Eschatology and Positivism
Eschatology and Positivism
The Critique of Phenomenology in Derrida and Foucault
Abstract and Keywords
Phenomenology has shown a remarkable resilience across the 20th century and has already conceived life through its central concept of Erlebnis, “lived-experience,” or vécu. Therefore, we can ask whether phenomenology itself has already initiated an overcoming of metaphysics. Husserl, of course, thought so. Yet certain critiques in France dating from the 1960s imply that lived-experience consists in a kind of insideness that is not internal and a kind of sameness that is not identity but mixture and ambiguity. If mixture and ambiguity define lived-experience, then it follows that sometimes phenomenology restores Platonism, while at other times it merely reverses Platonism into its opposite. Understood in this way as sameness and insideness, phenomenology does not overcome metaphysics. This chapter shows that phenomenology is not a thought of the outside. The allusion in the phrase “the thought of the outside” is, of course, to Foucault, in particular, to his critique of phenomenology in Words and Things. The other critique comes from Derrida's Voice and Phenomenon. The chapter reconstructs the critique of phenomenology found in Foucault and Derrida.
In his early “What Is Metaphysics?” Heidegger claims that the question expressed in the title of his essay puts the questioner—us—in question. This “putting us in question” then moves toward what Heidegger terms the completion of the transformation of man, understood as subject, into existence (Dasein).1 This complete transformation, for Heidegger, as we know from the introduction that he added to the essay in 1949, amounts to an overcoming (Uberwindung) of metaphysics understood as Platonism or as the mere reversal of Platonism (WM 363 / 279). At this moment, I think it is still necessary to take seriously Heidegger's attempt to overcome metaphysics.2 Heidegger had pointed the way toward the overcoming of metaphysics by calling us to think what he calls the Auseinander of the opening of being itself (WM 369 / 284). How are we to translate into English this German word Auseinander? Perhaps as the “outside of one another” or even as the “outside itself.” No matter what, however, Auseinander implies that, in order to overcome metaphysics, we must have a thought of the outside. A thought of the outside would be a thought that, coming from the outside, is equally a thought about the outside. This outside, it seems to me, is not “the opening of being,” as Heidegger says, but the opening of life. The outside is a place in which life and death indefinitely delimit one another. But to move us to this place of delimitation, we must start with a critique of phenomenology.
(p.46) We must start here because phenomenology has shown a remark-able resilience across the twentieth century. More importantly, we must start here because phenomenology has already conceived life through its central concept of Erlebnis, “lived-experience,” or vécu. Therefore, we can ask whether phenomenology itself has already initiated an overcoming of metaphysics. Husserl, of course, thought so. Yet certain critiques in France dating from the 1960s imply that lived-experience consists in a kind of insideness that is not internal and a kind of sameness that is not identity but mixture and ambiguity. If mixture and ambiguity define lived-experience, then it follows that sometimes phenomenology restores Platonism, while at other times it merely reverses Platonism into its opposite. Understood in this way as sameness and insideness, phenomenology does not overcome metaphysics. Phenomenology is not a thought of the outside—or, at least, that is what I will seek to show. The allusion in the phrase “the thought of the outside” is, of course, to Foucault, in particular, to his critique of phenomenology in Words and Things. The other critique comes from Derrida's Voice and Phenomenon. What I intend to do here is reconstruct the critique of phenomenology found in Foucault and Derrida.3 I will start with Foucault, in particular, with chapter 9 of Words and Things: “Man and His Doubles.”
