In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

35 3 Response to the Alien The question concerning the kind of experience in which the alien comes to appear is inseparably linked to the further question of how we meet this alien. This question is reflected in the motif of responsivity which is not conceivable without an ethical dimension. A responsive ethics which is guided by this motif, however, goes deeper than a philosophy of morals which from the beginning relies on commandments, rights, or values. The alien call is not indifferent, unlike a fact which does not concern us; however, this does not mean that it is subject to definite standards of validity. Rather, without an element of amorality, every morality sinks down into the herd morality. 1. Responsivity A phenomenon like the alien, which shows itself only by eluding us, could be characterized as ahyperphenomenon. Accordingly, Husserl characterizes the alien as “a verifiable accessibility of what is inaccessible originally” (Hua I:144), and in one of his volumes, On the Phenomenology of Intersubjectivity (Hua XV:631), he speaks in a similarly paradoxical fashion about the “accessibility in genuine inaccessibility, in the mode of incomprehensibility .”1 On the social level, one encounters the corresponding structure of “belonging in non-belonging”: everybody who belongs to a family, people, caste, religious community, or culture never entirely belongs to it. Remoteness, distance, farness, as well as the moments of solitude and being-out-of-place to which phenomenologists often refer in their analyses of alien experience, do not mean a diminishing of this experience; rather, they belong to its essence. At the core of any phenomenology of the alien one finds the insight that an experience of the alien, as we have characterized it above, does not mean a deficit, just as our experience of what lies in the past or in the future is in no way deficient. The radical character of the alien does not mean that the alien is something entirely different from the own and the familiar; however, it does mean that it can neither be deduced from the own nor subsumed under the general. As something which withdraws, the alien is not only a hyperphenomenon, 36 C H A P T E R 3 but also a primordial phenomenon, like the phenomenon of contrast (see Hua XI:138). For this very reason, each alien experience is located on the hither side of sense and rule, that is, measured against the sense toward which we understand something and ourselves, and measured against the rules by which we operate when treating somebody or something in this or that fashion. The common characteristics of intentionality and regularity on which the emergence of a common world depends are not replaced by responsivity, but are certainly surpassed by it. Responsivity designates “answerability,” which precedes the responsibility for everything that we do and say.2 Here we see traces of a different phenomenology which is not confined to the realm of sense; its logos shows features of an originary heterology. The transgression of the sphere of an intentional or rulegoverned sense takes place in responding to an alien demand that does not have sense and does not follow rule, but which interrupts the familiar formations of sense and rule, thus provoking the creation of new ones. What I say in response owes its meaning to the challenge to which I respond. The alien which appears to us as the call of the alien or the outlook from the alien loses its alienness if the responsive difference between that to which we respond and that to which we answer is replaced by an intentional or rule-guided sense process. The responsive difference disappears behind a significative or hermeneutic difference in which something is apprehended or understood as something, and it disappears behind a regulative difference in which something is treated according to a norm. The phenomenological, hermeneutic, or regulative “as” hides the experience of the alien when understanding and communication deny their responsive character. The alien as alien requires a responsive form of phenomenology that begins with that which challenges us, calls upon us, or puts our own possibilities in question in an alienating, shocking, or amazing fashion before we enter into our own wanting-to-know and wanting-to-understand situation. The pathos of the alien surpasses its questionability. It is, however , not the case that we replace the traditional primacy of questioning, which occurs either as a question of fact directly corresponding to a desire for knowledge or as an intersubjective...


Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.