michel henry philosophy and phenomenology of body (1965)

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Page 1: Michel Henry Philosophy and Phenomenology of Body (1965)

F Pnilosophy and_PhenomenolQgy - -:­- - ~otth~ B0tly --_



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Page 2: Michel Henry Philosophy and Phenomenology of Body (1965)



Page 3: Michel Henry Philosophy and Phenomenology of Body (1965)





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Page 4: Michel Henry Philosophy and Phenomenology of Body (1965)


Translator's Note

Author's Preface





57 7640



ANALYSIS OF THE BODY 11 I. The Philosophical Presuppositions of Biranian Ontology . 11 2. The Transcendental Deduction of the Categories . 22 3. The Theory of the Ego and the Problem of the Soul 36


Chapter III: MOVEMENT AND SENSING 77 I. The Unity of our Senses and the Problem of the Relationship

between our Images and our Movements 83 2. The Unity of the Body Interpreted as a Unity of Knowledge.

Habit and Memory 92 3. The Individuality of Human Reality as Sensible Individuality 102








Index of Authors 223 Index of Terms . 225

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In the present translation, we have followed the same principles which guided our task in the English rendition of L' Essence de /a Manifestation. Henry's present work on the body proves to be considerably clearer and "'ill shed no little light on the theses he defends in The Essence of Manifest· arion.

I would like to thank my wife, Linda, for her contributions in typing the manuscript and in admonishing me about the finer points of grammar and punctuation. My gratitude is likewise directed to Mme. Anne Henry, professo r of English literature at the University of Montpellier and wife of the author, who went over the entire manuscript and provided me v,-; tb a number of helpful suggestions. Finally, my thanks go to the author himself fo r his insightful comments. My only hope is that his work will rereive the acclaim it so richly deserves.

The work of this present translation was begun early in 1972 and com­p!:ted in July of 1974.


The Franciscan Institute St. Bonaventure University, New York

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When we disclose and bring forth, within ontological investigations aimed at making possible the elaboration of a phenomenology of the ego, a prob­lematic concerning the body, we may well seem, with respect to the general direction of our analysis, to elaborate only a contingent and accidental specification of such an analysis and to forget its true goaJ.I Up to the present, we pursued the clarification of the being of the ego [2] on the level of absolute sUbjectivity and in the form of an ontological analysis. Is it not possible that the reasons which motivated the project of conducting the investigations relative to the problem of the ego within a sphere of abso­lute immanence may cease to be valid because we might be led to believe that the body also constitutes the object of these investigations and belongs to a first reality whose study is the task of fundamental ontology? Actually, does not the body present itself to us as a transcendent being, as an inhabi­tant of this world of ours wherein sUbjectivity does not reside? If, con­sequently, the body must constitute the theme of our philosophical reflec­tion, is it not on condition that the latter submit to a radical modification and cease to be turned toward subjectivity in order to be a reflection on the world and on the way in which certain of its elements present themselves to us and are constituted? And, moreover, among all these transcendent elements which can and must be the theme of so many particular investiga­tions, why should we accord a privilege to the body such that our analysis, not content with abandoning the region where it first defined itself in its initial project, would determine itself as an investigation directed toward

1 As Michel Henry points out in his preface to the present translation, the ontological investigations, with respect to which the problematic of the body might seem to be a particular-and ultimately illegitimate-specification, are the same ontological investiga­tions which led to Michel Henry's major work entitled The Essence of Manifestation [crans. by Girard Etzkorn: The Hague: Martinus Nijhofl', 1973] to which frequent allu­sions will be made.

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the transcendent being of our body, an investigation which we admit is indispensable and properly belongs to the philosophical domain in general, but concerning which we would have to concede its total lack of relation­ship to the. ?:o' ,~ analysis of sUbjectivity or the ego identified with subjectivity?

We could, it is true, try to base the contingency of the question on the con­tingency of its object. Is not the fact that a consciousness has a body a contingent fact, the contingent fact par excellence? Moreover, are we really in the presence of a fact? Rather, if the relationship sui generis of the body to consciousness rather proves to be the foundation of our idea of contingency, and more fundamentally, of the very fact that such a contin­gency and even contingent facts in general are possible for us, then does not this relationship [3J truly constitute a structure, which is not only rooted in human nature, but which must further serve to define it? One might characterize man as consciousness or as subjectivity in a purely abstract way, if between these latter and the body there likewise existed a dialectical rela­tionship, such that every determination of subjectivity would be compre­hensible only in and through the relationship to the body. The terms of this relationship would henceforth be in close solidarity to the point of growing at the same time, as we can see for instance in shame, where the spirit's presence to itself in SUbjectivity immediately signifies an increased and painful consciousness of the body. ' The 'effectiveness' of this same dia­lectical bond leads us-even when we begin with an analysis of conscious­ness-to ask ourselves about the being of the body. When we ask such a question, we get a hint on the level of the Logos about the very nature of things which is not constituted by autonomous realities enclosed within themselves, but by dialectical structures, and man himself would be one of these structures.

To the extent that it puts mind and body into relationship, this structure is the most 'dialectic' of all, it is a paradox which we can, with Kierkegaard, look upon as fundamental,' for it truly plays the role of a foundation. Tragedy, comedy, the feeling of having a body, exhibitionism or timidity and many other existentiell or affective determinations are not feelings or attitudes which befall human nature without our being able to account for them by starting with human nature. Human reality must rather be

2 "The more a man feels himself to be spirit, the more, at the same time he feels himself to be body with its sexual character." Jean Wahl, Etudes kierkegaardiennes (paris: Aubier, 1938) 226.

3 cr. Saren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Dread, tr. W. Lowrie, 2nd ed. (princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957).

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determined starting with the requirements implied in questions like the following: "What must man be like [4] to be capable of feelings such as ... ?" For, underneath such feelings, there lies a more profound tonality which determines the various affective and existentiell modalities whereby indivi­dual or collective human history takes place. Must not this fundamental tonality be understood as the very moment of dialectical union between consciousness and body? The paradox, which is as the knot of existence and the origin wherein its different attitudes are rooted, must in the last analysis be perceived more or less clearly by a philosophical reflection from whose gaze the central phenomenon of incarnation cannot remain indiffer­ent or indefinitely hidden. Because the incarnate being of man, and not consciousness or pure subjectivity, is the original fact from which, it would seem, we must start, the investigation must necessarily leave the sphere of subjectivity in order to elaborate the problematic concerning the body, and we may no longer regard this step as contingent but as required by the very nature of things. Inversely, this very nature now presents itself to us in its essence as contingent; as contingent, it is the primordial contingency which we are.

Nevertheless, in a more precise way and from the ontological point of view, what does this contingency constitutive of the relationship between a consciousness and a body mean, this contingency which in its turn gives basis to, calls for, and hence renders necessary the question of the body? Correctly interpreted, such a contingency can only mean the following: With relationship to the sphere of subjectivity which is identified with that of existence itself, this other ontological region in which something like a body can appear and develop is a heterogeneous and essentially different reality. As long as an investigation moves exclusively interior to the sphere of subjectivity, it will encounter nothing which can be called a body, much less our body. But when we leave this original sphere, when we effect a 'passage' toward [5] something which is situated outside it, such an encoun­ter with a 'body' then becomes possible.

Transcendent being is to be found outside the sphere of subjectivity. Moreover, within such a being various ontological regions are further discernible. The body in general has been identified by a famous philosophy with extension. It was conceived as a reality composed of different parts outside one another. May not what we here call our body be identified with this body partes extra partes of physical nature? Rather, our body is a living body and because of this it belongs to an ontological region which, in virtue of its phenomenological characteristics (characteristics which allow us to consider it as an essence and as an autonomous region), cannot

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be confused with some extension, such as Cartesian extension, regardless of the deductions, dialectical or not, which might be made between these two orders of reality in constructs made by the various sciences.

Nevertheless, in spite of its phenomenological foundations, biology itself is a science, its progresses take place within the transcendent masses of scientific knowledge, they are in principle limitless, and their overlapping with our immediate experience in no way constitutes their goal because immediate experience is only a simple appearance for the savant and in any case, if our body were a biological entity, the knowledge which we could acquire in its regard would be in solidarity with scientific knowledge, or rather, it would become one with it, in such a way that only a future man, situated in history at the ideal terminus of the development of the sciences, would truly know what he must understand when we speak of this body which is ours, and in all strictness, we could no longer see what sortofknow­ledge a primitive could have of his body nor how he might grasp it in order to arrive at the opinion according to which a body belongs to him.

Actually, the body of biology is in a certain sense a cultural object, [6] and as such it is essentially historical,4 both regarding its appearance and its modifications which are none other than those brought about by the very development of science. With such a biological body we, the men of today, certainly have an original relationship, and we are all to a certain degree historical beings to the extent that we all profess to believe in the science of our savants and to the extent that the representations of this science always encounter, more of less quickly, an echo in the conceptions of common sense. Nevertheless, from this original relationship we do not

4 Man is not essentially an historical being. He is always the same. Everything 'pro· found' in him-and by this we make no evaluations of an axiological order but rather designate what must be considered as original from the ontological point of view-remains identical to itself and is found in all eras. It is because it rests on an ontological foundation and because it refers to ontological powers that ethics in turn exhibits the permanence peculiar to it, that each generation, as Kierkegaard says, finds itself confronted with the same task as the preceding generation. Since it is here a question of the body, and even if our reduction is accepted, even if abstraction is made from all biological evolution 'in the third person', it will be objected that the human body presents itself to man with characteristics which have varied throughout the course of history, characteristics which lead to such varying habits concerning nourishment, for example, clothing, sexuality, as well as the numerous 'modes' related thereto. However, this is not the original body, but various ways in which man represents this body to himself and behaves toward it. What is historical are the cultural or human objects and the differ­ent human attitudes related thereto. But the ontological basis which founds both objects and attitudes is indifferent to this evolution; the latter always presupposes the ontological foundation.

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draw our first knowledge about the body, nor do we find there the patterns of behavior where the body is involved. We do not wait until we have read the latest books on biology before running, leaping, walking, or raising our arms, and even if we devote our time to reading about such subjects, nothing would change with regard to our primitive powers. Nothing is more inoperative than science with regard to our conduct as well as with regard to the primordial knowledge that this conduct a/ways presupposes. From now on, we feel that we must be concerned only with this primordial [7] knowledge, that of it alone we must give an account. Far from being able to furnish us with any clarification of such knowledge, a science like biology rather finds its bases in such knowledge; biology cannot be counted on to explain what it presupposes as the condition for its possibility and as the ontological horizon within which it can find its objects, furnish its explana­tions, and before all else, pose its problems.

We must now render more precise the meaning of the phenomenological reduction which we are now in the process of undertaking in order to discern more clearly the nature of this original knowledge and the frontiers which it maintains with diverse types of knowledge founded upon it. We say that our body is a living body; this, however, would not be understood as a biological reality. If life is not primordially for us the object of a scien­tific experiment or still less a scientific concept, does it not present itself to us in naive experience as a transcendent structure? Side by side with the inert objects, tools, cultural objects in our immediate environment, there are beings which we call living beings. Henceforth, the problem of the know­ledge of the body would be resolved by a description of the characteristics presented by such 'living realities'. It is true that a difficulty arises from the fact that, among these living bodies, it would seem a distinction ought to be made between the body of an amoeba, for example, or even the body of superior animals' on the one hand and the body of man on the other. In the case of man, we are not merely dealing with a living body but a human body and the properties of this human body are so specific that we have the impression of having before us [8J a new structure which has nothing more in common with the preceding structures than the particularity of belonging with them to transcendent being in general.

Consequently, up to this point we have distinguished 1) the body as a biological entity whose reality must ultimately be the common place for scientific determinations which deal with it, or better, which constitute it; 2) the body as a living being as it appears in our natural experience.

5 Here we are abstracting from the life of plants which exhibits quite different charac­teristics; we are deliberately leaving aside this problem of vegetative life.

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Such a body is likewise a transcendent structure whose phenomenological characteristics are the very characteristics of perception which presents this body to us; 3) the body as human body which is likewise a transcendent structure of our experience, but whose characteristics cannot purely and simply be reduced to those of the living body such that they would seem to be constitutive of a new structure or, as we say today, a new form.

The clear conceiving of the relationships between the above mentioned three terms is certainly an enterprise fraught with difficulties. The biological body and the living body are bound together in such a way that they suc­cessively appear with regard to one another as the founding terminus and the founded terminus, depending on whether we place ourselves in the per­spective of science which claims to accouilt for the phenomenological appear­ances of the living body with the constructs 'in the third person' which it builds, or whether we adopt the perspective of natural consciousness (not that of co=on sense already implicitly acquired from scientific theories even if natural consciousness is unaware of them) which lives these appearances and, with the phenomenologist, would think that science begins with them. With regard to the relationships between the living body and the human body, their study depends upon a comparative phenomenology, about how we perceive animals and about how we perceive other men-a study which would encounter, among other difficulties, the following: If the division between animal behavior and human conduct is easy to establish once these two structures have been grasped in their reciprocal opposition, how [9] can we discern, once we consider solely the perception of the human body, what in it is proper to a living being and what is proper to man; or, if you prefer, can we find the first structure of the living body, of the animal body, in the second, viz. the human body, as one of its elements or as its foundation?

The various above-mentioned distinctions and the questions which they raise are, nevertheless, without importance in our view, because they do not raise the fundamental ontological problem with which we must ulti­mately occupy ourselves. Regardless of the region in which we ultimately decide to locate our body, whether this region be that of the biological body, the living body, or finally a sui generis region peculiar to the human body, in all cases we will merely be dealing with specifications and structures of transcendent being in general, regardless of how great the differences existing between these structures might be. As long as things are viewed in this way, the problematic concerning the body would remain, in spite of all we have said above, contingent with respect to the project of a funda­mental ontology, foreign to the goal of a truly first philosophy. The contin-

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gency of the question of the body, and more profoundly, the contingency of the very fact of the belonging of a body to human reality, are insur­mountable, if it is true that this body represents, with respect to transcen­dental subjectivity itself, something heterogeneous and irreducible.

Has not the moment come to admit that first philosophy cannot be iden­tified with an ontological analysis of subjectivity nor with the exploration of this region alone? It is only within an illusory perspective that the prob­lem of the body appears so contingent that, so to speak, there is no reason for raising it. For a 'pure' man, if we may so speak-the abstract man reduced to the condition of a pure subjectivity- has no reason to ask himself about a body of which he is deprived, or which is no [10] more for him than a simple accessory or a contingent appendage. A disincarnate subject, like the Kantian spectator of the Paralogisms, is a pure spirit who surveys the world, and his own body cannot even intervene in the knowledge which he takes from the universe nor can it be the object of a special investi­gation; in all strictness, it constitutes an 'empirical' curiosity, deprived of all philosophical dignity. But we know that man is an incarnate subject, his knowledge is situated in the universe, things are given him in the perspec­tives which get their orientation from his own body. Hence, must not the latter become the theme of an investigation which takes the real man as its object, not the abstract man of idealism, but this being of flesh and blood which we all are ? And if we identify first philosophy with such an investiga­tion, then we can no longer limit its field to the sole sphere of subjectivity; its object is actually something altogether different, for example, it is this dialectical structure which inextricably binds consciousness with the body, or again, it is existence precisely as the existence of a real and incarnated being.

Consequently:-Either it is not necessary to take account of the body in defining man and hence we are allowed to pursue our study of the sub­jective ego while pretending to take account of human reality in its authentic being and in its totality.

-Or such is merely an abstract view of man, a view wherein we would not be able to describe the primitive and concrete reality. Then the philo­sophy of subjectivity must cede its place to a realism or to an existentialism which would begin with central phenomena such as 'situation', 'corporeity', 'incarnation' and which would at least have the courage to recognize and study what is implied in the true status of human reality, for example, contingency, finitude, absurdity.

- Or, the central phenomenon of the body, whose study is doubtless essential for the understanding of human reality, [11] in no way eludes the

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grasp of a phenomenological ontology which is built on the foundation of an analysis of subjectivity: The problematic dealing with it is implied in the general problematic which such an ontology necessarily develops, because the body, in its original nature, belongs to the sphere of existence which is the sphere of subjectivity itself.

Various intentionalities are directed toward different transcendent struc­tures which we have characterized as biological body, living body, and human body. The study of subjectivity along these lines would then seem to throw us back to the existence of a body, but the latter would be able to constitute only a determination of the other in general; and we do not see what would be capable of conferring upon it, within this sphere of the non-ego, the characteristic of belonging to the ego, a characteristic which would seem to be an essential property, nor do we see what would be able to bring about, within the development of a philosophy of the first person, the raising of a problematic concerning the body. Actually, our body is originally neither a biological body nor a living body nor a human body; it belongs to an ontological region radically different which is the region of absolute subjectivity. To speak of a transcendental body in no way means to make a doubtful and gratuitous affirmation, it means that we understand the need to answer affirmatively the question: Is the body, this body which is ours, known by us in the same way as any other intentionality in the life of the ego, and must its being receive, within a phenomenological ontology, the same status as the being of intentionality in general, as the being of the ego ?-It means we take cognizance of the conditions which alone will permit us to take account of the existence of a body situated at the heart of human reality: a body which is an '1'.

Various philosophical systems have maintained quite diverse theories concerning the body but they all agree in one common and decisive doctrine, namely, in the affirmation [12] that the being of our body belongs to the world. Here we have one point which seems to be so well established that it never entered anyone's mind to doubt it. The first and actually the only philosopher who, in the long history of human reflection, saw the necessity for originally determining our body as a subjective body is Maine de Biran, that prince of thought, who merits being regarded by us in the same way as Descartes and Husser!, as one of the true founders of a phenomenological science of human reality. How is it that this fundamental discovery· of a

6 Maine de Biran was fully aware of the importance and originality of thjs discovery, as we see when he speaks to us of the "totally new viewpoint from which I consider the knowledge of my own body." Essa; sur les Jondements de fa psychologie et sur ses rapports avec ['etude de fa nature, in Oeuvres de Maine de Biran, ed. Tisserand, VIII (paris: Alean, 1932) 207.

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sUbjective body, a discovery whose consequcnces, as we shall see, are limit­less, could pass completely unnoticed, and how is it tha t the meaning of the work of Maine de Birall was so rarely understood? This fact will not be qu ite so surprising if one has refl ected on the singula r position of its author in the French philosopbical movement or the nineteenth century, fOf, in spite of appearances, Maine de Biran is one or the most isolated philosophers who ever lived. He has been customarily situated at the source of a current of thought which would continue through Lachelier, Boutroux, Ravaisson, Lagneau, to Bergson-a current of 'spiritualist' thought which would be characteri zed by its attention paid to the ' inte rior life', by an ' intro­spective tendency'. This has constituted a serious misconstruing of his contri­bution which could not but compromise in defini tive fashion the understand­ing of his work. The histori cal dependency which we have indica ted doubt­less exists, but Biran ian thought has noth ing to do wi th introspection, with the interio r life such as it might be understood by the [13] neo-Kantialls, or with the intuition of Bergson. A comparable dependency is, however, perfectly understandable because the absence of any ontology of subjectivi ty in Kantianism. and the consequences of such an absence, notably, regarding the problem of the interior life, necessarily led the heirs of this philosophy to look toward ideas which could to a certain extent fi ll in such a lacuna. But the reason for the interest ill the work of At/aille de Birall was the very rame reason which could 1I0t but bar the way to any true understanding of what he did, because this interest was the fact of philosophers who moved within presuppositions incompatible with the central intuition of Biran ian­ism. Such an intuition could not be garnered by the French philosopher of the nineteenth or twentieth century except at the expense of a misinter­pretation all the more dangerous because it was perfectly involuntary, at the expense of a true fail ure which constitutes the measure of the split between an authentic conception of subjectivity and ' psychology' .

Isolated from philosophers who thought they were pursuing his under­tak ing, Maine de Biran, because of the ve ry nature of his enterprise, was all the more cut off from the public at large. Actually, if the investigations belonging to first philosophy fi nd sO little fo llowing, this is not because they arc difficult or because they 'consist in fa ntastic or chimerical constructs which vary from one philosopher to another according to his temperament; it is rather because they are deprived of everything which constitutes, in the eyes of most people, what is 'sensational ', 'in teresting', 'original'; it is because their object is that which is the most hum ble, the most banal. the most common. Maine de Biran was not misled abou t this sol itudc and its most profound motives: " It is for the small number of men among us

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who dedicate themselves to cu ltivating this interior sense tbat I have erect­ed, as far as I was able, this feeble monument destined to mark my passage in a deserted and unculti vated country which pilgrims seemed to have so little curiosity about visiting. There will be revealed to those who come after me such thoughts as at the time occupied a friend of the science of [14) man, what he thought about and what he wanted to do for progress therein .'"

It is this 'feeble monument'-one of the greatest which has ever been erected to the human spirit throughout its history by drawing from materials found in this 'deserted country' which is the original place in which all [Husserlian)' constitutions are made and wherein first philosophy must move about- that we would like to try to discern in order to gather together bis teaching and to use it as a guiding light for our ontological analysis of the body.'[IS)

, Ibid. 103.

8 Inserted at author's suggestion.

9 cr. J. Racette, "Michel Henry's Philosophy of the Body," in Philosophy Today. 13 (1969), 83-94 which provides an excellent introduction to Henry's thought [translator's note].

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Maine de Biran's 'discovery' of the subjective body was not an accident. His discovery takes place in a context which makes it inevitable and this context is nothing other than that of a phenomenological ontology. As theme for his investigation, Maine de Biran took the problem of the ego which, as soon became apparent, was able to be solved only through an ontological analysis of the concept of SUbjectivity: the results of this analysis in tum force him to place the problem of the body upon entirely new founda­tions, and the problem of the body, correctly interpreted and situated, leads to the problem of the ego with which it is identified. Henceforth, the teaching of Maine de Biran may be summarized in these words: A body is subjective and is the ego itself. In defining man as body, Maine de Biran comes close to materialism, but this is only a false impression whose tme meaning is rather the undermining of materialism in its very foundations.

Before setting forth the theses of Biran on the body, it is first expedient to outline the general project of ontology in which these theses naturally take place. In order to realize the first part of our task, we will study suc­cessively 1) the phenomenological presuppositions of Biranian ontology, 2) the anscendental deduction of the categories, 3) the theory of the ego and the problem of the soul.[l6]


The difficulty in understanding the originality of the theses of Biran and their frequently decisive importance stems from the very terminology which he uses in his different works. This terminology is not new, and because he uses a traditional and apparently clear vocabulary, the radical novelty and the intrinsic content of the ontological propositions in which Maine de Biran formulates his thought, risk being passed over unnoticed and these propositions lend themselves to misinterpretations which definitively

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impede their understanding. To avoid such a difficulty, the more dangerous because it is not apparent, there is no other way than to overturn the lan­guage and not to retreat from a frequently thankless task, which easily lends itself to the irony of making language submit to the worst of treatments, even if the heaviness of expression seems to be the only benefit of such an undertaking. The very greats did not retreat from such heaviness of expres­sion and overthrow of language, but the modest sub-prefect of Bergerac did not feel himself authorized to take such liberties. The result is that, paradoxically, and in spite of the very French simplicity of style in which it is expressed, his thought was destined to remain longer without being understood than the thought of a Kant or a Heidegger. In order to attempt to rediscover the clarity of Biranian thought at its source, we did not hesi­tate to sacrifice the clarity of his style and we tried to express the main philo­sophical themes of Biranianism within our own terminology. One could fault us for using such a rather loose procedure with regard to the work of Maine de Biran and the form which he thought best to give it only if one misunderstood our true intention: a more humble and faithful harvesting of the teaching of a very great philosopher.

For Maine de Biran there are two kinds of knowledge and [17J conse­quently two kinds oj beings. In the fi rst form of knowledge, being is given us through the mediation of a phenomenological distance, it is transcendent being. Maine de Biran calls this knowledge "exterior knowledge." In the second form of knowledge, being is given to us immediately, in the absence of all distance; and this being is no longer any being whatever, it is the ego, whose being is uniquely determined according to the manner in which it is given us. Maine de Biran calls this second Jorm oj kllowledge "reflection" and the system of ideas founded on it a "reflective system." The term reflection, under the pen oj Maine de Biran, signifies exactly the opposite oj what we habitually understand by reflection, because the latter designates for us the operation whereby that which was immediately given to us with­draws from us and, through the mediation of its phenomenological distance, falls under the jurisdiction of the transcendental horizon of being. For lack of this simple remark, an essential confusion is introduced into the under­standing of Biranian thought, and it is because of such confusion that the neo-Kantians, and many other philosophers, thought that they were Biran­ian. This confusion is, it must be said, favored by Maine de Biran himself who at times gives the classical meaning to the term reflection, and sometimes a third meaning1-but the total context of his philosophy shows that the original meaning is the one we have just defi ned.

1 Cf. infra, chap. VI, pp. 169 ff.

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Passages wherein it is explicitly a question of reflection give itthequalifica­tion 'simple' which suffices to discard the mediating meaning of classical reflection. Biran speaks of "simple and perfectly clear ideas of reflection." 2 Reflection is identified with the original source of all evidence which is the cogito such as Biron understands it, i.e. not a reflective and intellectual act, [l8J but an action, an effort, a movement. The following is a series of texts wherein tbe identification of reflection with effort understood as a conscious spontaneous movement clearly appears: "From the point of view of reflection, provided I do not take leave of the fact of conscious­ness ... "3 There are "two kinds of science, essentially diverse, and attempts to assimilate them have been in vain, namely, those attached to objects of the imagination are of exterior representa tion and those concentrated in the subject of reflection Or internal apperception."4 "The idea of the individuality of the ego and of everything belonging to him cannot be drawn from anywhere but from his intimate reflection and feeling of effort.'" Such decisive texts forbid understanding Biranian 'reflection' as mediate knowledge introducing a distance between it and its object, as objectifica­tion, as the arising of a transcendent being. Speaking of an organic center from which, according to the physiological point of view, human action would emanate, Biran says that in such a center "the ego is, in all truth, objectivated in an individual image rather than conceived in the reflective and uorepresentable idea which is proper to him."6 "Are there not thoughts, intimate volitions, which can in no way be read from without or represented by any sort of image? To conceive them, would it not be necessary that they be identified with the active and knowingly productive force of such acts, with the ego itself, which feels itself and is aware of itself in its operations, but which in no way sees itself as object, in no way imagines itself as phenom­enon?'" Again: "All [I9J modes or operations whose ideas we can acquire in no other way than by our intimate reflection are absolutely uorepresent­able."·

~ Maine de Biran, Essa; sur les fondements de fa psychologie el sur ses rapports avec l'etude de la nature, in Oeuvres de Maille de Biran, ed. Tisserand, VIn (Paris: Alcan, 1932) 604.

3 Ibid. 126. [Henry's italics] 4 Ibid. 146. [Henry's italics] 5 Maine de Biran. Memoire sur fa decomposition de /a pellsee, in Oeuvres de Maine

de Biran, ed. Tisserand, III (Paris: AJcan, 1932) 217. [Henry's italics] • Ibid. 156. , Ibid. 71. [Henry's italics except for 'sees' and 'object']

• Ibid. 72 note.

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'Reflection' designates this knowledge which is included in every intention­ality and which is not knowledge of what is aimed at by such intentionality. Therefore, the term is comprehensible when it means, not transcendence, but rather that which does not go out toward the world, rather that which returns to the self and remains close to the self in its distance with regard to all things. What Maine de Biran expresses in the word 'reflection' is the very profundity of subjectivity, its 'intimate' life, in opposition to transcendent being in general, which is without interior dimension and which Biran frequently designates by the term 'image' which makes us think of a Spino­zist image, silent and painted on an easel as it were. Thus 'reflection' accord­ing to Maine de Biran is opposed to the movement of transcendence and hence would designate a particular case of transcendence, namely reflection in the classical sense. The very term reflection was borrowed by Biran from Locke, but it must be noted that it was a last resort for lack of anything better and solely in his concern to oppose the school of Condillac and his sensualist terminology: "Consciousness means know/edge with ... knowledge of self with that ... of something else. There is an interior knowledge ... a certain faculty intimate to our thinking being, which knows .. . that such modifications take place, that such acts are executed, and without this reflective knowledge, there would be no ideology or metaphysics at all; therefore, it is necessary to have a name for this interior know/edge, for the name sensation cannot say it all.'" With all his strength, Maine de Biran summoned up this new terminology which would express the central intui­tion of his thought, and he believed that it alone would be capable of bringing to light the real foundation of the science of human reality, "of [20] metaphy­sical evidence": "If we had an express language appropriate for reflection, there is no doubt there would be metaphysical evidence, just as there is mathematical evidence."'·

It is with this "express language" that we shall pursue the analysis of the problem central to Biranian philosophy and all philosophy, a problem which is formulated by the Essay thus : "Is there an immediate and internal apperception ?"11 The scope of this question stems from the fact that it directly questions what we have called "ontological monism, "12 namely, a philosophy which stated that nothing can be given to us other than within

\I Ibid. 69 note. [Utherefore .. . knowledge," Henry's italics] 10 Maine de Biran, Mbnoire sur la decomposition de fa pensee, in Oeuvres de Maine

de Biron, ed. Tisserand, IV (paris: Alcan, 1932) 178-179. 11 Maine de Birao, Essa; sur les /ondements de La psychologie ... 111. 12 cr. Michel Henry, The Essence of Manifestation, transl. G . Etzkorn (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1973) 47-133.

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and through the mediation of a transcendental horizon of being in general. For Maine de Biran there is no "being in general," his philosophy is a true ontological dualism: "I believed," he tells us, "that it was important to note the existence of two orders of facts, and to recognize the necessity for two kinds of observation for the gleaning of such facts." l3 Maine de Biran reflects on the ontology of nature as it is found in Bacon. This ontology is both a phenomenology and a methodology, the phenomena of nature being made to submit to the grasp of a determined method. Moreover, are there not "other phenomena"l. and because of this, does not a new method impose itself on us ? The problem is one of knowing "if the method of observing, classifying, analyzing can remain absolutely the same in its goal, its direc­tion, and its means, when we pass from the science of ideas which represent objects from outside to that of the modifications and the acts which keep the ego within its own peculiar limits?"l5

This amounts to positing the problem of psychology in its relationships [21] to the philosophy of nature, a problem which constitutes the theme of the Essay of Biran: lG "If we consider psychology as a science of interior facts, it does not seem that this science can be founded on a method different from that which has been used, since Bacon, in all natural sciences."l7 Maine de Biran shows, however, that these "other phenomena" which are "interior facts" must be studied according to a totally different method because they are given to us in an altogether different way.-How are they given us? While Maine de Biran says and repeats that there are two sorts of observation, we must understand that the second type of observation is not an observation, that it is not an interior observation, parallel to exterior observation, which arrives at the facts of nature while the former arrives at psychic facts. This interior observation would correspond to our 'introspection', to 'intuition', to classical reflection-so many modes of knowledge which, in order to give a foundation to his psychology, Biran rejects absolutely. The life of consciousness, in his view, could not be given us in an internal transcendent experience; therefore, it can be given us only in an internal transcendental experience.'· This is what the following

13 Maine de Biran, Memoire sur la decomposition ... III, 85. 14 Maine de Biran, Essai sur les fondement$ de fa psycho!ogie ... 167. l~ Maine de Biran, Memoire slir la decomposition ... III, 56. 16 We should recall that the complete title of the work is: Essai sur les fondements

de la psycll%gie el sur ses rapports avec /'e/ude de fa nature. 17 Maine de Biran, Essai sur les [ondements de fa psych% gie . .. 50. 18 By 'internal transcendental experience' in this work, we understand the original

revelation of the lived experience to itself such as it takes place in a sphere of radical

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decisive text affirms unconditionally: "If the first art of interior observation was happi ly cultivated by the psychologists, disciples of Locke, was the sec­ond, far more difficult, the art of interior experience, ever truly practised ?"1. [22]

Consequently, what Biran effects here is the substitution of a transcen­dental phenomenology for classical and empirical psychology; and it is clear that the working out of such a phenomenology goes hand in hand with the constitution of an ontology of subjectivity. It is because there exists something like an internal transcendental experience that an ontology of sUbjectivity is required and that the elaboration of a transcendental phenomenology or, as Maine de Biran calls it, a "subjective ideology" is possible. It is because all intentionalities in general, and consequently, the essential intentionalities of consciousness are known originally in the immanence of their very being and in their immediate accomplishment that we are capable of naming them and acquiring the idea of them: " With regard to our faculties," says Biran, " .. . they certainly do not have some sort of a mirror which would reflect them exteriorly; like the eye, tbey are applied to all objects within tbeir ambit, without being seen or known them­selves. 20 Hence, the imagination which creates or reproduces a sensible idea in no way imagines itself; the memory cannot apperceive itself in the present; reasoning, the judge of the most widespread relationships, does not judge itself or reason itself. Therefore, how can each of these faculties, unable to represent itself or apply itself to itself, be known as an object of knowledge, and by what means were we able to acquire the ideas which correspond to these terms: imagine, remember, judge, reason, will?"21 This is possible only through [23] "the exercise of a special sense," which might be called, mixing Biran's terminology with ours, an internal transcen­dental sense: "The exercise of this sense is to what happens within us as

immanence, i.e. in keeping with the fundamental ontological process of auto-affection. We have given a detailed analysis of the eidetic structure of this original mode of revelat ion in our work on The Essence of Manifestation, transl. G. Etzkorn (The Hague: Martinus Nijho/f, 1973).

18 Maine de Biran, Essai Slir les fondements de la psy clzologie ... 52. 20 The thesis which here seems to be affirmed by Maine de Biran is the very same one

to which we have given the name 'ontological monism'. Actually, we must understand that these faculties are known non-reflectively, viz. by knowledge of another sort. This is what Biran asserts several lines further on. Elsewhere, Biran says of the eye and the body in general exactly what he says here of the faculties. It is 'sufficient' that this comparison be made interior to the same ontological status-that of the internal transcendental experi­ence-in order that the amazing discovery of the subjective body might be made .

21 Maine de Biran, Essai sur les /ondements de /a psych%gie ... 67.

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external vision is to objects; but it differs from the laller in that internal vision bears within itself its own flame and clarifies itself with the light which it communicates."" This remarkable determination of the nature of intentionality implies within it a conception of original truth as subjectivity: "Therefore, the primitive fact bears within it its own criterion without borrow­ing it from elsewhere. " 23 Hence, internal transcendental experience, the milieu wherein original truth takes place, is also the source of all the ideas of our faculties. Therefore, it serves well as the foundation for transcendental phenomenology; as Maine de Biran further affirms : "One cannot deny that there might be certain positive ideas attached to the terms which express the real operations of perceiving, willing, comparing, reflecting .. . [therefore it is necessary] to examine whether one might be able to relate their origin to a given particular interior sense, whereby the individual would be in relationship 10 himself in the exercise of his operations . .. Henceforth, we would then have a conception of the natural foundation of the science of our faculties, of a truly subjective ideology.""

Within the project of this "truly subjective ideology" is also comprised the idea of a return to a sphere of absolute certitude, a sphere upon which this ideology must be founded. Such a certitude stems from the very struc­ture of the experience to which its content is given in the absolute trans­parency which results from the absence of all distance, i.e. in immanence. "Our intimate sense," says Biran, "is the most perfect manner of knowing, the only one which is truly immediate. "25 It is necessary "to take note of it [the primitive fact] by using the [24] sense which is especially and exclu­sively capable of this. "2. Actually speaking, "fact" and "sense" are but one; these two terms refer, the first to the ontological aspect, the second to the phenomenological aspect of one and the same essence whose bringing to light presupposes the building of an ontology of sUbjectivity. Maine de Biran is the only philosopher in his century who painfully sensed the absence of such an ontology and who understood the necessity for building one. He says as much very simply: "Perhaps philosophers .. . exaggerate the impotence of the totality of means at our disposal for knowing primitive facts. " 27 Therefore, we must be given "a just measure of these means of

" Ibid. [Henry's italicsl " Ibid. 68 . 24 Maine de Biran, Memoire sur la decomposition . . III, 103. [would be ... operations"

Henry's italicsl Z5 Maine de Biran, Essa; sur les /olldements de la psychologie ... 20, footnote. 26 Ibid. 11 S. 27 Ibid. 30.

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knowing. "28 Hence is dissipated the pessimism which marks the theory of knowledge in the nineteenth century and which results in the fact that this theory can be nothing other than a theory of the world, that the know­ledge which it circumscribes is never more than a knowledge of the object. The ontological deficiency from which such pessimism results strikes at the very heart of the most valid systems, in particular, the Kantian system whose essential lacuna Maine de Biran describes in one phrase: "Kant in no way determined which were the primitive facts: he confused them with theftrst passive modifications of sensibility. "29 However, to give to the develop­ment of these means of knowing which are ours their just due is to catch a glimpse of the existence of an absolute knowledge and of the sphere of absolute certitude which this knowledge delimits; it is to understand the necessity. for building an absolute science (of which the science of the facul­ties is but one element), a phenomenological science of human reality, a science which will be endowed with a characteristic of apodictic certitude- it is to bring to light the possibility, to speak as Maine de Biran does, of " 'elementing' the science of the human spirit. "30 [25J

The bringing to light of this sphere of absolute certitude, which is also a sphere of absolute existence, presupposes that a division be established between that which stems from such certitude and that which rather cannot pride itself therewith, at least in a direct manner. To build a science endowed with an absolute certitude is to effect this division, to reduce the vast field of human knowledge to that of original and absolute knowledge, knowledge which presents itself to us phenomenologically in apodictic evidence; it is, in other words, to effect the phenomenological reduction. The 'discovery' of the existence of a 'second sort of observation' was not made by Maine de Biran in the course of an external inventory of our powers of knowing; rather the moment of this discovery was to be found in the phenomenologi­cal reduction itself with which it is but one. The entire work of Maine de Biran is no more than a vast phenomenological reduction as we can see most particularly in the theory of faculties which we have already spoken of, and in the theories of the category, the soul and finally the body, which we will study in succession. The idea of such a reduction can likewise be seen in the constant movement whereby Biranian thought opposes every­thing which is a construction, theory, hypothesis, probability, and denounces a priori all errors which would be avoided "if we had posited a line of demar­cation more firmly between the domain of hypothetical truth and that of

28 Ibid. 45.

" Ibid. 164, footnote. [Henry's italics] ,. Ibid. 116.

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absolute truth."31 This is why the results acquired by scientific methods cannot claim to attain this absolute truth, not so much from the fact that in their domain they would be provisional or imperfect, but because they do not pertain to a domain wherein something like an absolute truth is possi­ble. 'The hypothetical or conditional results obtained in this way, not having the means of interior verification, would not be able to give a solution to [26J any problem of this order;" regardless of what they might be, they would not even begin to broach, so to speak, questions posited from a reflective point of view."33 ever has it been said with so much force that the sphere of the absolute science of human reality is without relationship to the sphere of the sciences and, consequently, that it is totally independent thereof. "A truly first philosophy" must stick to tbe phenomenological datum in which being and appearing are identical, and it is this identification which is in principle realized in the spbere of subjectivity.34 If we fail to stick to such a datum, we risk, from a philosophical perspective, confusing it with various transcendent constructs; we risk mixing all levels, positing innumerable false problems, and finding ourselves driven to the worst non-sequiturs, "as if," for example, "I would deny the real perception of colors, basing myself on tbe fact that, not knowing tbe luminous fluid in itself, nor the perturbations whicb it communicates to tbe retina, it would be impossible for me to perceive its effects."35 Force, tbat entity so 'metapby­sical' and so suspect, intervenes within tbe pbilosophy of Maine de Biran only when his philosophy has submitted to the treatment of reduction, when "its notion is reduced to its ultimate degree of simplicity, to everything that it can be for US." 36 This is the meaning of the Biranian thesis of "tbe immateriality of forces," and of the extremely important idea-and one which already marks a slight inclination of the tbought of Maine de Biran toward mysticism and toward a philosophy of absolute immanence-of the negation of any possible notion of "an absolutely foreign force."37 [27J

We could mUltiply examples indefinitely because this movement of thought toward reduction is at the origin of all the analyses of Maine de Biran. Nevertheless, we must repeat the same warning regarding terminology

31 Maine de Biran, Memoire sur fa decomposition ... IV, 233. 32 This is a question of the order of abso1ute truths, truths which appear only from

the "reflective point of view." 33 Maine de Biran, Memoire sur fa decomposition ... IV, 200. 3' And also, even though in another way, on the first phenomenological level of

transcendent being. ss Maine de Biran, Memoire sur fa decomposition . .. III, 237, footnote. " Maine de Biran, Fssai sur les landements de la psychologie ... 575. [Henry's italics] 31 Ibid.

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for Maine de Biran calls 'relative' what we have constantly called 'absolute', and he calls 'absolute' whatever has fallen beneath the blow of reduction and what is only 'possible', 'substantial', 'ontological', 'abstract'. Speaking of the idea of force and activity, the Essay says that when it is "conceived as relative before being conceived as absolute" it can furnish us with "the principle of the psychology or the science of ourselves."38 Hence, we find the return by way of reduction to an original sphere of certitude which will permit science to raise itself up upon a true foundation, one which will not be a mere notion, but existence itself: "It is here [in the actuality of the ego, viz. when the T is an 'actual' and not merely a 'virtual' force] and it is only here that it is for me the origin of the science identified with existence itself, not ontological or abstract, but real or felt."39 And this phenomenological foundation of the science of the faculties and of every absolute science will, in turn, be "the true object of metaphysics"4. which then ceases to be constituted by a body of transcendent constructs in order to become identified with a certain science, with psychology itself: "One would not be able to deny to such a metaphysics, so circumscribed within an entirely psychological field, the reality and the certitude or the very evidence of its object. This would indeed be a truly positive science, a science of the facts of the intimate sense bound to one another, and bound to a first fact, of itself evident, which would serve as foundation ... The objections . .. attacking the reality of an entirely abstract metaphysics, [28] would not he able to touch it because questions which it would raise would never leave the domain of interior facts."4l For Biran, true metaphy­sics is a psychology. However, his thought is not tainted with psycholo­gism,42 because the psychology which it promotes is in reality a transcen­dental phenomenology, an absolute science endowed with a characteristic of apodictic certitude. With regard to the ontology which every metaphysics elaborates, it is nothing more, in the case of a metaphysics "circumscribed

38 Ibid. 223; However, in the case of evidence, Biran uses the same terminology as we do and speaks, for example, of absolute evidence; cf. Essa; slir les fondements de la psychologio ... 537.

311 Maine de Biran, Memoire sur la decomposition . .. III, 221. ["science ... itself," Henry'S italics]

40 This is the title of the first appendix to the £Ssa; sur les/ondements de fa psychologie ... 41 Maine de Biran, £Ssa; sur tes fondemellts de la psycllologie . .. 618-619. [Henry's

italics] 42 As is the case for a number of philosophics of the 19th century, part icularly those

related to Kant, and which, as far as the problems relative to psychology are concerned, are just as much victims of psychologism as are the empiricist philosophies which they believe they are opposing.

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by an entirely psychological field," namely, a phenomenological field, than a phenomenological ontology.

We can now understand what a philosopher like Maine de Biran could mean by an investigation into the "foundations of psychology." As a science, psychology requires a foundation. This foundation is furnished by the sphere of existence wherein internal transcendental experiences take place, a sphere of absolute certitude to which the reduction has led us. But in its content, psychology is rather constituted by a certain number of statements and propositions, namely, by a series of judgments whose body constitutes a science. The thesis of Biran amounts to affirming that the judgments of psychology are founded judgments or, as he says, "intui­tive judgments," an expression which correctly notes that the judgment rests on something anterior to it and more primitive. This anterior something which is perfectly self-sufficient and in no way calls for the intervention of a judgment which would express it and hence effect its completion,43 this something which is therefore the absolutely concrete, is "immediate intuition," or [29J "internal apperception," viz. the internal transcendental experience. From this we can see that the question concerning the fonndation of psychology was the one posited in the Essay: "Is there an internal imme­diate apperception?"

The nature of intuitive judgment in Biranian thought is clearly understood starting from th e following text which concerns the cogito around which all of psychology wiII be built: "Before this proposition, J think, J exist, can be expressed by these separate signs, J, think, exist, the existence of the r is given in an internal apperception or an immediate intuition. The intellectual act, which unites thought and existence as inseparable attri­butes of the essence of the subject J, is an intuitive judgment; the latter relies upon signs; the intuition is independent thereof."44 The endless discussions on the cogito merely deal with the intuitive judgment, the predica­tive form which, in the relationship between predicate and subject, sur­mounts the split which it itself had posited. But intuition, i.e. the internal transcendental experience, is unaware of such a split; it is independent of the predicative judgment and of predicative life in general; it escapes in principle all discussions, all reasonings, all critiques. Nevertheless, intuitive judgments bear within them a certitude which is the reflection, as it were, of the absolute certitude of the "primitive fact" upon which

43 Hence, with respect to life, psychology is something contingent; as a science, it is likewise an essentially historical being.

44 Maine de Biran, Essai sur les /olldements de fa psycho!ogie . .. 525.

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they are founded . The ensemble of these intuitive judgments of which the cogito as the "psychological axiom" is the first, constitutes rational psycho­logy whose content is the same as that of the Essay of Biran. These judgments are not bound together by threads of a deduction properly so-called, but each is directly founded so that its truth, even if it is no longer original truth, nevertheless, escapes the vicissitudes of memory: "The intuitive judgments whose series I might well prolong ... are so many different expressions of the same fact [30] of consciousness."45 "The first intuitive judgment of a personal existence," the cogito, is not merely a "reflective judgment,"46 viz. this reflective judgment is not the privilege of the psychologist, rather it is a natural judgment which, in natural lan­guage, spontaneously expresses natural life, "a judgment coeval with our veryexistence."47


What we call "categories," viz. ideas such as force, cause, substance, unity, identity, person, freedom are those which Maine de Biran designates under the terms of "first notions", "reflective abstract ideas," "principles," "original ideas," and also, it would seem, "faculties." Actually, subjective ideology, which is the science of the faculties, not only includes the study of the categories, but also the study of notions such as imagination, memory, judgment, reasoning, etc.' Hence, the confusion which might possibly prevail concerning the exact extension of the term "faculty" is without importance; any confusion would be significant, for, with Maine de Biran, the theory of the categories is strictly parallel to the theory of the faculties in the narrow sense; the former theory, like the latter, amounts to bringing to light the sphere wherein all ideas-faculties or categories-find their source, a sphere of absolute SUbjectivity. To deduce the categories means, for Maine de Biran, to show that they have a mode of existence anterior to that whereby they appear to us in the form of ideas properly so-called and that in this more original mode of existence [31] they find their founda­tion. To understand, consequently, the theory of the categories is to be in possession of a philosophy which furnishes us with a status for this

" Ibid. 566. 46 For Biran, a term synonymous with 'intuitive judgment'. 47 Maine de Biran, Essa; sur les /olldements de la psych%gle ... 627. 1 Commenting on the philosophy of Leibniz, Biran explicitly speaks of "faculties of

understanding," of "forms or categories." cr. Memoire sur fa decomposition .. . III, 120.

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mode of existence which is first of all and originally that of the category. This mode of existence is that of subjectivity considered as the sphere

of absolute immanence. The idea of transcendental immanence alone permits us to understand what category must mean for Maine de Biran, not "an activity which is presupposed and not feit'" but rather something like an internal transcendental experience. The problem of the categories is now put into immediate solidarity with the problem of the status of sUbjectivity because Biranianism is first of all an ontology of sUbjectivity which could give a solution to the problem of the categories, a solution which is a remark­able complement to Kantian theory. It is because the subject "cannot exercise any of his faculties without knowing it, any more than he can know it without exercising it,'" that it becomes true to say that "the subject knows the categories," a proposition which, in Kantian philosophy, is without context. What was needed was to give to the word 'transcendental' a radically i=anent meaning, in order that the ensemble of the a priori conditions for the possibility of experience would no longer float freely in an indeter­minate region and in the transcendence of a quasi-Platonic heaven. What makes experience possible would then not simply be posited as necessary in order to satisfy philosophical understanding, it would not be "a pre­supposed activity." To say that an activity is "felt" is to say that it exists phenomenologically as an unimpeachable datum, i.e. as an experience, or, in the terms of Maine de Biran, that "speculative psychology ... is at the same time practical.'" And it is [32] because it is truly transcendental, i.e. based on a sphere of absolute i=anence, that the Biranian deduction of the categories is not truly a deduction but rather, as we will sec, a simple reading of the phenomenological characteristics of the ego. Likewise for this reason, the deduction of each category is independent and refers directly to the ego, in the same way that each intuitive judgment of rational psycho­logy is immediately based on a corresponding intuition.

Thus we have proposed a first explanation of the "relationship between internal apperception and original ideas," a proposition which forms the title of a section of the Essay and shows quite well the originality of Biran, which is to have bound the problem of the categories not to the problem of the spirit or reason, but to the problem of subjectivity. "Once we leave the absolute," says the Essay "we no longer have a foundation; we are beyond experience.'" That the Biranian deduction of the categories must receive

2 Maine de Biran, Mbnoire sur la decomposition . .. III, 58. [Henry's itaJics] 3 Maine de Birao, Essa; sur les fondements de fa psychologie . .. 85. [Henry's italics]

• Ibid. • Ibid. 219.

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this meaning, viz. of being a reduction to the sphere of immanence, is further shown a) by the critique directed by Biran against various philosophies with respect to which he defines his own thought and b) by his exposition of the deduction of the main categories.

A) The Biranian critique is directed both against empiricism and against rationalism. We will now expose in schematic fashion the argument of this twofold critique. The problem is one of defining the being of the categories, i.e. their nature and the region to which they belong. Empiricism knows only one ontological region, that of transcendent and sensible being. In such a region, there exists only facts in the sense of natural phenomena. Therefore, there is no region peculiar to the categories, the latter being nothing more than "ideas of classes or of purely artificial genre insofar as they are no more than collections of abstract modes of sensations,[33] and they depend on the nature of such compared sensations."· No matter how abstract such ideas may be, it is still necessary to understand what power effects their abstraction starting from a sensible datum. And Hume's recourse to feeling is no more than a disguised appeal to subjectivity;' but Hume's empiricism is quite incapable of yielding a theory because it is an ontological monism and claims to know only one sort of experience and one sort of evidence. "The ideologists,"· says Biran, " .. . admit but one sort of experience, all of which is related to representative sensation, while they absolutely deny the reality of everything which is not physical.'" "They take," Biran says elsewhere, "exterior images as the exclusive type of all clarity or evidence."'· It is not because empiricism cannot give an account of our experience of the lVorld or the ideas implied therein, it is because it knows only this form of experience that Maine de Biran rejects it just as he rejects rationalism.

There are, says Biran, two sorts of ideas, abstract, general ideas formed by comparing certain sensible qualities or modifications (ideas which are logical abstractions and necessarily collective) and on the other hand, reflective abstract ideas which are not impoverished when their extension is augmented, which are always universal and simple and which of them-

• Ibid. 458-459. 'l We already know that, according to Husserl, this need for a radical return to subjec­

tivity is the hidden meaning of the philosophy of Hume. S The empiricism refuted by Maine de Biran is not merely English empiricism; there

is a French empiricism whose critique profoundJy influenced the orientation of Biranian tbought.

9 Maine de Biran, Essai sur les fondements de fa psyclzologie .. . 619. " Ibid. 75.

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selves enjoy a pecular and real value. The problem is precisely that of the status of these "reflective abstract ideas" which are none other than the categories. However, it will become apparent, at the end of the Biranian critique, that rationalism [34J cannot confer on these categories any definite and satisfactory status because, like empiricism, it is not in possession of an ontology of subjectivity and hence it finds itself totally helpless when the moment comes for determining, in a rigorous fashion, the mode of being of "innate ideas" and of the a priori. Against rationalism we must say that all knowledge is derived from experience because the condition for the possibility of experience is itself an experience. It is because the category was precisely for him an experience, and a specific experience, that Biran was able to circumscribe an absolutely original ontological region which, while being the SOUTce of all experience, was no less phenomenologically given and known.

Henceforth, empiricism and rationalism were judged together: "Why do metaphysicians maintain that the primary and directive notions of cause, substance, unity, identity, etc. 'reside in the soul a priori" and are "indepen­dent of experience and prior to it, while the others would have it that they are deduced by way of a generalization or abstraction from facts given in external experience, i.e. sensation ... ? This is because, while misunderstand­ing the character and nature of primitive facts with which such notions are identified in their real source and taking them in that degree of generaliza­tion to which the repeated usage of the signs of language has raised them, they cannot recognize their primary character as facts ."ll Already a passage from the Memoire established an explicit relationship between the doctrine "which reduces all the faculties of understanding to forms or logical catego­ries and the doctrine which sees there no more than abstract characteristics of one and the same transformed sensation."12 Leibniz and Condillac fall under the blow of one and the same critique whose meaning is the demand for an ontology of SUbjectivity [35].

In the absence of such an ontology, category can be no more than an abstract term, which it literally is in empiricism, but doubtless in rationalism as well; a condition for the possibility of experience burdened with synthesiz­ing it, the category, if it is not included in an immanent theory, becomes a transcendent terminus 'x', analogous to any other transcendent terminus 'x' whatever. We might well show the necessity for admitting it, but no one has constructed anything like an explicative hypothesis for it; we have left the

11 Ibid. 32-33. 12 Maine de BiraD, Memoire slIr fa decomposition ... III, 120.

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sphere of certitude which is that of subjectivity, we build tbeories of know­ledge whose content cannot but fall beneath the blows of the phenomenolo­gical reduction, and we have not yet taken cognizance of the conditions which a transcendental phenomenology of knowledge must satisfy. The result is that between the empiricist method, which by abstraction separates out the categories of sensible experience, and the reflective method which limits itself to realizing in a mind 'x' the same categories which it itself has also learned to recognize by reading them, so to speak, in sensible experi­ence as that which is required to account for it, there is no essential differ­ence.

That this is in fact the thought of Biran on this point will be shown by comparing two texts from the Memoire, the first which treats of the empi­ricist method, the second of the method to which in fact rationalism resorts: "Bacon ... hearkens back to a real distinction between certain prod­ucts of the intelligence to a hypothetical division between faculties or powers which were thought to form these products. Hence, the encyclopedic order does not in any way stern from a real and a priori division between the faculties of the soul ... but rather, the latter division is customarily established a posteriori, and according to the encyclopedic order itself. "13

"All distinctions or metaphysical precisions which might be made between these various points of [36] view, l4 are related only to an abstract world of possibles, whereby science is confronted with existence itself. But once we seek to reunite them to the world of realities, they are without applica­tions; and their authors, brought back to the primary data of experience, find themselves constrained to use such data handed down from the oldest sorts of habi ts, without being able to go beyond them . Thus it is that meta­physics, while claiming to abrogate to itself the right to judge experience, by prescribing laws for it, rather receives its laws, adapts to its customs and sanctions them rather than rectifying them. "15

Actually, what Maine de Biran requires of us is an identification of science with existence, i.e. an understanding that existence is already a science, not an imperfect or provisional one, but the origin of all science, the origin of truth. The source of experience is not situated behind it but experience is its own origin. The reproach which Biran addresses to Descartes, to Leibniz, and to Kant is that with them "the source of all reality is realized outside consciousness." This is why, with Leibniz, the analysis

13 Ibid. III, 32. 14 It is a question of the viewpoints of Kant, Descartes and Leibniz which had just

been studied in that order. I S Maine de Rirao, Memoire sur fa decomposition . .. III, 122-123.

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of metaphysical propositions is identical to the geometric method for the resolution of equations and, in Kantianism, a mediation must intervene in the process of hringing to light the categories which are hardly known, but rather posited in an indirect manner." For lack of an ontology of subject iv­ity, the categories can only float about "in that region raised above all experience," such that if a critique must ultimately be directed against rationalism, it is the following: "The soul certainly has the power of making reflective acts and seeing what is in itself; moreover, the soul sees what is outside only by means of certain forms or ideas which are in [37] it alone; but there is no immediate or actual apperception of these forms or ideas at all, and the soul can grasp them only in the intuition of things. " 17 This text is explicitly aimed at Leibniz; however, it takes on for us a general and pecu­liarly infinite meaning, for it shows with startling clarity how the in-depth claim of Biranian philosophy is that of the constitution of a transcendental phenomenology of knowledge which in turn cannot but rest on an ontology of subjectivity. Biran recapitulates the meaning of the critique which he has addressed to the various systems of modern philosophy in the following terms: "It was merely a question of showing the origin which such systems hearkened to in certain excursions of the mind beyond the limits of fact, which alone can give a real basis to science."l8

The problem at the center of this entire discussion is that of the a priori. In the Biranian context, the term a priori has a pejorative meaning, it is synonymous with that of the absolute upon which we have already com­mented. Speaking of metaphysics, Biran says, in the first Appendix to the Essay, that "We can successfully impugn a priori the reality of its object as science of the substance of the soul, or of every absolute and a priori principle."l9 The a priori designates that which, as the consequence of a "tendency toward the absolute," is posited and realized "beyond all possible observation," "in that region above and beyond all experience." What then does the Biranian critique of the a priori mean? It is essentially directed against admitting, at the origin of our experience, of a transcendent terminus 'x'. There is no doubt that that which is at the origin of our experience could not be the content or the object of our experience, because this content or this object presupposes a condition of possibility which is precisely that of the a priori itself; [38] but, on the other hand, if the a

16 This is why Kant needed a clue to discover the list of categories. " Maine de Biran, Essai sllr les fondements de la psychologie ... 137-138. [Henry'S

italicsl 18 Ibid. 139 . .. Ibid. 617. [Henry's italicsl

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priori is something which we posit (in order, for example, to account for the possibility of experience), it itself becomes in turn a transcendent terminus and can no longer in any way render the services we expect from it. Expe­rience cannot be conceived without an a priori which makes it possible, but this a priori can render experience accessible to us only if it is situated interior to ourselves and becomes one with the very being of our intention­ality. What is here in question is not the idea of the a priori; it is its pheno­menological status; the Biranian critique amounts to saying that the a priori cannot be a transcendent terminus, known or unknown, situated in front of or behind us; it rather pertains to the sphere of absolute immanence.

Interpreted within an ontology of sUbjectivity and henceforth understood in the light of its own internal exigencies, the idea of a priori ends up by finding a place in Biranianism, as we see in the following passage which treats synthetic judgments as intuitive judgments of rational psychology: "We might likewise say that these synthetic judgments are a priori not because they are independent of all experience, but because tbey stem directly from the primitive fact of existence."2o Moreover, now related to "the primitive fact of existence," i.e. situated at last in its true place, the a priori is that which alone permits us to understand that existence can be a science and that the being of the ego consists in an original knowledge. After having rejected innatism, after having declared that "The suppo­sition that there is something innate is the death of analysis"21-by this he means to say that the admission, at the origin of th ings and as their prin­ciple, of a transcendent terminus which is of itself unknown is no more than a recourse to a Deus ex machina, whatever name might be given to it, e.g. whether spirit or [39) matter- Biran makes innatism submit to the treat­ment of the reduction and rediscovers it in the sphere of immanence under­stood in its true sense, at the heart of which he finds the ultimate reality, viz. the phenomenological transcendental ego. And this is how a question of infinite scope arises which, if we had the means at our disposal to receive it, would lead us to a region where we could contemplate the very essence of ipseity: "If the ego is not innate to itself, what can be?"'"

B) In Biranianism, the deduction of the categories takes on a very partic­ular meaning, without equal in any other philosophy. As we have seen, to deduce a category is to determine its status in a phenomenological ontology, it is to bring to light the mode of existence which pertains to it at its origin, and not to quibble about the necessity for admitting it as

20 Ibid. 630. 21 Ibid. 218.

" Ibid. 351.

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a condition for the possibility of experience. The category will in fact prove -0 be the condition for the possibility of experience, but this will be in an altogether different meaning, viz. in the sense that it is true to say that, without subjectivity, there is neither world nor experience for us. Hence the category is the original truth itself and this truth is the condition for the possibility of all experience, the original ontological possibility; but this original ontological possibility is of itself nothing 'possible', it is rather a fact, it is given, it is an internal transcendental experience. The ontological possibility is subjectivity; consequently, it does not need to be deduced, but simply to be read and known in the sphere of original existence per­taining to it. Actually, the deduction is a reduction; to deduce a category is to reduce its being to what it is originally and, this time, in an irreducible fashion.

Before being deduced-i.e. before its being has been reduced-the cate­gory is a category of the thing, it appears [40] in the element of transcendent being as a characteristic of this being. Nevertheless, it cannot maintain itself in such a situation, with a status which is not originally its own. It will have to be deduced, i.e. a reduction must intervene in which its being will submit to a transformation and pass from the sphere of the transcendent to that of immanence and subjectivity. Take causality for example: It is first of all a causality of the thing, a causality in the thing. But, since the tbing is only a spatial and sensible determination, there is no place in it for causality, which is thus no more than an obscure force hidden behind it. The behavior of the thing, thus moved by an unknown agent, has a magic allure; we might well attempt to reduce this behavior to its v isible and objective characteristics; nevertheless, we have not succeeded in exorcizing entirely this idea of cause which remains behind as a sort of remorse of philosophy. The phenomenological reduction acbieved by empiricism and positivism is true on its level which is that of transcendent being; it shows that, on such a level, there is no place whatever for the idea of causality and that all representations which this idea might conjure up would only be imaginary representations of obscure forces and magical powers. The idea of causality is not, to speak as Maine de Biran, homogeneous to any sensible ideas whereby one might represent external phenomena. However, "Whence comes this lack of homogeneity? ... Why does the existence of a productive force or an efficient cause persist so obstinately in our minds ... while on the other hand this cause remains hidden to the view of imagina­tion and forever conceals from us its face and its manner of working?"'3

23 Ibid. 227. [Henry's italics]

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The problem of the origin of the idea of causality is an ontological problem. If the idea of causality does not find its source in the sphere of transcendent being, it is necessary, in order to [41] account for this idea and its origin, to bring to light another region of being, i.e. to have at our disposal an onto­logy which can find a place for the original being of causality. The deduction of the categories is possible only within an ontology of subjectivity.

In the absence of such an ontology, the critique of the various philosophies which limit themselves to transcendent being-as if the latter were self­sufficient, without raising the problem of the possibility and the foundation of transcendent being-could not receive its full development. For example, we will show that the diversity of sensible intuition cannot be united in one consciousness unless it submits to the action of the category of causality; henceforth, the latter will appear as a condition without which there would be no world possible for us . But from the fact that the idea of causality is indispensable for the constituting of a human world and for the existence of a human experience, it in no way follows that man possesses such an idea. To posit causality as an a priori condition for experience, this does not yet furnish us with the origin of this idea. There is a world for us if this world submits to the world of causality, but whence is it that we have at our dispos­al a category such as that of causality; where do we get this idea, since it does not come from the diversity of sensible intuition? This idea comes from somewhere else, it is a priori; but what is this 'somewhere else', by what mystery is this a priori at our disposal in order that a world might exist for us? Moreover, in order that we might form the project of showing that a world is possible for us only if it submits to the category of causality, is it not necessary that we are already in possession of the essential, i.e. of this category itself and its idea?