The Analysis of Lived-Experience (Vécu) Is a Discourse with a Mixed Nature
“Man and His Doubles” contains, of course, Foucault's critique of modern humanism.4 The chapter therefore focuses on man (and not on the human being). Foucault defines man as a double; he is at once an object of knowledge and a subject that knows (MC 323 / 312). Man (again, not the human being) is what occupies, as Foucault says, this “ambiguous position.” The entire critique of humanism unfolds, for Foucault, from this designation of man as “ambiguous,” a designation that recalls, of course, Merleau-Ponty and Sartre. I shall turn to Merleau-Ponty in a moment. In any case, for Foucault, the ambiguity that defines man consists in two senses of finitude. In one sense, finitude consists in the empirical positivities, the empirical contents of “work, life, and language,” which tell man that he is finite (MC 326 / 315). The knowledge of life, for instance, tells man that he is going to die. The other sense is that this finitude is itself fundamental. The forms of knowledge whose very contents tell man that he is finite are themselves finite. For man, there is no intellectual intuition, (p.47) for instance. So finitude is ambiguous between empirical content and foundational forms. For Foucault, this ambiguity of finitude results in an “obligation” to ascend “up to an analytic of finitude.” Here it is necessary to hear the word analytic in its Kantian sense, as a “theory of the subject” (MC 330 / 310). For Foucault, this would be an analytic “where the being of man will be able to found, in their positivity, all the forms that indicate to him that he is not infinite” (MC 326 / 315, my emphasis). This analytic would be the discourse of phenomenology.
The discourse of phenomenology aims, according to Foucault, at a truth that would be neither empirical content nor transcendental form, while trying to keep the empirical and transcendental separated. This is an important qualification, since what is at issue is whether phenomenology can maintain the separation between the empirical and the transcendental. In any case, according to Foucault, phenomenology would be an analytic of man as a subject in this precise sense: man as subject, “that is, as the place of empirical knowledge but led back as close as possible to what makes empirical knowledge possible, and as the pure form that is immediately present to these contents.” Man as subject therefore would be a third and intermediary term in which empiricity and transcendentality would have their roots. According to Foucault, this third and intermediary term has been designated le vécu. Le vécu responds to the “obligation” to analyze finitude, that is, to the obligation to have a theory of the subject. Here is Foucault's definition of le vécu: “lived-experience, in fact, is at once the space where all empirical content is given to experience; it is also the originary form that makes empirical content in general possible.” We can now see the problem with le vécu, indeed, with “man.” Le vécu must be concrete enough so that one could apply to it a descriptive language; yet it must be sufficiently removed from positivity so that it can provide the foundations for empirical positivity. The discourse of vécu tries to make the empirical hold for the transcendental: the empirical is the transcendental and the transcendental is the empirical, or, the content is the form and the form is the content. Lived-experience therefore is a mixture. Thus Foucault says that “the analysis of lived-experience [vécu] is a discourse with a mixed nature: it is addressed to a specific but ambiguous layer” (MC 332 / 321). This analytic “mixes” the transcendental and the empirical together. Therefore the concept of lived-experience, as Foucault understands it—and this is also how Derrida understands it—consists not in an identity of empirical content and foundational (p.48) forms but in a mixture or ambiguity between these two. Here, however, one could plausibly wonder whether such a definition can be found in phenomenology. So let us turn now to Husserl and then to Merleau-Ponty to confirm this definition.
Lived-Experience (Erlebnis, le vécu) in General
We have been discussing Erlebnis; let us turn to Husserl's classic definition of Erlebnis in Ideas I, Section 36, “Intentional Lived-Experiences: Lived-Experiences in General.”5 In order to distinguish what he is doing from psychology, Husserl says, “Rather [than a discourse of real psychological facts; the word real is, of course, important] the discourse here and throughout is about purely phenomenological lived-experiences, that is, their essences, and on that basis, what is ‘a priori’ enclosed in [in beschlossen] their essences with unconditional necessity” (Hua III:1, p. 80).6 It is important that Husserl calls psychological facts “real,” because all purely phenomenological lived-experiences are reelle. What Husserl calls intentional lived-experiences, thoughts in the broadest sense, are reelle, which means that thoughts are internal. Yet intentional lived-experience also contains “the fundamental characteristic of intentionality,” the property of being consciousness of something. This “of something”—the fundamental characteristic of intentionality—means that lived-experience is related to an outside; something comes from the outside into lived-experience. But, Husserl says, “within the concrete unity of an intentional lived-experience,” there are reelle moments, which do not have the fundamental characteristic of intentionality; these reelle moments are the data of sensation. Here, Husserl has discovered something nonintentional and therefore passive at the very heart of lived-experience, something that comes from the outside, and yet he has designated these moments as reelle, and thereby as “enclosed in” das Erlebnis überhaupt. By means of thisüberhaupt and thisin beschlossen,we can conclude already that Erlebnis, in this classic formulation, consists in a sameness that is not identity and an insideness that is not simply internal; in a word, Erlebnis “in general” consists in a mixture.
