Continental Philosophy & Phenomenology & History

(in press) “Luther’s influence on Heidegger,“ Encyclopedia of Martin Luther and the Reformation, ed. Mark A. Lamport and George Thomas Kurian, London: Rowman&Littlefield

The last decades have seen superb scholarship related to the development of Heidegger’s philosophy and an increased interest in Heidegger’s intellectual roots in Augustine, Luther, and Kierkegaard. Almost all central concepts of Being and Time (1927), as we know now, are derived from Heidegger’s re-readings of these theologians and philosophers whom he discussed in his lecture courses between 1919 and 1923. Luther plays a central role in Heidegger’s early lecture courses at the University of Freiburg, before he took over a chair of philosophy at the University of Marburg in 1923. This entry gives an overview of the influence of Luther on Heidegger.

“Husserl as the Modern Plato? On Hopkins’ Reading of Husserl,” Comparative and Continental Philosophy, 3/2, 2011, 255-268 (review essay, with C. Painter) [download]

“Faith, Freedom, Conscience. Luther, Fichte, and the Principle of Inwardness,” in The Devil’s Whore: Reason and Philosophy in the Lutheran Tradition, ed. Jennifer Hockenbery Dragseth, Fortress Press 2011, 95-101.

Conscience for Luther is, as Hoffmann puts it, the “pure point” of subjectivity that remains absolutely inaccessible from the outside. It is precisely this important insight into the absolute nature of subjectivity that found its way into the epistemological and ethical doctrines of German Idealism, such as Schelling’s, Fichte’s, and Hegel’s philosophies. So although these successors of Kant did not always explicitly refer to Luther as one of their central influences, we can easily see how Luther’s doctrines made their way into German Idealism, especially Fichte’s version of it, in the following two aspects: [1] Luther’s principle of conscience is displaced and transformed into a theory of moral subjectivity and “inner certainty” thereby connecting theoretical and practical reason, and [2], Luther’s reflections on the relation between individuals and the state found its way into Fichte’s political theories and reflections on the German nation. In this paper, I deal exclusively with the first aspect.

“Passivität,” Philosophische Rundschau 58, 2011, 311-318 (review essay of Philipp Stöllger: Passivität aus Passion: Zur Problemgeschichte einer ‘categoria non grata’, and Victor Biceaga: The “Concept of Passivity in Husserl’s Phenomenology) [download]

“The Historicity of the Eye. A Phenomenological Defense of the Culturalist Conception of Perception,” Phänomenologische Forschungen – Phenomenological studies – Recherches Phénoménologiques 2009, Hamburg: Meiner 2010, 107-122. [download]

Against a stream of culturally oriented scholars some scholars in aesthetics, such as Arthur Danto and Noel Carroll, have maintained that there is a sense of “seeing” and visual recognition that does not depend upon historical and cultural practices. This essay shows that Danto’s assumption of a difference between a “core” and an “extended” form of perception and visual recognition should be rejected. The underlying argument of my considerations in this essay is the following: the distinction between a “pure” and an “extended” perception or visual perception is untenable, since, as a phenomenological reflection can reveal, our normal mode of perception is always extended. In this vein, it is argued here that there is, after all, only one mode of perception and that Danto’s position is based on abstractions from the real phenomenon. Consequently, whereas Danto maintains that it makes sense to talk about a “natural” form of seeing, this essay argues that “seeing” is itself a culturally defined way of comportment, and that assumptions about naturalistically defined perceptual core processes turn out to be idealized constructions.

“Sensation, Alterity, and Self-Consciousness. Fichte and Levinas,” in Klesis – Revue philosophique 7, 2008. [download]

Levinas claims that prior to any being-affected from the outside by any kind of causal influence, and thus prior to any “hetero-affection,” sensing is open to the Other. Rather surprisingly, Fichte develops a similar perspective on otherness in his – quite phenomenological – analysis of feeling, sensing, and being-affected. Further analysis should lead us to conclude that Fichte is attempting to think affectivity in terms of openness. Indeed, it is through the alien element of feeling, that the ego is radically opened up to what is other than itself, and thus it is characterized precisely through being affected by this internal “othering,” as having an alien element within itself. In my paper I uncover this primitive concept of otherness, which precedes any level of “recognition.”

