This paper provides a reading of Heidegger's work on the question of animality. Like the majority of discussions of this topic it utilises the 1929–30 course The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics, but the analysis seeks to go beyond this course alone in order to look at the figure or figures of animals in Heidegger's work more generally. This broader analysis shows that animals are always figured as lacking: as poor in world, without history, without hands, without dwelling, without space. The article shows how all these claims are grounded upon the most fundamental distinction: that the human is the zoon logon ekhon. In Heidegger's analysis this is not the animal rationale of metaphysical thought, but the living being that has and is held by logos, speech. Looking at how the logos became ratio, the paper notes how the way that animals do not calculate is the sole positive accreditation of animals in Heidegger's work.
The article asks how phenomenology, understood as a philosophical method of investigation, can account for gender. Despite the fact that it has provided useful tools for feminist inquiry, the question remains how gender can be studied within the paradigm of a philosophy of a subject. The article explicates four different understandings of phenomenology and assesses their respective potential in terms of theorizing gender: a classical reading, a corporeal reading, an intersubjective reading and a post-phenomenological reading. It concludes by arguing that phenomenology can extend its analysis to the question of gender only if its method is radically revised.
In this paper, I will present an argument against Husserl's analysis of picture consciousness. Husserl's analysis of picture consciousness (as it can be found primarily in the recently translated volume Husserliana 23) moves from a theory of depiction in general to a theory of perceptual imagination. Though, I think that Husserl's thesis that picture consciousness is different from depictive and linguistic consciousness is legitimate, and that Husserl's phenomenology avoids the errors of linguistic theories, such as Goodman's, I submit that his overall theory is unacceptable, especially when it is applied to works of art. Regarding art, the main problem of Husserl's theory is the assumption that pictures are constituted primarily as a conflict between perception/physical picture thing and imagination/picture object. Against this mentalist claim, I maintain, from a hermeneutic point of view, that pictures are the result of perceptual formations [Bildungen]. I then claim that Husserl's theory fails, since it does not take into account what I call "plastic perception" [Bildliches Sehen], which plays a prominent role not only within the German tradition of art education but also within German art itself. In this connection, "plastic thinking" [Bildliches Denken] was prominent especially in Klee, in Kandinsky, and in Beuys, as well as in the overall doctrine of the Bauhaus. Ultimately, I argue that Husserl's notion of picture consciousness and general perceptive imaginary consciousness must be replaced with a more dynamic model of the perception of pictures and art work that takes into account (a) the constructive and plastic moment, (b) the social dimension and (c) the genetic dimension of what it means to see something in something (Wollheim).[PUBLICATION ABSTRACT
The present paper uses the theme of dialectic and dialogue to begin unraveling the similarities and differences between the hermeneutics of Paul Ricoeur and H.G. Gadamer. Ricoeur is shown to distance himself from Heidegger by insisting on a dimension of explanation and distanciation (which he sometimes identifies with Plato's `descending dialectic') that cannot be reduced to, or absorbed by, understanding and appropriation. This same move, however, leads him to reject Platonic dialogue, with the attendant prioritizing of oral conversation over the written text, as a model for hermeneutics. Ricoeur therefore sees in Gadamer's recourse to such a model a regression to the problematic position of Heidegger. Yet the conception of philosophy as dialectical and dialogical which Gadamer finds in Plato is capable of responding to Ricoeur's objections. Where the fundamental difference between the hermeneutics of Ricoeur and Gadamer emerges is in the question of whether experience is fundamentally dialectical and whether language is inherently dialogical.
In this article I examine Jean-Luc Marion's two-fold criticism of Emmanuel Levinas’ philosophy of other and self, namely that Levinas remains unable to overcome ontological difference in Totality and Infinity and does so successfully only with the notion of the appeal in Otherwise than Being and that his account of alterity is ambiguous in failing to distinguish clearly between human and divine other. I outline Levinas’ response to this criticism and then critically examine Marion's own account of subjectivity that attempts to go beyond Levinas in its emphasis on a pure or anonymous appeal. I criticize this move as rather problematic and turn instead back to Levinas for a more convincing account of the relations between self, human other, and God. In this context, I also show that Levinas in fact draws quite careful distinctions between human and divine others.