To demonstrate this sameness and insideness again, I would like to look at another Husserl text: the final version of Husserl's 1927 Encyclopedia Britannica entry for “phenomenology.” This text introduces phenomenology through phenomenological psychology, which, Husserl says, has the task of investigating the totality of lived-experience. More importantly, phenomenological psychology, according (p.49) to Husserl, is an easier way to enter into the transcendental problem that occurred historically with Descartes, namely, that all of reality, and finally the whole world, are for us in existence and in existence in a certain way only as the content of our own representations. Thus everything real has to be related back to us. But this “us” cannot be the psyche, according to Husserl, because the psyche is defined by the mundane sense of being as Vorhandenheit, “presence,” or, more literally, “presence-at-hand.” To use a mundane being—whose ontological sense is Vorhandenheit—to account for the reality of the world (whose ontological sense is also Vorhandenheit) is circular, and this circularity defines psychologism.7 In contrast to psychologism, phenomenology claims, according to Husserl, that there is a parallelism between psychological subjectivity and transcendental subjectivity and that this parallelism involves a deceptive appearance (Schein) of “transcendental duplication.” It is important here, it seems to me, that, while Husserl recognizes that there is some sort of difference between the transcendental and the psychological or the empirical, he does not, we might say, partition off the transcendental from the psychological or empirical. Instead, he says that transcendental subjectivity is defined by Vorhandenheit, too, but “not in the same sense [nicht im selben Sinn].”8 Indeed, Husserl thinks that by saying “not in the same sense” he has eliminated the deceptive appearance and makes the parallelism understandable. He says, “the parallelism of the transcendental and the psychological spheres of experience has become comprehensible … as a kind of identity of the interpenetration [Ineinander] of ontological senses.”9 He also describes this “kind of identity” as “ambiguity” (Zweideutigkeit). Here Husserl thinks the Ineinander, literally, “one in the other,” but not, we might say, the Auseinander, literally, “one outside of the other.” Nevertheless, this Zweideutigkeit and Ineinander should make us think of Merleau-Ponty. So I would like to turn now to Merleau-Ponty, in particular, to his Phenomenology of Perception.10
On the very first page of Phenomenology of Perception, Merleau-Ponty speaks of vécu, and throughout the Phenomenology the word modifies the word monde, “world.” In the chapter called “The Phenomenal Field,” for example, Merleau-Ponty says that “the first philosophical act therefore would be that of returning to the lived-world on this side of the objective world” (PhP 69 / 57). Yet he uses the word as a noun—le vécu—only twice. The first time occurs in the chapter called “Space,” where he says “lived-experience [le vécu] is really lived by me…, but I can live more things than I can think of (p.50) [plus de choses que je m'en représente]. What is only lived is ambivalent” (PhP 343 / 296; my emphasis). For Merleau-Ponty, ambivalence is the crucial characteristic of vécu. And this characteristic guides his analysis of intersubjectivity in Phenomenology of Perception, which is where he uses le vécu for the second time, in the chapter called “Others and the Human World.” There le vécu is defined by selfgivenness (PhP 411 / 358), but this selfgivenness is also given (PhP 413 / 360). In other words, the active is also passive. In this formula we can see the importance of the positive affirmation in the is. This positive affirmation is the heart of ambivalence. Now these two uses of le vécu in Phenomenology of Perception depend, of course, on Merleau-Ponty's appropriation of Husserl's concept of Fundierung. In the chapter called “The Cogito,” Merleau-Ponty speaks of the relation between founding (le fondant) and founded (le fondé) as one that is “equivocal” (équivoque), since “every truth of fact is a truth of reason, every truth of reason is a truth of fact” (PhP 451 / 394; my emphasis).11 Merleau-Ponty also says that the relation between matter and form is a relation of Fundierung: “The form integrates the content to the point that it appears to end up being a simple mode of the form … but recipro-cally … the content remains as a radical contingency, as the first establishment or the foundation of knowledge and action…. It is this dialectic of form and content that we have to restore” (PhP 147–48 / 127). We can now summarize what we see in Merleau-Ponty's concept of le vécu. For Merleau-Ponty, le vécu is ambivalent or equivocal—it is, we could say, a mixture, un mélange—because the content of experience, le sol, as Merleau-Ponty also says, becomes, is integrated into, the form of expression. Phenomenological lived-experience therefore is not defined by identity but by sameness and mixture of form and content, or of empirical and transcendental.
