Quiet Powers of the Possible: Interviews in Contemporary French Phenomenology

Quiet Powers of the Possible: Interviews in Contemporary French Phenomenology

Quiet Powers of the Possible: Interviews in Contemporary French Phenomenology

Quiet Powers of the Possible: Interviews in Contemporary French Phenomenology

Synopsis

Quiet Powers of the Possible offers an excellent introduction to contemporary French phenomenology through a series of interviews with its most prominent figures.
Guided by rigorous questions that push into the most important aspects of the latest phenomenological research, the book gives readers a comprehensive sense of each thinker's intellectual history, motivations, and philosophical commitments.
The book introduces readers to debates that have not previously been accessible to the English-speaking world, such as the growing interest in the phenomenological concept of life in its affective and even vital dimensions, the emerging dialogue with the analytic philosophy of mind and language, and reassessments of the so-called theological turn.
The diversity of approaches collected here has its origin in a deeper debate about the conceptual and historical foundations of phenomenology itself. In this way the book offers the most accessible and wide-ranging introduction to French phenomenology to have appeared in the English-speaking world to date.

Excerpt

RICHARD KEARNEY

The title of this work comes from a closing line in Heidegger’s Being and Time. He is speaking of the future of phenomenology as a promise of things to come—a sentiment already anticipated in an opening claim of the book: “In phenomenology possibility stands higher than actuality.” For Heidegger this spelled a revolutionary reversal of the old metaphysical paradigm of being as presence, substance, and act and a radical openness to new kinds of questioning.

The first generation of French phenomenologists was deeply influenced by this opening. Or, to be more precise, by the momentous legacy of the three Hs: Hegel, Husserl, and Heidegger. Lévinas and Sartre were the first to translate the exciting philosophical messages arriving from Germany in the late twenties and early thirties. Ricoeur and Merleau-Ponty took up the running in the forties and fifties, with Derrida, Irigaray, and others refining and refashioning the legacy of the three Hs well into the sixties and seventies. If the first great wave of phenomenology was decidedly German, the second was ingeniously French. But the promise of phenomenology was far from exhausted by these two extraordinary generations. A third was soon to follow, as the current volume powerfully demonstrates. Covering an important span of thinking and writing from the 1980s to the present day, the authors interviewed in this volume show how phenomenology’s “quiet power of the possible” had unsuspected strengths and resources that mobilized a whole new set of philosophical conversations. Surviving both the structuralist and poststructuralist challenges, this emerging generation . . .

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