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  • Introduction
  • Alia Al-Saji and Andrew Cutrofello

Phenomenology has always dwelled on the borders. Its methods border on those of psychology, logic, and anthropology; its contents, on those of virtually every other discipline. From the beginning phenomenology has been concerned with beginnings and endings—temporal borders—and with finite and infinite forms (spatial borders). Philosophically, phenomenology borders on existentialism, hermeneutics, philosophy of religion, feminism, critical race theory, psychoanalysis, cognitive science, and other fields of inquiry. Such borders are obviously not well defined, which is not to say that they do not exist. Phenomenology dwells on its borders by letting itself be challenged about how it represents them. To dwell on borders is not only to live on them but to think about what they do, how they abide and change, and how they undergird or destabilize our thinking. Directly or indirectly, the articles in this special issue of the Journal of Speculative Philosophy all dwell on phenomenology’s borders. They were presented at the fifty-sixth annual meeting of the Society for Phenomenology and [End Page 325] Existential Philosophy. The meeting was hosted by the University of Memphis, October 19–21, 2017.

In her co-director’s address, “Hesitation as Philosophical Method—Travel Bans, Colonial Durations, and the Affective Weight of the Past,” Alia Al-Saji begins by presenting “a critical phenomenology of borders and travel bans.” As an Iraqi-Canadian national who frequently travels to the United States to attend academic conferences, Al-Saji is well situated to describe what it is like to be subjected to the various travel bans that the Trump administration has put into effect. Moving from first-person description to phenomenological analysis, she uses her experience to theorize a conception of hesitation as philosophical method. This leads to a novel understanding of the relationship between the present and the past. Much as Faulkner said that “the past is never dead. It’s not even past,” Al-Saji argues that the past is never complete. This is true of the colonial past, which persists in the present not like a deadweight on the bodies of the living but as a fractured phenomenon whose sense can be reconfigured through a form of critical hesitation.

Walter Mignolo’s plenary address, “Decoloniality and Phenomenology: The Geopolitics of Knowing and Epistemic/Ontological Colonial Differences,” deals with phenomenology’s borders in a colonial and decolonial context. Mignolo first encountered the works of Edmund Husserl as a student in Córdoba, Argentina. Fascinated by Husserl’s account of the relationship between transcendental phenomenology and the lifeworld, he was also disconcerted by Husserl’s representation of Europeanness as a universal ideal. As Mignolo explains, he went on to study semiotics instead of philosophy but continued to think about how Husserl’s conception of the lifeworld might be repurposed in a decolonial context. His address at the meeting gave him the opportunity to explore this topic via Aníbal Quijano’s account of the “coloniality of knowledge.”

Ashley J. Bohrer received the Junior Scholar Award for her article “Color-Blind Racism in Early Modernity: Race, Colonization, and Capitalism in the Work of Francisco de Vitoria.” While Bohrer agrees with scholars such as Leslie Carr and Eduardo Bonilla-Silva that we are living in an age of so-called color-blind racism, she argues that forms of color-blind racist philosophy emerged much earlier than is usually thought. She supports her thesis by showing how the sixteenth-century Spanish philosopher Francisco de Vitoria introduced a conception of universal human rights of travel and commerce to justify colonization in the Americas, allowing [End Page 326] European settlers free movement and open access while criminalizing indigenous resistance.

Güçsal Pusar received the Graduate Student Award for his article “Heidegger on Kant, Finitude, and the Correlativity of Thinking and Being.” Between 1929 and 1961 Heidegger presented three different interpretations of Kant’s “supreme principle of synthetic judgments,” namely, that the conditions of the possibility of experience are the conditions of the possibility of the objects of experience. Each time Heidegger revisits this principle he tries to reveal an excessive element that eludes Kant’s account of the correlativity of thinking and being. Yet, as Pusar shows, Heidegger...


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