Jean Wahl: Transcendence and the Concrete. Selected Writings

Transcendence and the Concrete. Selected Writings Book Cover Transcendence and the Concrete. Selected Writings
Perspectives in Continental Philosophy
Jean Wahl. Edited by Alan D. Schrift, and Ian Alexander Moore
Fordham University Press
Hardcover $125.00

Husserl and Heidegger on Reduction, Primordiality, and the Categorial

Husserl and Heidegger on Reduction, Primordiality, and the Categorial: Phenomenology Beyond its Original Divide Book Cover Husserl and Heidegger on Reduction, Primordiality, and the Categorial: Phenomenology Beyond its Original Divide
Contributions To Phenomenology, Vol. 83
Panos Theodorou
Hardcover: $199.00 / eBook: 149.00
vii-xxxvi, 381

Adolf Reinach. La fenomenologia, il realismo

Adolf Reinach. La fenomenologia, il realismo Book Cover Adolf Reinach. La fenomenologia, il realismo
Quodlibet Studio/Discipline filosofiche
Marco Tedeschini
july 2015

Mauro Carbone: The Flesh of Images

The Flesh of Images: Merleau-Ponty between Painting and Cinema Book Cover The Flesh of Images: Merleau-Ponty between Painting and Cinema
SUNY Series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Mauro Carbone
SUNY Press
Paperback $24.95

Reviewed by: Paul A. di Georgio (Department of Philosophy,  Duquesne University)

Mauro Carbone’s The Flesh of Images: Merleau-Ponty Between Painting and Cinema, a translation by Marta Nijhuis of the French original that debuted in 2011, is a short book that, despite its brevity, has quite a lot to say. Instead of deliberately working towards a grand, singular thesis with his chapters (although the final chapter is rather conclusive and synthetic), Carbone assembles six essays that all look in different, sophisticated ways at how Merleau-Ponty’s late work can further our understanding of art, music, time, and ontology.

Carbone does not only situate Merleau-Ponty’s later phenomenology vis-a-vis thoughtful reflections on cinema and painting, but he also establishes thoughtful connections, as well as creative and sometimes playful tensions, with the work of myriad other writers, from Freud to Jean-Luc Nancy. This smart book is nothing short of a philosophical tour de force that nicely sweeps through numerous dimensions of Carbone’s work over the course of the past decade and a half.

As is the case with some other recent Merleau-Ponty scholarship, here the central focus is on the late-period turn to the ontology of the “flesh,” an area that Carbone has been exploring since at least the early 2000s. He notes in his introduction that “flesh” is sometimes used interchangeably in Merleau-Ponty’s writing with the term “visibility” (1) and he argues that too often this point is “forgotten.” It shouldn’t be, though, because for Carbone thinking of the flesh in terms of visibility can sort out the way phenomenology can grasp at Being.

He points out that one of the most noteworthy features of Merleau-Ponty’s texts during this period is a turn to a different manner of ontological thinking, which isn’t exactly a novel or controversial claim, but what Carbone does with the “visible” is intriguing. He indicates that the “visible” is “only sketched” in Merleau-Ponty’s writing but evinces what he calls “the reciprocal precession of the vision and the invisible.” (5) He refers to the mutually constitutive relation between seeing, vision, and capability-of-being-seen, or the visible. To put it simply, the visible is “folded” into the viewer, while at the same time the viewer can’t view anything at all without that which is visibleand so the viewer is herself folded into the visual phenomenon. (57) „Visibility“ is what we call the product of this mutual folding. Carbone characterizes this situation as paradoxical, and he illuminates the scrambling and disruptive effect of the “presence of images” that betrays how inadequate our normal philosophical categories are. Thus what Merleau-Ponty does with visibility is not so different from what he does in earlier texts with the opposition between subject and object (Phenomenology of Perception). We’ve seen similar claims in Nietzsche (“Truth and Lies in a Non-Moral Sense”) and and even Aldous Huxley (The Doors of Perception) but what’s new here is a sophisticated phenomenological framework that Merleau-Ponty brings to the table, elaborated upon by Carbone, although comparing these various sources might prove to be useful.

