Jeffrey A. Bell, Andrew Cutrofello, Paul M. Livingston (Eds.): Beyond the Analytic-Continental Divide

Beyond the Analytic-Continental Divide. Pluralist Philosophy in the Twenty-First Century Book Cover Beyond the Analytic-Continental Divide. Pluralist Philosophy in the Twenty-First Century
Routledge Studies in Contemporary Philosophy
Jeffrey A. Bell, Andrew Cutrofello, Paul M. Livingston (Eds.)
Hardback £90.00

Reviewed by: Elizabeth Drummond Young (University of Edinburgh)

This collection of papers, which covers a wide variety of philosophical topics, aims to go beyond a discussion of differences between analytic and continental philosophy. Instead, the collection purports to show the results of philosophers whose work combines both traditions – synthetic philosophy, as the editors call it. The aim is not just to mash together malleable work from the two traditions, but to consider philosophical projects in the light of a more fully fledged set of contributions than would be available if working from within one tradition only.

Questions about the overall aim of this project might include, first; will it result in new philosophical projects, perhaps crossing boundaries of the traditional philosophical sub-disciplines, such as epistemology, ethics and so on? Second, how will the success of these projects be assessed; both at an overall level and at the level of criticising and reviewing individual papers? In answer to the first, we should note that the collection came about through new collaboration on the internet. A paper on connections between Derrida’s deconstructive notion of ‘the undecidable’ and Kurt Godel’s formalization of that problem in arithmetic was the starting point for discussion, which drew in a number of participants. Technology thus makes it easy to establish a ready community of philosophers who are able and willing to take up the challenge of this sort of philosophy, and it is equally easy to imagine that new projects will be generated in this way. Judging the success of the resulting philosophy as a whole will be more difficult, at least initially. Presumably, it will require an established group of philosophers, who have been practising synthetic philosophy for a while to comment authoritatively on the overall output, rather than relying on specialists in individual philosophers or particular areas of study. The group will also need to reach critical mass, too, in order to avoid synthetic philosophy becoming yet another philosophical niche industry. Most contributors come from universities in the USA, and it would also be fruitful if the project were taken up elsewhere.

The collection is in four parts. I shall comment in detail below on the first part, Methodologies, since by its very nature it has a bearing on any synthetic philosophical project and therefore has a relevance to all papers in the collection, but I will deal briefly with the other parts here, mentioning only those papers which throw up something of interest for the overall project, rather than merely being of merit in themselves.

The second part, with four papers on Truth and Meaning, contains an important paper by David Woodruff Smith, titled Truth and Epoche, which uses Tarski’s semantic conception of truth to provide a phenomenological analysis of truth as it occurs in experiencing consciousness. Husserl and Tarski are not unexpected bedfellows (both mathematicians by training) and so a discussion involving both philosophers has a naturalness, which is perhaps not so true of another paper in the section, Metaphors without Meanings: Derrida and Davidson as complementary by Samuel C. Wheeler III. Derrida and Davidson are chalk and cheese; good examples of the ‘opposite poles’ of the continental and analytic tradition, and whilst Wheeler gets something out of the comparison, the paper feels slightly forced in an attempt at synthesis.

An example of a new question emerging from synthetic philosophy is the first paper in the third section, Metaphysics and Ontology: Why is Time Different from Space? by John McCumber. To explore the question, he starts by assuming that there was a situation when time and space were indistinct and that we may have experiences of that. Part of his paper revolves around the novel concept of ‘co-occupancy’ together with the idea that time and space originate in place, which is itself a dynamic set of ‘nearing and farings’. This is in danger of sounding fanciful to the analytic philosopher, but it is saved from obscurity by a wonderfully vivid literary example and illustration from Graham Greene. The second paper in this section, Wittgenstein Reads Heidegger, Heidegger Reads Wittgenstein: Thinking Language Bounding World by Paul Livingston, like the Husserl and Tarski paper, gives the impression of a very smooth comparative feel as the author basis his paper on actual quotations about each other by the two respective philosophers.

In part four of the collection, the first paper, Relativism and Recognition by Carol Rovane is a wide ranging discussion on how we should understanding relativism, taking in contributions from Axel Honneth, Bernard Williams and Habermas. The paper has the merit of stepping back from the narrow confines of discussing moral relativism and thinking about our position in different communities from a ‘world view point’. Revolutionary Actions and Events by Andrew Cutrofello in the same section is a less successful paper from the point of view of drawing in the analytic philosopher (and the reviewer is one such), mainly because Badiou is supposed to contribute to the interesting discussion of Arendt’s view on revolution and the nature of events, but it is hard to see how he does this, even on a sympathetic reading. The paper raises the problem of how some opaque continental philosophers can be treated in a way which will lead to a genuinely synthetic philosophy, rather than one which is lop-sided in favour of one or other tradition.

To sum up, the papers include happy pairings with productive results (Husserl and Tarski, Wittgenstein and Heidegger), a new question about time and space forged out of the synthesis, a wider perspective on an old problem and some papers which do not quite achieve synthesis.

The most successful part of the book overall is the first part which deals with methodologies. Despite the editors’ claiming to want to avoid old-style discussions of the analytic/continental divide, the first paper by James Conant represents something of a reprise of the theme of the origins of analytic philosophy and what it means to contrast analytic and continental philosophy. It does an excellent job in opening the collection. His analysis of how the ‘founding fathers’ of analytic philosophy described their philosophical enterprises provides a good insight to start the set of papers. Conant reminds us that the early analytic philosophers could not know that they were ‘founding’ anything; they were reacting to existing philosophy (Kant and Hegel and British Idealism, for example) and trying to establish how philosophy should be done. Is analytic philosophy determined by its content, method or style? Conant notes that some in the tradition, such as Williams, McDowell and Murdoch, come to reflect on the point that the way philosophy is done may establish, or at least constrain the content, for good or ill. Conant also notes the increasing trend to ‘excommunicate’ members of the analytic community when they show tendencies ‘to swim in the waters of rhetorical metaphysics’ (to borrow a phrase from Crispin Wright’s review of John McDowell’s Mind and World, quoted by Conant). Conant considers that what sparks such criticism might be both a slip into vices of style connected with continental philosophy (fuzziness, extravagance of metaphor and so on) and the fear that the sort of philosophy will lead others astray. Analytic philosophers have adopted some humility, however, and this is shown in their attitude to the history of philosophy. There is now a more sensitive approach to philosophers of the past, which goes beyond being forced to treat them as though they were present day contributors to Mind. Two very recent, exciting trends highlighted by Conant are first, the development of analytic studies of historical philosophers previously ‘banned from the canon’ such as Hegel and Marx; and secondly, the interest in the history of analytic philosophy itself. Historians of analytic philosophy must be philosophers as well as historians, as they challenge the current philosophical thought with their interpretations, he thinks. Philosophy, unlike science, is necessarily ill at ease with itself, Conant suggests, because it seems that some issues will never be resolved. There will just be different ways of discussing them. The historian of analytic philosophy has an important role in that he helps to establish the ‘tradition’ of analytic philosophy, and it is this concept of tradition which will give analytic philosophy its sense of self.

