The intentionality of improvisation represents surely one of the most pressing and controversial issues in contemporary action theory: how do we find the way to characterize the proper intentionality of improvisation, which is an unplanned yet intentional action? This article will address this question bringing together Merleau-Ponty’s motor intentionality and Bergson’s conception of duration. My argument will unfold in three main stages. First, I will briefly describe the traditional scheme that is used to think of intentional action in contemporary action theory and discuss how the phenomenon of improvisation casts doubts on it. Second, I will outline an initial, and provisional account of improvisation by crossing the descriptions of musical improvisation provided by Jankélévitch with the testimonials of two improvisatory composers—Enrico Pieranunzi and Keith Jarrett—and reports from Charles Rosen, an American pianist and Roger Sessions, an American composer. Finally, I will refine the basic concepts and lay out a phenomenological account of improvisation, by extending and applying the phenomenological notion of motor intentionality to the examples and testimonials gathered from the observation of a specific kind of improvisatory activity—musical composition. This methodology is intended to contrast both with more standard philosophical approaches based on hypothetical examples, and with more standard laboratory-based methodologies in cognitive sciences, psychology, and experimental philosophy. Overall, this approach is intended to redress the balance of action theory—one-sided directed towards planning, as a key aspect of human agency—with an analysis of the bodily and responsive aspect of intentionality.
Sensibility has traditionally been defined as a relation with the world’s exteriority. However, a certain post-husserlian phenomenology tends to reverse this definition and to redefine sensibility as an internal relation that takes place from within the world. This article focuses on this phenomenological concept of “sensibility” in Levinas and Merleau-Ponty and intends to show that this concept rests upon the presupposition of an alternative according to which we would have whether a sensible experience of identity, or an acosmic experience of otherness—whether a wordly experience of the same or a worldless experience of otherness. Yet, by reducing sensibility to the experience of the world’s interiority and rejecting otherness beyond any worldly experience, this conception fails to account for a significant dimension of sensibility—namely, sensibility as the experience of the world’s own otherness, foreignness or exteriority. It is our hope that, from the critical exposition of this alternative, will eventually appear in conclusion the significant part of this forgotten dimension of sensibility.
This paper takes five different perspectives on kinesthesia, beginning with its evolution across animate life and its biological distinction from, and relationship to proprioception. It proceeds to document the historical derivation of “the muscle sense,” showing in the process how analytic philosophers bypass the import of kinesthesia by way of “enaction,” for example, and by redefinitions of “tactical deception.” The article then gives prominence to a further occlusion of kinesthesia and its subduction by proprioception, these practices being those of well-known phenomenologists, practices that exemplify an adultist perspective supported in large part by the writings of Merleau-Ponty. Following this extended critical review, the article shows how Husserl’s phenomenology enlightens us about kinesthesia and in doing so offers us substantive clues to the phenomenology of learning as it takes place in the development and acquisition of skillful movement. It shows further how phenomenological methodology contrasts markedly with existential analysis, most significantly in its recognition of, and its ability to set forth a developmental history, a veritable genetic phenomenology that is basically a phenomenology of learning anchored in kinesthesia. After showing how that phenomenology of learning finds mutual validation in a classic empirical study of infant movement, the article ends by highlighting how human “I cans” are grounded in “I move,” specifically, in the pan-human ability to learn one’s body and learn to move oneself.
This paper aims to contribute to ‘group-centred views’ of non-agentive shame (victim shame, oppression shame), by linking them to an ‘anepistemic’ model of the experience and impact of human failing. One of the most vexing aspects of those group-centred views remains how susceptivity to such shame ought to be understood. This contribution focuses on how a basic familiarity with adversity, in everyday life, may open individuals up to these forms of shame. If, per group-centred views, non-agentive shame is importantly driven by participation in social practices with others, a better understanding of the impact of adversity on individuals’ lives may offer a way of explaining how embodied experience instils in individuals a need for such participation. The upshot is an understanding of the individual’s susceptivity to non-agentive shame, which affords it the same legitimacy as more conventional notions of shame.