The essays that make up the chapters basically work off of this observation about the disruptive power of beholding an image, and they apply it to different areas of aesthetics. I’d have to say that the fourth chapter, centered on cinema and temporality, is the most provocative  and interesting and it is here that Carbone does some of his best work. It is also here with the focus on the rhythmic nature of the cinematic frame that you can already see Carbone working toward a leap that he will make near the end of the book. Carbone echoes Jean-Pierre Charcosset and argues that on Merleau-Ponty’s terms, the film cannot be what it is not without the image as such, but rather, not without the rhythmic arrangement of its set of images.

Ultimately in the sixth and final chapter Carbone ends up at a form of visibility which doesn’t seem so visible at all, and yet after thoughtful consideration with Carbone seems like the example of visibility par excellence: audition, or listening. One would not say that in the case of music there is not an image, so this move is quite natural despite how surprising it might be to jump from one faculty of sense to another. In a way part of the point here, I think, is to minimize the distinction between these faculties. In this final chapter Carbone also makes some interesting remarks concerning the relation between philosophy and non-philosophy, a topic of great interest, of course, to Merleau-Ponty.

As fecund as it is short, the book does ask for a bit of work from its readers, and it will probably be a more straightforward experience for engaged readers who have been following Carbone for a while. That said, because of the fact that some of the repackaged and revised material will be very familiar to Carbone’s readers, the book might be the most rewarding and enlightening for those who are taking their first look at his Merleau-Ponty scholarship. These readers should work slowly through the book, even if it might be tempting to do otherwise with such a short text.

Jens Bonnemann: Das leibliche Widerfahrnis der Wahrnehmunghe Widerfahrnis der WahrnehmungDas leibliche Widerfahrnis der Wahrnehmung

Das leibliche Widerfahrnis der Wahrnehmung. Eine Phänomenologie des Leib-Seele-Verhältnisses Book Cover Das leibliche Widerfahrnis der Wahrnehmung. Eine Phänomenologie des Leib-Seele-Verhältnisses
Jens Bonnemann
Mentis Verlag GmbH
Paper Text 54,00 €

Reviewed by: Agata Bak (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Spain)

The present work is an essay on the theory of perception, but Bonnemann´s book aims at recovering an often overlooked dimension of perception in a profound research that establishes a dialogue with a wide scope of interlocutors from both so-called continental and analytic traditions. Given the extension and the details of the study, we resign ourselves to present exclusively the development of its main  thesis, leaving aside many valuable interpretations and debates. The study counters the over-intellectualizing trend in philosophy of perception (18) and accounts for a broader notion of this phenomenon, in order to include also the aspect of the “felt” bodily experience: leibliche Widerfahrnis (“experience” is our way of translating Widerfahrnis: it should be taken in a sense in which we say “I was hardly experienced in my life”, that is, a happening or incident that had an impact on us). The standard account of perception tends to ignore the fact that perception is also a bodily event, and conceives it rather exclusively on epistemic grounds (as the sensible moment of the sinnliche Erkenntnis), where the role of body is more ancillary and anecdotal. The turn in the philosophy of perception, as might be the case of Noë, but also of Heidegger or Sartre, highlighted also the practical dimension of perception. Nothing similar happened with the pathical dimension of experience, despite the fact that different authors referred to it in their work. This work aims at closing this gap.

As the author observes, it is sufficient to reflect on painful experience, or on joy, to see that there are many ways in which things affect us, and that these experiences are not well accommodated within standard, epistemological accounts. Predicates such as “pleasant” or “unpleasant” have no place there, or rather, they do not refer to any qualities of the object, in which the other side seems to be reduced to the object of knowledge. Also more praxis-oriented and phenomenological accounts, as stated in the first part, are object of critique; in fact, many authors, such as Schütz or Henry fail to conceive the pathic (pathisch) moment of living experience, that is, the things that attack, hurt, please or frighten us. It is so, because they do not conceive in terms of original and intentional relation with the world, that is, the fact that a thing might be pleasant or unpleasant to me, straightforwardly. The author pursues an intentional and perceptual account of this phenomenon.

