The Critique of the Phenomenological Concept of the World According to Michel Henry

  • Michael Staudigl
Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 79)

Abstract

Starting from an analysis of Husserl’s concept of the world, I want to show that the structure of the world has been thematized in a restricted way only within classic phenomenology. This omission can be traced back to a twofold reason: On the one hand, the specific phenomenality of the world has been established as the matrix of phenomenological analysis. But this structure, the “pre-givenness” of the world, has also been designated, on the other hand, as the one and only kind of phenomenality, according to which our experience of the world is explicated. Against this background and by means of a radicalised reduction, Michel Henry recovers the fundamental distinction between two different modes of appearing, i.e. originary revelation and manifestation. By restoring this distinction he finally opens the opportunity to break open the self-imposed moderation of phenomenology in order to perform an analysis of “the world” which recognizes its impressional-practical depth as “cosmos.” As M. Henry states, “I am the life of the world.”1

Keywords

Manifold Posit Stake Cela 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Philosophie et phénoménologie du corps. Essai sur l’ontologie biranienne (Paris: P.U.F., 1965), p. 44 (Engl, transl. by G. Etzkorn, Philosophy and Phenomenology of the Body, Den Haag: Nijhoff 1975, 32).Google Scholar
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    Cf. E. Fink, Studien zur Phänomenologie (Den Haag: Nijhoff 1966), p. 101.Google Scholar
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    Cf. M. Heidegger, Sein und Zeit (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1986), § 7, p. 28.Google Scholar
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    Cf. E. Husserl, Die Krisis der europäischen Wissenschaften und die transzendentale Phänomenologie (Den Haag: Nijhoff, 1954), (Hua VI), p. 162, where Husserl notices the problematical “relativity” of the “unfolding of the horizon” (Horizontentfaltung) of this special apriori, which does not cease to concretize itself. (All translations from German editions are given by the author; otherwise the English edition is quoted).Google Scholar
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    Cf. E. Fink, VI. Cartesianische Meditation. Teil 1. Die Idee einer transzendentalen Methodenlehre (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1988), (Hua-Dok II/l), esp. p. 61 ff.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Cf. E. Husserl, e.g. Zur Phänomenologie der InterSubjektivität. Texte aus dem Nachlaß. Dritter Teil: 1929–1935 (Den Haag: Nijhoff, 1973 (Hua XV)), p. 366. “Constructive phenomenology” also does not, according to Fink (op. cit., 62), only mark another “closed thematic connection,” but a “notion of method concerning transcendental findings of a special sort.”CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    We are dealing with a possible transcendental “leading clue” (Leitfaden) of phenomenological analysis; cf. E. Husserl, Analysen zur passiven Synthesis. Aus Vorlesungs-und Forschungsmanuskripten 1918–1926 (Den Haag: Nijhoff, 1966), (Hua XI), p. 344. The problematic related therewith has been realized at first by Fink. It becomes manifest within his analyses concerning the “pre-givenness” as a “captivation within the world,” VI. Cartesianische Meditation. Teil 2. Ergänzungsband (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1988), (Hua.-Dok. II/2), pp. 93–105 and 202–219, cf. R. Bruzina, “Redoing the Phenomenology of the World”, in: Alter 6 (1998) pp. 39–118, esp. 54 ff.Google Scholar
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    Above all one would have to elucidate the status of being a “leading clue,” which has been awarded to the experience of the world within phenomenological architectonics, and which is, in the most essential cases (as the problem of intersubjectivity e.g.) the reason for all the known paradoxes and paralogisms (cf. E. Fink, op. cit., 267 f.).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    See also J. G. Hart, who provides us with a similar conclusion by analyzing the implications of Husserl’s theory of intentionality: “Intentionality, Phenomenality, and Light,” in: D. Zahavi (ed.), Self-awareness, Temporality, and Alterity. Central Topics in Phenomenology (Dordrecht: Kluwer 1998), pp. 59–82, here 77–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    The respective principle of phenomenology, i.e. “more givenness — more reduction” has been worked out by J.-L. Marion, Réduction et donation. Recherches sur Husserl, Heidegger et la phénoménologie (Paris: P.U.F., 1989) (Engl. transl. Reduction and giveness. Investigations of Husserl, Heidegger and Phenomenology, Evanston: Northwestern University Press 1998). Taking up this discussion, Henry shows how this principle finally allows for the secret logic of “historic phenomenology” to become manifest, cf. his “Quatre principes,” in: Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 1 (1991) pp. 3–26.Google Scholar