“Un écart infime, mais invincible”
Both Husserl and the early Merleau-Ponty conceive Erlebnis as mixture and ambiguity because both want to overcome the duality of subject and object, or even the duality of what Heidegger calls the ontological difference. In other words, phenomenology is an attempt to overcome Platonism or Cartesianism (dualisms) by mixing together content and form. In both Foucault and Derrida, we find statements asserting that the phenomenological concept of Erlebnis mixes in this way. First we have Foucault's statement in chapter 7of (p.51) Words and Things, called “The Limits of Representation.” Foucault says:
Undoubtedly, it is not possible to give empirical contents transcendental value, or to move them onto the side of a constituting subjectivity, without giving rise, at least silently, to an anthropology, that is, to a mode of thought in which the in principle limits of knowledge [connaissance] are at the same time [en même temps] the concrete forms of existence, precisely as they are given in that same empirical knowledge [savoir]. (MC 261 / 248, my emphasis)12
Even if phenomenology is transcendental, Foucault is saying, it still falls prey to a “silent anthropology.” It takes my present or our present experiences, which are content, as foundational forms. In other words, on the basis of the empirical contents given to me, or, better, to us, phenomenology tries to determine the form of that empirical content. While trying to keep them separate, phenomenology makes the transcendental and the empirical the same. It confuses them (MC 352 / 341). Now, in the Introduction to Voice and Phenomenon, Derrida makes a very similar statement, but he adds something that helps us see the principle of the critique: “Presence has always been and will always be, to infinity, the form in which—we can say this apodictically—the infinite diversity of content will be produced. The opposition—which inaugurates metaphysics—between form and matter finds in the concrete ideality of the living present its ultimate and radical justification” (VP 5 / 6). When Derrida says here that the opposition between form and content finds its ultimate and radical justification, he means that content, the root of empirical positivity, and form, the finality of transcendental foundation, are mixed together in the living present at the same time. Indeed, in both quotes we see that the mixture of subject and object in lived-experience depends on a temporal sameness: “at the same time” or “simultaneity,” en même temps or à la fois. This dependence on temporal sameness tells us already that a critique of the concept of lived-experience will come from a kind of spatial thinking and from a reinstitution of dualisms.