While Simone de Beauvoir’s theory of alterity has been the topic of much discussion within Beauvoir scholarship, feminist theory, and social and political philosophy, it has not commonly been a reference point for those working within ethics. However, Beauvoir develops a novel view that those concerned with the ethical import of respect for others should consider seriously, especially those working within the Levinasian tradition. I claim that Beauvoir distinguishes between two forms of otherness: namely, existential alterity and sociopolitical alterity. While sociopolitical alterity is a contingent and surmountable form of otherness that results from oppression of individuals and groups, existential alterity is a necessary feature of the human condition that discloses the foreignness of the other as a freedom. Out of this view of existential alterity, I argue, Beauvoir develops an ethic of asymmetrical reciprocity. In contrast with Levinas, who dismisses reciprocity as a symmetrical or reversible model of relation that minimizes difference, Beauvoir promulgates a view of reciprocity that does not fall into the problems that Levinas diagnoses. Moreover, asymmetrical reciprocity more successfully figures the ethical relation to the other than the absolute asymmetry one finds in Levinas, which becomes evident through revisiting Levinas’s account of eros and contrasting it with that of Beauvoir.
Recent literature on forgiveness suggests that a successful account of the phenomenon must satisfy at least three conditions: it must be able to explain how forgiveness can be articulate, uncompromising, and elective. These three conditions are not logically inconsistent, but the history of reflection on the ethics of forgiveness nonetheless suggests that they are in tension. Accounts that emphasize articulateness and uncompromisingness tend to suggest an excessively deflationary understanding of electiveness, underestimating the degree to which forgiveness is a gift. Accounts that emphasize electiveness, on the other hand, tend to weaken the safeguards that keep forgiveness distinct from condonation, excuse, or mere servility. I argue in this paper that we can do justice to the three conditions by understanding forgiveness in terms of the concept of institution that Maurice Merleau-Ponty developed in his work from the early- to mid-1950s.
I present Gilbert Simondon’s thinking of technics, that I take to be so compelling today because it articulates technological reality in ecological terms as a technogeography and life as being-with-the-machines. I will (1) flesh out Simondon’s program for a being-with-the-machines, (2) show how it corresponds to the essence of the technical objects described in terms of milieu and relation (3) indicate how this is based on Simondon’s ontology of individuation (4) suggest a criticism of Simondon, insofar as he would underestimate the technicality of the human being him/herself and of his/her world.
While Simone de Beauvoir's theory of alterity has been the topic of much discussion within Beauvoir scholarship, feminist theory, and social and political philosophy, it has not commonly been a reference point for those working within ethics. However, Beauvoir develops a novel view that those concerned with the ethical import of respect for others should consider seriously, especially those working within the Levinasian tradition. I claim that Beauvoir distinguishes between two forms of otherness: namely, existential alterity and sociopolitical alterity. While sociopolitical alterity is a contingent and surmountable form of otherness that results from oppression of individuals and groups, existential alterity is a necessary feature of the human condition that discloses the foreignness of the other as a freedom. Out of this view of existential alterity, I argue, Beauvoir develops an ethic of asymmetrical reciprocity. In contrast with Levinas, who dismisses reciprocity as a symmetrical or reversible model of relation that minimizes difference, Beauvoir promulgates a view of reciprocity that does not fall into the problems that Levinas diagnoses. Moreover, asymmetrical reciprocity more successfully figures the ethical relation to the other than the absolute asymmetry one finds in Levinas, which becomes evident through revisiting Levinas's account of eros and contrasting it with that of Beauvoir.
This paper aims to contribute to group-centred views' of non-agentive shame (victim shame, oppression shame), by linking them to an anepistemic' model of the experience and impact of human failing. One of the most vexing aspects of those group-centred views remains how susceptivity to such shame ought to be understood. This contribution focuses on how a basic familiarity with adversity, in everyday life, may open individuals up to these forms of shame. If, per group-centred views, non-agentive shame is importantly driven by participation in social practices with others, a better understanding of the impact of adversity on individuals' lives may offer a way of explaining how embodied experience instils in individuals a need for such participation. The upshot is an understanding of the individual's susceptivity to non-agentive shame, which affords it the same legitimacy as more conventional notions of shame.
