In French, the verb "to live" designates both being alive and the experience of something. This ambiguity has a philosophical meaning. The task of a phenomenology of life is to describe an originary sense of living from which the very distinction between life in the intransitive sense and life in the transitive, or intentional, sense proceeds. Hans Jonas is one of those rare authors who has tried to give an account of the specificity of life instead of reducing life to (...) categories that are foreign to it. However, the concept of metabolism, by which Jonas characterizes vital activity, attests to a presupposition as to life: life is conceived as self-preservation, that is, as negation of death, in such a way that life is, in the end, not thought on the basis of itself. The aim of this article is to show that life as such must be understood as movement in a radicalized sense, in which the living being is no more the subject than the product. All living beings are in effect characterized by a movement, which nothing can cause to cease, a movement that largely exceeds what is required by the satisfaction of needs and that, because of this, bears witness to an essential incompleteness. This incompleteness reveals that life is originarily bound to a world. Because the world to which the living being relates is essentially non-totalizable and unpresentable, living movement can not essentially complete itself. Thus, in the final analysis, life must be defined as desire, and in virtue of this view, life does not tend toward self-preservation, as we have almost always thought, but toward the manifestation of the world. (shrink)
The course on nature coincides with the re-working of Merleau-Ponty's breakthrough towards an ontology and therefore plays a primordial role. The appearance of an interrogation of nature is inscribed in the movement of thought that comes after the Phenomenology of Perception. What is at issue is to show that the ontological mode of the perceived object - not the unity of a positive sense but the unity of a style that shows through in filigree in the sensible aspects - has (...) a universal meaning, that the description of the perceived world can give way to a philosophy of perception and therefore to a theory of truth. The analysis of linguistic expression to which the philosophy of perception leads opens out onto a definition of meaning as institution, understood as what inaugurates an open series of expressive appropriations. It is this theory of institution that turns the analysis of the perceived in the direction of a reflection on nature: the perceived is no longer the originary in its difference from the derived but the natural in its difference from the instituted. Nature is the "non-constructed, non-instituted," and thereby, the source of expression: "nature is what has a sense without this sense having been posited by thought." The first part of the course, which consists in a historical overview, must not be considered as a mere introduction. In fact, the problem of nature is brought out into the open by means of the history of Western metaphysics, in which Descartes is the emblematic figure. The problem consists in the duality - at once unsatisfactory and unsurpassable - between two approaches to nature: the one which accentuates its determinability and therefore its transparency to the understanding; the other which emphasizes the irreducible facticity of nature and tends therefore to valorize the view-point of the senses. To conceive nature is to constitute a concept of it that allows us to "take possession" of this duality, that is, to found the duality. The second part of the course attempts to develop this concept of nature by drawing upon the results of contemporary science. Thus a philosophy of nature is sketched that can be summarized in four propositions: 1) the totality is no less real than the parts; 2) there is a reality of the negative and therefore no alternative between being and nothingmess; 3) a natural event is not assigned to a unique spatio-temporal localization; and 4) there is generality only as generativity. (shrink)
This article explores some indications in the texts of Patočka that point towards a concept of language which no longer takes it to be a derived layer of an original perceptive basis: he disassociates intuition from origin, and establishes a co-origin of language and perception. It is this co-origin whose meaning and limits this article seeks to determine.