We can see the critique most clearly in Derrida, in chapter 6 of Voice and Phenomenon, “The Voice That Keeps Silent.” Derrida's critique there centers on the concept of presence. Here is the definition of presence he provides: “presence [is] simultaneously [à la fois] …the being-before of the object, available for a look and … proximity to self in interiority. The ‘pre’ of the present ob ject now-before is an against (p.52) [contre] (Gegen wart, Gegen stand) simultaneously [à la fois] in the sense of the wholly against [toutcontre] of proximity and in the sense of the encounter [l'encontre] of the op-posed” (VP 83–84 / 75; Derider'semphasis). Presence, as Derrida understands it, is à la fois close by and proximate, and à la fois far off and distant. In other words, it must be “at the same time” self-presence and presence, the object as repeatable to infinity and the presence of the constituting acts to themselves. For Derrida, this ambiguity between presence of an object and self-presence of a subject is found in the voice of interior monologue, in other words, hearing oneself speak. The primary characteristic of this “absolutely unique type of auto-affection” (VP 88 / 78) is temporality. When I speak to myself silently, the sound is iterated across moments. This temporal iteration is why, as Derrida explains, sound is the most ideal of all signs (VP 86 / 77). Thus, in hearing oneself speak, one still exteriorizes one's thoughts or “meaning-intention” or acts of repetition in the iterated and iterable phonemes. This exteriorization—expression—seems to imply that we have now moved from time to space. But, since the sound is heard by the subject during the time he is speaking, the voice is in absolute proximity to its speaker, “within the absolute proximity of its present” (VP 85 / 76), “absolutely close to me” (VP 87 / 77). The subject lets himself be affected by the phoneme (that is, he hears his own sounds, his own voice, la voix propre) without any detour through exteriority or through the world, or, as Derrida says, without any detour through “the non-proper in general” (VP 88 / 78). Hearing oneself speak is “lived [vécue] as absolutely pure autoaffection” (VP 89 / 79). What makes it be a pure auto-affection, according to Derrida, is that it is “a self-proximity which would be nothing other than the absolute reduction of space in general” (VP 89 / 79). Yet—and this is a crucial “yet”—there is a double here between hearing and speaking. As Derrida says, this pure auto-affection, which is the very root of transcendental Erlebnis, supposes that “a pure difference … divides the presence to oneself” (VP 92 / 82). This difference divides the auto. As Derrida says, “It produces the same as the self-relation within the difference from oneself, the same as the nonidentical” (VP 92 / 82). Being nonidentical, autoaffection is ambiguous. We must understand the nonidentity, however, in the following way: when I hear myself speak, the hearing is a repetition of the speaking that has already disappeared; representation (Vergegenwärtigung) has intervened, and that intervention means, in a word, space. As Derrida says, “the ‘outside’ insinuates itself in the movement by which the (p.53) inside of non-space, what has the name of ‘time,’ appears to itself, constitutes itself, ‘presents’ itself” (VP 96 / 86). Within time, there is a fundamental “spacing” (espacement) (VP 96 / 86).13 Derrida also calls this spacing un écart within le vécu (VP 77 / 69). On the basis of Derrida's use of the word écart, we can rejoin Foucault.
In Words and Things, Foucault says that all of the doubles in which man consists are based on “un écart infime, mais invincible,” “a hiatus, minuscule and yet invincible” (MC 351 / 340). Here we can dissociate an ambiguity in the word infime. This écart is infime, that is, minuscule, insofar as it is minuscule, the écart closes and relates “in the manner of ‘a mixed nature.’ “But this écart is also infime in the sense of infinitesimal, infinitely divisible, and thus a great distance that separates and keeps open. It seems to me that this écart infime sets up all our problems. In fact, I think it is impossible to overestimate the importance of “Man and his Doubles.” Foucault says there, after mentioning this minuscule hiatus, that, in contrast to classical thought, in which time founds space:
in modern thought, what is revealed at the foundation of the history of things and of the historicity proper to man is the distance hollowing out the Same, it is the hiatus [écart] that disperses the Same and gathers it back at the two edges of itself. It is this profound spatiality that allows modern thought still to think time—to know it as succession, to promise it as completion, origin, or return. (MC 351 / 340)
It seems to me, if I may extend the analysis a bit, that we must see this “profound spatiality” working, as well, in Deleuze's critique of phenomenology, found both in his 1968 Difference and Repetition and in his 1969 The Logic of Sense.14 For Deleuze, the phenomenological concept of Urdoxa, which one finds both in Husserl and in Merleau-Ponty, is not originary, since it is always “copied off”—décalqué—doxa, or common sense.15This “copying off” means that the Urdoxa is mixed with or the same as the doxa; they resemble one another and are not differentiated. The phenomenological concept of Urdoxa has violated, therefore, the most basic principle of Deleuze's thought, perhaps the most basic principle of thought itself: “The foundation can never resemble the founded.” Deleuze continues, “It is not enough to say about the foundation that it is another history—it is also another geography, without being another world.”16 For Deleuze, the earth is a profound spatiality, consisting in “un eécart infime, mais invincible.”