The second paper in this part, on Austin and Deleuze by Richard Eldridge and Tasmin Lorraine, rather neatly picks up the theme of history and the temporal perspective in philosophy. Austin’s reflection on language, where a word does not have a fixed meaning and consequently the study of philosophical concepts is more shaking and unsettling than some suppose, is linked with Deleuze’s insistence that we should take temporality into account in philosophical discussion. For Austin, concepts evolve; for Deleuze, they are ‘events’, perhaps best understood by his reference to cinematography or art. The paper makes no demand on the reader to change linguistic gear from the analytic to the continental style and, as such, is a successful representation of the synthetic philosophy promised in the collection.

The third and last paper in this section is an active realisation of Conant’s remarks about history and analytic philosophy, whilst at the same time garnering inspiration from Foucault. Catarina Dutilh Novaes is a historian of the philosophy of logic and her paper extols the merits of a genealogical approach to philosophical concepts. This is a historical approach focussed not on authors but on concepts such as logical form. By tracing the genealogy of such a concept we are able to appreciate various influential factors such as the straightforward historical context (how a concept is used at a particular time) and the ‘layering’ that takes place over time. The conceptual genealogy of philosophical concepts will provide us with an explanation of the historical shaping of such a concept through time, thereby widening the space of theoretical possibilities.

The impression at the end of the first section is that the papers are written with a view to justify the project of including continental philosophy in what are essentially concerns of analytic philosophy. Papers in the later sections come from contributors who are either situated in the continental tradition or who are happy to travel close to the borderland between analytic and continental philosophy. The whole purpose of the collection is of course to encourage the reader to jump beyond those boundaries and it is very successful in doing so.

Florence Burgat, Cristian Ciocan (éd): Phénoménologie de la vie animale

Phénoménologie de la vie animale Book Cover Phénoménologie de la vie animale
Florence Burgat, Cristian Ciocan (éd.)
Philosophie, Phénoménologie
Zeta Books
Paperback €18.00

Publisher Page
Reviewed by: Maxime Lallement (Manchester Metropolitan University)

Ce livre se propose d’aborder la question de l’animalité sous un angle original. Plutôt que de trouver racine dans une problématique éthique du rapport à l’animal qui consiste le plus souvent à se demander si une conduite éthique à son égard doit ou peut être motivée par le fait que l’animal est objet d’action éthique pour l’homme, cet ouvrage choisit de faire de la question de l’animalité un problème phénoménologique à part entière. Dès lors, il n’est plus ici seulement question d’interroger la nature du rapport de l’homme à l’animal ou de l’animal à l’homme, mais d’interroger la place de l’animal à l’horizon d’un monde de sens.

Chaque auteur participe brillamment à cette entreprise qui souffle un vent frais sur le domaine des études philosophiques concernant la question de l’animalité sans pour autant en ignorer l’héritage. Aussi, on ne manque pas de lire dès l’introduction que « [la phénoménologie] doit faire dès le début abstraction de toute compréhension traditionnelle de l’animal » (Burgat & Ciocan : 2016, 8).

Cet ouvrage se compose de trois sections distinctes. La première, intitulée « Apparence, Mouvement, Expressivité », se propose d’étudier l’animalité comme forme expressive de vie. Au lieu de partir du postulat selon lequel l’animalité constituerait un degré inférieur ou intermédiaire sur l’échelle d’un concept de vie subdivisé en trois grandes familles distinctes (le végétal, l’animal et l’humain), cette première partie considère la vie animale comme un niveau d’expressivité du vivant non moins dépourvu de sens que l’est le monde de l’homme.

Le premier article, écrit par Benjamin Berger, se propose d’examiner le problème de la vie comme manifestation dans les écrits de Raymond Ruyer et d’Adolf Portmann. Il en résulte une analyse de la valeur attribuée à la manifestation des apparences dans le règne animal prenant le contre-pied des approches strictement génétiques et conservatrices. Contrairement à l’idée Darwinienne selon laquelle la sélection naturelle entraîne la pérennité des formes, Berger argumente avec Portmann que c’est l’apparaître qui détermine l’apparence du vivant, et non pas un simple souci de conservation ou simple rapport au milieu. Ce n’est donc pas simplement la survie qui dicte l’apparaître du vivant mais l’apparaître du vivant lui-même qui conditionne et dépasse le rapport du vivant à son environnement : en ce sens, la lecture qu’offre Berger de Portmann, Ruyer puis Merleau-Ponty questionne le problème de l’intentionnalité animale qu’il appelle « autoprésentation ». C’est l’autoprésentation elle-même qui, dès lors, va conditionner le mode d’apparaître du vivant et non l’inverse : on ne peut donc lire, selon une logique néo-darwinienne, l’apparence que prennent les animaux comme un symptôme d’un rapport prédéterminé à l’environnement. C’est au contraire parce que l’apparaître animal est toujours déjà en excès des formes qu’il peut prendre qu’il peut nous apparaître surprenant. C’est en ce point précis que le concept d’apparition remplace celui de manifestation : si la perception humaine semble comprendre chez l’animal les symptômes d’une manifestation (et donc du déploiement d’un rapport au monde prédéterminé), le concept d’apparition montre que l’animal, en tant que vivant, dépasse ce cadre de prédétermination.

La seconde contribution, écrite par Josef H. Reichholf, poursuit la ligne tracée par la première et interroge la pertinence de la théorie darwinienne de l’adaptation pour expliquer l’expression de la beauté dans le règne animal. Là où cette dernière est traditionnellement perçue comme atout pour l’union, l’accouplement et la reproduction et mènerait à penser que la beauté de l’animal est signe extérieur de supériorité, Reichholf lecteur de Portmann avance au contraire l’idée que les formes encouragées par la sélection naturelle sont le fruit de mécanismes intérieurs. Ce n’est donc plus l’adaptation à l’environnement qui dicte la manifestation voyante de la beauté animale. Au contraire, cette dernière marque la possibilité d’une prise de distance et d’une autonomie de l’animal vis-à-vis de celui-ci. L’auteur démontre que c’est l’animal qui a s’est davantage montré capable de survivre dans un environnement dont il surmonte les contraintes (en affirmant une beauté ni strictement protectrice ou utile) qui remporte l’épreuve de la sélection sexuelle.