It is to stress here that the author remains faithful to the idea that it is the perception, the original phenomena, he wants to study; he struggles to avoid both the extremum which dissolves perception in the phenomenology of the body, and of course the one that makes perception (and subject) transparent in the epistemology. The point is to conceive the perception as an original relation, that makes subject and object emerge, rather than the reverse. This seems the only way to overcome dualism installed in the very heart of the theory of perception. To coin this account, the author enters in the first part of the book into a very deep dialogue with a different philosophical tradition.

The departure point is the traditional problem within standard perception theory, and author´s interlocutors range from Aristoteles, Kant and Plessner to Jonas and Strauss. The most prominent feature that Bonnemann discusses in the first part is the dualism between perception, understood as part of sensible knowledge and thus an epistemological term, and experience (as Widerfahrnis) which was traditionally conceived as a feeling that does not correspond to any object or objective feature in the world (it is weltlos). Even Jonas, whose critique of the traditional notion of perception is detailed in the second chapter, falls back to this polarity, as he finally conceives the bodily affection as something that lacks connection to the world and we need to abstract from it in order to produce knowledge. Strauss integrates Empfindungen into worldly related states, but he reserves pathic experiences as self-affective and non-intentional. On the contrary, the author defends the thesis that this dualism should be overcome, as the very perception contains also features whose correlative are vital interests and necessities of the subject. Suffering also discloses properties of the object, properties that are unreachable for a distanced epistemological subject. (56)

He then proceeds to examine in detail different approaches to perception (chapter 3) and he does so in order to show three ways in which the pathic dimension can be overlooked. The first of them is the one that takes perception as part of sensible knowledge, and which is represented by Searle; and then two that stand against the primacy of theoretical aspects of perception. One of them stresses the priority of praxis (Dewey, Heidegger) and the second reduces the perception as such to philosophy of body (Henry). All of them, according to the book, fail to grasp the complex relation established in perception: Searle lacks the intuition that perception might be something bodily and that the subject is something more than the subject of knowledge; theories of action are certainly right in describing other kinds of relations with  objects (as Zuhandenheit), and are a source of very rich descriptions about our being in the world, but the circular relationship between action and perception does not account properly for the bodily relevance, and it seems that it finally embraces some kind of intellectualistic explanation of what pathic experience is. According to Schütz (in Bonnemann´s reading): “the taste of chocolate is for Schütz only a genuine motivational relevance, because I have learnt that chocolate tastes good to me” (115). It is strongly theoretical and it does not explain then this pathic experience as disclosing some straightforwardly given properties of the object. Henry´s philosophy, on the contrary, affirms clearly that experiences of the pathic kind arise in the intimacy of subjectivity, and not as effects of the world on an embodied subject (119). The last chapter of this part exams contemporary notions of embodiment, as represented by enactivism and “postcognitivist” movements. He discovers there that most of the accounts certainly accommodate bodily action in the world, but they tend to focus exclusively on the pragmatic aspect of bodily-perceptual conditionality rather than on the intentional moment of the affectivity.

The phenomenological analysis of pathic phenomena as a perception and in relation to the world is precisely the aim of the second part of the study and the thesis pursued in the book. The axis that articulates this study are Shaun Gallagher´s notions of Körperschema and Körperbild. Although the author highlights that Gallagher´s account tends to conceive pathic experience exclusively in terms of consciousness of pain/pleasure, on the reflective level and referred exclusively to the body, he thus fails to conceive the intentional character of pathic dimension, though the distinction itself is very useful. Körperschema refers to the notion of unconscious or unreflective processes that flow and in which a subject is involved. This is then the prereflective level of perception, in which the pathetic perception is world directed and consequently includes a moment of intentionality. The objects disclose themselves as pleasant, menacing, too cold etc. It is only on the second level, the one of Körperbild, defined by Gallagher as “the system of perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs pertaining to one´s own body” (147), where the pain or other experience of the kind becomes a bodily localized sensation and then refers rather to the subject than to the world. One should notice that the first part of Bonnemann´s project is not common in phenomenology, that it does not always grant intentional character to pathetic experiences. The author promotes the idea that this kind of experience is originally not an inner bodily state, but rather considers that what is lived involves objective qualities of the perceptual world (173).