Therefore, it is the problem of the origin of the idea of causality and not that of its reflective implication under the rubric of the universal condition for experience which must first orient our efforts toward a true deduction of the categories. As long as we have not satisfied the internal exigencies of such a problem, we will encounter [42] the worst difficulties : The world of experience in fact exists, it is certainly a real world; but that which makes it possible must be no less real, for lack of which the world of experience would cease in turn to be real in order to become a pure possible. Condition for experience and experience [itself] are both possible and hence there is not yet anything; or else, they are both real and then only a human experi­ence and a human world exists. But we cannot take as our departnre point solely the reality of the world and then posit the condition for its possibility in the possible. Nevertheless, even if we feel authorized to proceed in

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this way, we would have no means for determining this condition for possi­hility in general, whose being would float around somewhere outside the real without our being able to say exactly where; we would have no means for giving it a name and for calling it causality, for example. Actually, it is causality which knows causality, and if we do not need to recur to empirical judgments to form its idea by abstraction, if, on the other hand, its deduction needs no hints or clues, it is because causality, like all the other categories, belongs to "an order of more intimate facts which constitute thinking and acting being, in the relationship of immediate knowledge with itself,"" it is because the problem of the categories cannot find a solution except in an ontology of subjectivity. In a text which treats explicitly of causality,25 Maine de Biran states: "The entire mystery of a priori notions disappears before the flame of internal experience, where we learn that the idea of cause has its primary and unique prototype in the feeling of the ego, identified with that of effort." Once the being of subjectivity has been identified by Maine de Biran with the being of the ego, the deduction of the categories likewise leads to the ego, the absolute being wherein the categories find their ultimate origin. [43J

On the other hand, if the movement of this reduction does not result in putting the world in parentheses nor of withdrawing it from the action of the categories-a result which one might bring as an objection to Biranian­ism because, as we have shown, there is no place in the world for the being of the categories-it is because the world is a world lived by the ego and not separate from it such that it is not a dead world but has a life, the very life which the ego gives it. The life of the world is that of the ego and, henceforth, the world is a world wherein causes and forces intersect, it is a world with zones which are centers of interest, of attraction or repul­sion, of strong points or weak points, which have a unity of action or reac­tion, a power, a force which I can neither ignore nor always defy. The world is a world which my causality penetrates, and dominates even in the refusals which it addresses to my causality, even in the resistance which it opposes thereto. Things have their category, their manner of acting i.e. presenting themselves to us, their manner of being for the ego. It is because the ego is causality, force, unity, identity, freedom, that things are realities, individualities, and they have an autonomous power as it were which is peculiar to them and defines them in our eyes. The world is the same because I am the same. The magic being of the world is ultimately irreducible, because the world is a human world. The world of science, a world which

24 Maine de Bifan, Essai sur les fondements de la psychologie ... 621. [Henry's italicsl 25 Ibid. 227. [Henry's italics]

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lVould be without causes, is but an abstract world. There is no purely scientific world, for such a world, in the last analysis, would be nothing more than nothingness. The world of positivism is a surface world, a parade of images which will never be able to affect man nor do him the least harm; it is a world without relationship to man. However, if such a world exists in its bloodless and feeble reality, it is because it still hidesinit something for which it cannot account and which refers to the powers of the ego. The truth of weightiness, that which permits me to speak of it, even interior to a strictly scientific point of view, [44J is the fact that I can fall and that contact with the earth is a sort of blow which affects me. And how could positivism, or any scientific theory whatever, account for this contact, i.e. the presence of a world to the ego? This presence is based upon a transcendental relationship, and the world which this relationship yields to us is not primarily a scientific structure. Scientific relationships are based on other relationships and the primitive world comprised by these relationships is the world of meo. The cosmos is the ensemble of elements, i.e. of those things which are originally things for us. What makes water water is the fact that I cannot hold it between my fingers and the fact that if I plunge into it, I si nk down and risk drowning if I lack the proper technique. The liquid milieu means for me the end of the reign of solidity, the absence of solid ground and a stable point of reference. The pleasure of contemplating the sea does not pass without a secret anxiety; everyiliing bears within the heart of its being the image of a human destiny; the world is penetrated by a life which is mine: I am the life of the world.

While proposing a subjective theory of the categories and identifying subjectivity and ego, Maine de Biran forbade every interpretation of the categories which would view them as rules for reflective thought and which would intervene only in the constitution, for example, of science, of rational language, or of logic. The categories are the powers of ilie ego, they are the fundamental modes of life, the primary determinations of existence. When we speak of the ideas of causality, unity, force, etc., we must be careful, since by these we can understand two quite different things: first of all, an idea of causality in which causality is the theme for thought. We form the idea of causality as we form the idea of the sea, of the proletariat, of ilie state. We have this idea and we use it in order to establish, for example, a causal relationship between two phenomena and by degrees to constitute a science. Such an idea of causality certainly exists, but far from our [45J being able to confuse it with the category of causality, ilie idea is rather founded on the latter. The category is not an idea in any way, but a manner of living the world, a structure of natural life. Therefore,

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the theory of the categories in Biranianism is no longer a theory of reason or of understanding, it has become a theory of existence. However, at the same time, because for him existence is ego, because the ego is subjectivity, because he gives an explicit theory of subjectivity, Biran had to avoid the reefs of numerous subsequent styles of thought which, under the pretext of fleeing intellectualism, and for lack of a theory of existence, i.e. an ontology of subjectivity, are only able to recur to descriptions, to simple suggestions, and ultimately fade into literature. By sinking its roots into existence, the Biranian deduction of the categories appeals, not to an indeter­minate region of being-a region which would draw all its prestige and power from its very indetermination-but to a sphere of absolute existence which is determined, for it is the sphere of transcendental immanence.

Hence, the deduction of the categories depends on a region which we know, for it is the original place of all knowledge. It is to this spbere of subjectivity, i.e. to the ego, that the deduction of each category is referred. We have shown, apropos of causality, how, as an idea, it is deduced starting from the original power which is one with the very being of our existence: "To de~y the feeling or the interior knowledge of power," says Maine of Biran, "is to deny one's entire existence." 26 The deduction of the idea of force shows well in what the Biranian deduction consists and how the being of the idea is borrowed from something more original, namely the very being of the ego: "The idea of force cannot actuaIly be grasped originaIly except in the consciousness of the [46] subject who makes the effort, and even when it is made totally abstract from the fact of consciousness, transported outside and totaIly displaced from its natural base, it always conserves the imprint of its origin."" It is because it bears the imprint of an origin which it does not contain that the world, as we have seen, has this magical characteristic which makes it a human world, but which first permits it to exist as a world, as the world of the ego.

The deduction of the ideas of unity and identity have the same meaning: "Every idea of 'one' or 'same' [is] essentiaIly understood in the primitive fact or in the ego of which it is a form."' . The unity of the object is a derived unity, the original unity is that of the ego whose reproduction coincides with the apperception of itself as one in this reproduction. This apperception by the ego of the unity of its phenomenological being takes place, of course, on the level of absolute immanence, to the point of being constitutive-not in the habitual sense of a transcendent constitution, but in a radicaIly

26 Ibid. 232. 21 Maine de Biran, Essai sur {es fondements de fa psychologie .. . 220. 28 Ibid. 243.

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immanent sense- of the very being of the ego, which is hence a transcen­dental phenomenological being: "The ego ... constantly reproduces itself or apperceives itself in effort under one and the same form." The unity of the world can only be founded on that of the ego: "Take away the ego, and there is no more unity anywhere. "29 With regard to freedom, its idea is no less derived. Hence, the world is invested with the powers of the ego; the category which reigns in it is truly deduced, led there from another region which is that of subjectivity. It is in this latter region that the original category is situated and concerning which we can hardly say that it is still an idea: "This idea," says Maine de Biran, speaking of freedom, "is at root nothing but an immediate feeling." '· Biranianism [47J thus gives us an immanent theory of the categories and, in particular, of freedom, which leads it, in the latter case, to reject the messy confusion of limitless discus­sions dealing with the idea of freedom, but unable to question the being of the ego or the sphere of infinite and free existence proper to it."

An immanent theory of the categories alone can explain that the latter are truly in our possession, that we can know them and recognize them originally on the transcendental level and consequently that we can know and recognize things. If the category were not immanent, it would be of no use to us at all in knowing things because we would not know the category itself immediately. Because it had an absolute understanding for the neces­sity of the immanence of the category, because it gave to this immanence a radical interpretation which led it to make the powers of knowledge and the conditions of experience to be the very being of the concrete ego, Biranianism not only takes its place among the eternal philosophies, it advances further than them to the interpretation of origillal truth as existellce.

Subsequently, it is not easy to understand the deduction which Maine de Biran gives to the categories of substance and necessity, since he assigns to them a foundation which is not at all the original being of the subjective ego, but which is transcendent being, even more it is the foundati on of every transcendent being in general. It is true that the idea of substance seems first to have been deduced from a concrete mode of the existence of the ego, i.e. from effort, and its origin is hence the same as the origin of the idea offorce. But we have been alerted to the fact that the origin of the idea

29 Ibid. 243-244. 30 Ibid. 251. 31 "To make a probJem of freedom is to make a prob1em of the feeling of existence

Of of the ego from which it in no way differs; every question concerning this primitive fact becomes frivolous by the very fact that it is questioned." Maine de Biran, Essai sur les fondements de fa psyc1z%gie ... 250.

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of substance is "mixed," that it [48] may also be found, not in effort, but in the terminus which resists effort, and it becomes more and more apparent that it is not from the unity of the ego but from this "substratum", which is the "resisting continuum", that the idea of substance is finally deduced. The polemic directed against the Cartesian cogito and against the appella­tion of substance given to the being of the latter, the rejection of substantial­ism in general, the appeal to activist philosophers such as Fichte, Schelling, or de Tracy, accentuate this movement and impede Maine de Biran from making any assimilation of substance to the primitive fact of the cogito. Substance and cogito are rather opposed as the being of the world is opposed to that of the ego. The origin of the idea of substance is the otherness of the world or rather, it is the foundation for this otherness, the resisting terminus upon which everything which peoples the world is built.

As far as the category of substance is concerned, the fact of admitting as its origin that which, in the sphere of transcendent being, is the founda­tion of every transcendent being, is not, it is true, a mark of inferiority with respect to the other categories wbich are derived from tbe transcendental spbere of subjectivi ty for, in Biranianism, tbe existence of tbe resisting con­tinuum enjoys the same absolute certitude as tbat of SUbjectivity and effort. The world is just as certain as my own existence. Certainly in Biranianism there is a phenomenological reduction, but the latter, as is the case with certain commentators on Husserl, does not question the being of tbe world; it rather seeks to circumscribe tbat which, in such a being, is original and endowed witb true certitude. It is tbe terminus of effort, the resisting con­tinuum, which in Biranian philosophy plays such a role.32 The modes of sensibility- colors, sounds, odors, etc.-which are based upon the resisting continuum in order to constitute the sensible world, [49] alone fall beneath the blow of tbe reduction whereas the resisting continuum remains in the sphere of certitude as does the pure being of the ego now reduced to effort. Actually, the primitive fact is a "primitive duality." The two termini of this duality are equally endowed with an irreducible certitude and it is understandable, at first glance, tbat Maine de Biran had thought one terminus as useful as the other as tbe foundation for his "original ideas" and of these two termini, he based the categories of substance and necessity on the one which is both transcendent and fundative of the world.

The deduction of the category of substance has the merit of bringing to light one of tbe riches of Biranianism, the existence in it of a sort of "ontological proof" revealing to us the presence at the heart of transcendent

32 Concerning the reason why the 'resisting terminus' belongs to the transcendentally reduced sphere of certitude, cr. infra, chap. II.

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being of an element endowed with an absolute certitude. The problem of the certitude of this element has, nevertheless, no relationship with that of the origin of the category. The latter would in no case find its foundation in transcendent being, for if things were this way, we would be deprived of the means for intuiting the milieu wherein it is thought to appear and, consequently, it would remain always unknown to us. In order to read the category of substance in the element of transcendent being, we must already be in possession of it, even if only in order to recognize it. But to say that we must already be in possession of it is to say that the being of the category belongs to the sphere of transcendental immanence in general, and that a deduction of the categories cannot receive a philosophical meaning unless it presents itself to us in the form of a return to such a sphere, to the sole region wherein something like an absolute beginning is possible.

The uncertainties witnessed by the Biranian deduction-so strict to this point-are related to more general difficulties, when it encounters the catego­ries of substance and necessity, difficulties concerning a problem which goes beyond that of the category and which not only Biranianism but almost all philosophies have [50J left in total ontological obscurity, the problem of passivity'3 Before returning to this particular aspect which the latter problem assumes in Biranianism, we will pursue our study of the philosophi­cal presuppositions of the analysis of the body, assuming as acquired that the reduction to i=anence represents the essential in the doctrine of the Essay concerning the problem of the category. This viewpoint is not only justified by the fact that it is, with regard to the deduction of the quasi­totality of original ideas, the viewpoint of Biran who likewise had a presenti­ment of the insufficiency of his deduction of the idea of necessity and also by the fact that, correctly interpreted, the deduction of the category of sub­stance has the same meaning as that of the other categories, but it is neces­sary to maintain this point of view if we wish to understand the profound unity of Biranian ontology and in particular, his theory of the ego, a prelude to his theory of the body.


Biranianism is one of the rare philosophies, perhaps the only one, which claims to give us an ontological theory of the ego. What is here in question

33 We studied this problem explicitly in The Essence of Manifestation, chapters 37, 41,53, transl. G. Etzkorn (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1973) 281-297, 335-345, 468-478; concerning the problem of passivity in Biranianism, cf. infra, chapter VI.

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are not the characteristics of the ego or its properties or even the relation­ships which it can maintain with its biological or social milieu, with its time or with some other reality which it pleases philosophers, psycholo­gists, or savants to consider and most often to raise subreptitiously to the level of the absolute. It is not a question of a psychological, sociological, or historical, viz. literary, description or even less of theories containing the presuppositions of such descriptions and aiming at justifying them, it is a question of an ontological analysis which deals with the being of the ego, i.e. [51J what makes the ego an ego, the essence of ipseity in it. Such an analysis leads to the identification of the being of the ego with that of subjectivity. The being of sUbjectivity was determined by Maine de Biran in rigorous fashion by its appearance [parailrej. This appearance was in turn determined in no less rigorous fashion starting from its radical opposi­tion to the being of ideas or "notions," images or things, starting from its radical opposition to exterior being in general whose appearance, i.e. being, resides in its very exteriority. Such was the result of the problematic which went back to the foundation of "a twofold observation," i.e. the bringing to evidence of two irreducible modes of manifestation. The deter­mination of the being of the ego by the internal structure of amode of man i­festation truly has an ontological meanjng; tbe positing whicb it accom­plisbes is not one of "some thing," of a "being" in the sense tbat common or philosopbical tbought understands it, viz. tbe positing of a being, because tbis "some thing" is ratber constituted by its "bow" and by tbe internal structure of its mode of manifestation.

Thus tbe designation of tbe being of tbe ego as identical to tbat of sub­jectivity signifies that, for Maine de Biran, the ego is not a being. Because the ego is not a being, tbe opposition between tbe ego and tbe non-ego cannot be defined in ontic terms, for a sort of opposition necessarily inter­venes between bomogeneous elements. Like the ego, the non-ego must bave an ontological meaning. The traditional interpretation of the Biranian opposition between the ego and the non-ego as being between effort and the real which resists it is unacceptable. For effort is still sometbing and so is tbe real wbereby it tests itself. It is tbe being of effort, its original mode of presence to itself whicb constitutes the ipseity of tbe ego; it is tbe mode of marufestation of tbe resisting continuum, its exteriority, wbich permits it to present itself once and for all anteriorly to its resistence and independent of it, as [52J otber, as that very tbjng whicb is otber. Tbe opposition between the ego and tbe non-ego is an opposition between tbe being of effort and tbe being of tbe world, it is an ontological opposition.

Tbe tbeory of subjectivity is completed in Biranianism by the theory of

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the faculties and the categories, but for a philosophy which identifies the being of sUbjectivity with that of the ego, the subjective theory of the facul­ties and the categories, "subjective ideology," is at the same time a theory of the ego. Conversely, the fact that the subjective theory of the categories leads, as we have seen, to the ego as to the being wherein these categories draw their origin is a proof as well as a consequence of the subjective ego. The deduction of the categories, by very reason of the central role of the ego within this deduction, stands as a decisil'e confirmation of the thesis of the belonging of the ego to the sphere of absolute immanence. A proposition which we have already cited apropos of the deduction of the category of unity may seem equivocal: "The ego constantly reproduces itself and apperceives itself in effort in one and the same form." We might ask if the being of the ego which presents itself to itself in this reproduction is not subject to the category of unity insofar as it would be thought through this category, subsumed beneath it in the same fashion as any other being of the world. The philosophical direction of the Biranian deduction of the categories absolutely rejects such an interpretation. The category is identified in its original being with the very being of the ego; it is no longer possible for the latter to be a sort of object known by means of the category or constituted by it in any way whatever. The deduction has this primary consequence of tearing the beiug of the ego away from tbe sphere of transcendent being in general which is always the product of a constitution. The ego, on the other hand, is not constituted, it cannot be so as long as it is one in its being with the category, i.e. with the power of constitution in general, as long as it is itself such a power. [53]

At the same time, the affirmation of the transcendence of the ego appears as deprived of all foundation and, because it destroys the characteristic which constitutes the very essence of ipseity, as a frivolous theory. The interiority of the immediate presence to itself constitutes the essence of ipseity, of 'ego-ness', as Maine de Biran says. "It is necessary," says the Essay, "that the ego had already begun to exist for itself."l If the ego is transcendent, it follows that it does not exist for itself but only for something other than it, some power 'x', some transcendental milieu, some purely logical subject, nothingness, or any other name which we might care to give it. Nevertheless, is not interiority a condition sine qua non in order that the concept of the ego might receive a meaning? If the being of the ego did not belong to the sphere of absolute i=anence, nothing would permit me to designate as mine-rather than that of some other man-that

1 Maine de Biran, Essai sur les /ondements de fa psych%gie ... 186.

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ego which now pertains to the sphere of transcendent being. Inversely, we do not see what would impede some other ego from insinuating itself into the sphere of absolute immanence from which this ego, which is mine, was ejected,. such that we might just as well be able to apply to the tran­scendent ego .as well as to the immanent ego this phrase which Maine de Biran obviously reserved for the latter: "I could doubt ... whether, when I feel or apperceive my individual existence, it is not another being which exists in my place.'"

The consequence of the absolute immanence of the ego is that the latter is identified in its being with life itself rather than being an abstract and generic term, the beginning of a rubric under which one could rank a certain number of phenomena which psychology traditionally attributes to the ego in opposition to those which it attributes to the exterior world : "The ego which exists or apperceives itself interiorly as one, simple, identical, is in no way some abstract of sensations as [54) that which is common to them and general in them ." 3 The belonging of the ego to the sphere of absolute im­manence has as anothe r consequence, in the eyes of Maine de Biran, the fact that the knowledge of self must assume the characteristics which are those of this sphere, characteristics which. determine it as a sphere ofabsolute certitude. In the ego's relationsh ip to itself, there is no place, in such a philosophy, either for bad faith , or for lying, or for deceit, because there is not, in this relationship, any distance, any constitution possible: "The only modifications or operations which can be attributed to the ego are those which are actually attributed in the fact of consciousness.'" Because the ego is subjectivity, it draws the knowledge which it has of itself from a source whose transparency is perfect, it is instructed in "the great school of consciousness which never deceives. '"

The ego is not transcendent; it is, says Biran, in terms which will be the very ones employed by Husserl in characterizing the transcendental ego, "the closest to us, or rather ... it is ourselves."6 Certainly there is a tran­scendent ego, and one passage in the Essay relative to the idea of force gives us certain indications about what the mode of constitution of such an ego might be. We can read there that mingled with the idea of force which has been set apart from the consciousness of our own force, regardless of how abstract this idea might be, there is always "a confused feeling of

, Ibid. 258.

3 Ibid. 272.

• Ibid. 152. , Ibid. 97.

• Ibid. 180.

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this force of ours, constitutive of the I, which the mind seeks to separate out, but which is still intermingled in spite of us.'"

This idea of force which, as we have shown, gives to the human world its magical characteristic, concerns more particularly,[55J interior to such a world, this ego which is now an existent. Actually, this idea is constitutive of its being, for the transcendent ego, whether within the milieu of the real or the imaginary world, is but one object more magical than the others, an occult force, which would be more menacing to me than the powers of nature if this transcendent ego were not truly at my disposal, for I can never entirely forget that it is constituted and that it is I, the original tran­scendental ego, who gives to it these powers and these designs by which I can only feign to be moved. 8 But the original transcendental ego is not constituted and it eludes the jurisdiction of the categories because of what is implied in this very interesting critique which the Memoire sur la decom­postition, with respect to the theory of the faculties, directs against Locke and Descartes, who are accused of having posited these faculties "as per­manent forms in which the feeling alld thinking subject subsequently apperceives his own existence, or represents to himself foreign existences," who are accused of having made them "real .. . by separating them from the ego,"· which subsequently-by means of such faculties-could only be represented, constituted, transcenden!.'o

The belonging of the categories to the sphere of the absolute immanence of subjectivity, which is also the sphere of the ego, leads us to the under­standing of the fundamental relationship between the ego and ontological knowledge. Experience presupposes a condition of possibility which is ontological knowledge itself; the analysis of the categories [56J is the bring­ing to light of the structure of this ontological knowledge. Philosophy begins with the questioning of such a knowledge without which there would

7 Ibid. 222.

8 The transcendent ego dealt with in this analysis is obviously my own ego; we are not dealing here with the ego of another person.

9 Maine de Bifan, Memoire sur fa decomposition ... III, 117. [Henry's italics] lO This immanence is again affirmed in an important text which gives a synopsis of

the Biranian analysis concerning the relat ionships between the ego and the categories: "If it is sufficient for us to look within ourselves for the idea of being, substance, cause, the one, the same, then each of these ideas finds its immediate origin in the feeling of the ego ... By showing that all reflective and so-called innate ideas are but the primitive fact of consciousness, analyzed and expressed in its various characteristics, we shall have also made it apparent that these ideas have an origin because the ego or the individual persona­lity has an origin." Maine de Biran, Essai sur /es fOlldemellts de /a psychologie ... 219. [Henry's italics]

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be nothing for us. But philosophy does not merit being called a first philo­sophy unless it takes this problematic concerning ontological knowledge as far as it can, and unless it deliberately takes up the task of determining in rigorous fashion the very being of ontological knowledge. The Biranian answer to this fundamental problem of philosophy is the following: The ego is the being of ontological knowledge. In a text which is perhaps one of the most important which philosophical tradition has handed down to us, Maine de Biran first says: "The feeling of the ego is the primitive fact of knowledge." Commenting on this profound affirmation, he expresses himself as follows: "Man neither perceives nor knolVs anything properly so-called, except insofar as he is conscious of his own personal individuality, or in other words, insofar as his own existence is a fact for him, or finally, insofar as he is an ego. "11

Here we are inevitably faced with the interpretation which we have proposed concerning the Biranian conception of ipseity, an interpretation which might be thought to surpass somewhat the letter and the spirit of the work of Maine de Biran. Actually, the ego cannot be understood as the condition for all knowledge unless it is not "some thing", not a being, as we have said, but precisely the condition and the very element of know­ledge, the ontological element of pure manifestation. Furthermore, we ought to understand this in its most original structure, viz. insofar as it does not coincide with the manifestation of exteriority, but rather excludes this from itself at the same time as it gives it a foundation. It is because the ego presents itself to itself in an internal transcendental experience, or rather, it is because it is the very fact of thus presenting itself, because its structure is the structure of this experience [57], its substance and peculiar phenomena­lity-which we have elsewhere called the fundamental ontological event of auto-affection- that it realizes in itself the first condition of the experience of the world and the effectiveness of our access to things. This is why, shortly after he has posited the identity of the being of the ego with that of ontological knowledge,12 we see that Maine de Biran determines this

11 Maine de Biran. Essai sur les fondements de ta psych%gle . .. 114-115. [Henry's ital ics]

12 This identity is again affirmed by Biran in a text where he reveals the general project of his ontology; he states that he intends to demonstrate "that there is a fact or a real mode-unique (sui generis) in its own genre-totally based on the subject of sensation who is made such by this very mode itself; (to demonstrate] that this mode can subsist and of itself have the characteristic of being a fact of consciousness without being actually and indivisibly united to any passive affection of sensibility or to any external representa­tion; [to demonstrate] that in it is found, together with the feeling of individual personality, the special origin of all primary ideas of cause, force, unity, identity, substance whose usage

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being by the way in which it presents itself to us, and we likewise see that he is preoccupied with defining the sui generis mode whereby this original auto-presentation to self, which is the very phenomenon of the ego and of subjectivity, takes place. This being, he says, "is in no way a phenomenon nor an object which represents itself. .. it is an interior fact sui generis, rather obvious without doubt for any reflective being, but which requires being apperceived by means of its own peculiar and special sense." Hence, the being of the ego becomes one with original truth itself which is, if you wish, the auto-knowledge of ontological knowledge, i.e. its foundation, its true and subjective being. Consequently, "There is no question here whatever of proving this fact which itself serves as the foundation for aU proofs, for all truths of fact."13

It is only when it is formulated interior to a problematic of subjectivity that the identification of tbe being of the ego and that of ontological know­ledge takes on a philosophical meaning. Outside such a context, tbe deter­mination of the ego [58] as being tbat of ontological knowledge has only a formal value and becomes analogous to the Kantian tbesis according to which the "I think" ought to be able to accompany all our representations. The latter thesis does not constitute a veritable theory of the ego, and because it allows the original essence of presence as presence to self to escape it, it does not constitute a sufficient interpretation of the nature of ontological knowledge. In this perspective, the ego is merely a logical, purely formal subject for which the designation 'nothingness' would doubtless be more suitable than that of being. [t is by way of a strange paradox that the in­depth study of ontological knowledge which is related, if not identified witb the ego, still yields us nothing regarding the being of the ego. Tbe presence of an ontology of subjectivity-lacking in Kantianism-is rather that which constitutes tbe argument in Biranian tbought. Henceforth , within this ontology of subjectivity, the thesis, according to which the ego is the being of ontological knowledge, no longer makes this ego a simple form; it rather gives basis to the possibility of this knowledge at the same time that it determines it as the very being of life and of concrete and per­sonal existence. Tbe constitution of the world is not tbe fact of an imper­sonal activity, detached from the individual henceforth reduced to some empirical status; this constitution becomes one with the apprehension of

by our minds is so constant and so necessary." Maine de Biran, Essai sur les fondements de fa psycho[ogie ... 176. We see here unequivocally that ontological knowledge is a real being and that this being is that of the ego.

13 Maine de Biran, Essai Slir les /ondements de la psych%gie ... 115-116. [Henry's italicsl

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the world, it is our way of living it, and it is only within such a life that we know the world. Ontological knowledge is an individual knowledge; the being of each individual is the light of the world, and more profoundly, it is, as original truth, the light of this light.

The absolute immanence of the ego, the condition for its ontological determination, can be established once again starting from the analysis which Maine de Biran consecrated to the problem of the soul. Actually, this analysis will show us tbat if the original being of the ego cannot be a transcendent being, neither must it be assimilated to a transcendent ter­minus [59] 'x'-which is just another way of affirming its immanence. The problematic of the soul is presented to us in the discussion of the Cartesian cogito. The cogito, as an internal transcendental experience in which the existence of the ego is immediately given to itself, is recognized by Maine de Biran as the very foundation of philosophy, and Cartesianism, which brought to light such a foundation, is "the Mother doctrine."" The cogito asserts the phenomenological unity of the being of the ego with that of subjectivity which Maine de Biran calls, with Descartes, thought or apper­ception, the latter naturally being understood as an internal transcendental apperception. "The simple proposition I think, identical to J exist for myself, announces the primitive fact, the phenomenal liaison between the ego and thought or apperception in such a way that the subject does not begin or continue to exist for himself except to the extent that he begins or continues to apperceive or to feel his existence, i.e. to think."l5 The discussion can bear only on the formulation of the primitive fact and on the deductive appearance which it risks assuming, but this is only an appearance.

It is when the soul intervenes in Cartesianism in order to designate the being of the ego identified with thought that the critique begins. We must understand the originality of this critique and be careful not to confuse it with the critiques which are habitually directed against the Cartesian cogito notably by classical French philosophy. This risk of confusion is all the more great because Maine de Biran seems to reproach and actually does reproach Descartes for his substantialism, which, as all agree, is the most classic and banal critique. This reproach of substantialism, moreover, was directed against Descartes by the philosophers who were inspired by [60] Kant and notably by the French neo-Kantians, and it would be surpris­ing, after everything we have said concerning the problem of subjectivity and its history, concerning Biran's isolation in this regard, if the critiques of the Essay were similar to classical critiques; rather, if our analyses have

14 Ibid. 131. 16 Ibid. 124.

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been exact, they should not only be different, but opposed. The truth of the cogito has not been altered because the latter affirms that the ego whose existence is identified with that of thought is a real being. Rather, it is the ontological realism oj the Cartesian cogito which constitutes, in the eyes of Maine de Biran, its truth and profundity.

While classical philosophy reproaches Cartesianism for its passage from the cogito as pure phenomenon of thought to the affirmation of the being of this thought, as the being of the ego, Biran, following herein the authentic teaching of Descartes, posits the following: 1) that pure thought, because it has a mode of original revelation which is not the mode of manifestation of things, also has an original being which, while being different from tran­scendent being, is no less a real being; 2) that this being, which is thus phenomenologically determined, is the very being of the ego. Where then is the critique?

In the philosophical movement of the cogito there is truly an illegitimate passing from a true conception to a false conception; but this passage, in the eyes of Maine de Biran, is no longer a passage from pure thought­otherwise totally undetermined in classical philosophy which can only repeat that the spirit is not the thing, that it is absent, or when it seeks to surpass this purely negative determination, it can do no better than posit it as nothingness-to a real ontological determination; this passage now takes place beginning with the being of the ego, originally and correctly interpreted as that of subjectivity and the internal transcendental experience, in order to lead to the positing of the ego as an element oJtranscendent being. The sole reproach which Biran directs against Descartes' notion of the soul is its determination as a transcendent being 'x', instead of [61] absolute subjectivity where the being of the ego is affirmed in its radical immanence. If Descartes was incorrect in calling the ego a soul and a substance, this is not because, while proceeding in this fashion, he made this ego a being; it is because this being is no longer, according to Biran, the one which Car­tesianism itself, in its infinite profundity, originally recognized, viz. a being determined phenomenologically by an appearance whose absolute original­ity necessarily had to lead a phenomenological ontology to circumscribe a being of an absolute originality, namely the being of the ego.

The Biranian critique in fact intervenes at the moment when the cogito thought it was able to posit "the real and absolute existence of the soul or of the thinking thing." However, we have already indicated that with Maine de Biran the term 'absolute' does not apply to the sphere of imman­ence which we call absolute, but rather designates that which no longer belongs to this sphere, that which is outside it and hence finds its place

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interior to transcendent being. The syllogismI. which Biran attributes to Descartes is the following: "I think, I exist for myself ... However, everything which thinks or knows that it exists, exists absolutely as substance or think­ing thing outside thought. Therefore, I exist substantially. "17 We have under­lined the essential 'absolutely', 'outside thought'. The critique of the Carte­sian cogito has therefore exactly the same meaning as all the Biranian analyses which we have encountered to this point: The principle is always the same, it is the need for a return to a sphere of absolute immanence, as the milieu of existence of an absolute being, it is the call for the need to undertake a phenomenological reduction whose work of destruction can alone bring to light the fundamental structure [62J which is concrete exis­tence, ontological knowledge, and finally, the element of the science of the human spirit which makes philosophy possible. "By suddenly spanning the entire interval which separates the fact of personal existence or the feeling of the ego from the absolute notion of a thinking thing, Descartes opens the door to all sorts of doubts concerning the ob;ective nature of this thing, which is not the ego. "18

Maine de Biran in no way reproaches Descartes for having considered the ego as a being, for having determined the ego as a soul; rather he reproaches him for having determined as the soul something "which is not the ego", something which is "absolute," which is transcendent, wh ich is no longer certain, which eludes the grasp and the competence of a transcendental phenomenology, which is no more than a term 'x', the object of a belief, the postulate of a theory. The soul could not be anything other than the ego, but the ego has a being which is precisely the soul. Consequently, either the soul designates a being which is not determined interior to the sphere of absolute immanence and SUbjectivity, but is rather situated beyond this sphere and finds itself to be transcendent with respect to it, and hence, by virtue of the very phenomenological presuppositions ofBiranian ontology, it can only be considered as an insidious hypothesis, it is "the soul (and no longer the ego) of a metaphysical hypothesis;"" or else the soul designates nothing other than the very being of the ego as subjective being, and not only does it have the rights to citizenship in Biranian philosophy but it

Ie Let us note again that Biran in no way reproached Descartes for having constructed a syllogism; the mode of expression of the cogita is not a determining one; we ask only that we be given a concept of what the cogllo is in itself-this atone is important-and the cogito is neither a reasoning process, nor a proposition, nor anything of the sort.

11 Maine de Bifan, Essai sur les fondements de la psychologie __ . 124-125. [Henry's italics]

18 Ibid. 127. [Henry's italics] 18 Maine de Biran, Memoire sur fa decomposition . . . III, 218.

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further constitutes its very foundation, and its acceptance amounts to the affirmation of the real being of the ego which is no longer a pure, logical, and formal subject, but life itself in its concrete and absolute existence. This distinction frees us from "the constant equivocation which is born [63] of the common sign given to two subjects of attribution, viz. the soul which is the ego and the soul which is not the ego. "2.

The total effort of the biranian critique aims at founding the being of the ego and this task of foundation takes place in. conformity with the progress of a reflection which essentially seeks the ontological region wherein it is possible to determine, in a rigorous and certain fashion, the being of this ego. Henceforth, it becomes apparent, to the gaze of this type of reflection, that the being of the ego is precisely that of a determined region : in fact of the only region wherein an absolutely certain determination is possible. Therefore, it is the possession of an ontology of subjectivity which permits Biranianism to resolve the problem of the being of the ego as the main articulations of the critique of the Cartesian cogilO clearly show: "Do we stick to the knowledge of feeling or to the immediate internal perception of the thinking subject?" And then the determination of being in this case is not only possible but "perfect." "Do we asp ire to an exterior and objec­tive knowledge of the thinking thing outside thought? This mode of know­ledge, to which we vainly seek to reduce everything, and which is certainly not primitive knowledge, is without any application to the thinking subject,"'! i.e. to the ego.

By denouncing ontological monism as the absolutely incorrect horizon for elaborating the question concerning the being of the ego, the Biranian problematic not only raises itself to a position from which the philosophical theses of modern thought relative to the soul, to the being of the ego, to self-knowledge, must be re-questioned and re-examined upon entirely new bases, but it also shows itself to us in its absolute opposition to the Kantian critique of the para logism of rational psychology, a critique whose heritage weighs heavily [64J on contemporary conceptions which we felt obliged to oppose. The upshot of the Biranian critique of the soul is the presence of an ontology of SUbjectivity, it is the richness and profusion of a type of thought which is no more than a phenomenology-the principle, if it can be called such, ·of the Kantian critique is, in the present case, an indigence so complete that we must not merely affirm that in Kantianism

20 Ibid. Ill, 189. 21 Maine de BiraD, Essai Slir les /ondements de fa psych%gie ". 128-129. [Henry's


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internal experience is reduced to the same status as the experience of the world, but that, precisely fo r this reason, it is far more imperfect than the latter of which it is but a pale imitation, and actually an impossible imitation according to Kant's own testimony, where the clever German thinker did not think it necessary to ask about this strange paradox according to which the soul would be less easy to know than the body, and where the philo­sophical presuppositions whose consequences had to lead to the ruin of psychology and all positive science of human reality in general were never questioned by him."

Whereas the Transcendental Dialectic brings to light the difficulties which preside over the constitution of the soul as substance, and then over the con­stitution of internal experience, Maine de Biran asserts that the soul is in no way constituted, because the internal experience in which the being of the ego is given to itself is radically immanent. It is this latter point which the Biranian critique will confirm, not concerning the Cartesian cog ito, but the concept of the soul in general, and in particular Stahl's concept of the soul. If the soul, i.e . the being of the ego, is not determined interior to a [65] sphere of absolute immanence, it becomes either a transcendent ego or, and this is the case with which we are now concerned, a transcendent terminus 'x'. The latter is then placed at the source of conscious determin­ations of the ego, it is their hidden origin. Why would not the soul, situated behind us as an absolute force from which our conscious life is derived, be also the cause of the organic effects which we observe in our own body? This is the thesis of Stahl concerning which Biran gives this remarkable critique: "Considered as the cause of movements or the unknown productive force, consequently distinguished from the ego which exists only insofar as it perceives and perceives only insofar as it acts, the human soul could then be ranked in the class of all other forces for which there is no science what­ever properly so-called, unless it be a science of sensible effects wherein alone such forces can manifest themselves. Thus it is that philosophers were led to construct an objective idea of a thinking and motive principle ... Stahl, having realized the substance of the soul outside the ego, was led to relate to this common cause 'x', the fu~ctions which could only be imagined

:!:l If we insist on the opposition between the doctrines of Biran and Kant regarding the soul, it is not merely because the critique ordinarily directed against <the soul" 'sub­stance', <thinking thing' can give rise to a serious confusion, but it is also because this confusion risks being fostered by the fact that, in his critique of the Cartesian cagita, Biran explicitly appeals to Kant in terms which could lead one to believe that their two viewpoints are identical. cr. Essai sur les !olldements de la psychologie ... 129, footnote .

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or represented in material organs and the acts or operations conceived uniquely in the reflecting of the subject who attributed them to itself."23

The identity of a cause 'x' assigned to the conscious determinations of the ego and to organic modifications implies, once it is asserted, a twofold hypothesis, for it presupposes I) that these conscious determina­tions and these physiological phenomena have an unknown but real cause, and 2) that this cause is the same. On the latter point, we must recognize that "this reduction to the systematic unity of the productive force of organic and intellectual phenomena so related was not absolutely in conformity with the true method of the sciences of facts, according to which we would not be led to suppose or affirm the identity of cause other than [66J by analogy or complete similarity between effects given in observation."24 With regard to the first hypothesis, by far the more serious, it amounts to asserting, once it is applied to conscious determinations, that thought has a transcendent foundation and that some thing 'x' determines thought. It is .here that the Biranian critique accomplishes its task of destruction in depth: The soul which is posited as the transcendent foundation of our thoughts, since it is not circumscribed within the sphere of subjectivity and yet does not constitute an element of the visible world, inevitably be­comes what we call a transcendent terminus 'x'. The latter, totally undeter­mined in itself, is capable of receiving a determination only in an indirect manner by starting with the phenomena which it is supposed to explain and of which it is the foundation in principle. But such a determination is variable and, when all is said, absolutely gratuitous, because we can assign this transcendent terminus 'x' as the foundation for everything which the philosopher cares to explain by it: "We can attribute anything we wish to such a cause."

The indetermination of the role of this so-called foundation is by the same token an indetermination of its essence and the name given it. The Biranian critique here takes on a dialectical allure, for the transcendent and nocturnal world against which its irony is directed is precisely the priv­ileged world of dialectics, the world of false and gratuitous determinations which can just as well be denied as affirmed and even conserved, all at the same time. Since they are absolutely empty, their presence or their absence changes nothing, it is a question only of different names given to the same nothingness. This transcendent terminus 'x', which is posited in the doc­trines of ontological alienation as the transcendent foundation of our con-

23 Maine de Biran, Mhnoire sur la decomposition . . . III, 60. [Henry's italics except for 'unknown" 'ego', 'forces'. 'science']

24 Ibid. III, 61.

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scious determinations, can actually receive [67] any name whatever, according to the whims of the philosopher: The soul of Stahl, the god of occasional causes, the god of Descartes, the unconscious, the interplay of organs are just so many idols which must necessarily be dissolved in their own emptim:ss, and this dissolution is expressed in the ceaseless passage which leads us from one to the other. Dialectics, which is never more than a vast tautology, surely triumphs here, for the absolute oppositions-between god, the unconscious, or the cerebral center, for example-prove to lack all seriousness, because the different terms in fact signify the same reality, or rather the same unreality, the same phantom, the same illusion. "It is the difference in the sign given to the unknown which effects all the distinc­tions,"" says Maine de Biran who, in another text, establishes successively:

I) The identity between the positions of Malebranche and Stahl: "In spite of the apparent distance which separates the system of occasional causes from that which attributes to the thinking soul, as efficacious cause, the vital or organic functions, it seems to me that they rest on comparable bases and stem from the same stock." This common basis upon which the identity ·of the two doctrines rests is the ontological status attributed to the soul as principle of actions, a principle which makes of it is not an immanent source of absolute certitude, but an unknown terminus: "After having quenched the flame which enlightened me concerning the interior principle of my own acts, now pursuing its shade in exterior darkness, I will go about seeking an imaginary cause, a common cause for everything· which takes place in me or in my organs, of everything which happens without me as well as with me. Henceforth, since there is no longer any foundation for a science properly so-called of my intellectual active faculties, in my opinion metaphysics will have to be identified with theology if I am a Malebranche or with physiology if I am a Stahl." [68]

2) The identity of these two positions with that of Descartes: "While seeking in vain to conceive how the soul could bring into play and direct with such precision the animal forces and nerves of which it has no objective knowledge, Descartes . .. recurs to a supreme efficacious force whose idea or model he was able to find only in the experience or the feeling of his own force."26

.. Ibid. III, 216. " Ibid. III, 63 footnote and 64 footnote. The last proposition quoted contains an

indication of a theory of the genesis of this idea of the soul as some terminus 'x', a genesis which confirms the onc we gave of the transcendent ego; cf. supra, p. 47-48 .

The thesis of Descartes is explicitly likened to Stahl's: "Both Stahl and Descartes seem

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3) An exhaustive psychoanalysis of the idea of the unconscious, an idea which, if it were well founded , would signify for human reality an ontological alienation comparable to that implied in the conception of the soul as a transcendent terminus 'x' . The new idol of modern times is no more than another name for an old metaphysical entity and it is this identity of essence and meaning which the prophetic genius of Biran denounces when, while explaining the genesis of the theory of Stahl , he says that the latter, not know­ing how to reconcile the goal-directed phenomena which characterized con­sciousness with the laws of inert and living matter, transfers to the latter "the active and intelligent principle ... by presupposing that it is in no way essential to this principle that it kno w itself in order to exist or to act."27

4) A critique of the transcendent terminus 'x' seen, not as the soul or as the unconscious, but as the 'physiological' : " Others ... [attribute] to the interplay of organs the entire ensemble of acts, of functions and results, whether organic or fore ign to the ego, whether intellectual or accompanied by consciousness ... This is now no longer the soul of Stahl but ... li vi ng parts united into systems; [69] and corresponding to a common center, they will be said to feel (and frequently unbeknown to the ego) received impressions, to execute and even to determine and to will the movements following upon them."2S

Our commentary on the above text would lead us to the very center of the Bira nian problematic concerning the body and wi ll take place later on, but here we must note the modification in value which the transcendent principle of our thoughts has undergone in becoming a system of physiolo­gical processes. Like the night which, in its restlessness, inevitably aspires to the light of day, so the transcendent terminus which is thought to account for our conscious life is not only situated behind us, it also appears before us so that it is no longer simply a transcendent terminus 'x' but this 'x' seems to determine itself-it is true that the entire Biranian critique of the body will consist in showing that this determination is illusory- for it has now found a place in the objective world. The 'physiological', when we claim to make it the principle of our thoughts, is hence no more than a crude realization of the nocturnal transcendent, its immediate and naive incarna­tion into a visible universe. Maine de Biran denounces this new subterfuge:

to reject the authority of the intimate sense ... Both presuppose faculties or innate ideas which pre-exist in the soul _._ without [seeing] any need to arrive at the knowledge of the soul." Maine de Biran, Memoire sur fa decomposition ... III, 64.

27 Ibid. III, 64 footnote . IHenry's italics] 28 Ibid. III, 65.

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"The metaphysician who speaks of the soul as abstracted from the feeling of the ego" risks being "led to objectify this thing in a point of the brain," and becomes a "physiologist."29

Why then must the metaphysician submit to such a destiny, why is "metaphysics" the sister of the grossest materialist ic rea lism? Because the soul, as a transcendent terminus 'x', is only a shade. Like the souls of the dead who, in ancient mythologies, wander ceaselessly in search of a place wherein they would be able to take form and once again taste, feel, and grasp things, the soul of metaphysics is without consistency and without being, it is [70] light, misty, and if it is everywhere and glides into the dreams of the living, it is because in reality it is nowhere; incapable of being anything at all, like the pseudo-subjectivity of the moderns, it aspires to existence but it is sti ll only nothingness; it should really have a body. The building of a physiological metaphysics with its sketchy materialism, like the contem­porary philosophy of despair, is only a presentiment of this need, but the objective body is just like the universe, it is that in which the soul cannot become incarnate, that which it traverses in its wanderings without finding there its habitation or dwelling place. It ought to have a body, but also the means to satisfy such a need. The construction of an ontology of subjectivity, a construction whose principal phases we have just outlined as best we could is precisely what allowed Maine de Biran to arrive at a body which is ours and which could be designated as the reality of the soul , as the authentic being of the ego.[7 I]

29 Ibid. III, 215-216.

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In his determination of the cogito, Maine de Biran explicitly opposes Des­cartes whom he reproaches for having a static conception of thought which too often appears in the author's Meditations as a substance enclosed within itself whose entire life consists in being modified by a succession of modes which are never more than moments of this substance and, consequently, which do not allow for any surpassing toward other things, any action upon other things, i.e. any action properly so-called. Consciousness is an 'I think' and all the modifications of the life of consciousness are only deter­minations of thought, i.e. ideas. When we are no longer dealing with con­ceptions properly so-called, but with a desire, an action, a movement, the Cartesian determination of the cog ito forces us to say that in reality it is always a question only of ideas, viz. the idea of a desire, the idea of an action, the idea of a movement. With regard to action or movement con­sidered in themselves, they no longer pertain to the sphere of the cogito, they are no longer determinations of thought, but rather determinations of extension. The normal process, which takes place, for example, between the idea of a movement and its real accomplishment, consequently, poses a problem which can neither be resolved nor even foreseen within the sphere of pure subjectivity, and the body which is the milieu wherein real movements take place can find a place only in a philosophy which [72] has an ontological region other than that of subjectivity at its disposal. Interior to the latter, there is no longer any place either for action or for the body, and if the ego has been reduced to pure thought, it would only be a milieu of passive modi­fications wherein our desires could arise but not be realized.

Maine de Biran, who affirmed the identity of the being of the ego and that of subjectivity, nevertheless, does not settle for determining the ego as a substance modified by accidents. "Is the ego given to itself in the primi­tive fact a modified substance or a cause or a force productive of certain

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effects ?"1 The thrust of Biranian thought is precisely the determining of the cogito as a power of production, a determination which was otherwise implied in the affirmation of the immanence of the categories. The central place occupied by the deduction of the category of causality actually prefigured the interpretation of the concrete being of the ego as cause, and as Maine de Biran said, as effort. The Cartesian cogito therefore had to submit to a radical modification of value in order to become pliable to the exigencies of the fundamental tendency of Biranian thought. It had to get rid of this immobility of substance-thought in order to become the very experience of an effort in its accomplishment, an effort wherein the very being of the ego begins and ends, according to Biran. "This primitive sub­stantial thought which is believed to constitute my entire individual existence ... I find identified in its source with the feeling of an action or of a willed effort."2 Therefore, the being of the ego is no longer determined as a pure thought whose essence is exhausted in the knowledge of extension and in the contemplation of things; it now appears as identified with action whereby I ceaselessly modify the world, even if only to make possible the continua­tion of my own [73] existence; it is identified with the movements which I direct toward the universe in order to reach out to it or to flee from it; it is the very element of these movements. The ego is a power, the cogito does not mean an '1 think' but an 'I can'.

In this classical opposition between the Biranian and the Cartesian cogito, however, we do not find either the originality or the profundity of the thought of Maine de Biran. Many other philosophers, primarily the very ones to whom Biran explicitly refers-Schelling, Fichte, Cabanis, Destutt de Tracy-already determined the consciousness of the ego, not as a repre­sentation, but as an effort, a force, a life, an act. If we wish to maintain this point of view of the interpretation of consciousness as an activity and effort, we must recognize that, among the number of activist philosophies Maine de Biran's represents but one of them, and we could cite many other conceptions of the world wherein the opposition to contemplative and theoretical thought gave birth to developments which were richer, more brilliant, and, it would seem, more fruitful. With regard to the profundity of thought, we do not believe that it can be found in such oppositions, for example, in the intervention of an activist antithesis directed against a contemplative or theoretical thesis. Philosophies which are built on antitheses of this type can seduce us momentarily by the beauty of their descriptions, the romanticism of their formulae, the amplitude of their

1 Maine de Biran, Essai sur les /ondements de fa psych%gie ... 25. 2 Ibid. 177.

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perspectives, which the generality of their viewpoint allows and finally, by the grandiose divisions which they outline in the history of mankind between the wise men and the heroes. They can exalt action, glorify risk, preach engagement, divide history in the light of the concepts they have chosen, but they cannot effect the non-existence of everything they condemn. The philosophical naivete of these constructs is precisely that of presenting us with one concept of human nature rather than another, and of making man either a being who acts or a being who thinks. The profundity of [74] thought is exactitude, and the only exactitude in question in a first philo­sophy is ontological exactitude which invariably discards gratuitous affir­mations, seductive or grandiose oppositions. The philosophy of Maine de Biran is not a philosophy of action in opposition to a philosophy of contem­plation or thought, it is an ontological theory of action; and its originality, its profundity does not reside in the fact of having determined the cogito as an 'I can', as an action and a movement, it consists in the affirmation that the being of this movement, of this action and of this power is precisely the being of a cogito.

The ontological consequence of this thesis is limitless: By affirming the belonging of the being of movement to the sphere of the absolute immanence of subjectivity, Maine de Biran proposes an entirely new theory of a mode of knowledge whereby movement is given us. This mode of knowledge is precisely that of internal transcendental experience, and consequently, movement is known to us in an immediate abso lutely certain manner, and its study is comprised within the project of a first philosophy. Further­more, if such is the original and absol ute being of movement, we see that the latter in no way needs to be the object of a thematic thought in order to be known, and that, more generally, it in no way pertains-in spite of what might have been thought concerning this sUbject-to the sphere of transcendent being. The original being of movement is not constituted and, if we must now foresee one of the manifold consequences of this funda­mental thesis, we would say that the latter permits us once and for all to understand why, for example, children and human beings in general accom­plish their movements without thinking about them, but not without know­ing them. Moreover, the difficulty involved in understanding how we can make use of our powers on the world, how we can not only accomplish our movements, but first of all be in possession [75J of them, is already solved. We are in possession of our movements, we are never absent from them at any time while we perform them, we are constantly informed con­cerning them, with a knowledge whose originality and exceptional charac­teristic we have already shown, because we are one with these movements,

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because their being, phenomenologically determined according to the mode of this appearance, is that of internal transcendental experience, it is the very being of sUbjectivity; at the same time we understand the concrete character of the latter, we understand that it is nothing abstract, intellectual, that it does not think the world after the fashion of a philosopher who would survey it in thought; sUbjectivity transforms the world, it is a produc­tion. Inversely, this production is neither the fact nor the work of a biological life, of a dynamic unconsciousness, of a will to power, of an Idan vital, of some indeterminate Praxis in the third person, of some obscure force; this force is "knowingly productive,"3 it never does more than it knows, the slightest of our daily gestures which habit, repression, or any other cause might have rendered unconscious really belong to the sphere of the trans­parency and absolute certitude of transcendental subjectivity, its being is the very being of original truth.

The Biranian cogi/o is in no way opposed to the Cartesian cogito, there is no question of opposing an 'J can' to an ' I think' because the whole Biranian analysis of effort has as its sole and essential result the determining of this effort as a mode of sUbjectivity itself. It may appear in many ways that the thought which Descartes studied is a reflective thought, an explicit thought of objects, i.e. a thematic knowledge of the determinations of extension. Even if it were so, even if the Cartesian cogito were a reflective cogito, we would still have to recognize that the being of this reflection is identica: to that of movement. The fundamental structure [76J of consciousness is actually always the same, it is always an internal transcendental experience, and regardless of the mode in which it expresses itself, our life is one with such an experience. Reflection is an intentionality and it is the very being of every intentionality which constitutes its being. The distinction between a reflective and a pre-reflective cogito is equivocal. We must first apperceive that before being a thematic knowledge of anything whatever, for example, of the ego itself, reflection is first an internal transcendental experience, and it is in this original understanding of reflection that we find a reason for affirming that its being is identical to that of any other modality of tran­scendental life whatever, identical to the being of movement, for example. Such an identification in no way signifies that movement is known by way of a reflection, a consequence which could be brought up as an objection against us only if one imagined that reflection, as a determination oftranscen­dental subjectivity, is itself known by a reflection. On the other hand, because every determination of SUbjectivity is known in itself, movement,

3 Maine de Biran, Memoire sur la decomposition ... III, 71. [Henry's italics]

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which is precisely such a determination, is never known, at least in its original being, through the mediation of thought.

We now understand that the determinations of the cogito which Maine de Biran and Descartes proposed are in no way opposed. We can only say that, whereas Descartes studied the cogito of reflection, i.e. reflection as an internal transcendental experience or, to use incorrect language, the pre-reflective cogito which is immanent to all reflection and which constitutes its very being, Maine de Biran grasped the cogito in movement, i.e. internal transcendental experience which constitutes the total being of subjective movement. If there is something to be learned from this comparison between the Biranian and the Cartesian cogito, we would say that it is the following: The 'J think' [77] and the 'J can' have the same ontological status, which is that of sUbjectivity and the internal transcendental experiences of which it is the milieu. Concerning this milieu, concerning its ontological status, concerning the phenomenological mode according to which it reveals itself to us, the two great French philosophers are in agreement, and the founda­tion of their thought is the conception of a common project which is expres­sed in the inauguration of a vast phenomenological reduction which aims at nothing more than the construction of an ontology of subjectivity. However, we would like to note that, in carrying out this project, Maine de Biran was more faithful than Descartes to the first philosophical exi­gencies which motivated him-a remark which will take on its full import once we apperceive that it is precisely because he gave to the central intuition of Cartesianism a radical meaning, because he advances as far as possible in exploring the region of absolute existence which this intuition brought to light, because he never felt authorized to overstep the limits which the presuppositions of an ontology of subjectivity had assigned to his investiga­tions that Maine de Biran, far from being limited in the development of his analysis, was rather able to deepen this analysis to the point of 'discov­ering' subjective movement, to the point of conceiving the ontological theory of the bod y.

Descartes, however, oblivious to the structures of the privileged region which the cogito had nonetheless discovered, when it comes to speaking of the body, yields to transcendent constructs which can only fall beneath the blow of the reduction of any authentic philosophy. The Cartesian theory of the body, to which we shall return, has henceforth nothing in common with the theory which the ingenuity of Maine de Biran would build, and if we are not careful, the comparison of the Biranian ontological theories relative to SUbjectivity with the Cartesian conception of the cogito, even though such a' comparison is perfectly well-founded as we will show,

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risks leading us to a serious misunderstanding in [78] our ontological inter­pretation of subjective movement. The determination of movement as sub­jective movement would actually signify in Cartesianism a mutilation of [he true being of movement or, if you prefer, the putting of its real being into parentheses. What remains of movement at the heart of the Cartesian cogito is only, as we have said, the idea of movement. Real movement takes place elsewhere, i.e. in extension, while subjective movement is only the internal outline, of itself inefficacious, of this real movement. The place wherein real movement takes place is the body, which means that in Cartesian­·-m, as well as in many other philosophies, movement belongs to tran­scendent being of which it is a determination. Certainly, we can discuss the essence of Cartesian extension as the homogeneous milieu of reciprocal exteriority, we can discuss the conception of the body as partes extra partes, we can discuss the consequences which result therefrom concerning the nature of movement insofar as it takes place within such a milieu. Never­;heless, it is not sufficient to question mechanism; a dynamic or a structural interpretation of movement would change nothing essential concerning :.his conception as long as the body is an element of transcendent being.

The Biranian determination of subjective movement is, on the other ':and, a radical critique of the Cartesian conception of the body, because by :eoring away, not the idea, but the very being and reality of movement from •. ;e sphere of transcendent being, it defines the real body, and not the idea o.r the body, as a subjective and transcendental being. It is necessary to see

early that it is only a philosophy which has conceived original truth as 2. being, the transcendental ego as a sum, and not as a logical subject and z nothingness, which has the possibility for carrying out this task of the ::e;ermination of subjectivity without being deterred by the apparent ~. -urdity which consists in giving the name of body to ontological and .cjginal knowledge. Actually, [79] such is the intuition which is the principle ~ Biranian thought in its ontological development: the recognition of ~ original sphere of existence which is that of subjectivity; a conception = a phenomenological ontology of the being of this SUbjectivity which :-e"\"eals itself as' identical to the being of the ego; an understanding of the ;;::-u tures of the ego as structures and as the being of ontological knowledge; 1. eetermination of the being of ontological knowledge which is that of ~e ego, as the very being of the body; finally, an identity of ontological bowledge and the ontological nature of this body itself.

The solidarity between the theory of the body and Biranian ontology ~:;sidered in its totality now becomes readily apparent. This solidarity - ~"ise becomes clear to us in the question which constitutes one of the

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major themes of the Essay which is that of the "origin of the knowledge which we have of our olVn body.'" The body-i.e., for Maine de Biran, felt movement as it takes place, the feeling of effort- is given us according to a mode of knowledge which must still be determined, and this problem of our primor­dial knowledge of the body is at the same time the problem of the ontological nature of the body because in a phenomenological ontology being is deter­mined solely by the manner in which it presents itself to us . The Biranian response to these two problems, which are but one, is that the body is given us in an internal transcendental experience, that the knowledge which we have of it is thus truly an original knowledge, and that, consequently, the being of the body belongs to the ontological region wherein internal tran­scendental experiences are possible and take place, i.e. to the sphere of SUbjectivity. The phenomenological, i.e. original, real, and absolute being of the body is thus a subjective being. The absolute immanence of the body is asserted at the same time, an [80J assertion which implies the rejection of all analyses which are dominated by the presupposition that the body is, in its original being, something transcendent, a presupposition which is most often implicit for, among all the assertions which are taken as self-evident, a place of honor is doubtless given to the one accord ing to which the body is a thing, a constituted reality and a part of the world. The belonging of the original body to the sphere of the absolute imma­nence of transcendental SUbjectivity means that the phenomena relative to the body, or rather the phenomena of the body, pertain to an order of facts " in the relationship of immediate knowledge with itself" and, hence­forth, we are now led to formulate a certain number of decisive results:

I) Movement is known by itself; it is not known by something else, by the gaze of reflection, for example, or by some intentionality which would be directed to it. No phenomenological distance intervenes between move­ment and us; movement is nothing transcendent.

2) Movement is in our possession. Our body is the ensemble of powers which we have concerning the world. But how are these powers first within our power? How are they truly our own, how can we effectively put them to work and, through their mediation, arrive at things, regardless of the character, whether positive or negative, of this access, according to which we aim at possessing these objects or turning away from them? The problem which we encounter here is not a new problem whose solution would require the elaboration of a new problematic; it is always the same problem, the central problem of Biranian analysis, viz. that of the original knowledge

4 This was the title given by E. Naville to chapter 3 of section 2 of the first part of the Essai sur les /ondements ...

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of our body. The critique of Condillac's theory of the knowledge of our own body is, for Maine de Biran, a new occasion for formulating his fundamental theses. Man, according to Condillac, is affected by multiple sensations, but the latter do not bear within them [81] any characteristic which would permit us to localize them in a given place. According to Condillac, what presses us to go beyond these sensations and to determine behind them the reality which they indicate and in which they take place is the sensation of solidity of which the hand is the organ. By applying itself to the different parts of our body, our hand reveals to us little by little, through the sensation of solidity, the being of our body and its real forms. Hence, our hand is the instrument of the knowledge of our own body. But the original body is not this body whose parts are thus circumscribed by the displacement of our hand, it is rather this hand itself precisely insofar as it is applied to our body or to other things in order to delimit their contours. The problem of the nature of our original body, i.e. of the original knowledge of our hand, for example, is completely passed over in silence by Condillac whose theory is hence no more than a vast circle, because it presupposes what it claims to explain. The hand, according to Condillac, an organ of the sensation of sol idity, is the instrument which permits us to determine the parts of our body, "but how is this instrument itself first known?"

We see that this is a decisive question and one which leads to another question which Maine de Biran poses to Condillac, always with regard to the hand: "How is any moving organ whatever constantly directed without being known?"5 Doubtless, the movement of the hand is not known in the sense that it is not constituted; if it can be directed by us, is this not because we know it, because we possess a primordial knowledge regarding it, a knowledge which is precisely this genre of knowledge wherein no phenom­enological distance intervenes, wherein no constitution is operative? The movement of the hand is known without being apprehended in the world, it presents itself to us immediately in the internal transcendental experience [82] which is one with the very being of this movement. Because it is not constituted, because it is a transcendental experience, the movement of the hand has nothing to do with a displacement in objective space or in any transcendent milieu whatever; the original and real movement is a subjective movement. For this same reason, it is within my power, not at all in the sense that objects, for example, are at the mercy of the graspings of a power which would be mine, but in the sense that it is itself this power, whereby it is itself that which has a grasp on things. The thesis of subjective movement has this further consequence:

, Maine de Biran, Memoire sur fa decomposition = ... IV, 6-7. [Henry's italics]

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3) Movement is not an intermediary between the ego and the world, it is not an instrument. We frequently characterize the body by saying that it is the instrument of my action upon the world, that it is through its intermediary that I can modify it as it suits me. We also say of my body that it is the 'vehicle' of my power on the world. Concerning the being of this 'instrument', of this 'intermediary', of this 'vehicle', we are careful, it is true, to make precisions. What we must understand by these words is self-evident, but we are not told why each man effectively knows what to make of this, why the movement whereby a human being accomplishes any action whatever never constitutes a problem for him. If I execute my movements without thinking of them, this is not because these movements are mechanical or unconscious, it is because their being belongs in its entire­ty to the sphere of the absolute transparency of sUbjectivity. There is no intermediary between the soul and movement because there is no distance or separation between them. Consequently, the soul does not need any intermediary whatever in order to execute its movements. As an intermediary between the soul and the movements whereby it acts upon the world, the body does not exist, it is only a fiction of reflective thought. Children have no consciousness of a body which would be the ensemble of the means which they would have to put to work in order to do such and such a thing, in order to [83J arrive at such and such a result. Our actions take place without our having to recur to our body as to a means. Therefore, there is no need for us to reflect on this means or on this body, the latter is never a problem for us nor an element for resolving a problem. Our movements take place spontaneously, naturally, they do not have any 'instruments' which we would use in executing them: "The soul," says Maine de Biran, "does not think ahead of time about the object of its will or about the instruments which must execute this will, instruments which it does not know."· Hence, the ego acts directly on the world. It does not act through the intermediary of a body, it does not recur to any means in carrying out its movements, it is itself this body, itself this movement, itself this means. Ego, body, movement, means, are but one and the same thing, and this thing is very real; it does not dissolve either in the night of the unconscious or in the emp­tiness of nothingness; it is a being, and this being is the totality of that which is given us in an internal transcendental experience, it is the very being of the ego.

