Sunday, June 22, 2008

Through Sidedness

We must be grateful to Michael Tweed for his translation of Michel Henry's article, "What is Meant by the Word 'Life.'"

How can we place sidedness before appearing?

Let's try to think of throughness as four-dimensional, as temporally and spatially ex-tended. (Is this starting off on the wrong foot? Could we simply say that we want to imagine throughness as having to do with temporality and not mean something like see it as being extended through (ahem) time?) Does throughness have its sidedness, its hithers and yons, befores and afters? Does throughness pass through its own sidedness?

Can we think passage thoroughly without thinking it phenomenologically?

Henry, If I read him correctly, makes an argument for the transcendence of Life, which we glimpse in passing: "What does 'passing' signify if everything is here and does not cease to be here in the indissoluble bond of self-affection to itself, if what passes does not separate from itself, if what passes is life remaining in itself?" As I see it this thought is contradictory as long as Life is imagined to be invisible, as beyond appearance and therefore beyond sidedness–but I put forward this idea as a question because it appears as if serious thinkers (as Henry surely was) may be putting sidedness forward before phenomenality, and therefore transcendence before phenomenality, and I reckon there must be reasons for that, or some angle on it that I am not seeing.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 6:01 AM.


Blogger Nick said...

hey fido - thanks for the link to that henry translation.

this isn't particularly related to your post, but i'm wondering what you make of henry deciding to call phenomenological matter, 'affect'. i haven't read any henry, only criticisms of him in mullarkey's "post-continental philosophy" and brassier's "alien theory", but it seems odd to speak of materialism and then name it after a subjective aspect. brassier, in particular, makes a good case for why this isn't merely a matter of terminology, but in fact reveals henry's inability to think outside a phenomenological circle (thereby making matter dependent on subjectivty, leading to idealism). maybe i should just read some henry though! : )

June 22, 2008 12:15 PM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

Hi, Nick.

My kneejerk is that affect is phenomenologically attested whereas matter is not–that's not because I believe phenomenology is an idealism; I don't. Personally I don't fret about the subject, nor do I think of affect as an aspect of the subject or subject-object relations really, but I understand that people fret and have their reasons for being suspicious of affect.

Henry's is an odd materialism, as far as I can tell so far. Check out his "Phenomenology of Life" and see if his transcendental materialism makes sense to you. I don't think the issue is exactly the subject, but that's just me.

You know there's a religious aspect to Henry's thinking that I skirt around. It's probably germaine, but I have my own issues to work out.

My thought on Henry's transcendental materialism in recent days is that dualism is more inimical to pluralism than straight up monism is. Pluralism has a hard time finding its own legs.

June 22, 2008 2:58 PM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

So much for kneejerk.

Henry in my view has left us with a problematic idea of Self, and if you're looking for a strict materialism this would be a problem for you. Phenomenology has had problems with subjectivity of course. I must say though that I take Merleau-Ponty rather than Husserl as a starting point. For what it's worth.

June 23, 2008 8:36 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

thanks, i'll try to check out 'phenomenology of life' sometime soon.

i am turning into a rather rabid materialist, so henry's version of materialism is a bit problematic for me. but he still sounds like a quite interesting thinker, from reading yours and brassier's takes on him.


June 23, 2008 10:21 PM  
Blogger pensum said...

Welcome back Fido. Oddly a close friend of mine just had her thyroid removed the other day (tumour-related). If your interest in Henry hasn't waned these past few months, i thought you might be interested in the translation i just completed. You can download a copy from my new blog:
And note that the translation of Material Phenomenology has been released.

October 01, 2008 8:31 AM  

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