Our perception of the world and our relationships with other people are not, I argue, distinct activities. Focusing, first, on Merleau-Ponty’s description in the Phenomenology of Perception of his playful interaction with an infant, and, second, on contemporary research on the phenomena referred to as neonate imitation, joint attention, and mutual gaze, I argue that perception can be a collaborative endeavor. Moreover, this collaborative endeavor, which is definitive of both infant and adult perception, entails trust; our trust in others is not simply a feeling that we perceive but also a way of perceiving. As infants, our trust in others is our perception of the world we share with our caregivers as the world we will also share with others; it is our perception of the world we share with our caregivers as real. As adults, we live our trust in others by perceiving the objects that surround us in ways that protect, rather than damage, the shared worlds that we create in our relationships with them.
This study considers the origins and characteristics of Karl Jaspers’ biographical approach. Specifically, we analyse how this approach manifests itself in Jaspers’ work, namely, in his understanding of psychology, his psychology of worldviews, his views on the history of philosophy and his philosophical method. The biographical approach was a central strategy in Jaspers’ work as an appeal to life and was closely linked with how Jaspers understood both philosophy and his thought. For Jaspers, biography could restore mental unity and reveal the existence behind creativity.
Heidegger argues that for being x to count as 'alive' it must satisfy three metaphysical conditions. It must be (1) capable of engaging in active behaviour with (2) a form of intentional directedness that (3) offers to us a "sphere of transposition" into which we can intelligibly "transpose ourselves." Heidegger's discussion of these conditions, as they apply to the being of animals, is well-known. But, if his argument is sound, they ought also to apply to the being of plants (given that plants, too, belong within the domain of the living). Heidegger, unfortunately, does not supply this part of his ontology of life in any systematic detail. However, my thesis is that it is possible to interpret the nature and activities of plants, along the lines of (1)-(3), and thus to make good on Heidegger's omission. The key to this reconstruction is a reconceptualization of plant movements as constituted by a form of representationally blind, motor-intentionality.
This essay explores Foucault’s conception of the historical a priori through the lens of an archival ethics of eros. Highlighting the paradoxical nature of the historical a priori as both constitutive and contingent, it harnesses the temporal dynamism of experiences of the untimely as erotic. Drawing on the work of Anne Carson, the essay brings out the strangeness of eros as an ancient Greek word that remains unintelligible to us. That strangeness signals an ethics of dissonant attunement to the untimeliness of the historical a priori. Such an ethics of eros names those experiences of connection and rupture that both bind and unbind us in relation to a biopolitical present that is radically unstable. Reading eros as strange thus ultimately allows us to find resources for an ethics of self-transformation in Foucault’s reflections on the temporal instability that the historical a priori names.
It has long been accepted that one of Levinas’ major concerns is to establish an ethics of responsibility for the ‘other.’ Yet it has been deemed for decades, even by Levinasians, that his approach to that concern is ‘unsystematic’ and ‘not consistent.’ That situation arose because Levinas’ four terms for ‘other’ are difficult to translate, so his terms were first addressed by adopting English conventions. Such conventions have furthered Levinas scholarship, but our aim is to consider Levinas’ consistency: Hence we undertake the first English-language assessment of the rigour of Levinas’ approach in 1961 to the ‘other’ by means of all four terms. To do so, we follow a ‘formal structure’ that Levinas develops from the tradition of phenomenological logic—mostly Husserl’s. We hope the result will palliate worries about Levinas’ rigor, and allow new ways to engage with his work.
This article seeks to interrogate the intertwining of Truth and reversibility as presented in the unfinished work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty in The Visible and the Invisible. This relation raises three questions regarding the whole of Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy; namely, the status it confers to truth, the place it grants to the ego, and the notion of the “flesh of the world.”
Historically, Western philosophy has struggled to accommodate, or has simply denied, the moral value of spontaneous, non-reflective action. One important exception is in the work of K.E. Løgstrup, whose phenomenological ethics involves a claim that the ‘ethical demand’ of care for the other can only be realized through spontaneous assent to ‘sovereign expressions of life’ such as trust and mercy. Løgstrup attacks Kierkegaard for devaluing spontaneous moral action, but as I argue, Kierkegaard too offers an implicit view of spontaneous moral response (‘second immediacy’) as a regulative ideal. In attempting to articulate the model of character-formation that such an ethics requires, we can see both Løgstrup and Kierkegaard as engaging with an ancient problematic, running from Classical Daoism to medieval mysticism, of achieving spontaneity through purgation rather than edification—not building the subject up, but demolishing personality in order to become a conduit for a transcendent normativity.
