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Jean-François Lavigne

Abstract

What does M. Henry mean when he reproaches western philosophical tradition with its “ontological monism”? Isn’t his radically immanent phenomenology of life itself monistic? How then to distinguish clearly between these two forms of ‘ontological monism’?

This paper tries first to state a clear definition of ontological monism as a general structure of traditional thought, in order to contrast it then with phenomenological dualism, as the point of view from which this monistic interpretation of being can be set forth. As a consequence, Henry’s upsetting phenomenology can appear as a deepened dualistic reinterpretation of intentionality and consciousness. But this first upsetting conversion needs to be upset again in its turn: the radical phenomenology of life reveals itself as far more ‘monistic’ than previous “classical” phenomenologies. Hence the appeal to a radical criticism, which enhances Henry’s necessarily dualistic ontological presupposition.