We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Interpreting Excess

Jean-Luc Marion, Saturated Phenomena, and Hermeneutics

Shane Mackinlay

Publication Year: 2009

JJean-Luc Marion's theory of saturated phenomena is one of the most exciting developments in phenomenology in recent decades. It opens up new possibilities for understanding phenomena by beginning from rich and complex examples such as revelation and works of art. Rather than being curiosities or exceptions, these excessiveor saturatedphenomena are, in Marion's view, paradigms. He understands more straightforward phenomena, such as the objects of the natural sciences, as reduced and impoverished versions of the excess given in saturated phenomena.Interpreting Excess is a systematic and comprehensive study of Marion's texts on saturated phenomena and their place in his wider phenomenology of givenness, tracing both his theory and his examples across a wide range of texts spanning three decades.The author argues that a rich hermeneutics is implicit in Marion's examples of saturated phenomena but is not set out in his theory. This hermeneutics makes clear that attempts to overthrow the much-criticized sovereignty of the Cartesian ego will remain unsuccessful if they simply reverse the subject-object relation by speaking of phenomena imposing themselves with an overwhelming givenness on a recipient. Instead, phenomena should be understood as appearing in a hermeneutic space already opened by a subject's active reception. Thus, a phenomenon's appearing depends not only on its givenness but also on the way it is interpreted by the receiving subject. All phenomenology is, therefore, necessarily hermeneutic.Interpreting Excess provides an indispensable guide for any study of Marion's saturated phenomena. It is also a significant contribution to ongoing debates about philosophical ways of thinking about God, the relation between hermeneutics and phenomenology, and philosophy after the subject.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF (84.8 KB)
pp. i-vi


pdf iconDownload PDF (27.3 KB)
pp. vii-viii

List of Abbreviations

pdf iconDownload PDF (57.8 KB)
pp. ix-xii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (53.0 KB)
pp. xiii-xvi

I am very grateful to Bishop Peter Connors and the priests and people of the Ballarat Diocese, whose generosity and support made possible the doctoral studies during which the initial version of this work was written. I express my appreciation to Ignace Verhack, who was my doctoral supervisor;...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (97.2 KB)
pp. 1-14

Jean-Luc Marion first came to the attention of English-speaking readers with the appearance of God without Being in 1991, almost ten years after its French publication. In this work, Marion tries to develop a way of thinking about God that is not subject to the accusations of onto-theology...

read more

1 Marion's Claims

pdf iconDownload PDF (127.7 KB)
pp. 15-34

In Reduction and Givenness, Marion argues that both Husserl and Heidegger retain limits and conditions for phenomena by conceiving of them as constituted objects (Husserl) or in terms of being (Heidegger). According to Marion, these limits exclude or distort phenomena, especially those...

read more

2 The Hermeneutic Structure of Phenomenality

pdf iconDownload PDF (131.8 KB)
pp. 35-56

One of the recurring questions addressed to Marion concerns the role of hermeneutics in his phenomenology of givenness. Most recently, Richard Kearney has joined philosophers such as Jean Greisch and Jean Grondin in arguing ‘‘that appearing—no matter how iconic or saturated it may...

read more

3 The Theory of Saturated Phenomena

pdf iconDownload PDF (120.2 KB)
pp. 57-74

Marion’s claims about givenness and the self of the phenomenon culminate in his new category of ‘‘saturated’’ phenomena. According to Marion, some phenomena give more intuition than is needed to fill a subject’s intention. Such phenomena are ‘‘saturated’’ with intention, and...

read more

4 Events

pdf iconDownload PDF (223.8 KB)
pp. 75-116

In Kant’s table of categories, the categories of quantity form the first division. Correspondingly, saturation according to quantity is the first type of saturation studied by Marion. The phenomena that he proposes as paradigm- forming for this type of saturation are events. However, Marion’s discussion...

read more

5 Dazzling Idols and Paintings

pdf iconDownload PDF (93.8 KB)
pp. 117-129

The second division in Kant’s table of categories is quality, or intensive magnitude. Marion describes phenomena which are saturated according to quality as dazzling (éblouissant). The intensity of the intuition given by them exceeds our capacity to see and prevents us from perceiving them...

read more

6 Flesh as Absolute

pdf iconDownload PDF (154.2 KB)
pp. 130-158

The third division in Kant’s table of categories is relation. According to Kant, there are three possible types of relation between phenomena: inherence (between substance and accident), causality (between cause and effect), and community (between several substances). Marion adds to...

read more

7 The Face as Irregardable Icon

pdf iconDownload PDF (123.1 KB)
pp. 159-177

The fourth kind of saturated phenomenon proposed by Marion is the phenomenon that is saturated according to modality. These phenomena are ‘‘irregardable’’1—they have an irreducible invisibility which prevents them from being looked at as objects. He proposes three figures of this...

read more

8 Revelation: The Phenomenon of God’s Appearing

pdf iconDownload PDF (196.2 KB)
pp. 178-215

Having considered each mode of saturation individually, Marion concludes his taxonomy of saturated phenomena by introducing a phenomenon that is saturated in all four divisions of Kant’s table of categories. This final instance of saturation is the phenomenon of ‘‘revelation,’’1 which...

read more

Conclusion: Revising the Phenomenology of Givenness

pdf iconDownload PDF (63.3 KB)
pp. 216-220

Marion’s phenomenology of givenness emphatically focuses phenomenology on phenomena themselves—as they give themselves. He carefully exposes how various phenomenological approaches entail limits and conditions on phenomena, and demonstrates the failings of theories that...


pdf iconDownload PDF (233.5 KB)
pp. 221-262

Selected Bibliography

pdf iconDownload PDF (108.3 KB)
pp. 263-278


pdf iconDownload PDF (64.9 KB)
pp. 279-284

Further Reading

pdf iconDownload PDF (59.2 KB)
pp. 285-288

E-ISBN-13: 9780823247998
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823231089
Print-ISBN-10: 0823231089

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2009