The second part of the book studies then the prereflective and world oriented dimension of pathic experiences. It is about conceiving the pathic experience not as a phenomenon of Leib, but as a bodily-mediated phenomenon of the thing (323). The author stresses in many ways the urge to distinguish the practical and the pathetic dimension of perception, which turn out to be mutually influenced but non reducible, as it can be seen in his analysis of Satrean thought. Whereas it is quite common to grant that engagement (action) is necessary for knowledge, the necessity of an affective component in every perception is not that clearly pointed out in many authors. What Bonnemann wants to stress is that world does not only serve my purposes and invites me to act; it can also hurt and destroy me (169) and thus discloses our radical vulnerability and some deprivations. This dimension is not properly the resistance of things (Widerstand), but rather their capability of affecting me (widerfahren). Somehow paradoxically and also in a shocking (in a literal sense) way it anchors us in a world, and shows us how material and vulnerable we are. It is not a constitution of sense, but rather its surge or event (Ereignis) is what we experience there.

The author analyses the mode of intentionality which is presupposed in this world – subject relation, and he discovers that its object is a value, whose best expression could be “too much” or “too little”, certain maximum or minimum; its normative character should not be conceived in abstracto as an ideal, nor should it be compared to any social norms. It refers exclusively to the excess or the poverty that affects the body. These objects are in constant relation to practical and theorical objects and mutually influence; its objectual character is also confirmed by the fact that it also opens a horizon, which is very well illustrated in the book by the “menacing horizons of perception” in 225ff. The author sketches there a situation where the whole wood turns dangerous when we fearfully expect a wild boar that could emerge out of the bushes.  Probably the account that Bonnemann finds the most suitable for his purpose is Levinas´s account of joy and his notion of “life that lives from” (vivre de), for it gathers many elements that Bonneman uses to put forward his prerreflective accont of the pathic, such as: intentional character of pathic experience, the fact that it actually has an “object” (element, in French philosopher´s words), its irreducible – and in Levinas also primary – character, and it´s positive character. This long and extremely interesting chapter gives us an idea of how to phrase properly the pathic experience. Levinas conceives this affection by comparing it to the “bath” in the “environment” (258ff), where there is still no “world” (but precisely “environment”) and no objects or things, just affections like a gentle touch of the wind (but before being thematized) or the sun on the skin. Such limit experiences are rather a starting point of the pathic experience, for, as soon stated, the transition to the practical or the theoretical dimension (from “the affecting” to “the affecting thing”) is well quick. Marginally, it is interesting to notice that the Heideggerian notion of Sorge would be situated already in this second, practical dimension and not in the original (and according to Levinas) founding moment.

The pathic experience, and this is the thesis of the last part of the study, shows us that our living body (Leib) is worldly implicated and rooted in what it is not (277). The third part aims then to give an account of how the body is experienced in the pathic experience (the level of Körperbild according to Gallagher´s terminology) and what it means, as asked in the last chapter, for a theory of subject. The central notion that Bonnemann presents here is “als-Körper-von-der-Welt-Gehabtwerden” which he finds in Plügge´s philosophy. This wording stresses the fact highlighted by the phenomenologist like Böhme, namely, that the Körper is also a Widerfahrnis, that is, that it is also part of living body (Leib) in a way that it expresses our experience of being in the world, and moreover, of being in the world as a thing among things (296). Being possessed by the body also phrases the Marcelian statement that we are incapable of fully possessing our body. This is the basic structure, according to the author, of the body (Leib) – world relation, in which the latter befalls (pleasantly or unpleasantly) the former (301). It comprehends three dimensions at the same time: being a body (Leib), which is the moment of experiencing; having a body (Körper), which means that we have a tool that is useful in our exploration of the world, and being possessed by my body (Mein Körper hat mich), which points to the fact that things can affect (attack! – 302) me. So it is not only an assertion of the well know duality (being a body and having a body), but also an affirmation of their worldly interaction.