Husserl is the first philosopher who has managed to account for the specificity of perception, characterized as givenness by sketches (Abschattungen); but neither Husserl nor Merleau-Ponty have given a satisfying definition of the subject of perception. This article tries to show that the subject of perception must be conceived as living being and that, therefore, the phenomenology of perception must lead to a phenomenology of life. Here, life is approached from an existential point of view, that is to say, as (...) a specific relationship to the world. However, life cannot be characterized from human existence in a privative way, as in Heidegger's philosophy: on the contrary, human existence, and particularly perception itself, must be understood from vital existence, and accordingly, an "additive" anthropology must replace the privative zoology. The hypothesis of this article is that it is by characterizing life as desire, we are able to account for perception as givenness by sketches. (shrink)
This paper explores the notion of sensing (Empfinden) as developed by Erwin Straus. It argues that the notion of sensing is at the center of Strauss's thought about animal and human experience. Straus's originality consists in approaching sensory experience from an existential point of view. Sensing is not a mode of knowing. Sensing is distinguished from perceiving but is still a mode of relation to exteriority, and is situated on the side of what is usually called affectivity. At the same (...) time Strauss redefines the field of that which is commonly characterized as affectivity. Sensing designates a stratum that lies deeper than the division between perceiving and feeling (s'éprouver), a self-affection that is not an alternative to the opening upon exteriority. It corresponds to a mode of immediate communication, to a sympathy with the world that does not entail any thematic dimension, but does not fall back into a blind fusion. Rather, sensing is something in the living being's mode of moving that is irreducible, and that includes a tending toward something. (shrink)
Connections among Varela's theory of enactive cognition , his evolutionary theory of natural drift, and his concept of autopoiesis are made clear. Two questions are posed in relation to Varela's conception of perception, and the tension that exists in his thought between the formal level of organization and the Jonasian notion of the organism.
The universal a priori of the correlation between transcendental being and its subjective modes of givenness constitutes the minimal framework for any phenomenological approach. The proper object of phenomenology is then to characterize both the exact nature of the correlation and the sense of being of the terms in relation, that is to say, of subject and world. It involves demonstrating that a rigorous analysis of the correlation unfolds necessarily on three levels and that phenomenology is thus destined to move (...) beyond itself towards a cosmology and metaphysics. The phenomenological correlation that we will establish is essentially a relation between a subject that is desire and a world that is pure transcendence and assumes their common belonging to a φύσίς whose description stems from a cosmology. But the difference of the subject, without which there is no correlation, refers itself to a more originary split that affects the very process of the manifestation and opens the space of metaphysics. (shrink)
Phénoménologie de la vie et cosmologieJ’ai établi dans mes précédents ouvrages que la corrélation universelle entre l’étant transcendant et la subjectivité, corrélation qui constitue l’objet propre de laphénoménologie, mettait originairement en rapport une Vie et un Monde plutôt qu’une simple conscience et son objet. J’ai donc montré que la phénoménologie s’accomplissait sous la forme d’une phénoménologie de la vie comprenant celle-ci comme le sens originaire de la conscience, elle-même déterminée comme désir pour autant qu’elle est traversée par une vie qui (...) la déborde et l’ouvre à une transcendance. Mais il reste à s’interroger sur l’être même de cette relation, sur le soubassement ontologique permettant de rapporter l’un à l’autre la vie et le monde. Ceci revient à questionner l’essence même de la vie, en tant que sa différence, comme vie subjective, n’exclut pas mais appelle au contraire son appartenance au monde. Je voudrais montrer que c’est au plan du mouvement et, par conséquent, dans le cadre d’une dynamique phénoménologique que cette articulation est pensable. En rapportant la vie au mouvement qui la caractérisecomme désir et le monde au procès « physique » de phénoménalisation qu’il est en dernière analyse et dans lequel le mouvement de la vie s’inscrit, on se donne les moyens d’articuler vie et monde et de dépasser ainsi leur dualité vers leur sol ontologique commun.Fenomenologia della vita e cosmologiaHo stabilito nelle mie opere precedenti che la correlazione universale tra l’ente trascendente e la soggettività, correlazione che rappresenta l’oggetto proprio della fenomenologia, metteva originariamente in rapporto una Vita e un Mondo piuttosto che una semplice coscienza e il suo oggetto. Ho dunque dimostrato che la fenomenologia si realizzava sotto la forma di una fenomenologia della vita che comprende quest’ultima come il senso