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    Henry accordingly speaks about a “degeneration of the fundamental concepts,” cf. Radikale Lebensphänomenologie. Ausgewählte Studien zur Phänomenologie (Freiburg/München: Alber, 1992), p. 81.Google Scholar
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    This refers to the reproach made by B. Waldenfels (see e.g. “Antwort auf das Fremde. Grundzüge einer responsiven Phänomenologie,” in: I. Därmann, B. Waldenfels [eds.], Der Anspruch des Anderen. Perspektiven phänomenologischer Ethik, München: Fink 1998, pp. 35–49, esp. 41 f.), which we are going to discuss here implicitly.Google Scholar
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    Cf. S. Strasser, “Der Begriff der Welt in der phänomenologischen Philosophie,” in: Phänomenologische Forschungen 3 (1976) pp. 151–179, here 154 ff.Google Scholar
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    See Husserl’s analyses concerning an absolute monadology and teleology, cf. Zur Phänomenologie der InterSubjektivität (Hua XV), op. cit., p. 592 ff. and 619 ff.Google Scholar
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    Cf. Die Krisis (Hua VI), op. cit., p. 147, Erste Philosophie (1923/24), II Teil: Theorie der phänomenologischen Reduktion (Den Haag: Nijhoff, 1959), (Hua VIII), p. 161.Google Scholar
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    Cf. E. Husserl, Cartesianische Meditationen und Pariser Vorträge (Den Haag: Nijhoff, 1950), (Hua I), p. 84: “das anonyme cogitierende Leben.” Husserl’s narrow conception of “life” is critized by R. Kühn, Husserls Begriff der Passivität (Freiburg/München: Alber, 1998).Google Scholar
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    Cf. E. Husserl, Die Krisis, op. cit., p. 255.Google Scholar
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    Cf. E. Husserl, Die Krisis der europäischen Wissenschaften und die transzendentale Phänomenologie. Ergänzungsband. Texte aus dem Nachlaß 1934–1937 (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1993), (Hua XXIX), p. 192, 247.Google Scholar
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    Cf. E. Husserl, Analysen zur passiven Synthesis (Hua XI), p. 4 ff.; according to the genetic, apperceptive structure which is implied within this kind of givenness, see ibid. p. 336 ff.Google Scholar
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    See, for this relationship, E. Husserl, Erfahrung und Urteil. Untersuchungen zur Genealogie der Logik (Hamburg: Meiner, 1985), e.g. p. 32, and K. Mertens, Zwischen Skepsis und Letztbegründung. Kritische Untersuchungen zum Selbstverständnis der transzendentalen Phänomenologie Edmund Husserls (Freiburg/München: Alber, 1996), p. 205.Google Scholar
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    E. Husserl, Erste Philosophie (Hua VIII), p. 182, cf. Die Krisis (Hua VI), p. 240: “implizite Horizontintentionalität.”Google Scholar
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    Ms. A VII 14, 32a, cited G. A. de Almeida, Sinn und Inhalt in der genetischen Phänomenologie (Den Haag: Nijhoff, 1972), p. 215: “universale Formstruktur.”CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    E. Husserl, Erfahrung und Urteil, p. 37. See also M. Merleau-Ponty (Das Sichtbare und das Unsichtbare, München: Fink 1994, p. 377) who radicalizes the above alluded logic finally, inasmuch as he considers the radical passivity of one’s becoming a subject to be equivalent to the genesis of transcendence itself.Google Scholar
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    See the author’s Die Greuzen der Intentionalität. Zur Kritik der Phänomenalität und Husserl (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann 2003).Google Scholar
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    See M. Henry, “Ich bin die Wahrheit.” Für eine Philosophie des Christentums (Freiburg/München: Alber, 1997), pp. 26–32, who uncovers the phenomenological homology of these movements.Google Scholar
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    Within the conception of constitution Husserl also arrives at this point, cf. Die Krisis (Hua VI), p. 172.Google Scholar
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    M. Henry, “Ieh bin die Wahrheit” p. 31.Google Scholar
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    U. Kaiser, Das Motiv der Hemmung in Husserls Phänomenologie (München: Fink, 1997), p. 162 ff., shows, how phenomena like “surpression” or “retardation” might be located within this correlation.Google Scholar
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    See E. Husserl, Zur Phänomenologie der InterSubjektivität (Hua XV) z.B. p. 366 u. 380, but also E. Fink, VI. Cartesianische Meditation (Hua Dok. II/l), p. 49, 64.Google Scholar