The critique of phenomenology found in Foucault and Derrida, and in Deleuze, is based in this minuscule hiatus. Despite the fact that all three—Derrida, Deleuze, and Foucault—share the same critique, there is a difference between them. To conclude, I am going to outline the difference between Derrida and Foucault. For both, the critique of phenomenological lived-experience is a critique of auto-affection. The critique depends entirely on one necessary possibility: wherever there is sensing, it must be possible for there to be a surface, and wherever there is a surface, it must be possible for there to be space. This necessary possibility implies that auto-affection, being alone and therefore close to oneself and unified with oneself, is always already virtually double, distant from oneself and divided. But—this is an important “but”—what divides the auto, spacing it and making it double in Derrida is mediation, Vergegenwärtigung. Derrida always conceives the écart infime through Vergegenwärtigung, representation. In Derrida, representation contaminates presentation; mediation, in other words, contaminates the immediate, but contamination is still mediation. Thus, understood as mediation, contamination promises unity, even though it cannot, of necessity, ever keep this promise. The other is always already close by and coming, without ever arriving. Without ever being able to arrive, the one who is going to keep the promise is to come in person (in the flesh, Leiblich). Therefore, we must characterize Derrida's critique of phenomenology (as he himself has done) as an eschatological critique. It is a critique based in a promised unity that demands to be done over again and again.17
Like that of Derrida, Foucault's critique depends entirely on one necessary possibility: wherever there is sensing, it must be possible for there to be a surface, and wherever there is a surface, it must be possible for there to be space. This necessary possibility implies that auto-affection, being alone and therefore close to oneself and unified with oneself, is always already virtually double, distant from oneself and divided. But—this is where we see the difference from Derrida—what divides the auto, spacing it and making it double in Foucault is a battle.18 Foucault conceives the écart infime as a battle. The opponents in the battle are words and things, or hearing and seeing. The battle consists in attacks and crossings across the surface (entrecroisements), but these attacks do not form a unity. No unity is ever promised in the battle. Politics, which looks to be peace, as Foucault points out in (p.55) Discipline and Punish, is war being fought by other means. For Foucault, the audiovisual battle is an immediate relation. There is no mediation because the opponents can never be mixed together or, we might say, can never contaminate one another. Instead, the opponents are posited as such; there is always the opposition of resistance. Therefore, we must characterize Foucault's critique of phenomenology (as he himself has done) as a positivistic critique.19 It is a critique based in a duality without negation and thus it is entirely positive.20
What are we to make of the difference in their critiques? We must return once more to “Man and His Doubles.” Here, Foucault lays out a kind of genealogy of phenomenology. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, he tells us, there was a dissociation, in the double sense of finitude, between empirical content and foundational forms of knowledge. This dissociation was Kant's thought. The dissociation, however, led to what Foucault calls a transcendental aesthetics (the empirical content) and a transcendental dialectic (the foundational forms). The transcendental aesthetics became positivism; the transcendental dialectic became eschatology. During the nineteenth century and at the beginning of the twentieth century, this dissociation between positivism and eschatology came to be associated, in two ways: Marxism and phenomenology. We can see the association in Marxism insofar as Marxism claimed to give the positive truth of man in conditions of labor and at the same time promised a revolutionary utopia. We can see this association in phenomenology insofar as phenomenology speaks of the content of Erlebnis, which can be positively described as the truth, and at the same time of the fulfillment of a meaning-intention, in other words, the promise of fulfilled truth. For Foucault, this association leads to the ambiguity that defines both Marxism and phenomenology. It seems to me that, in their similar but different critiques of phenomenology, Foucault and Derrida have once again dissociated positivism and eschatology. The association that phenomenology and Marxism made has become unraveled. The doubles that came to be the ambiguity of Husserl's thought, positivism and eschatology, have now themselves become dissociated into the thought of Foucault and Derrida. On the one hand, we have Derrida's messianism, which leaps back to the eschatology of the nineteenth century. On the other hand, we have Foucault's “fortunate positivism” (un positivisme heureux),21 which obviously leaps back to the positivism of the nineteenth century. Foucault and Derrida have dissociated immanence and transcendence, faith and knowledge, and, we might even say, the heart and the brain. Both the brain (p.56) and the heart are complicated spaces; we might even appropriate Heidegger's term Auseinander in order to conceive them. Yet without the heart one could not speak of life, and without the brain one could not speak of memory. Now we can see what to make of the difference between the critiques of phenomenology that we find in Foucault and Derrida. This is our task. We must continue the overcoming of metaphysics by trying to find a new way of associating the heart and the brain. In other words, is it possible for us to find a new distribution, a new partage, between the double of the heart and the brain?