In this sense Bonnemann goes beyond the phenomenological claims of Jonas, Böhme, Schmitz and others, as he does not only advocate for a wider consideration of pathic phenomena, he also includes them in an intentional framework, as a part of the body- world relation with a disclosing character. These authors tend to embrace a certain “weltlos” character of the Leib and affection, as they focus rather on the embodied “marks” rather than on the nature or a particular dimension of the world that “causes” them. The living body is rather a closed whole with some marks on it and the analysis does not go beyond it. And although it is useful to comprehend the relation of Leib and Körper, they seem to omit its fully intentional character. But the main interlocutor here is Plessner, whose analysis of laughter and crying accomplishes the intention of conceiving a description of body that would acocmodate a world- related pathic experience. In his analysis Plessner distinguishes the dimension of being and having a body, and then introduces, inspired by Plügge, precisely the third, intermediate dimension, itself also divided into consciousness of being, a Körper, thus a consciousness of being affected by the outside world, and the consciousness of myself being a corporal thing. These distinctions enable him to conceive crying or laughter as manifestations of a suffering body; and suffering means here disorganization and sudden possession by the body and the consequent loss of ruling position of self. What the cry implies is that the real world, the causal world has imposed on me. Thanks to this intermediate dimension and its implications we are able to conceive now how it is possible that it is not only a body mark, but also a world relatedness. It is to notice that Plessner´s account amounts to an explanation of the pathic in terms of the frustration of an action more than a positive and full-fledged pathic experience.

Our Körperbild is precisely this, the experienced awareness of being Körper in the world, and being able to experience as Leib. When it comes to the reflective view on experience as Widerfahrnis, it is conceived as a phenomenal experience, in which appears both my living and material body (325). This is exactly the shift from one part of the analysis to another. Due to this double condition, it is necessary to conceive causality and intentionality as invervowen, as it enables us to comprehend the complex relation of us being affected by the world. Otherwise, our pathic experiences would be wordless and we would not be able to conceive subjectivity properly.

As to this question, on the one hand we might be running the risk of conceiving the Körper as something biological and as such pertaining to a non phenomenal layer. On the other hand, there is also a possibility, explored by Böhme, that the corporality (as well as “I”) is nothing but the abstraction from the only authentic and primordially given in affection, Leib. However, it should be clear from the preceding analysis, that Bonnemann opts for a solution where both Leib and Körper are co-original, as in Plessner. He finds a proof for that in the Husserlian analysis of the hand touching hand: whereas normally we pay attention to the dimension of the living body that unveils, it is at the same time the disclosure of our materiality. It also makes comprehensible how von-Körper-Gehabtwerden, pathic experience of my own reality might be prior to any action, as we can conceive Empfindnisse or localized sensations, as prior to kinaesthetic sensations. It is the “being irritated by the world (e.g. 337) what properly constitutes the sensory field of the body. The reflective moment, the apprehension of Körperbild is here equivalent to the shift of attention from the object to the subject and becoming aware of this texture. As long as we do not do this, our Leib remains insivisible. This, in turn means that both Körper-haben (having body) and Leib sind (being a body) are reflective stances posterior to the worldly intervowen von-Körper-Gehabtwerden.