The body is not an instrument because that which we call an instrument is always at the service of something else which uses it. In this relationship

6 Maine de Biran, Essai sur les fondements de fa psychologle . .. 194 footnote.

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of usage, this something else-i.e. the subject, thought, etc.-which would utilize the body to serve it would then have to have, by hypothesis, a know­ledge of this body as of a reality different from it, i.e. as a transcendent reality. Once it becomes an instrument, the movement of the body is given to us only in a transcendent experience. The theme of thought would then be this instrument and not the goal of action or of movement which it wishes to accomplish, which is absurd, for, presupposing that the subject can think of both the means and the goal of its action at one and the same time, this does not mean that it would execute this action, it 1V0uld merely represent it, it would represent to itself its [84J goal and the means for arriving at it, but it would not act. This thought of the goal and of the means surely exists, but the thought of movement is not movement. The latter is an entirely new phenomenon with respect to this thought and this is precisely the phenom­enon with which we are dealing. The conception of the body as an instru­ment of our action is therefore an element of our representation of move­ment, but it cannot in any way be part of a theory of real movement itself.

Hence, we apperceive more and more clearly that the ontological theory of subjective movement, far from reducing movement to its idea, rather makes us arrive at the conception of the only foundation possible for the reality of movement and the body. To assert that the body is not an intermediary between the soul and its action on the universe does not amount to denying the reality of the body, it amounts to saying that the constituted body, about which we will speak later on, is not our original body, that the being of the latter necessarily eludes all constitution and is rather identified with the power of constitution itself, with the milieu wherein the latter takes place. It is solely on this condition that the body can really act on the uni­verse', on the condition of not being a transcendent mass-of nerves and muscles, for example,- and we do not at all see how absolute subjectivity could set a transcendent mass in motion in order to produce some sort of a displacement or a modification in the world. To deny that there is an instrument or an intermediate terminus which intervenes between absolute subjectivity and its action on the world is to give to the thesis of the absolute immanence of the body its radical meaning-a thesis which denied us the right of setting up any separation whatever between the being of this absolute subjectivity and the being of our original body-it is to under­stand that it is on the sole condition that the being of movement is "closest to us" that this movement is possible as real movement and notas movement­in-idea; it is to understand how [85J it is possible that this movement is ours, how we can be one with it and enter into its possession, and finally, how we have an interior knowledge of it which begins and ends with it.

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We enter into its possession because in reality we" are never separated from it; we know it while it takes place and thi.s knowledge is perfect because the being of movement is a phenomenological effectiveness whose total being is precisely that of being given to us and of being given to us in an internal transcendental experience; this movement is ours because its being, as we have defined it, is the very being of the ego whose life is nothing other than the very life of transcendental subjectivity in all its modalities and in all its determinations; finally, this movement is real, an absolute reality like that of subjectivity, and that which makes it opposed to a simply represented movement is precisely the fact that it does not belong, as the latter does, to the sphere of transcendent being. This is the total meaning to the saying that the being of movement is a subjective being.

The assertion of the absolute immanence of the original body constitutes the main principle in questioning the theses of Hume relative to the principle of causality. The Biranian critique does not consist in a word by word refutation of the propositions advanced by Hume; it is a destruction, i.e. a clarification of the philosophical horizons within which the attempt made by Hume for determining and grasping the origin of our principle of causality takes place. This is why this critique is actually an ontological investigation which will show us on which levels Hume posits his problems and situates the various elements which intervene in their solution or in their enunciation, and how the impasse at which he arrives and which he would present to us as definitive, because in some way it is implied in the nature of things, actually stems from the inadequacy which exists between these problems and the ontological levels upon which he claims to resolve them. It is this deficiency in ontological clarification [86J which leads Hume to maintain, with regard to movement, theses diametrically opposed to those which Biran formulates in the Essay.

First of all, for Hume, movement is not known through itself, a thesis ambiguously expressed in his terminology by the assertion that the effect could not be foreseen in the energy of its cause. This terminology seems to take its origin from the description of exterior phenomena. An objective process is divided into an initial state which is said to be the cause of a terminal state, but when we consider the latter, we do not find there the first state which was thought to determine the final state causally, and inversely, when we analyze the cause, we do not see why it is followed by such an effect. Therefore, the idea causality must come from some other cause and Hume is led to envisage an other process for whose description he unfortunately lacks an ontological horizon within which such a description can be correctly undertaken. This other process is precisely that of bodily

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movement which the analysis of Hume, who bears the heavy inheritance of Cartesian dualism, divides into a first phase which is will or desire to accomplish movement and a second phase which consists in the corre­sponding material process. In examining desire or will, Hume finds nothing there which permits us to call it the cause of physical movement which follows it, such that here again "we would never be able to foresee the effect in the energy of its cause."7 We truly have the experience of the influence of our volition on our bodily organs, just as we have the experience of all natural processes, but this influence which is at the source of the accomplish­ment of all our movements is mysterious for us: " But the means [81] by which this is effected, the energy by which the will performs so extraordinary an operation, of this we are so far from being immediately conscious that it must forever escape our most diligent inquiry."·

The latter phrase is particularly important for in it we see the solidarity between the thesis which asserts that we do not have the immediate feeling of movement with the thesis which states that we are ignorant of all the instru­ments whereby this movement takes place. Moreover, it becomes apparent that it is because we have no knowledge of these instruments that Hume affirms that the immediate feeling of movement cannot be given us. Perhaps we do not see how, in empirical ontology, which knows only the transcen­dent being of nature, there would be a place for a correct interpretation of this immediate feeling of movement, i.e. for subjective movement. In order to do j ustice to the latter and to the power of recognizing its funda­mental role, we would have to be in possession of an ontology of subjectivity and not an empirical conception of interior life, a conception which reduces the latter to a transcendent milieu peopled with beings united by external relationships. Nevertheless, it is significant that the argument set forth by Hume is related to the instruments of our action, i.e. to the body con­ceived as an ensemble of transcendent masses as an " inward interplay of nerves and muscles which the will is thought to move to action in the movement of our members.'" We have shown, however, that no instrument intervenes in the accomplishment of our movements and that this ignorance which we have of the body of the anatomist or physiologist is precisely the condition for our action taking place. The latter takes place as a subjective

? David Hume, An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, VII, 52, in Great Books of the Western World, XXXV, ed. Robert M. Hutchins. (Chicago: Encyclopedia Britan­nica Inc., 1952) 472 b; cf. Maine de Biran, Essaf SIlr les fondements de fa psych%gle ... 229 and Memoire sur la decomposition ... III, 236 footnote.

S David Hume, An Enquiry concerning Human understanding ." 472 b.

• Ibid. 473 a.

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experience which has no more relationship with an [88] interplay of nerves and muscles than our original body has with a process in the third person or with the material elements which support it: "What species of analogy exists between the representative knowledge of the position, the interplay and the functions of our organs as an anatomist or physiologist knows them and the intimate feeling of existence which corresponds to these func­tions ?"10

Consequently, if we review the elements of which Hurne makes use in order to explain or merely to describe the accomplishment of one of our movements, we perceive that the English philosopher truly knows only too little about them for, strictly speaking, he knows none of these elements; he is totally unaware of the instruments of our movements and, on this point, we can only concede that he is correct as long as the term 'instru­ment' carries with it a transcendent meaning. However, since he has no onto­logy of subjectivity at his disposal, he is likewise unaware of the feeling of movement as it takes place and thus gives Maine de Biran the occasion for catching him in his own nets, for, if it is true that we in no way know the instruments of our actions, we do not see why it would occur to us to look for them and to know them, especially if we have had no feeling of these actions in the course of their very accomplishment from some other source. Concerning our movement, "we can have feeling without in any way knowing the means," ll a decisive text which contains what is essen­tial in Biranian thought concerning the problem of the original body. What is left for Hume? From his viewpoint, how would it be possible for man to act, how would his movements be able to be in his possession and in his power; he has no feeling of them and, if we care to speak of means and instruments, he is unaware of them. Strictly speaking, Hume [89] ought not even to speak of our desire, of our wishes for accomplishing a movement, because he has no theory at his disposal capable of accounting for the fact that his psychic states belong to an ego. Shall we say that, for Hume, he who acts at least knows the results of his action as natural phe­nomena?

Here we see the complete failure, in the very area wherein they ought to triumph, not only of empiricism but also of every philosophy which does not make movement an internal transcendental experience, i.e. which does not have the means for originally determining it as a modality of the very life of the ego. If we consider the effects produced in the world by our actions, these effects appear to us as natural events, they belong to the transcendent

10 Maine de Biran, Essai sur les /ondements de fa psyc/zologie .. . 231. 11 Ibid. 230. [Henry's italics]

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being of nature and we do not at all see what can differentiate them, in this point of view, from any other spatio-temporal phenomenon. The movement of my hand as an objective displacement is a movement in the third person and the relationship of dependence which binds it to the ego, a relationship which ought to make it appear as an 'effect' of the action of the latter, remains totally mysterious. Where can we find the principle for a distinction between such a movement, between the movement of my hand which, for example, traces letters on paper and that of the rain which I see falling outside? What is it that allows me to attribute one of these movements to the ego rather than the other, what is it that allows me to say that the first is an effect of my action whereas it is not the same in the case of the second? The first condition which a theory of the movement of one's own body must satisfy is to be in a position to account for a feeling of this movement which I accomplish myself, of a power in the course of its exercise, a power which is mine. This requirement can be satisfied only if the movement is originally and immediately known and lived as a deter­mination of the concrete life of the ego itself. Once we leave this sphere of absolute immanence, movement [90] is no longer anything more than a foreign phenomenon, comparable to any other event of the universe, and if there exists a transcendent movement which would still be constituted as emanating from the ego, as an 'effect' of its action, we will find that such a constitution calls for a foundation which is found precisely in the original being of subjective movement. When it is a question of the power of my body, it remains true and it is necessary to say, by placing oneself in this original viewpoint, that this "power is known and 'pre-sensed' only to the extent that we put ourselves in the place of the mover-being; effort or move­ment is represented only to the extent that we separate ourselves entirely from the being to which we attribute it; hence, by the very fact that effort is known as object or foreign phenomenon, it cannot be felt in its cause nor, consequently, can its cause be known in it because it is this cause itself."l2

Therefore, in the eyes of Maine de Biran, the problem is an ontological problem; as long as we have not determined movement in its original being, in its belongingness to the sphere of transcendental subjectivity, as long as we have not made a strict dissociation between this original element of movement insofar as it is 'felt', on the one hand, and the being of constituted movement which reveals itself to us in the transcendent region of the world, on the other, we can only wander, in the analysis of movement of our own

12 Ibid. 231-232.

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body from confusion to confusion as Hume does, but also as almost all philosophical systems do which have dealt with this problem without having at their disposal the ontological horizons which alone can allow them to posit it correctly. Interior to philosophical presuppositions which are never made explicit and which are steeped in total ontological obscurity, the analysis of Hume is correct: "With only this representation in view, and by considering external movement as an effect for which the will is presumed [91] to be the cause, it is quite true to say that the power cannot be known in the effect and vice-versa, for these two conceptions are heterogeneous, the one based solely on an interior sense and the other on an exterior sense." It is by re-establishing "homogeneity between the two terms of the primitive relationship of causality," by returning "to the fact of consciousness," that "the subject of effort perceives himself interiorly as the cause of a move­ment." And if Hume did not recognize the reality of effort in its immediate revelation to itself as power of production, it is because he did not have an ontology of this sphere of existence of subjectivity within which the being of movement is originally given us: "If he [Hume] refuses to admit the existence of this cause [the ego who makes effort], it is because he wishes to conceive of it as an idea which is not his, viz. by some faculty foreign to him in its proper and prima facie sense wherein such an idea resides."13

The affirmation according to which the original being of movement is given us in an internal transcendental experience and known of itself, confers on Biranian thought its original characteristic which likewise situates it far from empiricism and intellectualism. Actually, in the two latter philo­sophies, movement is known by something other than itself, by muscular sensation in one case, by the intellect in the other. However, intellectualism does not abstract from muscular sensation. Its psychology is an empirical psychology, it is content to show that this psychology is not complete and, in the case with which we are concerned, that muscular sensation cannot take on its meaning, which is to make us know movement, unless it is sub­mitted to the action of the category. The type of movement which intellec­tualism attempts to reconstruct is in reality only a representation of move­ment whereas the being of movement and the problem of its original know­ledge completely escapes it. [92]

A deeper study of the Biranian interpretation of movement in its opposi­tion to the conceptions of classical psychology has no chance of being real unless we first succeed in giving to such conceptions a truly philosophical meaning. How can we better succeed at this than by looking to J. Lagneau,

13 Ibid. 231, 232, 233 . [Henry's italicsl

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the deepest of the French neo-Kantians, who likewise meditated at length on the Biranian theses which we in turn, with infinitely lesser means, attempt to re-think? The privileged encounter which the Le,on sur la perception affords us with its explicit discussion of the problems of muscular sensation and movement will show us to what lengths the genius of Lagneau pushed his understanding of the Biranian philosophy of effort, but it will also show what the limits of this comprehension were, how, in the French philosophi­cal horizon of the end of the 19th century, such limits had to be drawn, and finally, what consequences they entailed, both for the development of psychology in general as well as for the theories of the body and of move­ment.

The discussion undertaken in the Le,on sur la perception with regard to the 'feeling of action' revolves entirely around the question of knowing whether movement is what we have called an internal transcendental experience or not, and the discussion proceeds in a twofold direction. In the first phase, Lagneau sees the need to answer the question he asks affirmatively: "Can we feel our action?" In spite of the hesitations which immediately follow- "Is it not a contradiction to feel oneself while acting? What is feeling unless the experiencing of a change to which one submits?"­he i=ediately asserts after these questions: "Nevertheless, we surely feel our action." This taking of a position stems from a Biranian argument whose admirable exactitude Lagneau understood better than anyone else, and this argument definitively discards the thesis according to which move­ment could be known by way of muscular sensation, could [93] be known by something other than itself; muscular sensations which tell us of the modifications stemming from our muscles are the same, regardless of the origin of these modifications, whether they be the effect of our own will or the effect of an exterior cause. In order that such modifications might appear to us as an effect of our own action, it is necessary that they be related to the idea of this action, an idea which must come to us from elsewhere. "In order that the idea that action produces an effect be bound to the sensa­tion of this effect, it is necessary that this action be revealed to us other than through its effect, that it be revealed to us in itself"l.

Truly an admirable commentary on Biranian thought; but how could Lagneau assert that movement, action, or effort are known in themselves, when he himself is lacking an ontology of subjectivity? By what intellectual motivation would he be led to make of psychology a transcendental phenom­enology, while he philosophizes in a Kantian perspective, recently intro-

14 Jules Lagneau, Celebres iefOlls el fragments. (paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1950) 135.

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duced into France, and wherein there is no room for anything other than an empirical psychology? This then is the second phase of the analysis of the Le,on sur la perception, the phase wherein we see the thought of Lagneau completely discarding the theory of movement as an internal transcendental experience while attempting to preserve the points which this theory alone would allow him to retain. After having asserted that we truly have the feeling of our muscular action, Lagneau declares that there is nothing to it: "We do not feel ourselves to be active, we judge ourselves to be such." If muscular sensation cannot account for the feeling which we have of producing a movement of which we are the cause, this is not because we have the revelation of this movement in an immediate experience, it is because to the muscular sensation is added a judgment which joins to this sensation the idea that we are its cause and that the sensation [94] is truly the effect of our action. "To sense one's activity is to experience certain modifications while judging that they result from thought, that they necessarily result therefrom, and that they are its effects, that between thought and these modifications there exists a relationship of causality, a necessary relationship whose conception and affirmation impose them­selves on thought. The idea of action implies that of causality; the idea of causality implies that of necessity; but necessity cannot be felt, it is asserted as having to be."l.

Let us first show that regardless of how remarkable the text which formu­lates it is, this solution is not truly a solution. For Lagneau as well as for Maine de Biran, it was a question of understanding why, when we under­take a movement, the sensations which are thought to transmit modifica­tions stemming from our muscles are determined as the effects of our action, and how they can then be distinguished from analogous muscular sensations, which in this case, however, are no longer the consequences of a willing of the subject. The answer of Lagneau is that to muscular sensation there is added in the first instance the idea that it is an effect, the idea which expresses the fact that this sensation is then bound to our will and to the determinations of our thought by a relationship of causality. Nevertheless, why is this idea of causality applied to muscular sensation to make it appear as an effect of my will in the case where it is truly I who act and not in the other case when an exterior cause has produced in me the same muscular sensations as those which would be determined by a voluntary movement? Since the two elements- muscular sensation and the idea of causality­which Lagneau has at his disposal are the same in both cases, the first by

" Ibid. 136.

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hypothesis, the second because it is a universal idea always identical to itself, why are we capable of differentiating the two cases, [95] of saying that now it is we who act, at other times it is not we and in this case, the effect in us was produced by something else? There are two different judgments, but what is the truth of these judgments, what is their foundation? If, when I act, I judge that the modification produced in me by this action is the result of an exterior cause, where is the principle of my error, in what does the latter consist, how can I recognize it or avoid it? And if, when an outside cause produces a certain impression in me, I attribute, by way of a judgment, this impression to an action which would emanate from myself, by making of the latter the cause and the former its effect, how would I be able to become aware that I am mistaken? How would this be possible, if I do not have an original knowledge of my action itself, if this action is not first of all given to me in an internal transcendental experience such that this primordial and absolutely certain knowledge would be able to become the foundation of all judgments which I will be able to make concerning the relationship of dependence which unites my muscular sensa­tions to my movements? I do not act because Ijudge that I act, but I judge that I act because I truly act. The question concerns my effective movement and only an ontology of sUbjectivity and, interior to this, a theory of sub­jective movement can explain to us how this movement is at the same time a knowledge, and consequently, how it is not known either by a muscular sensation or by a judgment, but rather proves to be that which makes the intervention of a judgment possible whereby muscular sensation is posited as an effect.

Lagneau did not reject the theory of sUbjective movement, but the ontolo­gical horizon interior to which he philosophized did not even allow such a theory to enter his mind. The ontological lack in Kantian presuppositions relative to the problem of subjectivity in fact impeded Lagneau from under­standing the foundation for the thought of Maine de Biran and led him to make, with regard to Biran, an historical and procedural error which was as significant as it was serious. [96] Commenting on the phenomenon of effort-we have seen the central role it plays both in the building up of the ontological theory of the body as well as in the clarification of the being of the ego-Lagneau says: "It is in that which he [Maine de Biran] calls the sensation of muscular effort that, according to him, the revelation of the ego to itself takes place," and he adds a little farther on, "but what Maine de Biran did not see is that this knowledge could not be called sensa­tion. We do not feel ourselves to be active, we judge ourselves to be such."l.

" Ibid.

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This is a serious historical error,for Maine de Biran never called the feeling of muscular action sensation; his entire philosophy consists precisely in the affirmation that the feeling of action does not result from a sensation, that action is known in itself insofar as it pertains to the sphere of subjec­tivity, insofar as it is a fact of the relationship of immediate knowledge to itself. That this mode of knowledge cannot be designated by the term 'sensation', this is what Biran explicitly stated in a text which we have al­ready cited and whose essential proposition we recall here: "We need a name for this interior knowledge for the word 'sensation' cannot say it all."l7 However, this error is significant, for if Lagneau was led to commit it, this is certainly not because of any ignorance or lack of integrity in him, it is because, in a Kantian perspective, only two sources of knowledge exist: sensation and judgment. Furthermore, just as Lagneau, who under­stood that one could not reduce our feeling of action to a muscular sensa­tion, was constrained to make of it the product of a judgment, so likewise he necessarily had to think that Biran, who radically rejected a philosophy which would see in effort a composite feeling one element of which would be constituted by an intellectual judgment, could not but reduce the being of this feeling to that of a sensation.[97]

Henceforth, the analysis of Lagneau gets entangled in a profound con­tradiction; after having said that "We must not confuse muscular sensation with the feeling of action," which is actually what Maine de Biran taught him, he then proceeds to reproach him for having committed such a con­fusion. However, it is Lagneau who is responsible for it, because it is in his perspective that muscular sensation remains, if not the only element, at least a determining element in our feeling of action, an indispensable element for the arising of this feeling: "This feeling," he says, "is a modifica­tion of ourselves," i.e. for the Kantian which he is, a passive modification of sensibility, a sensation. However, it is still true to say that this modi­fication is not sufficient, that it "is bound to the affirmation that we are its cause"18-and hence muscular sensatioll concerning which we assert with Maille de Biran that it plays absolutely no role in the original kno wledge which we have of the movement of our own body in fact rediscovers its 'legal' rights in the explanation of the feeling of action given us by the Le{:on sur fa perception. How could it be otherwise, if it is true that in Kantianism knowledge is always the product of a collaboration between two termini: the sensible empirical datum and the category? Moreover, such knowledge is a thematic knowledge of the universe, and it is the transcendent being

17 Maine de Biran. Mbnoire sur lo decomposition ... III, 69 footnote. 18 Jules Lagneau, Celebres le~ons et fragments. (paris: Presses Universitaires de France,

1950) 135.

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of nature which constitutes it. Where does the. being of the ego find a place in such an ontology, where is its concrete life, its action, its movement? Where do we find the origin of the knowledge which I have of my body if such knowledge cannot find any fulcrum in the world, if it cannot even arise from an idea? How can I know that it is I who act, whence does feeling, the immediate knowledge of my effort, come to me? How am I able to live if my own life is not given to me, if I am not my own life? [98J

In order to be in a position to answer these questions, which are the lot of first philosophy, we must first reject Kantian ontology and be possessed of an ontology which is first of all an ontology of life, an ontology of subjectivity and the ego. Doubtless, I judge that it is I who act; such a judgment presupposes the intervention within my mind of the idea of causal­ity, but the transcendental deduction of the categories has shown us that the latter do not float in air nor do they occupy our mind by accident; rather they have a foundation which is precisely the concrete life of the ego, its action and its movement, in a word, its body. Not only do we have to reverse the deduction of Lagneau and say that the idea of necessity presup­poses the idea of causality and that the idea of causality presupposes the idea of action, we must still see that the idea of action presupposes action itself, that we cannot speak of an idea of action unless, as Lagneau once understood "action is revealed in itself," and that, consequently, only a theory of the absolute immanence of movement in its original belonging to subjectivity can account for the ideas whereby we will thereafter be able to think of movement. In other words, the causality of the ego which permits us to feel muscular sensations as the effects of our actions is not first of all known through the intermediary of an idea, which would be the idea of causality; this causality, before being an idea, is a power and this power is revealed to us in the same way as the being of the ego with which it is fused.

Hence, we have determined the original being of the body as belonging to the region in which the revelation to self of intentionality at the heart of the internal transcendental experience takes place. Because it belongs to this region of original truth, the being of SUbjective movement is an immediate revelation of the self to itself, without its appearing to itself in this revelation- through the intermediary of a phenomenological distance­in the element of [99J transcendent being. For this reason, we have asserted that movement is known to us immediately and we have denied that muscu­lar sensation or any other form of mediation plays the smallest role in this primordial knowledge which is ours and which is less a knowledge of our body than the phenomenological being of this body itself. But all con-

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sciousness is consciousness of something; the internal transcendental expe­rience is always also a transcendent experience. If movement is truly an inten­tionality, it is because it is the very place in which original truth takes place and in this taking place some thing is also proclaimed to us in the truth of transcendent being. Henceforth, we shall have been correct in asserting that the being of our body is truly one of ontological knowledge because, in its own revelation to itself, the being of the world will also be manifested to it.

Moreover, movement is an intentionality sui generis and, where the transcendent terminus which is given us is the strict correlate of such an intentionality, it presents itself to us with the specific characteristics whose originality it is important for us to point out. That which is mani­fested to us, when we have access to it by way of a movement, is in no way comparable to any other transcendent content which would be reached by way of an intentionality involving a doxic thesis. Because movement is not a type of knowledge in the ordinary sense of the word, i.e. because it does not bear within it an intentionality comparable to the intentionality which constitutes the being of our theoretical life, that which manifests itself to it is in no way represented; the transcendent element is here lived in a way totally different from representation, and the manner in which it is lived is precisely the very life of the ego in the peculiar mode with which it is now invested, i.e. movement.

Nevertheless, if we would show that movement is not merely one inten­tionality among others, that it is the most profound intentionality of the life of the ego and, consequently, an intentionality which is found in all other determinations of [100] transcendental subjectivity, we would have to say that the transcendent being in whose presence we live bears within it the principle of a unity of all forms which it can assume for us. This unity, which results from the presence in the life of subjectivity of a fundamental mode of our power of constituting, or, if you prefer, of the most profound determination of our intentionality as movement, is not merely the common aspect of all aspects which the world can assume for us, it rather becomes its foundation. The latter, the essence of transcendent being such as Biran understands it, is what all other intentionalities will determine so as to confer on our world the totality of its human predicates. Nevertheless, this foundation, i.e. the correlate of our motor intentionality, is known to us in itself and independently of the intervention of other modes of our power of constituting. However, it is not known to us as an object attained by the intentionality of theoretical knowledge, but as that which manifests itself to us well before it occurs to us to know it in this fashion, as that which

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rather will make possible the arising of a new intentionality which, because the real being of the world will already have been given it, will then be able to form the project of knowing it in a thematic and intellectual know­ledge of another order.

Nevertheless, if the transcendent terminus which our movement experien­ces and which is given us without the intermediary of any representation is not for all this a simple phenomenological nothing, if it is actually discovered in the truth of transcendent being, it is for the sole reason that the movement of our body is not some unconscious or physiological process, but that it belongs, in its original being and as real movement, to the sphere of the abso­lute immanence of subjectivity. It is the most original truth which permeates the being of subjective movement which in turn brings it about that the transcendent content which it experiences is posited for us in the truth of being as [101] a determination which will then be the foundation of all determinations of the world and which is itself determined by nothing other than the fact that it is the correlate of our movement. OUf body can know the world only because it is a SUbjective body, a transcendental body and, reciprocally, this world of the body is a world which is originally known only by the body, i.e. it is known only by our movement.

For us now to say that the most profound intentionality of the life of the ego is movement is to say that the world which is originally given us is precise­ly this world of the body, a world whose being at its origin is no more than the transcendent terminus of movement. The determination of the being of the world as the transcendent terminus of movement, as the terminus which resists effort, is an essential determination, it presupposes nothing else, it makes no implicit or unadmitted use of notions or categories whose effective intervention at this stage of the constitution of the real would render illusory the so-called essential characteristic of such a determination. However, is not the resisting element actually some thing which resists such that we would here be forced to recognize the role of the category of substance in the determining of this element which is thought to constitute the foundation of the real world? The idea of substance is uot without rela­tionship to the "resisting continuum," but, far from the latter being able to be constituted by the idea of substance, it is rather its foundation, accord­ing to the very terms of the Biranian deduction of the categories.

For this reason, we cannot accept the objection of Lagneau : "It seems that we feel resistance immediately. This is an illusion, for the idea of resistance presupposes the idea of an external body which resists us and the repre­sentation of these two bodies in contact in extension. "19 Resistance is cer-

19 Ibid. 134.

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tainly not felt in the [102J sense that it would be known by a sensation, but all the ideas whereby Lagneau claims to account for our knowledge of the relationship between movement and a terminus which resists it rest in fact on this real relationship which I experience. Doubtless, an idea could not arise from a fact, but if we say that the resisting continuum, while eluding representation and theoretical knowledge, is nevertheless manifested to us in the milieu of transcendent being, it is because the transcendence of movement toward it is an internal transcendental experience and that, consequently, the datum from which the categories take their origin is in no way a brute fact, it is a fact in the relationship of immediate knowledge with itself; and ifit is the foundation for theoretical knowledge, it is precisely because it is the original truth itself as it takes place immanently. The transcendental deduction of the categories thus takes on for us a still more profound meaning: If the categories are founded in our life, it is because what we think depends on what we are. The idea is not the foundation for the real, it is rather the opposite which is true and this could not be asserted except by a philosophy which possesses the means whereby we can conceive something truly real which is capable of effectively being at the origin of our ideas, because it is the 'place' where truth is originally realized.

In its determination as the pure and simple correlate of an intentionality of movement, the transcendent real received the name of "the resisting con­tinuum." We have tried to show what we must understand by this terminus which resists and how the originality of Biran consists in accounting for the fact that it could exist for man at the very heart of his most concrete experience without being the theme of a theoretical or intellectual know­ledge. We would now like to complete our commentary on this point by a remark concerning the meaning of the term "continuum" here used by the author of the Essay. By "continuum" we must not understand a spatial continuity. Actually, in Biranianism, space is not a constitutive form [103] of my experience of the real, it is rather itself constituted by the develop­ment of this experience. It is in and through the unfolding of movement that the transcendent correlate, which 'resists' it, acquires this extension which is thus rather the product than the condition for my first experience. The resisting element is constantly opposed to my effort, it is the terminus which my effort always finds as its limit and also as the fulcrum for its own accom­plishment.

It might occur to us to interpret what is qualitative in the continuum found in the resisting element as the expression of the temporal form accord­ing to which the experience which I have of the primitive duality takes place. The temporal character of this experience, however, does not seem to be a

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privileged one concerning the constitution of space, it rather seems to be identified with the very mode according to which this constitution takes place. The designation of the resisting terminus as 'continuum' actually has a more original meaning; it refers to the fact that this resisting terminus constitutes the foundation of the real, the essence of things, and this in principle because we have here a de jure question, viz. because the determination of the real as that which resists is an a priori determination, because we are certain that such a determination will never be absent from our experience of the real; it will always constitute its foundation. This latter certitude rests in turn, not on some exigency of our reason, but on the very nature of our experience of the real, on the fact that movement is the original intention­ality, a sort of permanent intentionality of the life of the ego, such that what is given us in experience inevitably exhibits the essential characteristic of being given to our movement. Our concrete life which constitutes the internal and transcendental experience of itself as sUbjective movement constitutes, of itself and at the same time, the experience of the world as the transcendent terminus of this movement, as the resisting continuum. [104J

It is in the eidetic determination of the correlate of the internal transcen­dental experience of movement that we find the reason whereby the certitude of movement is sbared by the terminus which resists it. This is why this transcendent terminus eludes the grasp of the phenomenological reduction, because the certitude inherent in the sphere of absolute immanence wherein our original movement takes place is precisely the certitude of the resisting terminus which it attains, and it is this meaning, involving the rejection of all problematic idealism, which is included in the appellation 'conti­nuum' given to that of which our movement is the experience. The simi­larity between this Biranian thesis and the Kantian critique-a similarity which is doubtless at the origin of the beautiful analysis of Lagneau con­cerning the relationship between the unity of feeling and the unity of the universe2o-must not make us forget that the premises for the common conclusion according to which the existence of the external world is just as certain as that of our interior life are quite different in the two cases. In spite of everything the Kantian proof is indirect, it limits itself to vali­dating the fact that the constitution of our internal life cannot lay claim to any privilege with respect to the constitution of the external world, but that it rather presupposes the latter as its condition. The Biranian thesis is altogether different: It cannot argue from the necessary conditions for the constitution of our interior life, because for Biranianism the latter

20 Ibid. 136.138.

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is in no way constituted, at least as long as we really wish to consider it in its original nature-about which Kantianism is scarcely concerned because it is incapable of determining the being of subjectivity on the level of absolute immanence. The Biranian argument, of phenomenological and not reflective inspiration, is the following: It is because our interior life as sUbjectivity is a sphere of absolute certitude that that about which it is [105J certain is itself also absolutely certain. Thus it is that the charac­teristic whereby the resisting terminus presents itself to us as irreducible, as eluding the grasp of reduction, is founded precisely on the absolute certi­tude which we have of it, i.e. on the sUbjective being of movement which experiences this terminus. Our certitude is the origin of the truth of being, it is precisely for this reason that, from the inception of our investigations, we have been led to determine this certitude as original truth and to elab­orate an ontology which makes us understand how it is only in radical subjectivity that truth can find a foundation. Truth dwells in the interior of man, and, in the case with which we are concerned, we must say that it is the subjective being of movement which bears within it the certitude which we have of the reality of the world. [106J

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I '



The ontological theory of movement is one with the ontological theory of the body. The body is not only movement, it is also sensing, but the anal­ysis [decomposition] of thought insofar as it is here the analysis of the faculty of sensing, shows precisely that the essence of sensing is constituted by movement. First of all, the act of sensing is not known by sensation, rather it is the former which knows the latter. Biran asserts both the tran­scendental reality of sensing and the transcendent being of sensation. The body, insofar as it is the subjective body, is one with the act of sensing; it is in no way a composite of sensations regardless of the unity, for example in the correlative variations, which one might discover among such sensa­tions. Actually, such a unity is a constituted unity, it is the unity of a tran­scendent mass, and consequently, it is in no way the unity of the original being of our body. In a text relative to the relationship between visual impression and the ego, Maine de Biran says: "That any visual impression whatever, whether confused or distinct, uniform or varied, be it in it, i.e. in the organ, or outside it in space, it is always true that once he [the subject] perceives it, then it is not he; his ego is not identified with it.'" Torn from the sphere of immanence, banished to [108] the element of transcendent being, sensation is not therefore the object of a theoretical representation. For, if it is not that whereby we know our body and it is not this body itself, sensation is known by it, not represented, but given to movement with the unfolding of the subjective process of its effort in sensing.

Because the faculty of sensing, taken in itself, is independent of sensation, a problematic concerning the being of this faculty must begin by a sort of reduction which has as its effect the abstracting of our power of sensing, of grasping it in a pure state by separating it from everything related to sensation. Strictly speaking, this is an analysis of thought, whose process

1 Maine de Biran, M emoire .sur la decomposition ... IV, 82.

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of abstraction must not be understood as if it would deliver to us a terminus which would not be self-sufficient but would still need a foundation. That which analysis abstracts is rather the essential, it is the body without sensa­tion, the body prior fa sensation, i.e. the act of sensing considered in itself and as a pure power. Consequently, we can suppose that this "pure body" sets itself to sensing in the absence of all objects and, consequently, in the absence of any sensible property. Hence, what we find, what remains when we have taken away everything which is transcendent in our sensible life, is this life itself, and this is what Maine de Biran determines as being at the basis of each sense as constituting its peculiar being. "Let us cast aside the object. The same voluntary determination can be effected again without the concurrence of any external force, the acts can be reproduced and per­ceived in the peculiar determination of their power which has not changed ... The only thing absolutely lacking is sensation.'"

At the moment when the abstraction of a pure power which is so to speak the root of each of our senses takes place, Maine de Biran immediately determines, [109J in a way designed to exclude all equivocation, the nature of this power as sUbjectivity. It is the sUbjective determination of this origin of our power of sensing which brings about the fact that the movements whereby we are conscious of exercising such a power are in no way the physiological determinations of our organs, but rather present themselves to us as original movements which are immediately within our possession. Regardless of the nature of the sensations which we are to arouse within ourselves, whether it is a question of visual, olfactory, auditory, or tactile sensations, it is always through the intermediary of one and the same power that we proceed toward them and obtain them. For example, visual sensa­tions are immediately dependent upon the movement of our gaze. It is this movement which gives me the yellow color of the wall of my room in front of me and then, through the window, the tints of the dormant trees of winter in the park and, beyond, the pale blue of the sky. The unity of our visual sensations is a constituted unity, but this unity has a foundation which resides precisely in the power which constitutes it and which is nothing other than the subjective movement of one's gaze.

The determination of visual sensations in visual space, a determination which constitutes the structure of the visual world, in no way results from an immediate relationship between a certain sensation and a certain deter­mination of space. Of itself, space is actually totally undetermined; a deter­mination would not be conferred upon it, as has long been believed, by the

, Ibid. IV, 182-183. [Henry's italics)

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insertion within it of a visual sensation, because the relationship of the latter to its place is a universal and empty relationship, because it is always the same, · regardless of the sensation under consideration. Sensation is always there where it is and this 'there' does not cease to be totally undeter­mined and does not, strictly speaking, become a spatial determination except on the condition of a real or possible movement of my gaze which situates it, which determines it spatially with relationship to me. It is at this [lID] moment that it becomes possible to say that such a visual sensation is found here or there, that the pale blue of the sky is beyond the blacks, the blues, the violets of the winter forest. The unity of our visual sensations is therefore not established directly between them, it is not an i=ediate unity, it results from the mediation of our power upon them, i.e. from the unity of the sUbjective movement of our gaze. It is in our power upon it that the unity of the world originally resides, and this unity takes place at the very stage of the sensible constitution of the universe, in a manner which is immanent to the exercise of each of our senses taken as particular and in separation from all the others. It is through the movements of my eyes that I possess all things, and it is first of all by opening them that a visual spectacle is manifest to me.

What we have said concerning sight also holds for all the other senses. The analysis of smell brings to light on the one hand a subjective act which is precisely that whereby we smell odors and on the other hand these odors themselves as transcendent termini of our movement of inhalation. Actually, such movements are never more than one and the same movement, and it is upon the unity of this movement that the unity of the sensorial world rests. Likewise, in hearing, a "motor action takes place . .. interiorly"3 and it is to it that sounds are given. It is above all in the analysis of the "active vocal organ" that Maine de Biran brought to light the "motor function" which concurs "in rendering perceptible the impression made by an outside cause." Actually, the voice repeats the sound heard, and the subjective movement wherein the sonorous element is apprehended is thus itself repeated, reinforced, and it becomes a voluntary act whose ontolo­gical status is similar to the status of the first subjective act of apprehension: It is this identity interior to one and the same state, which is that of [Ill] the original being of subjective movement, which allows us to speak of a second act which repeats the first. "At the instant when the sound vibra­tions are communicated to hearing, in addition to the simultaneous motor reaction ... which completes the sensation, there is also a determination

, Ibid. IV, 54.

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of the same order which will activate the vocal instrument; the latter repeats the exterior sound and echoes it; hearing is affected with two impressions, the one direct, the other reflected, internal; there are two impressions which join or rather it is the same impression which is duplicated.'" The two sonorous impressions are both constituted, the power of constitution is the same in both cases, it is a reaction or a motor action, it is the original being of SUbjective movement, it is the body.

The determination of the original being of the body as SUbjective move­ment furnishes us with the principle of a phenomenology of memory whose possibility thus rests entirely on the ontological theory of the body. When a sound is heard, the sonorous impression is constituted, but the subjective movement in which the power of constitution here at work consists is originally known as such, because it is given to us in an internal transcen­dental experience. It is precisely the possession of the interior law of constitu­tion of the sonorous impression which allows me to repeat this impression, to reproduce it myself again as many times as I care to, and to recognize it constantly in the course of this reproduction, because the knowledge of the power of constitution is immanent to its exercise and is one with it. That which repeats the sonorous impression is the body, and consequently, the ego-which amounts to saying that the power of constitution of the sonorous impression is the ego itself. As long as I repeat the sonorous impres­sion, I know that I have already had the experience of this impression; I know that now I repeat it, that it is I who repeat it, and that it is the same impression of which [lI2] I have already had the experience which I now repeat. Actually, the remembering which is implied in this phenomenon is divided into a remembering of the power of constitution, a remembering which is the repetition strictly speaking, and a remembering of the sonorous impression which is the remembering of the repeated or reproduced ter­minus. The first remembering takes place on the level of transcendental immanence, it is produced without the intervention of any constitution and is known itself as such interiorly and immediately. The second type of remembering concerns the transcendent level on which the sonorous impression is constituted before being recognized and repeated there. To the first sort of remembering Maine de Biran gave the name "personal remembering," to the second the name "modal remembering."

We should clearly note at this point that this distinction intervenes only for the sake of the clarity of the analysis, for the modal remembering is actually based on personal remembering, or rather is one with it. Actually,

• Ibid. IV, 57-58. IHenry's italics]

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if the sonorous impression constituted in the element of transcendent being is recognized while it is being repeated, and recognized precisely as a repeated impression, it is because the power which effects the constitution of this impression recognizes itself originally in its repetition and thus the repetition and the knowledge of the impression are nothing other than the unity and the permanence of the ego throughout the unfolding of its powers of constitution and the repetition of their exercise.5 In the repetition by the voice of a sonorous impression primitively heard, we are in the pres­ence of a relationship of unity to diversity, a relationship of the unity of the ego which hears and utters the sound with the diversity of the sono­rous impressions which, while identical in their being, are nevertheless individually [113] differentiated by the place which they occupy in time and which results in the fact that the one is first, the other second, etc. Moreover, this relationship of unity to diversity, precisely because the memory is a corporal phenomenon, is found in any sensorial activity whatever as the constitutive element thereof. Just as "sensations vary and succeed one another, while effort remains the same, there is a sensed or perceived plural­ity in unity,"· and thus tbe body, as the subjective unity of movement, is the principle of unity of a power to which is given the infinite diversity of sensible impressions: "Starting from the same principle of motility, I follow it ... in the exercise of each sense in particular." Therefore, it is "the exercise of motility, i.e. of the faculty of making movements alld of being conscious of them,'" which constitutes the root of our power of sensing, as is further shown in the analysis of the motor function of tonching.

This analysis immediately brings to light the subjective movement of touch as the principle of all our tactile sensations. In touch, better than in all the other senses, we see how " this fundamental mode" which is movement "can concur with the exercise of the various senses" · because it is by directing our movements toward and against things that we bring to life in us tactile sensations which come along to recover, as it were, the very substance of the real, becanse, according to Maine de Biran, it is this substance, which, in the exercise of touch, we immediately attain as the transcendent terminus of our effort. For this reason, we understand that motor touch gives us something altogether different than some sensible

s cr. Ibid. IV, 72: "Sounds perceived in their succession each correspond to a particular movement which, after having effected a complete distinction in the sense. prepares for their exact recall, which follows the same order." [Henry's italjcs]

6 Maine de Biran, Mimoire slir fa decomposition . . IV, 47-48. , Ibid. IV, 45 footnote. S Ibid. IV, 8.

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layer, of itself indeterminate, which then would have to further receive the transcendent meaning of being the [114] immediate manifestation of the real. Since motor touch is a movement, that which manifests itself to it are the very things in the resistance which they give us, and tactile sensations which are inserted as it were in this resisting continuum belong to it and are the sensible determinations of the real being of the world. The meaning of the transcendent content of our experience of motor touch, a meaning which is transcendent with respect to the sensible datum properly so­called, is nevertheless included in it to the extent that it presents itself to our movement.

But, according to Maine de Biran himself, movement is immanent to the exercise of each of our senses, and consequently, the privilege of touch must be shared by all the other senses, it belongs in principle to sensorial activity in general. There is not one sense which would have us know the real world and then others which would give us only sensations to which the meaning of manifesting to us the real world itself could only be added on in virtue of their constant association with our tactile perceptions. In order to give a radical meaning to the thesis of the immanence of subjective movement to sensorial activity in general, we reject the Biranian privilege of the sense of toucb, or rather, we extend it to the life of aU the senses in general and at the same time we assert that the sensible lVorld in general is the realworld. If it is true to say that the feeling of causality "is associated in various ways with different impressions, whether by a relationship of derivation if these impressions stem from the will, or by a simple relationship of co­existence or of simultaneity if they are passive of their very nature,'" it is also true (and it must be stated) that our impressions are all constituted by the original being of subjective movement which, in this movement of constitution which projects them so to speak onto the basis of the resisting continuum, confers on them this transcendent meaning-a meaning which is immanent [11 5] to the meaning of the sensible in general-of being an immediate manifestation of real being itself. The diversity or even the contingency of our sensations is only the expression of the infinitely diverse manner whereby being manifests itself to us, but, regardless of the mode according to which this takes place, this manifestation is everywhere and always a manifestation, it is the very unveiling of being which shows itself to us in its truth.

Consequently, sight does not merely present us with silent images floating somewhere in air, in the interval which would be spread between the real

• Ibid. IV, 7. IHenry's italics]

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and ourselves. Neither do sounds and colors constitute a sort of sensible tegument which, in its poverty, would call for, after the fashion of the materia of the ancients, an intellectual form in order to think it and determine it, while otherwise the world of touch alone would be consistent and sufficient to itself. Each sensorial world is a real world, an autonomous world. Moreover, the reason for this sufficiency and this autonomy is precisely the reason for which this world does not form an isolated world, but is actually but one with all the other sensorial worlds. The visual world is not real because I can also touch the things which it manifests to me. Already of itself it has manifested things to me, and not colored images; and this is precisely the reason why I can also touch things, because we touch only things and not phantoms. Therefore, that which makes the visual world a real world also makes this world accessible to me by all my other senses. That which I see is also that which I can touch, hear, or feel. The foundation of this 'also' which is precisely the foundation of the reality of every sensorial world is the resisting continuum, immanent to each of these worlds, because subjective movement is immanent to the exercise of each of the senses, because it is the very being of the body. It is this immanence to the diverse senses of the power of constitution of the resisting continuum which explains that the latter is not transcendent to the sensible datum, that rather it can form the place [116] cornmon to all our impressions. This is why we do not need, in order to give basis to the reality of the world of our daily experience, to recur to an idea, the idea of substance or the idea of the real, because this real is already implied in sensible experience itself. How could we base the real on an idea? Is it not clearly obvious that the contrary is true?

We can now formulate several conclusions which allow us to understand the principle of the unity of our senses, how this unity is one of knowledge, and finally in what the individuality of human reality as sensible individual­ity consists.



Of themselves, our sensations have no unity, they are heterogeneous; they furnish us only with a pure diversity. However, considered in them­selves, our sensations are only abstractions because in fact they are always constituted by a power to which subjective movement is immanent. This is to say that this power is that of our body and what it constitutes is the real itself which it attains in its being as the resisting terminus. This terminus,

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whose constitution is effected in conjunction with the exercise of our senses, is, so to speak, made present by the specifically sensible content of OUf experience. In the phenomenon of this making-present resides I) the reason for which the sensible presents itself to us as an immediate manifestation of being itself and not as a sort of unreal efflorescence which hides the exist­ence of some thing 'x' from our eyes, and 2) the principle of the transcen­dent unity of the sensible world. Because such unity is that of the resisting continuum which traverses the various sensorial worlds and in each of them gives a foundation to its reality while at the same time founding its openness to all other worlds, this unity rests on the unity of the power which constitutes this [11 7] single and real continuum, it rests on the unity of our subjective body. The latter, in turn, rests on the internal structure of sub­jectivity itself wherein resides the ultimate origin and the essence of all possible unity in genera/.!

Outside this original ontological sphere, there exists only a constituted unity, and the most co=on philosophical illusion consists in building the unity of the world on a unity which, because it is not original, can in no way play the role expected of it, but rather, in its turn, calls for a founda­tion. A philosopher like Lagneau was duped by such an illusion when he thought he was able to make the unity of the sensible world rest upon the unity of our internal sensations, upon what he called "a fixed order of the sensor. "2 Doubtless, it is on such a fixed order of sensing that the unity of our sensible experience rests, but this fixed order of sensing could not consist in the unity of the variations concomitant with our internal sensations. The latter are transcendent as are all sensations in general, the unity which they manifest to us is a constituted uni ty; the unity of the power of constitution of the sensible world in general can alone account for them. It is only by thinking of the SUbjective sphere to which this power of constitution belongs that we are able to understand its unity and at the same time the origin of the transcendent unities of which it is the principle. We would like to bring to light this latter thesis by using a particular example.

The problem of the relationship between Our images and our movements has always preoccupied psychologists who have tried even though futilely, to give it a solution. In L'imaginaire Sartre attacks this problem and he use,s the example of the movement which I make with my finger and whereby

1 cr. M. Henry, The Essence of Manifestation, transl. O. Etzkorn ([he Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1973) I, 267-272.

2 Jules Lagneau, Celebres le~ons et fragments. (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1950) "140.

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I draw in space a curve and a circle. It is a question of understanding the relationship between the visual image of [l18J this curve with the movements which I make in drawing it. First of all, Sartre criticizes the thesis of a psychologist, Dwelshauvers, who analyzes the ensemble of the process in question in the following fashion: I) the idea of a movement to be made; 2) the incarnation of this idea in an unconscious motor attitude; 3) " an image aroused in consciousness as the recording of the motor reaction and qualitatively different from the elements themselves of that reaction. "3 This thesis which is but one formulation among others of the classical thesis is obviously unacceptable. First of all, it is quite evident that in o~r natural life we do not form the idea of our movements before making them. When I take a box of matches from my pocket or when I light a match, these very simple movements are not preceded in my consciousness by any representa­tion nor by anything else whatever. The incarnation of this idea which we do not have, in a motor attitude 'in the third person', of which we are unaware, is a first mystery. The appearance, as a consequence of this uncon­scious motor process, of the visual image of which I am conscious, is another mystery. The affirmation of the existence of a relationship between this image and such a motor process is in reality but the expression, in the language of the reflective mythology of the unconscious, of the simple fact of the appearance of the image. This appearance is in no way explained and its relationship with the motor process-called physiological- is totally incomprehensible, since the entire problem consists precisely in explaining such a relationship.

What then is the solution of Sartre? This solution appeals to the Husser­lian analyses relative to the temporal mode of the constitution of our impres­sions, but such recourse to theses assuredly [11 9J valid in themselves only hides the absence of any true answer to the problem with which we are con­cerned. The visual image of the trajectory outlined by my finger is constituted from visual impressions by a series of protentions and retentions separated by a concrete presence which is, according to Sartre, a kinaesthetic present. Nevertheless, kinaesthetic impressions are themselves likewise constituted and unified by retentional and protentional acts, although this latter con­stitution which would lead to our becoming conscious of a transcendent motor form really existing, i.e. a kinaesthetic impression, does not in fact take place except in the shadow of the visual perception of the trajectory

3 Cf. Dwelshauvers. L'enregistrement objectif de ['image mentale, in VI/til International Congress of Psychology; also L es mecanismes subconscients (Paris; Alean, 1924) cited by J. P. Sarlre, The Psychology 0/ Imagination, If. anon. (New York: The Philosophical Library, 1948) 107.

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of my finger. Actually, if it were otherwise, the appearance in the field of consciousness of this motor form would be accompanied, as Sartre notes, by the disappearance of the image. Consequently, in the case of the visual perception of the curve such as it habitually takes place, insofar as it is not interrupted by the kinaesthetic perception of our movements, we can say that "retention and protention retain and anticipate the past and future aspects of the movement as if these were actually perceived by the organs of vision;'" henceforth, every retention is a conversional retention, i.e. a conversion of the kinaesthetic into the visual. Sartre's analysis is always restricted to the description of protention alone, a description which ought to be easier and more simple, "because the future impression does not need to be converted."

Consequently, we are considering the case wherein "starting with the present sensible content" which corresponds to the actual position of my hand and of my finger in space, "consciousness expects a visual sensation." The sensible impression, the mainstay of these intentions, is kinaesthetic, because it is beginning with the movement of my arm that I expect [120] the accomplishment of the visual form of the curve. This impression "cannot therefore present itself visually;" it is always "the final point of a past which presents itself visually . .. Thus, on the one hand, it is the only con­crete element of the intentioned form, conferring on that form its charac­teristic of being present, which supplies the debased knowledge with 'the something' it envisions. But, on the other hand, it derives its sense, its range, its value, from the intentions that aim at visual impressions; it was itself expected, received as a visual impression. Of course, this is not enough to turn it into a visual sensation but no more is needed to give it a visual 'meaning': this kinaesthetic impression provided with a visual meaning there­fore functions as the analogue of a visual form.'" This amounts to saying that when I expect to perceive a seaplane and I see a goat arriving instead, I take this goat for the seaplane, or that at least, perceiving it as a goat, I nevertheless confer on it the meaning of being a seaplane. The critique which Sartre directs against Dwelshauvers hits his own theory full in the face.

We should not be surprised by this singular similarity if it is true that these two authors have a fundamental postulate in common, viz. as Sartre explicitly declares, "We are directly informed of the movements of our body by a special type of sensations, namely kinaesthetic sensations," a

• Jean-Paul Sartre, The Psychology of Imagination, tr. anon. (New York: The philo­sophical Library, 1948) 110-111.

, Ibid. II J.

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postulate which leads him to posit the problem in the same terms as Dwel­shauvers and the classicists in general; "How can kinaesthetic sensations function as material for an imaginative consciousness which envisions an object furnished by visual perceptions?"· Posited in these terms, the problem is insoluble, because it calls for our finding a passage between the kinaesthetic and the visual and [121) because this passage must take place on the very level of the sensible. However, the being of the sensible is an opaque and irreducible totality. When we speak of the meaning of the sensible, we must be careful about what we say. The sensible can very well be the bearer of a meaning, and this meaning can itself be sensible, in the case, for example, where a blue refers us to a red. But a blue is a blue and a red is a red. The meaning of a blue cannot bring it about that this blue itself, in its own sensible being, can be a red-a proposition which is, from the phenomenological point of view, the very prototype of absurdity. A fortiori, when we pass from one sensorial field to another, is it true to say that a kinaesthetic sensation cannot, by any subterfuge whatever, be transformed into a visual sensation? The kinaesthetic is entirely kinaesthetic and only kinaesthetic, and the same is true for the sensible characteristic proper to each sense. Precisely because the sensible world is a real world, we do not have the option of making it become something other than what it is. We do not sense whatever we wish. The power of intentionality which belongs to us is not exercised gratuitously, the intentionality which aims at a given sensible content is not any intentionality whatever, it is rigorously determined; I cannot direct toward a goat the intentionality constitutive of a seaplane. The constitution of a visual image, of a curve for example which my index finger draws in space, can therefore in no way be applied to a kinaesthetic sensation. Sensible data are rigorously heterogeneous, each sensible content refers to a specific mode of constitution; in other words, it cannot receive the meaning of being something other than what it is. The intervention of time does not have the power of taking away the radical and irreducible heterogeneity between the kinaesthetic and the visual as such; and the relationship of our images and our movements is absolutely incomprehensible and even impossible, if it is true that the movement of our body is known to us through the intermediary of our kinaesthetic sensa­tions and, on the other hand, [122) ifi! is true that the visual image of the curve is so to speak secondary with respect to the plurality of visual impressions.

Before showing how the ontological theory of the body, which substitutes subjective movement and the act of vision for kinaesthetic impressions and

• Ibid. [06.

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visual sensations, will furnish us with the foundation for the relationship between our different senses, a relationship upon which the unity of our experience rests, we would first like to clarify fully the non-sequiturs of classical theories, non-sequiturs which stem from the role which they claim to assign to kinaesthetic sensation. In the analysis of Sartre, this role is considerable: On the one hand, it is the kinaesthetic sensation which is the origin of our knowledge of the movement of our body such that it is only through the intermediary of this sensation that the relationship between our movements and our images, for example, can be established; on the other hand, it is this same kinaesthetic sensation which serves, in the aforementioned example, as defining the present, a present which strangely resembles the coanaesthetic present of empiricists or the sensory­motor present of Bergson. The present is not a sensible present, it is an onto­logical present, but what is important to note here is the fact that the importance of the role assigned to kinaesthetic sensation does not fit at all well with the total uncertainty which is prevalent with regard to the exact nature of this sensation. In a note in his L ' imaginaire, 7 Sartre tells us that he has explained "the motor basis of the image" by making use of the thesis of James "concerning the peripheral origin of the feeling of tension;" he has not taken account of the 'hypothesis'- constructed by certain contem­poraries, notably by Mourgue-according to which there would exist certain "roughly outlined, sketched, and retained movements from motor impressions whose origin is not in muscular contractions"; in the case in which this hypothesis would be confirmed, adds Sartre, "all we need do is admit that [123] the imaginative intention holds for these non-peripheral motor impressions."

What is strange from a phenomenological perspective is the fact that the kinaesthetic impression, which is thought to constitute the being of the present, as well as the foundation for the relationship between our images and our movements, is some thing 'x', totally undetermined and actually purely hypothetical to the point of becoming the object of hypotheses for psychologists and scholars. Moreover, this uncertainty with regard to the being of kinaesthetic sensation, insofar as it is "the motor basis of the image," must receive its true name; it is actually an absolute uncon­sciousness. The unconsciousness of the kinaesthetic sensation as the so­called element of the knowledge of the movement whereby I trace the image of a circle in space results directly from the ontological thesis according to which movement, which is immediately present to us insofar as it is

7 Ibid. 119 note 1.

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an internal transcendental experience, is likewise totally unaware of the so-called instruments whereby it would take place. This unconsciousness is recognized by Sartre himself who declared in his critique of Dwelshauvers that the appearance of the kinaesthetic sensation would be accompanied by the disappearance of the image. How then can this kinaesthetic sensation whose being is handed over to the speCUlations of various theories, which does not make movement known to us, and whose simple presence in consciousness suffices to exclude that of the image, how could this sensa­tion furnish us with the principle of the relationship between our movements and our images and of the knowledge that we have of them? Certainly there exist kinaesthetic impressions and their constitution can well be the explicit theme of thought. In this case then I have the thematic knowledge of one of my movements but then I have ceased to trace a figure in space with my finger. In the latter case, which is the one we are studying, there is like­wise place for kinaesthetic impressions which then are included in the total constitution of the phenomenon. This is no reason (l24J for making them playa role which they do not play, and if we call them unconscious, it is because we maintain ourselves in an attitude of reduction which aims at bringing to light what is essential in the phenomenon under consideration and, consequently, of delivering to us the foundation of the relationship between our movements and our images.

This foundation is the following: In the original phenomenon of the act of tracing a curve in space with my index finger, the movement of my look which constitutes the spatial figure of the curve is the same as the movement of my hand which traces the curve, and the unity of the two movements which are but one is an ontological unity, it is a unity in the absolute imma­nence of subjectivity. Here the theme of thought is the visual image ofthe curve which is the transcendent object of my view, but also of the subjective movement of my hand which traces such a curve, which touches it so to speak, and which creates it. The theme, or more simply the terminus of the move­ment of my hand, is therefore in no way a kinaesthetic impression; the latter is absent from the central and original phenomenon constituted by the subjective movement and its transcendent correlate, and it is this absence which we wanted to note by declaring that the impression was unconscious. The constitution of kinaesthetic impressions is a marginal and secondary phenomenon, and this is the source of the characteristic which these impressions have of becoming profiles in the shadows, interior to our bodies, so to speak, in a part of the spectacle which does not appear in the full light and in the most manifest truth of transcendent being. That which occupies this place in light is the curve which I trace.




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'/ )


Nevertheless, in its own way,-the marginal phenomenon of the constitu­tion of kinaesthetic impressions is a decisive phenomenon, for with it begins the being oj constituted movement and with it our own body presents itself to us in the element oj transcendent being, where it appears as following in the wake of the original being of the subjective body. We must be careful not to confuse this first and constituted layer [125] of our body-a layer which presents to our constituted body taken in this first phase of its constitu­tion the characteristic of always being on this side of the world, on the margin of a spectacle to which we relate ourselves-with the original being of the body, i.e. with absolute sUbjectivity. The character of kinaesthetic impres­sions whereby they present themselves as being "in us" in opposition to the curve which my hand traces in the world and which presents itself as external to us comprises only a totally relative interiority which has nothing to do with the interiority of subjective movement, which is an absolute interiority. To the latter we give the name ontological interiority in order to signify that it belongs to a region of original being which is characterised precisely by the presence of an i=ediate relationship to self, whereas the interiority of the constituted body-an interiority which also makes us speak of a "within us" in opposition to an "outside us"-is itself a constituted interiority which has no ontological characteristic, i.e. which can in no way serve to define a region of being precisely because it is situated, like everything which is "outside us," in the sphere of transcendent being in general.

If the marginal phenomenon of the constitution of our kinaesthetic impres­sions means a first manifestation of our body in the element of transcendent being and if, because of this, it must be eliminated from the description of the central phenomenon wherein the relationship between our images and our movements takes place, nevertheless, by taking it into consideration we are better able to understand in what this original relationship consists. Actually, the constitution of our kinaesthetic impressions does not only accompany the SUbjective movement whereby I trace the curve in space, such a constitution can also accompany the exercise oj sight; it is as an effect of the operation of this marginal constitution that we are led to speak of the "movements of our ocular globes." Henceforth, the existence of kinaesthetic sensations accompanying the phenomenon of vision is not only [126] a striking confirmation of the thesis according to which subjective movement is immanent to the existence of our various powers of sensing, it likewise permits us to understand that the relationship between our move­ments and our images is in no way reduced to the relationship between our

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kinaesthetic sensations and our visual sensations, because these two types of sensations are equally present in the sole exercise of vision.

If, in the light of the preceding analyses, we would care to attempt to give to the phenomenon wherein I trace the curve with my index finger a correct phenomenological description, we see that we would have to distinguish:

I) An act of secondary and marginal constitution, which is actually duplicated in an act of constitution of kinaesthetic impressions which accompany the movement of my hand and, on the other hand, in an act of constitution altogether similar, of kinaesthetic impressions which accom­pany the movement of my look. This twofold act leads to the constitution of a twofold movement: first of the "movement of my hand," and secondly, of the "movement of my eyes." These two movements are constituted; they are a twofold wake, as it were, which the original act of the SUbjective body, i.e. movement properly so-called, causes to arise immediately after it. Moreover, these two movements take place in the shadows; when they constitute the theme for thought, the central phenomenon disappears.

2) This central phenomenon, which consists precisely in the act of tracing the curve with the tip of my index finger (abstraction made from the wake which this act leaves in the "interior" body as the result of the ccnstitution of kinaesthetic impressions in the form of the movements of our organs), breaks down into two sorts of elements: those which belong to the imma­nence of absolute SUbjectivity and, on the other hand, those which are con­stituted. The theory of subjective movement permits us to understand the profound unity which traverses [127] all these elements and which is found in the first as original unity, in the second as a founded unity. The movement which grasps the curve traced in space is admittedly analyzed into a move­ment of my hand and a movement of my look, but this analysis takes place interior to the transcendental sphere and does not lead to any veritable division; it rather expresses the unity of the concrete life of the ego, who is immanent to the unfolding of all his powers, because the root of the latter is precisely the original being of SUbjective movement whose unity we conceive once we understand its nature, which is that of being given to us in an internal transcendental experience.

The nature of the transcendent terminus which they attain to permits us to make more precise this unity of the movements of the look and the hand, even though this unity is itself based on the first unity which is an original subjective unity. Actually, it is one and the same curve which I trace, which I see, and which I could also feel, for example, if I drew it in a gust of wind which would affect the extremity of my index finger



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with a determined sensation. However, the theory of the transcendent ter­minus of movement has already furnished us with the principle of the unity of this curve: If there is not one curve which is traced, another seen, and finally another sensed, it is because each sensorial world is a real world and, consequently, that all the sensible worlds form but one and the same world, and we have likewise shown that the foundation for the unity and the reality of the sensible world is precisely the original being of subjective movement.

When we speak of the unity of the absolute life of the ego, we in no way wish to say that this life is monotonous; actually it is infinitely diverse, the ego is not a pure logical subject enclosed within its tautology; it is the very being of infinite life, which nevertheless remains one in this diversity and in this activity whereby it traces figures, sees them, and feels them, because this its own diversity belongs to it precisely insofar as it [128] is given to it in an internal transcendental experience. Once again, it is the ontological status of this life which is the principle of its unity and, conseqnently, of the unity of the world. The unity of the senses, more profoundly the unity of bodily life, finds its foundation in the ontological structure of subjectivity and, consequently, the theory of this unity is in principle con­tained within the ontological theory of the body."



After having grasped the principle of the unity of the senses, we can also understand how this unity is truly one of knowledge and in what the latter consists.