originario della coscienza, a sua volta determinata come desiderio in quanto attraversata da una vita che la oltrepassa e l’apre ad una trascendenza. Ma bisogna ancora interrogarsi sull’essere stesso di questa relazione, sul fondamento ontologico che permette di mettere in rapporto reciproco la vita e il mondo. Questo porta a mettere in questione l’essenza stessa della vita, in quanto la sua differenza, come vita soggettiva, non esclude ma implica al contrario la sua appartenenza al mondo. Vorrei mostrare che è sul piano del movimento e, di conseguenza, nel contesto di una dinamica fenomenologica, che questa articolazione è pensabile. Rapportando la vitaal movimento che la caratterizza come desiderio e il mondo al processo « fisico » di fenomenalizzazione nel quale in ultima analisi esso consiste e nel quale il movimento della vita s’iscrive, possiamo articolare vita e mondo e oltrepassare così la loro dualità verso il loro suolo ontologico comune. (shrink)
This chapter discusses the phenomenology of life. The a priori of correlation characterises the being as what presents itself in its appearances only by being absent from them, as offering itself up to an exploration, in the face of which it continuously steps back or withdraws. Transcendental life must contain something living in order to be able to characterise itself as life. Desire never meets its object except in the mode of the object's own absence, and this is why nothing (...) stops it. The link between desire and the world is the truth of the relation between consciousness and object. The phenomenological dynamic that sees in desire the essence of the subject leads to a dynamic which has a truly ontological scope. In truth, ‘Life’ is the name given to the sense of Being: nothing that claims to be can stand outside life's embrace. (shrink)
The poetic names our capacity to transcend our finitude as subject and rejoin our worldly ground, that which links us to our origin despite the evential separation. It is the dimension of our existence which opens us to that from which our existence is nonetheless radically exiled, going, as it were, against the stream of the subject’s enclosure; it is that which, in us, reverses the evential separation, the only recourse against this separation. It is thus what makes it possible (...) to apprehend being from the viewpoint of the world, whose product and ostention it is, and not only from our viewpoint as separated beings.Le poétique désigne l’aptitude que nous avons à transcender notre finitude de sujet et à rejoindre notre sol mondain, ce qui nous relie à notre origine en dépit de la séparation événementiale. Il est la dimension de notre existence qui nous ouvre à cela dont elle est pourtant radicalement exilée, à contre-courant pour ainsi dire de la clôture du sujet; il est en nous ce qui inverse la séparation événementiale, le seul recours contre cette séparation. Il est donc ce qui permet de saisir l’étant du point du vue du monde dont il est le produit et l’ostension et non plus seulement du nôtre, comme êtres séparés.Il poetico designa la capacità di trascendere la nostra finitezza di soggetti e a ricongiungerci col nostro suolo mondano, è ciò che ci riconnette alla nostra origine a dispetto della separazione evenemenziale. È la dimensione della nostra esistenza che ci apre a ciò da cui essa è tuttavia radicalmente esiliata, risalendo controcorrente, per così dire, la chiusura del soggetto; è ciò che in noi rovescia la separazione evenemenziale, solo soccorso contro quella separazione. È dunque ciò che ci consente di cogliere l’ente dal punto di vista del mondo, di cui esso è il prodotto e l’ostensione, e non più soltanto dal nostro punto di vista di esseri separati. (shrink)
The goal of this essay is first to emphasize the proximity of the approaches of these two philosophers starting from their common critique of Husserlian subjectivism. By basing the phenomenality of the world on a sphere of immanence constituted by lived experience, Husserl accounts for appearing [l’apparaître] starting from a certain appearing [apparaissant] and thus falls into a form of circularity, the same one that is at work when the natural attitude makes appearing rest on an objective appearing. The aim (...) of these two authors is then to overcome this deeper and more secret version of the natural attitude by freeing the transcendence of the world from every form of objectivity and freeing the existence of the subject from every form of immanence. It is on this sole condition that the autonomy of the phenomenal field can be guaranteed. However, the dynamic approach to the subject in Patočka, which itself leads to a determination of the world as becoming, allows him to account for the chiasm that Merleau-Ponty put forward at the end of his life without managing to ground it, since he held to an insufficient characterization of existence in terms of flesh. (shrink)
Cet article vise d’abord à restituer de manière systématique le mouvement propre de la pensée de Patočka, mouvement qui ne correspond à aucun développement chronologique et n’est exposé nulle part sous cette forme mais sous-tend, à mes yeux, ce que Patočka a nommé phénoménologie a-subjective. Ce mouvement prend son point de départ dans une critique de la version subjectiviste de l’apparaître, principalement...