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Material Phenomenology (Perspectives in Continental Philosophy) 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0823229444
ISBN-10: 0823229440
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Editorial Reviews


. . . Henry's book is a powerful advocate for life and affectivity, showing repeatedly that the dominant mode of phenomenology (and Western philosophy in general) priviledges ek-stasis and objectification at the expense of absolute subjectivity.-Adam Wells

This book will be of great value and interest to those interested in Henry's philosophy of life, Husserlian scholars, ad for thos interested in the future of phenomenology.Luna Dolezal

Published originally in French in 1990, this book is an important contribution to phenomenology. Henry (1922-2002; formerly, Univ. Paul Valry) argues that phenomenology must be grounded in the radical immanence of life. He elaborates on this argument through a careful, detailed analysis of Husserlian conceptions of hyle (matter), the method of phenomenological reductions, and intersubjectivity in chapters 1, 2, and 3, respectively. Henry consistently responds to phenomenological claims of transcendence with his own claims of immanence focusing on the pathos of life. He defines the substance of the material phenomenology of the title as the pathetic immediacy in which life experiences itself. So where Husserl speaks of reduction to a sphere of pure phenomenological seeing, Henry counters that such a reduction focuses too much on what is outside, visible, and at a distance, rather than on the materiality and self-affectivity of life.

About the Author

MICHEL HENRY was Professor of Philosophy at the Universit Paul Valry, Montpelier. The most recent of his books to appear in English Translation are I Am the Truth: Toward a Philosophy of Christianity and The Genealogy of Psychoanalysis.

SCOTT DAVIDSON is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Oklahoma City University.


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Product Details

  • Series: Perspectives in Continental Philosophy
  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press; 1 edition (September 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823229440
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823229444
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 0.5 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,350,812 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By StreetlightReader on July 7, 2015
Format: Paperback
It's odd to think that this little book - ostensively, a close reading and critique of Husserlian phenomenology - could be the electrifying and mesmerizing intellectual bombshell that it is. But my gosh is it just that. Henry writes with a fiery, hypnotic verve that makes the pull of his words almost irresistible to follow, and even at it's most academic, Material Phenomenology reads as much as a philosophical manifesto as it does a treatise on Husserl. Although strictly speaking a collection of three essays, through each runs Henry's invective against the Husserlian primacy of intentionality - the founding idea of phenomenology according to which every thought is a thought 'of' something, or more generally, a representation of something. Against this, Henry instead argues for the primacy of affect - the feelings of joy, sorrow, wonder, boredom and love, which, far from being 'about' anything, instead subsist in-themselves in the 'self-givenness' or 'auto-affectivity' of their being.

Thus of pain for example, Henry writes: "Pain itself teaches me about pain and not some kind of intentional consciousness that would aim at its presence, its being there now." Indeed, in Henry's customary grandiloquent terms, the occlusion of affect under the reign of intentionality amounts to nothing less than the 'philosophical death of life', insofar as Life (capital 'L' and all) is in principle is irreducible to any attempt to idealize it according to the phenomenal structures of consciousness (the 'as-structure', as Henry calls it, as in: to see something 'as' something). Hence the title of the book, 'Material Phenomenology' which, taking the 'hylectic' ('material') content of consciousness as it's starting point, refuses to cede the reality of 'matter' to reality of consciousness.
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Material Phenomenology (Perspectives in Continental Philosophy)
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