1) To the extent that it is an internal transcendental experience, our body is an immediate knowledge of self. It is necessary to see quite clearly that the immediate experience of our body presents us with nothing other than itself; the body is not first of all a being and then an experience which we would have of such a being-a being which would then pre-exist this experience or which would exist independently of it. Our body does present itself to us as surpassing the experience which we have of it, but this body is not the original body of which we are now speaking. When it comes to the latter, its being is that of the immediate experience which we have of

8 Solely the development of these views could lead, in our opinion, to a satisfactory theory of symbolism.

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it, it is a being which is an appearing, but as we have seen, an appearing of a determined type, it is an appearance which presents itself to us in the ab­sence of all phenomenological distance and is one with this way of presenting itself. This is the way in which our body is originally a knowledge. Our body is a power, but this power is an immediate knowledge of self, [129] a know­ledge which does not presuppose that the horizon of the truth of being is already open to us, but which is rather the foundation and the origin of this truth.

2) At the same time that it is an internal transcendental experience, our body is a transcendent experience. Precisely because the self-knowledge of the original body is not a thematic knowledge, because the 'self' and the ipseity of the body are not the terminus but the condition for this knowledge, the latter is not enclosed within itself, it is not the knowledge of self, but the knowledge of transcendent being in general. Here we find the being of absolute subjectivity in its roots and in its most profound structure. Because such a being is not constituted, it is a power of constitution; because it is given to itself without, in this act of giving itself to itself, appearing at any moment in the element of transcendent being, this region of transcendent being remains free for it, something can be given to it in the element of this region. In this original ontological structure of the body as absolu te SUbjectivity, we find the reason for which our body knows the world without knowing the "instruments" with which it was thought to know the world according to classical perspectives; here we likewise find the reason for which its knowledge of the world takes place without recurring to any sort of 'means' .

Certainly, our body has the power of knowing its members, as well as the different organs of sense which are said to compose its being, but what it then knows is still an element of the world, its knowledge is still in this case a knowledge of the world, it is in no way a knowledge of the instrument of its knowledge of the world. If the "instruments" whereby I know the world, if the powers of my body arose before me in the element of transcen­dent being, I would no longer know the world, or rather I would know a new sector thereof, a sector of the transcendent body, whereas the other sectors would disappear in the shadows. [130] Hence, when I attended to my kinaesthetic sensations, the curve which the movement of my hand traced in space was no more than the uncertain and vague object for a marginal consciousness. The powers of my body do not, therefore, give me the being of the world except on the condition that they belong to the sphere of absolute immanence, on the condition of being known in a knowledge where the concept of the world plays no role whatever. The knowledge of the world



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by the body and the original knowledge of the body by itself are, however, not two different knowledges because the second is rather the very substance of the first. The transcendent experience is, in itself, an internal transcen­dental experience; the original experience is an experience in which the being of the world as well as the being of the body are present to us, even though the mode according to which this presence takes place is radically different in the two cases: The body is present to us in the absolute immanence of subjectivity, the world in the element of transcendent being.

If we now direct our attention to this knowledge of the world which is the heritage of the body, it is, as we have said, neither intellectual nor even representative. For example, when I consider the act whereby I take with my hand the box of matches which is in my pocket, the knowledge which I have ofthis box is solely that which belongs to the movement which masters it and utilizes it. The relationships which intervene within such knowledge, which in a somewhat less equivocal fashion we can call a process, because it is totally immanent to this process whose very being is constituted by this knowledge, these relationships are not objective spatial relationships but relationships which are the exact replica, the so to speak continuous corre­late of the movements which I make. Objects are not originally or even ordinarily contemplated objects, they are the objects of our movements. In this sense, it is true to say that the original being of things is not a Vor­handen [131] but a Zuhanden. Moreover, by asserting the original relation­ship of the being of things to our movements, by saying that objects are not first represented, but immediately lived by the powers whereby we are related to them, we do not claim to inaugurate any primacy of the hand over sight, for example; we rather insist that vision is a knowledge of the same type as manual prehension or motor touch, i.e. a knowledge which is not an intellectual or theoretical knowledge, which is not a representation, because it is effected by the body, because it is a bodily knowledge, because it is the fact of subjective movement, as the analysis of the faculty of sensing has shown us. We must place ourselves interior to the powers which it unfolds in order to understand the nature of the world which our body knows. Indeed, we are truly placed interior to these powers. This is why bodily knowledge is not a provisional knowledge, a primitive knowledge perhaps, but one rapidly surpassed by the intelligent man, it is rather a primordial and irreducible ontological knowledge, the foundation and the ground of all our knowledge and, in particular, of our intellectual and theo­retical knowledge.

3) This bodily knowledge of the world is not an actual knowledge. Our body is not exactly a knowledge, it is rather a power of knowledge, the prin-

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ciple of infinitely various, multiple, and yet coordinated knowledges, of which it is truly the owner. The being of ontological knowledge has been identified by Maine de Biran with the being of the ego, but the ego is the body. This is why ontological knowledge is not an empty possibility, why its existence is not a virtual existence which would need the concurrence of a foreign reality in order to move into act, finally, why it is a real being, because it is the very being of our body, its concrete and infinite life. How can a pure possibility be a concrete being? What [I23] is the being of the body if it is precisely the concrete being of pure ontological possibility?

A text from Maine de Biran wiII clarify this point for us: "All movements executed by the hand, all positions which it has taken in touching the solid, can be voluntarily repeated in the absence of thi s solid. These movements are the signs of diverse elementary perceptions, relative to first qualities .. . ; they can serve to recall ideas, and this recall, executed through the means of available signs, constitutes the memory properly so-called; hence we have a veritable memory of tangible forms. "1 The hypothesis of the absence of the solid during the reproduction of the movement of the hand stems from the general project of the analysis of the faculty of sensing, here again it is only a fiction destined to make evident the essence of the phenomenon under consideration. Henceforth, as in the case of hearing and the voluntary reproduction of a sonorous impression, we must first of all distinguish, in this phenomenon of reproduction of the movement of prehension of a solid, four sorts of knowledge: I) the original knowledge of movement by itself; 2) the recognition of this movement as being the same as that which had already been effected; 3) the knowledge of the transcendent terminus of movement, viz. the solid; 4) the recognition of this transcendent terminus as a terminus already attained to by the same movement. To render more precise the nature of these different knowledges, to under­stand why they are identical at the very heart of one primordial knowledge, is to be led to give to Biranian phenomenology of the memory its full development and at the same time, to go back to the foundation for the memory, to the being of ontological knowledge as identical to the being of the body.

If, first of all, we reflect on the knowledge and the recognition of the solid, we wiII see that the mode according to which [1 33] the latter is given to us has an absolutely general meaning: Things are never present to the body in an experience which would bear within it the characteristic of having to be unique; rather they are always given to us as something which we will

1 Maine de Biran, Essai sur les fondements de la psychologie ... 408. [Henry's italicsl

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see again. The being of an object is that whicb I can attain on condition of a certain movement. On the other hand, since this movement is a peculiar, irreducible, inalienable possibility and, to say it all, an ontological possi­bility of my body, it follows that the being of the world is that which I can always attain; it is accessible to me in principle. Each time that an object is given to my body, it is given not so much as an object of a present expe­rience but as something which my body can attain, something which is sub­missive to the power which my body has on it. When it seems to us that things are otherwise, when, for example, we see a panorama or a face which we will never see again, this new meaning which is attached to our experience is only a negative determination of the general meaning according to which the world is given to our body, and this negative determination, far from excluding the meaning according to which the terminus of my bodily expe­rience is in principle accessible to me, rather finds in this general meaning its foundation and is no more than a determination thereof.

It is necessary to make the same remark regard ing the disappearance in fact of one of the powers of my body, for example, sight, or of their global disappearance, which it represented to us in the idea of death. This idea is only a determination of the general meaning of our experience of the world. Thus, the world is the totality of the contents of all the experiences of my body, it is the terminus of all my real or possible movements. This terminus is indefinitely repeatable, these contents are always accessible to me in prin­ciple, because my movement is not a present and so-called empirical state of my body, because its being is rather [134J the very being of ontological knowledge. It is this identity of the original being of movement with that of ontological knowledge itself that we express by saying that the body is a power, that its knowledge is not limited to the present instant, but that · it is a possibility of knowledge in general, the real and concrete possibility of a world being given to me. We call 'habit' the real and concrete being of the ontological possibility and we likewise express the idea that the body is a power by saying that it is a habit, the totality of our habits. With regard to the world, it is the terminus of all our habits, and it is in this sense that we are truly its inhabitants. To inhabit, to frequent the world, such is the fact of human reality and such a characteristic of habitation is an ontological characteristic which also -serves to define the world as well as the body which inhabits it.

If we now return to the Biranian example which we are discussing and to the four fundamental types of knowledge which are implied therein (knowledge and recognition of the movement of the hand and of its transcen­dent terminus), we see why there is actually no place for distinguishing

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between knowledge and recognition. If all knowledge is likewise recognition, it is because it is not the fact of an isolated act, but of sUbjectivity itself, i.e. of a power, or if you prefer, because it is not an empirical knowledge but an ontological knowledge. That to which the solid is present in the knowledge which I have of it, is my hand, it is not a single act of grasping, it is a general possibility of prehension which, in its present, i.e. in the onto­logical present, also bears within it all past and future prehensions of this solid and of all solids of the world in general. This is what we mean when we say that the being of my body is habit, i.e. a general and indefinite possibility of knowledges. This possibility is the real being of the ego, it is its ontolo­gical actuality, it is the identity of the body, [135J it is, furthermore, as Maine de Biran says, the "very durability of our personal individuality.'" The body is not an instantaneous knowledge, it is this permanent knowledge which is my very existence, it is memory.

The characteristic of memory inherent in the power of sensing and acting -the memory of touching and tactile forms are merely one example-con­stitutes a constant theme for the thought of Maine de Biran. " Only the ego," he says, "recalls what he has apperceived or effected by his constitutive force."3 It is the immanence of this constitutive force to all apperceptions or operations of the ego which constitute the fact that the knowledge which these latter bear within themselves is always memory, i.e. it is always a possibility of knowledge in general. The body which remembers does not become separated from the first paths which Jed it to things, it keeps within it the secret of its access to all the objects of its environment, it is the key to the universe, it extends its power to everything which exists. That which remains beyond its scope and its grasp receives this meaning of being inaccessible to it only within a more primitive power of access and of opening to the world. Thus, because movement belongs to a sphere of absolute immanence, our knowledge of the universe, which belongs to it, takes on this characteristic of never being a new knowledge; it is, if not with regard to its empirical content, at least with regard to its ontological structure and its first possibility, a knowledge as old as our own existence.

We have said that the body was habit, we now say that it is memory. How are we to understand these two affirmations? What relationship do memory and habit have between them? Are they not two different names for designating one and the same phenomenon? In what does this phenom­enon consist? Is it truly a foundation, and how are the memory and habit situated with regard to it? [136J

, Ibid. 327; cf. also p. 350. 3 Ibid. 303-304.

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It order to answer these questions, let us again return to our example wherein the hand grasps a solid. We have shown that the four modes. of knowledge immanent to this grasping are actually reduced to two: on the one hand, a knowledge and recognition of the movement (which were but one and hence identical with the very being of subjective movement); on the other hand, the knowledge and recognition of the transcendent terminus which were likewise identical at the very core of a transcendent unity of meaning which found its foundation in the originally subjective unity of movement. In this reduction of recognition to knowledge- a reduction which gives to the latter its characteristic of knowledge which is not individualized and hie et nunc, but properly ontological-we have defined the phenomenon of habit. In the phenomenon which we are now describing (of the act, for example, whereby each day and several times each day I take my box of matches from my pocket prior to smoking), no signification of the past comes to light. Consequently, such a phenomenon does not, properly speaking, stem from the memory. The act of grasping my box of matches, moreover, is not an individualized act in time, an act which would be present at the moment when I do it and would then fall into the past. What is past is irremediably lost, taken away forever from our grasp and our power, even though we can keep it alive in our memory, but this memory is the consciousness of something as past, i.e. far from being able to give us back 'in person' what has become shadowy in past time, it gives us only an image whose meaning is precisely that of handing its object to us as that which we have lost. It becomes immediately apparent that such a description in no way fits the act of grasping a solid. Such an act is in no way past; it is in essence a permanent possibility which presents itself to me, a power which dominates past, present, and future and whose -ontological structure, defined as habit, permits us to [I37J conceive and to understand what the real being of the pure possibility of an ontological knowledge truly is.

At the same time, there is another truth, and one no less essential, which is announced to us: Since the knowledge in which the subjective movement grasps the solid is an ontological knowledge and a general possibility of knowledge of this solid, it does not know it as some individualized 'this' in time, it knows it as that which it can always know within this very move­ment, it knows it and recognizes it in the knowledge which the movement produces and which it can always reproduce. Doubtless, the theory of habit has reduced recognition to knowledge, but it is more exact to say that it has understood this knowledge as that which bears within it a recognition. This recognition which is immanent to the knowledge of the solid through

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movement and makes of knowledge through movement an ontological knowledge, can at any moment become the explicit theme of thought. Hence, there is a new intentionality which is born, an intentionality in which the recognition of the solid is the theme for an explicit thought, the solid is recognized as that which it has already known, or rather, the movement of grasping the solid is explicitly posited as the movement which had already been produced. Hence, I have in the first case the memory of the solid, in the second the memory of the knowledge which I had at another time of this solid, the memory of the movement of grasping which was accomplished by me in the past. Habit is the foundation for memory and, since it defines the ontological structure of the body, it is correct to see in the being of the body the principle of our acts of remembering and of recall. Actually, it is because the original being of the subjective body is the real being of ontological knowledge, it is because it is a possibility for knowledge in general, a knowledge of the world in its absence, that it is also, and for this very reason, a memory of the world, of its forms, and a priori knowledge of its being and its determinations. [138J "The memory of an act," says Maine de Biran in a text of infinite profundity, "includes the feeling of the power of repeating it. " .

We can now give its true name to this feeling of the power of repeating an act, a feeling which is immanent to memory and which is its foundation: It is the internal transcendental experience of the original being of our sub­jective body. The unity of our body is the feeling of immanence in all the modes of our concrete life of this power of producing and repeating, it is the immediate experience of this ontological power. Furthermore, this unity is that of ontological knowledge, it is in the latter and through it that the unity of the world is constituted; ontological knowledge is itself transcendental unity which is the foundation for and which, on the transcen­dental level itself, confers on each of our movements and our acts this characteristic whereby this movement or this act is lived by us as one and the same power whose exercise cannot be reduced to the determination of this act here, of this movement here, to the individuation of a knowledge whose being would be destined to disappear with time. In its original being our body eludes time, as does absolute SUbjectivity, it has no other relationship with time than that of constituting it.

We cannot, therefore, dream of founding the unity of our original being, the unity of the body or of the ego, on memory. It is not by memory, i.e. through the mediation of time, that we find gathered together in a unity the totality of the acts and the movements which the fundamental powers

4 Maine de Biran, Essai sur les /ondements de /a psyc/z%gie ... 605 footnote.

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of my own being accomplish or execute. This unity of my being traversing time- which memory constitutes----QIlls for a foundation. This foundation is habit, or if you prefer, the very being of my body which makes possible the act of remembering and which is nothing other than the being of [139] ontological knowledge understood as the real being of pure possibility. To explain the unity of the ego or of the body by memory is to commit a paralogism, it is to explain the original unity by a faculty which rather finds its foundation in such a unity. In other words, the unity of our being is not constituted, it is not torn away from time by the power of our proten­tions or of our retentions, rather it is immanent to the being of our ontolog­ical knowledge, it is one with it, it is precisely that which makes this being the being of ontological knowledge.

What Maine de Biran has said is quite similar: After he has explicitly reproached Locke with the paralogism which we have just denounced regarding the foundation of the unity of the ego, he refers to a more original unity whose ontological status is obviously, in the Biranian context, that of absolute sUbjectivity: "The subject of effort immediately recognizes his identity, his continuous duration. He feels that he is the same as he was before sleeping, without any accidental impression coming along to motivate distinct memories, without some determined relation coming along between a present and a past time. From this simple experience of the intimate sense, it therefore follows: 1) that personal identity has its own proper meaning ... ; 2) that this identity or this duration of our personal existence is the basis for recall or for memory ... Locke falls into a veritable vicious circle when he says that our identity is rather based on memory or on the remembering of our various or successive ways of being.'"

A remark relative to terminology is here necessary, if we wish to pene­trate the thought of Maine de Biran concerning the important point with which we are now occupied. Maine de Biran asserts that the original unity of the being of the ego, or if you prefer, of the original being of the sub­jective body does not rest on memory, on reminiscence, to use his own terms, but rather constitutes the foundation [140] of the psychological faculties. However, when it is a question of giving a name to this original unity which is that of our being, Maine de Biran characterizes it as reminis­cence: "Personal reminiscence does not differ from the feeling of one's own continuous existence."6 However, this ambiguity is only in the words. Maine de Biran has perfectly distinguished between memory properly so­called as the explicit thought of the past and the infra-temporal unity of

• Ibid. 322. [Henry's italics] • Ibid. 532.

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the ego which is the foundation for psychological memory. This is what the following text shows: "There could not be ... the simplest perception [which always presupposes a successive plurality of impressions or acts] if there were not the continuity of the ego or personal reminiscence pre­served in the succession of the termini or elementary modes: But this reminiscence preserved in the sensation of a single continuous movement must be clearly distinguished from the memory properly so-called." 7 Hence, it is because the body is memory, a memory, it is true, where the idea of the past does not yet arise, that it can also be a memory which remembers the past by making it the theme of its thought. The original memory of our body is habit, our body is, as we have said, the totality of our habits.

Now we must note well that these habits are no more unconscious than our memories. Once the concept of the unconscious appears, it is the sign that we are approaching an original region, because the unconscious is often only a name attributed to absolute subjectivity by philosophies incap­able of grasping the essence of the foundation other than by projecting it into the night of a hinter world which we have psychoanalyzed. Habits are not some ready-to-go mechanisms which would be waiting somewhere in a region 'x', where a movement of our will or desire would provide them with the occasion wherein the melodic interplay [141] of their processes and articulations would be triggered and set into motion. These neatly structured, little psychological beings could long remain in the dust of a hidden place where they are truly found for the very good reason that the idea of our using them and putting them into motion never enters our mind. Perhaps this idea and this desire are themselves unconscious? We can probably account for this as follows: It is peculiar to mythologies to grow without ceasing; each myth, in its indigence, calls for another myth to account for it, and thus, little by little, the totality of our psychological life leaves the area where we obviously see it taking place, in order to be transposed into another region where it will live a new life where crude and simplistic images will be given it-a life in the milieu of fantastic beings and absurd concepts.

We have had the opportunity to grasp the original being of habit only at the end of an ontological investigation which allowed us to surpass the concept of the individualized and empirical being, as well as the concept of its milieu and transcendental horizon, in order to rise to the concept of the original being of SUbjectivity. The reality of the being in question, therefore, no longer resides in its individuation, nor in the milieu of every

'1 Maine de Biran, Memoire sur la decomposition ... IV, 106 footnote.

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possible individuation in general, but in the reality of its very possibility, because such a being is that of ontological knowledge. It is by understanding the body as absolute subjectivity that we will be able also to understand the ontological phenomenon of habit, a phenomenon in which the being of the body encloses in its ontological present all possible knowledges of the world, without these knowledges at any moment arising outside the sphere of absolute immanence in order to lose themselves in the dispersal and in the empty diversity of transcendent termini or in the night of the unconscious. The body bears within it the depth of its past. Moreover, this depth is also the absence of all depth, because it is an absolute transpar­ency. [142]


The subjective unity of the body-the unity of our senses and movements, the unity of their knowledge- allows us in turn to understand the individuality of human reality insofar as this individuality is a sensible individuality. It is here time to reject every empirical conception of individuality, a con­ception which dominates the history of philosophical thought from anti­quity to our own times. It is precisely by way of recourse to the body and to the bodily condition of human reality that it had been thought possible to find the means for relating the individuality of the being of the ego to the empirical conception of spatio-temporal individuation. Actually, since man has a body, and since this body was conceived as an empirical object individuated in time, the existence of this body naturally became the prin­ciple for applying the general conditions of spatio-temporal individuation to the being of human reality. Moreover, the body was not only the point of application to human reality of the general form of individuality, it was not only the means and the foundation for this application, it was truly its origin and cause. In other words, it was because man had a body that he could also be understood as an individual. If one abstracted from this body, there was nothing left to man except the being of pure spirit, a being which was not a being properly so-called, because it was no longer individ­uated, it was a sort of impersonal nous, a homogeneous and undifferentiated substance. Man then truly became a twofold man; on the one hand, he was a pure universal consciousness, and on the other hand, an empirical indi­viduality. Moreover, it was the latter which truly conferred on him the property of being a man, i.e. an individual. It was thanks to his body that man came into the world, empirical individuation was truly the principle for his birth. [143]

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This strange philosophical alchemy constituted and still constitutes the theme of half-theoretical, half-moral dissertations, because the dualism of the spirit and empirical characteristics immediately takes on an axiolog­ical meaning, it is the cadre of an effort which suggests to man that he ought to elevate himself above these determinations and rejoin his true ego, which is for all purposes no longer an ego but an Ego, Spirit, or anything you want to make it. The empirical element is the element to be conquered; for example, it is the pathological content which duty surmounts, it is some­thing temporal, handed over to corruption, mortal and contingent remains. Certainly, it is strange to base the individuality of the human being upon an element endowed with a pejorative meaning because, henceforth, every activity of man can consist only in a battle against this element, a battle which, if it were to succeed, would have no other effect than the annihila­tion of the principle of our individuality, such that the moral effort of man would be turned toward the destruction of his own being. However, it is not the consequences of these fantastic constructs which are of impor­tance to us at the moment. We wish to understand how individuality, whose theory we have given elsewhere, 1 is a sensible individuality.

First of all, the ontological theory of the body forbids us to see in it a principle of empirical individuation. If individuality is not encountered on the level of absolute subjectivity, if it is not a transcendental individuality, then the relating of such a subjectivity to the body will not be able to bring to such subjectivity the principle of individuation of which it is in need, because the body itself is, in its essence, absolute subjectivity, and conse­quently, does not bear within it any principle of empirical individuation. The problem of individuality arises on the level of absolute subjectivity; therefore, it arises both for the being of the body as well as the being of [144] the ego; actually, it is only as one and the same problem that the con­sideration of the body allows us to advance further. The individuality of absolute subjectivity has found its foundation in the theory according to which the being of this subjectivity is the very being of the ego. Where the life of the ego is the concrete life of the body, this individuality becomes a sensible individuality. Sensible individuality is not some empirical . indi­viduality, because it is not an individuality of sensation, but an individuality of sensing. Certainly, sensation is individuated in time, but the power of sensing and the power of effecting movements in principle escapes empirical individuation as it escapes time: This power is the absolute being of habit and this is what makes it truly an Individual.

1 cr. the problematic of ipseity in The Essence of Manifestation, trans!' G. Etzkorn (The Hague: Martinus Nijholf, 1973) 1 f. and 459 If.

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In Biranianism, the individuality of the being of the subjective body is not the object of a particular thesis, it is rather the foundation of the entire theory; to speak of the individuality of effort is to commit a sort of tautology, because we have here two words to designate one and the same reality, viz. the ego. Nevertheless, it is necessary that we clearly understand the onto­logical foundation for this individuality which is then implied in the ontolog­ical theory of the body as is its unity: "Thus," says Maine de Biran summa­rizing his thought, "the personality begins with the first complete action of a hyper-organic force which is for-itself, or 'ego-like,' only to the extent that it knows itself and which does not begin to know itself except to the extent that it begins to act freely." 2 Hence, it is to the extent that the original being of movement is subjectivity that it is also and by the same token the being of the ego-individuality or, if you prefer, ipseity is hence nothing other than the milieu wherein, in immanence, a revelation sui generis takes place, i.e. an ontological milieu of existence which is precisely subjectivity itself. Because the being of movement which is immanent to all our powers of sensing is a subjective being, [145] the life of our power of sensing is an individual life, it is the very life of individuality.

It is J. Lagneau whom we find has advanced the furthest in the under­standing of individuality which constitutes the essence of our power of sensing. After the critique which we have directed against his theory of movement and action, after the reproach of intellectualism which we have directed against his conception of the body, this appeal to the author of the Celebres ler;ons cannot help but seem surprising. Moreover, no less surprising is the movement of thought which takes place at the end of the Ler;on sur la perception when the problem of the individual becomes the theme of a number of quick but decisive reflections. It is a moment of geniiIs such as this one in which, while deepening the philosophical tradition which has nourished him, the philosopher disentangles himself and surpasses it toward the future. After having given an intellectualist theory of perception, after having based the nature of the sensible world on the totality of the meanings which our judgments confer upon it, Lagneau arrives at asking himself about the truth of this world so constituted and he first of all finds that truth is absent therefrom. Truth is the work of judgment, but the judg­ment whereby, according to Lagneau, we determine our representations has only a practical and utilitarian meaning; it defines only a normal manner of perceiving and, when all is said and done, it allows us to find ourselves in our habitual world. Properly speaking, its result is not an idea but rather a general image, a schema, a means for orienting us in the world of our

2 Maine de Biran, Essai sur les fondements de la psych%gle ... 199. [Henry's italics]

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environment. "There is no truth whatever in sensible knowledge,"3 it is not knowledge properly so-caIled because knowledge always implies an objective truth and constitutes the basis of the agreement of all minds. Each individual rather senses in his own way. "To perceive is to return to the point of view of the sensing individual and to stay there." Consequently, [146] perception "cannot be said to be true or false,'" it is what it is; what we sense is some­thing irreducible and proper to each of us.

As essentially individual, the being of sensing seems to be devalued with respect to inteIlectual knowledge taken as the source and domain of truth. Does not Lagneau strictly follow the classical line to the extent that he reserves truth properly so-caIled to inteIlectual knowledge and to the idea, when he tears the sensible life away from error only to confine it to the domain of illusion? "Every perception is actually an illusion," "a subjective way of seeing things and ideas. "5 At least the originality of sensible life and its irreducibility to theoretical life are clearly asserted. Hence the being of our sensible life is no longer constituted by judgment; there is in us a primitive life, an original life which is not an inteIlectual life and which, moreover, will appear as the foundation for theoretical knowledge and abstract truth. What we already see here, in a rather striking outline fashion, are the Husserlian theses from Erfahrung und Urteil. The theoretical life is f ounded. "There is no purely abstract truth," says Lagneau, who adds, "If we conceive that there is a truth, we conceive it as the truth of what we sense.'" Hence, intellectual truth, the truth of judgment, is devel­oped on a ground which is already given it, which is our sensible life itself, which is the concrete life of naive perception.

However, this life, whose fundamental role is thus asserted, is an individual life, it is the very life of the individual. Henceforth, the individual can no longer be confused with the empirical; he is not a sort of contingent and synthetic adjunct to a [147] pure consciousness, he defines the primitive mode of the 1'ery life of consciousness; it is upon this life that predication will in turn be founded and hence even our judgments wiII be nothing more than the expression of what there is of the individual in us. The original life is an individual life, but this life is precisely the sensible life, the life of the body. Sensible individuality therefore, refers to that which is more primitive in us, not to an empirical element, but to the concrete and original

3 Jules Lagneau, Celebres lefons el/ragments. (paris; Presses Universitaires de France. 1950) lSI.

, Ibid. ISO. , Ibid. ISO-lSI. , Ibid. IS2.

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life of absolute subjectivity, to its most profound determination which will be the foundation for all other determinations and all other modalities in which this life will be able to express itself. Henceforth, the words of Lagneau receive their decisive meaning: "We could not conceive a manner of sensing which must be considered as true for us in given circumstances. Actually, this would presuppose either that our sensible nature does not change or that its development is subject to a rigorous law, i.e. that this nature in us completely results from its relationship with the external world of which it would be only an effect, a result. But then there would no longer be anything in us like spontaneity or a sensible nature. However, it is the same thing to say that we are individuals and to say that in these individuals there is a sensible nature in which something does not result from the action of the milieu. If the totality of our sensible nature were subject to necessity, if there were for us a manner of sensing which would be true, if at every instant our manner of sensing would result from the external world, we would not sense.'" The devaluation of sensibility which seems again to come to light here, to the extent that this sensibility is deprived of truth, means a devaluation of the intellectual life which is not adequate for the original region wherein our concrete existence moves about; it is a truth which is only a derived and secondary truth. What is here asserted [l48J as essential, as truly being a foundation, is something individual and sensible, it is the life of the body. It is truly the body which is the founda­tion for our individuality, not the empirical body, but the originally sub­jective being of the transcendental body.

On the other hand, the fact that our sensible nature is explicitly designated by Lagneau as a spontaneity shows us how his analysis breaks abruptly with the Kantian presuppositions which first outlined the cadre of 'his investigations. The spontaneity of our sensible life indicates its truly subjec­tive nature, for only absolute subjectivity is a spontaneity. What is immanent to our sensible life and constitutes its being is truly the subjective being of movement which defines both the power of our body and the peculiar quality of our individuality. To be an individual is to have an absolutely original relationship with the world, and this not by way of an ethical decision, at the end of a deliberately undertaken effort, but everywhere and always, in romantic exultation as well as in daily banality. The originality of the mode according to which I am related to the universe is an ontological necessity, it is inherent to the ontological structure of habit. It is because my manner of sensing the world is the very experience which I have of my

, Ibid. 182. [Henry's italicsl; for a deeper study of this text, cf. The Essence of Mani­festation, chap. 55, 488-498.

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subjectivity that it is given to me alone, in the internal transcendental experi­ence of the originally subjective being of my body. I am unique, not because I have decided to be nor because, in my aestheticism, I taste rare sensations only exceptionally, like Keats' perfume of wilted violets, but simply because I sense. 'One' does not sense. Sensibility is a possibility peculiar to the being of the ego, it is its most eminent possibility, for it is nothing other than the ontological possibility itself. To sense is to make the test, in the individuality of one's unique life, of the universal life of the universe, it is already to be "the most irreplaceable of beings." [149]

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The problem of the constitution of the body eludes the field of our investiga­tions because it is not the theme of the reflection which is concentrated on the being of absolute subjectivity and the original ego. However, the need to direct our attention to the being of the constituted body is unavoidable to the extent that we now have to take into consideration a question which can no longer be deferred. If, as we have shown, the being of the body is an originally sUbjective being, if the life of our body is only a modality of the life of absolute subjectivity, how is it that this, our very own body, has never been considered by the various philosophical systems, by psychol­ogy, by scientific reflection as well as by profane thought other than as an element of transcendent being, regardless of the characteristics which they have claimed to assign to our body in order to distinguish it, interior to this region of existence, from other beings which inhabit this region as the body does and among which it appears with certain determinations which do not impede the inauguration of a system of relationships of inher­ent and reciprocal action, but [150J which rather seem to require more ur­gently its consideration? Actually, it is only to the extent it is a constituted reality that the body is capable of entertaining with other beings of nature relationships such as those which the sciences would have us conceive, relationships whose validity is likewise universally recognized.

Certainly, our body manifests itself in the truth of transcendent being; any consciousness whatever can discover it there; it appears as a spatial configuration which is also the milieu wherein a number of objective dis­placements and movements take place whereby this body enters into contact with exterior bodies, runs up against them, attracts or repulses them. How could that which we see be considered as illusory? How could such an illusion be so universally shared? What is surprising is not this common opinion which makes us consider our body as an object, an opinion whose foundation we intend to show, it is rather the omission which seems to

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be implied in this opinion and which concerns the original being of our body. Actually, in such a conception, everything takes place as if the body were nothing other than this object which we see and as if the original being of the body whose ontological analysis we have given were nothing but a chi­mera, the trace of which is vainly sought in our real experience. There is a sort of absorption of the originally subjective being of the body in this body which manifests itself to us among things, the first becomes inte­rior to the second and the entire being of our body is reduced to its consti­tuted being and, beyond this transcendent phenomenon, there is nothing, unless it be the consciousness which thinks it, the mind or the soul which surveys it. Whatever might be subjective in OUf body, the element which we have characterized as immanent, is indeed such, but it is an element immanent to a transcendent body which belongs to nature. If I consider the element immanent to my body as the heart or the nucleus of this body, this element appears to me precisely as the heart or the nucleus of the body­object which I [151] see or can touch. That which we call immanence has thus become the very essence of the transcendent. Before clarifying the fun­damental ontological ambiguity which presides over the occurrence of such a transformation, we first must show how this transformation is at the origin of the perception or the knowledge which we have of our body, of this knowledge as it is expressed by common sense in everyday language. It will be the philosophical presuppositions of this language which will then become the theme of a radical ontological clarification.

This language says: The eye sees the panaroma, the hand moves toward the table and touches it, its ear hears the melody .The eye, the hand, the ear are elements of the transcendent body, they manifest themselves to con­sciousness in the truth of being, there they have a place, a spatial configura­tion and perceived or scientifically determined relationships with all the objects of nature. It is precisely such transcendent elements which bear within themselves the nucleus of the body, i.e. this ensemble of powers whereby the body sees, moves, touches, and hears. Nevertheless, the latter had been characterized by us as belonging to a sphere of radical immanence, as constituting the being of a subjective body. What then is the meaning of this deterioration whereby immanence ceases to define the sphere of our absolute existence in order to be externalized in a being upon which such a deterioration confers a sort of intimacy and depth? Do not the latter express the presence in our transcendent body of sensible and motor powers whose being we had thought to grasp by determining it as that of subjectivity? What is truly the status of these powers?

There is no question of our returning to the results of the ontological

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analysis of the original being of our body, results which are absolutely certain and which constitute a part of absolute knowledge upon which phenomenological ontology is built. Moreover, how could we maintain this absurdity whereby ultimately what we see and touch would also be that which sees and touches? This body which we [152] see and which we call our own presupposes, as Biran has shown us, another body which sees and which touches, which sees and touches all things and among them this body which is seen and touched. It is this other body which is the original body, whose being has been determined as belonging to the sphere of absolute subjectivity outside which it was unable to arise without losing everything which makes it what it is. This ontological power cannot truly pass into the element of transcendent being; it cannot be identified or incorporated into an ele­ment of nature; this identification is a naive representation and actually an illusion. It is the general theory of this illusion that Maine de Biran pro­poses to us in the analysis of what he calls "the twofold usage of signs."

Let us consider the experience of seeing: It is an internal transcendental experience. This experience transcends itself toward a world, but it takes place entirely within a sphere of radical immanence. If we now express in language this experience of vision, we use the word "to see" which is, to speak as Maine de Biran, the "sign" of seeing. How this sign is related to the internal experience of seeing, how, in a general way, language is based on the life of absolute subjectivity which it expresses, this is what cannot be clarified here. Let us simply say that this task of the foundation of lan­guage takes place in two quite different ways which give a place, on the one hand, to natural language which immediately expresses the life of subjec­tivity and, on the other hand to the language of reflection which rests on a mediating operation. In the latter case, which we are examining here because it can provide the occasion for serious confusion, the expression "I see" is not based on my internal transcendental experience of seeing, but on a reflection directed toward this experience. Henceforth, the latter ceases to be an immanent content in order to become the object of a new experience which is my reflection. The terminus of this reflection, my prim­itive experience of seeing, has now become a transcendent [153J reality, and it is here that the ontological analysis must become more exact.

Actually, from the moment that vision is presented as the terminus of an intentionality, it is ready to be circumscribed in an element of transcen­dent being, for example, in the body-object which I see and which belongs to nature. The ontological paralogism which would be implied in admitting the thesis according to which seeing could be designated, following its surreptitious entry into the sphere of transcendent being, as the property

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of an element of nature, is the following: seeing, in the reflection which I direct toward it, has become the simple transcendent correlate of the life of absolute subjectivity; it is no longer seeing which sees but a simple repre­sentation thereof; it is no longer the ontological knowledge which discovers for us the transcendence of a visual world, but the simple exterior manifesta­tion of this knowledge. Nevertheless, the representation of seeing presup­poses real seeing as its foundation. Reflection never creates its object but only the manner in which it presents it. It is because I see that I can reflect on seeing, it is because the latter is originally mine in a sphere of absolute immanence, that I can represent it to myself. If, therefore, the word 'see' refers, in reflective language, to the seeing upon which I reflect, i.e. refers to an intentional correlate, the transcendent character of the latter cannot lead us into error. The theme of my reflection is truly a transcendent mani­festation, but the content of this manifestation, the substance of what it represents, is borrowed from the subjective life of our absolute body. The process of foundation of reflective language is ultimately reduced to that of natural language. Even if we assume that the words 'I see' designate the representation of my seeing and not my seeing itself, nevertheless, it is upon the latter, upon its radically immanent experience and upon it alone, that their meaning ultimately rests. [154J

The entire ontological ambiguity in the phenomenon described by Maine de Biran under the name of the "twofold usage of signs" resides in the fact that a relationship is established between the words 'I see' and a physiological organ, such that the sign 'to see' has a twofold usage and designates both the eye, or at least a property thereof, as well as the internal transcendental experience of seeing. We say, 'It is the eye which sees'. The eye is a being of nature and primarily an extended being. Therefore, seeing is a natural phenomenon and, moreover, a phenomenon endowed with spatial extension, and this is the most outlandish absurdity that we can imagine. If we care to pass beyond this ontological nonsense, we will discover it again in the form of another difficulty: If seeing IS a phenomenon localized in space, we do not at all see how this seeing can leave the area where it is and go beyond, to the hill, to the house which I see, higher and farther to the edge of the forest, and higher still to the heavens, even to the stars. Such a seeing would see nothing at all, not even that which is found in the area where we claim that it is. It is truly a natural phenomenon, i.e. an element of transcendent being. The latter is that which is precisely incapable of leaving itself and of knowing itself. It could not leave itself unless it were first able to know itself; it could not be present to things unless it were first present to itself. To be present to things interior to its

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I "


original presence to itself, this is precisely the phenomenon of ontological knowledge, i.e. the very being of absolute subjectivity. It is to the extent that it is an internal transcendental experience, i.e. a modality of absolute life, that seeing is possible. This is the only possible seeing to which the word 'to see' refers; this word, we might add, can be related to something else only by way of confusion and total ontological obscurity.

"Each of our senses," says Maine de Biran, "defines itself (155] by its exercise."l The original being of our body is, as he says further, a willing "whose peculiar idea is entirely in reflection,"· which means, in the terminol­ogy of the Memoire, that it is a modality of absolute life whose being is but one with the knowledge we have of it. It is at the heart of this sensible and motor life which originally knows itself, and not in the representation of our organs or their properties, that the signs whereby we express its diverse modalities find content and meaning. Because such a life manifests itself to us in diverse modalities, we risk again confusing this diversity with that of our physiological organization. Actually, it seems to us that if we were able to estabish a distinction between our powers of sensing, it is by basing ourselves on the material differentiation and separation of our organs of sensing. Actually, it is' the opposite which is true: If nature has "prepared a sort of 'analysis' of our external faculties of sensing,'" this division of our senses-insofar as it is a division of our organs of sensing­rests, in reality, on a transcencental division of our powers of sensing, on the division which exists between seeing, hearing, touching, etc., and which is originally given to us in the internal transcendental experience which we have of the subjective being of our body. It is because we know, in an original and primitive knowledge, that it is seeing, hearing, or touching that we are subsequently able to represent to ourselves the eye, the hand, or the ear as organs endowed with their own capacities which are irreducible one to another and [156] thus arrive at the idea of "an external 'analysis' in our faculty of sensing."

This is what Maine de Biran emphasizes in a very important text: "A dis­tinction of various 'seats' attributed to the exercise of each faculty ... must itself necessarily refer to another division of faculties pre-established III a

1 Maine de Bifan, Essai sur les fondements de fa psych%gle ... 180. 2 Main'e de Biran, Mbnoire sur fa decomposition ... III, 199. [Henry's italics]. The

term 'to will" so frequently used by Biran, should DO longer lead us astray; we know that it is not a question of a willing which would precede action, a willing which would only be an idea of action, a SUbjective velleity or a desire, but a willing of the very being of movement in its very accomplishment.

3 Maine de Biran, Mbnoire sur fa decomposition . .. III, 72.

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manner-either logical or reflective-independently of any observation or physiological hypothesis.'" The logical division of our powers of sensing, and consequently, of sensations toward which these powers transcend them­selves is a nominal division, a division into classes which offers us, if you wish, a nomenclature of the possibilities of our sensible life. This logical division, expressed in reflective language, is obviously founded on the "reflec­tive division," i.e. on what we call a transcendental division. If, to this logical divison, we would bring into correspondance "a supposed and demonstrated diversity of organic 'seats'," the latter would add nothing to "the reality of ideological distinctions," to the transcendental distinctions which offer us this diversity and its content in their original state, because it is from the transcendental experience that we draw both the idea of this content- i.e. of the ensemble of our powers of sensing- as well as the idea of their diversity. If the "physiological division" corresponds to the one offered us by "metaphysical analysis", i.e. transcendental phenomenology, it is precisely because it is an exact copy of the division which the latter originally outlines, and hence this physiological division "can only be real­ized or represented in an organic 'seat' of ideas of modes or operations which cannot exist outside the ·thinking subject nor be conceived outside his most intimate reflection.'"

We are now in a position to understand in what [I57J the phenomenon of the twofold usage consists which Maine de Biran fully clarifies in a text which has to do precisely with sensibility: "The physiologist, after having first used the term sensibility in its correct acceptation, as the sign of a faculty or of an intimate property of his individual being, then transposes, without perhaps being aware of it, the expression of an order of facts, which can exist and be conceived only from the internal viewpoint of a unique sensing subject, to a parallel order, but an entirely different one, of compos­ite phenomena which are represented and imagined outside the interplay of organic instruments; he then includes two sorts of diverse conceptions under the same signs, and then he judges ideas and facts to be really iden­tical from the conventional identity of the logical forms applied to them. From this stems a frequently illusory similarity between the physiologist and the metaphysician who, while using the same terms, believe they are dealing with the same things or subscribing to the same system of ideas. ". The relationship of the original being of the body to the system of organs which physiology studies can only be, according to Biran, a symbolic rela-

4 Ibid. III, 73-75. [" another ... faCUlties," Henry's italicsl • Ibid. III, 75.

• Ibid. III, 58-59.

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I ,I


tionship at the end of which the physiological division appears as a symbol or a sign of the transcendental division. For example, if we consider move­ment, physiology will think that it can account for it by imagining a center of action in the brain which will serve as the origin from which this move­ment begins. "But is this anything other than a symbol? Can the individual ego be identified with any organic center? Is the action which we relate 'objectively' to such a center the same as that which we attribute to ourselves in the intimate consciousness of effort? Are these not two ideas, two facts of a totally different order? How can the mind pass from one to the other?'" [158]

Since the relationship between these two "facts," i.e. between the physio­logical body and the original being of our body, is analogous to the relation­ship between the sign and the thing signified, the philosophical meaning of this relationship is twofold: On the one hand, the sign aids us in our comprehension of the thing signified, "Every metaphysical analysis, con­fidently basing itself upon a physiological division between the organs, their functions and interplay, receives therefrom this clarity, this apparent facility which images co=unicate to reflective notions, by uniting them­selves with them as symbols destined to explain what is in itself obscure;" on the other hand, this aid is illusory; it makes us believe that "by combining certain organic movements we can deduce .. . psychological facts which can only be verified by the intimate sense," such that "the so-called explana­tions teach us nothing about the subject in question and only serve to obscure it by substituting confused images for simple and perfectly clear ideas of reflection. "s This latter text, which again asserts the absolute charac­ter of the evidence inherent in the sphere of transcendental i=anence, suggests that we re-question many analyses of Biran in which physiological · investigations appear as a necessary and useful complement to peculiarly psychological investigations. By showing here that this collaboration rather leads to confusion and to an obscuring of the sphere of absolute SUbjectivity, by emphasizing how dangerous it is to bind internal transcendental experi­ences to signs which are the elements of transcendent being without any relationship to such experiences such that we risk taking the sign for the thing signified and we end by taking the eye for the center of seeing, Maine de Biran radically separates, after having seemed to relate them, the sub­jective determinations which comprise the original being of our body and

, Ibid. III, 211. S Maine de Biran, Essai sur les fondements de la psych%gie ... 603-604. [Henry's


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the physiological divisions [159] which constitute the structure of our external and extended body.

Hence, we are confronted with a serious difficulty: If there is no relation­ship at all between the sUbjective life in which we have the experience of the original powers of our body and, on the other hand, the physiological structure of our body-object, how could there nevertheless be a relationship inaugurated between what Maine de Biran would call two sorts of absolutely heterogeneous conceptions? We might say that the establishment of such a relationship stems from an illusion which the theory of the twofold usage has just denounced. Moreover, the task of philosophy is not to denounce illusions but rather to justify them, at least by making apparent the founda­tion which makes them possible and the ontological structure from which they develop. What we seek there is actually a foundation, it is the reason which will permit us to understand the following: I) why do we not have a single body but, so to speak, two bodies, or if you prefer, why does the being of our body split into an originally sUbjective being and a transcendent being which manifests itself to us in the truth of the world? 2) why do these two bodies, nevertheless, constitute but one, i.e. why and how is the twofold usage of signs possible, why and how is it possible that one and the same sign can be applied in such a general and universal fashion to two absolutely heterogeneous elements, or rather to two phenomena which differ in their very phenomenality? 3) why do these two phenomena take on the charac­teristic of being mine, why and how does such a characteristic-which is an essential determination of absolute subjectivity-here seem to extend its reign to the element of transcendent being, since a constituted reality appears to me as mine, and it is precisely this belonging to the ego which permits me to designate it as "my body" and hence to distinguish it, interior to [160) this transcendent region, from other beings of nature and to oppose it to other bodies?

These different questions aid us to circumscribe the problem of the con­stitution of one's own body and at the same time they bring to light the main difficulties which the theory of this constitution must face. Such difficul­ties, which form the substance of the problem occupying us, in many ways surpass the very cadre of this problem. Certain of them are actually relative to the most general structures of being, to its concrete and essential deter­minations. What they question are the very foundations of phenomenolog­ical ontology. Such is the case with the difficulties which treat of the question of the two bodies. It becomes immediately apparent that the duality which splits in an incomprehensible manner the unity of the being of my body and which causes this being to be given to me twice, so to speak, finds

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its foundation in the ontological structure of truth, a structure in virtue of which something manifests itself to us in the truth of transcendent being only on condition of a more original revelation in a milieu of absolute immanence. Ontological dualism is the foundation for the twofold usage of signs. Because there exist, as Maine de Biran says, "two sources of evidence", our body is given us in a way such that each of its original powers, concern­ing which we have an immediate knowledge in the subjective experience of movement which constitutes its essence, also manifests itself to us in the form of an organ or some physiological or spatial determination. The differ­ence between the original being of this power and the organ which seems to be its instrument is in no way situated on an ontic level, it is not a differ­ence between something and something else, it is an ontological difference, not a difference in individuality, but in the manner of being, i.e. relative to the region at the heart of which being manifests itself and exists. [161]

Maine de Biran strongly emphasized the peculiarly ontological character of the distinction between the power and the organ; actually, according to him, this distinction does not rest on the individual properties which, in their reciprocal opposition, would determine the two beings subject to the same ontological conditions which would be the conditions of the possibility of being in general; rather, it concerns these same conditions, it refers to the regions wherein the two beings of power and organ find their condition for possibility as well as their internal structure. The ontological character which constitutes the being of the organ is transcendence, it is the fact that our senses are given to us "by setting themselves up, so to speak, in relief outside us.'" Rather, it is the belonging to a sphere of absolute immanence which is the essential ontological determination of our senses insofar as they define our peculiar and immediate powers, insofar as they comprise the original being of our body. We can, with Maine de Biran, give to each of the subjective powers the name of "reflective concept," a concept whose peculiarity is, according to the Essay, one of "not having any direct sign of manifestation."'· That which cannot manifest itself directly by any sign however, is not the night of the unconscious or the opacity of brute matter; that which is deprived of all transcendence is not the thing closed in upon itself, a prisoner of its own density, ignorant of itself and of the universe, it is rather that whereby all transcendence becomes possible, it is a region of absolute immanence wherein the original revelation of the truth of self and the world takes place.

• Ibid. 78. [Henry's italicsl 10 Ibid.

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We have shown" how these two truths are but one, how ontological . dualism does not effect the [162] inauguration of a cleavage at the heart

of being, in the form of a separation between the ego and things, between subjectivity and the universe, how it is rather that which makes possible the presence of being to an original self-presence to self and causes to arise for us the true proximity of things at the heart of an absolute proximity. The idea of duality has an altogether special value when it intervenes in order to characterize the ultimate structures of being; henceforth, it no longer means, as we are accustomed to understand it, a duality of two termini interior to the same ontological region, but rather the absence of all duality, because it is what makes experience possible, and experience is always a unity. The unity of experience, which is the unity of life and of transcendent being, finds its foundation in the existence of an absolute subjectivity which transcends itself toward a world because it is in itself the milieu wherein, in an original way, the revelation to self of this act of transcendence takes place. What we intend to signify when we speak of ontological dualism is merely the necessity of the existence of this sphere of absolute SUbjectivity without which our experience of the world would not be possible. Conse­quently, ontological dualism cannot be confused with duality properly so-called, with an ontic duality presiding over the opposition which we establish within the world. To speak of ontological dualism is precisely to exclude the idea of such a duality. The duality which manifests itself to us in the difficulty inherent in the problem of the two bodies obviously refers to ontological dualism, and hence, its effect is not to place us before a true duality which would split, so to speak, our being into two opposed parts. Rather it satisfies the general conditions which constitute the ontolog­ical possibility for the unity of experience. The originally subjective being of our body and the transcendent body, the power and the organ, are not, to speak as Maine de Biran, "two facts", but "two orders of facts," whose duality, as a particular expression of ontological dualism, is [163] only a determination of the fundamental ontological structure upon which the unity and the possibility of our experience rests.

Hence, we have answered the first question which the problem of the con­stitution of our own body raises, a question which deals with the duality of the modes according to which our body manifests itself to us. We are left with questions 2 and 3 relative to the problem of the unity of the two bodies, one of which manifests itself to us in the experience of subjective

11 Cf. M. Henry, The Essence 0/ Manifestation, transl. G. Etzkorn (The Hague; Martinus Nijboff. 1973), 248-267.

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movement, the other in the truth of transcendence. However, at this point of our analysis, we well understand the duality of this revelation and of this manifestation, but we do not see why that which originally reveals itself to us and transcendent being which manifests itself in a different way appear to us as one and the same thing, viz. as the very being of our body. The general unity of experience, i.e. the unity in presence of the being of the world and of the ego, cannot serve as a foundation for the unity of the two bodies. That which, in the unity of experience, presents itself to the life of absolute subjectivity is precisely that which this life of itself is not; it is the other, the non-ego, which is the general meaning of transcendent being. We immediately see the bond which unites questions 2 and 3, and we also see how the difficultly to which they are related is the same, even though it appears in all its amplitude in question 3 where it takes on an apparently insoluble character. If the ontological difference, as we have shown, is the difference between the ego and the non-ego, we do not see how an element of transcendent being-under the circumstances the being of our objective bodY--{;<ln receive the meaning of being ours, i.e. of belong­ing to the ego whose being is rather identified with that of absolute subjec­tivity. We have the same problem in understanding why the transcendent body and the subjective body are but one and the same body, and in under­standing why this transcendent body can be designated by me as a [164] body which is mine. Actually, if the transcendent body is the same as the subjective body, then it must be mine, it must be the absolute ego itself, because it is precisely this belonging to the ego which makes up the entire being of the original and subjective body. But how could the absolute ego, which is a life in the absolute immanence of subjectivity, likewise be a transcendent being? How could it be torn from the sphere of immanence in order to appear somewhere in the world?

We must understand why this difficulty is a radical difficulty for us. Actually, we are not permitted to say, for example, that our body (or, if you prefer, our ego) is in itself one and the same body which is known to us in two different ways, viz. from without and from within. In the same way, it is sometimes claimed that our very being is constituted by an ensem­ble of conduct or behavior, and that we have two ways of access to the being of this conduct and behavior in the form of a knowledge from the inside or a knowledge from the outside. In such a perspective, there is but one and the same behavior that we reach by way of two different paths. The being of behavior or the being of the body is hence beyond these two phellom­mena whereby it presents itself to us, and it is in this ' beyond' that the unity of the two phenomena resides, viz. the foundation upon which we

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base ourselves when we say that we are in possession of two modes of manifestation of one and the same body. Phenomenology cannot advance such an illusory solution because it reduces being to its appearance, because for it there is nothing beyond phenomena, nothing behind the different manifestations which are given to us and which are all reduced to two essen­tial types whose ontological structure we have studied. Phenomenology is not a theory of appearances, a theory which would leave behind it the real being of things. This real being, [165] as phenomenology shows us, is entirely in the manner in which it presents itself to us, in appearances; phenomenology shows us that being is its OWl! revelation, such that where two phenomena are in opposition, we must also say that we are in the presence of two beings, and the concern to surmount their duality cannot be left to a mysterious terminus situated behind them, to a so-called absolute whose magical power is only the projection to the metaphysical heavens of the exigencies which a unity ought to satisfy, a unity for which we cannot account on the concrete and real level of our very experience. This magical terminus takes on many forms, and we discern it more easily when it is a question of the absolute of Spinoza or Schelling, the God of Malebranche, than when it takes on a more humble and apparently 'scientific' aspect, becoming, for example, the concept of 'behavior'.

To say that our behavior is given us in two different ways is to give as a solution the very stating of the problem, and the notion of behavior, which gives basis to the unity of the two phenomena in which this behavior reveals itself and manifests itself to us, in reality is only a 'beyond' of these phenomena, an empty term reduced to the role which we claim it plays, a term which stands for nothing. The subjective body is not a phenom­enon which would leave behind it the real being of the body, a being to which would be confided the possibility of manifesting itself t:> us by way of other phenomena, by way of an objective body; it is the real being of the body itself, its absolute being; it is the en/ire being of this body, a being which is an absolute transparency and in which no element escapes the revelation of original truth. My body is not a mountain which I see, as it were, now from one side, later from another, nor is it an object which I would always see from the same side nor even something which I would at one time attain from the outside and another from the inside. I never see my body from the outside because I am never au/side my body, this is what we must affirm [166] if we wish to give a meaning to the words and to the theory according to which the being of my body belongs to a sphere of absolute immanence.

Hence, it seems that the principal ontological theses which make up the

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cadre of our analysis of the body take us far from every possible solution to the problem of the constitution of our own body. The twofold usage of signs seemed to find its foundation in ontological dualism. However, does not the latter now appear to us as that which impeded us from under­standing the unity of this body whose very being-and not simply the appear­ances under which it presents itself to us-we have sundered? Why? Because on the one hand, we have asserted the identity of the original revela­tion of subjective movement with the very being of our body and, on the other hand, the identity of the transcendent manifestation of this body with a being which must be that of the body-object. Consequently, we are in the presence of two beings, and ontological dualism, if it does not lead to a duality analogous to that which exists between two elements of the world, still posits a real duality, a radical duality, because the two beings here in question do not stem from the foundation of a common structure but differ in their very essence, in their ontological origin which refers to two absolutely heterogeneous regions of being.

At this juncture when it seems to us that we are in the presence of insur­mountable difficulties, it is in place to bring to light the positiye elements which ontological dualism and the theory of the subjective body have established for us. These elements deal precisely with the problem of the unity of the body and its belonging to the ego. Actually, we have understood that it is only interior to an ontology of subjectivity that the body receives an original status upon which its unity and the identity of its being with that of the ego can rest. Therefore, if it is not at this time, i.e. when we must finish the theory of this unity and the theory of this identity, that it should occur to us to question again the [167] ontological presuppositions which alone can give a foundation to such a theory. Such a theory will be finished when we have brought to light the conditions which permit the unity of the original being of the body and its identity with the being of the ego to extend their reign, so to speak, to the being of the transcendent body, whose identity with the being of the subjective body would then receive a solid foundation at the same time. Hence, we have in our hands all the elements for a solution: The duality of two regions of being, a unity and a belonging to the ego of the being of the body, where this unity and this belonging stand interior to the sphere of absolute sUbjectivity and originally deal only with the subjective being of the body. If the problem we have raised is one of knowing how these ontological determinations can be extended to the being of the transcendent body, we will, henceforth, understand that such an extension will take place only by finding its basis in the original being of the body, that the unity and the belonging to the ego of the transcen-

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dent body are constituted on the foundation of the original being of the sub­jective body, on the foundation of its unity and its belonging to the ego, i.e. ontological determinations which are originally the exclusive privilege of a determined ontological region, which is a region of absolute immanence. This is what we have learned from the lengthy analyses which might seem sterile but which we now understand as aiming at justifying the ontological presuppositions within which our analysis of the body takes place, by show­ing that these presuppositions do not lead the theory of the constitution of our own body to inextricable difficulties but rather furnish it with the elements which it needs and without which the problem of the unity of our body could not even be raised.

We are now left with the task of describing the constitution of our own body. To this point, the efforts of our analysis were mainly directed toward the clarification of the subjective being of movement and we were content to exclude from the sphere of absolute immanence all elements [168] which did not belong to it and whose consideration would only obscure and alter the original nature of the being of our body. Nevertheless, at the moment when, in an attitude of reduction, we stuck to the interior of a sphere of absolute subjectivity, we were led to consider the terminus toward which movement immediately transcends itself, viz. the terminus which resists effort. This terminus manifested itself to us as a resisting continuum which escaped phenomenological reduction, which had to be considered by us as the foundation for all transcendent being and hence offered us the solution to the "big problem of existences."l2 If we now consider this resisting continuum in itself, we see that its ontological homogeneity never­theless admits a differentiation which is truly essential, because it allows us to distinguish interior to this region of the transcendent body in general a body which is our own among foreign bodies. For lack of such a differen­tiation, we would be led, as Maine de Biran notes, to a position analogous to that of the Stoics who saw in the soul the principle of the universe and made it "the soul of the world." The immediate power of the ego actually extends only to a particular body which is its own, and it is only in a mediate way that it acts on the universe, which amounts to saying that interior to the world, our transcendent body is distinguished from other bodies and opposed to them in virtue of distinctive properties for which we must account-it being understood that this is not a question of a represented difference, or rather of a difference between the representation of our own body and that of exterior bodies, but a difference between these bodies

12 Maine de Biran, Essai sur les /ondements de fa psych%gie ... 216.

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such as they are originally lived by us, such as they present themselves to subjective movement which experiences them.

The differentiation here in question rests in Biranianism on [1 69J the fact that movement encounters in one case an absolute resistance- and this is the phenomenological foundation for the being of a fo reign body-whereas this resistance yields to effort when it is a question of the transcendent being of our own body. Maine de Biran calls the trancendent milieu which thus yields to the effort of our movement "interior extension". In this sui gel/eris manner of presenting itself resides, in the eyes of phenomenolog­ical ontology, the entire being of our transcendent body whose immediate solidarity with the original being of our body is only the expression of the: fundamental relationship of the transcendence of movement. Thus it is that to the original being of our body is bound a sort of organic body from which, according to the word of Leibniz which Maine de Biran cites, the soul is never separated. This organic body, which is the point of applica­tion of effort and bound thereto, is an organic space which is primitively "vague and unlimited,"13 and whose ontologica[ homogeneity, we should here repeat, is entirely founded on its original mode of manifestation. Because it is not represented, because subjective movement and it alone constitutes its proof and experience, this organic or interior space has no­thing in common with exterior space. Neither is it an empty and without depth continuum, a sort of monotonous space without life, as the one given us in the pure intuition of Cartesian extension or Kantian space. Rather it is a terminus which resists, it is a real being, a mass which effort moves and which, even in the state of repose, is always raised above and maintain­ed, as it were, outside nothingness by a sort of latent tension which is the very life of absolute subjectivity insofar as this life is that of the original body.

This mass which our life maintains, which our life holds (in much the same way as we say that we hold our breath) does not remain an undiffer­entiated and amorphous mass; it allows to appear in it [[ 70J structures to which we will attribute the names of the different parts of our body, which will be for us our members, our torso, our neck, our muscles, etc., but which, originally, are nothing of the sort and present themselves to us only as phenomeno[ogical systems which express different ways in which it yields to our effort. In the phenomenon of this structuring to which it submi ts, the original mass of our transcendent body is divided into different parts which obey our movements and over which the latter have an

13 Ibid. 211.

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llnmediate power. Thus our organic body is truly the ensemble of our organs, but I) these organs are not parts of extension and hence they are not juxtaposed in space; their original phenomenological being has nothing to do with anatomic or physiological determinations which science takes as its object; 2) since they are nothing other than the termini which imme­diately obey the original modes of subjective movement we can understand that these organs present themselves to us as an empire over which we have power and authority and as a region which we know interior to the power which we exercise upon them; we understand that this power traverses this region entirely and goes to its very bottom, because this region is nothing other than this bottom, than this limit of our power-a limit which must not be interpreted as a negative determination, as a terminus properly so-called to which the influence of our movement would extend while leaving behind it something which this movement would not attain. Under the circumstances, the limit of our power rather means its achievement, its effect, and the result whereby the subjective being of movement shows that it is not the wish of a power but a real power.

The being of our organic body cannot be reduced to the being of one or the other of our organs, but having been determined as the ensemble in which all of our organs are integrated, we must (l 71J now give an ontolog­ical interpretation of what we must understand by this "ensemble," an interpretation which assumes in our eyes a great deal of importance because it is related to the problem which dominates all our analyses, viz. the pro­blem of the unity of our body. The interpretation of the organic body as the ensemble of all our organs, i.e. of the unity of our transcendent body, is precisely what will show us that this unity is nothing other than the transcen­dental unity of the original being of the subjective body. Actually, the unity of the organic body is an essentially practical unity, it is a unity whereby and in which all our organs are found to be equally at our disposal. The unity of these organs, i.e. the internal coherence of the phenomenological systems which yield to our movements by opposing to them this relative resistance which in turn characterizes, according to Biran, the being of our transcendent body, is no more than the unity of our movements of which these organs are the moving termini, a unity which we have shown to be an originally subjective unity and one which belongs to a sphere of absolute immanence. Hence, our organs are integrated into a totality and, in this sense, they have lateral relationships between them. However, this totality and the ensemble of the relationships which manifest themselves there and which define this totality have no original character of themselves, they in no way constitute the unity of our transcendent body but rather

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rest upon this unity. In other words, we have each of our organs immediately at our disposal and it is in their common reference to this power which is that of the subjective body that these different organs find their unity. The unity of the transcendent body is not a transcendent unity, it is the unity of the power which moves the different parts of organic space and which confers upon them their unity and permits them to appear in the coherence of a structure which contains them all and which we can consider as the true schema of our body.

This schema is obviously not an image, it is nothing represented or theoretical, and if we wish to think with some [172J exactitude about its ontological status, we must say that such a schema implies the existence of a twofold relationship, viz. on the one hand, the relationship which aU our organs maintain among themselves and, on the other hand, the imme­diate relationship which each of them maintains with the original being of SUbjective movement. The latter relationship is a modality of the transcen­dental relationship of being-in-the-world, a specification of the general act of transcendence, a specification in which movement in each case sur­passes itself toward one or the other of these resisting structures which yield to its effort and then come to determine the originally homogeneous mass of the organic body. We must now repeat that these two relationships which constitute the schema of our body are not on the same level: The relationship of our organs among themselves, which seems to constitute the foundation for the internal coherence of the organic body, really rests on the relationship of each of these organs to the power which moves them. If all our organs form but one and the same organic body, it is because the power to which they are subjected is but one and the same power, it is because it is a subjective unity which is the very unity of our original body, the unity of the originally subjective being of movement. Hence, the unity of the organic body is nothing other than the transcendental unity of abso­lute subjectivity; it is in the unity of the internal transcendental experience of the power which constitutes the being of our organic body that there resides the principle of the integration of all our organs with a structure of the ensemble, i.e. the principle of this schema whereby our organic body presents itself to us as a coherent and practical totality.