The study culminates in describing the Merleau-Pontian notion of chair, which seems to englobe the preceding aspects highlighted by the study, namely a certain duality, or rather reversibility of the body, and its entrenchment in the world that even amounts to the confusion between both notions. In this sense it is the overcoming of dualism, as the subject is not entirely subject, and the things are close to the Leib. Körper and Leib, concludes the author, are mutually interwoven, as the experience of the latter implies the givenness of the former (358ff). It is to ponder that the notion of self that stems out from this pathic account is not the one of suffering subject, it is the one which is accommodated in the world, and whose being is not “knowledge, nor praxis, but joy” (363), joy understood in every moment as the basic moment of pathic life in which something discloses affecting to the subject interwoven in the world. This radical relatedness of the subject is perhaps the firmest assumption that is visible at every stage of the study. With this Levinasian conclusion, the author completes this overwhelming research.

Anya Daly: Merleau-Ponty and the Ethics of Intersubjectivity

Merleau-Ponty and the Ethics of Intersubjectivity Book Cover Merleau-Ponty and the Ethics of Intersubjectivity
Anya Daly
Palgrave Macmillan UK
Hardcover $95.00
XVI, 312

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.

Heidegger in the Twenty-First Century

Heidegger in the Twenty-First Century Book Cover Heidegger in the Twenty-First Century
Contributions To Phenomenology No. 80
Georgakis, Tziovanis, Ennis, Paul J. (Eds.)
ebook, hardcover
XIII, 196

Martin Heidegger: The Beginning of Western Philosophy: Interpretation of Anaximander and Parmenides

The Beginning of Western Philosophy: Interpretation of Anaximander and Parmenides Book Cover The Beginning of Western Philosophy: Interpretation of Anaximander and Parmenides
Studies in Continental Thought
Martin Heidegger - Translated by Richard Rojcewicz
Indiana University Press
Hardcover, £35

Reviewed by: Kyle Michael James Shuttleworth (Queen’s University Belfast)

In The Beginning of Western Philosophy Heidegger offers a reinterpretation of Anaximander’s and Parmenides’ surviving fragments. His intention, following the project initiated in Being and Time, is to illustrate that the concept of Being bequeathed to us not only rests upon a corrupted concept but that philosophy, as we understand it, is at its very core misguided. The aim of seeking out the beginning of philosophy is suggested at the beginning of the lecture where Heidegger rhetorically questions, ‘Our mission: the cessation of philosophising?’ The self-appointed custodian to Nietzsche’s philosophical heritage, Heidegger believed that the consequences of his task would bring about the end of metaphysics and prepare the grounds for subsequent thinkers. This is evident in the bold assertion, ‘I have no philosophy at all. My efforts are aimed at conquering and preparing the way so that those who will come in the future might perhaps again be able to begin with the correct beginning of philosophy.’ In claiming such, Heidegger can be seen to acquit himself of the charges of ethical nihilism and the claim that his support of National Socialism logically followed from the individualism of his ontology, which severely tarnished his philosophical reputation. However, whether or not this judgment is correct or an attempt to undermine his critics, remains to be qualified.

The text itself is composed of a tripartite structure. The first part focuses on Anaximander’s dictum: ‘but whence things take their origin, thence always precedes their passing away, according to necessity; for they pay one another penalty (dike) and retribution (tisis) for their wickedness (adikia) according to established time.’ Rather than taking Anaximander to be simply discussing coming-to-be and passing away, Heidegger interprets the dictum instead to be concerned with ‘appearing’ and ‘disappearing’. Although the understanding of appearance as the Being of beings, might seem like a linguistic quibble, Heidegger later illustrates that this has profound implications. This reinterpretation then leads him to strip dike, tisis, and adikia of any judicial-moral meaning, and instead understand them as ‘compliance’, ‘correspondence’, and ‘non-compliance’. He also highlights that Anaximander discusses Being ‘according to established time’ which grants validity to his own ontological convictions. In this lecture series Heidegger’s analytic rigour is at its height. In reinterpreting Anaximander’s dictum, which initially appeared to be a quite straight -forward claim regarding being and non-being, Heidegger elucidates that it is a very complex, ontologically loaded statement, indeed.

