By denying to vegetal life the core values of autonomy, individualization, self-identity, originality, and essentiality, traditional philosophy not only marginalizes plants but, inadvertently, confers on them a crucial role in the current transvaluation of metaphysical value systems. From the position of absolute exteriority and heteronomy, vegetation accomplishes a living reversal of metaphysical values and points toward the collapse of hierarchical dualisms.
Shame is notoriously ambivalent. On one hand, it operates as a mechanism of normalization and social exclusion, installing or reinforcing patterns of silence and invisibility; on the other hand, the capacity for shame may be indispensible for ethical life insofar as it attests to the subject’s constitutive relationality and its openness to the provocation of others. Sartre, Levinas and Beauvoir each offer phenomenological analyses of shame in which its basic structure emerges as a feeling of being exposed to others and bound to one’s own identity. For Sartre, shame is an ontological provocation, constitutive of subjectivity as a being-for-Others. For Levinas, ontological shame takes the form of an inability to escape one’s own relation to being; this predicament is altered by the ethical provocation of an Other who puts my freedom in question and commands me to justify myself. For Beauvoir, shame is an effect of oppression, both for the woman whose embodied existence is marked as shameful, and for the beneficiary of colonial domination who feels ashamed of her privilege. For each thinker, shame articulates the temporality of social life in both its promise and its danger.
This article discusses the way in which a group of contemporary cultural theorists in whose work we see a “new materialism” (a term coined by Braidotti and DeLanda) at work constitutes a philosophy of difference by traversing the dualisms that form the backbone of modernist thought. Continuing the ideas of Lyotard and Deleuze they have set themselves to a rewriting of all possible forms of emancipation that are to be found. This rewriting exercise involves a movement in thought that, in the words of Bergson, can be termed “pushing dualism to an extreme.” By this movement, Deleuze has stated, “difference is pushed to the limit,” that is, using Colebrook’s words, “difference is shown differing.” The article addresses the ways in which modernity’s dualisms (structured by a negative relation between terms) are traversed, and how a new conceptualization, and ontology, of difference (structured by an affirmative relation) comes to be constituted along the way. New materialism leaves behind all prioritizations (implicitly) involved in modern dualist thinking since a difference structured by affirmation does not work with predetermined relations (e.g., between mind and body) nor does it involve a (counter-)hierarchy between terms. The article makes explicit the methodology of the current-day rise of non-dualist thought, both in terms of its non-classificatory mode of (Deleuzian) thinking and in terms of the theory of the time of thought thus effectuated (Lyotard’s notion of ‘rewriting modernity’ is not a post-modernism). Throughout the article we will engage with an example in order to demonstrate the ontology that is being practiced following this methodology: How does a new (feminist) materialism traverse the sexual dualisms that structure modernist (feminist) thinking? This example also shows how a feminist post-modernism (found in the canonical work of Butler) has remained dualist, and what makes new materialism “new.” Freed from a dualist methodology, the modernist emancipatory project comes to full fruition in new materialism.
This paper argues that Derrida’s aporetic conclusions regarding moral and political concepts, from hospitality to democracy, can only be understood and accepted if the notion of différance and similar infrastructures are taken into account. This is because it is the infrastructures that expose and commit moral and political practices to a double and conflictual (thus aporetic) future: the conditional future that projects horizonal limits and conditions upon the relation to others, and the unconditional future without horizons of anticipation. The argument thus turns against two kinds of interpretation: The first accepts normative unconditionality in ethics but misses its support by the infrastructures. The second rejects unconditionality as a normative commitment precisely because the infrastructural support for unconditionality seems to rule out that it is normatively required. In conclusion, the article thus reconsiders the relation between a quasi-transcendental argument and its normative implications, suggesting that Derrida avoids the naturalistic fallacy.
Martin Heidegger's radical critique of technology has fundamentally stigmatized modern technology and paved the way for a comprehensive critique of contemporary Western society. However, the following reassessment of Heidegger's most elaborate and influential interpretation of technology, "The Question Concerning Technology," sheds a very different light on his critique. In fact, Heidegger's phenomenological line of thinking concerning technology also implies a radical critique of ancient technology and the fundamental being-in-the-world of humans. This revision of Heidegger's arguments claims that "The Question Concerning Technology" indicates a previous unseen ambiguity with respect to the origin of the rule of das Gestell. The following inquiry departs from Heidegger's critique of modern technology and connects it to a reassessment of ancient technology and Aristotle's justification of slavery. The last part of the paper unfolds Heidegger's underlying arguments in favor of continuity within the history of technology. According to these interpretations, humans have always strived to develop "modern" technology and to become truly "modern" in the Heideggerian sense. The danger stemming from the rule of das Gestell is thus not only transient and solely directed toward contemporary Western society, but also I will argue that humans can only be humans as the ones challenged by the rule of das Gestell.