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    E. Husserl, Die Krisis (Hua VI), p. 191.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., p. 122: “‘latentes’ Tiefenleben.”Google Scholar
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    See D. Zahavi, Self-awareness and Alterity. A phenomenological Investigation (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1999), p. 134 ff., for an elucidation of this relation along the guiding thread of self-consciousness.Google Scholar
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    M. Henry, Radikale Lebensphänomenologie, p. 178; see also E. Husserl, Cartesianische Meditationen (Hua I), § 41, p. 116 ff.Google Scholar
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    Cf. Henry’s discussion in Incarnation. Une philosophie de la chair (Paris: Seuil, 2000), p. 50 ff.; the problem is dealt with in R. Kühn, “Immanenz als affektive Historialität,” in: H. R. Sepp and T. Tani (ed.), Zeit in der Phänomenologie (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann 2004 (forthcoming).Google Scholar
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    M. Henry’s main work L’essence de la manifestation (Paris: P.U.F., 1963), pp. 276 ff., 427 ff., 479 (Engl. transl. by. G. Etzkorn, The Essence of Manifestation, Den Haag: Nijhoff 1973, pp. 223–225, 342–344, 380) is dedicated to the radical phenomenological explanation of this fundamental impossibility; see also Incarnation, e.g. p. 55 and Steinbock’s explanation of this situation in “The problem of forgetfulness.” in: Continental Philosophy Review 32 (1999/3) pp. 271–302, here 274–277.Google Scholar
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    R. Kühn, “Immanenz als affektive Historialität.” T. Tani (ed.), Zeit in der Phänomenologie (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann 2004 op. cit., § 2.Google Scholar
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    See. M. Henry, Phénoménologie matérielle (Paris: P.U.F., 1990), p. 32 f.; cf. R. Kühn, Leiblichkeit als Lebendigkeit. Michel Henrys Lebensphänomenologie radikaler Subjektivität als Affektivität (Freiburg/München: Alber, 1992), pp. 178–196, for a respective demonstration according to Husserl.Google Scholar
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    See. E. Husserl, Die Idee der Phänomenologie. Fünf Vorlesungen (Den Haag: Nijhoff, 1950), (Hua II), p. 31, 62 f., E. Fink, Studien zur Phänomenologie, p. 206.Google Scholar
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    See, e.g. M. Henry, L’essence de la manifestation, p. 366 (Engl. transl. p. 294). Henry understands this passivity, which functions as the concrete condition of the act of transcendence, as the “pure immanence” in its “auto-revelation.” This immanence furthermore bears its own dimension of becoming, which can be analysed along the “leading clue” of affectivity in the sense of a “pathetic historiality” beyond mundane historicityGoogle Scholar
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    See. M. Henry, L’essence de la manifestation, p. 256 ff. (Engl. p. 208 ff.)Google Scholar
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    J.-L. Marion’s explication leads exactly to this point, see Etant donné. Essai d’une phénoménologie de la donation (Paris: P.U.F., 1997), Engl. transl., pp. 100–102 Being given. Towards a Phenomenology of Givenness (Stanford: Stanford University Press 2002), pp. 68–70.Google Scholar
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    J.-L. Marion, Réduction et donation, p. 303 ff. (Engl. transl., pp. 203–205)Google Scholar
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    Phénoménologie matérielle, pp. 61–135 (German transl., Radikale Lebensphänomenologie, pp. 63–186).Google Scholar
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    M. Henry, Radikale Lebensphänomenologie, p. 162 ff., Incarnation, pp. 45–46, 104 ff.; cf. D. Janicaud, Le tournant théologique de la phénoménologie française (Paris: Eclat, 1991), p. 65 ff. (Engl. transl. by. G. Prusak, in: Phenomenology and the “Theological Turn” (New York: Fordham University Press, 2000), pp. 16–103, here 79–86) who thematizes this correlation with respect to the problem of the scientific character of phenomenology.Google Scholar
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    See M. Henry, L’essence de la manifestation, pp. 59–164 (Engl. pp. 47–133); cf. R. Kühn, Leiblichkeit als Lebendigkeit, 51–126; A. Steinbock, “The problem of forgetfulness in M. Henry,” pp. 277–283.Google Scholar
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    R. Kühn, Leiblichkeit als Lebendigkeit, p. 127.Google Scholar
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    A. J. Steinbock, “Limit-phenomena,” in: Alter 6 (1998) pp. 275–296, here 292.Google Scholar