It is not correct to say that the unity of our organs-i.e. the character in virtue of which they present themselves to us in the power which we exercise over them as belonging to an "ensemble" - is a transcendent unity concerning which we need only recognize that it is founded and, hence, implies the existence of a more original subjective unity; rather we must assert that the unity of the organic body is not different from the original

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unity of our subjective body [l73J because it is in the internal transcendental experience of movement tbat there resides the unity of the organic struc­tures which this movement unfolds. A transcendent unity of our body truly exists, but it is a unity of the image or the representation of this body. The phenomenon which we are describing here and which is that of the schema of our own organic body has no relationship with an image or a representation of this sort. To say that the power of the ego over its organic body is exercised through the intermediary of a corporal schema conceived as an image or as some mediation between originally subjective movement and the terminus of this movement is to fall back into the intellectualist thesis according to which a representation of movement or of its instru­ments always precedes the real accomplishment thereof. On the contrary, to assert that the unity of our transcendent body resides in the unity of the power which transcends itself toward the different systems of resistance of the organic body and which confers on these systems the coherence of a structure of the ensemble wherein they are contained and where they become lines of cleavage, as it were, along which they yield to this single power of the subjective body is to give the entire meaning to the theses which we have maintained relative to the reality of subjective movement, relative to the immediate character with which the terminus of this move­ment presents itself to movement, and finally relative to the fact that all ontological determinations of this transcendent terminus, in this case the organic body, are the strict correlate of the subjective act which aims at this body and leans upon it. In other words, it is the sUbjective life which maintains the organic body in unity, in a unity which is originally its own and which belongs, as such, to a sphere of absolute immanence.

However, if the unity of the transcendent body is the very unity of the absolute life of the subjective body, then the unity of these two bodies is declared as arising at the same time as the appearing of the foundation for the belonging of the organic body to the ego, a foundation which resides precisely in its unity, which is the unity of absolute subjectivity , i.e. of the very life [174J of the ego. Hence, questions 2 and 3 relative to the problem of the constitution of one's own body find their solution, a solution which makes apparent the solidarity which unites these questions and which we noted at the time when we posed them. Actually, this solidarity is a unity and it can be expressed as follows: It is because the un ity of the transcendent body is the SUbjective unity of the original body that these two bodies are but one and are traversed by one and tbe same life. Doubtless, the transcen­dent body does not belong to the sphere of absolute immanence and it seems somewbat erroneous to identify its being with that of the original

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body which is the subjective being of the ego. However, our direction has not been toward such an identification; rather we have shown that the being of the organic body is an abstract being, that of itself it has neither autonomy nor ontological sufficiency. Actually, it is the unity of this being which con­stitutes the foundation of the organic body and permits it to exist, and this unity is that of the absolute life of the ego. It is tbe being of the latter which constitutes the entire being of the organic body even though it does not become one with it any more than seeing becomes one with tbe ter­minus which is seen. It is as the terminus of movement that the organic body exists and presents itself to us as a coherent totality of parts each of which is the terminus of a movement and the ensemble of which refers to the virtual totality of all the possible movements of our body. Therefore, it is movement which maintains the being of the organic body at the same time as it confers upon it its unity and its belonging to the ego. And it is precisely because it is not separable from this concrete subjective reality of movement which animates it and bears it along that the organic body­like the transcendent terminus of movement in general-escapes phenom­enological reduction. I am the life of my body, the ego is the substance of its organism, the matter and the principle of its movements, and it is because it would be nothing without this foundation, which in its case is the absolute life of SUbjectivity, that our transcendent body, which is but the border of this life, [l 75J finds in it its unity and the principle of the onto­logical determinations which make of it the body of the ego.

We could contest the fact that the being of the organic body becomes a concrete being only through and in the life of the ego which tends toward it in order to maintain it and bear it along; we might be tempted to reverse this proposition or at least to establish a symmetry between the two beings of the ego and the organic body by making their relationship alone some­thing concrete and absolute, by seeing in each of the two termini of this relationship only an element, in itself, in itself abstract, which would become real only in its reference to the other. If there is no being to the organic body without an act of transcendence of subjective movement, we must recognize conversely that the being of the original body could not subsist of itself; rather it exists only in the transcendental relationship which unites it to the transcendent being of the organic body. Do we not find, in this solidarity of ontological interiority and the being which appears, the reason for which the two termini of the relationship, expressed by this solidarity, both escape reduction and present themselves to us as absolute termini or rather as the two termini of an absolute relationship?

The fact that the organic body does not fall beneath the blow of reduction

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in no way signifies that it has the same ontological dignity as the original being of the subjective body or that the ontological sufficiency of absolute subjectivity has been usurped and must in some way be displaced in order to be situated, not in the sphere of immanence, but in an area of exchange between subjectivity and being, an area of which it would constitute the essence and the foundation. Such an area of exchange, to which we have given the name 'phenomenological distance', certainly exists; but we know that it requires a fou ndation and that this foundation resides precisely in the essence of the original truth of subjectivity. Consequently, the latter is not a terminus which would remain of itself [1 76] abstract, and far from finding its reality and culmination in the transcendent being of the organic body to which it is immediately bound according to a transcendental relationship, it is rather the foundation of this being which, as the terminus toward which it transcends itself, appears to us as its limit, but as a limit which still belongs to it.

This character in virtue of which subjectivity, from the ontological point of view, plays the role of a true foundation did not escape Maine de Biran who, after having shown that the primitive fact is a duality, i.e. consists in the original relationship which transcendence institutes between subjectivity and the world and, in the case with which we are now concerned, between the subjective being of the original body and the organic body, nevertheless, asserts that "There is a more simple and prior relationship than this one."l4 What can such a relationship- the most original of all-be if it is not a relationship arising interior to subjectivity itself in virtue of which the latter reveals itself immediately to itself in the phenomenon of the internal tran­scendental experience, a relationship which is really no longer a relationship since it is the very negation (an immediate and not a dialectic negation) of all mediation, since it is the very being of absolute life? It is this life, which is that of the original body, which deploys the various parts of the organic body and which holds them in unity; it is in this life that the principle of the belonging of the organic body to the ego resides, a belonging which is nothing other than its belonging to a life which is that of the ego. The unity and the ipseity of the life of the original body are the unity and the ipseity of the absolute life of the organic body, because the life of the latter, the movement which dwells in it and animates it, are precisely the life and the movement of the original body, i.e. of the subjective and tran­scendental being of our body.

The completion of the theory of the constitution of our own body [177]

14 Maine de Biran, Memoire sur la decomposition . .. IV, 127. [Henry's italics]

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would call for, parallel to this theory of the constitution of the organic body, a theory of the constitution of our represented and objective body. The being of our transcendent body is not reduced to that of our organic body. We have shown that tbe latter was not the object of a representation or a theoretical type of knowledge. Nevertheless, it is quite true that we can represent our body to ourselves and make of it the correlate of a know­led-ge analogous to that which we have of other objects or even to the explicit and conceptual knowledge which we sometimes direct toward determined regions of the world when we wish to make a science of it. Maine de Biran bas carefully distinguished tbese two modes of knowledge interior to which we can attain our transcendent body. He gave to the original knowledge of our organic body the name "immediate knowledge of our own body" and to the objective or representative knowledge of our transcendent body the name of "secondary knowledge of our own body." The exterior experience which I have of my body "stems exclusively from the secondary knowledge of my own body, as object of intuition or external representation, and completely ignores this altogether intimate meaning upon which the knowledge of the body is founded as the terminus for the internal immediate apperception of the ego." "There is an immediate knowledge of one's own body, based solely on the response to a willed effort, of an organic resistance which yields to or obeys the wilL" "Hence, independently of the external knowledge of the form and the figure of the parts of our body, as an object relative to the sense of touch and sight, there is an internal apperception of the presence or the consistency of this body of ours, totally relative to a special muscular sense which cannot act and be known except from within, without its being able to be represented from without."" [178]

It is tbe immediate knowledge of our organic body and it alone wbich permits us to move it, because it is precisely in the possibility of moving this body and of successively engaging its different parts that this immediate knowledge entirely consists, a knowledge by subjective movement of the transcendent terminus which it deploys in its concrete exercise. Therefore, there is a primacy of the immediate knowledge of our own body over its representative or objective knowledge, and tbe paralogism of all classical theories is to have forgotten this immediate knowledge for the sake of objec­tive knowledge alone which was thought to furnish us with the totality of tbe knowledge that we have of our body. Thus it is tbat "Condillac in no way sought to discover ... how the ego could acquire interior knowledge of the organs directly; he was concerned merely with an objective and second-

Hi Maine de Biran, Essai slir les fondements de la psyclzologie ... 214, 215, 216.

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ary knowledge of their exterior forms." To oppose, as Biran does, to the "objective" knowledge of our body a "personal" knowledgel6 which gives us the being of our body and each of its organs interiorly lived in movement is to denounce the conceptions which reduce our body to a represented object, if not a scientific object; the body-object-of-the-world of objective perception or science implies, as we have seen, another body which knows it, and, in a general way, the sensible reality of objective appear­ance is always grasped within a power of knowing which is nothing other than the original being of the subjective body.

If the objective knowledge of the transcendent body presupposes a more original knowledge, a primordial knowledge of our body, such an objective knowledge still exists, and our body is also an objective being which mani­fests itself to us among all the other objects of the (l79J world. Consequently, it is not two bodies which we must distinguish but rather three.

I) The original being of the subjective body, i.e. the absolute body revealed in the internal transcendental experience of movement. The life of this original body is the absolute life of subjectivity; in it we live, we move, we sense, it is the alpha and the omega of our experience of the world, it is through it that being comes to the world, it is in the resistance which it experiences that the essence of the real is manifested to us and that every­thing acquires consistency, form, and value. Moreover, this resistance is not homogeneous, sometimes it is only a relative resistance which yields to subjective movement and yields to it, so to speak, along permanent lines which outline fixed structures: These structures are our organs and the general milieu of this relative resistance is the organic body.

2) The organic body is the immediate and moving terminus of the abso­lute movement of the subjective body, or rather it is the ensemble of the termini over which movement has a hold. Because there is a structure to this organic body, it is divided into various transcendent masses whose diversity is always maintained in the unity of the absolute life of the original body. The existence of such structures interior to the organic body is of great importance relative to the problem of internal sensations, a problem about which we have not as yet spoken. If the mass of the organic body were to remain undifferentiated, our internal sensations would float around interior to this mass without being able to be localized in any way whatever and hence without being able to be clearly distinguished from one another. Internal sensibility would be a unity in confusion, a unity without diversity and, consequently, there would be no sensations properly so-called, but

Ie Maine de Biran, Memoire sur la decomposition ... IV, 9 footnote 1; IV) 10.

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only the general, vague, and confused feeling of an undetermined sensible existence. We must admit that in many ways coaenesthesis answers to the description of tltis sort and presents us with a [180] sensible and affective tonality of the ensemble rather than a diversity of strictly determined and localized sensations. evertheless, a differentiation between our internal sensations is always realized. Various affective zones arise from an undif­ferentiated and homogeneous foundation and these zones are also sensible zones which manifest themselves to us with their own characteristics which permit us to distinguish them and to oppose them to other ensembles of sensations which likewise belong to internal sensibility and which are, nevertheless, radically different from those which are actualized in the affec­tive and sensible present.

Doubtless, the principle of this differentation in internal sensibility resides in the irreducibly heterogeneous character of our various sensations, but the latter would still only form a dust cloud of elements which wonld be inextricably mixed together in a composite wherein consciousness would risk losing itself and dissolving if this sensible diversity did not rest on another diversity over which the ego has a hold and which it has at its disposal interior to a unity which is that of its own life. This diversity which assures a foundation to the internal sensible diversity is precisely that of the structures of the organic body concerning which we have shown that they are maintain­ed in a unity by the absolute life of the subjective body. Our internal sensa­tions are organized around these structures which lose their primitively pure character in order to take on a sensible character which can hide their true origin, not from the living man, but from the philosopher or the psycho­logist.

Maine de Biran gave to this sensible structuralization of our original transcendent body an admirable description which fully brings to light the organic foundation (itself founded on the absolute life of our body) which such a structuralization requires: "In order that impressions can be localized in different parts of the interior space of one's own body, it is necessary that these parts be distinguished or placed so to speak outside one another [181] by the repeated exercise of their peculiar and immediate sense. But the general muscular system is naturally divided into several partial systems which offer so many distinct termini to the motor will. The more snch points of division multiply, the more the internal immediate apperception becomes clear and distinct, and the more the individuality or the unity of the permanent subject of effort manifests itself through its very opposition to the plurality and variety of the mobile termini . By placing itself outside each of them, the ego learns to put them outside

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one another, to know their common limits, and to relate impressions to them."l?

The extremely important problem of the relationship of our impressions to their locus, i.e. to a place, here receives a solution as long as we under­stand: a) that this place is not originally exterior space, but the interior extension of the organic body. i.e. the transcendent milieu which subjecti ve movement deploys and which is the terminus of this movement; b) that thus this place is known prior to the impressions which will come along to fill it, it being understood that the knowledge of this place is neither a repre­sentative nor a theoretical knowledge but that it is immanent to movement and belongs to it (which amounts to saying that this space is not exterior space at aU, but " interior extension") ; c) that the insertion of impressions in the transcendent milieu deployed and opened for them by subjective movement is made possible by the fact that these impressions are not blind and irreducible masses concerning which we are not in a position to see why they come along to occupy precisely this place in this transcendent milieu, but such impressions are constituted, i.e. sensed, and as we have shown, the power which constitutes them, viz. our transcendental power of sensing, is not different from the original being of subjective movement. In other words, it is by way of one and the same act that I unfold the tran­scendental milieu [l82J of the organic body which is the terminus of my movement and whereby I perceive the internal sensations as situated in this milieu and belonging to it.

The full understanding of this latter thesis would, however, require the intervention of an ontological theory of passivity, a theory indispensible to the constitution of a general theory of sensibility. These two theories are lacking in Biranianism, but for the moment it is sufficient for us to understand that internal sensible experience is inseparable from the original constitution of the organic body, i.e. of the immediate knowledge of our own body. This knowledge is complete in itself, it has autonomy and suffi­ciency, the entire primordial knowledge of our body is contained in it and, naturally, in the original knowledge of the subjective body which it implies and from which it is inseparable. The system formed by subjective move­ment and the organic body is a closed system, which is complete and self-enclosed, and which would be what it is in the absence of all represent­ative knowledge of the transcendent body as an objective being belonging to exterior space."

17 Maine de Biran, Essai sur les /of/dements de la psychologie . .. 208-209. 18 Ibid. 382: "The ego cannot exist for itself without the feeling or the immediate inter-

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I I , ! , I


3) The objective body which is the object of an external perception and which can become the theme of scientific research is the only body which philosophical tradition knows, and it is this exclusively objective conception which is at the origin of so many false problems- notably the famous problem of the unity of the soul and body-as of so many theories which strive, even though in vain, to resolve them. Maine de Biran is the first philosopher who understood the radical insufficiency of this point of view and the derived and secondary character of every objective conception of the body, as (l83J we see in this remarkable text; "When philosophy raised the following question, 'How does sensible and motor being first learn to know its own body?' it has in mind only a mode of exterior and objective knowledge; it has mistaken a secondary phenomenon for the primitive and simple fact . .. By raising a problem concerning the origin of the represen­tative knowledge of the body, we already presuppose that the problem of existence has been resolved or rather we do not believe that it is in place to raise such a question. Nevertheless, this mobile hand which moves suc­cessively over the different parts, and which becomes the unit of measure for a sensible surface, does not in any way feel itself, any more than the eye sees itself, and yet it can [and mustJ be known before being used as an instru­ment or a measure."l9 We have tried, in the footsteps of Maine de Biran, to account for this original knowledge of our body which the representative knowledge of the objective body presupposes. It is now necessary for us to give several indications concerning the constitution of this objective body, a constitution for which the theory of the subjective body and the organic body will furnish us with the essential elements.

To the extent that it manifests itself in the world as an object, our tran­scendent body is only a simple spatial configuration endowed with secondary or primary qualities which belong to all objects. Moreover, we could not know how to reduce the being of our objective body to this ensemble of spatial or sensible determinations, because it would then no longer be anything but an anonymous object among all others and we would not see where the foundation for this particular right would reside, this right which allows me, as Descartes says, to call this body my own. Therefore, something intervenes in the constitution of our objective body which did not intervene in the constitution of other objects, something which confers on the objec­tive body this characteristic in virtue [184J of which it presents itself to us

nal apperception of the co-existence of the body; this is truly the primitive fact . But it could well exist or have this apperception without yet knowing its body as an object of repre­sentation or of intuition through the use of [lhe sense of] touch."

It Maine de Biran, Essai sur les /olldemenls de la psych%gie . .. 381-382.

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as having an interior, an interior of a determined nature. In what does this 'interior' consist which is responsible for tbe fact tbat our objective body appears to us precisely as a body which is one, which belongs to us and whichis the sameas the body concerning which we have an interior and imme­diate experience? What knowledge do we have of this dimension of sui generis interiority which distinguishes one such object from all the others?

It is clear tbat the interiority of the objective body rests on ontological interiority, and that thus it is by way of borrowing from the transcendental body and the originally subjective being of the ego that the objective body is what it is and presents itself to us with distinctive characteristics. That a natural being (for example, the eye or the ear) which, as a determination and part of nature, is obviously deprived of every possibility for transcen­ding itself and knowing, may yet be said to see or hear, this cannot be, as we have sufficiently shown, unless we are otherwise in possession of what is meant by the words 'to see', ' to hear', i.e. unless the internal transcendental experience of the subjective body in general is given us. Therefore, it is from the content of this original subjective experience of our body that the objective body draws the meaning inherent to it and determines it precisely as the body which is ours, which sees, which effects movements, etc. To provide an explicit answer to the question of how this objective meaning is in every case based on a corresponding subjective experience is to take the problem of the constitution of our own body for what it is. We will limit ourselves here to one remark concerning the unity of the transcendent objective body and its belonging to the ego.

The unity of the transcendent objective body is a transcendent unity, it is a founded unity. As such, it must not be confused with the unity of the organic body which was nothing other than the original SUbjective unity of the absolute body. It is upon this latter unity that the unity of the transcen­dent body rests in the sense [185] that it is the simple representation of this unity, the projection in a part of space which the objective body occupies. With regard to the belonging of this objective body to the ego, it must be understood in the same way as its unity. In other words, the life of the objec­tive body is not absolute life but a representation thereof and, consequently, we must recognize that there is not an absolute identity between our objec­tive body and our original body, but that there exists between them a true duality. Because our objective body is only a representation of our original body, the problems which the duality of these two bodies poses and the unity of meaning which unites them are altogether analogous to the problems which stern from the relationships between the transcendent ego and the absolute ego. To the real identity of the original body and our organic

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• I,



body, or rather to the identity of absolute life which constitutes the being of the original body and maintains in its unity the organic body whose absolute life is life itself, there is opposed the represented identity of our objective transcendent body with our absolute body, an identity which naturally rests on the original identity of the being of the subjective body, i.e. the ego.

Many other questions arise concerning this problem of the constitution of our objective body, questions which it was not possible for us to examine in the cadre of these investigations. We were merely concerned with bringing to light the ontological horizon within which such a constitution takes place. It is upon this constitution of the objective body that the twofold usage of signs rests, a usage which we now see is not totally illegitimate because the constituted body actually borrows what is essential to its being from the original body and because, if not the absolute life of this body, at least the representation of this life is immanent to it. The sign which draws its entire meaning from the internal transcendental experience of our original body can, nevertheless, equally refer to the natural being of the objective body or even to one of its parts, because the [1 86] representation of this internal transcendental experience intervenes in the constitution of our body-object, i.e. in the elaboration of the general meaning conferred upon it.

We must be careful not to confuse the image or the images which we can form of this body of ours with the three phenomena of our body which we have successively studied (subjective, organic, objective). Such images sur\!ly exist and their description is a task which a phenomenology of the body sets for itself. Everything we can say regarding this subject is summed up in the fact that these images require a foundation which is constituted by the real being of the objective body, and also by the being of our organic body. The nature of the latter explains the fact that we were able to have an image of certain parts of our body which our objective perception does not permit us to attain at least in a direct manner. Actually, to our organic body helong all our organs including those which we do not perceive objec­tively and in this way we understand that an image based on the organic body offers us a representation of our body infinitely more rich and com­plete" than the one given us by an image which is related only to the being of our objective body. The latter image, which is the image of an objective representation, includes, it is true, elements borrowed from the original

20 To the extent that the image of our body rests on the being of our organic body, it is actually an image of the total being of our body and in DO sense a lacunary image­which it would be if it had no other foundation than the representative knowledge of our objective body.

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and organic body, because the constitution of our objective body implies the intervention of such elements.

A phenomenological description of one's own body, of the organic body for example, ought not to be duped by the attitude which such a description has adopted and within which it operates, because such an attitude is not a natural attitude, but its modification. The [I 87J transcen­dent body which becomes the theme of thought in the philosophical interro­gation which the phenomenologist directs toward it is only, in our daily lives, a marginal phenomenon whose constitution takes place in the shadows. To be preoccupied with one's own body is not an immediate or habitual attitude; the latter is an attitude whereby the body is preoccupied with the world, something altogether different. Certainly, the arising of our body in the phenomenological field does not take place only when a philosophical interrogation is directed toward it, but it likewise takes place on many other occasions which make up daily life, particularly in certain essential modalities of our affective or bodily life, viz. phenomena in which it happens that we are acutely aware of our body and its different peculiarities. To avoid a paralogism whose repercussions concerning the descriptions and the general theory of the body could be quite serious, we must recognize that such phenomena can be understood only by starting from the natural attitude of which they are never more than a variation, no matter how important this variation may be.

If we make the effort to return to this natural attitude, we will then see the so-called insoluble problems clarified, problems relative to the relation­ships between the ego and its body, to "the union of soul and body," and the inextricable difficulties in which philosophical reflection becomes entan­gled when it touches upon such problems, which seem to us to be imputable to the way in which they are posed which has nothing to do with OUf original experience nor with the spontaneous life of man. The dualism of the soul and the body, i.e. the original being of the subjective body and the tran­scendent body, is only a particular case of ontological dualism. The act whereby subjective movement stretches out the hand as an organic mass which it knows interiorly, as the terminus toward which, not its intellectual knowledge, but its motor knowledge transcends itself is no more or less mysterious than the act whereby my look aims at and attains the tree standing there on the hill. The dualism which the description [I88J of these phenomena brings to light is not an ontic dualism; it is a dualism which does not differ from the one we recognized between original truth and the truth of transcendent being, and which expresses the relationship fundative of the unity between these two truths, fundative of the unity of experience­it is a dualism which has nothing to do with Cartesian dualism. [I89J

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.. 1 1 'I I




The ontological analysis of the body is one of the important theses of Ca rtesianism. This analysis is an essential analysis, it leads to bringing extension to light as the essence of the body. There is no need to di stinguish several forms of extension, it is the same extension which we conceive or which we imagine, the difference lies in the act of the mind which apprehends it and not in the nature of extension as such. Extension is the milieu wherein movements take place, movements which are purely mechanical and in every case amount to a displacement of the different parts of extension, one pushing the other; this latter operation takes place instantaneously. The ontological determination of the essence of the body as extension has an absolutely general meaning in Cartesianism: That the body must be understood essentially as extension does not hold only for the inert body of physical nature, this affirmation also applies to the living body and the human body. The result is, in one case, the famous theory of animal­machines and, when it comes to the human body, the conception of the latter as an assemblage in extension of extended parts bound to one another according to a mechanical relationship. Actually, there is no difference between the human body and the body of the animal, any more than there is between the latter and any physical body whatever. [190]

Let us now compare the results of the essential analysis of the body in general with this particular body which is ours: What relationship can really exist between the latter, such as it is given to us in the most obvious experience, and the essence conferred on it a priori by Cartesian philosophy? None. This is so true that when it comes to considering the phenomenolog­ical body of man, Descartes no longer attributes extension to it as an essential determination, but rather thinks he can account for the exact nature of this body-now no longer identifiable, in its essence, with any body whatever-only by recognizing in it the existence of a new simple nature, no less fnndamental than the two primitive natures of extension

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and thought upon which, from many viewpoints, the entire Cartesian edifice seems to rest. This new simple fundamental nature is that of the union of soul and body. Cartesianism is no longer a dualism, the three primitive simple natu res are equal in their dignity and in their au tonomy, equal also with regard to the bonds of the dependence which unite them to the absolute substance, i.e. God.

The manner in which the primitive nature of this union is to be under­stood has seriously embarrassed commentators. On the one hand, the union of thought with an extended substance is incomprehensible; on the other hand, if it is true that this union is a fact, philosophical reflection ought to admit it even though it is an unintelligi ble fact. Descartes did not fail to recognize either the unintelligible characteristic of this union or its charac­teristic as an undeniable fact to which extension and its exigencies had to submit. When confronted with those who, following Spinoza, denounce the absurdity of the theory, many commentators have rather insisted on the profoundly human character of Cartesian ism, on the philosophical humility to which he testifies when in the presence of the human "nature" which the substantial union of soul and body seemed to defi ne.

Nevertheless, has a philosophical interpretation of the Cartesian simple nature of [191] union ever been given? Were the conditions which would make such an interpretation possible ever given? Must we not first recognize, from a purely philosophical point of view, the fundamental ambiguity which presides over the constitution of the Cartesian doctrine which we are discussing? This ambiguity must not be confused with the intrisically obscure or incomprehensible character of the theory, rather it is revealed to us in the fact that this theory is at one time declared to be, by Descartes, himself, extremely difficult to understand, at other times presented as so clear and evident that it cannot be denied.' Are we dealing here with the same thing? Rather is not the task imposed upon us who meditate on this doctrine which is so important because of the very problem with which it deals and also because of the philosophical consequences which it entails, whether they have been admitted or rejected, i.e. the task of establishing a line of demarcation between what is actually so clear and di stinct that we cannot deny it and that which is rather so difficult to explain and so obscure that perhaps we ought to consider it as impossible and false?

And how can we effect such a line of demarcation unless we are in posses­sion of a philosophical horizon which allows us to distinguish with certitude

1 "Hoc explicatu difficillimum- Adeo clara est ut negari nullo modo possit." R. Descartes, Enrreliells avec Burman, in Oeuvres de Descartes, cd. Adam & Tannery (Paris: u,opo1d Ccrf), V, 163.

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the certain from the hypothetical, in other words on the condition of effect­ing here once more a phenomenological reduction which wiII subscribe to what is given us in the absolute certitude of subjective experience, but which wi ll enable us to reject in turn whatever, in the dogmatic content of Cartesianism, must be considered by us as a pure transcendent hypothesis whose absurdity would then not be able to claim the so-called characteristic of being a fact? It is from one and the same movement [1 92] at one and the same time that phenomenological reflection will bring to light the absolute evidence of the fact and under the blow of reduction abandon the hypothet­ical (read absurd) element of the theory. The ambiguity of the Cartesian position will then appear in its full light, because it consists, on the one hand, in inextricably mixing two points of view, in presenting as a fact what is only a theory, but above all, and in an infinitely perfidious fashion, of subreptitiously including the theory in the statement and in the very definition of the fact. Hence, by recognizing, as we should, the fact, we are led, unless careful, to admit the implausible theory.

What then is this indubitable "fact"? Shall we say that it is the union of the soul and the body? Rather, how can we fail to see that in the defini­tion of this fact as the primitive nature of the union of soul and body, the theory already enters in, viz. the affirmation of the mixture of extended substance and thinking substance? Is this mixture (permixtio) truly a fact? What is its phenomenological status? By formulating the latter question, we do not in any way aim at drawing the problem from its Cartesian context, positing it, so to speak, interior to our own philosophical horizon. Actually, it is truly within the cadre of a phenomenological ontology that the essences of thought and extension were elaborated by Cartesianism itself, and it is quite obvious that it is in the same fashion that we ought to proceed in determining the essence of the third primitive nature. What then is the phenomenological content which allows us to affirm the existence of such an essence? Is the mixture of soul and body given us in some way? We should not fail to remark that not only would Descartes admit the legiti­macy of this question, but he actually answered it in a rather startling fashion: Did be not declare time and again that in order to correctly con­ceive the union of the soul and body it was necessary not to reflect on this phenomenon, but to abandon oneself thereto and to live it? [1 93] Could we bope to have a more explicit recourse to experience?

We must here make the essential remark that the experience here in ques­tion is an internal transcendental experience wbose content is itself transcen­dental: The facts which constitute it belong to the sphere of the cogito, they are Erlebnisse. Whether it is a question of Erlebnisse relative to sensible

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knowledge, to imaginative life, to our feelings and our passions, to the experience of our action in daily life, we are always dealing with facts and indubitable facts which are so many determinations of the cogito and, consequently, participate in the absolute certitude which is the privilege of this region of existence. But how can we avoid the following question: In what way is the substantial union of soul and body implied ill such internal transcendental experiences? Why did Descartes invent, alongside the sphere of the cogito or, as he says, the primitive nature of thought, allother region of beillg, that of the permixtio, destined to receive facts which are Erlebnisse and which constantly belong to absolute subjectivity and it alone?

Doubtless, the facts which Descartes applies to the third primitive nature are Erlebnisse of a particular character: Within the cogito they define a zone of sui generis existence which seems to be the reign of affec­tivity and certainly is distinct from the pure thought of the mathematician occupied, for example, with solving an equation. This specific character which stamps a determined category of Erlebnisse with his own mark, Descartes thought to account for by making it appear as the effect of the union, as a trouble which results from the intervention of the body in the domain of pure thought, an intervention which is nothing other than an action of the body on the soul, an action which in turn presupposes union as the condition for its own possibility. But, in this reasoning, have we not passed insensibly from a fact to a theory which aims at explaining it and which is no longer anything more than a transcendent construct whose status must be carefully distinguished from [I94J that of the Erlebnisse which it claims to account for? Will we say that this theory can be true? Nevertheless, did not this theory find acceptance-in spite of its internal and specifically theoretical difficulties-under the sole pretext that a fact, even an unintelligible one, could not be denied? But if tbe fact is not tbe theory, if it really has nothing to do with it, how can such an incredible theory be given credence?

In this case then we ought to show that it is in the internal structure, in tbe very essence of certain Erlebllisse, which we could call bodily Erleb­nisse, that, in a way, substantial union is included. Certainly, bodily Erleb­nisse exist, but when we speak of a subjective body, we wish to say tbat the body in question is entirely subjectivity and that it is one in its being with the very being of this absolute SUbjectivity. This is not the case in Cartesian­ism, or rather, this is its ambiguity; it is at one time truly a question of a subjective body concerning which. Descartes certainly had a congenial presentiment, and at another time-and tbis is the case in the theory of substantial union-of the union of soul with a body which is truly the body

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'in the third person' of physical and mechanical nature, a body whose essence is extension and which is always subject, if not actually at least virtually, to the category of partes extra partes which make its so-called mixture with the essence of thought unintelligible, Let us examine the Erlebnisse wherein we have the experience of our own practical action or our passions. Their consideration leads Descartes to effect a veritable scission in the cogilO which actually ends in situating the Erlebnisse outside the sphere of absolute sUbjectivity to the extent that their essence ceases to be precisely that of thought in order to become the substantial union itself. Only on this condition could such Erlebnisse become proof of the union, on condition that the very substance of which they are made is no longer that of thought, but precisely the third primitive simple nature. However, whence [195] does this characteristic come to bodily Erlebnisse, this characteristic which makes them what they are, this characteristic whereby they present themselves phenomenologically to us as determina­tions of transcendental subjectivity from which they draw their nature as absolute, certain, and irrefutable facts? It is always the same ambiguity which causes Descartes, after having grasped these Erlebnisse where they effectively exist in the absolute sphere of the cogito, to transpose them into a region which no longer has any authentic ontological character, for this region is deprived of every phenomenological foundation and is only a transcendent construct which its unintelligible character renders unaccept­able even for a philosophy which would nourish itself on theories and hypo­theses.

Nevertheless, to the extent that Descartes was not content to assert the union as a hypothesis suitable for explaining the peculiar character of cer­tain Erlebnisse (whose belonging to thinking substance as its modes would then not be denied), but sometimes seems, so to speak, to read this union in the phenomenological structure of these Erlebnisse and in their very stuff, a more profound destruction of his thesis is in order. This destruction will bring to light a certain number of specifically Cartesian prejudices which we ought now to denounce.

Why should he assert the existence of a primitive nature other than thought as the milieu destined to receive bodily Erlebnisse, since the latter naturally find their place in subjectivity and it is even impossible to conceive their being as different from that of the cogito? Because Descartes made of thought an idea which ultimately had to exclude such Erlebnisse, at least as long as such thought is considered in its pure state. The ideal of Descartes is actually that of theoretical and intellectual knowledge which is a sort of dispassionate grasp of mathematical being and in which there is no place

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either for feelings or passions. Whence this idea, peculiar to all intellectua­lism, [196J that affectivity in general is something inferior and could not as such belong to the pure essence of thought. Whence, fina lly, the hypothesis to the effect that the deterioration of pure thought into affectivity, while it cannot find its principle in the essence of this thought, necessarily stems from the interference in it of a foreign element, viz. the body. Moreover, this body is not the subjective body nor is it the same as the affective tonality proper to bodily Erlebnisse, it is the extended body, as we discovered in the essential analysis of the piece of wax. Consequently, the disparity between the phenomenological aspect and the explanatory aspect of the theory becomes clearly apparent here, while the ambiguity which dominates ail the Cartesian analyses disappears; on the one hand, we have the Erlebnis with its peculiar psychological character, and it is concerning it and it alone that we can say that it is something so evident that it could not be denied, and on the other hand, the pure conception of a problematic intervention of the extended-body in the essence of pure thought.

The thesis of Descartes consists in asserting that the Erlebnis given us on the level of the cogito would not be what it is unless an action of the extended substance upon the thinking substance were not produced from another source. But this is the time to say with Hume that in the effect­presupposing that the bodily Erlebnis is an effect- we do not any longer read the energy of its cause! The Erlebnis is what it is, it is a perfect trans­parency and as such it has an absolute ontological sufficiency. The essence of thought is a substance. For our part, we do not intend here in any way to take up again the objections of Arnauld. We will always be at liberty to assert that these two complete substances could still unite, provided that we recognize that their union is in no way necessary but simply accidental­does not human "nature" present itself to us precisely as the product of an incomprehensible accident? But this is not the place to discuss the nature and the property [1 97J of substances; actually, what is in question here, even though it could not be questioned, is the absolute and irreducible value of the cogito. The being of the Erlebnis is one with its subjective and transcendental appearance. either the extended body nor its so-called action on the soul can be enclosed within this appearance. The union of the soul and body is, therefore, not a fact, nor is it a primitive nature, if we intend to understand by this an ontological region founded upon an irrefutable phenomenological datum ; it is a pure assertion which results from the inability of Descartes- and of many other philosophers-to understand that affectivity can belong to the essence of pure thought.

However, here there is precisely nothing to understand, there are only

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facts to note. If affective Erlebnisse exist, this is because thougbt, in its very essence, can be affectivity. We then see the Cartesian positions being reversed and destroying themselves : he denies that, in its own pure essence, thought can be affectivity or feeling; bence, he imagines tbe action of an exterior agent which would produce in it this affectivity; he constructs the theory of tbe substantial union. Consequently, what is tbe point of departure of tbis tbeory, wbat is its real foundation, unless it be the very fact of the affectivity of thought? And what does tbis tbeory nevertbeless aim at verifying, unless it is Descartes' prejudice, viz. that tbougbt in itself is not affectivity? Tbe truth is tbat thought is affective. The Cartesian and intellectualist prejudice is that it could not be. The cogito obviously concedes that the truth is correct, it sbows that tbere are affecti ve thoughts. Far from resting on a fact, the theory of the substantial union is, consequelltly, /lothing other than a devious means for dellying the fact,for denying the truth revealed by the cogito, viz. the affectivity of thought, and for asserting tbat it is because of an accident, for which a fantastic theory is presented, tbat this tbought is discovered in the cogito as an affective thougbt. But wben the moment finally arrives for proving this tbeory, appeal is made to the cog ito, i.e. [1 98] to the affectivity of thought! Tbe unavowed goal ofthe Cartesian theory of the substantial union is thus to deny tbe fact which it, nevertbeless, invokes for its support and fo r which it claims to give a faithful account.

What characterizes Cartesianism concerning the problem wi th which we are dealing is the absence of a transcendental theory of affectivity. This essential lacuna is doubtless detectable in every intellectualist philosophy. Nevertheless, to search for the origin of such a lacuna at the very beart of Cartesianism is to advance further in the understanding of its general meaning, i.e. the conception of thought which it implies. If we consider the content of the cogito, we note, as we have said, considerable differences between our Erlebnisse. Nevertheless, tbese differences are tbemselves transcendental differences, it is on the level of the cogito that they arise, it is in its immanent SUbjective content that hate, for example, is distinct from a mathematical conception. The tbeory of the substantial union, fa r from founding such a distinction, is rather only a speculative variation which rests entirely on this prior subjective difference. Nevertheless, whereas all our Erlebnisse are equal in their pbenomenological and ontological status- their psychological differentiation expresses only the modalization of absolute subjectivity- Cartesianism establishes between them a hierarchy which can only rest on considerations of another order, viz. an axiological order. The mathematical conception is considered to be superior to passion in spite of the identity of their phenomenological status. Pure thought,

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the essence of thought, is then identified with thought of a mathematical type, with intellectual and theoretical knowledge, while affective or sensible thought is declared to be inferior, and in a certain way, heterogeneous with respect to pure thought.

What is the origin of this devaluation of affectivity or of this over-esteem for pure theoretical knowledge? This [199] origin resides in the affective tonality of intellectual knowledge, in the particular pathos of its own certitude. The reason why a certain form of thought (in no way the pure essence of thought which cannot be defined except by starting from the common phenomenological status of all Erlebnisse) is preferred to affective thought is, however, found in the affectivity of this privileged form . What does it mean except that every thought is an affective thought, that every Erlebnis has its own tonality? This is precisely what the transcendental theory of affectiv­ity shows, a theory which res s on the ontological structure of absolute sUbjectivity.2 The different forms of affective life are certainly neither similar nor equivalent. The establishment of a hierarchy between these different forms is perfectly legitimate, provided we recognize the purely axiological or existential character of it. When we say, in a legitimate way, that love is superior to hate, we do not thereby intend to assert that the essence of thought is different in the two cases. In the same way, we can place the doxic life of consciousness above the life of the passions. But this is no reason for claiming that the essence of the passion-Erlebnis is not that of thought in general. Nevertheless, if Descartes asserted the superiority of intellectual knowledge it is because he found in it a mode of particular existence, an affective experience which was precisely what he was looking for, viz. the experience of a certitude raised above all doubts. And if for him mathematical experience is unduly privileged, if, in a general way, in the history of philosophical thought, triangles playa role which is obvi­ously out of proportion to the interest which we accord them in our concrete life, it is because the species of necessity which their properties imposes upon us signifies, for the consciousness which abandons itself [200] to the mathematical object, a type of rest, an assurance, a sort of ecstasy within this assurance which Descartes sought so much.

We believe that these remarks are likewise valid for other Cartesians, for Spinoza for example; if we truly wish to reflect on the existential meaning of the progress of consciousness through the three types of knowledge, we will perhaps note that knowledge of the third type proceeds from the abstraction of the affective content of rational knowledge and the positing

2 cr. M. Henry, The Essence 0/ Manifestation, transl. G. Etzkorn (The Hague: Martinus Nij boIT, 1973), 459 IT.

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I ,



of this content in itself, this time independently of the knowledge of the second type. The existential meaning of the Spinozist experience constantly reappears throughout the dogmatic expose of the philosophy of the Ethics; it is likewise admitted explicitly by Spinoza himself, notably at the beginning of the Treatise on the Correction of the Understanding. What Descartes and Spinoza required of intellectual knowledge and of the eternal, rational truths which this knowledge is thought to yield, is, in the face of the vicissi­tudes and the contingency of our historical existence, the experience of a certitude of which the event cannot rob us and, to repeat the image of Alain, [the experience of] a happiness which comes rather from us than from a cloak.

Such are, therefore, the secret intentions of Cartesianism which do justice to the intellectualist prejudice of the devaluation of pure affectivity. Because each Erlebnis has a tonality which is corfsubstantial with it, affectivity, far from resulting from an exterior relationship to thought, is rather an eidetic determination thereof. There is no need for distinguishing certain affective Erlebllisse from others which would not be affective; rather, all our experiences, insofar as they are different ways of living, bear within them that which is precisely the first characteristic of every life and every experience and which we call, for lack of better terms, an affective tonality. The dispassion of the Erlebllisse of theoretical knowledge [201J is only one determination among others of this tonality, a more subtle determina­tion perhaps in its apparently privative character, but is so little deprived of what constitutes the essence of affectivity that it is rather in virtue of a peculiarly affective characteristic that the theoretical life has received in many systems a frequently exclusive privilege. When all is said and done, it was not the affective life in general which was depreciated, but only certain of its modes, wheareas others, those which we live in our theoretical life, were invested with a positive value for reasons of a precisely affective order, which reasons reside in the particular affective content of these experi­ences. Did not Descartes himself recognize the transcendental nature of affectivity when, for example, he said that there are purely intellectual joys and pleasures? Therefore, as such, affectivity could not result from the substantial union because affective states exist wherein this so-called union, by Descartes' admission, plays no role whatever.

Hence, it becomes apparent that if other affective states are devalued and conceived as resulting from the interference of the body in the sphere of thought, this cannot be because of their affective character. Consequently, what is the reason which led Descartes to divide, not the cogito in general, but the affective cogito itself into pure affective Erlebllisse, on the one hand,

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and affective Erlebnisse which stem from the union, on the other? It was because of the feeling, borrowed from the peculiar affective contcnt of these Erlebnisse, that our affective life is at one time the expansion and the very overflow of our own existence and at other times the experience of our dependence, of our finitude and our misery. The Cartesian theory of passion has to do with the problem of existential alienation. Hcnce, it is not difficult to see that the solution to this problem is subserviant, in Cartesianism, to a general schema which consists in the attempt to base existential aliena­tion on an ontological alienation which is presumed to be its cause. But the difference between these two sorts of alienation' [202J is precisely the one which separates pure theory from the fact, which in this case is the internal experience of passion such as we live it in our very existence. It is from such an experience that we borrow the totality of knowledge that we have of our feelings; it is this experience alone which gives us their meaning as well as the principle for distinguishing them.

But here we find Descartes asserting that the reason for our various pas­sions is found entirely in the movements of animal spirits, blind movements without any purpose. From this it foIlows, on the one hand, that human passion is deprived of any species of meaning-and this is the ruin of any moral science of man- and on the other hand, that man is no longer respon­sible for his passions any more than he is, for example, for the circulation of blood in his veins- and this is the ruin of all morality in its reduction to a sort of'sal'oir faire of the mechanic'. ActuaIly, the progress of conscious­ness which raises itself above its passion is in no way a progress of this passion-consciousness itself; it results neither from the experience which it has of the contradictions which distress its life nor from the movement which bears this life beyond these contradictions nor from a reflection on their meaning; in truth, it can be only the product of an external and mechanical intervention executed on a disposition of itself mechanical. The Cartesian who is concerned about his passion is like the Freudian who wants to get rid of a complex: Both seek to act, by means which are assuredly difficult to find, on a third reali ty = 'x' -a physiological or psychological unconsciousness- which contains in [203J its mechanism, whose unfolding eludes both our knowledge and our will, the secret of our affective existence, of our life and our destiny. The philosophical task of a positive interpreta-

3 The theory of this difference could not be given here. We would merely like to note that the concept of ontological alienation which in this present work designates the deter­mination 'in the third person' of thought by a reality foreign to its essence, has an altogether different meaning than the one it received in our work on The Essence of Manifestation. Nevertheless, the context of the analysis makes it impossible to confuse the two meanings.

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tion of the real alienation of man beginning with the clarification of the experience in which he lives this alienation is completely abandoned. Because it does not bear within it the principle of its unhappiness, human existence is no longer the center of the problem of alienation of which it still seems to be the theatre. The obstinate will to explain everything accord­ing to the schema of a relationship 'in the third person' between a cause and an effect conceived as objects results in the fact that the primary con­ditions (those which give us the phenomenological datum) which such a theory of alienation must satisfy, are not even taken into consideration. Can the problem of alienation in fact be posited otherwise than in a philo­sophy of the first person? Is there any meaning whatever in saying that a stone is alienated? To reduce the ego to the condition of an effect in the third person, as the theory of ontological alienation does, is not to resolve the problem of the real alienation of man, but only to suppress it. Ontologi­cal alienation could not constitute the foundation for a theory of existential alienation, it is not an explanation thereof but only a projection, made by a crudely realist imagination, into the obscure heavens of myth.

Does the Cartesian theory of substantial union do anything more than answer the preoccupation of accounting for the existence of a confused thought in its opposition to the ideal of the intellectualist conception of clear and distinct thought? Does it not rather answer another require­ment to the extent that it deals with an authentically philosophical problem: the problem of the action of the soul on the body? Such a problem would surely not elude philosophical reflection, but the pseudo-solution which Cartesianism gives it, with its theory of substantial union, [204J has as its sole result the bringing to light of the ontologically incorrect characteristic of the philosophical horizon within which this problem was posited by Descartes as it would be by his successors. The ontological theory of the body, or more precisely, the theory of subjective movement and its relation­ship to the organic body was in fact nothing more than a theory of action, of bodily action . Nevertheless, where do we see that it has brought us face to face with aporia and difficulties similar to those encountered by Cartesi­anism and, in its wake, practically all philosophical conceptions which have treated this subject? One of the explicit goals of Biranian reflection was precisely to show that the problem which is the crux of so many philosophies does not stem from a mysterious and incomprehensible event, but rather from a fact which is quite clear and evident of itself provided that we con­sider it as a phenomenon, by sticking strictly to the datum and reflecting on it alone, and by abstracting from all transcendent constructs which render it unintelligible. Our task then is not one of rendering transparent

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the action which the soul exercises on the body-the ontological theory of the body answered this requirement-it is ratber to understand how, in philosophical tradition, such an action has become incomprehensible.

However, the dogmatic expose of the ontological theory of the body has already led us to undertake this task. Already the destruction of the positions of Hume introduced us into the heart of a general critique of Cartesian dualism and its pbjlosophical offspring. The absurdity of the skepticism of Hume is here the truth of Cartesianism; throughout the coher­ence of the doctrine and the exactitude of its deductions, it shows the absur­dity of the point of departure. Hume proved the absurdity of Cartesian dualism, an absurdity which was still hidden by tbe verbalism of tbe tbeories of parallelism, occasionalism, or pre-established harmony in the [205] great Cartesians.' The pbilosopbical meaning of the Biranian destruction of the theses of Hume and, consequently, of tbose of Descartes is made more precise in the critique of the Memoire of Engel at the Berlin Academy, a memoire dedicated to tbe study of the Origin of the Idea of Force.'

Engel first seems to oppose Hume, he reproaches him for not having discov­ered the origin of the idea of force because he did not know how to look for it wbere it could effectively be found, viz. in the "exercise of the muscular sense." With regard to the latter and the force of which it is the phenomenon, Engel uses a specific Biranian expression: "Force," he says, "has to be sensed by way of its own sense." But it becomes quickly apparent that Engel falls back into classical ruts, and this is why he encounters the same, and apparently insurmountable, difficulty as Descartes and Hume. After having recognised that we experience our own force and that it is from this experi­ence that the idea of force in general draws its origin, Engel declares tbat we must renounce "the hope of ever being able to conceive how two natures, tbe one spiritual, the other material, can ever act upon one another." After having affirmed the immediate cbaracter of our experience of action, bow did Engel arrive at such a point of view which is strictly Cartesian and classical? In other words, wbat is the genesis of the false problem of the action of the soul on the body and its Cartesian pseudo-solution? [206]

4 It is obvious that Spinoz3. for example. made no progress in the Cartesian problem of the relationship between body and soul. Spinoza limits himself to resolving in another way the same problem posed by Descartes rather than posing the problem in another way. While it is doubtless true that Hume did not modify the statement of this problem either, but he at least had the merit of showing that, posed in this manner, the problem is absolute· ly insoluble. Henceforth) there is room for a philosophy such as that of Maine de Biran who will no longer reflect upon the internal difficulties of this Cartesian problem but upon the inadequacy of its philosophical horizon.

:i cr. Maine de Biran, Essai sur les fOlldemellts de la psycho!ogie ... 235 if.

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Let us consider the original fact of our action, the relationship of subjective movement and the organic terminus toward which this organic movement immediately transcends itself; this relationship is a transcendental relation­ship. Hence, it is easy to see that from the Cartesian point of view as from the viewpoint of every philosophy which sooner of later encounters the impossibility of conceiving an interaction between thought and extension, an unperceived but radical modification has intervened in the conception of the termini in question. On the one hand, the organic body, the terminus of the internal transcendental experience of subjective movement and it alone, becomes the extended-body of the essential Cartesian analysis, the object of an act of pure understanding, and hence what was, according to the express declarations of Maine de Biran, "interiorly sensed and non­represented," is taken precisely for something represented. On the other hand, the absolute subjectivity to which the original being of movement is immanent, deteriorates; it becomes thought-substance; it loses its authentic ontological characteristic in order to take its place, purely and simply, in the general milieu of transcendent being interior to which it now appears side hy side with intelligible extension or extended-substance. The relation­ship between these two substances can no longer be anything more than a relation 'in the third person', analogous to those which we discover in a world, it can no longer be anything more than a causal relationship. The problem of the relationship between the soul and the body, henceforth, presents itself as an insurmountable difficulty; its solution, if not the most reasonable, at least the most significant, is, doubtless, parallelism, which at root consists, if we reflect on it, in asserting and denying-both at the same time- the existence of such a relationship. The position of Engel illustrates in a particularly striking way this deterioration in the transcen­dental relationship of action: "We have," he says, "the representation of a determination of the will in itself; we have it of the movements of the muscles in themselves; we draw the first from our interior sense, the second from one of our external senses; the only thing lacking to us [207J is the representa­tion of the liaison or the complicity of the two. "6

The original being of our body, i.e. the being of subjective movement, was nevertheless nothing other than the experience of this liaison and not its representation : "It is precisely because this liaison is entirely understood in the exercise of the sense of effort, and identical to the very fact of the

6 Ibid. 242. [Henry's italics] We believe that th is latter text, so significant, brings to light the transformation of the o riginally subjective being of movement into a "representa­tion of the will in itself," and, in an even clearer way, it brings to light tbe alteration of the organic body, here confused with a representation furnished by the external senses.

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intimate sense, that we cannot help but admit it."7 The critique of the M emoire of Engel rejoins the one which Biran explicitly directed against Descartes. Descartes confused the organic body with the body represented or conceived by the understanding; then he confused subjective movement with the simple representation of movement, the latter being reduced to a displacement in extension; fina lly, he asked himself how he could conceive a relationship and an action between this pure representation on the one hand and a body or an extended movement on the other. Nevertheless, such a problem could not be posed unless one had long since departed from the phenomenological datum, i.e. the internal transcendental experience of subjective movement and its transcendent correlate; from this original 'fact' he abstracted two termini raised to 'absolute' substances, i.e. trans­formed into two objective realities. Reasoning then tried in vain to put them together again, whence "this quite obvious contradiction between a priori reasoning, based on the absolute nature of substances, and the primi­tive fact of experience, based on the testimony of the intimate sense. "8

The deterioration which allows such a [208J contradiction to appear is the immediate result of the abandoning of the point of view of absolute immanence, which is an absolute point of view, the viewpoint of the ego, from which everything becomes clear and understandable. Cartesian dualism is the product of such a deterioration.

The nature of the latter can be made more precise if we look to another text of the Essay where a distinction is made between the "phenomenal point of view," which is said to be primitive, and the "noumenal point of view," which is understood as derived. That which presents itself to us from the phenomenal point of view- i.e. when we stick to the phenomenolog­ical datum- is, on the one hand, the experience of subjective movement, the "feeling of effort" and, on the other hand, the organic terminus toward which this effort tends. In place of the immanent and transcendent content of this experience, the "noumenal point of view" substitutes the two "abso­lute" substances of the soul and the body, conceived as two noumena "hidden beneath the two phenomenal termini." The problem of the rela­tionships between the soul and body becomes, interior to this noumenal point of view, the problem of the reciprocal action of two termini, 'x',

7 Maine de Biran, Essai sur tes fOlldements de fa psyc!lo!ogie ... 241. 8 Jbid. 262. This text takes on its full importance and truly clarities the peculiar charac­

teristic of the deterioration of which we speak only if we keep in mind the precise meaning of the terms '0 priori' and 'absolute' in Biranianism. On this. cf. supra, chap. J. § 1.

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about which we yet know the following: The one is extended and the other is not. Whereas the relationship between the soul and the body was perfectly clear interior to the cogito and was one with the transcendental relationship of subjective movement and its transcendent terminus, it is now rather obvious "that the mind will always be making useless efforts to relate means of correspondance or of action and reciprocal influence of these noumena to such clear conceptions.'"

Doubtless, tbe dualism in the presence of which the problem of action puts us is not inberent to the noumenal point of view as such. Philosophical reflection which strictly sticks to the pbenomenological datum must itself distinguish two "phenomenal" termini [209J which are the experience of subjective movement and the resisting continuum. But the latter dualism which, interior to the transcendental relationship of tbe being-in-the-world, distinguishes that whicb, in such a relationship, reveals itself interior to a sphere of absolute immanence and, on tbe other hand, tbat which manifests itself in the truth of transcendence, is notbing other, as we know, tban ontological dualism. If, as Maine de Biran says, the noumenal point of view is derived with respect to the phenomenological point of view, the two forms of dualism which correspond to these two points of view cannot be without relationship: Cartesian dualism is precisely a deterioration of ontological dualism, and we have al ready given the theory of this deteriora­tion. We have seen that the pseudo-dualism to which the latter leads consists in fact in rejecting the two termini of the transcendental relationship in the same ontological region, the region of transcendent being, while this rejection implies, as far as absolute subjectivity is concerned, the forgetting of its radically immanent cbaracter, i.e. the destruction of its peculiarly ontological character. When such a destruction is made, nothing any longer opposes the inauguration of worldly relationships, of bonds of causality for example, between two realities made subreptitiously bomogeneous, extension on the one band and subjectivity on the other, or rather its repre­sentation, its shadow in the milieu of exteriority. This denaturing of absolute subjectivity finally opens tbe way to a realist attitude which inserts the ego into the world.

It is true that Descartes maintains bimself far from such an attitude: Is not the cog ito with its strict understanding of the ontological character of subjectivity precisely the negation of this attitude ? Nevertbeless, tbe breech wbich exists between the doctrine of the cogito and the theory of dualism which destroys the transcendental relationship of being to the world

• Maine de Biran, Essa; sur les fondemellls de La psych%gie ... 162-163. footnote 2.

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and substitutes for it the juxtaposition of two substances, does this not already measure the extent of tbe fall which could only lead to the empirical 'realization ' of the subject as it in fact happens in classical psychology [210J which is the offspring of Cartesianism? Doubtless, classical psychology bears other inheritances no less heavy than that of Descartes. If this psychol­ogy is equally dominated, in particular, by certain master theses of Kant, how is it not possible to see the profound affinity existing between these and the Cartesian dualism which we are discuss ing? If we reflect on it, we will perhaps see that, in spite of very real differences, the Kantian theory of the interior life which makes of it the product of a constitution parallel to the constitution of the external world, finally leads to a juxtaposition very similar to the one which we were led to conceive by Cartesian dualism, if it is true that in the latter, the radical ontological meaning of the cogito is already lost.

Hence, once it believes it can leave the absolute viewpoint of subjective immanence, once it takes flight above original ontological regions, theory is led to conceive relationships between such regions which are no longer transcendental relationships, which no longer belong to the structure of our naIve experience, but which constitute the system in which we represent such an experience. But it is at this moment, viz. when it ceases to be understood in its transcendental meaning, that the relationship between the soul and body becomes unintelligible. The historical importance of Cartesian dualism stems from the fact that it opened a horizon within which solutions to the problem of the relationships between soul and body began to multiply for the reason that such a problem had then become insoluble. And then, as frequently happens in parallel cases, something which had to result from all the tran­scendent hypotheses whereby they tried in vain to overcome the obstacle, there came boredom, a deaf and secretly discontented boredom. The parallel­ism of psychologists, rather than any doctrine properly so-called, is the expression of this state of mind. The discontent which results from such impotence easily becomes aggressive: The problem of the soul and body was no longer anything more than a purely philosophical problem, the need to ceaselessly debate it could [211J easily be left without harm to the metaphysicians whose time is not taken up with positive investigations. The moment when it was stated that the problem of the relationships between the soul and body was actually only a pseudo-problem did not, however, correspond to a re-questioning of its philosophical horizon but a definitive acceptance of this horizon, i.e. of Cartesian dualism.

It was within this pre-existing dualist horizon that, in Cartesianism, the lheory of substantial union intervened. Actually, if we reflect on the singular

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\ "


position of the primitive nature of union, we will see that this nature is nothing primitive at all. Does it not obviously presuppose that the existence of these two "natures" of which it is thence conceived as the mixture was already asserted ? The attempt in the Letlers to Elizabeth to found the doc­trine of the union on the cogilO, henceforth, appears to us as eminently suspect. Far from expressing a fact which reasoning would not be competent to combat, the doctrine of union is rather the product of a reasoning whose premises are constituted by the theory of dualism such as Descartes under­stands it. And when the latter declares that "It is the ordinary course of life and conversation ... that teaches us how to conceive the union of the soul and body," when he counsels us to abandon ourselves to "the relaxation of the senses," J· these famous texts cannot furnish the least relief to the dogmatic content of Cartesianism nor make it theoretically acceptable. To cease to philosophize in order to live and experience union, this is, on the part of the philosopher, a strange sort of advice: Should we abandon the philosophy of the relationships between soul and body or only a certain philosophy, a certain conception of these relationships ? More precisely: To return to facts [212J and experience, does this not then imply the rejection of philosophy?

However, does it not become apparent that there is a need for a philosophy of fact and experience and, in the present case, for a transcendental phenom­enology of the ego and the subjective body when speculation is confronted with such a failure? Does not this failure stem solely from an insufficiency in the ontological clarification of a problem deemed insoluble ? The return to a phenomenological point of view will mean, here as elsewhere, a reflec­tion on the horizon which had outlined the cadre of our investigations from the beginning. No one more than Maine de Biran understood the necessity for satisfying such a primary philosophical need. Speaking of the great metaphysical questions which have remained without answers, the author of the Essay says that since their object "had never been clearly circumscribed, no one knew quite what was expected, what was being sought; and this is a sure way of not finding it." And further on: "It would be necessary to try to show in what the insolubility of the problem consists, it would be necessary to say how and why it is insoluble."ll We find an answer to the latter requirement, at least as far as the problem of the relation­ships between soul and body is concerned, in the theory of the subjective body taken in its ensemble, a theory which consists in the last analysis in

10 R. Descartes, Letter fO Elizabeth, in Descartes' Philosophical writings, trans. Norman K. Smilh (New York: SI. Marlin's Press, 1952) 274-275.

11 Maine de Bican, Essai SUT les /olldemellts de la psych%gie ... 39.

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substituting for Cartesian dualism the original reality of which the latter is nothing but a caricature, a theory which promotes ontological dualism and the correct philosophical interpretation of the natural life of the ego, of the absolute immanence of subjectivity when confronted with transcen­dent being. [213J

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The ontological theory of the body is incompatible with a Cartesian type of dualism. How is it then that Maine de Biran, whose philosophical effort resu lted in building the most profound theory of the body, the one most in conformity with the requirements of a phenomenological ontology given us by tradition, would remain in many respects duped by such a dualism? The revolution which he effected was so complete that we will, doubtless, have to wait for history to understand little by little its full meaning. So strong was the opposition of Maine de Biran to his century that his philoso­phy necessarily bore within it heterogeneous elements which, though they fi t in with the thought of the period, were in fact foreign to his own outlook. The determination to grasp the profound intuition of Biranianism and to remain fa ithful thereto, therefore, implies the rejection of everything which, in Biranianism, does not really belong to it, but rather belongs to phi lo­sophical positions against which it was gradually constituted without always succeeding in eliminating them completely.

The personal experience of Maine de Biran is one of an alienation. It is the experience of an affective life which is constantly changing, of a humor which is at one time gay, at other times sad, more often sad, and whose [214J modifications seem to be independent of the will of the ego which experiences them. This servitude is doubly painful because of the predom­inant affective tonality of the Erlebnisse in question (lassitude, boredom, malaise, di scouragement), also because of the fact that these Erlebnisse impose themselves upon us in an experience which is identical to that of our helplessness with regard to the course of our history and its modalities. Maine de Biran was conscious of his own life as one of a malevolent fate: "The power of fate," says the Essay, "which is one of our most powerful dramatic motives, is perhaps only the expression of the fact of the intimate sense which manifests at the very foundation of our being a sort of organic necessity opposed to moral freedom."l

1 Maine de Biran. Essa; sur les fOlldements de fa psychologie ... 291. footnote 2.

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At the very moment when Maine de Biran expresses his consciousness of an enslaved affective life, a passion, it is clear that he had already trans­formed the existential alienation, to which our own experience doubtless testifies, into an onological alienation which is no longer an experience but a principle of explanation. This principle of explanation strangely resem­bles the Cartesian schema in the Treatise on the Passions and for this reason we will not discuss it here. The fact that it was spontaneously admitted by Maine de Biran in his earlier writings, nevertheless, allows us to assert that it is prior to the building of an ontological theory of the body and foreign to the essential content thereof, i.e. to true Biranianism. The influ­ences submitted to by Biran before he arrived at his own philosophy explain his adherence to this dualism which we have denounced in Descartes, but which continue to dominate almost all conceptions relative to the problem of the soul and the body. Whether it is a question of Rousseau or Bonnet, of the ideologues (notably Cabanis) or of the physiologists of his time, Biran found everywhere psycho-physiological schemas of explanation which he adopted not so much [215] because of their intrinsic theoretical value but because of the painful persistence of an experience to which they seemed to agree. It is this primitive association of a Cartesian type dualism with personal experience, from which Biran was never able to break away entirely, which explains the fact that this dualism could survive the unparal­leled discovery of the subjective body and remain in Biranianism as a dead member, so to speak, but one which was always present, juxtaposed to the ontological theory of the body or rather a dead member which covered over and hid from the eyes of practically all his commentators the inesti­mable philosophical import of this ontological theory. The denouncing of the various theses which, in Biranianism, stem from traditional dualism will bring to light its authentic and original ontological "content by drawing it out of its non-essential context wherein it risks being buried. Actually, the critique of the thought of Maine de Biran is an effort to grasp this thought in its peculiar direction. The meaning of this critique, which ultimately aims at doing justice to Biranian philosophy, is positive.

The Biranian theses which stem from dualism essentially deal with instinct, sensibility, affectivity, imagination, i.e. precisely the points on which Biran speaks without any originality; it is what he borrowed from others which is false. Nevertheless, dualism casts its shadow on other developments of his thought, for example, on his phenomenology of the memory, and it jeopardizes fundamental ontological theses and sometimes even the very structure of SUbjectivity.

