Vol. 21, No. 2 (Fall 2017)

Guest Editor: Donald A. Landes

IRIS MARION YOUNG, TRANS. DONALD A. LANDES, Lancer comme une fille. Une phénoménologie de la motilité, de la spatialité et du comportement corporel féminins

GAYLE SALAMON, Phenomenologies of Relation: Re-Worlding Gender with Iris Marion Young [abstract]

This essay reads Iris Marion Young’s foundational essay “Throwing Like a Girl” as one of the first serious attempts to mount a critique of phenomenology’s universal aspirations using its own methods, in order to show that its humanism was deeply, if unknowingly, inflected by gender. I show how Young’s use of Erwin Straus’s and Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological methods both extend and challenge their claims, and her how assertions about the particularity of feminine existence call into question some of phenomenology’s deepest convictions about bodily existence in general. Her argument thus uses phenomenology to call into question the phenomenological foundation on which it rests, in a feminist reconsideration of motility, space, intentionality, and transcendence. I conclude by turning to “Throwing Like a Girl: Twenty Years Later” twenty years after its publication and consider the phenomenology of action and relation that Young gestures toward there.

GAIL WEISS, The Perils and Pleasures of the “I Can” Body [abstract]

Though Young’s “Throwing Like a Girl” has been praised for presenting the “I can” body as more of an aspiration than a reality for many women in the world today, she has also been criticized for claiming that women’s typical modes of bodily comportment are contradictory, and thus that their experience of the “I can” body is compromised. From her critics’ perspective, Young’s account seems to imply that women’s experiences of embodied agency are inferior or deficient in comparison to men who have been encouraged to maximize their physical capabilities. The question this essay addresses is whether the “I can” body is itself a suspect notion that should be rejected altogether, or whether the problem lies in its sexist, racist, and ableist history that has failed to acknowledge the diverse experiences of embodied agency it was originally intended to describe.

MARIE-ANNE CASSELOT, S’asseoir comme un homme. Sur le déploiement spatial genré avec Iris Marion Young [abstract]

Beginning from an analysis of masculine spatial comportment, this article develops the notion of appropriative intentionality in order to build upon the ground-breaking work of Iris Marion Young on the inhibited intentionality of feminine motility and spatiality in “Throwing Like a Girl.” The phenomenon of “manspreading” in public transit raises the question of equitably shared public space, from both a phenomenological and a political perspective. Drawing upon select chapters from Justice and the Politics of Difference, I examine how bodily comportment sustains certain types of oppression and explore the possibility of living in an egalitarian manner when we adopt the Youngian notion of social differentiation without exclusion in urban settings.

LUNA DOLEZAL, Feminist Reflections on the Phenomenological Foundations of Home [abstract]

Through exploring some of the foundational and structural aspects of the experience of home from a feminist perspective, this article will draw from Iris Marion Young’s reflections on home, female experience and embodiment to argue that home is central to our ontological and subjective constitution. While acknowledging that home can be a problematic concept in the socio-political realm, particularly for feminist thinkers, this article contends that a feminist reading of the phenomenology of home is crucial to understanding some of the foundational features of human subjectivity. In doing so, it will explore aspects of some existing phenomenological accounts of home and dwelling which posit that home is an ontological structure, outlining a feminist phenomenology of home that explores three interwoven aspects: (1) home as forming an ontological ground of human subjectivity; (2) home as a gendered space; (3) and pregnant embodiment as the “first home.”

KATHLEEN HULLEY, COMPILER, The Philosophy of Iris Marion Young: A Bibliography



IAN ANGUS, Galilean Science and the Technological Lifeworld: The Role of Husserl’s Crisis in Herbert Marcuse’s Thesis of One-Dimensionality [abstract]

This analysis of Herbert Marcuse’s appropriation of the argument concerning the “mathematization of nature” in Edmund Husserl’s Crisis of the European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology shows that Marcuse and Husserl both assume that the perception of real, concrete individuals in the lifeworld underlies formal scientific abstractions and that the critique of the latter requires a return to such qualitative perception. In contrast, I argue that no such return is possible and that real, concrete individuals are constituted by the relation between a given perception and its horizon. In this manner, Marcuse’s social critique can be combined with Husserl’s theoretical-perceptual one, making possible an ecological critique.

DAVID MITCHELL, Existentialism is not a Humanism: Nothingness and the Non-Humanist Philosophy of the Early Sartre [abstract]

This article challenges the view, originating in Heidegger’s Letter on Humanism, according to which Sartre’s thought remains wedded to a substantial, “humanist,” conception of the subject. Beginning with an account of Heidegger’s critique in the Letter, I examine the idea that humanism posits the human as a mode of entity in the world, thus precluding an originary enquiry into its nature. Next, I show how Heidegger is wrong to attribute such a view to Sartre. Turning to The Transcendence of the Ego, we see how Sartrean phenomenology reveals human beings as essentially worldly. Further, this engagement with Sartre allows us to see how we can reject humanism while maintaining a distinct meaning for the human. Specifically, interpreting Being and Nothingness makes clear how, when the human is conceptualized as the modification of world that is nothingness, it can have a distinctive being without existing as humanism’s subject-entity.

GUILLAUME ST-LAURENT, La solution implicite de Charles Taylor au problème de l’« historicisme transcendental » [abstract]

Our aim is to show that Charles Taylor’s theory of philosophical argumentation proposes an elegant, albeit implicit, solution to the problem of “transcendental historicism” in contemporary hermeneutics (Heidegger, Gadamer, Ricoeur). This problem consists in asking how it is possible both to (1) disavow the existence of “absolute” or “anhistorical” truths and (2) fully acknowledge the status of philosophical discourses on “historicity” (Geschichtlichkeit), since those discourses remain de facto and de jure properly a priori. The following discussion focusses on how Taylor manages to justify the seemingly contradictory thesis that philosophical reflection can reach conclusions that are “apodictic and yet open to endless debate.”

MAX SCHAEFER, The Failure of Life: Michel Henry and the Ethics of Incompleteness [abstract]

This article addresses the problematic relation between Michel Henry’s phenomenology of life and ethics. More specifically, it asks whether Henry’s account of the self’s transcendental birth in the immanent self-generation of life allows for a sense of individual responsibility. I begin by discussing Henry’s generation of the self and show how the historical essence of the self is structured according to the antinomy of affectivity. I then show how, for Henry, this history of life is full and yet incomplete. Accordingly, life is attracted to growth and this growth happens insofar as living beings proceed through a series of stages of despair. I develop these stages by looking at Henry’s analyses of anxiety, desire, and humility in relation to Kierkegaard. I argue that even though there is already an initial sense of responsibility at work in the earliest stirrings of anxiety, it is only in humility that the self comes to know who it truly is and how it ought to relate to others.

MARTINA FERRARI, An-Archic Past: Rethinking Negativity with Bergson [abstract]

Thanks to the revival in Bergson’s scholarship prompted by Gilles Deleuze’s Bergsonism, it is widely recognized that Bergsonism challenges the metaphysics of presence. Less attention, however, has been devoted to the status of negation or negativity in Bergson’s thought. Differently from Deleuze, I argue that Bergson’s claim that memory and perception, past and present, differ in kind does not call for the erasure of the negative but rather for the radical reconceptualization of negation in temporal terms. Thinking negation temporally allows Bergson to open the space for conceptualizing existence beyond presence, for developing an account of the paradoxical nature of the past. With an insight that anticipates Derrida’s thinking, Bergson tells us that the past is neither “there” nor “not-there,” neither a presence nor an absence.