This paper outlines the basic traits of a responsive phenomenology by focusing on the issue of originary substitution. On the one hand, a phenomenology of alienness or otherness and an ethics of the other in the sense of Levinas will prove to be closely bound up with this sort of substitution. On the other side, this substitution can be concretised by transitional figures such as the advocate, the therapist, the translator, the witness, or the field researcher; they all intervene from the position of a Third without closing the fissure which opens between ourselves and the Other, between the own and the alien. Precisely by focussing on the issue of substitution, we have the opportunity to outline the basis traits of a responsive phenomenology and to discuss some of its institutional consequences.
This paper addresses racism from a phenomenological viewpoint. Its main task is, ultimately, to show that racism as a process of “negative socialization” does not amount to a contingent deficiency that simply disappears under the conditions of a fully integrated society. In other words, I suspect that racism does not only indicate a lack of integration, solidarity, responsibility, recognition, etc.; rather, that it is, in its extraordinary negativity, a socially constitutive phenomenon per se. After suggesting phenomenology’s potential to tackle the question of racism, I will focus on the experiential oppressiveness of racism, i.e., the ways in which it affects its victims’ lived experiences, in transforming their habitual ways of life and, finally, their subjectivities. My major thesis is that racism works via both inter-kinaesthetically as well as symbolically inflicted distortions of the victim’s body schema. As such a process of “negative socialization,” racism, however, influences the embodied self-conception of the oppressor, who finds himself compelled to adhere to some kind of invisible norm such as, e.g., “whiteness.”
Merleau-Ponty’s explication of concrete or practical movement by way of the Schneider case could be read as ending up close to automatism, neglecting its flexibility and plasticity in the face of obstacles. It can be contended that he already goes off course in his explication of Schneider’s condition. Rasmus Jensen has argued that he assimilates a normal person’s motor intentionality to the patient’s, thereby generating a vacuity problem. I argue that Schneider’s difficulties with certain movements point to a means of broadening Merleau-Ponty’s account of concrete movement, one that he broaches without exploiting. What could do more work is his recognition of a transposition capacity - and hence of a plasticity - in the healthy body’s skill schema. As well as avoiding vacuity, he could forestall the appearance of a dichotomy between practical coping and creativity.
Some of Catherine Malabou’s recent work has developed her conception of plasticity (originally deployed in a reading of Hegelian Aufhebung) in relation to neuroscience. This development clarifies and advances her attempt to bring contemporary theory into dialogue with the natural sciences, while indirectly indicating her engagement with the French tradition in philosophy of science and philosophy of medicine, especially the work of Georges Canguilhem. I argue that we can see her development of plasticity as an answer to some specific shortcomings in Canguilhem’s conception of organic or biological normativity as advanced in The Normal and the Pathological. Such a view of plasticity shows its potential to provide the basis for a powerful critical engagement with contemporary conceptions of selfhood, self-transformation, subjectivation, and the general theory of norms.
In this essay I seek to show that a philosophy of modesty informs core aspects of both Nietzsche's critique of morality and what he intends to replace morality with, namely, an ethics of self-cultivation. To demonstrate this I focus on Dawn: Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality, a largely neglected text in his corpus where Nietzsche carries out a quite wide-ranging critique of morality, including Mitleid. It is one of Nietzsche's most experimental works and is best read, I claim, as an Epicurean-inspired critique of the present and an exercise in moral therapy. In the opening sections I draw attention to the wider social dimension of the text and its concern with a morality of compassion, which is rarely done in the literature. I then turn to highlighting Nietzsche's "Epicurean moment," followed by two sections on Nietzsche on the self in which I aim to bring to light his ethics of self-cultivation and show in what ways his revaluation makes central to ethics a modest egoism and care of self. In the conclusion to the essay I provide a contrast between Nietzsche and Kant and deal with reservations readers might have about his ethics. Overall, the essay seeks to make a contribution to an appreciation of Dawn as a work of moral therapy.
I would like to show how with Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, and Levinas, we have to do with three different ways of understanding the experience of the other. For Sartre it is a visual experience, the experience of being looked at by the other, so that the experience of the other is understood as a confrontation; for Merleau-Ponty, the experience of the other necessarily implies coexistence and what he calls “intercorporeality,” so that for him the other is never to be found in front, but instead beside me, in reciprocity with me; for Levinas, the experience of the other is the experience of a non-reciprocity, of an assymetrical relation, because the experience of the other is for him an ethical and not an ontological experience, and because this experience of the face of the other is the experience of a speaking and not in the first place corporeal presence. There are consequently three different ways of finding an access to the other : the look for Sartre, intercorporeality for Merleau-Ponty and the face for Levinas.