Le troisième article, écrit par Nicolas Zaslawski, se propose de dégager un niveau de sens commun à la chose naturelle, à l’organisme et à autrui en-deçà du concept de représentation de manière à montrer que le niveau de compréhension que chacun partage intervient avant intellection ou la saisie par le concept kantien. Aussi, c’est le concept de forme qui devient le dénominateur commun aux êtres naturels. Zaslawki complète sa lecture de Portmann avec celle de Merleau-Ponty et insiste sur le fait que l’animal doté de monde n’en requiert ni la connaissance, ni la conscience objective. C’est le rapport toujours ouvert entre un être animal et le monde qu’il habite – rapport qui précède toujours déjà la conscience – qui permet de penser le vivant comme horizon de sens en tant que corporéité.

Le dernier article de cette première section, écrit par Annabelle Dufourcq, étudie l’analyse du mimétisme chez Portmann à la lumière de Merleau-Ponty. Celle-ci permet de remettre en question l’approche scientifique de compréhension du mimétisme animal afin de comprendre que les cas de mimétisme observés chez les animaux sont autres qu’imitation du comportement humain. L’auteure s’appuie sur la lecture de Portmann par Merleau-Ponty pour montrer que l’animal est expression et communication d’un sens qui n’est pas celui que lui prête son observateur mais bien celui d’une intention liminaire propre à l’animal lui-même. C’est pourquoi l’auteure attire notre attention sur la dimension onirique qui peuple l’imaginaire humain à l’égard de l’apparence prise par certains animaux : le sens qui échappe à la rationalité humaine n’est pas strictement disqualifiant mais appartient à une expressivité animale primordiale qui excède toute compréhension anthropocentriste.

La seconde section de cet ouvrage, intitulée « Vie et Existence », met l’accent sur l’analyse du seuil supposé séparer l’existence animale de l’existence humaine d’un point de vue phénoménologique. Va-t-il de soi, comme on le dit souvent à la lecture de Heidegger, que les animaux sont pauvres en monde car ils évoluent dans un domaine de sens limité qui échappe à l’angoisse existentielle et à la possibilité d’une ouverture indéterminée ?

C’est dans cette perspective que le premier article, écrit par Christiane Bailey, se propose de remettre en question l’idée souvent trop vite reçue selon laquelle Heidegger a toujours refusé l’horizon d’un monde aux animaux. L’auteure s’appuie sur la proximité des lectures du jeune Heidegger (avant Être et Temps) et d’ Aristote (de De Anima notamment), pour montrer que le premier a développé l’analyse d’un rapport esthétique au monde qui précède la compréhension intellectuelle à laquelle il reviendra encore au Dasein d’échapper. Aussi, à regarder de plus près les écrits de jeunesse de Heidegger, Bailey nous montre que les animaux se meuvent dans un monde qui précède la compréhension intellectuelle et parviennent à faire sens en-deçà d’une rationalisation strictement humaine. L’auteure dégage donc un sol commun de compréhension partagé à la fois par l’animal et l’homme par lequel l’animal (au sens large) « s’y connaît », c’est-à-dire établit une rapport pratique, esthétique et immédiat dans le monde par le biais du mouvement.

Le second article, écrit par Dragoş Duicu, s’attaque à la question de la différence anthropologique au moyen du concept de « tendance » chez Patočka. Ce concept permet d’aborder la question de l’animalité du point de vue d’une phénoménologie dite « asubjective » : ce n’est plus l’ego qui fonde alors l’appréhension phénoménologique mais une appréhension phénoménologique dont le sujet n’est plus que le résultat. Ceci permet à la fois de séparer les conditions d’entrée dans l’apparaître du concept de subjectivité et de permettre en même temps à ce mouvement d’excéder le cadre d’une subjectivité déterminée. Ce mouvement de recul et de dépassement permet à l’auteur de trouver chez l’animal la possibilité d’un rapport au monde proprement phénoménologique. C’est l’animal, non limité par le carcan du rapport à soi, qui peut ainsi au mieux établir un rapport au monde avant et après toute compréhension rationnelle permettant tout en même temps son ouverture toujours maintenue.

Enfin, la troisième contribution à cette section, écrite par Florence Burgat, interroge la possibilité de rapprocher le concept d’angoisse de la condition animale. L’auteure commence par interroger le concept d’angoisse que la phénoménologie applique d’ordinaire strictement à la condition humaine. C’est l’homme qui, ne semblant pas avoir de place préétablie dans le monde qu’il habite, paraît toujours en excès de sa propre finitude. Burgat remet en question ce postulat reçu par la tradition en s’appuyant sur Husserl, Merleau-Ponty et Simondon. L’angoisse ne se situe plus simplement au moment de l’émergence d’une subjectivité proprement humaine mais au moment d’une individuation antérieure qui sépare le vivant de l’apeiron primordial. C’est la rémanence du pré-individuel qui, selon Burgat avec Simodon, permet de rendre compte des émotions. Or, cette rémanence pré-individuelle ne concerne pas uniquement la condition humaine mais aussi animale. Cette rémanence possède une dimension historique qui dépasse l’individu (animal ou humain) dont il est question, ce qui permet à Burgat, lectrice de Barbaras, de conclure que le désir n’est pas un donné proprement subjectif mais le mouvement du vivant qui s’individue.

Enfin, la dernière section de cet ouvrage, intitulée « Approche Analogique, Approche Empathique », pose le problème du rapport humain-animal non pas en de manière à en questionner la frontière, mais afin de dégager la possibilité d’un monde commun à l’homme et à l’animal à la fois malgré et au moyen de cette frontière.

Pour ce faire, le premier article écrit par Cristian Ciocan interroge la possibilité d’un champ commun de normalité pour soutenir le rapport humain-animal. Non pas que la normalité possède une réalité empirique a priori, mais qu’elle procède d’une projection transcendantale opérée par l’homme lui-même. Aussi, c’est l’homme, dans sa saisie de l’animal comme objet, qui établit la normalité de l’animal qu’il observe. Ce constat permet à Ciocan de poser la question d’un rapport au normal et à l’anormal au sein même de l’animalité proprement dite. Si la décision de normalité procède d’un rapport à une corporéité différente de celui qui perçoit (qu’il s’agisse d’une corporéité animale ou humaine), il devient possible de présumer que le rapport à l’anormalité se vit également au sein même de la sphère animale.