The Habermas–Foucault debate, despite the excellent commentary it has generated, has the standing of an ‘unfinished project’ precisely because it occasions the interrogation of the fundamental categories of modernity, and because the lingering sense of anxiety, which continues to remain after arguments and counter-arguments, demands new interpretations. Here, I advance the claim that what gives Habermas’s criticisms of Foucault’s histories and theoretical formulations their bite is the categorial distinction he maintains between facts and rights, and by extension, between causes and reasons. The Kantian distinction between de jure (in principle) validity and de facto (factual) effectivity underwrites the categorial distinction between both ‘norms/facts’ and ‘reasons/causes’ conceptual pairs, which distinction, in turn, is reinforced by a picture of the natural world as matter in motion and human agency as self-determination. I want to claim that Foucault’s work enacts a critique of Habermas not by evading the problem of justification but by undermining the very distinctions Habermas needs to maintain the universal and necessary status of communicative rationality. Drawing on Jonathan Lear’s discussion of reasons and causes in relation to the unconscious, I claim that psychoanalytic discourse helps us make intelligible a type of reflection—such as one finds in Foucault’s historiography—that is at once “critical and empirical.” Moreover, the realization that the distinction between causes and reasons may not be categorial and exhaustive shows how Habermas’s insistence on the contrary leads to one particular kind of misrecognition of our practices.
Some 60 years separate us from Theodor W. Adorno’s “Theory of pseudo-culture.” Yet Adorno’s analysis might never have been as pertinent and as compelling as it is in the present moment. The dawn of the “post-truth” era, and the persistent impact of the culture industry on human sensibility and capacity for critical self-reflection, call for a return to Adorno’s critical theorisation of pseudo-culture. This paper revisits Adorno’s assessment of pseudo-culture and proposes a reconstruction of some of his most compelling arguments on the subject in light of the present socio-historical circumstances. The paper starts with a concise discussion of the notions of Kultur, Bildung and Halbbildung in relation to Adorno’s thought. It then discusses the effects of pseudo-culture on human experience by looking into the role of opinions—in particular, what Adorno terms “delusional” opinions—in contemporary late capitalist reality. Finally, the paper ends with a juxtaposition of the barbarism of the banal and neoteric barbarism. I argue that, whereas the former stuns culture and impels it to regress to a state of pseudo-culture, the latter gives it new impetus by opening up new theoretical and practical paths.
In this paper, I discuss aspects of Herbert Leyendecker’s 1913 doctoral dissertation, Towards the Phenomenology of Deceptions (Zur Phänomenologie der Täuschungen), which he defended in 1913 at the University of Munich. Leyendecker was a member of the Munich and Göttingen Phenomenological Circles. In my discussion of his largely neglected views, I explore the connection between his ideas concerning “attitudes” (Einstellungen), e.g., of searching for, observing, counting, or working with objects, and the central topic of his text, perceptual illusions, thematized by Leyendecker as a kind of perceptual “deception” (Täuschung). Indeed, Leyendecker argues that a change of attitude is a necessary aspect of an illusion. I argue that Leyendecker’s use of the notion of attitude in accounting for illusions is problematic; yet I also suggest that his ideas are not devoid of philosophical interest, in relation to current debates.
Locke claims that a person’s identity over time consists in the unity of consciousness, not in the sameness of the body. Similarly, the phenomenological approach refuses to see the criteria of identity as residing in some externally observable bodily features. Nevertheless, it does not accept the idea that personal identity has to consist either in consciousness or in the body. We are self-aware as bodily beings. After providing a brief reassessment of Locke and the post-Lockean discussion, the article draws on phenomenological arguments that show the body as lived, that is, lived as one’s own body, but also possibly as “other” or “strange.” Against what has been claimed in recent writing, especially in literature on Merleau-Ponty, the author argues that the “mineness” of the body and its “alterity” are not two mutually exclusive features. In the final part of the article, the author suggests that the becoming strange of one’s own body may legitimately be considered as a prominent experience of what it means to be a person.
The question of whether a proper phenomenological investigation and analysis requires one to perform the epoché and the reduction has not only been discussed within phenomenological philosophy. It is also very much a question that has been hotly debated within qualitative research. Amedeo Giorgi, in particular, has insisted that no scientific research can claim phenomenological status unless it is supported by some use of the epoché and reduction. Giorgi partially bases this claim on ideas found in Husserl’s writings on phenomenological psychology. In the present paper, I discuss Husserl’s ideas and argue that while the epoché and the reduction are crucial for transcendental phenomenology, it is much more questionable whether they are also relevant for a non-philosophical application of phenomenology.
