against the monist tendency of naturalism Pihlström argues that the “first-personal” character of human experiences such as death require a pluralism of methodological approaches that culminate in a “non-reductively naturalized version of the transcendental method” (p. 243).

While the proposed methodologies proposed in this volume vary significantly, they share the conviction that a pluralism of methodological approaches is required to account for human life. At times the collected nature of the volume leaves the reader in want of a sustained account of this pluralism, in particular, how pluralism constitutes a form of naturalism at all. Naturalism, in its harder varieties, is characterized by a monist conception of nature that reduces scientific explanation to the single physical-energetic stratum of entailed causality. This account of naturalism – what Price (2012) refers to as “object naturalism” – turns on a concept of nature as a totality of subject-independent facts. Alternatively, Price proposes a “subject naturalism” that acknowledges human as a part of nature. Yet like the essays in this volume, it remains unclear how such a proposal retains the features characteristic of “naturalism.” If nature is not a single set of facts discoverable by natural science but rather a conceptually mediated horizon of experience irreducible to a single explanatory paradigm, then no research program can account for what there “really is” in the world. What then is the task of science? While the essays of Krüger, Margolis, and Pihlström provide some direction by proposing to combine transcendental analysis with pragmatism, one would think that this proposal, fully cashed out, entails a conception of nature irreducible to the physical-energetic stratum. Is such a proposal a form of naturalism, or an alternative framework? What does it mean for a research program to be properly “naturalist” at all, and why is naturalism worth aspiring to? While philosophical anthropology is well placed to combine philosophical and natural scientific research, it requires a philosophically robust account of the pluralism of causative paradigms – dare I say a metaphysical framework, albeit of a deflationary variety – to explain how nature is amenable to our explanatory aims.

Naturalism and Philosophical Anthropology puts forward a methodological challenge to both contemporary philosophy and natural science. As contemporary epistemologists are again discovering, the fact that human beings are both part of nature and that through which nature arises as an object of inquiry entails that the subject-object dualism of traditional science requires radical revision. The essays in this volume provide an exciting contribution to the search for an alternative to reductionist forms of naturalism that ignore the intentional-normative stratum, assisting philosophers and natural scientists to make use of and orient themselves to the dynamic tradition of philosophical anthropology.

References
Price, Hugh, Naturalism Without Mirrors, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Elisabeth Goldwyn: Reading between the Lines: Form and Content in Levinas’s Talmudic Readings

Reading between the Lines: Form and Content in Levinas’s Talmudic Readings Book Cover Reading between the Lines: Form and Content in Levinas’s Talmudic Readings
Elisabeth Goldwyn
Duquesne University Press
2015
Paperback $24.95

Reviewed by: Esteban Beltran Ulate (Universidad de Costa Rica)

Duquesne University Press hace posible el aparecimiento de un nuevo libro que aborda el pensamiento del Filósofo Emmanuel Levinas; el libro se intitula “Reading Between that Lines” escrito por Elisabeth Goldwyn, profesora de Filosofía Judía en la Universidad Haifa y traducido del hebreo al inglés por Rachel Kessel. La presente reseña asume como objeto la exposición de las principales líneas desarrolladas por la autora, con el objetivo de acercar a los lectores e impulsarlos a su lectura.

En orden a permitir una comprensión de la estructura de la obra, se presenta una serie de comentarios sintéticos a cada una de las secciones, (i)”Introduction”, (1) “What si Midrash?”, (2) “Midrash and Prophecy”, (3) “Levinas’s Attitude to the Interpreted Text”, (4) “The Relationship Between Exegesis and Reality”, (5) “Interpretive Pluralism”, (6) “Unique fractures of Levinas’s Midrash”, (ii) “Afterword”. Posterior al abordaje de cada una de las secciones el autor de la presente reseña se permitirá esgrimir una serie de consideraciones sobre el texto.

En la sección intitulada (i) “Introduction”, se presenta la motivación de la autora para el abordaje de las lecturas talmúdicas de Levinas. Se asume como punto de partida la necesidad de realizar un estudio que permita un acercamiento preliminar a Levinas, a su filosofía en diálogo con sus fuentes judias. Si bien Levinas se acerca al Talmud de manera robusta posterior a la II Guerra Mundial, su filosofía se inserta en la corriente occidental, con un haz de luz judaico. Las contribuciones de Levinas en cuanto a la tradición que representa, resulta ser un nuevo “Midrash”, que procura una relectura del mundo en crisis a partir de una interpretación y reinterpretación de los textos de la tradición. Estos escritos develan un más-allá-de-lo-dicho (unsaying) que, lejos de ser palabra inerte permite y estimula dudas, preguntas y reflexiones que instan a reorganizar el texto en diversas dimensiones, para finalmente avivar el sentimiento de un humanismo con impronta judía para toda la humanidad, un humanismo que responda al otro, un humanismo que no olvida el holocausto.

El primer apartado (1) What Is the Midrash?, la autora describe las características del Midrash y la distinción entre Midrash Halakha y Midrash Agaddah; toma punto de partida al asumir los comentarios talmúdicos levinasianos como un nuevo Midrash. El Midrash es una relación entre el comentador y el texto que posibilita nuevos sentidos, rediseña el judaísmo y segunda los contextos sin perder la tradición. Es así una tensión entre la innovación y la tradición.

La profesora Goldwyn desarrolla una caracterización de elementos fundantes en los métodos para abordar el Midrash: la premisa de atender hasta el mínimo detalle del texto, la unidad del fragmento con la totalidad del texto, los espacios vacíos (situaciones inconclusas en el texto, por ejemplo Gen. 4:8) y el pensamiento orgánico (una especie de pensamiento pre-científico). El Midrash se encuentra en relación con el comentador y la realidad, una especie de triángulo dinámico sostenido por el eje del texto canónico. El capítulo concluye indicando que el Midrash procura interpretar de múltiples maneras lo incomprensible, lo mínimo, su foco de atención se encamina a un diálogo siempre renovado y renovable que permite una aplicación a la realidad, es palabra siempre viva.

En el apartado segundo (2) Midrash and Prophecy se desarrolla la problemática de Dios que se presenta en el mundo y de cómo esto ha sido tema problematizado por el ser humano. Es en esta discusión que Levinas permite una nueva reflexión, Dios no habla, Dios no se presenta físicamente en lo alto de la montaña, Dios se traza en la existencia, en la mirada (visage) del otro, el otro se convierte en profecía de lo Infinito, como indica Goldwyn: “…all people are prophets. God does not speak. God’s traces, the trace of infinity, are revealed in the face of the other person” (p.35). Desde el punto de vista levinasiano tanto la interpretación como el Midrash son profecía, pues en ambas se envuelve la apertura del otro como rostro que se revela.