This essay focuses on and attempts to uncover the truly radical character of Nietzsche’s early “philological” work, specifically asking after the benefit he claims the study of classical culture should have for our present, late-modern historical moment. Taking up his study of the Pre-Platonic thinkers in 1873’s Philosophie im tragischen Zeitalter der Griechen, the first section analyzes Nietzsche’s statement that history’s principle task is the uncovering of Persönlichkeiten. I argue that it is not at all the subjective character of a psychologized individual that Nietzsche has in mind, but rather the moment of persönliche Stimmung or ‘being attuned’ to the world, which grounds and gives rise to thinking. In the second section, I show that the phusis or ‘nature’ to which the thinker is exposed in this attunement is comparable to the tension between the Dionysian and Apollonian natural forces in tragic poetry, as Nietzsche understands it. This dynamic conception of phusis does not provide a metaphysical substrate or an objectively real ground to which we might return via that Greeks, but is rather essentially phenomenal, i.e. it is nothing other than the movement into and out of appearance, which always entails and requires its reception by the human being to whom it appears. In the final section of the essay, this origin proves for Nietzsche not to be located in a distant past moment. Rather, it is the abyssal origin of the tradition that is always already effective in our present moment, informing our contemporary conceptions of our world and ourselves.
I argue from a hermeneutic point of view that formal elements of poetry can only be identified because poetry is based on both the phenomenon and the conception of poetry, both of which precede the attempt to identify formal elements as the defining moment of poetry. Furthermore, I argue with Gadamer that poetry is based on a rupture with and an epoche of our non-poetic use of language in such a way that it liberates “fixed” universal aspects of everyday language, and that through establishing itself in a new, self-referential and monologue unity, it individualizes speech. From the hermeneutic position, poetry is a form of speaking rather than a “fixed” object. As such, I will try to make sense of what Paul Celan said in his famous “Meridian” speech: namely, that the poem is “actualized language, set free under the sign of a radical individuation, which at the same time stays mindful of the limits drawn by language, the possibilities opened by language.”
Taking the problem of perception and illusion as a leading clue, this article presents a new phenomenological approach to perception and the world: “holism of experience.” It challenges not only Husserl’s transcendentalism, but also what remains of it in Heidegger’s early thought, on the grounds that it is committed to the skeptical inference: “Since we can always doubt any perception, we can always doubt perception as a whole.” The rejection of such an implicit inference leads to a relational paradigm of Being-in-the-World that differs from Heidegger’s on many points.
In this paper I focus on a central phenomenological concept in Michel Henry’s work that has often been neglected: generation. Generation becomes an especially important conceptual key to understanding not only the relationship between God and human self but also Henry’s adoption of radical interiority and his critical standpoint with respect to much of the phenomenological tradition in which he is working. Thus in pursuing the theme of generation, I shall introduce many phenomenological-theological terms in Henry’s trilogy on Christianity as well as how he understands the relationship between phenomenology and theology. In the final sections of the paper, I turn to positively defining Henry’s notion of divine generation and examine the theological implications of it in light of his confrontation and rejection of the doctrine of creation in the book of Genesis found in his book, Incarnation: une philosophie de la chair. Humans are not created but are eternally generated, a bold claim that brings Henry to the brink of a kind of interiorized pantheism or Gnostic dualism. Finally, I offer some critical comments specifically about Henry’s doctrine of generation in light of the tension between auto-affection and hetero-affection and thus how one might think “after Henry” in light of the basic Augustinian theological distinction between self and God and the intentionality of faith opened up by that distinction.
Sugarman describes konwing John Wild as a teacher and mentor for the years 1963 to 1972. Sugarman became Wild's assistant, a kind of philosophical secretary. He, along with Roger Duncan, edited and annotated many of Wild's papers, with became The Promise of Phenomenology: The Posthumous Papers of John Wild.
In one of his more recent works, Paul Ricoeur attempts to re-instate the philosophical discussion of memory at the very center of a more general discourse on human existence. In his exposition, Ricoeur relies upon what he himself characterizes as a phenomenology of memory. It is the aim of the present article to supplement the phenomenological account of memory discussed by Ricoeur with a hermeneutics of memory conscious of its own limitations. Such a hermeneutical supplement would not only be of complementary value but also provoke a rethinking of the relation between key concepts in the western discourse on memory, such as image, imprint, and trace. In this regard, the proposed hermeneutical reconfiguration of memory exceeds its own limitations and overflows into an investigation of the primordial passive and past ground, which motivates and allows the hermeneutical activity in the first place. Following the analyses of Emmanuel Lévinas, I will argue that this immemorial past must be conceived in terms of a responsibility that cannot be fulfilled.
Casey commemorates John Wild, a revered teacher and mentor of his in continental philosophy. Wild was a leading elder of the philosophical tribe of Casey's student days and remains a formative father figure to him.
Wild asserts that Marxist humanism and existential philosophy originated with two negative criticisms of hte great speculative system of Hegel. Both are trying to make philosophy more self-conscious, but there are differences. Six of those differences are detailed.