“Existential Idealism? Fichte and Heidegger,” in Epoche. Journal for the History of Philosophy, Vol. 12, 1/2007, 109-135. [download]

In this essay, I shall attempt to shed light on central practical concepts, such as action and decision, in Heidegger’s existentialism and in Fichte’s idealism. Both Fichte and Heidegger, though from different philosophical frameworks and with different results, address the practical moment by developing [1] a non-epistemic concept of certainty, in connection with [2] a temporal analysis of the conditions of action, which leads to the primacy of future in their analyses. Both [1] and [2] shed light on their concept of the self, and on the concept of freedom. In addition, my paper offers a further clarification of what was called before Fichte’s “proto-existentialism” (G. Zöller, D. Henrich). The ontological framework of both philosophies and their concept of the practical self, finally, leads to the proposal to merge both perspectives into what I would like to call “existential idealism.” Fichte’s and Heidegger’s practical philosophies can be taken as two sides of the same coin.

“Phenomenology and the Question of the Non-Human Animal” (with C. Painter), in Phenomenology and the Non-Human Animal, ed. Christian Lotz and Corinne Painter, Contributions to Phenomenology, Dordrecht: Springer 2007, 1-12. [introduction]

“Cognitivism and Practical Intentionality. A Critique of Dreyfus’s Critique of Husserl,” in International Philosophy Quarterly, 2/2007, 153-166. [download]

“Action: Phenomenology of Wishing and Willing in Husserl and Heidegger,” in Husserl Studies, 2006, 121-135. [download]

“Psyche or Person? Husserl’s Phenomenology of Animals,” in Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven der Phänomenologie, ed. by D. Lohmar and D. Fonfara, Phaenomenologica, 2006, 190-204. [download]

Husserl was confronted with the revival of anthropology through thinkers such as Scheler, Heidegger, Plessner, Driesch, von Uexkuell and Butendijk. This historic network affected his thinking more than we are able to see if we only examine the surface of transcendental phenomenology. In my paper I shall elucidate Husserl’s claims about animals and the “anthropological world.” To do this, I shall first consider Husserl’s Ideas II, since in my view not only is the current research on this text misguided, but when we attend to it closely, we find much to work in it with regarding the “animal question,” including Husserl’s claim that animal consciousness is not personal but psychic. Second, I will briefly explore Husserl’s “intersubjective approach” to animals, which is found in some of his as yet untranslated manuscripts. I will conclude with the thesis that the intersubjective approach to the problematic shifts us back, ultimately, to Husserl’s considerations in his Ideas II.

“The Events of Morality and Forgiveness: Kant and Derrida,” in Research in Phenomenology, 2006, 255-273 [download]

In this paper, I will perform a “step back” by showing how Derrida’s analysis of forgiveness is rooted in Kantian moral philosophy and in Derrida’s interpretation of Kierkegaard’s concept of decision. This will require a discussion of the distinction that Kant draws in his Groundwork between price (the economic) and dignity (the incomparable), as well as a discussion of the underlying notion of singularity in Kant’s text. In addition, Derrida universalizes Kierkegaard’s concept of the agent so that, with this perspective in view, the interpretation of Kantian morality as something that must be described in a paradoxical way, becomes fully transparent. Whereas the interpretation of Kantian morality will provide us with a concept of morality that remains a “blind spot” for the agent, with the help of Derrida’s Kierkegaard interpretation we can see that the concept of decision remains ultimately ambivalent. In conclusion, both (a) the deconstructed concept of morality and (b) the concept of decision, will finally (c) let us understand Derrida’s radical concept of forgiveness, which is both a non-economic act of morality in the sense explained and an unpredictable, uncontrollable decision and event.

“Responsive Life and Speaking To the Other. A Phenomenological Interpretation of Book One of Augustine’s Confessions,” in Augustinian Studies, 2006, 37/1, 2006, 89-109. [download]

As is well known, Augustine begins his Confessions by doing something very unique: the first paragraph is directly addressed to God, which is to say, to the other of himself. This essay will lay out the beginning part of this text in a “phenomenological” manner, insofar as my reading of Augustine’s text tries to uncover the general experience of otherness that underlies Book One. Augustine’s opening reflections contain several ideas that my essay will discuss: [1] that they come in the form of an address, [2] that they focuses on the focus to the performative, and [3] how they introduce the self as well as Augustine’s reflections of the self as a response to the other. The first part of the essay deals with the performative dimension of book one, whereas the second part deals with the resulting responsive dimension of the text. However, the essay does not deal with the question of performance as it comes to the forefront in Book 11, namely in the form of the contrast between God’s word and human language; rather, the following considerations are restricted to considerations of the aforementioned problem of otherness that we discover in Book I and with what will be called “responsive life.”