La supremacía del Tanaj frente a la demás literatura universal radica en la fecunda fuente ética y en el reconocimiento del otro como mandato. Para Levinas una ética desde la autonomía no es suficiente para fundamentar la vida. La interpretación de los textos sagrados permite una ética heterónoma, abierta a la trascendencia. La tradición interpretativa de la que proviene Levinas concibe el Midrash no como un mero ejercicio intelectual, sino como un llamado directo a cada uno de “nosotros” por medio del otro. Esta interpretación es una acción profética de origen humano con alcances divinos, la profecía es una condición humana. La sección finaliza repensando las tensiones a propósito de la acción exegética, así como la mirada pluralista del Midrash que permite una, siempre, re-interpretación desde múltiples voces y tiempos: la Torah tiene setenta rostros (p.59).

El apartado tercero (3) Levinas’s attitude to the interpreted text inicia exponiendo el interés de Levinas por un judaísmo desde la sabiduría, en miras de responder a las necesidades de los nuevos tiempos. De ahí que resulte necesario no idolatrar los textos sagrados, sino más bien re-interpretarlos a la luz de los eventos. Goldwyn trae a colación la distinción entre los términos “Sacrée” y “Saint” desarrollados por Levinas para analizar la relación ante el estudio de la Torah.

Llama la atención de la autora el método hermenéutico utilizado por Levinas, donde se desliga de la visión cronológica y desde el texto plano inicia una construcción discursiva que le permite alcanzar el tema de actualidad; lejos de recurrir a una lectura científica, histórica o filológica del Talmud, Levinas sin recurrir a la tematización o conceptualización, asume como tarea ir tras el Decir (Dire) en lo Dicho (Dit), que demanda una respuesta ética en el aquí y el ahora (p.81).

En el apartado cuarto (4) The relationship Between Exegesis and Reality la autora retoma la relación entre el lector y el texto. La relación es indudable, empero, lejos de ser simétrica, deviene en asimetría; siguiendo la comprensión de lejanía levinasiana el texto se torna otredad, “The verse is also An Other” (p.93). De lo anterior se desprende que el verso se convierte en refugio del lector, aporta sentidos para la actualidad del mundo. En esta sección, el autor desarrolla de manera sintética los modos de lectura asumidos por Levinas en su Midrash, en las siguientes lecciones talmudicas: “The Youth of Israel”, “Toward the Other”, “Damage de Due to Fire”, “The Temptation of Temptation”, “Cities of Refuge”, “An God Created a Woman”, “Promised Land or Permitted Land”, “The Pact”, “Model of the West”, “On Religious Language and the Fear of God”. El foco levinasiano apunta al aspecto ético, sus comentarios talmúdicos, que recurren tanto al Halaka y al Aggada, se orientan a la lectura de la realidad, a la relación con el Otro.

(5) Interpretive Pluralism, es el título del quinto capítulo, en el que despliega una serie de consideraciones a propósito de la diversidad de posibilidades en la interpretación de la Torah, ya que es infinitamente capaz de sentidos y significados según las personas, contextos y tiempos. De igual manera, como cada persona es única, la inspiración que emerge de la relación entre persona y texto es única, el texto nunca agota sus sentidos, cada lectura y cada voz son necesarias. Las consideraciones levinasianas al respecto son presentada por Goldwyn en este apartado.

Siendo que cada persona es una identidad individual, por ende responsable de sus acciones y palabras (p. 118), es convocada personalmente por el mandato de “No matarás”, es llamada a responder, a ser responsable por el Otro. La exégesis es tarea de todo aquel que acepte, que responda “heme aquí”. Como expresa la autora: “Torah study itself, unlike intellectual preoccupations, invites the commentator to open up to a voice of otherness that addresses him or her through the text” (p.126). Resulta importante la mención de la autora de la dinámica dialógica que emerge en el Bet Mishdra: la exploración de sentidos e interpretaciones en medio de la conversación con el “Havruta”. Lo anterior posibilita que las perspectivas se orienten de cierta manera hacia una unidad, como expresa Goldwyn: “the individual’s comprehension is limitated”(p. 131); frente a eso, se genera una dinámica dialógica entre texto, lector, interpretación y comentarios; la Torah no es simple palabra plana, no se detiene en el tiempo sincrónico (lo rasga), es una comunicación intergeneracional. El apartado concluye caracterizando las lecturas talmúdicas levinasianas.

El capítulo sexto, denominado Unique Features of Levinas’s Midrash, discute las características particulares que se divisan en las lecturas de Emmanuel Levinas. En primer instancia la exégesis no es solo una comprensión del texto, sino más bien un comportamiento ético. Posteriormente la autora del libro desarrolla a partir de diversas citas de obras levinasianas una lectura a propósito de las nociones de ética, metafísica y teología en el pensamiento del filósofo. Se expone la imposibilidad de tematizar a Dios, así como la presencia del Eterno por conducto del Otro, como traza que se manifiesta y que emite mandato, mandamiento ético. Como indica Goldwyn: “My relatioship with God consist of obeying commandments that direct me to the other person” (p. 142); la relación con el otro resulta tener una significación religiosa en este sentido, la experiencia ética ilumina en sí lo divino.

Como expresa la autora, el humanismo de Occidente ha sucumbido. La propuesta de Levinas lo encara y plantea una nueva posibilidad desde la tradición judía. Es en esta escena que se desprende un análisis de las tesis levinasianas a propósito del Ritual Yom Kipur, del Lehem hapanim y de la significación del Estado de Israel, escrutando dentro de la concepción ética y metafísica de su filosofía que se deja verter sobre sus escritos talmúdicos. El autor esgrime una consideración respecto al caso de Judíos-Árabes en Israel, su corto desarrollo resulta estimulante a la luz del pensamiento levinasiano, aunque la misma Goldwyn exprese: “maybe this is only a Dream” (p.181).

El apartado finaliza con una reflexión acerca del valor reflexivo y práctico de las lecturas talmúdicas: el Midrash levinasiano es una muestra de la capacidad de mirar la realidad con las voces otras de la tradición, en busca de nuevas interpretaciones que tienen como eje común la respuesta hacia el Otro. Levinas no es un invitado más en el Beit Mishdra, es más bien un comentador que estimula pensamiento en el aquí y el ahora, exhortando a considerar el sistema de valores que desciende desde Abraham, Isaac y Jacob.

En la última sección intitulada (ii) Afterword, con una clara humildad académica la autora manifiesta las no-conclusiones de la obra, reafirma el aporte de Levinas, así como la invitación a continuar con la re-interpretación y creación de lecturas homiléticas en la tarea de vivificar la palabra y ponerla al servicio de la realidad, y unirse así a un nuevo Beit Midrash y continuar explorando la Torah.

Una vez finalizado el comentario a propósito de cada una de las secciones del texto, el autor de la presente reseña se permite brindar una serie de consideraciones. El texto resulta necesario en el ámbito de los estudios levinasianos, pues aborda una cuestión que requiere mayor atención, los textos no filosóficos de Emmanuel Levinas están latentes para ser analizados. El aporte de la profesora Goldwyn en este sentido manifiesta trascendencia y aspira, como se evidencia en sus conclusiones, a ser punto referencial de nuevos abordajes.