This paper argues that there exists a Heideggerian antonomology and this not only in the broad sense of a simple study (λόγος), but also in the strict sense of a full doctrine (-λογία) of personal pronouns (ἀντωνυμία). Traversing the whole of Heidegger’s work, I reconstitute the framework of this antonomology, from the connection of mineness and ipseity, to the difference between the I and the Self within the precedence of the latter over the former. I then rehearse its drama, from the They who answers the question of the who of Dasein to the We who asks the question of the who of man.
This essay argues that Stein’s view of the state can overcome Husserl’s skepticism about the state being an authentic, intense community rooted in solidarity while not negating his hope for the advent of a genuinely ethical, rational culture. Whereas Husserl places rationality and freedom within the framework of culture proper and not in the state, Stein sees the state as an extension of persons that can give the state its own free, deliberating and rational Ich kann.
In spite of the fact that many find Jean-Paul Sartre’s account of la mauvaise foi puzzling, unclear and troublesome, he remains a recurring figure in the debate about self-deception. Indeed, Sartre’s exposition of self-deception is as puzzling as it is original. The primary task of my paper will be to expose why this is the case and to thereby correct a recurrent misunderstanding of Sartre’s theory of consciousness. In the end, will we see that Sartre offers the following theory: self-deception is to be accounted for by assuming that there are intrinsically self-deceptive epistemic states. The latter are self-deceptive in so far as they claim certainty while nevertheless being accompanied by an inbuilt and incorruptible awareness of being unwarranted. For Sartre, developing this rather peculiar account of self-deception, is, as we will see, not primarily intended as an end in itself. Rather, Sartre thereby hopes to illuminate the nature of self-awareness as (i.) epistemically super-secure, (ii.) pre-reflexive, (iii.) non-positional and “embryonic” knowledge that (iv.) does not necessitate but can still ground epistemically super-secure reflexive knowledge, and (v.) that can replace Freud’s notion of unconscious knowledge. As an account of self-deception, Sartre’s suggestion, however, comes at a high price. Apart from the presuppositions Sartre makes in the theory of consciousness and intentionality, his account is deflationist with regard to local cases of self-deception.
Dignity, according to some recent arguments, is a useless concept, giving vague expression to moral intuitions that are better captured by other, better defined concepts. In this paper, I defend the concept of dignity against such skeptical arguments. I begin with a description of the defining features of the Kantian conception of dignity. I then examine one of the strongest arguments against that conception, advanced by Arthur Schopenhauer in On the Basis of Morality. After considering some standard accounts of dignity, showing how they fail adequately to address Schopenhauer's concern, I propose and defend a new account of dignity, drawing on the ontology of Jean-Luc Nancy.
I explore some of the challenges involved in establishing the intersubjective dynamic as the foundation for a normatively charged philosophy of history. I seek in addition to highlight the value of Levinas' work for the field of recognition studies. Levinas in effect offers a transitional model of recognition between Kojeve and Honneth, and as such his work harbors the potential for addressing some of the difficulties which beset the work of both when it comes to formulating an understanding of recognition which is capable of explaining historical transformation and of serving as a standard for the critique of historical practices.
Machines are often employed in Heidegger's philosophy as instances to illustrate specific features of modern technology. But what is it about machines that allows them to fulfill this role? This essay argues there is a unique ontological force to the machine that can be understood when looking at distinctions between techne and mechane in ancient Greek sources and applying these distinctions to a reading of Heidegger's early thought on equipment and later thought on poiesis. Especially with respect to Heidegger's appropriation of Aristotle's conception of dunamis (capacity, power, force, potential), it becomes apparent from a Heideggerian perspective that machines provide an increase in capacity to its human users, but only so at a cost. This cost involves a problem of knowledge where the set of operations required in machine use results in the loss of understanding our dependency on being. The essay then concludes with a discussion of how this relation to machinic capacity is not merely pessimistic and deterministic, but indicates what might constitute a free relation to machines.