La seconde contribution de cette section, écrite par Nathalie Frogneux, pose le problème d’une ontologie du vivant chez Hans Jonas. Cette ontologie du vivant a pour caractéristique de saisir que l’animal occupe chez Jonas une place spécifique et décisive. L’animal, perçu comme syndrome, est à la fois signe et processus inachevé : il permet à la fois d’établir une continuité ontologique au sein du vivant (entre le végétal et l’humain) et de marquer ce qui n’est pas encore exprimé. Ainsi, l’animal est condition herméneutique du vivant (il permet de comprendre comment il dessine une trajectoire depuis les organismes primitifs) et ouverture d’un indéterminé : l’animal est l’exemple d’un gain ultérieur de liberté qui, s’il permet de penser une continuité ontologique du vivant, caractérise aussi une discontinuité phénoménologique propre à tout ce qui vit et vise à se dépasser.

Enfin, le denier article de cet ouvrage repose sur l’analyse philosophique d’une œuvre de fiction. A travers la lecture du roman Animal du Coeur d’Herta Müller, Laura Tusa-Ilea cherche à déterminer la nature de l’affect qui sous-tend les relations entre les hommes et les animaux. Parler d’affect, c’est refuser comme le fait l’auteure de se poser le problème de la continuité ontologique entre l’animal et l’homme. S’il s’agit pourtant de continuité, Tusa-Ilea la trouve dans un rapport primordial au monde, une « vie nue » qui apparaît dans les cas de solitude forcée par certains régimes totalitaires qui désolidarisent les hommes d’une cause commune. Paradoxalement, c’est cet isolement qui permet à l’auteure d’affirmer que l’homme qui renoue avec la vie nue d’animal isolé retrouve le sol commun que partage tout vivant. Or, il s’agit d’un sol commun qui ne repose pas sur le postulat biologique d’une vie nue (pour parler comme Agamben) mais sur le rapport à une altérité proprement distante et différente. Ainsi, l’auteure pense un commun extra-politique de la manière la plus originale qui soit : non pas le commun métaphysique fondé par la raison mais un commun phénoménologique qui fonde l’égalité par le concept irréductible de différence. Il n’est alors pas surprenant de constater que l’auteure cite Foucault et l’idée d’un rapport à l’altérité radicale (le fou) au-delà de l’exigence ontologico-politique de la co-appartenance au domaine connaissable de la raison.


Ivo De Gennaro: The Weirdness of Being

The Weirdness of Being: Heidegger's Unheard Answer to the Seinsfrage Book Cover The Weirdness of Being: Heidegger's Unheard Answer to the Seinsfrage
Ivo De Gennaro

Reviewed by: Marilyn Stendera (University of Melbourne)

In The Weirdness of Being, Ivo De Gennaro stakes out a pilgrimage of sorts through the stark, shadowy terrain mapped out by what he calls the “pentalogy” (2) of recent Heideggerian publications. These are the five works – the Beiträge (GA 65) as well as Besinnung (GA 66), Die Geschichte des Seyns (GA 69), Über den Anfang (GA 70) and Das Ereignis (GA 71) – whose gradual release over the past few decades brought with them so many questions and complications that Heideggerian scholarship birthed a subfield dedicated to their study. De Gennaro’s book touches upon many of the familiar landmarks of that discourse, from the implications of the pentalogy for readings of Heidegger’s ‘project’ as a whole (especially those that reference the increasingly criticised narrative of the so-called Turn), to the difficulties of connecting the concepts used within ‘the five’ to the better-known vocabularies of Heidegger’s other works (and the new light this could shed upon well-trodden themes such as the critique of metaphysical thinking).

At its heart, however, The Weirdness of Being is a treatise on translation. According to De Gennaro, something “has happened” (2, DG’s italics) in the Beiträge and its companion texts that redefines both the role that we should ascribe to translation within Heidegger’s thought, and the approach that the translator of this thought ought to take. The pentalogy, De Gennaro maintains, manifests “the truth […] of the Denkweg” (2) in a way that shows the latter to be “a work of translation, namely, of a language translating itself into the world of that issue”. (3) This, he claims, needs to be reflected in the work of translation. The translator of Heidegger’s words must embark upon the same kind of process that led to the original formulations in order to bring their “necessary and fundamental transformation of our relation to language” (3) into tongues other than German. It is this task that occupies most of The Weirdness of Being, where De Gennaro – who has also worked on Italian editions of Heidegger – puts forward a series of new and often controversial English translations of key Heideggerian terms.

A map for the reader
The book is divided into a preface, six chapters, a brief epilogue that summarises De Gennaro’s translations, and an appendix detailing a conversation between De Gennaro and fellow scholar/translator Parvis Emad. Five of these chapters and the appendix have been previously published as papers or book chapters, while the sixth chapter is adapted from a keynote address De Gennaro gave in 2006. According to the author, each piece has been significantly reworked for this book “in order to work in […] more sufficient translations of certain key words” (ix).

This is a work that is best read out of order. Anyone not readily conversant with De Gennaro’s project is strongly advised to start at the back, tackling the appendix first. There, he sets out the theoretical framework of his approach to translation in more accessible terms than elsewhere in the book. The exchange with Emad – perhaps most likely known to the reader as the co-translator of the first English edition of the Beiträge – also serves to provide a foil for De Gennaro’s approach. The contrast between their perspectives helps to contextualise and hence clarify some of De Gennaro’s analyses. Indeed, one often feels that the chapter explicitly dedicated to Emad (Chapter 4) is not the only one addressing him as a silent interlocutor. An awareness of this connection will enhance one’s reading.

De Gennaro’s model of translation: The appendix
Turning to the contents of the book, this review will take its own advice and begin with the dialogue between Emad and De Gennaro. There, several key motifs emerge which together form a model of translation that informs that informs the main chapters of the book.

One such theme is the idea that translation involves an act of “saying again” (131), rather than just an approximation of a given content. De Gennaro, an advocate of the former, claims that dealing with Heidegger’s words requires the translator to say “’anew’ that which has been indicated and says itself in those German words.” (133) The focus should not be on dictionary-bound accuracy, but rather on re-enacting the thinking that brought forth the original word and expressing “the trait of Being” (136) they reveal in a way that reflects the target language’s particular relation to and understanding of Being. This is contrasted to Emad’s process of translation, which seeks to approximate the meaning of the original term without severing the translation’s dependence upon – and recognition of – the otherness of the original language. De Gennaro claims that approximation clings too much to the idea of the “transfer” of a set conceptual content from one vehicle into another, which he relegates to Vorhandenheitsdenken. Instead, he suggests that the original term itself is already a translation of the “soundless silence” of being into German, meaning that this – rather than the original language – is the source of any “otherness” which must be maintained. (137) This helps to situate the unusual and, as said above, often controversial translations that populate the main chapters of the book. Rather than focusing on conventional methods, De Gennaro’s method of ‘saying again’ involves an almost playful mining of connotations, etymologies and grammatical reconstructions, a delving into and piling up of associations in both German and English until one connection stands out as the most fruitful path of the saying anew of this “trait of being”. (136) The resistance to the idea of a ‘mere’ transfer and the striving towards capturing that Ur-otherness which renders Heidegger’s words strange even to German ears run through De Gennaro’s disquisitions like silver threads.