En lo referente a la estructura y dosificación expositiva, para lectores rigurosos, en cuanto a estructura, podría resultar poco claro el análisis específico de cada lectura o lección talmúdica levinasiana, si bien en el capítulo 4 se desarrolla una exposición reflexiva de algunas lecturas, se recurre a otros textos en capítulos posteriores; quizás, hubiese sido más oportuno presentar de manera previa una descripción metodológica de la lectura entrelíneas que plantea realizar el autor y posteriormente esgrimir una serie de consideraciones sobre cada una de las lecturas sin tener que recurrir a saltos entre párrafos o reiteraciones de algunas lecturas entre apartados. Empero, desde una lectura menos estructural y más dialógica de la obra, nos encontramos con la riqueza narrativa de quién se encuentra con un maestro y se deja llevar por las palabras, que pueden en algún momento volver y reafirmar lo expresado previamente.

Al leer la Obra de Goldwyn se ingresa en una especie de Beit Midrash, y así, frente a Levinas y sus palabras se escuchan las voces de la tradición. El texto se erige como un templo, donde son muchos los espejos y las voces; los periodos, las personas y los contextos confluyen, el tiempo es diacrónico y la epifanía del rostro manifiesta el mandato. Goldwyn presenta una lectura entre líneas que invita a continuar leyendo entre líneas.

Florian Forestier: Le Réel et le transcendental

Le Réel et le transcendantal Book Cover Le Réel et le transcendantal
Krisis
Florian Forestier
Editions Jérôme Millon
2015
Broché 20.00 €
240

Reviewed by: Erik Hoogcarspel (Internationale School Voor Wijsbegeerte)

‘Le Réel et le transcendental’ was originally the title of a dissertation by which Florian Forestier earned his Ph.D. at the University of Toulouse on June 18, 2011. The complete text consisted of two parts, the first of which had the very same title, the second one was called ‘La phénoménologie génétique de Marc Richir’. Both texts have appeared as separate books and were published by Springer in 2015.

Forestier is a member of the phenomenological school of the Belgium philosopher Marc Richir, who passed away in November last year. Richir advocates a makeover (refonte) of the classical phenomenology and Forestier explains why this is necessary, especially in view of the challenges phenomenology has been exposed to by structuralism and deconstructivism. He argues that phenomenology can rise again from its ashes with a new vigour and with more capabilities than ever to solve the problems of our present world.

Most philosophers are familiar with the term ‘transcendental’ from reading the works of Immanuel Kant. For Kant the transcendental approach consisted in the research of the conditions of the possibility of valid knowledge. The transcendental categories for instance make sure that science is possible and the transcendental unity of apperception guarantees that my knowledge is not spread randomly over different persons. These elements are transcendental because they are not induced by experience, they are a priory and just make experience possible. Forestier however means by the transcendental that which makes phenomena possible. Transcendental phenomenology still is the study of phenomena, but it looks upon these with a gaze that asks itself: ‘what makes them appear, which conditions are necessarily implied?’

The real (le Réel) is the opposite, the other pole, not unlike the thing in itself for Kant, but much more concrete. It is the limit of all that is implied by the appearance of phenomena, the source of all meaning that has no meaning by itself. It is a fundamental dimension of the phenomenological field, without it phenomenology would be nothing but fiction. In fact the concept has been influenced by the writings of Lacan and Levinas, it is the dimension in which language develops itself and which reappears in the heart of all speech acts, without being mentioned. One thing however is clear, and Forestier stresses this several times: phenomenology is not ontology, it is not about being, contrary for instance to Jean-Paul Sartre who called his first main work ‘Being and Nothingness’ (L’Être et le Néant) and described it as a phenomenological ontology, strongly influenced as he was by Martin Heidegger. The new phenomenology however is solely about appearing or phenomenality. The space of phenomena does not extend itself between being and nothingness, but between the real and the transcendental.

The book has four chapters. The first one introduces Forestier’s view on phenomenology and how it has been confronted with the transcendental. The second one argues that the transcendental should be seen in an expanded way. The third chapter introduces the mobility of the transcendental and the fourth one discusses the new phenomenology.

So what is the transcendental in phenomenology and how has it changed since its first introduction by Husserl in his ‘Logical Investigations’? Forestier, like his teacher Richir, follows the analysis of the French philosopher Jacques English. According to English, Husserl came to think about the transcendental when he realised the mutual convertibility of the different intentional modalities, like perception, imagination, signification, and so on. They seemed to belong to the same space, which is related to intentionality. It is because of intentionality that the not yet revealed is revealed. Transcendental phenomenology investigates the structure of the modifications that determine the way the a priori and transcendent objects are given to us. It is intentionality that makes us aware of the existence of an external world, but this is not something out there, but an experience of a relatedness within ourselves. Forestier argues that we live intentionality in more than one way and we even cannot exclude that some animals experience it in some way. Multiple variations in intentionality bring the imagination into play and with this the many meanings and intentions we develop by living in our world. This interplay between imagination, perception and meaning is an important field of study of phenomenology.

In Husserl’s famous ‘Logical Investigations’, experiences of consciousness are seen as preconditions to gain access to the things perceived, they are not yet subjects of reflection themselves. What is investigated is how it is possible that the different things appear to us and how we develop knowledge about them, so the conditions a priori, that are not dependent on empirical circumstances. The state of the intentional experience is a problem that cannot be solved at this stage, if it would come up at all. There is not yet a clear vision of the relation between the intentional acts and its objects, they are still considered fully transcendent to consciousness. The aim is to understand how a logical discourse about the world is possible. The intentional structures are malleable. At this point the enigma of meaning reveals itself and it appears that there is difference between intuitive acts and ones that give meaning. Only in this way we can understand how an individual thing distinguishes itself from the background of generality.

In the ‘Logical Investigations’ meaning is the result of a special kind of acts, but it is still difficult to say how we come to know what it is. Meaning is not part of the experience of a thing but part of the way we think about it and in that way it refers to both itself and the thing. In the second part of the ‘Logical Investigations’ Husserl investigates the problem of essences which put the problem of meaning in a more general frame. Phenomenology is redefined now as an eideitic science, a science of essences, a science of the a priori. Some phenomenologists would later consider this to be an idealistic early phase of phenomenology that had to be overcome, others however claim that this is the true phenomenology. Forestier agrees that essences are important but not in the way that has been discussed thus far.

In the first decade of the 20th century Husserl starts to think about what acts do and at that point time becomes an important factor, because this can only be investigated from the inside, from the point of view of the performance of acts and gradually the lived experience becomes the focus of inquiry. It appears that a thing always has more meanings than it shows, it always has a surplus that is never fulfilled in perception. Things never appear separate from the intentionality of consciousness and appear within a perspective and against a horizon.

Husserl distinguishes between appearance and being, the first has two levels: the itself appearance and the way it relates to different meanings. Phenomenology has become the science of meaning and meaning evolves from a quality of a thing to a structure of relations between phenomena. What becomes important now is the question how something happens to become an object of consciousness and which part time plays in this process. Forestier suggests that Husserl’s fear to call up a kind of psychologism was the reason that the genetic part of intentionality was under evaluated. Everything now has a double structure of on one hand being something that is perceived and on the other something with meaning, the meaning exists apart from perception and is a timeless idea.