(1.) Martin Heidegger, “Was ist Metaphysik?” in Wegmarken (Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann, 1967), p. 112; English translation by David Farrell Krell, as “What Is Metaphysics?” in Pathmarks, ed. William McNeill (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), p. 89. Hereafter all essays in Pathmarks will be cited as WM with reference first to the German, then to the English translation.
(2.) Concerning the overcoming of metaphysics in Heidegger, I think that what Heidegger says late in his career, in the 1964 “Time and Being,” must not mislead us. Although Heidegger seems to repudiate the intention of overcoming metaphysics, he endorses a thinking that overcomes the obstacles that tend to make a saying of being, without regard for metaphysics, inadequate. More importantly, when he speaks of leaving metaphysics alone, he uses the verb überlassen, which also suggests a kind of superengagement with metaphysics. See Martin Heidegger, Zur Sache des Denkens (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1969), p. 25; English translation by Joan Stambaugh as On Time and Being (New York: Harper Colophon, 1972), p. 24.
(3.) One finds a similar critique of the concept of Erlebnis in HansGeorg Gadamer's Wahrheit und Methode (Tübingen: Mohr, 1975); English translation by Joel Weinsheimer and Donald G. Marshall as Truth and Method, 2d rev. ed. (New York: Continuum, 1989). Gadamer claims that the concept of Erlebnis consists in the immediacy of self-consciousness and in an immediacy that yields a content (das Erlebte). His critique is that Erlebnis is unity and interiority, whereas life itself is selfdiremption (Selbstbehauptung, “self-differentiation”). Here he takes his inspiration from Hegel, “the speculative import of the concept of life” (Truth and Method, pp. 237 / 250–51). Thus, because of the idea of self-diremption, Gadamer stresses the idea of judgment, Urteil in German, which literally means “original partitioning.” Nevertheless, despite Gadamer's emphasis on Urteil, I think, with Foucault, that life is not expressed in a judgment, which still relies on unity or synthesis, but in the infinitive of a verb, which can be infinitely divided without unity. It is an expression of the indefinite, a universal singularity. On this idea of the verb, see Gilles Deleuze, Logique du sens (Paris: Minuit, 1969), p. 11; English translation by Mark Lester, with Charles Stivale, ed. Constantin (p.165) V. Boundas, as Logic of Sense (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990), p. 3. See also Foucault's review of Deleuze's Logic of Sense and Difference and Repetition, “Theatrum Philosophicum,” in Dits et écrits I, 1954–1975 (Paris: Gallimard, 2001), pp. 950–51; English translation in Michel Foucault, Language, Counter-Memory, Practice, ed. Donald F. Bouchard (New York: Cornell University Press, 1977), pp. 173–75. If there is a concept in Foucault, it would be an infinitive, like représenter, classer, parler, échanger, surveiller et punir, or, finally, penser. It is important to recall that Deleuze says that a statement (un é noncé) in Foucault—and a statement is the true equivalent to the concept in Foucault—is a “curve” (un courbe) (Gilles Deleuze, Foucault [Paris: Minuit, 1986], p. 87; English translation by Sea´n Hand as Foucault [Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988], p. 80).