“L’assoluto postmoderno. Heidegger, Derrida e I limiti interni del linguaggio,” in Limnatis N., Pastore L. (a cura di), Prospettive sul Postmoderno, Milano: Edizioni Mimesis 2006, 149-175 [The Postmodern Absolute. The Inner Limits of Speaking in Heidegger and Derrida]

Heidegger claimed that we are caught in a general representational framework, within which it seems to be impossible to develop a non-identificatory relationship to what escapes any attempt to represent it. According to Heidegger’s analysis, to which I turn in this essay, philosophy must give up its metaphysical heritage if it does not want to repeat and affirm devastating attitudes of world reduction that invisibly rule all of our relationships as well as our world-understanding. The question is, then: is there something that escapes the structure of representation in a fundamental sense? As we will see, we can understand certain attempts within “postmodern” philosophy, such as Heidegger’s and Derrida’s reflections on language, as attempts to re-discover a thinking that positions itself outside of the representational framework. This leads these post-modern thinkers back to theories that attempted to do the same within more traditional lines of Western thought, such as negative theology. Negative theology becomes interesting again because it seems to articulate an experience that presents an alternative to identificatory thinking.

“Non-Epistemic Self-Awareness. On Heidegger’s Reading of Kant’s Practical Philosophy,” in Journal of the British Society of Phenomenology, 1, 2005, 90-96. [download]

In my paper I show how Heidegger interprets and reformulates Kant’s practical philosophy as an existential problematic, and I argue that by carefully considering this reformulation we are provided with a fuller understanding both of Heidegger’s own project as well as of the ontological dimension in Kant’s practical philosophy. In order to show this, I first explain Heidegger’s general concept of subjectivity and self-awareness, and second, the special status that affectivity has in his conception of self-awareness. I then show, more specifically, how Heidegger transforms Kant’s idea of respect (feeling) into his own idea of angst (disposition). Angst, I conclude, is the ontological interpretation of respect, which Heidegger tries to conceive as a mode of existence of the self, through which we appear to ourselves as self-determined, resolute beings, in the Kantian sense. I finally suggest that we could, in fact, use Heidegger’s analysis as a description of the moral actor who is presupposed in the Kantian theory.

“Tod, Wille, Zeit. Die praktische Konzeption des Selbstbewusstseins bei Lévinas”, in: Christian Kupke (Hrsg.): Lévinas’ Ethik im Kontext. Berlin: Parodos Verlag 2005, 73-93 [Death, Will, Time. The Practical Dimension of Self-Awareness in Levinas]

“From Nature to Culture? Diogenes and Philosophical Anthropology,” in Human Studies, 1, 2005.

“Das Ereignis des Unverständlichen. Husserls Hermeneutik und die genetische Phänomenologie”. In: Rölli, Marc (Hrsg.): Von Bergson bis Deleuze. Zum Erfahrungsbegriff der französischen Gegenwartsphilosophie. München: Fink Verlag 2004, 63-79. [Husserl’s Hermeneutics and Genetic Phenomenology]

“Recollection, Mourning and the Absolute Past: Husserl, Freud and Derrida,” in New Yearbook for Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy, 4, 2004, 121-141. [download]

I explore one central aspect of a phenomenology of memory, namely the relation between recollection and mourning. I will claim that Husserl’s analysis of recollection and retention lends itself to the inclusion of Non-Husserlian topics, such as [a] a fundamental absence in consciousness, not within the lived present, but within one’s past, which leads us to the consequence that [b] indeed, as Derrida claims, transcendental subjectivity cannot be thought of as the possibility of full self-presence, as well as that [c] it must lead us to an inclusion of concepts such as mourning, and especially death.

“Schuld und Reue. Zur Konstitution der Erinnerung in ethischen Selbstverhältnissen”. In Chr. Lotz, T.Wolf und W.Ch. Zimmerli: Erinnerung. Philosophische Positionen, Perspektiven und Probleme. München: Fink Verlag 2004, 147-161 [Guilt and Remorse. On the Constitution of Remembering within the Practical Self] [download]

“Einleitung,” in Chr. Lotz, T.Wolf und W.Ch. Zimmerli: Erinnerung. Philosophische Positionen, Perspektiven und Probleme. München: Fink Verlag 2004, 7-19.