Husserl pinpoints the difference between phenomenology and empiricism by defining the phenomenon as a concrete unified entity of which different aspects can be analysed. Moreover it is not a thing which is perceived but a direct experience in consciousness. This gives rise to more ambiguities, because when I direct my attention to my own sensations in my own consciousness I am not only the one who generates the sensations but also the one who experiences them. However when I become conscious of the sensations as just my sensations, they are transformed, by an intentional modification, into events in my consciousness which I can investigate. These phenomena that I can investigate constitute the field of the phenomena, the phenomenological.

A phenomenon is something that appears, but what is the relation between the appearance and that which appears, the transcendent? In the concept of intentionality a transcendent is already implied, because consciousness is directed at something which it is not. So intentionality tends to move outwards, to constitute an outside, this drive Husserl considered to be a natural urge. This seems to be an awkward solution. Perhaps a better one is suggested by Marc Richir, who attributes transcendence to the influence of the community or rather to language and culture, which he calls the symbolic institution. Anyhow, the phenomenon is free of any ontological propensities, it comes into consideration before any thoughts about things existing ‘out there’ arise. This is why we need to take a step back, to conduct an epochē in order to think phenomena. Later on Marc Richir, being a third generation phenomenologist, will introduce the phenomena as unstable events, constantly appearing, disappearing and reappearing from the boiling magma of the phenomenal. The phenomenon is nothing but phenomenon, rien que phénomène. The relation between the appearance and that which appears becomes a mutual implication and no external necessity comes into play. Meaning becomes something which arises by itself in the process, the meaning forms itself, le sens se faisant.

The transcendental turn in Husserl’s phenomenology means that the focus shifts from knowledge to the knowledge of knowledge, or knowledge as a phenomenon. The way things exist is strongly related to the way they are known, the noëses. In this sense Husserl calls his phenomenology a transcendental idealism, a term which caused many readers to put him on a par with Hegel and Berkeley. Forestier does not agree, and he is not alone in this. He reads Husserl in such a way that the way things appear cannot be understood without taking the co-operation of consciousness into consideration. It is a perspective on the world that focusses on the way things appear naturally to consciousness. The structure of natural consciousness, the worldly ego, is called the transcendental ego.

This constitutes the transcendental dimension, which is however purely formal according to Forestier, it is not a new hidden or higher reality. The transcendental ego can be compared to a mathematical function, it is not egotistic or narcissistic. Consciousness does not constitute reality, it constitutes meaning, the meaning of that which shows itself. When it describes an appearance it constitutes a collection of structures of categories and types, but it needs the help of the appearance. Constitution is a tool and a method, it is a way to understand and make clear what the character is of that which appears. The noëma (the constituted known) is nothing but the attribution of a kind of unity to that which appears, it is the way I understand something: when I look at a tree there is no noëma in between me and the tree.

If we want to understand something we also need to know where it has come from and how it will develop. This means that we have to take more into consideration than only the presence of the objects. This not only implies a philosophy of time, but also an existing structure of possibilities, a landscape, a view of the world. Consciousness has to constitute a number of layers of possibilities and needs a guiding principle in order to conduct its investigations and enrich its understanding. Forestier notices however that this doesn’t have to lead to a philosophy of essences, which are to be constituted by consciousness by the use of the imagination.

Phenomenology has a problem that never was solved by Husserl. It wants to much: it wants to be a science and therefore deliver concrete and exact knowledge of its objects, but it also wants to clarify its own knowledge and the structure of the phenomenological fields. By the methods of reduction and epoche however a certain distance of the object is introduced and with this the possibility that certain and exact knowledge of phenomena might be impossible, in other words that phenomena are blurry by nature. The same goes for the laws and structures Husserl introduces, perhaps the phenomenal is not as fixed, closed and rationally structured as Husserl expected. What appears to be very important however is the correlation, or mutual implication, of phenomena. This means that two phenomena both cause each other and that the one is unthinkable without the other. This even seems to hold in models that allow more coincidental and local relations like the one of psychoanalysis and Marc Richir.

Knowledge, and the phenomenological one too, is based on intentionality, but the objects of intentionality are transcendent, which means that there is much more to the objects then we have in mind. There are many aspects of objects and relations between them that escapes our attention. This makes us think that they are real, but can we also say that they exist? In his ‘Logical Investigations’ Husserl seems to hesitate between two options: objects are immediately given to us in intuition or existence is a judgement and therefore part of the way we think about objects. Perception seems to favour the first one and reflection the second, but perception only seems to claim existence when the object perceived as embedded in a field of meaning. The meaning of the object is however related to its essence or eidos, which cannot stand by itself. When I see a flower I know that it’s part of a plant which has roots. The roots are not given in perception, so they are ideal at that moment. The ideal is makes it possible to understand the flower and that makes it interesting. In other words, Husserl’s transcendental turn is preceded by an ideal turn. The structure of the ideal becomes dynamic and this inspired Marc Richir to formulate his principle of meaning forming itself. Language is without boundaries and continuously developing itself, showing itself as schemes and phenomena, that are embedded in a rhythmic pattern because of their surplus.

We perceive objects within a horizon, this horizon makes us belong to the object and to the world. The horizon in other words, is related to the sphere of emotions or affectations. These are modalities of our intentionality and make us feel like we belong to a world. Husserl thinks we have an original belief in the world, it is part of our natural attitude. This is the basis on which we develop our likes and dislikes, which are the results of a system of habits that is maintained by emotional sediments. In other words, there is an original belief, a doxa, that makes us live our lives together with others, make friends and foes and develop feelings of belonging to certain groups and communities. In the beginning Husserl sees the world as the object of an absolute consciousness, later it is a necessary shape in which the transcendental subject already is involved. The problem here is that Husserl tries to unify two perspectives of the world, from the inside it is a flowing structure, a kind of empty meaning that is part of my experiences, from the outside it is a surrounding horizon wherein the ego has to orientate itself. The only solution for this seems to be to give up the concept of unity of the world.