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.
In the final book of Logical Investigations from 1901, Husserl develops a theory of knowledge based on the intentional structure of consciousness. While there is some textual evidence that Husserl considered this to entail a critique of Kantian philosophy, he did not elaborate substantially on this. This paper reconstructs the covert critique of Kant’s theory of knowledge which LI contains. With respect to Kant, I discuss three core aspects of his theory of knowledge which, as Husserl’s reflections on Kant indicate, Husserl was familiar with. These are (i) the cooperation of two faculties for the justification of beliefs; (ii) the concept of a priori structures of knowledge Kant operated with; and (iii) the delivered transcendental proof of these structures. Regarding Logical Investigations, I first briefly outline the intentional structure of consciousness as presented in the fifth book and then turn to the theory of knowledge in the sixth book. I then clarify, partially on the basis of manuscripts and lecture notes, the covert critique of the three core aspects of Kant’s theory which the sixth book contains.
We investigate the parallelism between aesthetic experience and the practice of phenomenology using Viktor Shklovsky’s theory of “estrangement” (ostranenie). In his letter to Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Husserl claims that aesthetic and phenomenological experiences are similar; in the perception of a work of art we change our attitude in order to concentrate on how the things appear to us instead of what they are. A work of art “forces us into” the aesthetic attitude in the same way as the phenomenological epoché drives us into the phenomenological one. The change of attitudes is a condition of possibility of aesthetic and/or phenomenological experience. Estrangement is an artistic device that breaks the routinized forms of perception: one sees the thing as new and does not just “recognize” it automatically. Shklovsky insists that it is possible if one experiences or feels the form of the work of art—in an affective and even sensuous way. We claim that this is similar to the phenomenological seeing, or intuition, which, according to Husserl, should be devoid of all understanding. Phenomenological epoché can also be described as a philosophical technique that aims to arrest the “ready-made,” “taken for granted,” “pre-given” meanings in order to access a new meaning which is not yet stabilized, the “meaning-in-formation.” It is not enough to turn from what appears to how it appears; one has to oscillate between these conflicting attitudes, or rather to keep them both at the same time thus gaining a kind of a 3D-vision of meaning in its becoming. This double life in two different attitudes (or, following a Husserlian metaphor, “double bookkeeping”) can be clarified in terms of Roman Jakobson’s theory of antinomic coexistence between the poetic and communicative functions of language. The notion of “double life in two attitudes” uncovers the role that ostranenie can play in the philosophical transformation of the subject based on variety and essential mobility of the affective components involved. Proposing a phenomenological interpretation of a passage from Samuel Beckett we show how the radicalization of ostranenie can lead even to “meta-estrangement”: to estrangement of the everyday “lack of estrangement.” We conclude with a remark on the productivity of this form of estrangement in the phenomenological context.
This paper examines the historical claims about philosophy, dating back to Parmenides, that we argue underlie Jacques Lacan’s polemical provocations in the mid-1970s that his position was an “anti-philosophie”. Following an introduction surveying the existing literature on the subject, in part ii, we systematically present the account of classical philosophy Lacan has in mind when he declares psychoanalysis to be an antiphilosophy after 1975, assembling his claims about the history of ideas in Seminars XVII and XX in ways earlier contributions of this subject have not systematically done. In part iii, focusing upon Lacan’s remarkable reading of Descartes’ break with premodern philosophy—but touching on Lacan’s readings of Hegel and (in a remarkable confirmation of Lacan’s “Parmenidean” conception of philosophy) the early Wittgenstein—we examine Lacan’s positioning of psychoanalysis as a legatee of the Cartesian moment in the history of western ideas, nearly-contemporary with Galileo’s mathematization of physics and carried forwards by Kant’s critical philosophy and account of the substanceless subject of apperception. In different terms than Slavoj Žižek, we propose that it is Lacan’s famous avowal that the subject of the psychoanalysis is the subject first essayed by Descartes in The Meditations on First Philosophy as confronting an other capable of deceit (as against mere illusion or falsity) that decisively measures the distance between Lacan’s unique “antiphilosophy” and the forms of later modern linguistic and cultural relativism whose hegemony Alain Badiou has decried, at the same time as it sets Lacan’s antiphilosophy apart from the Parmenidean legacy for which thinking and being could be the same.