Three essays in the present issue result from a recent conference focused on the thought of Jean-Luc Marion, hosted online by the Academia Nacional de Ciencias de Buenos Aires and the Universidad del Salvador. The theme this year addressed feelings and moods, a topic seldom considered in the secondary literature, despite Marion occasionally being recognized as a “philosopher of love.” Primarily known for his notions of givenness, saturated phenomena, revelation, and his rigorous and detailed scholarship on Descartes, Marion’s contributions to a phenomenology of affectivity may seem ancillary to these predominant concepts. Yet, an attentive inspection of his complete corpus reveals a central preoccupation with this theme, supported by Marion’s own words in the opening to The Erotic Phenomenon in which he wrote that this work “has obsessed me since the publication of The idol and Distance in 1977. All the books I have published since them bear the mark, explicit or hidden, of this concern [love].”
Nonetheless, love is not the only affect detected in Marion’s writings. Various moods have been examined, including boredom, melancholia, grief, and hatred. By exploring these dimensions of affectivity, the three essays included here make notable contributions to the extant literature on Marion’s thought. Vinolo’s essay establishes a conversation between Marion and Jean-Paul Sartre, joining two philosophers rarely, if ever, mentioned in the same sentence. Vinolo argues precisely how these two philosophers diverge in their philosophies of love and the implications of this divergence for their respective views on God. Roggero’s essay examines grief as a modality of what he calls Marion’s “hermeneutics of love.” Drawing from writings that span Marion’s career, including his recent book on Courbet, Roggero argues how grief is paradigmatic for showing love’s capacity to phenomenalize what is typically passed over or reduced to objects. Implications for this analysis are demonstrated toward the end of the essay, whereby Roggero considers how a hermeneutics of grief offers an avenue for reflecting upon the present ecological crisis. Pizzi’s essay brings together Marion’s phenomenology of affectivity with the mystical theology of Nicolas of Cusa. Pizzi’s interweaving of these two thinkers elucidates a converging dissolution of the boundaries between affectivity and rationality, demonstrating how love is no mere derivative phenomenon that plays second fiddle to reason but is a form of reason itself, one more fundamental than a reason that thinks itself distinct from feelings and moods.
These three essays are a robust sampling of the insightful and scholarly talks given at that conference held in November 2021. They illustrate how Marion’s thought does not, as a prominent contemporary philosopher believes, “formalize everything, drain it of any existential life, and leave it phenomenologically desiccated, like dried coconut.” Such a conclusion could only be reached by a highly selective reading of Marion’s texts or an aversion to the religious implications of such thought. Instead, a fertile wellspring is discovered that, in bringing phenomenology to bear on life, infuses life into phenomenology, so long as one knows where and how to look for it.