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  • Introduction
  • Gail Weiss and Andrew Cutrofello

This special issue of the Journal of Speculative Philosophy offers a wonderful sample of the innovative scholarship that was presented at the fifty-seventh annual meeting of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy (SPEP), which was hosted by Pennsylvania State University, October 18–20, 2018. We have chosen the title "Critical Phenomenologies: Past, Present, and Future" for this volume because the essays included within it pay close critical attention to temporally thick features of our everyday lived experience. While some of the essays would more readily be identified as "phenomenological" than others, all of them offer valuable contributions to the project of a critical phenomenology as Lisa Guenther describes it in Solitary Confinement: Social Death and its Afterlives. Critical phenomenology, she tells us, "continues the phenomenological tradition of taking first-person experience as the starting point for philosophical reflection and also resists the tendency to privilege transcendental subjectivity over transcendental intersubjectivity."1 In addition, and equally important, critical phenomenology utilizes phenomenology's descriptive methodology not just to reveal what is positively present in a situation but also to [End Page 341] highlight and address constitutive omissions, particularly those with social, political, and ethical implications. It is the critical phenomenologist's clear-sighted, incisive, yet loving attention to these lacunae, and her concomitant rejection of the abstract ideal of an ideologically neutral description of reality, that distinguishes this approach.

Before providing more detail about each of the essays included in this volume, we would like to offer a quick tour of the table of contents to sketch out the trajectory of the volume as a whole. We begin with an essay by Robert Pippin, one of this year's plenary speakers, that presents his influential reinterpretation of Hegel. Next, we turn to the fundamental phenomenological domains of language, speech, and intentionality (Rachel Aumiller and John Montani's prizewinning essays). In the section entitled "Critical Intersections and Queer Interventions" our authors offer intersectional understandings of (de)coloniality (Emma D. Velez), freedom and invention (William Michael Paris), queer self-harm (Chris Jingchao Ma), and ability and disability (Joel Michael Reynolds). The next section, "Challenging Forms of Life and Thought," includes essays on a Beauvoirian "art of living" (Céline Leboeuf), the nonrational domains of the unconscious and madness (Keith Whitmoyer and Hannah Venable), and the impossibility of distinguishing thought and information in our contemporary, virtually interconnected life (Brent Adkins). The final section, "Affecting Others and Othering Affects," begins with an exploration of the role played by graphic texts in the experience and reception of Greek tragic dramas (Ian Maley) and then turns to Jan Patočka's account of how self-awareness "passes through the other" (Jakub Čapek). The third essay suggests that concentration camp prisoners' shame offers an affective resistance to dehumanization (Debra Bergoffen), and the concluding article reflects on the relationship between disgust and (the failure of) political judgment in Arendt's "Reflections on Little Rock" (Vilde Aavitsland).

Pippin's "Idealism and Anti-idealism in Modern European Thought" clarifies the nature of Hegel's idealism and assesses the main lines of criticism that have been directed against it by anti-Hegelians such as Schelling, Marx, Adorno, Derrida, Lyotard, Levinas, and Heidegger. On Pippin's account, Hegel's idealism isn't a traditional metaphysical doctrine about ultimate reality (e.g., that nature is grounded in spirit) but rather a logical doctrine about the knowability of everything that can be known. He acknowledges that Hegel himself paved the way for misinterpretations [End Page 342] of his philosophy by seemingly turning away from "purely ideal theory" to embrace "historical actuality," only to identify a "rational core" of historical actuality that is "ultimately available only to pure philosophy or pure thinking." According to Pippin, the key question for Hegel is whether or not reason is self-sufficient. If it is, as Hegel argues, then "pure thinking" is nothing but the process by which reason determines the form of the knowable. If it is not, as many of Hegel's critics have contended, then the onus is on the critics to explain how and why reason fails to recognize its own limitations. Pippin addresses three anti-Hegelian positions: those...


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