Heidegger challenges the phenomenological reduction and wants to replace it with a kind of transcendence that uses the structure of the life world. His phenomenological analysis takes place from within the world and follows its structures. Perception is only perception in so far as it is perception of something that exists, as a kind of opening towards being, where this being is at stake. The traditional categories of the thing are too limited and abstract, they neglect a lot of the original meaning of things. Already before we perceive them, we are exposed to things and they are significant for us. All relations with things we have, even the scientific ones, are made possible by this original belonging. It is this original belonging to the world as such, as being, that Heidegger wants to understand. The world manifests itself among others in the experience of anxiety and in the amazement before the world. The conditions of the possibility of meaning is the appearance of an original gap, a distance of the given from itself in itself. The later Heidegger attempts according to Forestier to express being in language and eventually ends up with an analysis of meaning that approaches the one of Husserl’s, because the meaning of being and the being of meaning are hard to discern. Heidegger’s problem is that he tries to investigate the transcendence of phenomena and their foundation at the same time and considers the transcendence to be the movement of being, which is the bottomless openness to the world. Richir (and with him Forestier) accuses Heidegger to treat being and being there as a kind of entities and to put too much emphasis on being at the cost of the phenomena. On top of that Heidegger hesitates between the world as phenomenological concept and a concept of the world that gives access to a new kind of thought. Forestier accuses Heidegger in general of using too much the classical metaphysics that he wants to leave behind (p.133). Later however the thing is analysed as being a battle between the world and the earth. Being there opens itself to the world by surrendering itself and trusting itself to it. It surrenders itself to the solidity and reliability of the earth which is resistance to transcendence, the world. Nevertheless the dimensions of earth and world cannot be separated and need each other. Being calls for thought, it opens up to itself, that is why it is both nothing and language. The event (das Ereignis) is being that is manifesting itself and withdrawing at the same time, meaningful and yet meaningless. It has an original fourfold structure (heaven, earth, gods and mortals), the vectors of appearance. At this point as we know, Heidegger has a very bleak view on the future of phenomenology without offering much of an alternative, and of course Forestier is anxious to prove him wrong.
The new phenomenology can only be genetic. This thinking in terms of becoming was started by Husserl and further developed by Merleau-Ponty, Maldiney and Richir. One of the problems is the relation between being and appearance. Appearances have to be explained as an interference of being by being the for the sake of being, this leads to a cross-eyed ontological gaze where being and beings appear side by side. In other words ontology as to be overcome by the new phenomenology that will be more dynamic and flexible. One of the important concepts will be the crossing-over or chiasma, which has been introduced by Merleau-Ponty. Among the philosophers of this new phenomenological movement Forestier mentions Jean-Luc Nancy. Nancy calls for a philosophy of the concrete, the tangible. The world is originally multiform, it is the there-is (il y a) unwrapping itself. Being is not different from appearing and appearing is accompanied by consciousness. The world is both not real in the sense of purely objective, and not unreal in the sense of a dream, it is just effectiveness in interaction. Being is multiplication, making space and time, it is contingent and because of this it is factual. We make sense of it by understanding, but this understanding is not unlimited and free. This making sense of and this understanding, is however not something we do ourselves, it just happens. We are at the world and meaning happens. There is a fold in the world which does the sense making. This fold takes the place of what used to be the ontological difference, but is not a thing, it is a movement, a constantly folding in itself and because of this it is the very structure of the phenomenal, a gesture of gutting and secretion of the concrete.

With these terms we have reached the phenomenology of Marc Richir, which is supposed to be a continuation of the philosophy of Husserl’s and of Merleau-Ponty’s, but is also inspired by the philosophy of Kant and Fichte. Although Richir in his early years was very sympathetic towards Heidegger’s project, he later rejected Heidegger’s phenomenology altogether. Phenomena here are in perpetual movement, they are twinkling between appearing and disappearing, between being themselves and being other. We may imagine ourselves a fixed world, where we perceive things that are not noticeably changing, but this image not only hides a continuous change, is even supported by this. Richir calls the arising of unchanging things existing by themselves the ontological simulacrum. The word ‘simulacrum’ refers to the mirror-like structure of the phenomenological field. Phenomena are not determined inside out by themselves or an essence, a red book on the table does not exist sui generis. There is a process of phenomenalisation that links the red colouring pieces which twinkle between manifesting themselves and disappearing, in order to make place for an object as a whole that presents itself as their support. The coming into existence of the ontological structure of the thing that supports its qualities, is like a simulacrum and the activity of the imagination is a necessary part of reality. The imagination doesn’t make up things, it is creative, it gives phenomena an appearance. How the imagination works is made clear by our dreams.
Richir investigates the phenomena by means of a new kind of reduction: the hyperbolical phenomenological reduction, where the focus is just the phenomena and nothing else. A phenomenon is not stable, it overgrows itself and vanishes. Besides, it is not a unity, but a moving phenomenal multitude. Important are the phenomenalizing schematisms, although they are without concepts, they make it possible for phenomena to constitute themselves among themselves. They enable a phenomenon to appear as something contingent and tentative in a world, they describe how something given and concrete is found without a previous existence like an improvisation and illusion of itself. They also make any appeal to a ‘symbolic instituter’, a universal source of meaning like a god or a universal consciousness, redundant. They show themselves as a gesture of taking themselves up and loosing themselves at the same time, always ahead of themselves and at the same time following themselves, in a continuous flow that flows into itself.
The phenomenological field is intrinsically chaotic and dangerous and it structures itself as this world, but many other worlds are possible. Phenomena arise, but their shape doesn’t exist anywhere, we can conceive the shape as something that works as a rhythm, possibly with habits and interfering with other rhythms. This whole process works without anyone doing anything, there is no subject that decides. An indication of this is that we cannot decide what we are going to think or say, we only become aware of it it afterwards. We can decide what we are going to say on a certain occasion of course, but in that case we are only repeating what we have thought before. Meaning forms itself, but it is not a unity, it is a kind of taste, accompanied by rhythms and coincidences, composed of different pieces of meaning, the wild essences which Merleau-Ponty mentions in ‘The Visible and the Invisible’, that flow around on the edge of language and beyond. Richir divides the phenomenological field into different layers, he speaks of architectonics, a structure of archè or original layers, which determine each other mutually. This enables us to understand how phenomena change meaning when they are transposed to a different level. Language and culture is one of those levels.

In the last chapter Forestier brings up the real again, in a certain way the real is that which philosophy never speaks of, which it in principle never can mention, because it is beyond any reason and it never makes sense, and it is the reason that meaning is always on its way. It is also the reason why philosophy is always on its way and never finished. Forestier still has an unfinished businesses with Derrida, because the latter claimed to have overcome phenomenology by showing that it suffered from the metaphysics of presence. The answer comes from a deconstruction of the concept of presence, this is not self given but a dynamic difference from itself. Moreover, the Derridean dogmatic concept of an endlessly postponed meaning (différence means difference as well as delay) has been overcome by Richir’s new analysis of meaning. The concept of the twinkling of phenomena transforms the concept of presence into a dynamic self qualifying process whereby the relation between language and phenomena is reinstalled. Deconstruction has made us aware of the importance and the creativity of difference and exposed the old biases of stability and unity, the new phenomenology introduces difference and change into the heart of presence. Thinking about the phenomenal implies now thinking about thoughts and meaning and this gives new perspectives of research. The logic of mutual implication is clearly a central paradigm, Forestier mentions here the work of Michel Bitbol, a quantum physicist, who writes in the same spirit.

This is an important book, it is well written and it deserves a wide attention and many discussions. Richir of course has discussed the value and importance of his renovations on many occasions and in many places in his work, but his work is not always very easy to read. Forestier has gathered all the new developments, problems and discussions in a clear and concise fashion. He has divided the several topics carefully into different chapters, paragraphs and sub-paragraphs, which is very convenient for discussions and lectures. I’m not sure however whether the real is as important as Forestier takes it to be. Isn’t it just the stripped version of Kant’s thing in itself, which has created so much confusion? Or perhaps it is the distance echo of a God that cannot have a name but created the world by his word? If it’s so unspeakable and unthinkable as Forestier says it is, we cannot conceive it to have any relationship whatsoever with anything whatsoever, it would be completely redundant. It is an exception to the law of mutual implication or perhaps it is this law perceived as an entity, which would be a flagrant contradiction. If we have meaning forming itself, why not the real forming itself? In that case we couldn’t speak of THE real, but just of reality as a process and it would not be different from the principle of mutable implication, correlation or, like it is called in Asian traditions, ‘dào’ or ’emptiness’.