(4.) See Michel Foucault, “Vie: Experience et science,” in Dits et écrits, IV (Paris: Gallimard, 1994): 763–76; English translation by Robert Hurley as “Life: Experience and Science,” in Essential Works of Michel Foucault: Aesthetics, Method, and Epistemology, vol. 2, ed. James D. Faubion (New York: The New Press, 1998), pp. 465–78. This project could be completed, it seems, only by a reading of Merleau-Ponty's “L'Homme et l'adversité,” in Signes (Paris: Gallimard, 1960), pp. 284–308, esp. pp. 299 and 306; English translation by Richard C. McCleary as Signs (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1964), pp. 224–243, esp. pp. 235 and 241. I intend to pursue this question of the mé lange in Merleau-Ponty in another book project, Merleau-Ponty and the Political.
(5.) Edmund Husserl, Hua III.1: Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie, bk. 1, ed. Karl Schuhmann (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1976); English translation by F. Kersten as Ideas pertaining to aPure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1982). See also Edmund Husserl, Idées directrices pour une phénoménologie, trans. Paul Ricœur (Paris: Gallimard, 1950).
(6.) Here I am relying on Husserl's later revision of the passage: “copy D.” See Kersten's English translation, p. 73.
(7.) This solution to the transcendental problem, a solution that defines “psychologism,” is circular because it takes something existing in the world, the psyche, which has the ontological sense of something existing in the world, Vorhandenheit, and tries to make this something present account for all things present.
(8.) Edmund Husserl, Hua IX: Phänomenologische Psychologie (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1962), p. 292; English translation by Richard E. Palmer in The Essential Husserl, ed. Donn Welton (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999), p. 331.
(9.) The Essential Husserl, p. 294 / 332.
(10.) Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phé noménologie de la perception (Paris: Gallimard, 1945); English translation by Colin Smith, revised by Forrest (p.166) Williams, as Phenomenology of Perception (Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: The Humanities Press, 1981). Hereafter PhP, with reference first to the French, then to the English.
(11.) Thomas Busch also cites this passage in “Maurice Merleau-Ponty: Alterity and Dialogue,” in Circulating Being: Essays in Late Existentialism (New York: Fordham University Press, 1999), p. 83. Busch's interpretation of Merleau-Ponty's concept of ambiguity and equivocity is based on the idea of dialogue, an idea very different from a battle.
(12.) Derrida makes a similar comment, stressing form and content, in the Introduction to Voice and Phenomenon: presence has always been and will always be, to infinity, the form in which—we can say this apodictically—the infinite diversity of content will be produced. The opposition—which inaugurates metaphysics—between form and matter finds in the concrete ideality of the living present its ultimate and radical justification (VP 5 / 6).
(13.) Spacing implies what Derrida calls “archiwriting” and thus vision: “when I see myself writing and when I signify by gestures, the proximity of hearing myself speak is broken” (VP 90 / 80). Thus here we could speak of a story of the eye, which would allow for a further comparison with Foucault.
(14.) Gilles Deleuze, Différence et répé tition (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1968), p. 179; English translation by Paul Patton as Difference and Repetition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), p. 137. Deleuze, The Logic of Sense, pp. 119 and 124 / 97 and 102.
(15.) See Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, p. 177 / 135; also Deleuze, The Logic of Sense, p. 54 / 39.
(16.) Deleuze, The Logic of Sense, p. 120 / 99, my emphasis.
(17.) I have coined a word for this idea of “a promise that demands to be done over again and again”: refinition. See the preface to my Derrida and Husserl, also Thinking through French Philosophy.
(18.) This description is based largely on Michel Foucault, Ceci n'est pas une pipe (Paris: Fata Morgana, 1973); English translation by James Harnes as This Is Not a Pipe (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983). See also Deleuze, Foucault, p. 119 / 112.
(19.) I am extrapolating from what Foucault has said in L'Ordre du discours (Paris: Gallimard, 1971), p. 72; English translation by A. M. Sheridan as “The Discourse on Language,” appendix to The Archeology of Knowledge (New York: Pantheon, 1972), p. 234.
(20.) If we were to pursue farther this difference between Foucault and Derrida, we would have to investigate the concept of multiplicity.
(21.) Foucault, “The Discourse on Language,” p. 72 / 234.