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21 2 Between Pathos and Response If we presume that the alien transgresses the boundaries of every order, the question arises as to what an experience in which such a transgression takes place would be like. It is not to be expected that a combination of sense and rule, of the intentional and rule-guided acts of a subject, along with the consensual agreement between different subjects, can stand up to the challenges of the alien. The alternative envisioned here appears in a form of phenomenology which is grounded in pathos and directed toward responsivity; yet this alternative takes us to the margins of a particular kind of phenomenology and hermeneutics, aiming merely at the interpretation of sense. 1. In the Realm of Sense Similarly to Freud, who introduces the unconscious as the shibboleth of psychoanalysis, one could say that intentionality is the shibboleth of phenomenology . In its precise definition, intentionality means that something shows itself as something,1 that something is meant, given, understood, or treated in a certain way, namely, the green of new grass, a bloodstain, the taste of strawberries, a table, a Pegasus, an Arabic number, a love letter, a computer text program, a feverish infection, an attack, a terrorist act, and so on. The formula something as something means that something (actual , possible, or impossible) is linked to something else (a sense, a meaning ) and is at the same time separated from it. Reality and sense cannot be set against each other like characteristics or values. Like a fugue which connects the unconnected, the miniature “as” marks a broken connection . Merleau-Ponty speaks of a zero point, joint, or fold that characterizes the emergence of sense and Gestalt. The “as” does not form a third entity which pushes between two initial realities of which one is real and the other ideal, or of which one is physical and the other psychic. Rather, it marks a dynamic structure without which there would literally be nothing which shows itself, and thus nobody to whom something appears. Nothing is given without being given as such, and nobody responds to it without acting as somebody. Leaning in on that aspect of this differentiat- 22 C H A P T E R 2 ing process, which generates meaning, I have often spoken of significative difference. In comparison with the basic character of this differentiating process, the recourse to acts of endowment with meaning appears as a specific interpretation. The fact that I notice a slip of the tongue, a note on the door, or a strange sound from an engine does not yet have the character of an act which I attribute to myself. If we hold on to the genuine differentiating character of the doctrine of meaning, there are not only connections across the different versions of phenomenology, but also links to a hermeneutics of Dasein, to the interpretation of traditions and texts, to semiotic approaches, and, last but not least, to analytic philosophy, following Frege and Wittgenstein. This makes the idea of a paradigm shift in phenomenology from the philosophy of consciousness to semantics, as proposed by Ernst Tugendhat , much less plausible. Despite all the differences and discrepancies between the alternatives mentioned here, something common comes to the fore, leading to a philosophy of sense. In turn, the latter brings the usual epistemological fights, like the one between realism and idealism, to a dead end, simultaneously ending the tug of war between subject and object. The division into outer and inner worlds, which was introduced by John Locke and reintroduced repeatedly after him, calls for a complementary third world of ideas, as it has proved to be a construction which leaves the ground of experience before it has even found it. An experience imbued with intentionality takes place neither inside nor outside. Similarly, the separation of empirical data and general ideas comes to be undermined. As with the formation of sense and Gestalt, from the beginning , experience tends toward generalization, without relying on data for its basis. The “as” and “how” inherent in intentionality imply the possibility of repetition and thus an ideality in a genetic and operative sense, prior to all eidetic or categorial intuition. In other words, an intentional and differential experience brings about a multiplicity of horizontal and vertical mediations, without relying on a ready-made reason or a directing subject. Rather, reason and subject themselves undergo a genesis. Phenomenology with the concept of a sense- and experience-horizon institutes a liminal concept par excellence...


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