Heath Massey: The Origin of Time. Heidegger and Bergson

The Origin of Time. Heidegger and Bergson Book Cover The Origin of Time. Heidegger and Bergson
SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Heath Massey
SUNY Press
2015
Paperback $25.95
299

Reviewed by: Lars Aagaard-Mogensen (Wassard Elea)

This is a book about Heidegger, more particularly about the extent to which he appropriated Bergson. What reasons Heidegger had for the quite wayward comments, short statements without argument,[i] on Bergson in Sein und Zeit, (p. 18, 333, and 432), claiming that time in his philosophy is space? [ii] While Heath Massey, additionally tallying up a slate of other places Heidegger repeats them, does not find a decisive answer for that question, he sets his task to canvas the relevant texts of the two, limiting himself mainly to those of the period of Heidegger’s remarks (1915-1928). He walks the reader through Bergson’s duration and Heidegger’s temporality ‘closely read’, in quite impressive detail – some repetitiousness – and clearly, but sticks closer to Heidegger’s vocabulary than e.g. McInerney. Each receives their due – however, Massey still inclines to place Heidegger larger than Bergson, while all the same defending the latter and tracing bergsonisms in the former. It’s to Massey’s credit bringing Matter and Memory into the picture.

Massey’s plan is quite straightforward, starting with a chapter about Heidegger’s initial following in Bergson’s footsteps and in those early works finding ambivalence toward Bergson, followed by a chapter looking for justification of the remarks in Time and Free Will, demonstrating that Bergson actually anticipates Heidegger’s interpretation of temporality and the core idea of Being and Time, that being is time. He then turns to Being and Time and finds that both aim to disentangle time and space, reinterpret everyday time, as well as cast self-hood in temporal terms. The fourth chapter concerns Heidegger’s contention that Bergson depends on Aristotle, of which there’s no evidence, but Heidegger there finds a clue leading to his own temporality. In the final chapter Massey shows, rather interestingly, that Bergson in Matter and Memory in fact challenges, contrary to Heidegger’s charge, both ‘the present’ and its ontological conditions resulting in the duration of human experience being open to other rhythms of duration – which Heidegger ignores.

Massey concludes that “Bergson does exactly what Heidegger faults him for failing to do: he questions the being of consciousness and challenges the privilege of presence.”, “Heidegger’s struggle, and perhaps his deepest kinship with Bergson, is to reveal [the double movement of memory] as the condition for the possibility of presence, a movement ontologically prior to substance or the subject”, (p. 217), and thus foreshadows much of Heidegger. But also that some differences remain, such as Heidegger’s insistence that philosophy be concerned with being rather than beings, hence refuses, whereas Bergson engages, with the positive sciences. They diverge regarding method, – though it’s not all that clear to me how intuition and hermeneutics are at odds. Their accounts of duration differ, Bergson’s an unceasing flow of qualitative blend of past, present and future, Heidegger’s a movement of presencing as such. And, fourth, Bergson does not regard death as crucial to temporality.

The main body of this book is expository and as such the customary study of philosophical texts recent or past, nearly, one might say, in the vein of comparative literature. It is done with command of the works, attention to detail, and energy, and therefore indeed useful for readers who haven’t yet studied – or are preparing to study – the two oeuvres in detail. It shall no doubt find a solid niche in the burgeoning secondary literature. By that I imply that I miss critical assessments of arguments (often mere postulates or statements), in short, advancement of insight on the obviously very interesting concept of time. So, we here have a very able account of two, perhaps somewhat divergent, ways of describing time. Then what? ‘Perhaps’, I wrote, because with the full deck on the table, one starts wondering whether it is merely two terminologies (delire?), one more gnarled than the other, pretty much the same dancer in two costumes (encumbered by layers of worn ones underneath). There are many obvious similarities and convergences.[iii]

Or is that impression the result of seduction by Massey’s comparisons? Perhaps a bit of provocation might be in order. Sure, one writes about history (though quite summarily ‘from Artistotle on to present [sic] day’), the other about evolution – but aren’t these just two versions of the same ‘idea’, perhaps even parodies of each other? Massey makes quite something of both protagonists’s reservations regarding space, now-series, counting, clocks, and so on, yet what is Heidegger’s ‘horizon’, ‘stretching’, etc., but space flights? Bergson admits that his descriptions, by the very language he’s compelled to use, are not totally free of spatial thinking, (p. 236). Both partook in a complete Copernican, never mind their airy strikes at Kant, oughtn’t Heidegger not have tackled, that is pinpoint the error(s) in, e.g., Augustine’s ‘time tends not to be’, or some of his contemporaries’ reasonings to the effect that time doesn’t exist, rather than quibble with ‘duration’? And you might similarly question Bergson whether ‘memory tends not to be’ isn’t overly virtual for his purpose? Obviously, both Bergson and Heidegger held that they had cast their net out to catch the “first” (another time term for original) concept, like Vico the origin of language (to think of it, once upon a time men didn’t chatter, bicker, or sing), the thirst for the first. Seemingly overlooking that the being of this consciousness, of thinking (res cogitans?) that thinks about being (and time) is in some sense a prior condition of that thought of originary thinking.[iv] That which thinks of being. Reduction of sorts, in other words, there are somethings ahead of this ‘originary time’.

But Massey spends, repeatedly, more attention and space on the couple’s rejection of measurement, etc., of time, yes, they do agree on that, than on supplementing their various introductions of special expansions of ‘now’, of ‘before and future’ as experienced phenomena, where it’s both needed and wished for, these, after all, by now pretty standard “theories” need clarification cum defense to become more convincing. There’s a limited use for another presentation of what Bergson or Heidegger wrote, uncritically, while Massey keeps circling around Heidegger’s remarks about Bergson, he offers no comment the other way, so to speak, nor independent, own or other’s, critical comment on either one. Clearly Bergson and Heidegger each proposed new alternatives, yet sober assessment as to their truth and further expansion is not so clear. Of course, Massey’s well-defined theme is not the place for an overall assessment of either Bergson’s or Heidegger’s work, but it might be the place to do so of their accounts of time.

Unless one thinks concepts are the sort of thing, alas the kind of being, that has a history or historicity, for the student of time, there’s very little, at least very little new in Massey’s book. The – for some – interesting question whether Heidegger’s dismissive remarks about Bergson are fair, unfair, or cross-purpose motivated, don’t really matter, and the individual consciousness and account thereof remain biographical “facts”, whatever they thought of them. It is refreshing to see that Heidegger’s aren’t that off-beat, besides appropriating Wartenburg on historicity, Husserl on method, &c., in the light of this rehabilitation of Bergson’s similar, possibly even sounder, account. The anthropocentric, the egocentric accounts are transferred and studied intensely from many angles,[v] and the accounts of consciousness likewise continue from, let’s just say, De Anima and on thru the British Psychologists, Kant, and the whole latterday psychology cartel to date. An overturn of “philosophy” has to be assigned to rhetoric. At most, it comes to the fashionable “rewriting” of the story, another version. (Btw. is Bergson right that we can’t act on the past?). Is it a better story? Yes, in the sense that people can now enjoy many stories of the same things.