Part two focuses on the question of Being generally and why it is worthy of our concern. Heidegger begins by considering four objections to the given interpretation: unbridgeable span of time, antiquated, crude and meagre, and unreal. Having dismissed each of these he then continues to elucidate the question of Being. This section is of primary importance to Heidegger scholars who are not only interested in ontology, but also his account of existence. Here his understanding of existence is demarcated as existere, literally, standing out. He also distinguishes his approach from both the public notion and the refined concept employed by Kierkegaard. The latter of these, he suggests, is employed by Karl Jaspers. Heidegger goes to great lengths to distinguish himself from Jaspers, his contemporary and fellow advocate of existenzphilosophie. Here Heidegger claims that although they both use the same terminology, and have been categorised together, that their projects are unrelated. ‘According to the sound of the words Jaspers and I have precisely the same central terms: Dasein, existence, transcendence, world. Jaspers uses all these in a total different sense and in a completely different range of problems.’

The third part, which dominates the discussion, consuming almost half of the text, addresses the fragments of Parmenides‘ didactic poem that have been preserved in various sources. This almost mystic text discusses the goddess aletheia, which is usually translated as ‘truth’, but which Heidegger interprets as ‘unconcealment’. In his analysis of the poem, which he discusses meticulously, Heidegger derives three main claims that he believes Parmenides to be making. The first of these is the ‘axiomatic statement’, that Being and apprehension belong together: ‘where Being, there apprehension, and where no apprehension, no Being’. The second is the ‘essential statement’ which provides insight into the essence of Being as excluding negativity: ‘we always encounter only the assertion that matters stand thus with Being’. The third and final claim is what Heidegger terms the ‘temporal statement’, that Being and time exists in an exclusive and necessary relationship: ‘being stands in relation to the present and only to it’. The result of uncovering these three philosophical claims is that they grant validity to Heidegger’s ontological re-evaluation regarding the question of Being.

Through reinterpretation, Heidegger illustrates that the question of Being permeates the very core of pre-Socratic thought. He can thus be seen to continue the project initiated in Being and Time. Written five years later, The Beginning of Western Philosophy elucidates many of the ideas first presented there. By illustrating that Anaximander and Parmenides were concerned with the Being of beings, Heidegger can be seen to open the ground back into Being. However, what about the interpretations, themselves? Are they simply incubators for Heidegger to cultivate his own philosophical inclinations? As with the majority of his lectures and monologues on other philosophers, Heidegger describes their thought in his own jargon and frames it in relation to his own philosophy. Although one may be inclined to dismiss this text on the ground that it does not offer a true interpretation of the content that it claims to, Heidegger himself addresses this criticism. He cautions one who would make such a critique to ‘pay attention primarily not to the means and paths of our interpretation, but to what these means and paths will set before you. If that does not become especially essential to you, then the discussion of the correctness or incorrectness of the interpretation will a fortiori remain inconsequential.’

What of the edition itself? For the same reason that it will be of interest to classics scholars it is repellent to modern academics that are not versed in Ancient Greek. There are dense passages of Greek and terms are often employed with the assumption that the reader possesses prior knowledge. This may have been appropriate at the time Heidegger wrote the lectures, when Ancient Greek was included in the curriculum. However, this modern translation, and the contemporary reader, would have been benefited from the romanisation of the Greek. Moreover, it seems thoughtless that a German-English glossary has been included yet there is no such consideration for a Greek equivalent. A further concern is that the idea of an index has been completely abandoned altogether. The absence of which is of great disservice to the scholar unable to recollect a much needed quote or passage. This edition could also have been improved with an introduction to contextualise the present volume. What was the purpose of these lectures, what preceded them, how does this build upon Heidegger’s project, and what original insights does it offer? In conclusion, to those in the know, the content offers illumination on the ontological trajectory initiated in Being and Time; however, to those less acquainted, this particular edition does not.