Monday, January 15, 2007

Anteriority of the Effect

Marion elaborates his position against causality and for the effect:

[T]he temporal privelege of the effect does not stem from its presence in the present (persistence, subsistence); it stems from the fact that the effect uses this present in presence to arise, to appear, in short to give itself to and in the present. For the effect, it is not a matter of making its debut in persistence in presence, but of showing its advent there for the first time. The effect alone is in effect in the present, for it alone makes an event therein, while the cause, at best, persists in presence. Consequently, the effect, as event, belongs with phenomenality, but the cause, like persistence in presence, belongs to (metaphysical) ontology.

(Being Given, pp. 164-165, emphasis Marion's)

Clear enough. However, my mind doesn't work that way. As soon as Marion identifies the event of the phenomenon with the effect, I wonder about the cause. If the cause can't be seen in the realm of phenomenality, I would look for it in the region of the I, and failing that, in the relation between the I and the phenomenon, and if that fails, I would seriously question the designation "effect," for anything that deserves to be called an effect deserves to have its cause.

Update. A chiasmus:

The temporal privilege of the effect–it alone arises to and in the present, gives itself–implies that all knowledge begins by the event of the effect; for without the effect, there would be neither meaning nor necessity to inquiring after any cause whatsoever. But this search also supposes that the event, having once come forward without any condition other than its own unpredictable landing [arrivage], is after the fact reread in the figure of an effect–the result being that only this interpretation of the event as an effect establishes its relation to a supposed cause.

(p. 165, emphasis Marion's)

There's no doubt that Marion can think around my objections. Is this thinking coherent? Has he communicated to me the essence of his argument? Well, I'm pretty stubborn at times. If we allow that the "cause remains an effect of meaning" (p. 166) which seems to meet my objection in part, on what grounds do we then say that the cause does not belong to phenomenality? We have with Marion already defined constitution as giving-a-meaning, opening the door to phenomenology as hermeneutics. Why close the door on the question of the cause? This little aporia makes me wonder, once again, whether the cause that would make sense of Marion's effect doesn't lie in some area that Marion is overlooking, for example in the region of the I, or within some relation between the I and the phenomenal, like constitution. And if I can't find the cause that would make sense of the effect, I would question whether calling it an effect was right in the first place. Score one for stubbornness.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 12:05 PM.


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