Vol. 24, No. 1 (Spring 2020)

JEAN-PHILIPPE DERANTY, “A Matrix of Intellectual and Historical Experiences”: The Marxist Core in Merleau-Ponty’s Post-War Thinking

abstract

This article seeks to re-evaluate the importance of the political in the thinking of Maurice Merleau-Ponty. The article first shows that Sartre’s description of Merleau-Ponty’s intellectual trajectory as one of increasing political apathy from the 1950s onwards is inaccurate. The article then demonstrates that throughout the post-war period, including in his project for a new ontology, Merleau-Ponty believed that a revised version of Marxism would provide the methodological framework within which philosophical work could address the political challenges of the present. This revised Marxism was to be a direct alternative to the reifying uses of Marx’s thinking. It would rely upon the latter’s self-reflexive historicism, which meant its very failures showed how philosophy might transform itself in connection with its own time.

JANAR MIHKELSAAR, Experiencing and Saying the Finitude of Language in Heidegger and Derrida

abstract

This article explores how the later Heidegger and the early Derrida experience and say the “being” of language. Both stumble upon the impossibility of bringing language into language—either because, for Derrida, all terms are implicated in the differential process of semiosis; or because, for Heidegger, articulations are responses called forth from the being of language. This is how we experience the finitude of language. Instead of being plainly nameless, the word comes into presence in its being-absent, but does so in conflicting ways. Derrida’s différance brings into language the infinite self-signification of language, while Heidegger’s Ereignis brings into it the self-concealment of language in propositional statements.

MÉLISSA THÉRIAULT, Despentes ou l’affranchissement du corps

abstract

French novelist and essayist Virginie Despentes has become prominent through her literary work, which echoes the works of Preciado or Butler. Through a form of research-creation, Despentes tackles topics such as prostitution, pornography, and female violence. Starting from the principle that “the personal is political,” her reflection exposes the constructed character of what is usually taken as given: the self and gendered identity. This article intends to show how Despentes describes the body as the locus of a potential political resistance insofar as, like the self, it can at least partly escape determinisms by a process of self-reconstruction. By shaping their own bodies so as to redefine their identity, the characters created by Despentes present different ways to rethink the connections between individuals and, most importantly, different ways to generate a critical discourse that allows one to think about identity beyond gender dichotomies.

KATHRYN LAWSON, Art and the Other: Aesthetic Intersubjectivity in Gadamer and Stein

abstract

Engaging with Hans-Georg Gadamer and Edith Stein, this article argues that art offers us a glimpse of the interiority of both the artist and the community of connoisseurs who share in a love of art. By tarrying with the other in the artwork, the other becomes enmeshed in the meaning of that work and herself becomes a facet of how art is meaningful and world-making. This process does not claim to know the entirety of the other. Rather, the other, like the artwork, is seen only in part. A trace of the other’s interiority affirms our suspicion of connection to the other but always maintains her mystery and autonomy beyond our totalizing conceptualization.

MICHAEL BENNETT, Answering the Bioethicists’ Objection: Habermas and Arendt on Evolution

abstract

Bioethicists criticize Jürgen Habermas’s argument against “liberal eugenics” for many reasons. This essay examines one particular critique, according to which Habermas misunderstands the implications of human evolution. In adopting Hannah Arendt’s concept of “natality,” Habermas seems to fear that genetically modified children will lose the contingency of their births, which would impair their capacity for political action; but according to evolutionary theory, bioethicists argue, this fear is unfounded. I explore this objection by entertaining the hypothesis that Habermas’s argument assumes Arendt’s interpretation of Darwinian evolution in addition to her conception of natality, and then I answer it by contrasting the conceptions of evolution held by Habermas, by Arendt, and by Habermas’s critics.

ANDREW JAMPOL-PETZINGER, Kierkegaard as a Thinker of Deleuzian Immanent Ethics

abstract

In this article, I present an interpretation of Kierkegaard’s ethics in terms of Gilles Deleuze’s distinction between immanent ethics and transcendent morality. I argue that Kierkegaard’s skepticism towards moral prescription, his emphasis on the single individual as the basis of normative evaluation, and his view of Christianity as somehow “beyond” the scope of moral obligation are all functions of a Deleuzian conception of immanent ethics as a non-moralistic form of normativity. On this basis, I argue for two conclusions: first, that Kierkegaard’s work is better understood through this framework than through either aretaic or deontological frameworks; and second, that Deleuzian ethics is better served by Kierkegaardian illustrations like patience and stillness, than by the tropes of destruction that are often associated with it.

ADA S. JAARSMA, Encounters with Deleuze: An Interview with Constantin V. Boundas and Daniel W. Smith

abstract

This interview, conducted over the span of several months, tracks the respective journeys of Constantin V. Boundas and Daniel W. Smith with the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze. Rather than “becoming Deleuzian,” which is neither desirable nor possible, these exchanges reflect an array of encounters with Deleuze. These include the initial discoveries of Deleuze’s writings by Boundas and Smith, in-person meetings between Boundas and Deleuze, and the wide-ranging and influential philosophical work on Deleuze’s concepts produced by both Boundas and Smith. At stake in this discussion are key contributions by Deleuze to continental philosophy, including the distinction between the virtual and the actual and the very nature of a “concept.” Also at stake is the formative or pedagogical impact of a philosopher, like Deleuze, on those who find and fully engage with his texts, concepts, and project.