Instinct, sensibility, affectivity, imagination refer to the "organic life~ ' of

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man. To the extent that such a life exists in him, side by side with his intel­lectual and voluntary life, man is a "twofold man" (homo duplex in humani­tate). To the extent that man is twofold, that his nature is a "mixed nature," the science of man cannot be completely identified which a transcendental phenomenology, because there is need to make place, alongside it, for a "mixed psychology" [216] which no longer moves in the sphere of pure subjectivity, but "admits tbe mixture and the complexity of heterogeneous elements, and considers the facts of intelligence only in their point of con­tact with those of sensibility, the facts of sensation in their relationship to objects and organs; it considers acts of the will in the sensible affections which determine them; it considers the passions in their influence on physio­logical phenomena and vice-versa.'" Hence, "a mixed method of analysis which is also pbysiological and reflective" will be applied to "the knowledge of an order of mixed phenomena."3

Nevertheless, ought we to insist on the fundamental ambiguity in the concept of the organic life which is at the origin of these considerations which jeopardize the absolute value of phenomenology? Thus it is that we find organic life at one time defined interior to the cogito and at another time starting from physiological processes in the third person, ones which are absolutely foreign to the sphere of psychology. He states that "this duality" constituted by its opposition to the intelligent and organic life "is itself a fact of the intimate sense,'" while he likewise speaks of "a general affection which the ego can assume without being aware of it.'" Actually, Maine de Biran confuses three sorts of very different realities under the terms of organic or animal life: I) certain Erlebnisse (affections and images for example); 2) objective physiological movements which for him are also mechanical; 3) a sort of unconscious psychological life, situated between the first two orders of reality and to which, more specifically, the term 'organic life' ought to be applied.

Thus understood, organic life is unacceptable in an ontology of sub­jectivity, and if it is present in Biranianisrn, it is, as we have said, [217] because a philosophy easily becomes duped by what it opposes. Maine de Biran finds in Condillac a conception of human reality which essentially makes the latter appear as a sensible existence. The rejection of Condillac's sensualism arises by way of the discovery of the active life of the ego which the Memoire sur la decomposition then opposes to the sensible life without,

, Ibid. 81. , Ibid. 108 . • Ibid.292 . , Ibid. 301.

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however, questioning the ideologues' conception of this life. Thus it is that a dualism arises which opposes voluntary and motor effort to the passivity of sensible life while maintaining, regarding the latter, a notion which is absolutely incompatible with the Biranian theory of subjectivity which constitutes the principle for the ontological analysis of the body. The sensible and affective life of man according to Biran is analogous to the life of the statue which takes on the odor of the rose. The "sensitive, vague, and imper­sonal" existence which the ego "assumes without becoming aware of it" has no other origin. The influence of Leibniz comes along to confirm this incorrect theory of sensible and affective existence. The metaphysics of the organic microcosm, the encapsulation of monads certain of which are endowed with the power of representation, the inadmissable distinction between "perception" and "apperception" are just so many elements which have contributed to giving the theory of animal life an unfortunately defin i­tive form. The ontological nonsense of an "obscure perception without con­sciousness'" found a home in an ontology of subjectivity whose importance remained without equal in French philosophy.

The incompatibility of a conception of the animal life with the fundamen­tal theses of this ontology could not, however, pass completely unperceived; it shows itself in the difficulties encountered by the theory of the interior life. Intuition and imagination bathe in a total obscurity; Biranianism [218] cannot confer any precise status on the " internal organ of intuition" any more than on the "internal organ of imagination." After having effected a true split in the cogito, by putting the modes of clear thought (intelligence and will) on one side, and obscure affections, images and interior sensibil­ity on the other, Biran commits two serious errors with regard to this second category of Erlebnisse: on the one hand, he very quickly loses the recognition of their characteristic as Erlebnisse, i.e. their fundamental onto­logical structure; he treats them as infra-conscious modalities without which it would not be possible for us to determine them other than in this purely negative manner; on the other hand, and precisely because in their funda­mental ontological non-determination these Erlebnisse are now debased so low in the peculiarly psychic life that they are now no longer Erlebnisse so to speak, he likens them to the modalities of the organic life, i.e. to natural and transcendent elements. Hence, Biran was duped by a disastrous confusion which he, nevertheless, constantly denounced himself under the phrase "the twofold usage of signs." By the organic or animal life then, we are supposed to understand at one time natural processes, at another

6 Maine de Biran, M tfmoire sur fa decomposition ... Ill, 154.

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unconscious psychological modalities determined by these processes, and still at other times Erlebnisse properly so-called ; however, their condi­tioning by physiological reality is in every case asserted. To the latter cate­gory belong our images, for example, whose unfolding, according to Biran, obeys a purely mechanical law independent of the ego. In the same way, our affective life, our sympathies and antipa thies are sa id to be "foreign to the ego." Consequently, it is on the level of the cogito itself that a division takes place: Cogito and ego no longer coincide. This reaches to the very foundation of the ontological theory of the ego.

Doubtless, the experience of passion is a subjective experience which is found on the level of the cogito . We can then situate our various Erleb­nisse under the two opposed rubrics of freedom [219] and servitude. But precisely because the experience of servitude is still a mode of the life of absolute subjectivity, the opposition inaugurated between autonomy and alienation cannot receive an ontological meaning nor question the very foundations of the philosophy of subjectivity; ·it has only a moral and exis­tential scope; the dualism which it introduces is of an axiological order, whereas Biran makes it a Cartesian type dualism. Since, however, the interior life raises questions concerning the body which is supposed to explain this life, it follows that in many respects the Biranian theory of the body or, at least the theory of its relationship to certain of our psychic states strangely resembles the theses in the Treatise on the Passions, such that once again the meaning and the originality of the Biranian philosophy of the body risks passing unperceived.

The Cartesian type dualism which arises in Biranianism thus has historical origins whose clarification will allow us to understand how it is truly foreign to the profound ontological unity of his doctrine. Because, in order to oppose the sensualism of Condillac and the ideo logues, Biran felt himself obliged to define the true being of the ego as effort and as will, he tended to confer an exclusive privilege on the active qlodes of the subject, as Descartes had done on those of thought of a mathematical type. And just as in Cartesia­nism, the confusion of mathematical thought with the essence of pure thought necessarily brought about the intervention of a foreign element, viz. the extended body, to explain the so-called inferior forms of subjective life, so likewise Maine de Biran, after having identified the ego and effort, found himself totally helpless when it came to accounting for the affective life, the imagination, and sensibility. From then on he limits hImself to borrow­ing from other philosophies conceptions which seemed to make up an integral part of Biranianism, but which in reality only hide its essential

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lacuna, viz. the absence of any theory of the (220] affective, imaginative and sensible life, i.e. the absence of any ontological theory of passivity.

The limiting of the ego cogito to the subject who makes an effort pro­foundly falsified the ontological meaning of Biranianism. It is in such a limiting that we must look for the principal reason for the lack of com­prehension so generally manifested with regard to the thought of Maine de Biran, of the interpretation of it as a philosophy of the will and of force in opposition to a philosophy of substance. It is this same identi­fication of the ego with activity grasped at the heart of motor effort which makes the evolution of Biranian thought unintelligible in the eyes of almost all his commentators and obliges them to speak of a change of viewpoint, even a radical conversion, whereas, as we will see, the philosophy of the three lives represents no truly absolute change nor even, strictly speaking, an evolution. The problem of passivity must be found, sooner or later, along the road of a thought which first seems to concentrate solely on the experience of motor activity. Before touching upon this latter question, we ought first to study more deeply the close solidarity which exists between the limitation of the cogito to activity and the absence of any satisfactory intepretation of the phenomenon of passivity.

Since consciousness is identified with action, the experience of passivity must be explained starting with a principle external to this consciousness. Doubtless, to say that the ego is passive is to say that it finds itself in the presence of a radically different reality, of a foreign being which it experi­ences. Nevertheless, it is one thing to describe this experience phenomenolog­ically such as it is lived by the ego at the heart of the transcendental rela­tionship of being-in-the-worid, it is quite another thing to claim to explain the Erlebnis as the effect of a process of causality in the th ird person acting on consciousness and behind it, so to speak. But if consciousness in its very essence is an action which unfolds itself, it is not to this essence (221] as such that sensing, suffering and being affected can belong. An impression seems to be incompatible with an ontological structure which exhausts itself in motor activity, i.e. with the ego as Maine de Biran conceives it. This' impression, nevertheless, belongs to the concrete and daily experience of such an ego. This experience must be able to be understood starting with the structure of this ego and appear as one of its most peculiar ontological possibilities. Precisely because it is a fact of the intimate sense, the relation­ship of the ego to its impressions constitutes a problem which Biranianism could not altogether evade.

Maine de Biran first tries to build a theory of pure impression, following the way opened to him by Buffon, Condillac, and Leibniz. He conceives of

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a "simple affection without personality,'" i.e. an elementary mode which is found beyond the limits of the apperceptive faculty wbich characterizes the conscious subject. Such, for example, is the odor of the rose which the statue takes on, such are, in a general way, the "impressions or modifica­tions of our sensibility." The ontological obscurity of the element here under consideration, viz. pure impression, does not escape Maine de Biran, who perhaps confuses it, it is true, with a psychological obscurity: "The ultimate limits of sensibility ... present themselves here under hypothetical forms which are doubtless obscure."·

More serious uncertainties arise when it becomes a question of the prob­lem which now interests us and which is that of the relationsbip of tbis impression to the ego. On the one hand, Biran asserts the radical separation of these two elements, for the ego is defined by apperception of which the impression is totally deprived; this is why the impression is said to be deprived of personality: "There is a class of sensible impressions or internal affections from which tbe individual personality and all the [222] forms inherent in it are excluded.'" Nevertheless, on the other hand, we must arrive at envisioning the relationship of these impressions to the ego: By "impression" or "affection" Biran does not understand here a physiolog­ical modification, a blind process totally heterogeneous to subjective exis­tence. Such a process can, doubtless, be considered in itself as can any other natural event whatever, abstraction being made from every relationship to consciousness. But it is by way of a veritable abstraction and, consequently an illegitimate one that an impression would be isolated from the psycholog­ical life of which, according to Biran, it rather constitutes the first degree; it is a question of an impression for the ego, of a modification which he becomes even if he does not perceive it, and in no way of a physiological modification in extension; it is the ego which experiences this modification, which submits to it, which is affected by it. Hence, the impression cannot be separated · from an ontological power of the ego which is precisely the power which this ego has of maintaining a relationship with it. Whether we speak of a "simple passive capacity"l. of the subject who receives sensations or of "a general capacity of sensing,"ll can the sensing being, who bears within him such an ontological power on which sensible

, Ibid. III, 150.

• Ibid. Ill, 154. 9 Maine de Biran, Essai sur les !ondeme"fs de /a psych%gle ... 176. 10 Maine de Biran, Mbnoire sur la decomposition ... III, 126. 11 Ibid. III, 182.

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experience in general is founded, be truly distinguished from the ego it­self? Is this general capacity of sensing anything other than subjectivity?

There is no doubt that Biran himself would refuse such an assimilation. A text of the Essay explicitly opposes the sensing being to the individual person." It is precisely upon this opposition that the dualism of the active and the passive life rests. Impressions, affections, imagination belong to an autonomous region, foreign to the ego as identified with the active will. But what is the ontological status of this region? Speaking of images, Biran says that they are [223] given in a "vision which I call passive because it is absolutely foreign to the activity of the will or of the ego."l3 Can the theory of this passive vision be indefinitely avoided? This is why, after having asserted that the impression is without relationship of the ego, Biran comes around to posing the problem of this relationship, to saying that it is precisely this ego which is united to its impressions. Certainly, a number of hesitations arise on this point: The Essay declares that, if the ego is the real subject of all the passive modes to which it is united, there nevertheless exists a multitude of affections and obscure perceptions with which "he is not essentially united."" Nevertheless, these uncertainties, far from allowing the maintaining of the anti-Kantian thesis of a sensibility without form because it is independent of the ego, reveal both Biran's embarrassment and the orientation of his thought toward a theory of passiv­ity which will re-question the meaning which had been assigned to the distinction between action and sensibility and, consequently, the assimilating of this distinction to one between the ego and the non-ego.

Actually, when we look more closely at the Biranian critique of sensual­ism, we see that it is not limited so much to opposing something else, viz. the active life in general, to the sensibility of the ideologues,15 but the very conception of this sensibility is questioned when the Essay declares that the statue could not become the odor of the rose and, in a general way, submit to any modification whatever, "if it were not already something within itself"" For Biran, this something else is still only life in general, a vague and confused feeling of existence. Nevertheless, how is it not possible to see that this life posited as the condition of every modification or [224] particular affection in fact plays the role of an ontological foundation, how is it not possible to see that the affective tonality which Biran himself

12 Maine de Biran, Essai sur les fondements de fa psychologle . .. 211. 13 Ibid. 299. 14 Ibid. 153. l!i The theses of Rousseau and de Bonnet are perhaps reducible to such a type of oppo­

sition when their theses attempt to safeguard the freedom of man. 16 Maine de Biran, Essai sur les fondements de la psychologie ... 288. [Henry's italics]

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\ )'


recognizes is also an ontological characteristic of this foundation to the extent that it constitutes the foundation of all the particular determinations of our affectivity? Finally, how can we fail to interpret interiority which, according to Biran, characterizes the statue insofar as it is able to be affected, as an ontological interiority, as an original presence to self to which alone this something can be present? rn other words, we should say that the passive life is not deprived of intentionality, that the latter is not reserved to the properly active modes of willing and effort, but that it intervenes also, as a passive synthesis, in the determinations of the life of the ego described as affectivity, sensibility, imagination, etc. By a sort of necessity stronger than the arbitr.ary limitation of the being of the ego to that of the active life, Biranianism, at the very level of the Essay and the philosophy of motor effort, had to recognize, or at least have a presentiment of, this presence of intentionality at the very heart of the passive life.

Henceforth, the passive life bears within it a pure and veritably transcen­dental element which makes it a modality of the life of absolute subjectivity, a passive operation which takes place in a sphere of radical immanence and which allows us to say that sensing is still thinking. It is this element which truly makes affectivity or sensibi lity a life, i.e. a capacity for repro­ducing, not empirical matter, but its transcendental apprehension. "There is," says Biran, "". a non-affective part which properly characterizes this odor and this taste as distinct from every other and which also serves as the subsequent foundation for the remembering or the recall attached to this particular sensation." l? Doubtless, this pure part, i.e. the intentionality which constitutes [225] the properly ontological element of the act of sensing, is here described as non-affective: Biranianism of 1812 had not yet risen to a -transcendental theory of affectivity. At least passivity as such is understood as an act at the very time when a positive theory of sensing began to take shape. While studying the passage from intuition to image, which he still conceived as its prolongation (due to a "vibratory" property of the organs), Biran says : "It is sufficient that the ego had been present at the first repre­sentative sensation, even without expressly participating therein by his activity, in order that personal remembering, which is the consciousness of the past ego, is found again in the image which this sensation leaves after it."l8 What is this presence of the ego without express activity unless it be a passive synthesis?

The recognition of the ontological character of such a synthesis, a charac­ter which makes it a power and not an individualized act in time, is it not

11 Ibid. 297.

I' Ibid. 328. [Henry's italics]

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implied in this other text which deals again with the subjective grasp of an odor: "If the odor merely comes along to impress itself upon the organ .. i thout being bound to any f eeling of action necessary for producing it, :he being, which would take it on with each renewal, would then have no

eans for recognizing it as being the same, or what amounts to the same thing, of recognizing in it the identity of its own sensing power," - and a few . es later on, Biran speaks of the " feeling of the ego" or of " the personal .ement" which is "enclosed within the first sensation."l. The act which

nstitutes the very essence of sensing is first defined as an activity properly lied, which could well be, and which actually is at times, a voluntary

_cUvity. Biran calls it "a feeling of action". However, an odor can well mect a subject who, in a sense, does not expect to perceive it and who has ::ot decided to go out to meet it by an [226) explicit effort of inhaling. Consequently, that which makes possible the perception of the odor, and .z:er its recognition, is "the identity of the sensing power" of the subject. :-- . - is nothing unconscious, but like a voluntary motor action, it is a feeling, = better, an internal transcendental experience; for this precise reason

sensing is something for us. Between the effort of deliberate inhalation and :-=-~ subjective involuntary grasping of an odor there is no essential ontolog­_ ~ difference: Activity and passivity are rather two different modalities _--one and the same fundamental power which is nothing other than the original - '.g of the subjective body .

D'd Maine de Biran truly arrive at this conception of a foundation - =e profound than the existential difference which separates the active -=::: the passive modes of the concrete life of the ego? Did he arrive at an ~entic ontological grasp of this foundation to the point of identifying

cith the essence of life, with the very structure of the being of the ego, ~ h could, thenceforth, no longer be limited to the active modes of willing?

.... :.ext from the M emoire sur la decomposition declares that the feeling of ::!.'::SaIity identified with the feeling of personality " is associated in diverse

__ - \\~ th the different impressions, either by a derived relationship, if these . essions stem from the will, Or by a simple relationship of co-existence simultaneity , if they are passive of their very nature."20 It is upon this -. 'onally important text (and other comparable ones) that the inter­

~-2. . on which we have given to the analysis of the faculty of sensing rests, - , a1ysis which is an essential part of the theory of the body. Hence,

,..oject of exposing the ontological theory of the body without taking

• ~faine de Biran, M emoire sur fa decomposition ... IV, 36. [Henry's italics] " li>id. IV, 7 footnote. [Henry's italicsl

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into account the existential distinction between activity and passivity is justified.

The understanding of the validity of such a project is at the same time a more profound understanding of the dogmatic content of this [227] onto­logica l theory of the body; our body is an act, but it is often an act which does not act, our body is essentially moving, but it is likewise a question of an immobile movement. The common root of our acting and sensing is a power which is more profound, which gives basis to both of them; it is habit upon which the unity of our bodily life is based throughout all the modalities whereby it unfolds itself; it is the original being of the body, finally, it is the ego. Only a theory of original ontological passivity will permit us to understand in a more precise way just what this common root is. But what we can presently understand is the necessity of the exis­tence of a principle which gives basis to the unity of our bodily life, a unity of which this life is the very experience. Before returning to this problem, we would first like to show quickly, starting with one of the more remarkable analyses of Maine de Biran, how the unity of movement and sensing and, subsequently, the identity of a common ontological foundation are required by the development of the philosophy of the body.

Let us consider the union of the sense of hearing with that of the voice. When I hear a sound which emanates from an external object, it is through the operation of a passive synthesis that this sound is apprehended by the ego. Let us say, in Biranian terms, that the feeling of causality, or of person­ality, is associated according to a simple relationship of co-existence or simultaneity with the passive sonorous impression. When I hear a sound which I have voluntarily produced by the use of speech, the internal tran­scendental experience which corresponds to this phenomenon is twofold: On the one hand, it is tbe experience of the act of speaking and, on the other hand, the subjective and passive grasping of tbis speech. The sonorous im­pression, as a transcendent element, maintains a twofold relationship with subjectivity, i.e. with the ego, viz.-to speak as Maine de Biran does-a derived relationship (insofar as it is a spoken word) and a simple relation­ship of co-existence (insofar as it is a 'heard' word). What [228] is here in question is the ontological homogeneity of the act of speaking and the act of hearing, i.e. the unity of the original being of our body.

However, we have shown that this homogeneity and, consequently, this unity resides in the subjective nature of the two acts in consideration. If we care to have a confirmation of this thesis, we need only reflect on the problem which arises when I voluntarily reproduce a sound which I have primitively heard in a passive systhesis. How is it that I can reproduce such

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a sound voluntarily? There exists a knowledge which does not only co-exist with my first passive apprehension of the sonorous impression but which is one with this apprehension, viz. insofar as it is subjective, insofar as it is an internal transcendenta l experience, it is precisely an original knowledge of this type. And it is because I am in possession of such a knowledge (we have sufficiently explained what this "to be in possession of" means) that I can just as easily recognize this sonorous impression whenever it is repro­duced, as when I reproduce it myself voluntarily should I so desire. This voluntary reproduction is possible only because it is the motor modification of an intentionality of which the ego is already the possessor, interior to the ontological phenomenon of habit. We say 'modification' and not, for example, 'motor actualization' in order to signify that intentionality is not absent from the first experience of passive apprehension, but that it rather constitutes the essence of hearing in exactly the same way that it constitutes the essence of speaking. Doubtless, speaking is not listening, but the difference which separates these two phenomena is an existential difference, it is not an ontological difference. Speaking and listening are two Erlebnisse; the milieu in which they take place and wherein, in a general way, the two phenomena of activity and passivity take place is ontologically the same, it is that of absolute subjectivity. The ontological nature [229] of the latter is the reason why the unity of this milieu is nothing other than that of knowledge. It is precisely because the unity of a knowledge subtends the lived experiences of hearing and speaking that a passage is possible from one to the other, that we can say again what we have heard and that we can hear what we say. To say that the ontological unity is that of know­ledge is to refuse to situate this unity 'beyond' or 'inside' phenomena; it is to make it possible as effective unity.

This means then that ontological unity is also, in a certain way, an exis­tential unity, that in spite of the differences which separate our experiences (of speaking and hearing for example) with regard to their transcendental phenomenological content, this content is, nevertheless, the same in many ways. This is truly the mystery of the unity of the ego, of its phenomenological unity throughout the diversity and the phenomenological differences of its multiple experiences. However, this mystery is not a sort of 'beyond' of our reason, or rather it is only in the eyes of such a reason that it can appear as an incomprehensible fact. For the ego itself this mystery disappears because it is its immediate life, i.e. not a mystery at all, but an absolute transparency. If the ontological phenomenon of habit becomes troubled by an exterior look, it is because we cannot understand life by misunderstand­ing its fundamental ontological character, viz. the one whereby it is defined

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as a milieu of radical immanence. It is precisely by re-immersing the body in such a mi lieu and understanding it as a subjective phenomenon that we have arrived at an ontological interpretation of habit, i.e. at the affirmation of the immediate and concrete presence at the very heart of phenomenolog­ical experience, of an ontological power which is broken up and already represented in a transcendent milieu when we speak of "the ensemble of the powers of our body."

To such a conception of the original being of our body, Maine [230] de Biran doubtless rose when he speaks to us of a state of immanent effort and when he bases the unity of the ego on this effort. Actually, we are not dealing here with a determined effort presiding over the accomplishment of some movement or other, or over the active exercise of some sense or other, but a sort of latent tension which is but one with the very being of our absolute body and which maintains, so to speak, in the unity of its own life, our organic body and perhaps the effectiveness of every presence of the world in general. This latent tension is also the essence of sensing and the essence of the power of being affected as well as the essence of motor effort, it is truly the interior trembling of knowledge insofar as this know­ledge is a live and not a dead knowledge. It defines the state of alertness, i.e., for Maine de Biran the actuality and the reality of experience, and at this level which is truly one of an origin, there is not yet any place for a distinction nor a fortiori for an opposition between activity and passivity.

By going back to a common root of activity and passivity, by asserting their homogeneity interior to one and the same ontological status, are we not suppressing the very obvious difference which separates these two modes of our life, are we not at least minimizing the essential opposition which Biranianism in many ways seems to establish between them? Actually, the ontological homogeneity of activity and passivity is the only possible foundation for their distinction. To the extent that Biranianism does not recognize such a homogeneity when it asserts, as is explicitly done in the Memoire sur la decomposition that " the active modes alone are homogeneous among themselves,"" it is then rendered incapable of assigning a foundation for the difference which is inaugurated between the latter and other deter­minations of our experience. First of all, if we compare the Biranian distinc­tion between activity and passivity to this same distinction, as Condillac, for example, conceives it, we can easily see [231] the progress which has been made. Actually, it is from a purely external viewpoint that the author of the Traite des sensations considered the opposition in question. The

21 Ibid. IV, 154.

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statue, he said, is active when the cause which modifies it is in it, it is passive when this cause is exterior to it. But Biran understands the necessi ty for placing himself within the statue, i.e. in a sphere of absolute immanence, in order to give a phenomenological meaning, and consequently, a real meaning to a distinction which the individual can make because this distinc­tion "takes place within him."" It is because he has an internal transcenden­tal experience of his activity that the ego recognizes it as a state distinct from that which is his when this activity is not exercised.

Nevertheless, what takes place in the latter case? Is there simply a priva­ti on and absence of the feeling of action? But then there would be nothing at all if it is true, as Biran asserts so many times, that the being of the ego is identical to this feeling of action . But we would not be able to oppose an active state to a passive state of the subject; the subject would exist in one case, viz. as active subject, but in the other he would no longer exist; the experience of passivity would be denied him and no comparison between the active and passive modalities of his life would, henceforth, be possible for him. Consequently, it is only if an experience of passivity is originally given to the ego that we are in the presence, in this case of the passive life, of a phenomenological content which can then, and only then, be compared and opposed to another equally original content, i.e. to another mode of the absolute life of the ego. If, from a strictly Biranian viewpoint, it is not possible for this ego to establish an opposition nor, first of all, to make a comparison between his activity and passivity, it is because in reality one of these two terms is lacking to him, it is because too often the conditions necessary for the existence of an effective experience of passivity are not recognized. Obviously, these conditions can [232J consist only in the admis­sion of a passive intentionality, of a passive synthesis, not as an explicative hypothetical principle, but as a real phenomenological experience given to the ego in a sphere of absolute immanence. Because our experience of passivity is truly an original experience of this type, we do not need to oppose it to the active modes of our existence in order to recognize it and define it in itself. Abstraction made from every context and every contrast, this experience was lived as 'passive, it needed no truth discovered from some­where else, it was already the certitude of this truth.

The absence of a positive ontological theory of passivity puts Maine de Biran into other difficulties which we will now quickly examine. If subjec­tivity is actually present only when it decides to act according to a specific motor intentionality, then each time such an intentionality becomes blurred

" Ibid. IV, 23.

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) ,


or is interrupted, this same subjectivity must also cease to be the very real experience which is but one with our very existence, actually it must cease to be the experience of any existence, it is no longer anything more than nothingness. The embarrassment experienced by any philosophy which claims to make subjectivity anyth ing other than what it lirst is, viz. the origi­nal experience of its own life, was felt by Mai ne de Biran each time that he had to circumscribe the nature of the determinations of the life of this subjectivity, determinations which were none other than motor determina­tions. The uncertainties to which his analysis of the sense of sight testify are particularly revealing in this regard . The moment it is a question of revealing at the heart of our power of seeing the immanence of a motor effo rt which orients one's look and chooses the visual sensations which it yields, Biranianism moves in a domain familiar to it. But seeing is not always looking. There is a passive seeing in which every motor effort is absent and wbicb is rather identified with tbat latent tension of whicb we have spoken and which constitu tes both the essence of every passive synthesis and the (233) original form of the life of our body. Nevertheless, this passive synthesis is a determination of subjectivity and, consequently, an experience. Maine de Biran is too careful a psychologist not to recognize the existence of this phenomenon of passive vision, but when the moment comes for him to oppose it to active seeing or a deliberate look, he can do it only in these terms: "This distinction between simple seeing and looking ... is entirely based on the relative absence or the immediate presence of the will."" What ought we to understand by this "relative absence" of the will, unless it be the mode of existence which is that of subjectivity in passive vision and, hence, a positive mode ? How can we account for the positivity of such a mode in Biranianism?

The insufficiencies of the Biranian theory of vision have a curious effect. It is to the sense of sigbt that Biran links all the philosophical errors of the empiricist tendency, of sceptical idealism as well as the doctrine of trans­formed sensation. It is because philosophers who have maintained such doctrines "have reasoned as an intelligence reduced to the sense of sight would do" that experience is dissolved in their viewpoint into imaginary composites, into phantoms and transitory modes where "everything is ... accident," where "nothing is substance. "" Does this dissolution of experience, so well described by Maine de Biran, truly stem from the fact that the philo­sopher takes only the sense of sight into consideration, to the exclusion of

23 Ibid. IV, 82. [Henry's italics] " Ibid. IV, 93; the philosophers here alluded to are obviously Hum. and Condillac.

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all others?" Does it not rather tbreaten every pbilosophy which allows interior experience to flyaway into the transcendent flux of its representa­tions because, for lack of an ontological theory of passivity, it bas previously made sUbjectivi ty to vanish into notbingness, such tbat nothing any longer maintains [234] tbis sUbjectivity in tbe region wherein the effectiveness of its life takes placc, i.c. in a spbere of absolute immanence?

Nevertbeless, tbe insufficiency of tbe Biranian theory of passivity likewise reacts upon the very conception of activity and again in tbis respect, it leads to tbe most serious consequences. Once a pbilosophy bas submitted to tbe threat of an eventual identification of subjectivity and notbingness, it becomes tbe prey of an interior dialectic wbose power of destruction is then not easy to stop. Let us consider active seeing: It is dependent upon tbe attention, i.e. an eminently active mode of the life of tbe ego. Motor effort, which directs the look in the desired direction, ceases well before our contemplation of the object ends. However, once our attention is no longer confused with an explicit motor effort, Biran is incapable of pre­serving its peculiar ontological character, its subjective and immanent charac­ter. Actually, the latter is abolisbed once attention is represented to us as losing itself in tbe elements toward whicb it surpasses itself, as being ab­sorbed in these modes. " The agent wbo represents," says Maine de Biran, "disappears or bides himself beneath the represented thing." Nevertheless, where does tbis absorption of subjectivity in the object lead, this disappear­ance of the element of its own life for tbe sake of a transcendent being wbicb intentionality can aim at and attain only on condition of continuing to be a subjective 'aim' of tbis sort, to what does it lead unless it be to a destruc­tion of tbe very concept of sUbjectivity in its peculiar ontological meaning?

Tbe ontological meaning of tbe concept of subjectivity finds its expres­sion, as we bave seen, in the affirmation that sUbjectivity is reflection; the very moment when this meaning is lost to Biran is precisely tbe one in wbich be declares that attention is not a reflection. "This voluntary power which we call attention, is in no way directed by the vivacity of its modes, even though it [235] is related only to them, without reflecting within .... "26

Rather it is because each mode of the life of subjectivity belongs to it and participates in its radical interiority that it is possible to construct for our­selves an idea corresponding to this mode and in a general way to give a meaning to "reflected abstractions," to "simple ideas of reflection." Because he failed to recognize the subjective nature of attention, Biran naturally

25 If this conception of the sense of sight were correct. how could it result in an error? 26 Maine de Bican, Memoire slIr fa decomposition . . . IV. 92. [Henly's italics]- This

text is all the more significant because his analysis here deals with the active life of the ego.

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comes to say with regard to active seeing itself, "There are ... in the modes which are particularly related to the exercise of sight, nei ther reflected abstractions nor simple ideas of reflection." An obviously false thesis-how could we speak of seeing, how could we know what we understand by it, if it were not precisely, as an internal transcendental experience, the content of our idea of seeing and the different modifications of its exercise?- a thesis which leads Maine de Biran to add the following lines which cause the philosophy of subjectivity to tremble on its foundations at the expense, it is true, of an ontological absurdity: "It is here that all the faculties and the operations of the one who perceives can be characterized and judged from without, because, for the subject himself, they are no more than their appearing to the spectator, and the two points of view of which we spoke are but one."27

The concepts which philosophical thought uses are in cl ose solidarity. From the moment that the ontological structure of attention had not been recognized, reflection which necessarily comes to be opposed to it in order to re-discover the essence of su bjectivity which has been lost finds its mean­ing falsified ; it no longer expresses the essence of subjectivity but a particular determination of it. The terminus of reflection then receives [236] in Birani­anism a new acceptance; it no longer designates the immediate subjective experience nor a return of consciousness to itself, a grasp of reflective con­sciousness according to classical terminology, but a sort of re-grasping by feeling of an originally motor activity. This meaning becomes clearly apparent beginning with the analysis of the relationships between hearing and speaking, more precisely starting with the requirements and the internal difficulties which lead Biranianism to give to this analysis a decisive impor­tance. Originally, reflection was the internal transcendental experience of effort, but "This consciousness of effort clothes itself," according to Biran, "with the passive affections with which it was uni ted from the beginning." Hence, the attention is absorbed in the thing, the consciousness of effort disappears in the passive impression, subjectivity is no longer anything but nothingness. "What will enable us to distinguish feeling from our effort?"" In order to impede this absorption of subjectivity which would lead to its destruction, it would be necessary that the 'being-there' manifest in it a character in virtue of which it would present itself to us as emanating from an effort of the ego, which is to say with Biran, as bound to conscious­ness and, consequently, to the real existence of this ego. Only then could this consciousness and this existence be conserved at the very heart of the

27 Ibid.

28 Maine de Biran, Essai sur les landemellls de fa psychologie ... 477.

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apprehension of the being-there, and consequently, attention, to speak as Maine de Biran does, would still be a reRection.

However, being-there will mani fest in itself this characteristic of being a product of our effort when it will effectively be such. Henceforth, its simple perception (a perception which, like attention, would signify the very dissolution of the ego in the object) will, nevertheless, not forget, in its operation, the being of the ego which effects it, because the mode to which it is attached, i.e. the being-there under consideration, bears within it the imprint of this ego, the mark of an effort to which it presents itself as its product. [237J The conditions which we have just disclosed are natu­rally fulfilled in the union of the senses of hearing and speaking." When the auditory impression is the word which has just been spoken, it is perceiv­ed precisely as the product of the effort of the ego, a conscious effort of the self in the transcendental experience of the act of speaking. Therefore, this impression can no longer be the being-there in which the ego is swal­lowed up in the self-forgetfulness of attention; it is rather that which reflects it to itself, for it is its own word in the world. In the perception of a sono­rous-impression-produced-by-it the ego will no longer lose itself, as it does in ordinary attention, but will veritably re-discover itself. It is the totality of the phenomenon under consideration, viz. the relationship of speech and hearing bound together by the mediation of an impression perceived by the second as produced by the first, which must be present to our minds in order to understand this third meaning, which is specifica lly Biranian, of the term 'reflection' .

Nevertheless, such a meaning can only be secondary and derived, for subjectivity has no need of any mediation in order to experience its own life. It is rather of itself such an experience; the simple hearing of any sono­rous impression whatever is a real moment of our lives, just as the percep­tion of the sounds emitted by us or the effort of the voluntary production of these sounds are real moments of our lives. Consequently, we must say against Maine de Biran that the simple "attention" is already a " reflection," that it already bears within it the profundity of subjectivity. Doubtless, the phenomenon in which I voluntarily 'impress' myself is, in many [238J respects, a privileged phenomenon: "Here it is the animated harp which

29 Institutionalized language, for Maine de Biran, will have the same rate as spontane­ous speech: it prevents an interior apperception from being transformed or absorbed into sensations or immediate intuitions or into the resuhs of our very acts. "Signs," adds Maine de Biran. "in tbeirs econdary institlltion. are hardly a suffic ient enclosure fo r retaining or preserving the apperception of this linkage of habit." Memoire sur fa decomposition ... IV, 238.

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r, ).


plucks itself."30 The difference which exists between the intentionality in which I am impressed by a sensible element concerning which I likewise know that it emanates from my will, and the one in which I am impressed independently of my will, is not for all this an ontological difference; it is a difference between two modes of existence. We cannot base the conscious­ness of the ego, i.e. the real existence of the ego, upon a specific intentional­ity without encountering the insurmountable difficulty which will consist in not knowing what becomes of such an ego when this intentionality is no longer realized, what becomes of it, for example, when it no longer hears the noise of its own words, but a symphony or any sounds whatever coming from the external world."

It is always starting with itself that the ego knows itself. No impression, however privileged it might be, will bring the ego the revelation of its own being, for such a revelation is always original and can take place only inte­rior to a sphere of absolute immanence. The privileged character of the impression under consideration-this sound which is my speech-rests itself upon this original revelation of the ego, whether this takes place at the heart of the motor effort of speaking or by way of the passive synthesis of hearing. To be itself, the ego does not need to find its shadow in the world, and if it should happen to encounter it, nevertheless, this experience, which may be privileged, is dependent upon the general conditions of expe­rience and upon its [239] fundamental ontological condition which is precisely the very phenomenon of the ego, its original mode of revelation.

The absence of a positive theory of passivity entails other difficulties in Biranianism. Thus it is that the admirable phenomenology of the memory is altered once it is a question of the memory of the passive modes of our existence. Memory rests, as we have seen, on the ontological structure of the being of the ego, on the unity which belongs to it insofar as it is an original ontological power. Wherever the ego is, there is habit and, consequently, the ontological possibility of effecting acts of memory. But where the ego is absent, there can be neither habit nor memory. Consequently, if there exists an "affection without the ego," a pure affection, as Maine de Biran says, it is taken away in principle from the conditions which make remember-

30 Maine de Biran, Essai sur les fondements de la psychologie ... 480. 31 We can give to the phenomenon of interior speech a considerably broad extension,

even to the point of seeing there an ontological condition for the phenomenon of hearing in general. This thesis, which is not Biran's, would only confirm, in many ways, the results of our analyses relative to the relationships between movement and sensing and, in a general way, the results relative to the ontological homogeneity of acts of speaking and listening.

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ing possible. Our entire affective life, but also our entire sensible life and our imaginary life, according to the presuppositions of the Biranian philo­sophy of passivity, must elude and do in fact elude, according to the express declarations of Maine de Biran, all possible repetition as well as every simple remembering properly so-called.

Certainly the ego does not have the power of repeating its sensations and affections," if we understand by this a repetition of the transcendent element, i.e. of the sensation or affection in their very materiality. But the intentionality which, in the synthesis of passive apprehension, was raised toward such an element can well reproduce itself, and this is why determina­tions of our power of sensing and affective attitudes can arise in us again. We are then able to form sensible and affective memories which are bound to these determinations and these attitudes according to a relationship of foundation which is a particular case of the general relationship which unites habit and memory. These different modalities of the life of [240] absolute subjectivity are quite evident and clear of themselves. To contest, for example, the role of memory in our affective life is to deny the most manifest experience; and when Maine de Biran states that infants do not have memory or, in a general way, that the affective life is not capable of repetition, his thesis obviously goes against the most profound laws of the human psyche, laws which contemporary psychology necessarily had to bring to light regardless of how incorrect the vocabulary and the con­cepts-such as those found in Freud- which served to recognize and express the permanence of the most profound intentionalities of our affective and sensible life. The consideration of various psychological problems, for example, that of insanity which Maine de Biran is incapable of characterizing in a positive way and distinguishing from the imaginary life of a normal man, would bring to light other insufficiencies which like­wise stem from the absence of a positive theory of passivity and whose detailed examination could not be made here.

The problem of the relationships between activity and passivity arises again, this time in quite different terms it would seem, in the later philosophy of Maine de Biran. The doctrine of the three lives reveals a zone of superior existence-above the sphere in which subjective movement takes place­wherein experiences of a new type take place, privileged experiences whose clarification leads to the construction of a psychology of grace. This new region of existence seems to be characterized by a passivity with regard to a transcendent principle which the ego gathers to itself and which it

32 Regarding images, such a power evidently belongs to the ego.

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experiences in a "sublime passion." The passivity here in question must not be confused with that which constituted the essence of the organic or animal life. Whereas the latter is the psychological translation of the union of the soul with the body, i.e. with an inferior principle, the passivity whose experience coincides with that of grace, doubtless expresses [241J the inter­vention into thought of a heterogeneous reality, but this time it is a question of a superior reality which is no longer the body but divine life itself. More­over, the experience of passivity in which the soul experiences the presence of grace as a sort of "addition to its own life" is possible only when the first form of passivity has disappeared, i.e. when the soul has freed itself from the union with the body in order to become disposed to the influence of transcendent life.

Nevertheless, if Biranianism is essentially a philosophy of motor effort, if it defines the ego by starting with conscious and voluntary activity, how can we understand the intervention of the doctrine of 'the third life', i.e. of a life which is no longer an activity where the ego experiences its own autonomy and a somewhat personal power, but rather a passion where­in it is handed over and abandoned to an outside force. According to the terms of earlier Biranianism, must not passivity signify, for the ego, not a growth of its own life, but rather the destruction of its being, if it is in fact true that its being begins and ends with motor effort? In the philosophy of the 'I can' and immanence, how can we accept the sudden. appearance of a transcendent absolute and the dissolution of all personal reality in such an absolute: "How can we reconcile this with my psychological doc­trine of the ego?"33 is an oft-quoted and famous question which seems to have embarrassed his commentators as well as Biran himself. The solution, which is rather the absence of a solution, consists in juxtaposing-to the two forms of animal and motor life-a third life in which man passively abandons himself to the influence of grace. The analysis of a certain prim­itive fact would have led Maine de Biran to elaborate a philosophy of effort and will; the discovery of a "new [242J primitive fact"3. leads him to revise this philosophy or rather to add to it a new element constituted by the psychology of grace. The first primitive fact was that of the union of the soul and the body; the second expresses the experience of their separa­tion, the liberation of the soul given back to the absolute life of the spirit.

Nevertheless, how can we reconcile these two facts successively discovered by Maine de Biran? How can the two psychologies which philosophical

33 Maine de Biran, Journal intime, Dec. 28, 1818, ed. La Valette·Monbrun. (paris: PlOD, 1927-1931) II, 151.

34 H. Gouhier, Les conversions de Maine de Biran. (paris: Vrin. 1947) 362.

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reflection would bring into correspondence with these facts be made to agree? Must not Biranianism encounter difficulties which inevitably arise once it is a question of confronting the power of the will of the ego with the power of a grace or a curse which stems from another source? Must Biranianism know the bitter destiny of remaining in the shadows of interminable and sterile discussions resulting from juxtaposing two different principles placed at the origin of our being, of our spiritual history? Is not its originality exhausted in the resurrecting of orphic images and Greek concepts relative to a soul mired in a body and ultimately freed from its constraint? And, before all else, is there any philosophical meaning in speaking of the exis­tence of "two primitive facts"? Is not 'primitive' that which makes something possible? How would that which makes something possible have need, from an ontological point of view, of something else in order to exist? The second primitive fact would then be only contingent with respect to the system of existence which rests on the first. How could something contingent be regarded by us as fundamental from the ontological point of view?

Three lives exist, this is the letter of Biranianism. Are we veritably inca­pable today of re-discovering his spirit? Of understanding that there are not three lives but only one? Of understanding, first of all, that the opposi­tion between the animal and the motor life is [243J foreign to the fundamen­tal intuition of Biranianism? Of understanding that the ontological structure which such an intuition attains is immanent to our sensible life whose essence it constitutes as it constitutes the essence of subjective movement, that the philosophy of effort has nothing to do with any union between soul and body such as it might be apprehended in the perspective of tradi­tional dualism, finally, that there is no opposition between motor activity, first recognized as constitutive of the being of the ego, and the experience of an absolute life actually immanent to this activity as it is to any other existential determination of SUbjectivity whatever? The object of the later philosophy of Maine de Biran is the same as that for which the ontological theory of the body furnished the first clarification. This object is the onto­logical structure of absolute subjectivity. To understand Biranianism would perhaps be to nnderstand how the progress of the clarification of such a structure leads to the clarification of an original ontological passivity which, as such, could not be confused either with the passive modes of sensible life, i.e. with certain Erlebnisse which, for example, come into opposition to the active modes of the will, nor with this quasi-ontological passivity, incomprehensible and unacceptable, whereby the dualist theory would account for the existence of passive Erlebnisse and confused thought,

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nor ultimately with other equally passive but privileged Erlebnisse, viz. those in which the subject experiences grace. Nevertheless, is it not to these latter that the philosophy of the third life explicitly refers? Moreover, if the third life is immanent to life in general, if it is present in all forms thereof, even the most humble ones, is it not because the passivity of which we speak is more than an existential characteristic proper to certain deter­mined Erlebnisse and that we must speak of an ontological passivity whose structure can in no way be reached byway of hypothetical and transcendent constructs and deductions, but as [244] a real condition implied in the phenomenon of the original revelation which constitutes the very being of the ego?

The dogmatic expose of the ontological theory of the body was made starting with the theses contained in the Memoire sur la decomposition de la pensee and in the Essai Sur les fondements de la psychologie. Actually, in these two texts the theory of the body receives its full development; here also intuition, which forms the center of this theory, is more easily discovered, in spite of the presence of heterogeneous elements which already risk hiding it. In the works which immediately follow, these parasitic elements spread dangerously to the point of calling into question at times the veritable foundation of Biranian philosophy, viz. the phenomenological basis for the ontology which it builds. One text of the Essay, on which we have commented, already opposed to the phenomenological point of view a noumenal point of view whose legitimacy was curiously recognized by Maine de Biran at the very moment when he explained that it is only interior to such a point of view that the relationship between soul and body becomes unintelligible. 35 Subsequently, the value of the noumenal point of view and the philosophical necessity for its admission are affirmed in a more explicit and insistent fashion such that all ontology of subjectivity seems to be ques­tioned again.

Significant in this regard is the modification of the doctrine of principles, a modification which appears notably in the Rapports des sciences naturelles avec la psychologie. Henceforth, these principles are no longer founded on the primitive fact of the intimate sense. As foundation and origin of all our principles, the latter enjoyed the role of an absolute in the Essay. But the theory of belief ejects the absolute from the sphere of internal transcendental experience; the principles are no longer its simple translation, [245] they answer to the internal exigencies of thought which is led to formulate judgments whereby it posits the existence of these principles

35 Cf. supraJ chap. V.

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which are, henceforth, considered as conditioning it. The permanence of the ego, for example, becomes a principle; this means that it is no longer an ontological determination whose affirmation rests entirely on the phenom­enological content of transcendental experience, but a simple affirmation of reason constrained by logical necessity-"To think we must be" -an affirmation to which something really ought to correspond somewhere. Transcendent noumena again cast their shadow on the philosophy of sub­jectivity. The theory of the ego is seriously compromised because the ego becomes a noumenon, a hypothetical term situated beyond the phenomenon, i.e. beyond immanent experience.

Henceforth, the being of the ego is no longer one with that of SUbjectivity. Under the influence of Kant, or rather of his Parisian friends, Biran admits having confused "the intimate sense of our individuality with the very foun­dation for the substance of the soul."36 The latter necessarily remains inac­cessible, it escapes the grasp of the thinking subject reduced to the knowledge of "phenomena." In other words, if we are able to acquire some idea of the subject of this substance, i.e. of our absolute being, this can take place only on condition of turning ourselves from the sphere of phenomena and effecting a passage toward something else, a passage which the new theory of principles is entrusted with making intelligible, i.e. necessary. But if, by this bias, the absolute re-discovers the rights of citizenship in the philosophy of the Rapports des sciences naturelles avec la psychologie, it is only through the mediation of a theory of belief, which seeks, doubtless, to surmount Kantian agnosticism; but [246] because it develops interior to the same philosophical horizon, it can succeed in doing this only by way of byzantine distinctions (between effort, force, substance, substantial force) and an endless array of reasonings which can never arrive at any­thing but a hypothetical object, viz. at an object of belief The separation which exists between felt force and substantial force will never be lifted as long as we distinguish between the absolute and the phenomenon and as long as we feel the need to transcend this phenomenon toward a reality of another order.

We must be careful not to give too much importance to the theses which immediately follow those of the Essay; to take them at face value would perhaps lead to losing what is essential in Biranian thought. What takes place in these texts wherein such theses are expressed is a devaluation of the concept of phenomenon. However, the meaning of this is perhaps the reverse of what it first seems; far from leading to an abandonment of ph en om-

36 A footnote by l'abbe de Lignac to a very remarkable passage in Maine de Biran's Tbnoigllage du sens intime, ed. Tisserand, X (paris: Alean, 1932) 377.

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enological perspectives, it rather leads to them, after a detour which has as its ultimate effect the deepening of the idea of a phenomenological foun­dation of ontology. In order to understand the devaluation of the concept of phenomenon which takes place in the Rapports des sciences naturelles avec la psychologie, we must recall the meaning of this concept in the French philosophical context of the beginning of the nineteenth century. By "pheno­menon" the contemporaries of Maine de Biran in no way understood some phenomenological absolute; the integration of this concept into an ontology of subjectivity was impossible for the very reason that the latter had not yet arisen; it was reserved to Maine de Biran to build it. "Phenomenon" could not designate anything more than a natural phenomenon, which ideology, sensualism, and empiricism were then led to identify-as far as its profound ontological status was concerned-with an interior phenom­enon or psychic fact. Consequently, the term "phenomenon" had an essentially sensualist and empiricist meaning, and it is by way of a reaction against such a meaning that Maine de Biran felt the need to appeal to the idea of the absolute. The intervention [247J of the idea of the absolute in Biranian philosophy has the same meaning as the affirmation of the existence of non-tmpirical phenomena and of a region of being sui generis wherein such phenomena are originally revealed.

This meaning, which then amounts to the opposition between the empir­ical phenomenon and a transcendental phenomenon, between natural science and psychology as pure psychology (an opposition which dominates all the writings of Maine de Biran) surely remains hidden and in part falsified by the historical circumstances which surround "the eruption of the abso­lute in 1813"37 in Biranianism. The otherwise uncertain knowledge of Kantianism, the conversations with Royer-Collard, Ampere, and above all with Degerando, the fear of being considered a materialist and sensualist philosopher in the eyes of the latter, and, in a general way, in the eyes of the metaphysicians of the absolute who identified phenomenon and natural phenomenon and for whom, subsequently, a phenomenology could mean only a return to empiricism, led Maine de Biran to speak of "noumena", of an absolute which would be situated beyond our experience. Thus it is that there appear in Biranianism the new philosophy of principles and the theory of belief. Nevertheless, we reject ontological monism which knows only transcendent phenomena, and once the idea of a transcendental appearance arises, i.e. an immediate revelation of the being of the Erlebnis in the sphere of the original i=anence of subjectivity, then the doctrine

37 H. Gouhier, Les conversions de Maine de Biron, (paris: Vrin, 1947) 220.

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of principles, as well as the theory of the noumenal ego as a simple object of belief will appear only as a dead element in the system; the distinction between felt force and substantial force will no longer have a raison d'etre and, in a general way, the opposition between a noumenal point of view and a phenomenological point of view will ultimately show us its true origin by referring us to the deficiency and the misery of philosophy which can only wander [248] in agnosticism when it does not possess the idea of an absolute phenomenon.

It is precisely on the recognition of the absolute value of the phenomenon that the later philosophy of Maine de Biran rests, and this is why it is not at root different from the Essay. This recognition, which leads to placing phenomenology at the very foundation of ontology, does not merely result from the assuredly complex ensemble of theses which arise in his later writings, it is frequently explicit: "Being and appearance," asserts Biran, "coincide in the consciousness of the ego."" The "absolute" is no longer opposed to the "relative" as the noumenon to the empirical phenomenon and to the sensible datum, but the relative rather receives the meaning we have constantly given it throughout our entire expose on the ontological theory of the body: It is nothing other than the absolute: "We can say that the relative and the absolute coincide in the feeling of force or free activity,"39 which is to say, for Maine de Biran, in a sphere of experience wherein the real and absolute being of the ego reveals itself to us. Moreover, this being is not something which, through the mediation of the sUbjective experience of effort, for example, would manifest itself to us in a doubtless adequate manner, but as a reality nonetheless situated beyond this experience; it is [revealed] rather as absolute being which is nothing other than the very revelation in which it presents itself to us, an original revelation which constitutes the ontological phenomenon of the ego.

If it were otherwise, if the ego as real and absolute being were different from the subjective experience, the ego present therein and identical to its essence would be separated from its true being. This latter [249] would doubtless be accessible in an adequate knowledge, similar for example to that which God could have of this real being or noumenal ego, but these two knowledges, that of the concrete ego and that of God, would, never· theless, remain two different knowledges, concerning which perhaps we would vainly seek what allows us to assert that one is similar to the

38 Maine de Biran, Nouveaux essais d'anthropologie-part II, ed. Tisserand, XIV (paris: Alcan, 1932) 273. lHenry's italicsl

311 Maine de Biran, Examen des lefons de philosophie de M. Laromigu.iere, ed. V. Cousin, IV (Paris: Ladrange, 1841) 250. [Henry's italicsl

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other. Without doubt, the texts where Maine de Biran relates self-knowledge to God's knowledge of the ego frequently seem not to go beyond the affir­mation of their similarity. Nevertheless, in an ontology of subjectivity such an affirmation cannot remain extrinsic, viz. the simple affirmation of similarity or of resemblance. Is not the understanding of this affirmation rather one of having in mind its ontological foundation, i.e. the internal structure of subjectivity? Actually, it is in self-knowledge where we must read that it is similar to the knowledge of the real being of the ego which is God's knowledge. Is it then sufficient to say that this self-knowledge conforms to its object, to the real being of the ego ? Nevertheless, what does this conformity mean and what must we understand by the word 'object'?

Actually, subjectivity cannot be in absolute conformity to an object unless this object is nothing other than itself; its knowledge cannot be an absolute knowledge unless it is no longer a transcendent knowledge but an original revelation where there is in fact no place for any adequacy but only for the pure unity of self and life, a life which is not separate from the self and which, in this absence of all phenomenological distance, nonetheless knows itself because its being is nothing other than the expe­rience which it has of itself. The ontological structure of such a phenomenon, which defines the very being of the ego, henceforth, obliges us, to reject the concept of the adequacy of self-knowledge and, a fortiori, the idea that this adequate knowledge would adequately grasp even a part of the being of the ego, other [250] aspects of which would be known only by God, for example. Such aspects would actually have nothing to do with the real being of this concrete ego, and we do not at all see what would prohibit us from attributing them gratuitously to any other ego whatever, to which being their attribution would add nothing other than the nothing­ness of unconscious transcendent noumena.

If self-knowledge is an absolute knowledge, the problem surely arises of knowing if the idea of a knowledge which God would have of the ego, alongside the immediate revelation of this ego to itself, still has any mean­ing. Would not an in-depth study of this problem rather lead us to discard the idea of a veritable duality of the two knowledges in question, to the assertion that similarity presupposes identity in a certain way; ultimately would it not allow us to give a strict ontological interpretation to the simi­larity of the knowledge of God and that which is the lot of the ego? If Biranianism did not advance to this ultimate ontological interpretation, it at least asserted the existence of such a similarity. A philosophy which has raised itself to the concept of an absolute subjectivity has at the same time posited the foundation for the possibility of an absolute knowledge.

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It is the recognition, whether implicit or explicit, of such a knowledge as the peculiar possibility of the being of man which led Maine de Biran to the idea of such a relationship and perhaps to a unity of self-knowledge and divine knowledge. 4•

Because this idea finds its foundation in the ontological structure of abso­lute subjectivity, a structure which Biranianism in its totality clarified, it necessarily had to be expressed in other forms: The rejection of fideism, the designation [251] of psychology as the foundation of theology, and the phenomenological conception of grace, are so many affirmations which only co=ent on the same fundamental intuition and which strictly corre­spond to the different critical directions which come to light from the Essay and from the Memoire sur la decomposition and notably from the general critique directed against the idea of a transcendent absolute. Here again, we need not speak of an evolution, but only of a deepening of Biranian thought. The later philosophy of Maine de Biran is far from re-questioning the results of the ontological analysis of the body, it is rather the confirma­tion of these results. Also we will find it quite natural and not surprising to note that the lack of understanding so often manifested with regard to the philosophy of these later writings is the same as that encountered by the central theses of the Essay. In both cases, we find the same misunder­standing of the Biranian ontology of subjectivity. When it is no longer understood interior to the philosophical horizon which alone permits it to preserve its authentic ontological meaning, the psychology of grace can obviously no longer be anything more than an empirical psychology. To confuse the life of the spirit with the 'psychological' determinations of the concrete subject, this is an insufficiency which the true philosopher cannot but deplore. To base theology on such a psychology is a danger, not to say a sacrilege, which the theologian can hardly fail to denounce.41


40 In Meister Eckhart we find an explicit theory of the identity of self-knowledge and divine knowledge; on this, cf. The Essence of Manifestation, trans). G. Etzkorn, chaps. 39, 40, 49 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1973) 309-335, 424-437.

41 BruDschvicg, who proved to have an almost complete miscomprehension of Biran­ian philosophy. reproached Biran for having conceived of the life of the spirit "in an empirical, almost materialist, fashion."! Brunscbvicg, Le progres de La conscience dans la philosophie occidentale, II (paris: Alcan. 1972) 615. The reason for this insufficiency-which prevented Biranianism from rising to a conception of the spirit close to that of Brunsch­vicg-is to be found, according to the latter, in the fact that Biran had not read Kant thoroughly. These somewhat presumptuous affirmations did not prevent Brunschvicg from stating, in a letter to Politzer, that, as far as psychology is concerned, he relies on Maine de Biran. It seems that if Brunschvicg had a more precise idea of Biranian psycho-

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We cannot understand, interior to the traditional philosophical horizon which attributes only an empirical status to psychology, a thought whose meaning is to break with such a horizon, to crack open the cadre in which psychology had been enclosed, and whose essential content consists in the building of an ontology of subjectivity interior to which the problem of psychology arises in an entirely new way, where, in a more precise fashion, the problem of the foundation of psychology becomes, perhaps for the first time, the theme of philosophical reflection. But the principle which presides over the elaboration of such an ontology and which will furnish us with the foundation for psychology remains immanent to the later philosophy of Maine de Biran: It is the idea of an absolute subjectivity, an idea which is, therefore the central intuition of Biranianism, its beginning and its end. [253J

logy, he would not have believed it compatible with the status which his philosophy of the mind assigns to psychology. In a profoundly more understanding way. M. Gouhier reproaches Biran for having given too much importance to the "impressions of grace," for having sought "an experience in which the transcendent would enjoy sensible ev· idence," and for not having gone "to the point of that act of faith in a non-sensed pre­sence." M. Gouhier, Les conversions de Maine de Biran, (paris: Vein, 1947) 418-419. In the same way. P. Fessard speaks of "a transcendent empiricism" in Maine de Biran. P. Fessard, fA methode de rejlexion chez Maine de Biran. (paris: Bloud, 1938) 117; cited by H. Gouhier, ibid. 420, footnote. The reality dealt with by Biranianism is, in fact, neither empirical nor transcendent. It is the reality of an internal transcendental experience to which alone an ontology of subjectivity can do justice.

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The problem of the body occupies a central place in the concerns of a philosophy of existence. However, is the latter immune from the reproach which is made against practically all theories and opinions which treat of the body, a reproach which must be expressed as follows: The ensemble of problems relative to bodily life and the phenomenon of incarnation have never been raised to the clarity of a concept nor submitted to the juris­diction of ontology. Outside such jurisdiction, thought can only move in vague and uncertain representations regardless of the permanence of the experience to which these representations refer, regardless of the number and the depth of the moral or religious conceptions which present us with a knowledge of man and his destiny because of the role and the status which they assign to his body. Precisely because we have not previously asked ontology for a rigorous determination of this status, we cannot get a precise notion of the value which we must assign to the interpretations which can stem from true experience, but which are frequently attributable [254J to an insufficient idea of tbe body (for example, the idea ofthe objective body) and, consequently, from an idea incapable of playing the role which is almost always and exclusively assigned to it.

With regard to the cultural or religious heritage which humanity has at its disposal as guide for its practical life, as well as the positive contribution mankind makes in its constant effort to understand itself and to acquire an evermore precise view of its 'nature', its rich and complex content is not the object of some objective discrimination resting upon the real data of a positive science such as ontology; it is purely and simply asserted, denied or interpreted by each one in his own way, if not by way of some fantasy, at least by way of a subjective preference which does not even seek any rational foundation whatever. Moreover, it happens that all effort­even individual and subjective-at interpretation ceases such that, similar to the content of a letter which passes from hand to hand without being

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opened, the dogmatic contribution which generations transmit is no longer, even in the most favorable case of tradition- i.e. when the latter is still respected-anything more than a dead element without relationship to the life of concrete existences. Thus it is that religions die as does science. For science, absolute science-one built upon an apodictic foundation, one whose 'corpus' is constituted by the ensemble of propositions which manifest an eidetic necessity- alone permits us eventually to give a meaning to the content of this dogmatic contribution when it compares this content with its own results. It is the life of science which gives its life to tradition if the latter is still capable of living.

The return to the data of ontology is all the more indispensable when we treat of the body, since to the being of the latter are bound not only important speculative problems but also a large number of questions which stem from the categories of existence and morality. In dogmatics or in the great [255] metaphysical representations which humanity has given to itself, all these different levels-theoretical, existential, or moral-are inextri­cably bound together. It is important to dissociate these latter, not for the sake of studying separately the practical and speculative problems which have dealt with the problem of incarnation, but in order first to submit them to one and the same fundamental discipline without which they cannot even be posited. Only ontology can get rid of the vague notions which cloud theoretical consciousness and at the same time furnish ethics with the bases from which it can establish itself as an autonomous discipline. The ontological analysis of the body must constitute the first clarification which will permit us both to judge tradition, and to determine in it the part which is dead and that which is living, and also to give us, on our own account and in a certain way for our own personal existence, an exact conception of the essence of the body and, consequently, of the hierarchy of problems of all orders which follow from it. Before entering into such an indispensable confrontation with the system of ideas which the cultural world to which we belong has at its disposal with regard to the body (wheth­er it is a question of vague and diffused representations of co=on sense or the strictly circumscribed data of dogma, whether understood or not), we must first return to the results of the ontological analysis of the body, not in order to attempt to summarize them here, but in order to indicate now, concerning a certain number of important points, directions which ontology prescribes a priori for the science of existence to the extent that the latter deals with the problem of the body.

The fundamental question at the origin of these investigations is the follow­ing: Must the ontological analysis of subjectivity be considered as constitut-

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ing a part of a problematic concerning the body? Can such an analysis prescribe for the latter, for ontological reasons, a determined status ? To say that it can is to assert the identity of the being of subjectivity with that of the body. Actually, [256] it is not a question of our reading the correlative and eidetically determined structure of their objects in the eidetic structure of certain intentional acts. Such a noetico-noematic correlation is always and everywhere valid for all objects. The thesis which we are asserting is more original and also more specific; this thesis concerns only this deter­mined body which I call my own and consists, not in reading the eidetic structure of this body in the correlative nature of intentionalities which would constitute it, but rather in denying that, at least in its original being, it can be the product of such a constitution. If the study of subjectivity necessarily involves that of the body as SUbjective body, it would be inexact to say, conversely, that the ontological clarification of the original being of our body constitutes an exhaustive analysis of the sphere of absolute subjectivity, i.e. of the totality of intentional possibilities peculiar to it. This can further be expressed in the following way: If we traverse the ensemble of eidetically (and not similtaneously) compatible intentionalities which constitute, in virtue of this compatibility, the being of the absolute ego, i.e. practically speaking, the ensemble of intentionalities which we know and about which we can speak, then we are sure to find among them the totality of intentionalities which comprise, in their unity, the original being of the subjective body. For example, we find intentionalities such as we express in the terms 'to see', 'to hear', 'to sense', 'to move', 'to desire', etc. Moreover, it is obvious that these bodily Erlebnisse represent only a part of the ensemble of our possible Erlebnisse or, to speak more exactly, it is obvious that the different eidetic types to which the intentionalities of the body correspond in no way exhaust the totality of intentional eidetic types in general. These bodily Erlebnisse are, nonetheless, Erlebnisse and thus, as we have established against Descartes, their structure is that of absolute subjectivity [257] without the adjunct of any heterogeneous element whatever. Henceforth, the body, and by this we obviously understand the absolute body, is in the strong sense a SUbjective body whose being is originally revealed in a sphere of absolute immanence and this in such a way that it is one with this very revelation.