Bergson and Heidegger unite in engaging in the project of framing time in terms of time, pure time and originary time, that is, explicating time in time terms, “time will – itself – tell”, get them to cohere thereby letting time explain itself better or more fully than general theoretical accounts, which have often enough misled into problems, paradoxes, and strange conclusions. (Here they probably both do assume that such a complete expansion of the concept will be whole, free from internal ruffles). Leave aside their reasons for dissatisfaction with the standard time. No one has ever, to my knowledge, disputed time is a fundamental category. So the ‘origin’ of time should probably not be equated or confused with the ‘beginning’ of time (which Heidegger’s ‘primordial’ may suggest, but Bergson avoids). Then what is one to understand by origin? Right there another question surfaces, is it ‘an’ or ‘the’ origin? That aside, too. The best account (analysis, explication, expansion of a concept) is the one that dissolves not this and that, but all those misunderstandings leading to problems, puzzles, etc. That understanding, as is the commonsense task of philosophy, that understand misunderstandings is the deeper (the better, perhaps even correct) understanding. Mis- and partial understandings originate, are generated, by incomplete (inauthentic) notions, fx. those conditioned by irrelevant, extraneous, conditions, assumptions and presuppositions. That way Bergson’s and Heidegger’s discard of other metaphysics makes some sense, clearing the way for their proposed accounts – remaining to be seen is whether theirs generate similar, other, or insolvable problems. That’s where exegesis ends and critical assessment takes over. Until that’s done, they remain theories. I don’t mind repeat, theories are about what you don’t know, cover ignorance, once you know the facts – and I don’t think for a minute that either of them would disown facticity of time – theory is discarded. Whichever “method”, fashionable or unfashionable, is deployed, complete understanding, in the sense just mentioned, we can all agree, is (to borrow that expression) the being of philosophy. So time rises from down under, under-stands, temporalizings beings live out. Should one succumb to the craving for definition, Heidegger’s would go something like this: a coming toward oneself out of the future by coming back to one’s having-been; and Bergson’s something like: an inner qualitative multiplicity of past, present and future. The crux then becomes the paradox of definitions: if definiendum and definiens are equivalent, synonymous, the definition consequently true, it’s like a tautology and bland (uninformative) – if, on the other hand, they are not equivalent, the definition consequently false, it’s spurious and misleading. Both of the above are, despite complex forms, kinds of definitions.

Definitions are often made the goal of ontology. Whenever one reads (a piece by) Heidegger, his unremitting push for ontology seeds speculations as to what exactly – or even inexactly – ontology is. One proposal is that it’s the essential philosophical task, thanks to Parmenides, what is is, and its consequent tail wagger thru, practically speaking all, other philosophers. Hence ‘the ontology of being’ has a pleonastic ring to it. Still Heidegger is up to eschew traditional philosophy, perhaps even restart philosophy as such – by, alas, the very same. In a sense, but only in a sense, both he and Bergson spoil, side-track, that task by insisting being is conditioned by time, being is not of prime importance, time is. And what is time then? Is it? And here they agree, time is the character, the essense of, the primary sense of beings: consciousness. This, nearly clandestine, shift of topic from being as such to human being’s timing could also be said to replace ontology with anthropology. Both, unwilling to abandon the world, when it comes down to it, fight subjectivism, struggle more or less strainedly, to get that human condition back out into everything, replacing the being of beings with doing (care and utility, respectively) that make rather than take some time, resulting philosophically in brands of pragmatism. Massey provides the details of these struggles, first, how both Bergson and (later) Heidegger labour to criticize, dismiss ordinary or common time as derivative (especially, as mentioned, as deployed in the “natural sciences”) and instate this “original” human time; secondly, how both Bergson and Heidegger again labor, more or less successfully, to derive or reintegrate “world-time”. The C-turn turned things into phenomena, but contra Kant’s things, care and action involve, one might even say ‘imply’, things (incl. other people), so all the other beings, the other things that are besides consciousness, do after all “have”, are of (or in) the same time.

 

[i] ”ganske usaglige angreb” (c. ”entirely amateurish attacks”) Peter Kemp called them, Bergson, Berlingske Forlag, Copenhagen 1968, p. 19.

[ii] There’s never been doubt that Bergson’s entire oeuvre circles around ‘time’ (more than a 100 years ago dissertations were written precisely about that, e.g. Mircea Florian Der Begriff der Zeit bei Henri Bergson, Greifswald 1914). It was called ‘Bewusstseinmetaphysik’.

[iii] À propos similarity, an aside, similarity to fellow post-kantian relativists, is striking, e.g., Nelson Goodman would be a close relative. Though he deals with images and meanings as symbols, ecstatic as projection, etc., the structure of symbol systems is making worlds. By not positing an absolute grounding such as being (and then temporality) or life force (and then duration) maybe Goodman avoids a number of troubles that both Bergson and Heidegger have to face.

[iv] Søren Nordentoft argued convincingly that mere absolutizing being (and then temporality) does not prove ontological priority, Heideggers opgør med den filosofiske tradition kritisk belyst, (Hans Reitzel, København 1961) – and that applies as far as I can see to both Bergson and Heidegger.

[v] Could easily be Bergson’s ‘openness to rhythms’ that inspires all the internal clock works going on, cf., e.g., Sue Binkley The Clockwork Sparrow (Prentice Hall 1990), and several of the fanciful cosmological speculations.

Jeffrey Bloechl and Nicholas de Warren (Eds.): Phenomenology in a New Key: Between Analysis and History, Essays in Honor of Richard Cobb-Stevens

Phenomenology in a New Key: Between Analysis and History, Essays in Honor of Richard Cobb-Stevens Book Cover Phenomenology in a New Key: Between Analysis and History, Essays in Honor of Richard Cobb-Stevens
Contributions to Phenomenology
Jeffrey Bloechl and Nicholas de Warren (Eds.)
Springer
2015
Hardcover 99,99 €
XIII, 215

Reviewed by: Keith Whitmoyer (New York City College of Technology)

This book is of interest to those wishing to explore the intersections between the classical phenomenological canon—Husserl especially—and fields lying, as it were, on the frontiers or borderlands of this canon: philosophy of art, early modern philosophy, analytic philosophy, ethics, and ancient philosophy. In this way, it is useful to specialists in phenomenology and Husserl scholarship for the depth and rigor of the contributions as well as to those coming to phenomenology from a different corner of philosophy. This collection of essays, by some of the foremost scholars working the field, is a testament to the elasticity, resilience, and relevance of phenomenology today, and of course a testament to the impact that an individual thinker can trace upon a discourse. The contributors to this volume form a kind of constellation, each referring to the center around which they revolve: colleagues, students, friends, who take up the task of exploring territories of thinking marked out and indicated by their common referent, who, in a way, radiate from this center, Richard Cobb-Stevens. In this sense, the volume does not exaggerate its claim to give praise and honor, for to document and trace the ripples, echoes, and resonances of philosophical work in their living tissue is perhaps the highest praise. I will approach these contributions thematically, in order to give some sense of these resonances, rather than in the order in which they are presented though there will, of course, be some correspondence. First I consider those contributions concerning philosophy of art and aesthetics; second, those involved in staging a dialogue between classical phenomenology and other corners of the philosophical canon; third, those that orient themselves more within Husserl scholarship; and finally, the essay on Husserl and Aristotle.