The second and related motif through which the appendix frames the preceding chapters is that of a porousness of the boundary between translation and interpretation. In contrast to Emad’s insistence on the duty of the translator to maintain a distinction between themselves and the author, De Gennaro suggests that translation and interpretation are as inseparable as “a wave and its crest”. (148) This means, too, that De Gennaro rejects the need for what he calls an “external criterion” (141) of the validity of a particular translation. In opposition to Emad’s plea that “demonstrability” is vital to philosophy as such (142), De Gennaro claims that translation must be “nachvollziehbar […] but it can never be a demonstration”. (143) This reverberates through De Gennaro’s six chapters; his translations, as he freely admits, often seem initially counter-intuitive and even “repulsive” (139) to German and English ears. To get the most out of his project, therefore, the reader must be prepared to be confronted by a method that does not reflect the kinds of justifications one normally expects as either a translator or a reader of translations. It is only after one follows the intricate paths of De Gennaro’s almost-poetic discourse for a while that one gains a sense of whether these words can speak as resonantly to oneself as they do to him.

Finally, the appendix orients the book by marking out its intended audience. This takes place in De Gennaro’s responses to what are arguably some of Emad’s most significant objections. Emad suggests that De Gennaro’s refusal to demonstrate the aptness of his translations deprives them of pedagogical value. The endeavour of ‘saying again’ is not one that would help students, for example, grasp the meaning or worth of particular translations, let alone the outlines of Heidegger’s thought. More perilously, the esoteric nature of De Gennaro’s approach summons the dual demons of obscurantism and elitism. De Gennaro refuses to banish these spectres entirely. He states bluntly that “our principal preoccupation must be to devote ourselves to the task of thinking rather than catering to the demands of the editors, the public, and the universities.” (142) The categories of elitism – of “’private opinion’ vs. ‘general accessibility’” – are, he claims, not worth raising, since “the truth of being […] is by definition accessible to any human being.” (144) As for our students, De Gennaro writes, the best we can do is demonstrate thinking with the hope that they will follow – and, if we fail, at least show them what a failure to follow the Denkweg looks like. This, again, is worth bearing in mind in approaching the substance of De Gennaro’s work. His book is neither teaching nor demonstrating, but rather asking us to enact a particular kind of thinking. Whether this justifies the difficulty of parsing its content is left to the reader to decide.

‘Saying again’: The six chapters
With this conceptual framework in place, a summary of the chapters themselves is in order. The six chapters can mostly be read in any order according to the reader’s interests, though each carries its predecessors’ translations forward, which will necessitate some going back and forth; here, the epilogue is a useful guide.

In Chapter 1, De Gennaro sets out his claim that the pentalogy has a unique role in Heidegger’s thought, revealing the truth of the Denkweg and showing what it means to carry out this thinking. This chapter traces out what De Gennaro takes to be three senses of Sein that feature in Heidegger’s pursuit of the Seinsfrage before defending a translation that will be key to the rest of the book – a rendering of Möglichkeit as ‘likelihood’ rather than ‘possibility’. According to De Gennaro, the former better captures the German term’s connection to capacity (Vermögen) and liking (mögen), as well as many other associations too numerous to mention here.

Chapter 2 sees De Gennaro defend his approach against the accusation that it simply reiterates Heidegger’s claims by asserting the importance of “rethinking” the Denkweg, something that “can unfold only when our ordinary relation to language is unsettled”. (30) This ‘unsettling’ is at the heart of De Gennaro’s translations here, which seek to ‘say again’ Seyn as ‘Beȝng’, Geschichte as ‘wyrd’; and Geschick as ‘the weird’. The first of these replaces the ‘y’ of the more commonly seen ‘Beyng’ with the Middle English ‘yogh’, which is also used to stand for the Anglo-Saxon ‘gyfu’. The latter, a runic symbol for “gift, generosity”, lets Beȝng express “the original trait of generosity” of “es gibt”. (35, DG’s italics) ‘Wyrd’ and ‘weird’, meanwhile, are derived from the Old English use of ‘weird’ to mean either “the principle, power, or agency by which events are predetermined” or (as a verb) “to preordain by the decree of fate”. (42) De Gennaro also wants to preserve the contemporary connotations of the word, giving us a sense of something as fated and yet also ineluctably strange – a wordplay that lends the book its title.

Chapter 3, originally part of a paper co-authored with Frank Schalow, offers a series of reflections on the relations between tradition, translation and interpretation. In Chapter 4, De Gennaro takes the book’s only step away from its focus on Heidegger to briefly compare the latter’s conception of Dasein with Husserl’s use of the term. Concluding that Husserl remains caught up in Vorhandenheit (which is here translated as ‘contingency’), De Gennaro then proceeds to argue that the shifting meanings of Dasein and Da-sein across Heidegger’s works can best be ‘said again’ as ‘there-being’ (rather than ‘being-there’).

Chapter 5 focuses upon Das Ereignis (both the text and the concept). Here, De Gennaro tests and ultimately accepts Emad’s famous translation of Ereignis as ‘enowning’ before suggesting that we should render Wesen as biding. This, De Gennaro thinks, captures the important “trait of ‘staying’ that the word owes to a sense of resistance, suffering, and enduring”, and preserves the connection to the ‘abiding’ of Anwesenheit. (170n24) Along the way, De Gennaro draws upon the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins to suggest that ‘inscape’, instress’ and ‘sake’ can describe traits of being in ways that would enrich Heidegger’s German, showing that ‘saying anew’ is not neither unidirectional nor fixed. This is not the first appearance that poetry makes in The Weirdness of Being; Hopkins and Emily Dickinson feature throughout, with De Gennaro suggesting that English poetry has a way of ‘saying’ that both English and German philosophy could learn from. Finally, Chapter 6 sees De Gennaro connect his interpretation of the ontological difference to his claim that “the capacity for silence [forms] the ‘origin and ground’ of speech.” (122)

Selected reflections
Any reader with an interest in the translation of Heidegger’s works will find something of value and interest in De Gennaro’s work. The questions it raises crystallize choices familiar to the translator and the reader of translations. These are struggles that we have had with others, with critics and with ourselves as we grapple with the unique intertwining of content and form we find in Heidegger’s texts – a problem brought to dizzying heights in the enigmatic proclamations of the pentalogy.

