Academic journal article Philosophy Today

"Appearing as Such" in Patocka's A-Subjective Phenomenology

Academic journal article Philosophy Today

"Appearing as Such" in Patocka's A-Subjective Phenomenology

Article excerpt

According to Patocka, the problem of "appearing" defines the most original task of philosophy. Philosophy, he thinks, was born when this peculiar fact was revealed to men: that beings not only are, but more essentially appear. In other words, the original wondering about the being of beings (why are there beings at all, rather than nothing?) presupposes that beings have already appeared themselves in their act of being. ' Being itself is something that appears in the act of making or letting beings be, even if this appearing withdraws as such from die appearing beings and cannot be reduced to any objective or thematic phenomenon.2 The being of beings consists in appearing, and the task of philosophy is to describe this appearing as it is as such, as the general a priori structure grounding any appearing of any being whatsoever.

Appearing "as such" is therefore not "an" appearing being. It is radier the appearing of the appearing being. It is not a question of dealing wim, Patocka insists several times, "the appearing being (das Erscheinende)" but with "the appearing {das Erscheinen), the appearing of the appearing being (das Erscheinen des Erscheinenden)."3 As long as we attempt to analyze appearing as such through this or that particular appearing thing-as exemplary or as eminent as we want it to be-it lays concealed and obliterated behind me appearing thing. The first step to approach appearing as such is, then, to recognize its essential difference with regard to the appearing being. Appearing as such is not an appearing being ("appearing as such is not a being [Seiendes]"),4 i.e., it does not appear (only appearing beings appear). This means that "appearing as such" is an "appearing" in me verbal and not in the substantial sense of die word; it is not the phainómenon, but die phainesthai of the phainómenon. Appearing as such is die action or die movement which brings the appearing thing into its appearing; it is not another being (a "cause" of appearing), but the very coming-into-appearing or the very arrival-into-appearing (in-Erscheinung-Treten) of appearing beings.

Phenomenology-i.e., philosophy in its most authentic form, since being is essentially appearing-is the "aprioristic science concerning the essential laws of die appearing of appearing beings."5 According to Patocka, modern philosophy had begun to recover tiiis program of thinking only with Husserl's logical Investigations. Indeed, re-directing our observation from appearing objects and tiieir objectivity toward the "how" of tiieir apparition or toward tiieir "modes of appearing," Husserl

had discovered the realm of phenomenon, the realm of the apparition in its appearing, which the philosophical tradition until then had never brought into view as such, but each time reconverted to the structures of the appearing being in its particularity.6

Phenomenology attempts to discover the pure appearing of phenomena in general; phenomenology is-to put it in the terms of The Idea of Phenomenology, often quoted by Patocka-the "science of pure phenomena."7 "Pure" means here, above all, mat appearing has to be purified from appearing beings and from their objectivity. The "pure appearing" of phenomena is their manifestation "purged of all objective positing,"8 their simple appearing or appearing in its essential difference from any appearing being.

All mis represents however only the "initial impulse" of phenomenology. Very soon, Husserl's work - precisely from The Idea of Phenomenology on, as we will see-will take a turn in which this original task, along witii appearing as such, will be forgotten. It is true that, for Patocka, Husserl will never totally abandon mis problematic, not even in the end (especially not in the end).9 But after die Logical Investigations, a period begins in which the thought of what constitutes me most peculiar characteristic of appearing as such-its difference with regard to the appearing beings-will be missed: Husserl "couldn't entirely formulate this difference (even though he had it in mind). …

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