I consider in this article Heidegger’s late characterization of phenomenology as a “phenomenology of the inapparent.” Phenomenology is traditionally considered to be a thought of presence, assigned to a phenomenon that is identified with the present being, or with an object for consciousness. The phenomenon would be synonymous with presence itself, with what manifests itself in a presence. However, I will suggest in the following pages that phenomenology is haunted by the presence of a certain unappearing dimension, a claim that was made by Heidegger in his last seminar in 1973, when he characterized the most proper sense of phenomenology as a “phenomenology of the inapparent.” I attempt to show in what sense for Heidegger the “inapparent” plays in phenomenality and in phenomenology, and to then consider (drawing from Levinas and Derrida) its ethical import.
Derrida often insists that ethics must be the experience and encounter of a certain impossible. A proposition all the more troubling, as it is proposed by Derrida in the context of a return precisely to the conditions of possibility of ethics. It will appear that returning to the possibilities of ethics implies a return to its limits, to its aporias, which are both constitutive and incapacitating, possibilizing and impossibilizing. The purpose of this paper is to begin exploring this aporetic structure of ethics and to identify how it is tied to the impossible. I will pursue this inquiry by reconstituting how Derrida appropriates Heidegger's expression of "possibility of the impossible," and by reconstituting the aporias of the law, of moral decision, of responsibility, and of an ethics of hospitality as welcome of the event of otherness.