Translator Sarah Horton
Phenomenology must begin to acknowledge the organic, animal nature of the body instead of focusing only on the pure subjectivity of the flesh. Mediating between Descartes’s extended body (a mere object that is entirely distinct from the self) and Husserl’s lived body (the flesh that is the self), the spread body is the organic body that I have, that is not simply myself and yet is mine. This essay reveals the steep cost of phenomenology’s neglect of the body, which produces a discarnation, or dissolution of the flesh itself. The “flesh without body” vanishes into transparency, exemplified by Descartes’ “madmen” who lose all connection to their organic bodies, to the point of supposing that their bodies are glass. Because organicity is in fact proper to us, denying or rejecting its import can lead only to madness.
An Essay on the Powers of Thinking
Jason M. Wirth
Continental philosophy, beginning with Kant, has found itself exposed to the abyss of reason. This crisis makes it a more ready dialogue partner with some of the Zen tradition. I explore this opening by bringing Eihei Dōgen (1200–1253) into an encounter with Continental thought, broadly construed. Rather than demonstrate how Dōgen already fits within Continental thought or re-engineering the latter so that he can fit, I argue that this encounter, already precipitated by Continental philosophy’s own acknowledgement of the felix culpa of Western philosophy’s otherwise indefensible overreach, transforms and expands the manners in which thinking counts as philosophical. This is no less than to recover a sense of philosophy as genetic and creative, rather than a shopworn tool kit of universal insights.
Between Word and Touch
A precarious balance exists between remaining faithful to one’s own language and history while also maintaining an ethical attentiveness to the Other. The danger in the former is the penchant for colonizing and violently reducing the Other. The danger of the later is a supine servility and inability to offer a linguistic home for welcoming the Other. To navigate these two extremes, the conditional hospitality of Ricoeur’s hermeneutics is brought into dialogue with the unconditional hospitality of Derrida’s deconstruction. What is needed is the more embodied approach of a carnal hospitality that assists in discerning the right ways of touching and not touching, of uniting word and body, teaching us how to incarnate the impossible possibility of reconciliation and forgiveness with the stranger.
This essay follows the assumption that the first principle of classical metaphysics has its counterpart in political sovereignty as suprema potestas. Therefore, both can be equally described as arché. Their epitome is the God of so-called ontotheology, who thus proves to be what I call the Ur-Arché. In contrast to current post-metaphysical approaches, however, I suggest overcoming ontotheology through a different metaphysics, which emphasizes the self-transcending surplus character of being. I regard early Christian martyrdom as an eminent way in which the surplus of being is manifested. This has two interwoven aspects, one ontological and one political, both arising from the excessive idea of the Christ event, or the notion that there is life beyond life unto death. I will analyse the mechanism allowing early Christian martyrs to counteract Roman imperial sovereignty. Finally, I will relate this to contemporary life systems in which sovereignty has become anonymous biopower.