“Public space” is the space where individuals see and are seen by others as they engage in public affairs. Hannah Arendt links this space with “public freedom.” The being of such freedom, she asserts, depends on its appearing. It consists of “deeds and words which are meant to appear, whose very existence hinges on appearance.” Such appearance, however, requires the public space. Reflecting on Arendt’s remarks, a number of questions arise: What does the dependence of freedom on public space tell us about the nature of freedom? How does public freedom relate to the freedom of a private individual? Does the latter also depend on its appearing? Which is generatively prior: freedom or public space, i.e., the actions that publicly manifest freedom or the space required for their appearance? How does public power shape this space? In this article, I approach these questions through a phenomenological study of public space.
I argue that the reflections on language in Adorno and Heidegger have their common root in a modernist problematic that dissected experience into ordinary experience, and transfiguring experiences that are beyond the capacity for expression of our language. I argue that Adorno’s solution to this problem is the more resolutely “modernist” one, in that Adorno is more rigorous about preserving the distinction between what can be said, and what strives for expression in language. After outlining the definitive statement of this problematic in Nietzsche’s early epistemological writings, I outline Heidegger’s solution and subsequently Adorno’s critique of Heidegger. Finally, I argue that situating Adorno within the modernist problem of language and expression is crucial for making sense of his philosophy as a form of critical theory.
In his recent book The Open: Man and Animal, Giorgio Agamben examines the relation between the essence of the human and the living in Martin Heidegger’s thought. Focusing on the treatment of this relation in Heidegger’s 1929/30 lecture course “The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics,” Agamben argues that the dimension of the open, which is central to Heidegger’s understanding of the human essence, can be seen as implicitly dependent upon Heidegger’s account of the essence of animality. In this essay, I argue that Agamben’s reading is insufficient because it has not taken full account of the specifically temporal character of the openness proper to Heidegger’s understanding of the human essence. In conclusion, I present an alternative account of the way in which Heidegger framed his descriptions of animality in the 1929/30 lecture course as articulating the openness characteristic of human being.
The motif of the ‘drama of being’ is a dominant thread that spans the entirety of Levinas's six decades of authorship. As we will see, from the start of his writing career, Levinas consciously frames the tension between ontology and ethics in a dramatic form. A careful exposition of this motif and other related theatrical metaphors in his work–-such as ‘intrigue,’ ‘plot,’ and ‘scene’–-can offer us not only a better appreciation of the evolution of Levinas's thought, but also of his proper place within the western philosophical tradition. Levinas accuses western philosophers of being exclusively attuned to what he calls the ‘drama of existence.’ And even then, philosophers have eluded the implications of the tragic fatalism that define this drama. Philosophers are generally unaware of an ‘other scene’ that radically alters the fatalistic logic of the ontological drama. Levinas calls this other scene the ‘ethical intrigue.’
Although Alain Badiou dedicates a number of texts to the philosophy of Benedict de Spinoza throughout his work—after all, the author of a systematic philosophy of being more geometrico must be a point of reference for the philosopher who claims that “mathematics = ontology”—the reading offered in Meditation Ten of his key work Being and Event presents the most significant moment of this engagement. Here, Badiou proposes a reading of Spinoza’s ontology that foregrounds a concept that is as central to, and celebrated in, his philosophy as it is strictly excluded by Spinoza: the void. In nuce, Badiou contends that for all of Spinoza’s efforts to offer an ontology of total plenitude, the void returns in his philosophy under the (at first sight) unlikely name of infinite mode. The presence of this errant name in Spinoza’s philosophy bears witness to the failure of his most profound intellectual endeavour. However striking Badiou’s reading of Spinoza, this paper argues that it fails to adequately grasp Spinoza’s metaphysics, particularly with respect to the central concept of modal essence, a concept which does not appear at all in the Badiouian text. By introducing a consideration of this concept, it becomes able to resolve the status of infinite modes, and to account for the move across the notorious finite–infinite divide. Thus the argument turns to the reading of Spinoza offered by Gilles Deleuze for a more thorough-going and nuanced approach, much superior to Badiou’s procrustean critique.
The author interprets idolatry, totemism, sacrilege and taboo through her theory of sexual difference and her study of Eastern spirituality. She argues that the taboo on spirituality in Western culture has cancelled difference, resulting in our current forms of idolatry. Preserving difference, however, would allow the transcendence of the human other to exist. The task of learning to respect difference is central to human spirituality and spiritual progression. The article is a translation of “La transcendance de l’autre” in Autour d’idôlatrie: figures actuelles de pouvoir et de domination, Ed. Bernard Van Meenen, Publications des Facultés Universitaires Saint-Louis, Brussels: 2003.