The recognition of the being of the absolute body in its peculiar onto­logical nature leads us to make, by way of conclusion, a series of remarks. Obviously the majority of them, given the orientation of these investigations, will deal with the eidetic status of one's own body and with the consequences which such a status implies for a philosophy or an ethics of the body.

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Moreover, certain remarks will deal with subjectivity itself and will help us to definitively discard every idealistic interpretation of it. Let us begin with the latter. With the ontological theory of the subjective body, the concept of sUbjectivity acquires the reality too often lacking to it. When it is raised to a correct interpretation of its object, the philosophy of sub­jectivity can no longer be considered as an abstract philosophy, as an intellec­tualism. Subjectivity is in no wayan impersonal milieu, a simple 'tran­scendental' field which, at the end of classical thought, dissolves into a pure mirage, into an empty continuity, a simple representation deprived of all content. 'Transcendental' does not designate what subsists after this flight from reality, in this dissolution of all effectiveness, viz. a pure nothing­ness, but a region of perfectly determined and absolutely concrete being. For us, what merits the name 'nothingness' is not sUbjectivity but its shad­ow, its dream, its projection into the element of transcendent being. That sUbjectivity cannot be confused with this pure universal and empty milieu which floats around in representation and which is perhaps the element of every representation, this results i=ediately from the fact that subjec­tivity is nothing transcendent. That which characterizes subjectivity from an eidetic point of view is rather the fact that it is a life [258] in a sphere of absolute immanence, that it is life itself. The abstract is transcendent. The transcendent element is a dead element which must be maintained in life by something more concrete than it, for to maintain in life that which is dead is, as Hegel says, "that which requires the greatest force. "1

Moreover, that which maintains in life is life itself, not understanding, but the effective life of absolute subjectivity in all its forms, viz. the body as well and, in a general way, that which ordinary language itself also calls life.

Can the concrete character of absolute subjectivity be doubted if it welcomes within it, as its most profound determinations, the intentionalities which together comprise our bodily life? If it defines the being of the body, is subjectivity a fiction, an abstraction of idealism ? Is there anything more dense or more real than a look? Is there anything less illusory than an appetite? Doubtless, the concepts of subjectivity and body are in close solidarity with regard to their correct ontological interpretation; for example, what is the use of saying that the body is subjective if we make a false idea of subjectivity, if we consider it as a milieu of inert elements or as a pure 'emptiness' confronted with the world, if, in a general way, we give it a

1 G. W. F. Hegel, The Phenomenology of Mind, tr. J. B. Baillie. (New York: Humanities Press Inc., 1966) 93.

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psychologistic or nihilistic interpretation? Rather, our investigation must progress in such a way that the analysis of the body, conducted in confor­mity with the conditions which are prescribed for it a priori by the structure of absolute subjectivity with which the original being of the body is identified, can nevertheless help us in return by giving us a more precise idea of this fundamental structure. Hence, the idea that sUbjectivity is not an impersonal and empty milieu finds its confirmation in the fact that interior to the onto­logical analysis of the body the being of subjective movement as well [259] as the being of sensing were determined as belonging to a concrete individual. A power, as we have seen, is never an indeterminate power, it is always one of an ego. The analysis of sensing (whether it is a question of deter­mined acts or the general possibility of sensing understood as an ontological foundation for such acts) led us to an analogous conclusion, for the idea of a passive sensible synthesis without reference to an ego (or, to speak in a more precise manner, whose very being, insofar as this being is one of an original revelation in a sphere of absolute immanence, would not be iden­tified with the being of this ego) appeared to us as deprived of meaning. In the same way, the connection between the idea of an ontological possi­bility understood as a foundation and the idea of original reality, i.e. not reality made possible by the foundation but the reality of the foundation itself, is clearly indicated and made precise by the analysis of the body at the moment when the being of the latter is interpreted precisely as the reality of the ontological possibility.

Another idea, closely bound to the preceding and no less decisive for the understanding of the being of subjectivity and to which the theory of the subjective body likewise contributes, is the one which stems from the possi­bility of an absolute knowledge. The idea of such knowledge implies that the latter is not reduced to a mere form, a form to which a contingent and foreign content is invariably opposed. Certainly, subjectivity is always a life in the presence of a transcendent being. Nevertheless, in itself this subjectivity is not an empty form, it already has a content and it is not for all that constituted by transcendent being itself, but is an original content, viz. that of internal transcendental experience as such. Concerning this original, transcendental content we can say that this is precisely what con­stitutes the density of life, a first and irreducible ontological density which persists even when this life is gaunt with despair [260] and seems to lose all seriousness. Even in this case, life is something other than a form; of itself and independently of the being toward which it surpasses itself, it has a content. The analysis of SUbjective movement and sensing constantly put us in the presence of a content of this sort. Insofar as our experience

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is related to a transcendent content, it is receptive, and the knowledge which it realizes must be called a finite knowledge. But when it is a question of the original content of our internal transcendental experience, the know­ledge related thereto is no longer transcendent, it is nothing other than an absolute knowledge, for it has a content of which it is, in one sense, the origin. Such is life: an absolute knowledge of this sort, and this is why it deserves its name.

The ontological analysis of the body contributed to making manifest the nature of this absolute knowledge when it showed that a knowledge of the body was given us prior to the arising of the latter in the element of transcendent being, when it interpreted such knowledge as an original revela­tion endowed with its own transcendental content, irreducible to any con­ceivable transcendent content. Herewith, the analysis of the body allowed us to understand how an absolute knowledge is really possible for man, a knowledge which is directed both toward a content and a form. The possibility of an absolute knowledge thus understood obviously refers to the very phenomenon of absolute subjectivity and, in the case with which we are dealing, to the phenomenon of the transcendental subjective body. The obstacle which impedes our recognizing the peculiar ontological struc­ture of these two original phenomena (the second of which is actually only a particular case of the first) and, consequently, the admission of the possi­bility and the existence of an absolute human knowledge is ontological monism, i.e. the conception in virtue of which something real cannot be given us except in the element [261] of transcendent being. This conception leads to emptying subjectivity of all reality, or if it persists in considering this subjectivity as a reality, it can only in fact be a question of a reality which manifests itself in the only milieu of being which it knows, i.e. in a milieu of radical exteriority: Thought then fades into psychologism. Concerning the theory of the body, ontological monism had the following decisive consequence: It constantly impeded philosophical reflection from raising itself to the idea of the subjective body. The body, a real element in the effectiveness of being, could only belong to the ontological milieu of being in general, it was necessarily something transcendent. Thus reduced to its objective manifestation, it was mutilated in what constituted its essential-being, viz. the subjective body as internal transcendental experience of movement and of sensing.

Consequently, the idea man had of human nature had to be profoundly altered: For, if it is true that reality is defined for us by consciousness, we can no longer understand the relationship which the latter maintains with the body, as long as this body is looked upon as an element of the world,

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as a simple determination posited in being among other indifferent deter­minations. In such a perspective, the phenomenon of incarnation neces­sarily appeared, in the eyes of consciousness, as a paradox, as a mysterious synthetic adjunct made to its own being, reduced, it is true, to a pure form. Hence, an opposition arises between what is, on the one hand, nothing more than a pure nothingness and, on the other, a fixed determination, a simple being-there. Actually, consciousness is not the emptiness of nothingness and the body is not an object. Subjectivity is real and the body is subjective. The phenomenon of incarnation signifies nothing more than the reality of an ontological possibility which is not abstract but rather proves to be identical to the very being of the ego. With regard to the being of the body, it is originally neither a simple being-there nor [262] some objective determination whose finitude, contingency, or absurdity man, as a metaphy­sical being, must take note of. This is the moment when the course of our reflections leads us to make a second series of remarks which are more particularly relative to the problem of the body and its peculiar meaning for human existence.

A being is contingent which is contained in a universal milieu with respect to which it presents itself as a particular determination. Contingency is a category which refers to a determined ontological region, viz. the region of transcendent being. Everything manifesting itself interior to such a region is contingent because it has a horizon. This horizon which, with respect to the thing, is as the 'surplus' which comes from the milieu within which it bathes means for the spirit the possibility of surveying the present determination, and by showing its particularity, shows at the same time its possible transformation or disappearance. For example, an extended thing is contingent with respect to space; it can always be other than it is, have a different form or be suppressed. This contingent characteristic is obviously not peculiar to spatial things, it affects every transcendent thing in general. On the other hand, that which pertains to the sphere of subjectivity is in principle deprived of every horizon. The ontological characteristic of absolute subjectivity is actually transcendental immanence. In virtue of such an immanence, the sphere of subjectivity is opposed in a radical way to that of transcendent being in the sense that it cannot be considered by us as a milieu which goes beyond the determinations which arise in it. To say that transcendental intentionality is immanent is to say that it is not immersed in a milieu which is in some way vaster than it. The immanence of a transcendental determination rather means that sub­jectivity exhausts itself in it, because such a determination does not be-

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long to a world, [263J because it is not surrounded by an element which surpasses it. Hence, life in general, as absolute life, is nothing contingent.

Because it also reveals itself in a sphere of pure i=anence, the life of the body does not escape this rule. Doubtless, the nose, the eye, the members, etc., manifest themselves to us as determinations concerning which no justi­fication, for example, a functional one, suffices to hide their strange configu­ration or absurd characteristic from the view of a lucid mind. But we have shown that the body is not an ensemble of determinations of this type, determinations which would be, so to speak, surveyed by a pure spirit. In its original being, our body is rather a structure made of virtually com­patible intentionalities in conformity to their various eidetic types, i.e. an organic totality of transcendental determinations taking place in a sphere of absolute immanence. From the viewpoint of this totality, the body was characterized by us as an ontological habit, the foundation of all our psycho­logical habits . Therefore, the absolute body in principle eludes the category of contingency, and if the problem of the situation of the body inevitably arises for us, we must clearly see what the fact of thus being in situation means for the absolute body.

We say "for the absolute body" since the problem of the situation of the body can be regarded with seriousness only because it does not merely nor first of all deal with the objective body which is, it would seem, situated in the same manner as any other object whatever. To say of the absolute body that it is situated, this is a proposition which must obviously be under­stood in an altogether different sense when it is applied to the objective body, for the objective body is situated in the world, i.e. in a general milieu which comprises other objects among which relationships of position 'in the third person' arise. For the object, i.e. for the transcendent thing, situation is synonymous with contingency. But, [264J as we have seen, the absolute body cannot be submitted to the category of contingency. It could be only if it became something transcendent. However, the fact of being situated would not imply for the original being ofthe body a change in its fundamental ontological status. The idea of such a change is, from the ontological point of view, an absurdity because such a change would imply for our original body not modification but the annihilation of its being. To-be-in-situation truly signifies for the absolute body to be in a cer­tain relationship with transcendent being, but in this case it is a question of a transcendental relationship. To say that our body is situated is to say that it is related to the world and, interior to the world, to such or such a determination of transcendent being. To maintain with the world such a relationship is not to belong to it as a thing belongs to its element. Rather,

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our body can be in the world only on condition of being nothing of the world. It is because it is subjective that our body is situated. Hence, the fact of being in situation finds its possibility in the ontological structure of the original body. Since this structure is one of absolute SUbjectivity, we are here further persuaded that, far from leading to an abstract idealism which would, so to speak, allow the human being to float around in air without being able to account for his insertion in the world, the philosophy of subjectivity is rather that which allows us to account for such an insertion, i.e. give an ontological foundation to the fact of being in situation.

Conversely, the interpretation of the situation of the human being starting with the ontological theory of the body forbids us any naive or 'realist' repre­sentation of being-in-situation or, if you prefer, of the phenomenon of the 'hie'. In the situation peculiar to it, the body does not abandon its subjective characteristic because, as we have seen, it is in virtue of this characteristic that such a situation is possible for it. It is because it is an intentionality that the body is oriented in a determined way, it is because this intentionality is an [265J internal transcendental experience that the orientation of the absolute body in no way changes its original ontological status. The body maintains itself close to itself in its relationship to the world or to itself. Nothing is changed in the latter case of the fundamental situation which we are describing, for the transcendent body toward which our original body surpasses itself is in no way this original and absolute body. When the body is related to itself, its subjective status is, therefore, not modified; it is only in the content of its transcendent experience that a change intervenes, a characteristic change, it is true, because the object in this case seems to be the body itself. However, the peculiar essence of life does not belong to this transcendent body; life goes on 'outside' such a body just as it generally goes on 'outside' the world, for it is the life which is and remains immanent.

It is true that the analysis of the phenomenon of situation is not exhausted in the foregoing considerations which led to the affirmation of its subjective character. Being-in-situation also deals with our objective transcendent body, it would seem. It is in this sense that we frequently say of our body that it is 'here', in the room, in the garden, etc. But, in spite of appearances, the situation of our objective body does not constitute an autonomous phenomenon for which we could easily account by comparing this situation to that of any other object whatever immersed in the transcendent milieu of the world. Our objective body is not at all any object whatever; its situation gives us, in the same way as any other of its ontological properties, a peculiar characteristic which it actually borrowed from the situation of the absolute body. For even in our representation, our body does not pre-

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sent itself as a pure being-there, posited in a simple relationship of juxta­position with other transcendent things surrounding it, the room, the chair, etc. So little is it in such a relationship of juxtaposition with things of this sort that it actually uses the chair, it goes to the dresser, turns [266J the key, leaves the room, and in order to do this opens the door. However, if it is obvious that it is through the mediation of determinations of this sort (such as 'opening', 'turning', 'going toward', 'leaving', etc.) that the situation of our objective transcendent body is defined, it is no less evident that such determinations do not originally belong to the milieu of transcendent being from which we, nonetheless, seek to define the situation of our body­object: These are determinations which stem from an altogether different sphere of existence for they correspond to different intentionalities in which the absolute life of our subjective body expresses itself.

The task of a strict phenomenological analysis of the situation of the transcendent objective body would then be to distinguish among the charac­teristics constitutive of this situation those which refer to the general milieu of transcendent being and refer us to its content according to relationships 'in the third person' expressed by propositions and statements such as 'along­side', 'above', 'at such a distance from', etc., and on the other hand, those which while being equally present in the representation, nevertheless, can be there for us ooly because they are borrowed from another region of being, viz. from the intentional sphere of the subjective body. Among the latter characteristics, we list those whereby my objective body presents itself to me as an object which moves toward another object, which turns the doorknob, etc. Hence, it is not difficult to see that it is the latter charac­teristics which merit being considered as essential because they pertain exclu­sively to this well-determined object which is our objective transcendent body whereas the first characteristics define any object of the world in general.

A more profound analysis would likewise show that these characteristics which deal in principle with any object whatever (the book can be 'along­side' the inkwell in the same way my hand is) in fact submit to a radical modification in value when they are qualities of my [267] objective body. To say that my hand is alongside the inkwell is to say that it can take hold of it at any moment; its relationship to the inkwell becomes interior to the hand as it where, whereas the relationship of the book to the same inkwell is extrinsic and, so to speak, indifferent to it. This is because, as we have explained, our objective transcendent body is a magic object which is never situated in a static fashion as a stone at the base of a wall. All the deter­minations which stem from its situation are related in the last analysis

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to the first group of characteristics in virtue of which this objective body is in fact situated in the world, not as an inert being-there but as a moving object, secretly inhabited by a subject. However, we have seen that these essential characteristics which refer to the being-in-situation of our body­object-and not to that of any object whatever in general-must be under­stood as founded and non-original. Actually, this is because our objective body borrows them from the absolute body whose objectification it repre­sents in the general milieu of transcendent being. If we can say that, in our representation, our body-object is related to the things surrounding it in different ways (by directing itself toward them, by moving away from them, etc.), it is because in fact we have an absolute body in which these various intentionalities take place in an original way before being represent­ed through the mediation of our objective transcendent body.

Hence, it becomes apparent that the relationship of the situation of our objective transcendent body to that of our absolute body is strictly parallel to the relationship which in general unites the objective transcendent body of the ego and its absolute body, a relationship which we have previously studied. Hence, we are in a position to formulate the following essential remark: It is not because our body is also a transcendent body, a body such as philosophy understood it before the discovery of the subjective body, that the being of man is a situated being. On the contrary, our objective transcendent body is situated in a strictly determined sense peculiar to it only because our absolute body is once and for all [268) situated as subjectivity in a transcen­dental relationship with the world. This ontological analysis destroys the naive representations which dominate philosophical tradition and according to which the metaphysical being of man understood as a pure consciousness and as an abstract subjectivity would be situated, determined, viz. individual­ized,' only by its being put into relationship, an otherwise mysterious one (as the myths relative to the 'fall' of the soul into the body show) with an objective body. Far from the characteristic of being-in-situation being communicated, so to speak, from the body-object to the absolute body, it is in fact from the opposite direction that this 'communication' takes place.

Consequently, it is important not to interpret the being-in-situation of the absolute body starting from the situation of our objective body nor, a fortiori, starting from that of ordinary objects which people the world. The nature of the original body is in no way similar to that of the transcen­dent thing whose eidetic status prescribes that it necessarily presents itself

, On this, cf. supra, chapter III, 102·107.

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to US in a multiplicity of infinitely variable aspects. It is quite true that the way in which our objective transcendent body presents itself cannot be totally reduced to that which characterizes the transcendent thing in general; the exception here is that we are not free to adopt the perspective we wish with regard to our own body. Nevertheless, it is of considerable importance that this is the only difference which exists between the mode of appearance of our body and that of any transcendent thing whatever. Classical psychology could not arrive at this because, in its poverty, its analysis of the body stopped solely with the consideration of the objective transcendent body. But neither the absolute body, nor the organic body, present us with an ontological status which would authorize us to character­ize them relative to the transcendent thing by a simple limitation in the free variation of our perspectives. This is evident in the case of the [269] absolute body which presents us with no 'aspect', because it is nothing tran­scendent and because no phenomenological distance of any sort separates us from it. With regard to the organic body, we must formulate this para­doxical and yet phenomenologically evident proposition in its regard: The transcendent being of the organic body does not present itself to us either in a multiplicity of infinitely variable aspects or by way of a deter­mined aspect or a series of determined aspects, i.e. which escape the free variation of our perspectives. Even though its phenomenological status is radically different from that of our original body, our organic body, nevertheless, presents itself to us in a sort of absolute knowledge. Because it is the strict non-represented correlate of the intentionalities of our absolute body, it is always entirely present to us and we possess it in a knowledge which excludes all limitation and all possibility of error. If it is situated with respect to our absolute body, this situation is a sort of absolute situation; the idea of any change coming from the organic body and altering this state of immediate disposition in which it is found with respect to the inten­tionalities of our absolute body is in principle unacceptable.

The systematic clarification of the characteristics which we have just enumerated, together with the clarification of their eidetic necessity, would lead us to a theory of the organic body which could only be outlined within the cadre of these investigations.' At least our investigations have succeeded

3 It is important for us to insist strongly on a point we have already previously empha­sized, viz. the schema of our body- if by this we mean our organic body-is a complete and total schema and not a lacunary representation. It is precisely because it is not a representation that it presents us with this characteristic of completeness and that we can say that our knowledge of it is, in a certain way, an absolute knowledge. We can likewise see how far the philosophy of the absolute body and the organic body is removed from

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in discarding all equivocation [270] with regard to the original being of the absolute body which is not a transcendent thing but that with respect to which all such transcendent things are outlined in a series of detennined aspects. Because this determination of aspects which presents things to us takes place starting with the absolute body, the latter must be considered by us, not as something situated, but that which originally situates, as that which situates everything with respect to us. Our original body is an absolute center and, consequently, far from it being able to be freely sub­mitted to the general category of situation, it is rather in situation and that in the very determined sense whereby it must ultimately be described as the ontological foundation of every possible situation. 4

That the original body is not situated in the sense that it is nothing transcendent leads to rejecting a good number of existential theses relative to the problem of the body as well as the so-called taking of a position of existence with regard to it. In such a taking of a position, existence would be led to 'assuming' its body and this in such or such a way. Minute existen­tial descriptions would be necessary to account for the different ways accord ing to which existence is related to its body, accepts it, rejects it, etc. However, it is obvious that the presupposition which remains at the basis of these descriptions consists in the fact that our body is considered as something transcendent. Such a presupposition, [271] as we see, only takes up again in turn the unc1arified conceptions of traditional philosophy and common sense, conceptions in conformity with which our body would be nothing other than an object (regardless of the peculiar characteristics which one seeks to recognize in such an object in order to distinguish it from other objects in the world). Certainly, intentionalities exist in which we direct ourselves toward our own body. But in spite of the complexity of the phenomenon here under consideration, it is obvious that the original

Idealism which reduces everything to representations. The original phenomenon of our body is not a representation; the same remark holds for the fundamental relationship which unites the absolute body to the organic body.

4 Nevertheless, our original body founds only the situation of intramundane, 'tool' and 'thing' determinations. Because the latter situation refers to the situation of the ori­ginal body and is defined with respect to it, the problem of the situation of this body, which constitutes the absolute cenler of all our perspectives. is not resolved by the fore­going considerations, it is rather posed with all the more urgency. What situates our original body itself is subjectivity, understood not as the transcendental relationship of being-in-the-world, but in its internal structure, as immanence. Concerning the ontological interpretation of the internal structure of immanence as the ultimate foundation of every possible situation in general, cf. M. Henry, The Essence of Manifestation, tr. G. Etzkorn, chaps. 41-44 (The Hague; Martinus Nijhoff, 1973) 335-378.

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being of the body is to be sought in these intentionalities which are directed toward, against, etc., and not in the transcendent body toward which they are directed, the latter always being only a founded body, i.e. as we have seen, constituted upon the foundation of our absolute body.

Hence, we should replace the affirmation 'I have a body' for the more original one 'I am my body' . Even this statement risks remaining ambiguous as long as we prefer the subtleties or the verbalism of a philosophy of am­biguity over the strictness of ontological analysis. 'I am my body' does not mean that 'I am my body at the same time as I am not', 'I have to be it in the mode of not being it', etc., propositions which all in fact rest on the presupposition which we have just denounced and whereby the body originally arises in transcendence as a terminus with respect to which we can then, and only then, behave in various ways. ' I am my body,' this means quite precisely: The original being of my body is an internal tran­scendental experience and; consequently, the life of this body is a mode of the absolute life of the ego. 'I have a body', this means: A transcendent body manifests itself for me also and presents itself to me as subject to, by a relationship of dependence, the absolute body which, as the theory of the constititution of our own body has shown, also gives basis to this objective body as well as to the relationship of possession which binds it to the ego. [272]

The preceding remarks will serve as an introduction to a new philosophy of life. We have seen that the concept of life can designate either the object of a determined science, viz. biology, and then it is a scientific concept, or the object of a perception, an object which is the bearer of a certain number of phenomenological characteristics which make it appear in our eyes as something living. Nevertheless, when it is attributed to a human being, the concept of life acquires its original sense only if it comes to designate for us a life in the first person, i.e. the absolute life of the ego. Such a life no longer manifests itself to us by determined characteristics affecting an element of transcendent being, it reveals itself in a sphere of radical imma­nence such that it is no longer anything for us other than the very life of our original body. If, in its peculiar ontological nature, such is this life which we call our own, then it is clear that the opposition passed off as fundamental by so many philosophies as well as tradition in general, between life and consciousness, or self-consciousness, must again be questioned.

This opposition receives a decisive meaning in Hegel where it represents a moment of fundamental opposition between the positivity of being and the negativity of the spirit. Doubtless, life is already of itself, in a certain sense, the negative spirit, i.e. the concept. Thus it is that, as a process which

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cannot be fixed and which traverses the various parts of the organism, life is opposed to the physiognomy which anatomy describes and which is never anything more than the abstract and dead profile of existence. Nevertheless, the true concept is not life but rather self-consciousness. In self-consciousness, the concept manifests its profound and authentic negativity, its lack of parity with respect to life which is then designated as a 'natural position', as the positivity of vital being. The negation of life as positivity is then the essential mediation for the position of the ego. The latter, as an authentic concept, is thus not life but rather its [273] contrary. If life, as "subsistant independence"5 and as positive expansion, was the immediate mode in which self-consciousness first manifested itself, it then becomes apparent that self-consciousness is not life. This is why, in order to put our own being to the test and in order to recognize it in its truth, consciousness must show that it is not identical to this life which is an element in being, such that consciousness is ready to sacrifice life and confront death. The two elements opposed in the battle of consciousnesses are not two or more particular consciousnesses but rather, interior to each consciousness, the positivity of life and pure negativity as an authentic operation of the concept. The fundamental opposition remains an opposi­tion between consciousness and the living thing. Life is then viewed by Hege­lian philosophy as an object which consciousness denies and surpasses in order to conquer itself as self-consciousness and authentic ego.

To say that life is an element that must be transcended amounts to saying that it is a transcendent thing, extrinsic to the profound nature of sub­jectivity, to the pure negativity of the spirit. In such a perspective, existence is qualified according to the way in which it transcends this life, i.e. in conformity to the way in which it is related to it, denies it, assumes it, etc. We are here very close to the contemporary theses previously criticized. If we remain faithful to the teaching of the ontological theory of the body and if we conceive its life as a radically immanent life, we then can under­stand that the possibility of its ever being transcended is discarded a priori by the very eidetic status of such a life. At the same time, human life becomes a serious [heavy] thing which no pure spirit will ever have the leisure of surveying. Subjectivity is not this pure spirit enclosed in its own nothingness and incapable of descending to the determination of life, it is this [274] life itself. Subjectivity is life, this is the seriousness of existence. Existence is not the pure negativity of the concept, i.e. an abstract and empty form incapable of equaling anything whatever and, hence, always condemned

& G. W. F. Hegel, The Phenomenology of Mind, tr. J. B. Baillie. (New York: Humani· ties Press Inc., 1966) 219.

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to leaving outside it what constitutes the effectiveness of being. Insofar as it is life, subjectivity certainly does not possess the power of equaling transcendent being; but the very project of such a parity, from the ontolog­ical point of view, is only an absurdity. Nevertheless, life possesses true equality to the extent that it is a life in a sphere of absolute immanence. Actually, in such a sphere, sUbjectivity originally reveals itself to itself, it has a content which is nothing transcendent, but which is its effective and real being. For subjectivity to experience this being, there is no need that this being be recognized or that a life with which is it but one be denied. For life is equal to itself, it is its equality with self, an equality which, far from being destroyed, is rather prescribed by reasons of the eidetic order.

Analogous remarks would be valid for the problem of action. The diffi­culties generally encountered in the case of action stem from the fact that the horizon within which the problem is debated is never clarified. Never­theless, if we were to reflect seriously on the presuppositions constitutive of this horizon, we would perhaps note that they stem essentially from two general schemata which dominate the interpretations, even the traditional descriptions, of our practical life. The first schema, that of the intellecualist philosophies, consists in thinking this life in the light of the concepts of 'means' and 'ends'. In such a perspective, when it comes to acting, means and ends make up the theme of determined thoughts whose complexity is parallel to that of their objects and reflects, for example, the succession and the hierarchy of procedures which ought to be employed in their correla­tion to the concrete situations which are themselves infinitely complex. Rational action would imply a perfect knowledge [275] of the various ter­mini. This is to say that for man there is no perfectly rational action. The data which we ought to consider for deciding with some exactitude the opportune action actually go on ad infinitum. Likewise, in most cases we cannot wait until the examination of the situation and the means which we must employ to face it are finished. Urgency forbids that the systematic and definitive clarification of a determined situation be first completed, a clarification which is otherwise in principle impossible because this situa­tion changes ceaselessly and, on the other hand, we frequently have only a rudimentary knowledge of the means which we employ, as is the case, for example, in the body whose mechanism, they say, escapes us. This is why Jaspers asserts that human action is impossible without a "force of resolution" which makes up for the finitude of our knowledge incapable of raising itself, in the presence of practical life and its tasks, to the certitude of compelling and indubitable evidence. He praises Descartes for having insisted on the always provisional characteristic of morality, i.e. of having

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perceived the inevitable lag which exists between our action and our know­ledge.

The ontological theory of the subjective body allows us to understand how these various conceptions are in fact deprived of all philosophical foun­dation. Actually, we have seen that in action, and primarily in bodily action, the means do not constitute the theme of an intellectual knowledge and the goal itself is never anything represented but only the transcendent terminus toward which subjective movement (and not a theoretical intentionality) immediately surpasses itself. It follows, as we have likewise seen, that know­ledge which arises in this original phenomenon constituted by the transcen­dental relationship of the being of our absolute body as movement, toward the terminus toward which action transcends itself, is in no wayan imperfect knowledge but that it is rather an absolute knowledge [276J whose possibility rests on the ontological status of the original body insofar as it is a subjective body, i.e. an absolute knowledge. There is no lag between our knowledge and our action because our action is itself, in its peculiar essence, a know­ledge. The assertion of an inadequacy between our knowledge and our action -an inadequacy denied by the daily experience of even our most humble gestures (washing, doing manual work, practising a sport, driving a car, etc.)6- in fact stems from the insufficiency of the concept of knowledge at our disposal, where it is reduced to a mere theoretical or representative knowledge. To the thesis which posits the finitude of our knowledge in action is invariably joined the assertion of its irrational character insofar as it is necessarily, henceforth, an action which surpasses our knowledge. Here we see the true origin of the contemporary philosophical conceptions which make much of a 'resolution' peculiar to the human being to the extent that he hurls himself into action in keeping with an 'engagement' concerning which he 'assumes' the risk. Far from leading to a veritable renewal of ethics and its fundamental notions, these romantic themes must be considered by us in their close solidarity with the presuppositions of classical and intel­lectualist philosophy as we are led to believe, for example, in the admiration of Jaspers for the ethics of Descartes.

6 Someone might suggest that it is habit which causes the disappearance of the succession and connection of representations necessary to action by rendering them unconscious. However, it is obvious that the theories concerning habit and the unconscious here appeaL:d to imply, as their presupposition, the intellectualist theory of action whose absurdities they seek to attenuate since tbey could not be used as a foundation. Surely the phenomenon of action can be accompanied by various representations (such as those of means and end) which must become the object of their own phenomenological description~ but we must be careful not to confuse this with the original phenomenon of action.

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The traditional interpretation of action does not merely appeal to the ideas of means and ends, it also works through the mediation [277] of a no less important concept, viz. the concept of intention. We are now in a position to denounce the second general schema of interpretation of which we have spoken. The latter prescribes that action is the realization of an intention, this realization in turn being understood as an objectification. Such an interpretation of action whose origin goes back to the Hellenic con­ceptions relative to creation, itself conceived starting with the model exclu­sive to artistic creation in which a certain subjective image holds sway as the directive ideal to the making of the corresponding concrete work, implies a certain number of presuppositions whose ontological destruction would now burden us with a particularly heavy task if the ontological theory of the body had not already accomplished it to some extent. These presup­positions are the following: I) The intention is a subjective state which as such leaves beyond it what constitutes the effective being of real presence; 2) The realization of the intention thus implies the passage of it into the sole element wherein real being can effectively be present, i.e. into objectivity. Action consists precisely in such a realization of the intention. This general schema is followed notably by the Hegelian dialectic of action which, far from re-questioning traditional conceptions, only emphasizes them by pre­senting them in a systematic way. It is precisely because in Hegelianism subjectivity is conceived as being of itself deprived of all reality that action is imposed on it as the task of transforming its pure thought into being and of making something of itself. The sUbjectivity which does not assume such a task, i.e. which does not alienate itself in the element of being by thereby confiding itself to the absolute difference, is no more than the unreal sub­jectivity of subjective idealism, it is, for example, "the beautiful soul." For the latter, not to act means not to recognize the value of reality, i.e. of objective nature, it means to flee such a reality by refusing to alienate itself in it. Action is precisely an alienation of this sort. This means that it [278] is necessarily finite, for when the Self, who has accepted proof of being, again finds itself in the form of a determined element in the general milieu of effectiveness, it becomes aware of itself as a finite and contingent determination to which the spirit, as absolute negativity, is obviously not equal, whence the necessity for new dialectics in which the Self seeks to surmount its alienation and to re-discover its equality with itself.

It is obvious that the Hegelian conception depends on the presuppositions which we have denounced, on the idea that action must be essentially under­stood as an objectification, as a passage and transformation of subjectivity, of itself deprived of reality, into the sole element wherein reality exists,

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i.e. into the element of transcendent being. However, what can such a trans­formation, what can such a passage mean from the ontological point of view? We are here in the presence of a fundamental ontological absurdity, an absurdity upon which the entire Hegelian edifice rests. Expressions such as "the subject objectifies himself," "the ego objectifies itself," are particu­larly incorrect. Moreover, they mean to say that the representation but not the being of the ego or of subjectivity manifests itself to us in the milieu of transcendence, for, what is subjective is precisely that which cannot manifest itself in such a milieu; it is an eidetic prescription of its ontological structure that it can reveal itself originally only in a sphere of absolute immanence. To objectify itself for the ego is, therefore, only to represent itself to itself. But to acquire such a representation of self is not to act, it would rather be to live a contemplative life. Hegel in fact fails to account for human action and this because, too much in a hurry to discover the meaning of the mUltiple experiences and activities in which the history 01 men becomes reality, he neglected the essential, viz. the philosophical, clarification of the ontological status of action itself.

It is through such a clarification that we must begin [279J if we do not wish to be taken in by the schemas of interpretation which we have denoun­ced. To pursue this ontological clarification of the phenomenon of action is to be led to recognize 1) that subjectivity has no need to objectify itself to be real and this, on the one hand, because in itself it is already an absolute reality and not an abstraction or a simple desire of being, and, on the other hand, because to objectify itself is in principle impossible for it; 2) that, precisely because the idea of an objectification of subjectivity has been dis­carded for eidetic reasons, action cannot be understood as such an objec­tification. The phenomenological analysis of action likewise manifests with perfect evidence what it is: a subjective essence. Certainly action is not the same as intention, action is separate insofar as it implies the intervention of the body, but the body which acts is neither the represented body nor the organic body; it is the absolute body and, consequently, action is nothing other than a modality of the life of absolute subjectivity. Even though it is not intention, action is nonetheless intentional. In the process of action, intentionalities are unified in a synthetic fashion while correlatively intentional unities become organized whose linkage is one of the modifica­tions which affect transcendent being. Throughout this process, action remains intentional, i.e. it maintains itself close to itself in a sphere of imma­nence, without ever 'leaving' itself in order to go out, so to speak, to mani­fest itself in person in the world, for, once again, it is not a life which repre­sents itself to itself, but a life which acts. At the end of the process, this

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action remains in the milieu peculiar to it, in the form of a final intentionality synthetically bound to all which preceded it and whose totality constitutes the phenomenon which we call a determined action- naturally, the totality of the phenomenon must be related to the essence of the active life and not to that of the theoretical life, i.e. it must be [280J understood starting from the transcendental relationship of subjective movement and from the non-represented terminus toward which action immediately transcends itself in this movement.

Nevertheless, we cannot recognize the ontological status peculiar to action unless we have at our disposal an ontological interpretation of it parallel to that of the original being of the absolute body. For if the body is considered only as an object in the world, the action which comes about through its mediation itself belongs to this world, it is no more, in the view of subjectivity now reduced to a pure intention leaving outside itself all effective being, than a process in the third person. Need we point out the close bond which unites the Hegelian dialectic of action to the Cartesian conception previously criticized according to which the subjective element represents, in the total phenomenon of action, only a simple desire whose realization implies the otherwise mysterious intervention of the extended body and the material movements of which it is the seat? The theory of the SUbjective body allows us to raise ourselves to a philosophy of action in the first person, i.e. in fact, to a philosophy of human activity. Action would not truly be an action of an ego if the part which the latter plays therein were limited to the simple formulation of a desire to which imper­sonal processes would correspond as by a miracle. Action is not magic; rather it is, as Maine de Biran teaches us, effort, subjective tension, the battle against the transcendent element. The simple philosophical awareness of the necessity for accounting for the phenomenologically obvious distinc­tion which intervenes in our psychological lives between the simple desire of action and effective action which we accomplish in effort suffices to reject all the traditional conceptions relative to the problem of action, conceptions whose previously-cited Cartesian and Hegelian theories are only two examples among many.

The rejection of these speculative theses implies important consequences [281J relative to moral conceptions which deal with the same problem. More specifically, the critique of a morality of intention can no longer be confused with a general critique of the philosophy of SUbjectivity nor serve as a pretext for the latter. Rather it is from the philosophy ofsubjectivity and from it alone that a valid critique of the morality of intention can come. Actually, in every other philosophy, the intention is the only subjective

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element of action, and this results in the fact that the essential being of action can no longer be anything more than a represented (objective) element which is no longer understood as being in the immanent sphere of life, a sphere to which, however, the essence of morality belongs. Hence­forth, ethical analysis discovers in action as its peculiarly human, i.e. sub­jective, and moral element, only the intention to which it subsequently feels itself obliged to cling, even though it senses that the essential is eluding it. This essential, i.e. action itself, is recognized by the philosophy of subjec­tivity for what it is, an intentionality, a sUbjective element which, conse­quently, depends upon the categories of ethics, whereas actions considered as an objective process in the third person can never have anything more than the innocence of a stone. The philosophy of subjectivity and it alone can submit the very element of action to the evaluation of ethics; the onto­logical analysis of the sUbjective body and it alone can give meaning to the following unheard of affirmation: Our bodies will be judged.'

The determination of the original being of our body as pure subjectivity, the bringing to light of the absolute character of the knowledge which is related to this original body insofar as it is not a knowledge receptive of a transcendent being but a revelation in a sphere of radical immanence, the idea of an [282J absolute- and not a contingent-content peculiar to such knowledge, the ontological interpretation of the being-in-situation of the body, and an interpretation which causes the latter to appear as an abso­lute center and as the foundation for the category of situation insofar as it is applied to transcendent elements, the rejection of all theses which rest on the implicit presupposition of the transcendence of the original being of our body and, correlatively, the introduction of a new philosophy of life understood as an absolute life and not as a determination susceptible of being denied or transcended, the introduction of a new philosophy of action correctly interpreted, not as an objectification and a passage into the milieu of difference but as a subjective essence bearing within it its own knowledge, all these elements which pertain to the ontological analysis of the body or which immediately result therefrom likewise lead to the nega­tion of the bond so often found to be established between the phenomenon of incarnation on the one hand and finitude, contingency, viz. absurdity, as characteristics inherent in human reality insofar as it is subject to such a phenomenon, on the other.

The recognition of a bond between our corporeity and our finitude is not the privilege of contemporary reflection, rather it dominates the

7 A. Rimbaud, Une saison en en/er, Adieu, in Oeuvres d'Arthure Rimbaud. (paris: Mercure de France, 1949) 236.

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general idea of man and of human nature expressed by a tradition, one of the dominant traditions of Western thought. This idea is that man must be considered as a twofold being, as a synthesis of two opposed terms, body and spirit. The relationship which these two heterogeneous elements maintain between themselves can only be a paradoxical relationship. To the view of the pure spirit, incarnation manifests itself as a contingent phenom­enon which stamps human reality with a characteristic of insurmountable finitude. In reacting to certain forms of religious thought, humanist or even naturalist tendencies can attempt to rehabilitate the body; however, in their eyes the latter remains what it seems to be for the [283] beliefs to which they are opposed : the inferior element which they can desire to rehabilitate only because they have actually not ceased to consider it as inferior. He who says mens sana in corpore sano in any case continues to think of these two elements in the light of the idea of a radical heterogeneity; the evalua­tion of an axiological order which he formulates may well dissociate itself from its correlative religious evaluation, but actually it rests on the same foundation. The latter is nothing other than the idea of the duality of human nature, an idea which dominates not only the entire Western philosophical tradition, but which also impregnates popular conceptions and, in this regard, can be considered as one of the commonplace conceptions of the cultural world to which we belong.

With regard to the religious~nc~tions ~bidLarise in_tbiLcul1l!.!:!!L won<rto wliose elaboration they have likewise strongly contributed, they seem to give to the idea of duality an almost infinite meaning. The concep­tion of a relationship between human finitude and the phenomenon of incarnation, which is at first glance its foundation, is it not expressed in a general way in Christianity by the idea that sin is essentially sin of the flesh? In many respects, the spiritual combat seems to be exhausted, in the eyes of Christian tradition, in the battle between the flesh and the spirit. The body is thought of as "weighing down the soul" it is a weight ~hich the latter must get rid of if it Wishes to tear itseI.(a.wa.yJwm finitude and..sin in order to participat;-in the divine life which is a life of the spirit. The idea of fin itude is so profoundly bound to that of the body that a number of spiritual exercises aim at mastering it, either in a direct way, as in ascet­icism and the multiple practices which it inspires (fasting, abstinence, etc.), or in an indirect manner, by an attitude of defiance with regard to life and the sensible world in general. The unity of the cultural world of the West here shows itself in a frequently strict parallelism with religious conceptions and certain themes which belong [284] to philosophical tradition and pre­scribe for consciousness, as a necessary condition for its progress, a sort

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of asceticism with regard to the sensible world and the imaginary world, these two worlds being precisely thought of in the light of the idea of their strict ontological connection with the phenomenon of incarnation. Thus it is, for example, with the Cartesians. In a general way, the idea of human 'nature', such as it flows from the dualist conception, forms, with all the problems bound thereto, one of the dominant themes of the Hellenic­Christian tradition and one of the permanent elements of its Weltanschauung.

Hence, this question must be asked: Does the ontological theory of the body imply, in its free development, the rejection of everything which tradi­tion had taught us with regard to the phenomenon of the incarnation of human reality? Does it claim to remove every real ontological foundation from our experience of finitude? Is not the latter precisely an experience, an irrefutable experience from which alone the human condition can be interpreted in a correct way and receive a status which truly belongs to it? Can everything which makes this condition what it is, anxiety confronted with finitude, the vertigo of the flesh, the fundamental dissatisfaction which goes with all our experiences and, more particularly, those which stem from our bodily and sensible life, can all this be purely and simply denied? Is it not true that ontology can receive the qualification of being a positive science, the qualification which we have constantly given it, only as long as it assumes the task of elaborating the foundation for our real experiences, and not that of imaginary experiences without any relationship to our true condition? To seek the foundation which makes these experiences possible, experiences which are truly ours (in an actual or potential way). is truly the goal of ontology. Because ontology is a positive science, this investiga­tion is a strict investigation. What it shows is that if finitude [285] is an irrefutable experience for human reality, such an experience cannot receive the foundation too often assigned to it which consists in a philosophical­ly naive interpretation of the phenomenon of incarnation.

Actually, once it is a question of finitude or contingency, we find ourselves in the presence of certain schemata of thought which most often have no real philosophical foundation whatever. Thus, the assertion of the finitude of human action takes place in Hegel interior to a horizon whose ontological destruction brought to light incorrect presuppositions. Likewise, the con­nection, whereby the clarification of the phenomenon of incarnation so often raises up the idea of contingency, in fact rests on the inadequate charac­ter of such a clarification, viz. insofar as it takes as its guideline the status of the objective body alone, abstraction made from the results to which an exhaustive ontological analysis would inevitably lead, an analysis which does not merely deal with a transcendent body but also, and essentially,

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with the original being of the absolute body. In other words, ontology rejects a priori only the naIve interpretations of the ideas of finitude or contingency. For such ideas and for the experiences which they translate, it rather seeks a positive foundation. For it is by way of such an investigation that ontology exercises its jurisdiction over the cultural patrimony-whether philosophical, religious, or moral-which humanity has at its disposal, and it manifests itself to us as the only really positive science capable of eventually giving a sense to tradition. This task which, insofar as it must be called an ontolog­ical clarification, is the highest to which philosophy can aspire, and it becomes all the more imperative in proportion to the fundamental obscurity of the questions offered to its analysis. When these questions are related to the body and to finitude, it is not an exaggeration to say that this obscurity is almost total. [286]

It is certain that tradition establishes a relationship between the corpo­reity and the finitude of human nature. This relationship is strengthened in the more specifically Christian thought to the extreme point where the body receives the meaning of being sin. However, what must we understand by such a body endowed with such a meaning? This body- it is also called the flesh-presents itself to the believer as the very symbol of his possible perdition; actually it may be for him nothing more than anxiety faced with the possibility of his own perdition. The body is thus felt and thought as the obstacle which must be overcome and from which one must tear oneself away it order to arrive at salvation. The latter, considered in its radical opposition to the life of the body, is called the true life, which is a new life, a life of the 'spirit'. Insofar as it is related to the possibility of perdition and the fall, the body designates nothing other than a determined mode of human existence. This mode is surely understood as essentially bound to finitude, i.e. to sin, and yet it remains, nonetWess, a mode of our life, a sui generis mode to which another conceivable and sometimes real mode is opposed wherein our salvation consists. By 'body' we must in no way understand this objective body which is thing, what is here meant is a clearly defined modality of the life of absolute SUbjectivity. For this same reason, the 'body' as understood in Christian anthropology which likens it to sin, cannot be confused with our organic body either. The latter, here similar to the objective body, is actually never more than an existant; therefore, it has nothing to do with a mode of existence.

Will we then say that the body which belongs to the Christian vision of the world, such as it is understood in this vision, is the same as the absolute body, i.e. as this original body concerning which we have shown that it belongs to the sphere of SUbjective existence? This would cause

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serious confusion, viz. forgetting the difference which must always be maintained between two [287] absolutely different points of view, the exis­tential point of view and the ontological point of view. The 'body' in the Christian sense designates a particular mode of existence, it refers to a specific intentionality which is offered to us as a possible determination among an infinity of other existential determinations corresponding to different types. The body, now seen from the ontological point of view, as absolute body, refers to no particular intentionality of our bodily life whatever, it designates nothing other than the common being of all these intentionalities, i.e. the original ontological milieu to which they all belong. Such intentionalities are compatible interior to the original being of our absolute body; to de­scribe them according to their peculiar existential articulations is not the task of ontology which accomplishes only the preparatory task of such a description.

Therefore, we must carefully distinguish the 'body' as a definite mode of our historical existence, a mode in which this existence manifests itself to religious consciousness as sinful existence and, on the other hand, the ontological milieu of the absolute body in which are unfolded all the inten­tionalities of the bodily life and all the forms of existence of which this determined existence-which Christianity also calls, it is true, the body or the flesh-is no more than a particular and contingent form. This existence which is handed over to sin is contingent in the highest degree in the sense that, among all possible forms of existence offered to it, the determined form which it takes on is in no way prescribed a priori by the ontological structure of the absolute body. This absence of any prescription of the eidetic order which would make sin something necessary is expressed by Christian theology when it says that this sin is an historical accident and that the bond which unites it to human 'nature' can in no way be interpreted in the light of a necessity, comparable to that which belongs to the order of essences. In other words it is a purely existential meaning [288] which Christian anthro­pology confers on the word 'body' when it makes it designate a state close to sin or capable of leading thereto. The body thus understood in no way desig­nates an ontological reality; it is neither the o~iective body, nor the organic body, nor the absolute body as such. What it translates is a state of existence which, doubtless, presupposes the fundamental ontological structure of the three bodies in the same way as it is implied in any of our intentionalities; on this same structure there also rests, for example, the determined and privileged state of existence in which salvation for it consists.

Consequently, neither salvation nor sin can be related as such to ontolog­ical structures. The 'flesh' and the 'spirit' both designate in Christianity

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specific modes of existence which are, doubtless, opposed in a radical way with regard to the religious value conferred on them and with regard to the metaphysical meaning which they subsequently receive with regard to the destiny of man, but which are nonetheless two modes of existence, i.e. two intentionalities belonging as such to the same ontological sphere of absolute subjectivity. From the ontological point of view, there is, therefore, no difference between 'flesh' and 'spirit'. Hence, it is the very unity of Western tradition which is in question.

This unity seems to rest, as we have seen, on a dualist conception of human nature, a conception whose origins surely go'"back a long way. It is in

"Jte-Henism, and not at all in Christianity, that we must seek them, if it is true that the dualism of flesh and spirit take on no ontological meaning in Chris­tian anthropology. Rather, in Greece, the idea which they made of man corresponded quite well with the one presented to us today by the humanist tradition which sees in human nature a sort of relationship between two opposed termini whose requirements it must equally satisfy. The equilibrium, difficult to find and to maintain, between these termini is the goal of an ethics which [289] remains subject to the Greek idea of harmony. Nevertheless, we have already had the occasion to note that in the eyes of such a humanism of Hellenic origin, the two elements which must harmoniously co-habit in man are far from being placed on the same level, they are two quite onto­logically heterogeneous realities, one of which remains superior. As body, man is but an animal, it is the spirit which raises him to a peculiarly human dignity. Of this spirit, we merely ask that it be 'liberal' enough, so to speak, as not to despise the body. Because the latter is taken as an objective reality, it remains something contingent, perishable, inferior.

To this point of view, expressed in a general fashion in the Greco-humanist tradition, Christianity is opposed in a radical way. Insofar as it considers the body, not as a determined and contingent mode of our historical exis­tence but as an ontological reality constitutive of human nature, it formu­lates in its regard a series of surprising affirmations which can truly receive a philosophical meaning only interior to the doctrine of the subjective body. For it is only if our body is, in its original being, something subjective that the brief allusions made by dogma with regard to its metaphysical destiny can be anything other than extravagent conceptions. Actually, they neces­sarily had to appear as extravagent in the eyes of the Greeks, such as the one which makes the resurrection of the body a dogma. This is why the Corinthians started to sneer when 8t. Paul claimed not to reserve to the soul the privilege of this resurrection. Rather it is clear that if this original being of our body is something SUbjective, then, like the 'soul', it falls under

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the category of things which are liable to be revived and judged. Ob,iously, it is from the content of Christian theology that Rimbaud borrowed the strange assertion upon which we have commented. [290J

Only an ontological analysis allows us to throw some light upon a domain which would otherwise be only one of confusion and even contradictions, for, it would seem, we have not sufficiently noted that the Christian tradition presents us, regarding the body, with two radically opposed theses to the extent that it asserts, on the one hand, that the body is sin and, on the other, that it is called to the resurrection. Must we then understand that sm is promised divme gory? The IssocIation between the existential and ontological meanings of the word 'body' alone rejects such an absurdity. And yet, such a dissociation must be thought of in the light of a more funda­mental unity. This unity is precisely the one given us by the theory of the subjective body. For, in fact, the body is capable of being sin only if it is also capable of being resurrected. Sin or the resurrection, finitude or salva­tion arise only interior to the category of subjectivity.

The reproach which Nietzsche addresses to Christians seems singularly hasty in this regard, viz. the reproach of being 'contemptuous' of the body. A comparable assertion incontestably belongs to the category of those gratuitious assertions which can serve culture only to the extent that they invite us to become clearly conscious of the poverty of their foundation. First of all, in formulating such a critique, Nietzsche is the dupe of a serious confusion concerning which his philosophy is certainly not the origin, but which it greatly contributed to reinforcing. This confusion consists in attrib­uting to Christianity themes which are totally foreign to it and rather stem from the Greco-humanist tradition. Thus it is that Nietzsche imagined that Christianity views the body as it is, viz. as an ontological reality actually and in an essential manner belonging to human reality, whereas by 'body' Christian anthropology understands nothing other than a contingent, specific, and clearly defined mode of our existence. With regard [291 J to the real being of our body as a fundamental ontological essence, Nietzsche does not see that Christianity has a much higher and more philosophical idea of the body than he does because it raises itself to the idea of a subjective body or at least implies it as a necessary presupposition. For Nietzche, on the other hand, the body remained what it is for the traditional dualism of Hellenic origin, a reality heterogeneous to consciousness and subjective existence. Hence, it is of little importance that such a reality is conceived in the light of the exigencies of a romantic vitalism where Cartesian mecha­nism is no longer anything more than an out-of-date platitude. It is likewise of little importance that this reality is exalted rather than being devalued,

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the revolution which is thought to be effected does not go beyond the simple promoting of subjective preferences; rather than questioning the traditional cadre of philosophical reflection, it implies it and remains taken in by its apparent novelty.

Now that the original being of our body as a fundamental ontological reality has received its proper status, we may feel that the moment has come for determining in a precise way the meaning of this particular intentionality which Christian dogma likewise designates by the name 'body', where this receives a strictly existential and not an ontological mean­ing. Concerning this particular intentionality, considered as a determination of our historical existence, Christianity says that it is sin. By this, we must understand that consciousness which makes such an intentionality its own takes on by this very fact and in an essential way a finite mode of existence which turns it radically away from God, while this finite mode of existence can no longer mean for it anything more than despair and perdition. However, in what sense can a determined intentionality, i.e. a mode of the absolute life of subjectivity, be called finite, such that we can apply to it the categories of sin and the fall? The task of answering such a question does not exactly coincide with the task of describing [292J this specific intentionality which Christian tradition designates as 'the sin of the flesh'. Such a description, even though it must be of the highest interest from the speculative as well as from the practical viewpoint, does not really belong to the more general project of building an ontology of the body. This is why the problem of the finitude of the intentionality is question does not lead here to any existential description which would lay claims to validity of itself, and it will be touched upon only from an ontological point of view. Considered from such a point of view, this problem is nothing other than that of a clarification of the idea of finitude, a clarification which of itself would require a complete study. The remarks which follow constitute only a brief sketch, designed only to complete the analyses relative to the general dissociation between the ontological and the existential meanings of the concept 'body'.

The general assertion that finitude is necessarily sin, an affirmation borrowed by modern philosophy from Hegel, is no longer sufficient for us. Once a system has acquired all its prestige, it is again time to recognize the right of the distinction. For we want to know in a precise way what we mean by finitude. Before considering the pathetic developments inter­vening in the case of this concept, it is well to remark here that the concept of finitude can be understood in a fourfold sense.

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I) To be finite means to be subject to the determination of being-there. Thus it is that my body is finite insofar as it occupies a determined place in space and time. We have encountered this meaning of the concept of finitude and have shown that it is rooted in the transcendence of a horizon to which the being which it sets free cannot in principle be equal.

2) To be finite means to be subject to the determination of being-there, this time not in an original way, but only in a derived way. Let us consider any intentionality whatever; we [293] cannot apply to it the category of finitude in the sense we have just indicated, because intentionality in princi­ple eludes the sphere of transcendent being. However, it is not impossible that we can represent to ourselves this intentionality. The possibility of such a representation as a radical modification affecting the original ontolog­ical structure of intentionality is rather included in its status, as a perma­nent possibility of the eidetic order. The power which 'inhabits' such a modification is nothing other than that of a destiny which consists in an objectification through whose mediation that which first revealed itself to us interior to a sphere of absolute immanence now manifests itself in the general element of transcendent being. Such a destiny is necessarily tragic, for in it that which constituted the intimacy of the life of the ego and the freshness of its experience is dissolved in the drabness of objectivity and becomes a dead element of representation. Precisely hecause it is a subjec­tive life, bodily life does not escape this agonizing destiny. Hence, in love, the gestures in which it consists can be submitted to the hard law which makes them, not the very substance of our existence, but rather simple objects of our consciousness such that where previously life was to be found, we now find only death.8

In the ontological interpretation of this destiny which everyone can experi­ence for himself, we must not forget that the being of this intentionality as such cannot in principle become anything transcendent whatever and that, consequently, the objectification in which this destiny consists can in no way designate the objectification of the intentionality itself but rather the substitution of its simple representation for this intentionality. Because [294] the finitude here in question is bound to such a representation, because it, furthermore, rests on the transcendence of the element which it deter­mines, the second meaning of the concept of finitude which we are led to distinguish does not essentially differ from the first, but only shows us that that which is now for us a determined and finite being-there could not be such, at least in its original being. However, the ontological clarification

8 Speaking of the kiss of lovers and its fate, Rilke cries: "Ah! How the drinker then strangely runs away from the deed."

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of the concept of finitude is not completed by the preceding remarks, for finitude can arise on the transcendental level itself, and this in two quite determined ways which we must now examine.

3) Intentionality can be called finite to the extent that it is related to a world. Thus understood, finitude is an essential qualification which belongs to the being of human reality as such. Actually, every intentionality, by reason of its in-principle transcendence, obeys the concept of a finitude so defined. This third meaning is easily distinguished from the preceding inso­far as the terminus which is here subject to the category of finitude can no longer be considered as a transcendent element. Actually, what it desig­nates is not the representation of an intentionality, henceforth, obeying the general laws of the milieu in which it is represented, it is rather this intention­ality considered in itself, in its original and subjective being. This being is called finite because it is oriented toward the world, and this in an essential way, such that its thought cannot pretend to survey this world to which it is bound. This further implies the following consequence: The determina­tions which intentionality attains interior to the world are always transcended toward it in such a way that they appear as finite determinations which, nevertheless, in their finitude constitute everything which our thought can claim to know for they are also that which, in a no less essential and irremediable way, hides this same world from us, this world which infinitely surpasses all these determinations.

Such a conception of finitude which makes it an [295] essential and not a synthetic determination of human existence, henceforth, forbids us from making any discrimination relative to the particular character of the various intentionalities in which this existence can express itself. Therefore, it is not a determined mode of our historical existence which will be called finite in opposition to other modes in which this finitude would be capable of being taken away. In other words, it is the possibility of a salvation for human existence which is here denied. Finitude thus understood now receives an ontological meaning and alone permits us to acquire a systematic view of human nature. Nevertheless, the problem is one of knowing whether or not we may have yielded to the exigencies of the system by raising to onto­logical dignity a finitude which essentially perhaps belongs only to a deter­mined mode of our life. If this is the case, this mode would require its own peculiar phenomenological description in which that which constitutes the particular condition taken on by existence when it deserves to receive this qualification of being a finite existence will be brought to light. Hence, we are led to the fourth meaning in which we can understand the concept of finitude.

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4) Finitude is the finitude of a determined intentionality. By such an intentionality, consciousness takes on a mode of existence which does not essentially but, so to speak in an accidental way, belong to it, while the possibility of this mode of determined existence is naturally understood in its own essence. From such a point of view, the distinction again gains the rights of citizenship. Once and for all, finitude ceases being a general qualification added on to human nature, it ceases to be an essential property inherent thereto and one which is able to serve to define it. Rather, this finitude must be interpreted in a concrete way. It arises from the diverse modes of existence in well-defined experiences which are qualitatively distinct. These modes are not all equivalent: ontology has not formulated its [296] ethical evaluations once and for all. The difference which specifies this mode of existence which is called finite is hence expressed in the follow­ing way: The world in which we live now takes on for us a particular aspect, it receives the meaning of being faulty. Correlatively, the intentionality which lives in the presence of such a world is a sui generis intentionality which experiences itself as finite. However, this experience of itself and its finitude is made by this intentionality in a twofold sense: For, on the one hand, it fails in its project and finds no fulfillment in conformity to the mean­ing which animated it: in this failure, its finitude manifests itself as its own truth. On the other hand, and this time in a more original way, this finitude was already its own as an immanent SUbjective characteristic; it marked it interiorly as a distinct existence having its own tonality and it is on this very level of transcendental affectivity that such a finitude first revealed itself to it.

When it comes to our bodily life, the foregoing descriptions are exempli­fied in the phenomenon of sexuality. Finitude here means that the intention­ality directs itself toward a finite element of transcendent being. Nevertheless, every transcendent element is necessarily finite . If finitude is not inherent to every intentionality insofar as it directs itself in principle toward a transcendent element and, consequently, a finite one, if it really belongs to the particular mode of existence here under consideration, it is because the latter must be characterized in a more precise way. This will be the case if we note that it differs from our daily life in which we direct ourselves toward finite objects by taking them as such, whereas the intentionality presiding over the determined form assumed by us in our sexual life is oriented toward its transcendent terminus as toward something absolute. Sexual intentionality does not merely 'direct' itself 'toward', but 'concen­trates on' the object wherein it tries to grasp the whole world. This object surely remains [297] something finite, but for this intentionality it takes

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on an altogether particular meaning. On what condition can an object, as a finite element, in the general milieu of transcendent being, take on this meaning of being, for the consciousness which grasps it, something absolute? On the condition of not being an ordinary object but, so to speak, a magic object, whose characteristics do not totally overlap with those of the onto­logical milieu in which this object nonetheless manifests itself. Such an object exists: It is our objective transcendent body. It is precisely this ambig­uous element which hides, beneath the determination of the being-there, the infinity of the sUbjectivity which secretly inhabits it. The ontological status of our objective transcendent body is the foundation which makes the existence of a sexual world possible, a world in which that which con­stitutes the ambiguity of such a body is pushed so to speak to a paroxysm. The mystery of sex stems from the fact that in it the determination acquires a limitless power. This power it owes to the fundamental obscurity of its being, an obscurity which causes sUbjectivity to be present, so to speak, in the element of the being-there. That which the consciousness which desires aims at is precisely this sUbjectivity which it seeks to grasp through and in the object. The desired absolute is mediated by the contingent and finite terminus which is there, but which could also not be there. That which is absolute seems to be contingent.

But here is what is important: The implicit presupposition of sexual intentionality is the fact that the absolute is accessible only behind this contingent facade. It also concentrates on the finite element and worships it. Nevertheless, that which it finds in this experience is not the absolute but only a presence without life, that which is realized by the pure and simple being-there of a transcendent element. Hence, that which seemed to be accessible through the mediation of such an element rather proved to be inaccessible, it is pure subjectivity which is not the object. Such a subjectivity could not be touched nor apprehended in any way whatever in a [298J finite determination for, in principle. it is nothing transcendent. To wish to attain the spirit in the form of a sensible element is to use a method which eliminates a priori the object which it claims to circumscribe. Insofar as it directs itself toward sex, understood as a being-there and as an object, sexual intentionality encounters an obstacle prescribed by ontology. When the anxiety of sex is dissipated there is nothing left, except an objective deter­mination. The SUbjectivity which had been aimed at has vanished. Sex will never reveal its secret for it is no longer, in the bare light of transcen­dence, anything more than a being-there without secrets· The failure

, Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, (New York: Grove Press, 1961, 249 If.).

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encountered by sexual intentionality which answers this description does not result in the simple suppression of this intentionality, it rather becomes the principle of its repetition in acts renewed indefinitely. In the solidarity between this failure and this repetition is found the foundation for the sexual obsession of humanity.

In what sense can the category of finitude be applied to the human body? We can respond by comparing the results of the clarification of the concept of finitude with those of the ontological analysis of the body. First of all, it is obvious that the original being of our body does not fall beneath the category of finitude understood in the first sense. The latter is applied solely to the domain of transcendent being, and hence it cannot in any way deal with what in principle eludes this domain. With regard to our objective body, the remarks which we were led to make on numerous occasions with regard to the essential characteristics which constitute its peculiar being in opposition to any object whatever, suggest that we reject appear­ances according to which this first meaning of the concept of finitude would be suitable to our objective body in a totally adequate way. Insofar as it finds its foundation in the original being of the absolute body, our [299] objective transcendent body is in fact 'inhabited' by a subjectivity which badly accords with determinations belonging to the milieu of objectivity in general. For assuredly different reasons and still more profound ones, this remark is likewise applicable to the organic body upon which the original and sui generis relationship which it maintains with the absolute body confers an altogether special status.

It is true that, taken in its second meaning, the concept of finitude is applied to the representation of an intentionality, i.e. to its manifestation in the element of transcendent being. However, we have sufficiently insisted on the fact that that which can be thus called finite is in no way the original, i.e. real, being of intentionality but only its represented-being. That an intentionality belonging to our bodily life is capable of being thus repre­sented, that a gesture can so to speak be detached from this existence which is ours, in order to appear to us as a simple inert element posited in repre­sentation, this is in fact the most striking confirmation that the theory of the sUbjective body can receive. For the destiny which befalls the life of our body in one or the other of its intentionalities, motor intentionalities, for example, is capable in the same way of attaining any conceivable inten­tionality; consequently, it menaces the ensemble of our psychological life. The possibility that a determination of our absolute life may submit to this radical modification which tears it away from its ontological milieu of existence and really means death for it is an absolutely general phenom-

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enon whose clarification is the concern of the investigations constitutive of an ontology of sUbjectivity and which, therefore, cannot in any way be related to the particular problem of the body. In any case, all our analyses result in the fact that neither the first nor the second sense of the concept of finitude deal with the original being of our absolute body, i.e. our bodily existence properly so-called. In general, the foundation for such an affirma­tion consists in the fact that the concept of finitude taken in [300] the first two senses applies to an ontological sphere from which bodily existence as subjective existence escapes in principle.

