Chapter 5 Phenomenology as a Transformative Experience: Heidegger and the Grammar of Middle Voice

In: Phenomenology as Performative Exercise
Author: Lucilla Guidi

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Abstract

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.