Although Adorno and Levinas share many arguments, I attempt to sharpen and evaluate their disagreements. Both held extreme and seemingly opposite views of art, with Adorno arguing that art presents modernity’s highest order of truth and Levinas denouncing it as shameful idolatry. Considering this striking difference brings to light fundamental substantive and methodological incompatibilities between them. Levinas’ assertion of the transcendence of the face should be understood as the most telling point of departure between his and Adorno’s critiques of instrumental reason. I attempt to explain why Levinas believed this move was justifiable and how Adorno would understand Levinas’ notion of illeity as a cultural byproduct and a form of dogmatism. Adorno’s historical and sociological account of the disenchantment of the world and the destruction of aura within a culture fully administered by scientific rationality and economic reductionism sharply contrasts to Levinas’ transcendental phenomenology, and I argue that Adorno’s thoroughgoing refusal to constrain dialectical reflection is ultimately more compelling.
This essay is an analysis of the inverted intentionality that is arguably the central notion in the phenomenology of Emmanuel Levinas. The primal horizon for all human meaning is the brute fact of undifferentiated being, the il y a experienced impersonally as insomnia and weight. The first exit from this world devoid of meaning, subjectivity, and objectivity is that of the psychism or conatus essendi, the self which places itself at the center and makes everything else a means to its own ends. But there is another exit, subsequent developmentally but more fundamental ontologically, and in this sense more truly first. It is the emergence of the responsible self, decentered by the proximity of the other. With help from St. John of the Cross and Jean-Paul Sartre this emergence, in which meaning is “prior to my Sinngebung” and arises in intentional acts directed toward me rather than arising from me, is explicated.
This paper investigates the potential of the concept of sublimation for thinking subjectivity at the intersection of psychoanalysis and critical theory. I first rehearse a recent argument by Whitebook that Freud’s notion of sublimation presents a nonviolent integration and expansion of the ego, which can mediate the modern dichotomy between the rational subject and nonrational impulse and desire. On this view, sublimation turns subjectivity into a site of possibility in the context of modern, rationalized thought and society. I then argue that the concept of sublimation offered to critical theory in this form is insufficiently developed. Both Freud and Adorno analyze a deep-seated destructiveness of the modern subject, which turns up right at the heart of attempts to mediate the dichotomies of rationalized modernity. What is needed to counter this problem is a theory of love in which love is not separated from, but, rather, correlated with drive and desire, and can thereby get on a level with the unconscious or unacknowledged, impulsive nature of death-bearing subjectivity in enlightened modernity. A central conception in Kristeva’s development of Freudian psychoanalysis, the idea of transference love, delivers such a theory and thereby develops the concept of sublimation in the way that is needed at the intersection of psychoanalysis and critical theory.
This article follows the development of Merleau-Ponty’s political philosophy from his 1947 text, Humanism and Terror, through a number of essays in the Adventures of the Dialectic, to the Preface to Signs published in 1959. It shows the process by which Merleau-Ponty escaped the “grip of marxism” as a philosophy of history. It notes the link between his philosophy of history and the concrete historical events of his times, particularly the Russian Revolution and its degeneration into Stalinism. It suggests a certain analogy between Merleau-Ponty’s reflection on the October Revolution and Kant’s reflection on the French Revolution. The notion of the universal class of the proletariat is the guiding thread in the analyses of both Merleau-Ponty’s proximity to marxism and the process by which he frees himself from its grip. We observe the role that this concept plays in Humanism and Terror and in the essays on Weber and Lukacs in the Adventure of the Dialectic where we eventually see its dissolution. It is argued that Merleau-Ponty arrives at a new conception of historical meaning which is neither totalizing or empiricist. The paper concludes by presenting an outline of the direction that his philosophy of history took after he extricated himself from marxism. This new philosophy took the form of a critical reflection on the role of the “notion of the hero” in 20th century political philosophy in general, particularly in Heidegger and Sartre.
