Time out of Joint: Between Phenomenology and Poststructuralism

In this essay, I take off from Nathan Widder’s impressive book, Reflections on Time and Politics, by highlighting what I take to be one of the major internal differences within continental philosophy that Widder’s book helps to make manifest: that between phenomenology and post-structuralism (which includes the renewed interest in, and use of, Nietzsche and Bergson’s work by poststructuralist philosophers). While many deplore the use of umbrella terms like these, I hope to be able to proffer some useful generalisations about each in regard to their philosophies of time. And while I think that Widder, Deleuze, et al are roughly correct in their diagnosis of phenomenology’s association of time (or, better, temporality) with the subject, including with the movement of subject, I am not convinced that they are correct in considering this to be a theoretical weakness, nor that the proffered alternatives are to be preferred. I myself am pulled both ways, and in a critical vein here want to point to some problems with the “time out of joint” trajectory of Widder, Deleuze, Derrida, and others, or at the very least to establish some risks that are associated with such a perspective. My basic worry is that too often the transcendental critique of vulgar time and any emphasis on the “living-present” and other such “chronopathologies” trades on claims of necessity that are either speculative (the transcendental claim is not established as a necessary one, but is at best a weak inference to a better explanation) or that depend upon their association with an accompanying moral and political tenor (what I have elsewhere called “empirico-romanticism” ) that threatens to be dogmatic. While I agree with Widder and others that time and politics are intimately connected I also think that theoretical accounts of this fragile connection need to be careful to avoid lapsing into dogmatism, and this is so even if the relevant conception of time is not tethered to any teleological account of the trajectory of history.
Keywords phenomenology  post-structuralism  Heideggger  Merleau-Ponty  Derrida  Deleuze  time  body  living-present
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Stuart F. Spicker (1973). Inner Time and Lived-Through Time: Husserl and Merleau-Ponty. Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 4 (3):235-247.

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