“Certainty of Oneself. On Fichte’s Conception of Conscience as Non-epistemic Self-Understanding,” in Southwest Philosophy Review, 20/1, 2004, 25-36. [download]

Fichte claims that conscience is the very relation of oneself through which one understands one’s own being as something that has to be realized in this world through one’s being. Whereas theoretical knowledge can be doubted, knowledge of our own ability to be moral and, therefore, of our own being, cannot be doubted. Thus we are forced to change our conception of self-knowledge; for it can no longer be analyzed as (propositional) knowledge. Here another form of certainty comes into play for at this juncture Fichte introduces faith as a type of non-theoretical knowledge within his search for an alternative conception of the self and the knowledge that it has of its own being. In this paper, I shall [i] briefly introduce the Kantian concept of conscience, reveal [ii] Fichte’s conception of conscience and faith, taking especial care to [iii] uncover the existential dimension of this conception.

“Sehnsüchtiges Sein. Anmerkungen zu Fichte und Husserl”. In: Fichte-Studies, 22/2003. [Longing. On Fichte and Husserl]

“Husserls Genuss. Über den Zusammenhang von Leib, Affektion, Fühlen und Werthaftigkeit”. In: Husserl-Studies, 18/1, 2002, 19-39. [On the Connection of the Lived Body, Feelings and Values [download]

“Verfügbare Unverfügbarkeit. Über theoretische Grenzen und praktische Möglichkeiten der Erinnerung bei Husserl“. In: Phänomenologische Forschungen,1/2002, 207-231 [On Remembering in Husserl] [download]

“Mitmachende Spiegelleiber. Anmerkungen zur Phänomenologie konkreter Intersubjek-tivität bei Husserl”. In: Zeitschrift für philosophische Forschung 56, 1/2002, 74-95 [On the Phenomenology of Intersubjectivity in Husserl] [download]

“Phantasie, Eidetik, Spiel. Überlegungen zur faktischen Herkunft philosophischen Bewußtseins“. In: David Carr und Christian Lotz (Hrsg.): Subjektivität – Verantwortung – Wahrheit. neue Aspekte der Phänomenologie Edmund Husserls. Frankfurt/M.: Lang 2002, 87-103. [Considerations concerning the Factical Origin of Philosophical Consciousness]

“Von der Empfindung zur Zärtlichkeit. Wertfühlen, Sehnen und Selbstaffektion (Husserl und Levinas)”. In: Jahrbuch der Gesellschaft für Philosophie und Wissenschaften von der Psyche, Würzburg: Königshausen&neumann 2002, 113-137. [Value-Feelings, Longing and Self-Affection. On Husserl and Levinas]

“Neue Aspekte der Phänomenologie Edmund Husserls?” In: David Carr und Christian Lotz (Hrsg.): Subjektivität – Verantwortung – Wahrheit. Neue Aspekte der Phänomenologie Edmund Husserls. Frankfurt/M.: Lang 2002, 7-17. [new Aspects of Husserl’s Phenomenology?]

“Versprechen – Verzeihen, Erinnern – Vergessen. Zur ethischen Konstitution der Subjektivität”. In: Studia Philosophica 60/2001, 77-94. [Promising – Forgiving, Remembering – Forgetting. On the Ethical Constitution of Subjectivity] [download]

“Wie ein Gesicht im Sand? Philosophische Perspektiven der menschlichen Subjektivität heute”. In: Marburger Unijournal 1/2001, 5-10. [Philosophical Perspectives on Human Subjectivity today]

“Erinnerte Zukunft. Über die Möglichkeit der Verzeihung im Angesicht des Holocaust”. In: Universitas. Zeitschrift für interdisziplinäre Wissenschaft 1/2001, 62-71. [Remembered Future. On the Possibility of Forgiving in the Face of the Holocaust] [download]

“Zeit”. In: Jens Rucharz und Nicolas Pethes (Hrsg.): Gedächtnis und Erinnerung. Ein interdisziplinäres Lexikon. Hamburg: Rowohlt 2001, 665-660. [On Time and Remembering] [download]

“Wiederverzauberung der Welt? Martin Heidegger und die philosophische Topographie der Zwanzigerjahre in Marburg”. In: Marburger Unijournal 3/1999, 14-18. [Martin Heidegger and the Philosophical Topography of the Twenties in Marburg]