In this paper we want to show how far the early, pre-critical Kant develops a theory of the constitution of space that not only anticipates insights usually attributed to the phenomenological theory of lived space with its emphasis on the constitutively central role of the human lived-body, but which also establishes the foundation for Kant's Copernican turn according to which space is understood as 'form of intuition', implied in the activity of the transcendental subject. The key to understand this role of the body lies in Kant's understanding of the asymmetrical nature of a pair of hands, which despite being equal in size and structure, remain incongruent counterparts, and thus evade integration into a homogenous and purely self-referential form of space.
Heidegger’s paper ‘Art and Space’ (1969, Man and world 6. Bloomington: Indiana university Press) is the place where he gives his fullest discussion of a major art medium which is somewhat neglected in aesthetics, namely sculpture. The structure of argument in ‘Art and Space’ is cryptic even by Heidegger’s standards. The small amount of literature tends to focus on the paper’s role within Heidegger’s own oeuvre as an expression of changes in his understanding of space. This is ironic; for Heidegger’s main thematic in the essay is the way in which space is overcome in the creation of sculpture. Of course, by virtue of its three-dimensional character, sculpture seems to be a spatial medium, par excellence. The counter-intuitive character of Heidegger’s position requires, accordingly, that his argumentative strategy be scrutinized very closely. In this paper, therefore, I will examine closely the structure of Heidegger’s argument, with the aim of understanding, rectifying, and then developing his most important insights. My ultimate aim is to show the subtle, but radical points which are at issue in Heidegger’s arguments, and to develop them much further in the clarification of sculpture’s key philosophical significance.
Following and extending the recent tradition of Kierkegaard–Levinas comparativists, this essay offers a Levinasian commentary on salient aspects of Kierkegaard’s ethico-religious deliberations in Works of Love, a text that we are unsure whether or not Levinas actually read. Against some post/modern interpreters, I argue that one should adopt both a Jewish and a Christian perspective (rather than an oversimplified either/or point of view) in exploring the sometimes “seamless passages” between Kierkegaard and Levinas’s thought. The first argument of this essay is that interhuman ethical relationships, as seen by Kierkegaard and Levinas, are premised upon an original asymmetry or inequality. Ethical alterity requires more on the part of the responsible I for the destitute Other. However, this original ethical alterity is not at all the last word in loving and healthy human relationships. In the second section of this study, a dual asymmetry on the part of each participating human yields an “asymmetrical reciprocity,” or in Kierkegaard’s words, “infinity on both sides.” While they are of no concern␣to me, your ethical duties to me are revealed to you upon our face-to-face encounter.Here I offer a Kierkegaardian–Levinasian response to Hegel’s and Buber’s thoughts that humans essentially desire recognition, mutuality, and reciprocity from one another in intersubjective relationships. Hegel and Buber are more or less correct, but when seen from a Kierkegaardian and Levinasian perspective, we are offered resources for understanding more precisely how and why their accounts are accurate. Hegel and Buber offer us the second phase of the argument, whereas Kierkegaard and Levinas show us the first and primary phase of interhuman relationships – the revealed and infinite ethical responsibility to the Other person.
The following paper argues that J.G. Fichte, despite his apparent philosophical neglect of art and aesthetics, does develop a strong, original, and coherent account of art, which not only allows the theorization of modern, non-representative art forms, but indeed anticipates Nietzsche and Heidegger in conceiving of truth in terms of art rather than scientific rationality. While the basis of Fichte's philosophy of art is presented in the essay "On Spirit and Letter in Philosophy," it is not developed systematically either in this text or anywhere else in his writings, but must be reconstructed through a broad consideration of all his works, including, above all, his political and economic writings. For Fichte, the art-work does not exist as an object possessing "aesthetic value" and which can, in turn, be possessed, consumed, and enjoyed through the subjective act of aesthetic experience. Rather, it involves a mode of praxis which, grounded in a radical and original power of imagination, creatively discloses possibilities for future forms of existence, experience, and political community that cannot be theoretically anticipated. While Fichte cannot himself theorize specific forms of art, since the art that concerns him belongs to the future, we can, however, retrospectively try to understand non-representational painting and non-mimetic dance as concrete realizations of Fichte's art-work of the future. In this way, Fichte's philosophy of art ultimately suggests an alternative to Heidegger's understanding of the work of art as a projective institution of truth. Fichte suggests that the human body, rather than human language, is the fundamental medium of art.