On the matter of philosophy of art and aesthetics are the contributions by Jacques Taminiaux, “Intersections Between Four Phenomenological Approaches to the Work of Art” (Chapter 2) and John B. Brough, “The Curious Image: Husserlian Thoughts on Photography” (Chapter 3). The former offers us an index to key figures in the phenomenological movement and their views on art: Husserl, Heidegger, Arendt, and Levinas. Here we see with some force the manner in which a thinker may resonate: Husserl through Heidegger and then Heidegger through Arendt and Levinas, a rippling effect staged through the themes of the image, representation, and the status of modern art. The latter contribution, echoing the motifs established in the former, provides a detailed and nuanced account of the phenomenological status of the image as a photograph via key texts by Husserl. The essay covers the gamut of other relevant themes, including temporality, spatiality, memory, realism, and the subject.

“Hobbes and Husserl” (Chapter 4) a contribution by Robert Sokolowski, brings Husserlian phenomenology into dialogue with a perhaps unexpected interlocutor from the early modern tradition. Of course, as the author notes, Husserl’s engagement with Hobbes was somewhat unsophisticated, and thus the richness of this piece lies in the light it sheds on Hobbes’s thought, who is cast as a kind of proto-phenomenologist. Following the previous contributions on art and the image, the motif of imagination is considered in some detail. The dialogue between Husserl and the philosophical tradition is carried forward in the following contribution, “From the World to Philosophy, and Back” (Chapter 5), by Alfredo Ferrarin. In this piece, it is a Kant in dialogue with Aristotle who becomes Husserl’s interlocutor. Here there is a shift in thematic away from concerns with the image, imagination, and perceptual experience to questions of worldliness, empiricity, and transcendentality.

The dialogue between Husserl and the philosophical tradition is continued in some of the later contributions, in these cases with a shift toward staging an engagement with the analytic tradition and neo-pragmatism: “Phenomenological Experience and the Scope of Phenomenology: A Husserlian Response to Some Wittgensteinean Remarks” (Chapter 9), by Andrea Staiti, and “Thinking Fast: Freedom, Expertise, and Solicitation” (Chapter 11), by Daniel Dahlstrom. The former piece provides a necessary and relevant clarification of the sense of “phenomenology” as it was used by Wittgenstein and other analytic thinkers following his wake in contrast and in comparison to what it meant for Husserl and the phenomenological tradition. This piece can also be read as a vindication of Husserl and phenomenology in light of what is arguably a misunderstanding on the part of those working in the shadow of Wittgenstein. The latter piece continues the repartee between phenomenology and the analytic tradition through a consideration of the debate between McDowell and Dreyfus on the meaning of experience and the relevance of freedom for how we understand this. The aim of the piece is not so much to defend one or the other as it is to recast the questions raised in the context of a more nuanced and detailed reading of Husserl, Heidegger, and Aristotle. “Neo-Aristotelian Ethics: Naturalistic or Phenomenological” (Chapter 8), by John Drummond, anticipates this exchange through a consideration of the contribution phenomenology can make to more recent questions in ethics, specifically the manner in which naturalism is understood within ethics more broadly and by neo-Aristotelians more specifically. McDowell’s sense of naturalism comes under special scrutiny, and the author lays the groundwork for a phenomenologically inspired neo-Aristotelianism rooted in a nuanced sense of naturalism sensitive to the context-driven complexities of ethical experience.

In addition to these contributions oriented toward bringing phenomenology, especially Husserl, into dialogue with the various corners of the philosophical canon, an estimable task in itself, there are several important contributions that focus on Husserl scholarship and exegesis: “Vindicating Husserl’s Primal I” (Chapter 1), by Dan Zahavi, “Sense and Reference, Again” (Chapter 6) by Jocelyn Benoist, and “Transcendental Phenomenology?” (Chapter 7), by Rudolf Bernet. The first of these takes up the question of ipseity or “I-ness” in Husserl and in dialogue with Merleau-Ponty in an attempt to defend and vindicate the primacy of the first-person perspective in Husserl’s thought against a competing thesis of the primacy of anonymity. “Sense and Reference, Again” takes up this important coupling in a compelling and meticulously detailed reading of Husserl’s Logical Investigations. There is within Husserl’s theory of meaning, accordingly, the possibility of sense without a referent, a state of affairs resulting in the “unboundedness” of meaning and of fulfillment. It is the significance of adequacy in Husserl’s theory of meaning, eventually, that then must be reconsidered in this light. “Transcendental Phenomenology?” provides an overview of the meaning that “transcendental” had for Husserl, why at some point it is essential, as well as its problems and limitations, in an effort to provide clarity and dispel misunderstandings. This is done largely within the space of Husserl’s thought itself but Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty are brought in to illustrate how the idea of transcendental phenomenology was taken up and revised by some of Husserl’s readers. Ultimately, the aim here to show that the potential antagonism between phenomenology as transcendental philosophy and the natural sciences are over-stated and that phenomenology is not committed to a sense of the transcendental that would categorically exclude contributions from the natural sciences.

Throughout the entire text, another name from the canon appears repeatedly, sometimes in the foreground at other times in passing: Aristotle. At this point, the volume itself calls for the final contribution, “Aristotle and Phenomenology” (Chapter 11) by James Dodd, and as the author points out, this is perhaps unsurprising to those who knew Richard Cobb-Stevens. The aim of this contribution is to develop, with the scholarly rigor it deserves, the philosophical rapport that exists between Aristotle and Husserl. The theme that becomes the central point of concern for staging this rapport is that of seeing. It is largely Aristotle’s De interpretatione that comes under consideration in dialogue with Heidegger, who it seems would be impossible to do without under the circumstances. The aim here, however, is not simply or only to draw needed attention to the lines traceable Aristotle and Husserl but to underscore the Aristotelian debt owed by phenomenology generally, in all its forms, a debt brought to our attention by Richard Cobb-Stevens.

One of the most wonderful things about this volume is the diversity of thinkers, problems, and thematics that make contact with phenomenology more broadly and Husserl’s thinking more specifically. The true accomplishment of the volume, however, is the manner in which it couples that elasticity and breadth with scholarly rigor, nuance, and detail. The contributions are consistently well-researched and well-argued pieces that stand as worthwhile reads individually but which, when brought together as a collection, provide the reader with important insights into the significance of phenomenology for and as part of the philosophical tradition, as well as insight into issues current in Husserl scholarship today. Of course what is accomplished in this volume already directs our attention toward the accomplishment of an important individual thinker whose significance resonates across the volume, Richard Cobb-Stevens.