Moreover, the transpositions and connections that De Gennaro draws out in his process of translation offer riches to the persistent reader. At the very least, they shed new light on terms that have become too familiar. There is insight in the idea that the works of Heidegger involve “intralingual” translation that must be connected to any “interlingual” renderings of his concepts, and that this requires acknowledging and maintaining the uneasy strangeness of certain formulations. (132) The startling nature of De Gennaro’s wordplay often proves to be refreshing and bracing even as it can be frustrating, recalling the experience of reading Heidegger for the first time. One certainly looks at well-read texts with new eyes afterwards. Of particular note is the first chapter’s discussion of the Seinsfrage and Möglichkeit. The rendering of the latter as ‘likelihood’ is intuitively appealing to some extent, an impression strengthened by the many resonances that De Gennaro traces out. Whether or not one agrees with this translation in the end – whether one thinks it perhaps too concrete a transposition of the radical openness of Möglichkeit – the connotations that it picks out and the contrast to the history of ‘possibility’ are worth considering. De Gennaro’s comparison of Husserl and Heidegger is also especially noteworthy. While its overarching argument – that Husserl remained caught up in Vorhandenheitsdenken and (for De Gennaro) a misguided search for transcendental grandeur – is not novel, it is made in an especially illuminating way that uses the book’s idiosyncratic style to full advantage.

However, this style is not always so well used. De Gennaro’s writing is extraordinarily complex. At its best, it is poetic and almost meditative as it weaves dense networks of associations, metaphors and histories. At times, though, De Gennaro’s formulations are more labyrinthine than Heidegger’s own. Indeed, it often seems that Heidegger’s own cited musings are islands of clarity that the reader can cling to before being swept up once more in the swirling intensity of De Gennaro’s prose. This is heady stuff, and it is not always clear that it needs to be expressed this way. Of course, one might make allowances for the fact that De Gennaro’s philosophy of language requires counter-intuitive formulations. Yet even then, some passages are so involved, so caught up in self-referential terminological interplay, that Emad’s concerns about elitism and pedagogy come to mind with renewed urgency.

This is not the only point of Emad’s that is reinforced when one is working through De Gennaro’s chapters. The worry that the line between translation and interpretation becomes too blurred, and the thought that some kind of criterion for judging the accuracy or demonstrability of a translation is necessary, press in upon one when confronted with De Gennaro’s more radical renderings. ‘Contingency’ may capture something important to the core of Vorhandenheit and ‘biding’ reflects something of the underlying stability we might associate with Wesen. However, it seems that appreciating the full value of De Gennaro’s translations requires a discussion as full and detailed as his. If we don’t have those chapters to hand but only see a sentence about the ‘contingency’ of objects, it seems as if there would be the danger of something missing. While translation is never a completed endeavour – while the very importance of a term is often inversely proportional to the possibility of finding a single satisfactory candidate for it in another language – it seems precipitous to cast oneself adrift with a ‘saying again’ commensurate to the Denkweg as the only guidance. This is especially so when the latter’s lighting upon a particular a connection or allusion at times seems worryingly underdetermined by anything other than intuition.

Of course, De Gennaro – in a particularly compelling discussion of the limits of translation – notes that he welcomes the possibility that his own translations will eventually be superseded in the progress of thinking. Therein, however, lies the rub. These are translations that position themselves so that they can only be properly evaluated or challenged from within the scope of thinking by fellow travellers along the Denkweg. Critical attempts that originate outside of this perspective – and that indeed seek to challenge that perspective itself – may well find themselves lumped in with the editors, universities and public that these translations do not address, or with supposedly benighted attempts at mere conceptual transfer, approximation or dictionary-pointing. This does not leave much space for critical engagement. Perhaps anyone who disagrees with the rendering of Wesen as biding, for example, has simply not heard the silence of being or not succeeded in taking up the Denkweg. Yet what does this mean if there is no concrete way of telling or demonstrating that one has really done so; if there are no criteria for an apt translation beyond some kind of Nachvollziehbarkeit?

There is another potential danger here. The idea that Heidegger’s original words enacted a powerful revelation of some kind and set out a path for us to follow suggests a reverential attitude towards Heidegger’s writings that is rather troubling. It may seem contradictory to make this point after previously suggesting that De Gennaro’s translations were not bound tightly enough to the original words. However, that was a point about semantic accuracy. The ‘reverential attitude’ in question is more one of endowing Heidegger’s key words with such unique power that translation threatens to become a novice’s faithful imitation of the master. This is cemented by the way in which Heidegger himself is discussed throughout the book by both De Gennaro and Emad. In one passage in their conversation, for example, the latter describes Heidegger as “exception”, a rare and “favoured” “recipient” of “’be-ing’s enowning-throw’ (der ereignende Zuwurf des Seyns)”. (152) Here and elsewhere, Heidegger is almost treated as a prophetic figure, the chosen witness of a rare, fated dispensation of being in whose steps we can only hope to follow. This seems like a problematic tendency, particularly in view of who it is that is being treated as the ‘favoured recipient’. Surely someone with Heidegger’s life, views and deeds is not fit to be a sage of any kind, not even of being.

All in all, The Weirdness of Being is a rich, unsettling text that is true to its title and that rewards those who persist – though whether taking up the Denkweg is an endeavour worth pursuing remains for the reader to decide.

Paul Ricoeur: Philosophical Anthropology. Writing and Lectures, Volume 3

Philosophical Anthropology Book Cover Philosophical Anthropology
Paul Ricoeur. Edited by Johann Michel and Jérôme Porée. Translated by David Pellauer
Polity Press
Paperback €25.53

Reviewed by: Michael Maidan

This volume, much like its two predecessors, gathers Ricoeur’s miscellaneous papers and conferences; and this is all the more true for the French edition, as almost all the papers in this particular volume have already been published in English. The first volume in this collection is dedicated to psychoanalysis, and the second to hermeneutics. Subject matter is what unifies the papers in the first book, while in the case of the second the unity is predicated on the method. As for the third book, unification comes from its object, but what kind of object are we exactly talking about here?

In this publication’s introduction, the scope and limitation of the title chosen for this particular collection is explained as follows. On the one hand, Ricoeur rarely used the expression ‘philosophical anthropology’ to refer to his own work (ix) except in the essay that opens this book: ‘The Antinomy of Human Reality and the Problem of a Philosophical Anthropology’. In his intellectual autobiography, included in the series The Library of the Living Philosophers, Ricoeur refers to the Philosophy of the Will as a project of philosophical anthropology but adds that the program remains unfulfilled (ix-x). On the other hand, the major themes of Ricoeur’s philosophy seem to belong to a philosophical anthropology.

