This chapter explores Heidegger’s account of phenomenology as an exercise and a way of life, by addressing the transformative experience that phenomenological language performatively expresses. It claims that this transformative experience means acknowledging the ungrounded character of Dasein, i.e. the opacity of the inherited practices and the openness of action. Moreover, by referring to the analysis of the middle voice by the French linguist Benveniste, the contribution shows how the relation to one’s ungrounded Dasein enables a transformation of oneself. It further suggests—against Heidegger’s ontologico-political paradigm—that the task of acknowledging the ungrounded character of Dasein cannot be accomplished by the thinker, the poet and the state founder, but remains an ordinary and never fully accomplished task for every Dasein. Finally, by sketching out a number of examples of middle voice practices, it argues that the grammar of the middle voice may offer a new grammar for political action, one that is no longer founded on a sovereign account of subjectivity.
This volume, edited by Lucilla Guidi and Thomas Rentsch, establishes the first systematic connection between phenomenology and performativity. On the one hand, it outlines the performativity of phenomenology by exploring its enactment and the transformation of attitude it effects; this exploration is conducted through a number of parallels between phenomenology and the ancient understanding of philosophy as an exercise and a way of life. On the other hand, the volume examines different notions of performativity from a phenomenological perspective, so as to show that a phenomenological understanding of embodied experience complements a linguistic account of performativity and can also offer a ground for bodily practices of resistance, critique, and self-transformation in our own day and age.