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Phenomenologies of the Stranger

Between Hostility and Hospitality

Richard Kearney

Publication Year: 2011

What is strange? Or better, who is strange? When do we encounter the strange? We encounter strangers when we are not at home: when we are in a foreign land or a foreign part of our own land. From Freud to Lacan to Kristeva to Heidegger, the feeling of strangeness-das Unheimlichkeit-has marked our encounter with the other, even the other within our self. Most philosophical attempts to understand the role of the Stranger, human or transcendent, have been limited to standard epistemological problems of other minds, metaphysical substances, body/soul dualism and related issues of consciousness and cognition. This volume endeavors to take the question of hosting the stranger to the deeper level of embodied imagination and the senses (in the Greek sense of aisthesis). This volume plays host to a number of encounters with the strange. It asks such questions as: How does the embodied imagination relate to the Stranger in terms of hospitality or hostility (given the common root of hostis as both host and enemy)? How do we distinguish between projections of fear or fascination, leading to either violence or welcome? How do humans sensethe dimension of the strange and alien in different religions, arts, and cultures? How do the five physical senses relate to the spiritual senses, especially the famous sixthsense, as portals to an encounter with the Other? Is there a carnal perception of alterity, which would operate at an affective, prereflective, preconscious level? What exactly do embodied imaginariesof hospitality and hostility entail, and how do they operate in language, psychology, and social interrelations (including racism, xenophobia, and scapegoating)? And what, finally, are the topical implications of these questions for an ethics and practice of tolerance and peace?

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-

We wish to express our gratitude to those who so generously helped in the preparation of this volume, especially the assistants of the Guestbook seminar and conference held at Boston College in 2009 where most of the papers in this...

Prelude

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pp. 1-36

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At the Threshold: Foreigners, Strangers, Others

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pp. 3-29

This volume plays host to a number of texts that serve as ‘‘phenomenologies of the stranger.’’ Who is the stranger? When and how does the stranger appear? And why does the question of the stranger matter so much, to philosophers...

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Presentation of Texts

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pp. 30-36

The texts in this volume play host to a number of encounters with the strange. They ask such questions as: How does the embodied imagination relate to the Stranger in terms of hospitality or hostility (given the common root of...

Part I: At the Edge of the World

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pp. 37-79

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1. Strangers at the Edge of Hospitality

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pp. 39-48

Strangers at the edge? Where else would they be? The edge is their place—or equally their non-place, since the edge is no place to be: no place to be comfortable, to be identified, to have the status of a citizen or homeowner...

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2. Putting Hospitality in Its Place

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pp. 49-66

For the past several decades, continental philosophy has exhibited an ongoing concern with what we might call liminal phenomena, among them friendship, the gift, mourning, responsibility, forgiveness, and hospitality. Of course, to call these...

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3. Things at the Edge of the World

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pp. 67-79

Confronted by the snake, an emissary of the strange, D. H. Lawrence is conflicted from the beginning, switching in a trice from fear and hostility to wonder and hospitality. Eventually, he throws a log at the snake, declaring, ‘‘And immediately...

Part II. Sacred Strangeness

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pp. 81-141

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4. Hospitality and the Trouble with God

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pp. 83-97

God is trouble. The name of God is the name of trouble, the name of a disturbance. It solicits us and visits itself upon us, like an uninvited stranger knocking on our door. It is a provocation and an interruption...

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5. The Hospitality of Listening: A Note on Sacramental Strangeness

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pp. 98-108

Among the most promising-seeming possibilities for an ethics linked to theology—always a risky proposition—is that of regarding the world as sacramental. A sacramental sensibility seems, potentially at least, a way to a valuing of some aspects of the world...

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6. Incarnate Experience

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pp. 109-125

This essay concerns different kinds of experiences that pertain to corporeality. In particular, I appeal to descriptions that suggest and illuminate a unique mode of corporeal experience that is distinct from what we usually understand as embodiment...

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7. The Time of Hospitality—Again

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pp. 126-141

How does someone dreaming, wondering about half-forgotten stories in dead languages, (something about a boy who seeks hospitality from Death only to find that Death is not at home and awaits him . . .) find a door, at least a narrow passage to slip into the discursive...

Part III: The Uncanny Revisited

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pp. 143-211

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8. The Null Basis-Being of a Nullity, Or Between Two Nothings: Heidegger’s Uncanniness

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pp. 145-154

At times, reading a classical philosophical text is like watching an ice floe break up during global warming. The compacted cold assurance of a coherent system begins to become liquid and great conceptual pieces break off before your eyes and begin...

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9. Heidegger and the Strangeness of Being

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pp. 155-167

It was sheer serendipity that brought us together, but there we were. The original question was innocent enough: ‘‘How are we to understand hospitality?’’ Even when sharpened into ‘‘What can phenomenology tell us about welcoming...

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10. Progress in Spirit: Freud and Kristeva on the Uncanny

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pp. 168-195

In the penultimate chapter of Strangers to Ourselves (1989), Julia Kristeva distills the ‘‘political and ethical impact of the Freudian breakthrough.’’1 Surfacing at the close of an invigorating cultural (and classically Kristevan) romp through political...

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11. The Uncanny Strangeness of Maternal Election: Levinas and Kristeva on Parental Passion

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pp. 196-211

In his essay ‘‘The Uncanny,’’ Sigmund Freud describes the uncanny as what is concealed and frightening in the familiar and agreeable or vice versa.1 He moves from discussing animated dolls, the Sandman’s fear of losing his eyes as castration anxiety...

Part IV: Hosts and Guests

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pp. 213-283

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12. Being, the Other, the Stranger

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pp. 215-231

If philosophizing is not merely a matter of attending to everything, including things that are of no vital concern to us, but rather requires that one become conscious of what one is doing when one engages with questions, then we must start by recognizing...

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13. Words of Welcome: Hospitality in the Philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas

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pp. 232-241

Emmanuel Levinas signals the importance of hospitality for his approach to ethics and religion about two-thirds of the way through his first major work, Totality and Infinity: No human or interhuman relationship can be enacted outside...

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14. Neither Close nor Strange: Levinas, Hospitality, and Genocide

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pp. 242-257

At the outset of Totality and Infinity, Emmanuel Levinas defines the Other (l’Autrui)—the overarching theme of all his work—in terms of the stranger. He writes: The absolutely other is the Other. He and I do not form a number...

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15. Between Mourning and Magnetism: Derrida and Waldenfels on the Art of Hospitality

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pp. 258-273

Plutarch recounts a scene in the life of the Athenian lawmaker Solon (sixth century BC), when another Greek sage, Anacharsis, has come to visit: ‘‘Anacharsis, coming to Athens, knocked at Solon’s door, and told him, that he, being a stranger...

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16. The Stranger in the Polis: Hospitality in Greek Myth

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pp. 274-283

By the gates of Thebes the stranger has no name. For to be given a name, or to give oneself a name, is to identify oneself as someone, and therefore as not a stranger anymore. Naming the stranger amounts to depriving him of his strangeness and appropriating...

Notes

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pp. 285-332

Contributors

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pp. 333-336

Index of Names

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pp. 337-339

Perspectives in Continental Philosophy

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pp. 341-344


E-ISBN-13: 9780823249220
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823234615
Print-ISBN-10: 0823234614

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2011

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Strangers -- Congresses.
  • Hospitality -- Congresses.
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