The book is composed of 16 papers, divided into three sections, representing the many stages in Ricoeur’s thought. Within each section, papers are arranged mostly by chronological order, though at times the editors chose to emphasize the thematic to the chronologic. This is the case of the first paper, which was selected as an introduction to the whole, and one of the rare ones to discuss, in an introductory paragraph, the project of a philosophical anthropology (1). Ricoeur’s claim is that there is urgency to the task of a philosophical anthropology because man is being pulled apart into the naturalized form prevalent in the sciences, the metaphysical retreat to ontology (possibly a reference to Heidegger), and the diagnostic of an alienated man in the criticism of modernity (possibly a reference to Marxism and to the theories of alienation). Nevertheless, the paper focuses on one issue, ‘both specific enough and revelatory enough to show what makes it a problem’ (2), the ambivalence in which man finds himself ‘tended between an infinite and a finite pole’. Ricoeur rejects the idea that finitude is the central concept for a philosophical anthropology, and suggests instead the triad ‘finitude-infinitude-intermediary’. Accordingly, we cannot start from something simple, such as perception, but from something double, perception and language, or maybe better, the prephilosohpical richness that exists in language, symbol and myth. But because philosophy can only partially elucidate this richness, a philosophical anthropology is a task that can never be completed (19).

The opening section, on Will, comprises four papers. The first one, on attention —Ricoeur’s first published philosophical work— is a revised and expanded version of a talk he gave in 1940, shortly before joining the army at the wake of WWII, during which he will be imprisoned in a German camp for the rest of the war. This paper is particularly interesting for its exploration of Ricoeur’s relationship to Husserl’s phenomenology, which is mentioned several times. But Ricoeur does not appear, at that time, committed to the phenomenological approach, which coexist with references to other thinkers and schools in the text (Wundt, behaviorism, William James, Gestalt psychology, etc.).

The second paper, on the phenomenology of the voluntary and the involuntary, is contemporaneous with Ricoeur’s doctoral thesis, published as Philosophy of Will, I. The Voluntary and the Involuntary (1950). Ricoeur states that the study of the voluntary and the involuntary moments of consciousness have to be guided by the ideal of the unity of the human person (53). This study has also the intention to address the big philosophical question of the relationship between nature and freedom by proposing a practical mediation between them (54). Ricoeur approaches the problem carefully, sidelining the ontological problem, engaging in a second-order reflexion on the reflexive aspects of the will.

This goes on in two additional papers focusing on the philosophy of Will, marking Ricoeur’s realization of the need to combine the phenomenological approach with an approach inspired by the analytical philosophy of language and with an hermeneutic approach, each having their own domains of legitimacy and justification (73). This is accomplished in the fourth essay in this section, which is devoted again to the relationship between phenomenology and philosophy of language.

The second section, on Action, opens with ‘The symbol Gives Rise to Thought’, which presents Ricoeur’s distinctive philosophical approach. Playing with the multiple meanings of the expression in French, Ricoeur claims that ‘the symbol gives; I do not posit its meaning; it is what gives meaning, but what it gives has to be thought, has to be thought through’ (108). The immediacy represented in the symbol is already mediated in Ricoeur’s approach, as he takes his examples from the domain of the history of religion, psychoanalysis, and poetics (110). This material is further refined in a three staged process, a phenomenological, a hermeneutical and finally, a properly philosophical one. His approach starts with symbols but steers clear of allegorical interpretation (120). Ricoeur explains this point with an example taken from his Fallible Man, published the same year. Ricoeur claims that in order to speak about guilt we need to have recourse to certain symbols (e.g., pollution, deviation, erring, hybris, etc.). According to Ricoeur, these symbols do not add to the original experience of evil, but are the experience of evil. The symbol truly opens and uncovers a domain of experience (121, and philosophy should ‘decipher human beings starting from the symbol of chaos, of intermixture, and of a fall’ (121). In this context Ricoeur refers to Kant’s essay on ‘radical evil’ (a recurring reference in other papers), and refers to his philosophical approach as a form of ‘transcendental deduction’ (122). But the ‘symbolic turn’ does not end at the anthropological and reflexive level. Ricoeur tasks philosophy with the challenge to surpass anthropology, and reintegrate human beings in a totality (123). He does not elaborate about the meaning of such totality, which does seem to point to a religious dimension.

The next two papers in this section, respectively on freedom and myth were written for the Encyclopaedia Universalis, a French offshoot of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. They illustrate Ricoeur’s combination of a philosophy of language and the hermeneutics of symbols.

In ‘The Symbolic Structure of Action’ Ricoeur argues that ‘there is no human action unless it has already been articulated, mediated, and interpreted by symbols’ (176). This is valid not only for social action but also for elementary actions, insofar as singular agents can confer meaning to them. Ricoeur proposes to postpone to a second stage the study of how an individual, a group, or a culture represents the symbolic conditions of its existence (representative symbolism), and to look first at symbolism as constitutive of action. He achieves it by temporarily bracketing the difference between symbol and signification. Signification is analytically present in action, insofar as we understand action as being different from an event. Action refers to intention, motives, agent, i.e., to the language game of action. The next step is to ask what it is exactly that the symbol adds to this signification. Ricoeur lists six features: (1) the term symbol accentuates the public character of the signifying; (2)the symbol introduces us to the structured character of action; (3)the symbol introduces us to the idea of a rule; (4) the symbolic order is ruled-governed, and the rule for rules is exchange, a notion that Ricoeur borrows here from Levy-Strauss; (5) A symbolic system provides a context for the description of particular actions; (6) Finally, we can speak of symbolism as a readability of action. But is it legitimate to speak of the symbolism of action as a discourse? Ricoeur underlines a few potential objections but concludes that, within a certain limit, it is possible speak of a culture as a discourse (186). The second part of the paper focuses on symbolism as representation of action. The problems exposed here concern the ‘representative gap’ between the symbolic order and the order of action. Citing a famous section of Marx and Engels’s German Ideology, Ricoeur suggests that the real problem is not the presumed gap between the material praxis and its imaginary representation, but ‘the passage from constitutive symbolism [in Marx’s text, ‘the language of real life’ MM]…to representative symbolism’, i.e., from one symbolism to another (188). This change does not preclude the existence of a gap between these two symbolisms, which Ricoeur studies briefly in the following sections on narrative fiction and on ideology. Ricoeur concludes his paper with a reflexion on the role of the philosopher in identifying and condemning the hijacking and perverse use of symbolism and discourse for a rhetoric of domination (194)

This section concludes with Ricoeur’s address to the 1988 World Congress of Philosophy. Entitled ‘Human Beings as the Subject of Philosophy’, this paper is probably the closest that Ricoeur comes to offering an account of his philosophical anthropology. This paper follows closely the argument which will be later presented in Oneself as Another, published in 1990.