Animating Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological idea of the body as a pre-reflective organizing principle in perception, consciousness and language has become a productive and popular endeavor within philosophy of mind during the last two decades. In this context Merleau-Ponty’s descriptions of an embodied mind has played a central role in the attempts to naturalize phenomenological insights in relation to cognitive science and neuropsychological research. In this dialogue the central role of art and aesthetics in phenomenology has been neglected or at best treated as a peripheral phenomenon. In this article I argue that the failure to place art and aesthetics at the center of thought within phenomenology leads to a neglect of the expressive primacy of the body in movement. In the current naturalization of phenomenology the questions related to expressive movement are often consigned to the notions of motor intentionality or gesture. However, in his book How the Body Shapes the Mind (2005, Oxford & New York: Clarendon Press) the philosopher Shaun Gallagher interestingly concludes, based on experimental results, that bodily movements of gesture cannot be accounted for by the phenomenologically adapted notions of ‘body image’ and ‘body schema’. Symptomatically, Gallagher ends his chapter on bodily gesture with a section title asking the relevant question that remains unanswered within a phenomenology of mind: Expressive movement from the beginning? The search for an answer to this question points, in my view, to the possibility of a more radical understanding of the embodied mind based on the primacy of expressive experimentation rather than representational experience, which makes the question of art and aesthetics a core issue. Following the image of thought in the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze I argue that art, as the production of sensation through experimentation, presents us with a mode of thinking that accounts for expressive bodily movement as a constitutive force in subjective thought and experience.
In his self-published periodical The Moment, Søren Kierkegaard warns his reader against the possibility of “useless suffering” (unyttig Lidelse). Not only that, he urges the reader to make use of her suffering. Taking this caution as a point of departure, I investigate the pseudonymous Johannes Climacus’ deliberations on ethico-religious suffering in the Postscript. I demonstrate that Climacus construes suffering as useful, and with that outlines an economy of suffering that Kierkegaard delineates across his pseudonymous and non-pseudonymous work. The paradigmatic expression of this is the use the subject makes of her suffering in “the moment” (Øieblikket), in which suffering is defined according to its relation with the eternal. Suffering is thus a key element of the individual subject’s self-development: The subject is transformed, and transforms herself, in suffering. Finally, I argue that this economy of suffering produces a notion of the subject as actively involved in securing the contribution her suffering can make to her self-transformation. I criticize this notion, showing it renders problematic any ethical or ethico-religious account of the response of the subject to the suffering of the other: The subject is not first and foremost attuned to the other’s suffering, rather she is attuned to the possibility of her own transformation. Suffering becomes in this way both a key exegetical tool for understanding Kierkegaard’s view of the subject and, more significantly, a way to problematize Kierkegaard’s ethical account of the subject’s response to others’ suffering.
In this paper I explore Husserl’s and Foucault’s approaches to the historical a priori and defend Husserl’s richer notion. Foucault borrows the expression ‘historical a priori’ from Husserl and there are continuities, but also significant and ultimately irreconcilable differences, between their conceptions. Both are looking for ‘conditions of possibility,’ forms of ‘institution’ or instauration, and patterns of transformation (breakthroughs, disruptions), for scientific knowledge. Husserl identifies the ‘a priori of history’ with the ‘historical a priori’ and believes that the ‘invariant essential structures of the historical world’ (Crisis of European Sciences) can be identified. Foucault, on the other hand, is less interested in the Kantian inquiry into the limits or legitimization of knowledge than in the relation between knowledge and power. Foucault rejects the idea of universal and necessary a priori structures and denies that the structure of the conceptual framework (‘episteme’) governing an era can be fully determined. Both Foucault and Husserl contrast ‘inner’ history with external history, but, I argue, Foucault misconstrues Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology as a form of ‘absolute subjectivity’ against which his ‘archaeological’ method reacts. In fact, Foucault’s own conception of the historical a priori is ambiguous and fails to have explanatory value precisely because it misunderstands the need for the a priori to be both universal and necessary, and offers no account of the ‘a priori of historicity’ which, for Husserl, is essential to human cultural life.
I defend three claims regarding Foucault’s historical a priori (HP) and the intelligibility of history that counter commonly received accounts of Husserl’s approach to the same. First, Foucault is not a transcendental thinker in the Kantian sense of the term. His use of the HP is contingent, postdictive, regional and hypothetical. Second, the three “axes” of the dyads knowledge/truth, power/government, and subjectivation/ethics along with Foucault’s “history of the present” enclose a space called “experience” Erfahrung as nonreflective and “freed from inner life.” At this point, “experience” and “multiplicity” (relation without unity) coalesce to confirm Foucault’s anti-phenomenological bias and nominalist commitment. Finally, the relations of transformation and displacement that define archaeological change support a “fittingness” between the epistemes in question. Neither necessitating nor aleatory, their relation could be called “aesthetic” in a broad sense. I conclude by listing ways Husserl’s approach to historical intelligibility is the inverse of Foucault’s.