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    Steinbock (“The problem of forgetfulness,” p. 281) discusses whether this decision remains related back towards the invisible essence of immanence, which would imply that “ontological monism” is grounded in an ontological hiddenness of the essence and gets unfolded in its “creative elaboration.”Google Scholar
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    M. Henry, Incarnation, § 4, pp. 55–61, with respect to Heidegger.Google Scholar
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    M. Henry, Phénoménologie matérielle, pp. 13–59; see again R. Kühn, “Immanenz als affektive Historialität,” op. cit., for a profound reconstruction of this constellation.Google Scholar
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    M. Henry, “Ich bin die Wahrheit” p. 30.Google Scholar
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    See M. Heidegger, Sein und Zeit, p. 38: “Höher als die Wirklichkeit steht die Möglichkeit.” Our reproach, which seems to meet Husserl only, nevertheless is at once directed against Heidegger, because he even stronger locks up the structure of possibility by intepreting it against the background of Dasein’ s being-in-the-world being interpreted within the systematics of “care.”Google Scholar
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    See R. Kühn and M. Staudigl, “Von der skeptischen Epoché zur Gegen-Reduktion,” in: R. Kühn /M. Staudigl (eds.), Epoché und Reduktion. Formen und Praxis der Reduktion (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann 2003), pp. 11–28, here 20–28.Google Scholar
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    This expression occurs in Henry, “Radikale Lebensphänomenologie,” p. 279, “Nichtintentionale Phänomenologie und Gegen-Reduktion,” in: R. Kühn and M. Staudigl, Epoché und Reduktion, op. cit., esp. p. 100 ff. The problem of a “reduction a priori” is developed by R. Kühn, “Die lebensphänomenologische Gegen-Reduktion,” in: R. Kühn and S. Nowotny (eds.), Michel Henry, op. cit., pp. 23–54, as well as in J.-M. Longneaux, “La réduction radicalisée comme passage du premier au troisième genre de connaissance,” in: J.-M. Longneaux (ed.), Retrouver la vie oubliée. Critiques et perspectives de la philosophic de Michel Henry (Namur: Presses universitaires, 2000), pp. 45–64, here 61–64.Google Scholar
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    See, for a final definition of this heterogenity, M. Henry, L’essence de la manifestation, pp. 860–861 (Engl. p. 684). See also ibid. p. 561 ff. (Engl. transl. pp. 447–448), where the “irreducible heterogenity” of the according structures is not only explicated in the sense of an “eidetic,” “structural” and “ontological” heterogenity, but, in the last analysis, as a “formal ontological” one (p. 564; Engl. p. 450), as well as an “absolute difference” which finally turns out to be a (phenomenological) “indifference” (p. 561; Engl. p. 468). Some explications of the notion “duplicity,” occuring originarily in Fichte and Schelling, are to be found in Inkarnation, p. 101, 160 and 216.Google Scholar
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    See R. Bernet, La vie du sujet (Paris: P.U.F., 1994), esp. pp. 297–327 (Engl. transl. of this chapter, “An intentionality without subject or object,” in: Man and World 2773 (1994), pp. 231–255) for a discussion of Henry’s argument.Google Scholar
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    Cf. J.-L. Marion (Etant donné, esp. pp. 50–60), who suggests to translate the “es gibt” by “cela donne,” in order to emphasize the autonomy of the structure of donation against Heidegger’s priorization of the “event” and its temporality.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., p. 597 (p. 478); cf. H. R. Sepp, “Der Begriff des Absoluten bei Husserl und Henry,” in: R. Kühn and S. Nowotny (eds.), Michel Henry, op. cit., pp. 205–226, esp. 212 ff., who sheds some light on the identity of immanent revelation and the absolute.Google Scholar
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    This is a point already to be found in L’ essence de la manifestation, even if Henry actually clarified it much later, esp. in “Ich bin die Wahrheit.” Google Scholar
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    M. Henry, Die Barbarei, p. 167. For an analysis of the “organic body” (organischer Leib) in the sense of a “body prior to sensation, prior to the world” (“Leib vor der Empfindung, vor der Welt”) cf. Incarnation, § 28, p. 209 ff.Google Scholar
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    R. Kühn, “Einleitung,” pp. 43–62. Consequently, the analysis is in the position to uncover the original event of correlation between our lived bodies and the world (Corps-propriation/Erdeinverleiblichung), which primordially sets us in the position of being “owners of the world” (cf. Die Barbarei, pp. 165–166).Google Scholar
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Staudigl
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ViennaAustria

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