Ricoeur begins by asking what kind of discourse on human beings is the philosopher’s own. He goes on saying that this restriction of the field reflects the linguistic turn adopted by most contemporary thinkers, but even from there it ‘cannot proceed in a direct…immediate and intuitive fashion’ (195). Rather, we would need to take a number of stages in an itinerary that starts with the almost neutral idea of a person, until we progressively reach the complex determination of the self. Ricoeur suggests here three levels: linguistic, praxeological and ethical. The linguistic level is itself divided into a semantic and a pragmatic level. At the semantic level, we can speak of an individual as just an entity we can refer to (197). It is only at the pragmatic level, a level that takes into account the context of interlocution, that the individual appears not only as something that can be spoken about but also as the one who speaks, as in the illocutionary act. But the self shown in the speech acts is still mired into paradoxes, which cannot be resolved at this level, without involving a form of pre-understanding, similar to the one presented in Husserl and Heidegger’s philosophy. According to Ricoeur, the relationship between the results of analytical philosophy and phenomenology is that of a ‘reciprocal implication’ (201).

The transition between the linguistic and praxeological level is somewhat abrupt. Ricoeur explains: ‘I propose to make concrete the characterization of the person as a self, by tying the notion of a speaking subject to that of an acting and suffering subject’ (201). Human action is action that is spoken about, but action cannot immediately be reduced to the philosophy of language. The theory of action has a certain degree of autonomy. This section concludes with a reaffirmation of the necessary entanglement between phenomenological approach and philosophy of language, already stated at the end of the prior section.

From the theory of action Ricoeur moves to the ethical level in the next section, which centers in the experience of moral imputation. Imputation, a judgment that a person is responsible for the consequences of his or her actions, presupposes not only the linguistic and practical aspects of the self previously accounted for, but also to consider the ‘logical, historical and teleological structure of action’. Ricoeur also refers to the need to elucidate the role of self-evaluation and to account for the potentially conflictual nature of action. Ricoeur ends his exposé with two methodological comments. In the first one, he explains his journey as a cumulative one, as a grafting procedure, whereas the ethical is added to the practical dimensions, as these were previously added to the linguistic ones. In the second one, he offers, in a few lines, a brief but stern defense of philosophy’s role elaborating the presuppositions of any empirical science of man (208).

The third section is composed of Ricoeur’s late papers. The first three focus on Ricoeur’s reworking of the analytical discussion of personal identity. A fourth paper explore a phenomenology of the uncanny, concentrating on the experience of the foreign or Other.. This last paper is followed by a conference talk, presenting a two-fold interest. First, it is one of the rare occasions in which Ricoeur addresses explicitly the question of religion in a philosophical context, as opposed to his many confessional writings; second, it is possibly the first time that Ricoeur uses the notion of the ‘capable man’, appearing first in the subtitle and then as the headline of the essay’s first section.

Ricoeur begins in agreement with the organizers, stating that what constitutes the modern understanding of religion is the shift from ontology to ethics. He goes on considering his contribution as the exploration of a region of human experience, the experience of the capable man, and of the way religion can be said to address this experience. In the short development that follows, Ricoeur presents the discourse of capability as a discourse that precedes the ethical discourse, while intimately bound to the hermeneutic of selfhood. Capability appears as the primary ground, reflecting different types of inabilities or incapacities. It also appears as the presupposition of imputability, defined here as the capacity of an agent to be subject to an imputation, and the capacity of an agent to submit his or her action to the requirement of a symbolic order (271) –the most important aspect of which is an agent’s capacity to place his or her action under the role of justice. Capability is not an ontological trait, but a belief that is more than an opinion (275). This belief coexists with its opposite, disbelief, where Ricoeur now places much of what he placed before under the umbrella of the fallible. Ricoeur then goes on presenting religion in its interaction with man as capable man, though we should note that he does so under the form of the ‘incapable’. Ricoeur lists several points to this interaction: (1) Religion touches man at the level of a specific incapacity; (2) Religion purports to bring help and liberate a buried capacity; (3) Religion brings about this regeneration by specific symbolic means that reawaken fundamental moral capacities (276).

Ricoeur here analyzes over several pages Kant’s notion of a radical evil, reframing the problem of evil from an ontological stance into an anthropological and phenomenological one; rendering evil as a crisis of attestation, one whose origin is inscrutable (286). But even if man is corruptible, there is hope insofar as man possesses also a good will. Here, hope is primarily mediated by religion, a mediation that includes also tensions that may develop between hope and its institutional and symbolic instances. Finally, Ricoeur states, together with Kant, that hope is beyond the alternative of ontology and ethics, it is the ‘opening to a dimension alien to the dichotomy’ (289). Ricoeur’s considerations certainly reflect his deep personal beliefs, but the reader may wonder if he is not inadvertently crossing the fine line between a phenomenology —albeit one instructed by a negative hermeneutics— of religion and theology here.

The epilogue of this compilation is a short text prepared by Ricoeur for the award of the Kluge Prize in 1994. Ricoeur’s paper examines the ‘bases of his humanism’ (290). In the first section Ricoeur describes the notion of capacities while developing a typology of basic capacities: capacity to say, capacity to act, capacity to recount, imputability and promising (291), presented from the morally neutral to the explicit moral pole, in which the capable subject attests to himself or herself as a responsible subject. The second section focuses on the correlative nature of these capabilities, where each of them requires a vis-à-vis. But this correlativity is not immediately mutual, nor is it without conflict, and this introduces the question of the struggle for recognition. In the final section, Ricoeur wonders if the social bond can be established solely in the basis of a ‘struggle for recognition’, or whether is not also based on a prior experience of ‘good will’, based on the resemblance of one person to another, on practices of compromise and of generosity. As it is always the case with Ricoeur, such possibilities are raised and carefully examined, but the question remains unanswered.

The conference talks and articles gathered in this volume offer an overview of the manifold aspects of Ricoeur’s work around the possibility of a philosophical anthropology. But this collection is not a propaedeutic for such a discipline. As stated in the ‘Translator Note’, the main objective of this series is to give the English reader access to Ricoeurs’s important ‘early texts or previously not widely known’. This has certainly been accomplished here.

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
Ángel Xolocotzi Yáñez, Ricardo Gibu Shimabukuro (coordinadores)
Plaza y Valdés
Tapa blanda 16,50 €

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
Kt 17,80 €

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
Paperback £13.49

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.


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
Broché 35.00 €

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


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
Hardcover $179.00

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.)
Palgrave Macmillan
Hardcover $100.00

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.

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