Moreover, now is the time to make this decisive remark. If, when it is taken in the first two meanings, the concept of finitude indisputably has an ontological scope because it then refers in an essential way to a deter­mined ontological region, viz. that of transcendent being, it is not the same when it is taken in the light of the third and fourth meanings. This is evident for the fourth meaning, in keeping with which finitude receives a specifically existential meaning insofar as it then designates a clearly defined mode of existence. This mode can be called finite because in it existence directs itself toward a transcendent determination and as such a finite one, a determination upon which, however, it confers an absolute meaning. The power of fascination exercised by being-there rests, as we have seen, on the peculiar characteristic taken on by the latter to the extent that it is not any being-there whatever but this ambiguous object which is our objective transcendent body.I. The latter manifests itself, in [301]

10 Here three remarks are in order: 1) the objective transcendent body which we contin­ually designate as being 'ours" can obviously be that of anotiter ego, which is what takes place in normal erotic life. Any somewhat complete study of sexuality is in close solidarity with a problematic dealing with the existence and the body of the other. Needless to say, all such questions are beyond the cadre of our investigations, where sexuality intervenes only as an example.

2) The object toward which sexual intentionality is directed and which exercises upon the latter a power of fascination can be, notably in certain cases of perversion, an inert object of nature and not even a living human body. Nevertheless, it is obvious that the constitution of such an object can be understood only by referring to the constitution of the transcendent body which belongs to an ego.

3) The solidarity between the fascination exercised by the object and the intentionality which transcends itself toward it is evident. Doubtless, this object, as we have noted, finds the condition for its possibility in the ambiguous status of the transcendent body of the ego, but this body becomes a sexual object properly so-called only when a specific intentionality is directed toward it. We can only say that such an intentionality exists in a latent way and, in like fashion, we can say that there is included in the status of the transcendent body of another, the permanent possibility that such a body may be trans­formed into what is clearly characterized as a sexual object.

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certain cases, with the mysterious determination of sex and then it exer­cises its infinite power. The infinite power of the determination is finitude in the Christian sense. The 'body' of Christian tradition essentially refers to such a finitude. The latter has such an obviously existential meaning and it has so little to do with the body understood as an ontological reality to which it would then be bound by virtue of an eidetic connection that this body, promised the resurrection, can be the support of radically different modes of existence. The mode of existence here designated by the words 'body' and 'flesh' is then called finite for the reason that it is oriented toward a particular determination, in such a way that it dedicates itself to it: It is this cult of the finite which is sin properly so-called.

Applied to an intentionality exhausted in the determination, the term 'finitude' is perfectly understandable and acceptable on condition that we see clearly that this is only a manner of speaking, for the mode of exis­tence which is here called finite is in fact a mode of the absolute life of sub­jectivity and as such it belongs in essence to a sphere of infinite existence. This amounts to saying: To the extent that it qualifies not a transcendent element (meanings one and two of the concept of finitude) but a mode of existence, i.e. a determination of the life of absolute subjectivity (meaning number four and also, as we will see, meaning number three of the concept of finitude), finitude has no ontological meaning but only an existential mean­ing. Thus, intentionality which is oriented in a decisive way toward the finite-in such a way that the determination becomes the object of a cult and, for example, the sensible becomes sensual-insofar as it is an intention­ality, still remains a mode of the absolute life of subjectivity and as such an infinite mode. Finitude designates an imperfection of life, but this imper­fection has only an ethical, existential, or religious meaning; life in fact remains what it is at the very heart of this imperfection, an absolute life, a life in a sphere of infinite existence. Finitude is a category of ethics, the [302] absolute character of existence which (eventually) succumbs to this finitude is an ontological determination which belongs to it in principle. The clear consciousness of a strict discrimination between these two levels is indispensible to one who would attack in depth the problem of evil with some chance of success, for such a discrimination alone allows us to understand that something is in fact both finite and infinite-this is precisely what evil is-and to understand that, as Kierkegaard saw so well in his critique against Socrates, sin must be thought of by us, in spite of its finitude, as an absolutely positive qualification of existence." [303]

11 The fact that, in the preceding analyses, sexual intentionality was chosen as an example for illustrating a certain meaning of the concept of finitude and, for this purpose,

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The remarks relative to the fourth meaning of the concept of finitude are likewise fitting for the third meaning. Actually, if we say that existence is finite because it is ordered to a world, the affirmation which we formulate is first an evaluation of the axiological order, a judgment made from on high upon human existence and one whose content is not perhaps indepen­dent of the attitude which such a judgment implies to the extent that it 'leans' against existence as against an external essence. To give a ruling on existence, from a strictly ontological point of view, is rather 10 understand it in the light of the milieu to which it really belongs, a milieu of radical

was described as a 'finite' mode of existence, risks leading to the idea of an equivalence between sexuality as slIch and finitude. In fact, just as finitude, in a general way. has been given only an existentiell meaning and consequent1y designates only certain defined modes of existence, so likewise sexual intentionality. to which a llusion has been made, deals only with a possible and neatly defined form of our sexual life. The possibility of a love without anxiety (understanding by this an anxiety in the face of the being-there of the objective bodily determination) is not excluded by the fore-going descriptions; rather it finds its most fundamental ontological presupposition in the theory of the subjective body. Actually, such a theory shows that, in its original being at least, the sexual act is something subjective. As such, it is outside the world; the fact that sexual intentionality is oriented toward the objective being-there (and this in a well-determined fashion which we have described) represents a contingent specification of this intentionality which in fact , in its freedom, includes the possibility of a radically different orientation whereby existence will rather be able to free itself from such a determination and actual1y envision something altogether different. There is a love, and what is more, there is a sexual love from which the 'body' is absent. The great error of the majority of existentiell descriptions of sexual intentionality stems from the fact that only a determined mode of this intentionality is almost always taken as an exclusive point of view and then presented as prescribed by the essence of the sexual life of man in general. This is notably the case for all descriptions which limit themselves to the consideration of objective sexual deter­minations. When we have seen that such determinations are such only when a deter­mined intentionality is directed toward them, we still risk forgetting that to the possibility of this intentionality (in which, no doubt, impurity consists) there is obviously opposed, from an eidetic point of view, another possibility whose meaning, at the very heart of the sexual life, is rather the freeing of man with respect to the finitude of the objective determination. The distinction between the existential and the ontological points of view is here more necessary than ever and, in a general way, the entire philosophy of sexual love has to be re-done beginning with the data of the philosophy of the subjective body. However, it is to all human gestures, and not merely to sexual gestures, that such a philo­sophy will eventually be able to give, from an existential point of view, an infinite and free meaning, to the extent that it previously reveals on the ontological level the subjective essence of all the original determinations of bodily life. Hence this should lead not only to a new philosophy of sexuality, but to a new philosophy of all the 'material' acts of man, to a new philosophy of rites, of work, of cult etc. (Concerning the relationships between the philosophy of the subjective body and materialism, cf. what is said infra with regard to 'needs', p. 2I9lf.).

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immanence. The eidetic status of such a milieu confers on the life which originally reveals itself there the ontological qualification of being an absolute life and, consequently, a priori removes every ontological meaning - with regard to such a life-from the concept of finitude.

Doubtless, we can find an ontological foundation for human finitude to the extent that by its concept we designate the insurmountable bond between existence and the world. The fact in question, which is nothing other than the primordial phenomenon of transcendence, has an ontological scope. But the life which transcends itself [304] is an absolute life and, in this act of transcending itself, it remains in itself. More original than the phenomenon of transcendence and so to speak prior to it is that of imma­nence in which transcendence in fact finds, from the ontological point of view, its most ultimate condition of possibility. If the act which transcends can discover a world only to the extent that it is first and constantly present to itself at the very heart of its auto-affection in immanence, it is because the thesis which binds finitude to transcendence rests upon the forgetting of this most original ontological phenomenon. Is it an accident if this comes to light for the first time in the modern philosphy of Kant, whose ontology is characterized precisely by the absence of any theory of absolute subjecti­vity? Only the elaboration of such a theory can destroy the ontological foundation of the concept of finitude insofar as such a concept can lay claim to be applied to human existence. Thought of as subjective, this existence is then recognized as an absolute existence, even when it would be the exis­tence of our body. Only one philosopher brought together these two funda­mental teachings: the one which reveals to us the structure of absolute subjectivity and the one which determines such a structure as being also one of our body.

That our bodily existence is an absolute existence is a proposition whose full understanding would doubtless lead us to modify profoundly the majority of our conceptions relative to the life of the body. We may say that, in our civilization, these conceptions are dominated, in a general way, by the implicit presuppositions of naturalism. The latter can be summed up in the affirmation that need is something natural. Interpreted in the light of the ontology to which naturalism refers, whether explicitly or not, such an affirmation means that the principal activities in which our bodily life expresses itself must be understood as manifestations belonging, [305] in their essence, to the general being of nature, i.e. as objective and imper­sonal processes. They are anonymous 'functions' which must be left 'to play' according to their own rhythm. Any attempt to modify the natural accomplishment of these functions and to intervene in the so-called autono-

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mous world which they constitute is condemned a priori by the ethic which depends upon naturalist philosophy. Thus it is with the sexual life of man, for example. In a general way, it follows that whatever is left of individual and personal existence is extrinsic to the world of its needs, its exigencies, as well as to the different acts whereby these latter direct themselves toward a real or illusory satisfaction. At the same time, the ego refuses all respon­sibility with regard to its bodily life and its various manifestations. The soul can remain pure when the body is sullied. This distinction, which im­plies the objectification of needs, i.e. their strict dissociation from what constitutes the peculiar and essential-being of the ego and subjectivity, is the principle of a bad faith which is manifested in striking fashion in Rousseau and also, in a certain measure, in Maine de Biran, insofar as the latter remained subject to the influence of the Confessions and, in a more general way, to traditional dualism.

The theory of the subjective body which shows us that the life of our body is in no way a life in the third person comparable to one which we might see expanded throughout the universe forces us to modify this point of view radically. It is not at the moral level and for peculiarly moral reasons that the naturalist ethic is to be condemned. Rather our critique must bear on its philosophical presuppositions which in fact constitute ontological nonsense. Naturalism prohibits a priori the understanding of all human needs because it fails to recognize their peculiar essence. It claims to rehabili­tate the life of the body, but this is precisely its greatest illusion. Believing to defend the rights [306J of the flesh against the spirit, it reduces the latter to the condition of a disincarnated subject which can only survey the concrete determinations of an empirical existence which unfolds itself in an impersonal mode dominated by objective laws. But as we have just seen, such a conception is not peculiar to the naturalist who exalts the objective needs of his body; it is shared in fact by the moralist who despises these and claims that the soul, in its serene purity, is not touched by the trouble which such needs communicate to it. Hence, the theses of naturalism also coincide with those of traditional moralist and intellectualist philo­sophies as well as those of empiricism in general.

But need is subjective; it has the weight, the gravity of the infinite existence which it bears, as well as the simplicity and the transparency of the absolute life at the heart of which it reveals itself. Because need is subjective, it does not have the innocence of a movement of matter; because it is not a simple transcendent displacement which one might consider as neutral from a spiritual point of view, so to speak, it is subject to the categories of ethics. Our bodies will be judged. When desires are reduced to innate tendencies

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or when they are made the simple correlate of organic modifications, then we have taken away from human existence both its effective and con­crete content as well as the peculiar qualification which it assumes in a definite mode of its intentionality and its life. It is not at the level of abstract ideas, it is at the level of needs that our existence really takes place. This is why the satisfaction or the lack of satisfaction of our needs, and more profoundly, the manner in which this satisfaction takes place or does not take place, have such great importance in the history of each individual as well as in the history of human groups.

We generally call the needs of the body material needs. The theory of the subjective body shows us what we must think of such terminology which does not merely stern from naIve ontology but also from a certain number of [307] moral conceptions which, while bound to such an ontology, have taken on their own value and a considerable development. The designation of bodily life as a material life frequently purports to be a protest against intellectualist and idealist philosophy in general: It is rather a consequence thereof To assert the importance of the 'material' life, as opposed to the spiritual life of a disincarnated subject and of an abstract SUbjectivity, is truly to oppose traditional idealism. To call this bodily life 'material' correctly taken as a decisive element of human existence, is to construct the same ontological conception of the body as such an idealism does and, in a general way, as does any philosophy of Hellenic origin. However, to the extent that it recognizes the primordial importance of 'material' needs, i.e. of bodily life in general, every materialistic doctrine assumes a decisive importance in the eyes of the philosophy of the subjective body. Nevertheless, materialism will be able to receive its full development and, in particular, it will be able to bring to the human sciences the enormous contribution which they can legitimately expect from it only when it will have been interpreted in the light of the results of the ontological analysis of the body and, in a more general way, of the philosophy of the subjective body.

The theory of the subjective body which rejects the traditional distinction between body and spirit obliges us to assume at all levels the consequences which such a rejection implies.'2 The examination of these consequences could only be given a brief enumeration here. Such an enumeration merely allows us to become aware of a vast field of investigations which are open to the philosophy of the subjective body (and, in a more general way,

12 cr. M. Henry, "Does the Concept 'Sou!' Mean Anything?" trans!. by G. Etzkorn in Philosophy Today, 13 (1969), 94-114.

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to the philosophy of subjectivity), when it wishes to examine the particular and, nonetheless, essential problems of existence in the light of the general presuppositions peculiar to it. The importance of the latter does not merely stem from the apodictic character of the foundation nor from the absolute evidence of the propositions of the positive science which they constitute [308] and which is nothing other than first ontology. They are also gauged by the fecundity which these fundamental propositions manifest once they are applied to a determined domain. The theory of the subjective body is thus only a first application of the general ontology of sUbjectivity. The more particular problems to which the theory of the subjective body is in turn applied must result in strictly determined investigations in con­formity with the meaning prescribed for them a priori by the ontological content which the philosophy of the subjective body has elaborated in the light of the general presuppositions of the ontology of SUbjectivity.

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Alain 144 Ampere, A. 178 Arnauld 141 Bacon, F. 15, 26 Bergson, H. 9, 88 Bonnet, C. 155, 161(n.) Boutroux, E. 9 Buffon, G. 159 Brunschvicg, L. 181(n.) Cabanis 53, 155 Condillac, E. 14, 25, 59, 128, 158f., 166,

168(n.) Degerando 178 Descartes, R. 8, 26(n.), 35, 40, 43-46,

49, 52-57, 63, 122, 132, 135-153, 155, 158, 185, 198f., 202, 205, 209

De Tracy, D. 35, 53 Dwelshauvers 85-89 Eckhart, Meister 181(n.) Engel 147-149 Fessard, P. 182(n.) Fichte, J. G . 35, 53 Freud, S. 145 Gouhier, H. 174, 178, 182(n.) Hegel, G . W. F. 186, 196f., 200ff., 205, 210 Heidegger, M. 12 Henry, Michel ii, I, 14, 15(n.), 36, 84,

103, 106, 117, 143, 145, 181(n.), 195(n.) Hume, D. 24(n.), 62ff., 66, 141, 147

I 68(n.) Husser!, E. 8, 24(n.), 35, 39, 85, 105 James, W. 88 Jaspers, K. 198f. Kant, 1. 7, 12, 18, 20(n.), 23, 26(n.),

27(n.), 42f., 46f., 67, 69ff., 75f., 106, 122, 151, 177f., 181(n.), 219

Keats 107 Kierkegaard, S. 2, 4, 217 Lachelier, J. 9 Lagneau, J. 9, 65-73, 84, 104ff. Leibniz, G. W. 22, 25, 26(n.), 27, 122,

157, 159 Locke, J . 14, 16,40, 100 Maine de Biran 9, 11f., 19, 35ff., 52-59,

74ff., 96, 110f., 117, 123, 146f., 155, 164, 173, 175, 180ff., 202, 220

- Essai sur les /ondements de fa psycholo­gie et sur ses rapports avec l'itude de fa nature 8, 13-25, 26ff. , 31-34, 38-47, 52f., 60, 64ff., 95-100, 104f. , 112, 114ff., 121f., 128, I 3 If., 147-150, 152, I 54ff., 160ff., 170, 176, 181

- Examen des lefons de philosophie de M. Laromiguiere 179

- Journal intime I 74(n.) - Mhnoire sur fa decomposition de la

pensee 15, 17-20,22-26,40,45,48-51, 55, 59, 70, 73, 77-82, 101, 112ff., 127, 129, 156-160, 163, 166-171, 176, 181

- Nouveaux essais d'anthrop%gie 179 - Rapport des sciences naturelles avec fa

psychologie 176, 178 - Temoignage du seils intirne 177 Malebranche, N. 49, 119 Miller, H. 214 Morgue 88 Neo-Kantians 9, 12,43,67 Nietzsche, F. 209

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Ravaisson, J. 9 Rilke, M. 211(n.) Rimbaud, J. 203, 209 Rousseau, J. ISS, 161(n.), 220 Royer·Collard, P. 178 Schelling, F . W. J. 35, 53, 119


St. Paul 208 Sartre, J .-P. 84-89 Socrates 219 Spinoza, B. 14, 119, 137, 143f., 147(n.) Stoics 121 Wahl, J. 2(n.)

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absolute, 20,23, 27, 37, 44, 119, 149, 174, 176-179, 181,214; cf. beginning, body, certitude, evidence, existence,immanence. subjectivity. transparency.

abstract, transcendent 186; cr. ideas. abstraction(s) 24,26,31, 77f., 83,143 160, 169f., 201 absurdity 7, 87, 1I0f., 147, 170, 189, 198,

201, 203 accident(s) 52, 168 action 13, 20, 23, 31, 49, 52ff., 60f.,

63ff. , 67-71, 77, 79-82, 91, 97f., 104, 108, 125, 146-148, 150, 159, 161, 163-170, I 73ff. , 179, 198ff., 202f.

acts 99,185 aestheticism 107 affection(s) 41(n.), I 56f., 160, 170, 172,

219 affective, cr. Erlebnis. life, tonality affectivity 139, 1411f., 155, 162, 213 affirmations, gratuitous 54 agent 29, 142 agnosticism 177, 179 air 91 alchemy, philosophical 103 alertness 166 alienation 48, 50, 145f., 155, 158, 200 ambiguity 109, III, 137f., 140f., 156 analysis 11,15,19,26,37,40, 56,77, 94f ..

110, 156, 187, 192,203 - of body 36, 109f., 121, 157, 181, 187f.,

193f., 203, 221 - ontological IOf. , 37, 109f., 136, 157,

181, 187, 193, 196, 203, 221

anatomist 63f. anatomy 197 animal(s) 6, 136, 208; cf. behavior, body anthropology, Chr istian 207ff. anxiety 32. 205f., 218(n.) apodictic; cf. certitude, evidence aposteriori 26 appearance(s) 6, 19, 37, 44, 55, 85,

93, 119, 129, 141, 178f. apperception 14, 23, 27, 33f., 38ff., 42f.,

55f., 97, 157, 160 - immediate 14, 26f. , 128, 130, 132 - internal I3f., 21, 23, 43, 128, 130,

132(n.), 171(n.) appetite 186 apprehension 162, 173 a priori 23, 25ff., 28, 30f., 99, 149(n.),

187, 197,222 arm 86 asceticism 204f. attention I 69ff_ attitude, natural 135 attributes, of ego 21 autonomy 158, 174 axiological 142f., 158,204, 218 beginning, absolute 36 behavior 5f., 118f. being 12, 15f., 24, 28, 31, 33ff., 37, 39,

40(n.), 41, 42(n.), 43-46, 51, 531f_, 561f., 62, 64f., 701f., 78, 82, 87f., 90, 92f., 95ff., 98-102, 108f., III, 113, 115, 117ff., 120-123, 126f., 132ff., 134(n.), 140, 159, 166, 172, 175, I 77ff_, 186f., I 881f., 193, 196ff., 2001f., 204, 213ff.

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- and appearance 19, 119, 179 - manifestation of 82, 84, 116 - of body 57f., 60f., 71f., 77, 80, 83,

93,95, 99f., 104, 106, 108ff., 110, 112ff., 117, 119f., 123, 125ff., 129, 134, 148, 163, 166, 185f., 187, 189f., 202f.

- of ego 28, 31, 33ff., 37, 42(n.), 43ff., 46, 57, 60, 62, 69, 71, 95, 97, 102, 126, 133, 162f,: 170ff. 175f., 177, 179, 185, 187, 189

- of movement 54f., 57, 59, 61f., 65, 71, 73, 76, 79f., 90ft'., 96, 104, 124f., 187

- of subjectivity 31, 37, 55, 57, 61, 76, 93, 101, 185, 187

- of world 31, 35, 37, 72f., 93f., 96, 99, 117, 129, 159

- original 30, 34, 43f., 54, 56, 58, 66, 71, 73, 82, 90, 100, 107, 116, 122f., 185, 211f. , 218(n.)

- real 42(n .), 44, 46, 57f., 72, 82, 95ff., 98ff., 119, 122, 134, 179, 198,200

- subjective 42,45, 57f., 62, 104, 106ff., 112, 115, 117, 120, 123, 127, 212

- 'there' 170f., 189, 192f., 211, 214, 218(n.)

- transcendent 1, 3, 5f., 12ff., 19(n.), 24, 29f., 34ff., 39, 43ff. , 54, 57, 62-65, 70ff., 73f., 77, 81, 89f., 93f., 108, 110f., 114ft'., 117f., In, 125, 127, 148, 150, 153, 169, 186ff., 189, 192ff., 196, 198, 201,203,211, 213ff., 216

belief 45 biology 4f., 196 birth 102 blood 145 blue 87 body ii, 1-8, 18,47,57, 60f., 63, 65, 67, 70-

73, 78, 81, 83, 86-89, 91 -93, 96f., 99, 101f., 106, 108, 114f., 118ff., 12If., 128f., 136, 144, 148f., 158, 163, I 84ff., 190, 196, 198,201,203,206-214, 216(n.), 218(n.), 219ff.

- absolute 111,119,129,166, 190f., 193, 194(n.), 196, 199, 201f., 206f., 215f.

- and soul 132, 135, 137ff., 147(n.), 149, 152, ISS, 174ff., 193, 204, 221

- being of 99f., 108, 115, 118, 120, 186 - constituted 61, 90, 108f.. 115, 117,

121 , 125, 127, 133[ - extended 115, 140f., 148, 158, 202 - human 5ff., 8, 136,215, 216(n.) - life of 92, 105f., 108, 130, 220 - object 108ff., lIS, 120, 129, 134, 192f. - objective 51, 118f., 128, 132-135, 190ff,

194, 196, 205f., 207, 214f., 216(n.) - ontological analysis of 10, 120f., 136,

157,181,184, 187f., 215 - ontological theory of 36, 56, 69, 77,

80, 87, 92, 103f., 146f., 154f., 163, 174, 176,1'79, 183, 188, 197, 199f., 205 , 221

- organic 122-135, 148f., 166, 194, 201, 206f., 215

- original 58f., 61f., 64, 77, 80, 92f., 99, 109ff., 112ff., 116, 118, 121f., 124f., 127,129, 133ff., 148, 163, 166, 187, 19Of., 193f., 195(n.), 196, 199, 202f., 206, 208, 210, 212, 214f. , 216(n.)

- our 8, 77, 108, 121, 126, 128, 130ff., 133,135, 194, 208f., 216(n.)

- subjective 8, 11 , 16, 52, 73, 77, 84, 90f., 99f., 104, 107, 109, 112, 117, 120f., 123ff., 127, 129ff., 132ff, 135, 139, 141, 152, 155, 163, 185f., I 87tf., 189, 19Itf., 199f., 202f., 208f., 212, 215, 218(n.), 220tf.

- transcendent 93, 109, I 17f., 120f., 122tf., 125f., 128f., 131-135, 191, 193f., 196, 205, 214f., 216(n.)

- transcendental 8, 73, 106, 133, 188 book 192 boredom 151 brain 51, 114 categories 18, 25tf., 39, 31f., 34ff, 40,

53,66,74, 140, 184, 189f., 220 - transcendental deduction of II, 23f., 28,

30f., 33, 36, 38, 71 , 73[, c[ cause, identity, substance, unity

cause 22, 25, 29-33, 40(n.), 41(n.), 47tf. , 52f., 55, 62[, 65-71, 79, 82, 141, 146, 159, 163, 167

center, organic 114 cerebral 49 certitude 18, 20f., 35(n.), 36, 75f., 146f.,

170,202 - absolute 18,21,35[,48, 54f., 76, 110,


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- sphere of 17f., 20f., 26, 39 chair 192

corporcity 7, 203 correlate 111

characteristic(s) 3, 5f., 8, 25, 29, 37-40, cosmos 32 141, 165, 169, 176, 186 creation, artistic 200

- ontological 96,116,140,138,150,162, 165, 169, 191

children 54, 60 chimera 109 circle 85, 88 Christianity 204, 207, 210 clarification, oDLOlogicai 62, 185, 205f. coaenesthesis 88, 131 cogito 13, 21f., 35, 43f. , 46f., 52-57, 138-

142, 144, 15Of., 156f., 158f. colors 84 concept(s) 45(n.), 47, 101, 116, 142, 183,

196f. condition(s) 25f. , 116, 172(n.), 176 conduct 118; cf. behavior consciousness 2f., 6f., 13 If., 16, 22, 26,

30, 33, 39, 40(n.), 50, 52f., 55, 60, 63, 66, 72, 85ff., 89, 92, 98, 102, 104, 108f., 114,130, 143, 145, 157, 159f., 162, 170, 172, 184, 188f., 193, 196f., 204, 207, 2091f., 214

consequence, ontological 54 constituted; cf. being, body. unity constitution 32f, 381f., 42, 47, 59, 61, 65,

72-75, 79ff. , 82, 85, 87, 891f., 91 , 131f., 151, 185, 216

- of body 109, 115, 117, 120f., 125, 127f., 132f., 134f., 185, 196, 216(n.)

- power of 38, 80, 83f., 93, 131 constructs 9, 18f., 54, 176 - transcendent 20, 56, 139f., 146, 176 contemplation 53 content(s) 17, 96f., 138, 132, 144f., 155,

186ff., 203, 221f. - immanent 110, 142, 149 - original 155, 167, 187f. - phenomenological 138, 165, 167, 177 - sensible 84, 86f., 113 - transcendent 72,82,149, 188,198 - transcendental 138, 165, 187f. contingency 2f. , 6, 175, 189f., 2031f., 206,

208f., 214 continuum 74f., 84, 123 - resisting 35, 37, 73ff., 82ff., 121, 150

culture 4, 209 curve 851f., 89-92 customs 26

data 23, 26, 70, 74, 183f. - phenomenological 19, 141, 146, 149f. - sensible 24, 82f., 87. day 50

dead 186 death 96, 197, 211 , 215 deceit 39

deduction. a reduction 29; cf. categories, transcendental deduction of

deficiency. ontological 18 density. ontological 187

description(s) 33,37,53,91, 135, 195 desire(s) 52, 63f., 101, 185,220 despair 51 , 187,210 destiny 32, 145, 183,208, 211 destruction, philosophical 140 deterioration 109, 149f. determination(s) 2, 8, 17, 37, 42, 44,

46-50, 52f., 56f., 62, 72f., 75, 78f., 82, 96, 99, 106, 1141f., 123, 132, 144, 162, 168, 170, 173, 175, 181, 186, 189f., 195(n.), 207,212,214, 217(n.), 218(n.), 220

- ontological 43f., 116, 120f., 125f., 177, 217

dialectical; cf. structure dialectics 48f., 169 difference(s) 121 , 142, 163, 165, 200 - ontological 116, 118, 163, 165, 172 dispassion 144 dissatisfaction 205 distance 12, 14, 17, 39, 60 - phenomenological 12, 58f., 71 , 93,

127, 180, 194 distinction(s) 26, 177, 210, 213 diversity 129f., 165 division(s) 18, 54, 112-115 dogma 208, 210

domain 18f.; cf. region, sphere dreams 51, 186 dualism 103, 135f., 147, 208

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- Cartesian 63, 135f., 147, 149ff., 153ff., 158

- ontological 15, 116f., 120, 135, 150, 153

- traditional 153, 175, 208f., 220 duality 35,74,115,117-120, 127,133, 204 ear 109, 112, 133 elfect(s) 47f., 60-67, 69, 141, 146 effectiveness. phenomenological 63 efforts 31, 33ff., 37f., 53, 55, 65ff., 69, 71,

73f., 77, 81, 100, 104, 114, 122, 128, 130, 148f., 157f., 166, 170f., 177, 179, 202

- motor 157, 159, 162, 166, 168f., 172, 174

ego 7f., 11-15, 20, 23, 28, 31(n)., 321f., 381f., 41, 43, 45, 47f., 50, 52, 55, 62, 65f., 69, 71, 73, 75, 77, 80f., 92f., 95, 97, 1001f., 103, 106f., 108, 114ff., 118, 128, 130, 133f., 146, 150, 154, 157ff., 160ff., 164f., 167, 171f., 173(n.), 174, 177, 179f., 187, 197, 201, 216(n.), 220

- absolute 118, 133, 185 - and body 118, 120f., 125, 127 - as consciousness 53, 172, 179 - as self-presence 43, 117, 162 - as subjectivity 32f., 37, 42 - being of 34,37,42, 45ff., 51, 57, 60, 69,

71,104,126, 162f., 167, 174ff., 177,180, 189

- essence of 21, 179, 220 - existence of 43, 170, 172 - life of 64, 72, 91, 153, 156, 162f.,

169, 196 - of others 39, 40(n.), 180 - phenomenology of 152, 179 - powers of 34, 91, 121 , 125, 160, 187 - theory of 36, 38, 42, 158, 177 - transcendent 39, 40(n.), 47, 133 - transcendental 28, 38f., 57 - unity of 81, 99f., 118, 166 element(s) 32, 36f., 41 , 48, 53, 57, 64f. ,

70, 73f., 85, 103, 105, 109f., 121, 141, 157, 162, 176, 186, 203f. , 213f.

- heterogeneous 115, 154, 156, 176, 185 - of transcendent being 77, 110, 114f.,


empiricism 24f., 29, 63f., 66, 88, 102f., 105,151,168,178,220

emptiness 49 ends 198ff. energy, of will 63 engagement 54, 199 environment 5, 97, 105 equivocation 46, 195 Erlebnis(se) 138, 143, 154, I 561f. , 159,

165, 175f., 178, 186 - affective 142, 144f., - bodily 139f., 141, 186 error(s) 18, 69f., 111, 157, 168 essence 17, 48, 72, 77, 209 ethical 108 ethics; cf. morality event(s) 41 , 64f., 146 evidence 13f., 18, 24, 116, 173, 182(n.),

198 - absolute 20(n.), 114, 138, 222 evil 217 exactitude, ontological 54 exigencies, philosophical 56 existence 20, 22, 26, 28f., 32ff., 39f., 43,

51,53,64, 95,97,104,108,121,132,139, 145, 157, 161, 157, 173, 175, 183f., 195, 197, 2071f., 210, 212f., 215ff. , 218ff., 221

- absolute 18,33,46,56, 109,219 - concrete 42, 54, 106, 184 - historical 144, 207f., 210, 212 - human 146,206, 212, 21 8f., 221 - modes of 23, 28, 172, 208, 213, 217 - my 53, 97, 145, 168, 215 - of ego 34,43,170,172 - personal 22, 42, 45f., 100, 184, 220 - sphere of 21, 33f., 57, 192 - subjective 66, 206, 209, 216, 219 existential 143, 145, 158, 195 existen tialism 7 experience(s) 5, 17, 23ff., 27ff., 30, 40, 49,

53, 73ff., 83f., 88, 92, 95f., 100, 109ff., 115, 128, 133, 135f., 138f., 143f., 145ff., 149ff., 152, 154f. , 158f., 164-168, 172ff., 175, 177ff., 180, 183, 199, 205f., 211, 21 3f.

- immediate 4, 68, 92, 99, 133, 170 - transcendent 72, 109, 157, 164 169, - internal 16,31 ,47, 110, 131, 133, 145,

186,202,211ff. 169

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- internal transcendental 15(def.),16(0.) 17, 21, 23, 29, 41, 43f. , 54tf., 62, 64, 66-69, 71f., 74f., 80, 89, 91f. , 93f., 99, 107, 109tf., 114, I 24f., 127, 129, 132f., 138f., 148f., 158, 164f., 167, 170, 176, 182(0.), I 87tf., 191, 196

- my 106, 155, 187, 205 - ofworId 47,75,96,117, 129 - original 94, 115, 133, 167f. - sensible 26, 83f., 130f., 160f. - subjective 63f., 116, 133, 138, 158, 170,

179 - transcendent 61, 72, 93f., 128, 191 - transcendental 113, 171, 177 explanation 153 extension 3, 42, 55, 57, 76, 111, 122f.,

131, 136, 138, 140, 148tf.

exterior (external); cr. knowledge, represen-tation, world

exteriority 37,41 , 57,150,188 eye 16,79,109, Il1f., 114, 133 fact(s) 15, 17, 20, 22, 25, 27, 29, 41( n.),

48, 58, 66, 74, 114, 117, 137f., 140ff., 145f., 149, 152, 156, 175, 178

- interior 15, 20, 31, 42 - primitive 17f., 21, 25, 28, 34(n.), 35,

40f., 43, 52, 127, 132(n.), 149, 174ff.

faculties 14, 16(n.), 17f., 22f. , 25f., 38, 40, 49, 50(n.), 66, 77, 95, 100, 112f., 160, 170

faith 39, 182 fall 206, 210

false 137

fantasy 183

fascinatioo 216(0.) fate 154

feeling(s) 3, 13, 31, 34(0.), 39, 40(n.), 41(0.), 43, 45f., 49ff., 53, 58, 63ff., 67-71, 75, 83, 88, 91, 99f., 130, 131(0.), 139, 149, 161 , 163f., 167, 170, 179

fideism 181

field, phenomeoological 20, 135; cf. do­main, region, sphere

finger 84-87, 89, 91 finitude 7, 145, 189, 198f., 203-206,


fluid 19

flesh 183, 204-208, 217, 220

force(s) 13, 19f., 22, 29, 3Iff., 39f., 41(0.), 47f., 49, 52f., 55, 78, 97, 104, 147, 174, 177, 179, 186

forgetfulness, self- 171 formes) 22(0.), 27, 34, 38, 42, 49, 72, 74,

83, 85f., 95, 102, 113, 128f., 168, 187f., 197

foundation(s) 2, 4, 7, 17, 20-23, 30, 34tf., 38, 4If., 46, 48f., 69, 72, 75, 78, 84, 94. 96-101 , 102, 104, 106, 111, 11 5f., 118, 120tf., 125tf., 130, 161, 164, 166, 184, 187, 195f., 199, 205tf., 222

~ ontological 104, 161f., 164, 180, 191, 195f.

- phenomenological 4, 20, 141 freedom 22, 31, 34(n.), 154, 158, 161(n.),

218(n.) functions 47, 49, 64, 219 future 86, 97 generalization 25 geometry 27 gestures 55, 199, 218(n.) goal 61; cf. ends God 49, 119, 137, 179 grace 173-176, 181, 182(n.) happiness 143 harmony 147, 208 hate 142f. hearing 79f., 83, 112, 133, 164f., 170f.,

172(n.), 185 heavens 111 ,119,146 helplessness 154 heritage, cultural 183 heroes 54 heterogeneity 83, 87, 204 history (historical) 4(n.), 10, 21(n.), 37,

54, 143, 154, 175,221 homogeneity, ontological 12If., 164, 166,

172 horizon 12, 15,46,93, 181, 189, 198,211 - ontological 5, 62, 66, 68, 134 - philosophical 62, 137f., 146, 177, 181f. 'how' 37; cf. manifestation human; cf. body, existence, reality, world humanism 204, 208f. hypothesis(es) 18, 25, 45, 48, 69, 88,

113, 138, 140, 151, 167 idea(s) 16f., 24f., 27, 29, 30-34, 37, 40

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41(n.), 47, 49f., 52, 57, 61, 66f., 69, 71, 73f., 83, 85, 95, 105, 112ff., 147, I 69f., 206

- abstract 22, 24, 39, 221 - innate 25, 50(n.) - original 22f., 35f. idealism 75, 168, 186, 191, 195,200, 221 identi ty 19,22,25,31 , 33, 100, 120, 133f.,

163f. ideology, subjective 14, 16f., 22, 38 illusion(s) 49, 84, 105, 108, 110, 115 image(s) 13f., 24, 32, 37, 82ff., 85-90,

98,101,105,114,125,134,156,158,162, 173(n.), 175, 200; cf. representation(s)

imagination 13,16,22,29, ISS, I 57f., 161f. immanence 1,16,23,29,34,49,53,61,74,

79, 82f., 91, 94, 99, 104, 109, 151, 168, 174, 178, 190, 195(n.)

- absolute I, 17ff., 23, 33, 43, 58, 62, 71, 76, 89, 93, 97, 116, ll8, 121, 149, 153, 190

- radical 44, 109f., 162, 166, 196 - sphere of absolute 23f., 28, 36, 38ff.,

44f., 54, 65, 73, 75, 77, 102, 109, 111, 116,119,123,125,127, ISO, 162, 166f., 169,172, 185ff, 196, 198,201,203,211, 219

- transcendental 23, 33, 36, 80, 114, 189 immanent 90,100,106; cr. content, know­

ledge immediate; cf. apperception, knowledge,

manifestation, power impression(s) 69, 77, 79, 8Iff., 85ff., 88,

131f., 159ff., 163, 171 - kinaesthetic 85ff., 88ff., 91 - passive 82, 163, 170 - sensible 81, 86, 160 - sonorous 80r., 95, 164f., 171 incarnation. 3. 6, 50f,. 183f,. 189, 203ff. individual 42f., 105f., 161 , 187 individuality 83, 97, 102ff., 107, ll6, 130 individuation 99, 101f. innatism 28, 40(n.) innocence 203, 220 instinct 155 instrument(s) 59, 61, 63f., 89, 93, ll3,

125, 132 intellect(ual) 66, 94

intellectualism 66, 104, 125, 141f., 143, 146, 186, 198

intelligence 26, 156 intention(s) 86, 88, 200-203 intentionality(ies) 14, 16f., 28, 55, 58,

71-75, 87, 99, 110, 162, 165, 167, 169, 172f., 185f., 189-196, 201ff., 207f. , 210-215, 216(n.), 217f. , 221

interior (internal, intimate); cf. appercep­tion, experience, facts, knowledge, life, observation, sensations, sense

interiority 90, 169 - ontological 98, 126, 133, 162 interpretation, ontological 57, 123, 166,

180, 183, 186f., 195(n.) interrogation, philosoj:hical 135 introspection 9, 15 intuition 9, IS, 21, 23, 27, 30, 56f., 122,

132(n.), 157, 162, 171, 175f., 181f. ipseity 37f., 41, 93,127 judgment(s) 16, 21f., 26, 28, 31 , 68-71,

104f., 176 - intuitive 2Iff.,28 kinaesthetic; cr. impressions, sensations knowledge 4, 7, 12ff., 16ff., 23, 25ff., 34,

43,53,60, 62f., 68f., 77, 80f., 94f., 97-100, 105, 128f., 131, 135, 139, 143, 145, 156, 166, 177, 179ff., 183, 187f., 198f.

- absolute 110, 180, 187f., 194, 199,203 - 'exterior' 12, 46, 128, 132 - immediate 12, 31, 58, 65ff., 70f., 74,

92f., 116, 128, 131 - intellectual 73f., 94, 105, 135, 140,

143f., 199 - interior 14,33,61,70 - objective 46, 49, 128f., 132 - of body 58f., 93f., 109, ll8, 128, 188 - of movements 54, 58, 88f., 98 - of self (self-) 14, 39,42,93, lll, 172,

I 79ff. - of world 93f., 97, 99, 128 - ontological 40ff., 43, 45, 57, 72, 94f.,

97ff., 100, 102, 111f. - original 33, 54, 57ff., 66, 69, 73, 80,

93ff., 96, 112, 128f., 131f .. 165 - possibility of 42, 97, 102 - primordial 5,46, 58f., 69, 71, 94f., 112,

129, 131

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- representative 64, 128, 131f., 134(n.), 199

- thematic 55, 70, 73, 89, 93 - theoretical 72, 74, 94, 105, 128, 131,

140, 143f., 199 - types of 16(n.), 46, 54, 58, 95, 99,

118,128,143,180 - unity of 83, 92, 102, 165 language 12,22,25,32, 109ff., 113, 171(n.) 1evel(s) 19, 34, 62, 80, 99, 103 life 5, 3If., 39, 42f., 50, 53, 55, 63, 71, 74,

78, 82, 92, 104ff., 107, 112, 133ff., 139, 143f., 151, 154ff., 159, 16Iff., 165, 167f., 171 , 173-176, 181, 183f., 187f., 191, 196ff., 201, 203, 206f., 213, 219, 221

- absolute 112, 115f., 127, I 29f., 134, 174f., 190, 192, 196, 215., 217, 219f.,

- active 156, 16If., 167, I 69(n.), 202 - affective 135, 143f., 154f., 157ff., 173 - bodily (of body) 92, 106, 108, 123,

126f., 129f., 133ff., 164, 168, 183, 186, 191f., 205ff. , 213, 215, 219, 221

- concrete 65, 71, 75, 91, 95, 99, 103, 105f., 143, 163

- immanent 176,191,197, 203 - interior 9,63, 75f., 151, 157f., - natural 22, 32, 85, 153 - of consciousness 52, 105, 143, 197 - of ego 62, 64f., 73, 75, 92, 126, 130,

153, 162, 169, 196,211 - of subjectivity 62, 72, 106, 108, 11 Of. ,

118, 122, 126, 158, 162, 169, 173, 210, 217

- our 55, 107,166,178, 196, 212 - psychological 101, 156f., 160,202,215 - sensible 78, 105f., 112f., 156f., 159,

173, 175, 205 - sexual 213, 218(n.), 221 - subjective 111, 115, 125, 158,211 - theoretical 72, 105, 144, 202 - unity of 91 , 117, 166, 175; cf. body light 43, 50 look 89, 186 love 143, 211 , 218(n.) lying 39 machines, animal 136 magic 29, 33, 119, 202 man 2ff., 6f., 11, 32, 41, 54, 59f., 76,

94, 102f., 130, 135f., 145f., 156, 161(n.), 173, 181, 183f., I 88f., 191, 193, 196, 204f., 206ff., 206ff., 212, 215

manifestation 41, 82, 90, 111, 119f., 188 - immediate 82, 84 - modes of 37,44, 11 8f., 122; cf. appea-

rance, revelation mass(es) 122, 125, 131, 135 - transcendent 61, 63, 77, 129 materialism 11,51, 178, 218(n.), 221 matter 28, 50, 83, 116, 220

meaning 27, 56, 61, 64, 82, 86f., 95-99, 103f., 111f., 143ff., 151, 167, 178, 189, 208, 217

- existential 143f., 209, 218(n.) - ontological 37, 104, 151 , 158f., 169,

181, 188, 209f. , 212, 215, 217 - philosophical 42, 66, 175, 208 means 17, 60f., 64, 93, 198ff.

mechanism(s) 57, 100, 145, 158, 198, 209 memory 16, 22, 80f., 92, 95, 97ff., 99ff.,


metaphysicians 25, 51, 113, 151, 178 metaphysics 14,20,27,49, 51, 157 methodes) 15, 19, 26f.

milieu 17, 36f., 52, 56f., 61, 104, 106, 116,131 , 186ff., 207

- of existence 45, 104, 215

- transcendent 59, 63, 74, 131, 166; cf. domain, region, sphere

mode(s) 41, 52, 56; cf. existence, manifes­tation, revelation, sensibility

modification(s) 18, 24, 48, 52, 67ff., 70, 16Of., 165, 221

monads 157

monism, ontological 14, 16(n.), 24, 46, 178,188

morality 103, 145, 184f., 198f., 202f., 213, 217, 220

movement(s) 13, 52f., 55-74, 77, 79, 81 -85, 89-96,99,101-104,106,108,114,116, 12If., 127, 129, 136, 145, 148f., 156, 164, 166, 172(n.), 185, 188

- being of 54,66,76,97, 104, 148

- bodily 63, 86ff., 89, 121f. - original 59, 75, 78, 91, 96, 104, 148 - real 57, 59, 6If., 73, 79, 96

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- subjective 57, 59, 61 , 63, 65, 69, 71, 73, 75f., 78ff., 82f., 87, 89-92, 94, 98, 118, 120ff., 123ff., 126, 128f., 131, 135, 148ff., 173, 175, 187, 199, 202

muscles 63f., 67f., 88, 122, 130, 148 mystery 85, 165, 189 myth (mythology) 51, 101, 146 nalvet., philosophical 54 naturalism 204,219f. nature(s) 15, 24, 40, 45, 57f., 63, 65, 71 ,

76, 106, 109ff., 115, 136, 140, 147, 156 - human 54, 141, 188 - primitive 136f., 140f., 152 necessity 34ff., 68, 71, 106, 143, 154, 177,

184, 194 need(s) 51, 152, 219ff. negativity 197, 200 nerves 49, 63f., night 50,60, IOlf., 116 non-ego 161 ; cf. 'other' nonsense, ontological III , 157,220. nothingness 32, 38, 42, 44, 48, 51, 57,

60,73,162, 168ff., 180, 186, 189, 197 notion(s) 20, 22, 25; cf. ideas noumena 149f., 177-180 object(s) 5, 16, 20, 33, 38, 40, 42, 54, 59,

65,78,89,94,96,109, Ill, 129, 132(n.), 133, 136, 143, 156, 169, 171, 177, 179f., 185,190, 192f., 195,198, 202,211, 213f., 216(n.)

objective; cf. body objectification 13, 201, 214, 220 objectivity 200,215 obscurity, ontological 36, 66, 112, 157,

160,206 observation, exterior and interior 15f., 18,

27,37,48 occasionalism 147 odor 79, 157, 160f., 163 on tic 37, 116 ontological 20; cr. analysis, characteristic,

clarification, consequence, deficiency, de­terminations, difference, dualism, homo­geneity, horizon, interiority. interpre­tation, knowledge, meaning, monism, nonsense, obscurity, passivity, possibi­lity, power, problem, proof, region, status, sufficiency. viewpoint

ontology If., 6, II, 15, 30 57, 63, 66, 71,76, 157, 179, 184f., 205ff., 219, 221f.

- of subjectivi ty 16f., 23, 25, 51, 71, 120, 156f., 176, 178, 180f., 182(n.), 222

- phenomenological 7r., 11, 20, 28, 44, 57f., 110, 115, 122, 138, 154, 176, 178

operation(s) 13, 17, 162, 170 opposition(s) 37, 54, 167 organs, bodily 49f., 59, 63f., 76ff., 86, 91,

93, 112ff., 116f., 123f., 128f., 134, 156f. organic; cr. body origin(s) 27f., 30f., 34, 38, 40, 120 original; cr. being, body, experience, ideas,

knowledge, movement, region, relation­ship, revelation, truth, unity

other ('the other') 8, 38, 118,216 parallelism 147f., 151 paralogism(s) 46, 100, 128, 135 passion(s) 139-143, 145, 155f., 158, 174 passivity 36(n.), 154, 157, 161-167, 173-

176 - ontological theory of 131,159,167,169,

172f. past 86,97-102 perception(s) 6, 17, 19, 46, 82, 85ff., 95,

101, l04f., 109, 129, 132, 134, 161, 171, 196

person 22 - 'in the first person' 8, 146, 196, 202 - 'in the third person' 6, 55, 64f., 85,

140, 145(n.), 146, 148, 156, 159, 190, 202f., 220

perspective(s) 19, 54, 70, 88, 93, 177f., I 94f.

phenomenon(a) 7, 13, 29, 32, 39, 42, 44, 48,50,58, 61f., 65, 81, 84, 90f., 95, 97f., 102, 109, 11 Iff., 115, 118f., 134f., 146, 156, 164ff., 17If., 176, 177ff., 191, 215, 219

- natural 24, 64, 111, 177f. - original 89, 188, 195(n.), 219 phenomenological 76; cf. appearances,

being, content, data, distance, effective­ness, field, foundation, ontology, reduc­tion, status, viewpoint

phenomenology 8, 15,46,80,95, 119(def.), 134, 155f., 172, 178f.

- transcendental 16f., 20, 26f., 45, 67,

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113, 152, 156 philosophers 9, 17, 21, 35, 37, 48f., 53,

55f., 104, 130, 152, 168 philosophical; cr. exigencies, horizon, mean­

ing, naivete, presuppositions, reflection, tradition

philosophy 8, 19, 20(n.), 22, 24, 29, 34, 36, 39f., 43, 51 , 52, 54, 57, 64, 67, 101, 108, J 15, 132, 140, 146, 152, 155ft·., 159, 162, 168f., 174lf., 178f., 195f., 199, 202f., 218, 220f.

- Biranian 14f., 19,45,155,173, 175f., 179,181f.

- first 6f., 9f., 19, 41, 54,71 - of body 185, 194(n.), 218, 221f. - of subjectivity 158, 170, 177, 186, 202,

221 physiologists 51, 63f., 113, 155 physiology 13, 49f., 113f. positivism 29, 32

- philosophical 47, 66, 109 primitive (primordial); cr. fact, knowledge principle(s) 22, 49f. , 176, 178 problem, ontological 6, 30, 65 problematic, 8, 4If., 46,58 process(es) 62f., 73, 94, 101, 157f., 160 - physiological 73, 85, 156 production, power of 53, 55, 66 proof, 'ontological' 35 protentions 85f., 100 proximity 117 psychoanalysis 50, 101 psychological 100f.; cf. life psychologism 20(n.), 188 psychologists 16,22,37,84,88, 130 psychology 9, 15, 20lf., 23, 39, 47, 67,

109,156, 173f., 178, 181f. - classical 16,66, 151, 194 - empirical 16,66,68, 181f. - rational 22f., 28, 46

possession, self- 36, 54, 61f., 64, 78, 133, quaHties, sensible 24 165, 196 questions, metaphysical 152

possible(s) 20, 26, 30, 61, 175 possibility 25,27, 29lf., 96lf., 99, 102, 107,

113,116,185 - ontological 29, 95f., 11 7, 159, 172,

187, 189 - permanent 98, 211, 216 - pure 95,98, 100; cf. knowledge power(s) 24, 38, 53lf., 59f., 65f., 71f.,

78lf., 94, 96f. , 98f., 103, 109, 116f., 123, 131, 162lf., 169, 173(n.), 175, 187

- immediate 116, 121, 123 - of body 58,93,96, 109, 116, 124, 166 - of ego 91,125,160, 174f., 187 - of sensing 78, 81, 90, 97, 103f., 109,

112f., 163f., 173 - ontological 99, 1l0, 160, 166; cf.

constitution, faculties, forces, produc­tion

praxis 55 prejudice 140, 142, 144 presence 37,72, 84lf., 89, 93f., I11f., 118f.,

162, 166, 182, 187,202,214 - self- 37f., 42,112,117, 162 presentation, auto- 42 presupposition(s) 11, 45, 56, 58, 106,

120r., 205

radical; cr. immanence rationalism 24f. real 20,31, 73lf., 81lf. realism 44,51, 146, 150 reality 25, 62, 76, 77, 126, 129, 149, 158,

174,182, 187f., 200, 208, 210 - constituted 58, 108,115 - human 7f. , 19, 47,50,96, 102 - transcendent 61, 1l0, 182(n.) reason 16, 22f., 33 reduction 19ff., 22ff., 28f., 31, 36, 56,

76, 77, 89 - phenomenological 5, 18, 26, 29, 35,

45,56,75,121,126,138 reflection 13, 15, 46, 55f., 58, 108, IlOlf.,

113, 138, 169lf. - Biranian 12,14,17,112,146 - philosophical 3, 108, 135, 137, 146,

ISO, 175, 188, 210 region 3, 6f., 23f., 27, 33, 46, 56, 71, 121,

123 - ontological 3, 8, 24f., 46, 52, 58, 117,

121,141, 150f., 189, 216 - original 25,90, 101, 106, 151 - transcendent 93,115,150; cr. domain,

milieu, sphere

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relationship(s) 2f., 32, 63, 65f., 74, 78, 88,94,97, 108,11 I, I13f., 126, 133, 135f., 144,148,150,164,I92f.

- body 4, 115, I 23f., 126, 148, 150ff., 191, 193, 195(n.)

- ego 4, 17, 39f., 79, 126, 133, 193, 195(n.)

- movement 74, 85. 88f., 94, 149 - original 4, 94, 106 127 - transcendental 32,124,127,148, 150f.,

159, 190, 193, 195(n.), 199,202 relative 20, 179 religion 183f. reminiscence, personal 100f. representation(s) 15, 29,40,42,53,61,66,

72ff. , 77, 85, 94, 104, 11 If., 125, 132(n.), 133f., 148ff., 157, 169, 183f., 19Iff., 195, 199(n.), 201, 211, 215

- external 13,41, 128 - naive 110, 191, 193 - of body 121, 125, 134 reproduction 33f., 38, 80, 95, 99, 165 resistance 31 ,82, 122f., 125, 128f. resisting; cf. continuum, terminus resolution 198f. responsibility 220 resurrection, of body 208f., 2 I 7 retention(s) 85f., 100 revelation 66f., 68f., 72, 117ff., 176ff., 185,

203 - original 15(n.), 44, 116, 120,172, 176,

179f., 187f. - self· 71,117,172, 179f. risk 55, 199 rite 218(n.) romanticism 53 rose 157, 160f. sacrilege 181 sanctions 26 salvation 206f., 212 schema(ta) 105, 124f., 155, 194, 198 science(s) 4ff., 8, 13, 15, 18·22, 26f., 32,

47ff., 108, 123, 128f., 132, 145, 178, 183f., 222

- of man 10, 14, 18f., 45, 47, 156; cf. biology, ontology, psychology

seeing 17,82,86, 90f., 94, 96, 109·112, 114, 109· 112,114,126,128,133,161, 168ff., 185

self, as auto-presentation 42, 90, 200; cf. ego

sensation(s) 14, 24, 39, 59, 74, 77ff., 81·84,92,103,105,107,113, 129f., 156, 160, 162f., 168, !7l (n.), 173

- internal 84, 129ff. - kinaesthetic 86f., 88f., 91, 93 - muscular 66·71 - visual 86ff., 91, 168 sense(s) 16f., 42, 66, 79, 81·84, 88, 92f.,

95,102,112,116, 128f., 131, 147ff., 152, 166

- common 4, 6,109, 184, 195 - intimate 17, 20, 66, 100, 114, 148f.,

154,156,159,176 sensible 87, 217; cf. content, data, ex­

perience, life, qualities, world sensibi lity 18,35, 41(n.), 106f., 113, 129ff.,

155·158, 160f. sensing 77f., 106f., 159ff., I 62f. , 172(n.),

185, 187f. - power of 77,97,113, 164 sensual(ism) 156, 158, 161, 178, 217 servitude 158 sexuality 4(n.), 213ff., 216(n.), 217 shame 2 sign(s) 21,25,46, 49, 114,116, 171(n.) - twofold usage of 108, I 10f., I 13, I 15f.,

120, 134, 157 sin 204, 206f., 209f. situation 7, 190·194, 195(n.), 198, 203 skepticism, Humian 147 sleep 100 smell 79 solid(ity) 59, 95, 97ff. soul I I, 18, 25ff., 36, 43ff., 46ff., 49ff.,

60f., 109, 121f., 132, 177,208, 220,22I(n.) - and body 135, 137ff., 141, 146, I 49f.,

152, 155, I 74ff., 193 sound(s) 79ff., 83, 164, 172 space 59, 74f., 77f., 122ff., 130f., 133,

189, 211 speaking 165, 170, 171(n.), 172(n.) sphere; cf. certitude, existence, immanence,


spirit 7, 10,28, 44f., 102f., 145, 174, 183, 196f., 200, 204, 206f., 208, 220

spontaneity 106

Page 240: Michel Henry Philosophy and Phenomenology of Body (1965)


stars III statue 157, 160ff., 167 state(s) 62, 64, 96, 113, 144 status - of categories 25, 42. 49, 120,

143, 191, 193, 197 - ontological 16(n.), 29, 49, 56, 92, 100,

124, 142, 166, 178, 191, 194, 199,214 - phenomenological 28, 138, 142f., 194 structure(s) - dialectical 2, 5ff., 55, 57, 97f., 106,

1l6f., 130, 140, 157, 170, 185 - of body 93, 99, 115, 122, 191 - of ego 57, 172, 180 - of manifestation 27,41, 119 - of organs 116, 124f. , 129 - of subjectivity 84,92, 143, 175, 180[.,

187 subject 21, 23, 42, 46, 61, 68, 160, 170,

220f. - logical 38, 42, 46, 57, 92 subjective; cf. being, body, ideology, move­

ment subjectivity 1, 3, 9, II, 14, 16f., 22f.,

29, 37-40, 43, 45, 48, 51, 54ff., 56ff., 60,73,76,78,84,97, 104, 127, 140, 143, 155, 161, 165, 167ff., 170f., 180, I 84f., 186ff., 193, 195(n.), 197f., 200, 202, 209, 215,220f.

- absolute 8, 44, 61, 89f., 93f., 99ff., 102f., 106, 108, 1l0ff., 1l4f., 117f., 124f., 127, 139, 142f., 148, 150, 158, 162, 165, 175, 180ff., I 85f., I 87f., 191, 201, 206, 208, 219

- as immanence 89, 91, 93f., 178 - being of 31,76, 101, 187 - life of 1l0f., 122, 126, 129, 173, 197,

210,217 - ontology of 17, 23, 25, 27f., 30f.,

33,42,46, 51, 56, 63f., 67, 69, 71, 120, 156f., 178, 180f., 182(n.)

- philosophy of 158,170, 186, 191,203 - sphere of 19, 26, 33ff., 52, 58, 66, 70,

120f., 140, 189 - transcendental 7, 55, 58, 62, 65, 72,

140, 143 substance 22, 27, 34ff., 41 (n.), 44f., 47,

52f., 73, 81, 102, 137, 149, 151, 159, 168,177

- extended 137f., 141, 148 - idea of 25, 40(n.), 73, 83 - thinking 138, 141, 148

substantial(ism) 20, 43 suffering 159 sufficiency, ontological 127, 141 symbol(ism) 92(n.), 114 synthesis, passive 164, 167f., 172, 187

system(s) 18, 27, 122f., 130f. tautology 49,92, 104 tegument, sensible 83 temporal 74, 85 tendencies, innate 220

tension, latent 88, 122 166, 168,202 term(s) 17,25,39,119 terminology 12, 14, 19f., 100

terminus(i) 6,49,61,75,78,93,96,110, 1l7, 1l9, 123, 127, I 29f., 135, 148ff., 170,196,198,202,208,214

- of movement 95, 125f., 131 - resisting 35,73-76, 121f. - transcendent 25, 26f., 43, 47f., 50f.,

72f., 75, 79, 83, 9If., 95f., 98, 102, 125f., 128, 150, 199; cf. continuum

theology 49, 181,207 theory(ies) - Cartesian 137-142 - Kantian 23 - of affectivity 142f., 145, 159, 162 - of belief I 76ff. - of body 36, 56f., 67, 69, 80, 103,

154f., 163f., 176, 179, 186, 188,220

- of categories 18, 23, 25, 32ff. - of ego 36,38,42,45,158,177, 179 - of existence 33 - offaculties 18, 22 - of knowledge 18, 59 - of movements 54, 61, 67ff., 77 - of passivity 131, 145, 159, 167, 169,

172 - of sensibility 131 - of subjectivity 33, 56 - of world 14, 18

things 14, 29, 31, 34, 37,41,44, 58f., 81, 83, 94f., 97, 105, 109, Ill, 117, 189

- essence of 75, 119

- transcendent 189f., 192-195

Page 241: Michel Henry Philosophy and Phenomenology of Body (1965)


thought 21 , 24,32,37, 43ff., 46, 48, 52ff., 55f., 60f., 68, 77, 91, 99, 137ff., I 42ff., 148, 157f., 162, 175, 177, 183, 186, 198, 204,206

- essence of 141, 143 - pure 44, 53, 140f., 143, 158, 200 time 37,81,87, 98ff., 211 tonality, affective 130, 141, 143f., 154,

161 touch 81ff., 94f., 97, 109f., 112, 128, 132 tradition(s) 204ff., 208f., 217 - philosophical 132, 147, 193, 204, 206 transcendence 14, 38, 74, 113, 116[., 122,

126f., 150, 196, 201, 203, 214, 219 transcendent 45, 50, 58, 74, 78, 83, 109,

186, 190, 211, 214; cf. being, constructs, content, ego, element, experience, mass, milieu, terminus, unity

transcendenta123, 186; cf. body. categories, content, ego, experience, immanence, phenomenology, relationship. subjec­tivity

transparency, absolute 39, 60, 102, 119, 165,220

truth 17f., 19(n.), 22, 34, 44, 76, 89, 93, 104ff., 115f., 142, 144, 147, 150, 167,213

- of transcendent being 72f. , 76, 109, 116

- original 17, 22, 26, 29, 34, 42f., 55, 57, 72ff., 76, 119, 127

uDconscious(ness) 49, 55, 70, 85, 88f., 101f., 145, 163, 199

understanding 22f., 33, 149, 186 unity 43, 48, 72, 75, 77ff., 84, 100, 117,

123, 141, 165 - category of 22, 31, 34, 38 - constituted 77f., 84, 99 - idea of 25,32, 41(n.) - of body 77,84,92, 99f., 115, 118, 120f.,

123ff., 127, 129, 133, 164, 166,209 - of ego 34, 81, 91, 99f., 126, 130, 161,

165f., 172, 180 - of experience 88, 118f., 124, 135 - of knowledge 83,99, 102, 165 - oflife 91f., 117, 129f., 164, 166, 180 - of movement 79,91, 102, 164

- of senses 83,92, 102, 164 - of world 34, 75, 79, 92 - ontological 89, 158, 165 - original 33, 91 , 98, 100, 123ff. - soul-body 132, 135, 137ff., 141, 151f.,

175f. - subjective 81,91,98, 123f. - substantial 139f., 142, 144, 146, 151 - transcendent 84, 98, 124f., 133 - transcendental 99, 123f.; cf. ego, world universe 7, 50f., 53, 61, 70, 75, 79, 97,

107, 116f. value(s) 42, 86, 129, 141,208 viewpoint(s) 19(n.), 26, 32, 65, 149ff.,

166f., 176, 179, 186,207,210, 218(n.) - ontological 3f., 127, 175, 198, 201,

207, 218(n.), 219 - phenomenological 87, 149, 151, 175,

178 vitalism, romantic 209 voice 79tf., 164 Vorhanden 94 will 16f., 50, 55, 60, 63, 66ff., 82,101,112,

128, 130, 145, 148, 154, 156-159, 161ff., 168, 172, 175

work 218(n.) world 7, 14,24,26,29-32, 34f., 38, 40-43,

48, 53tf., 58, 60f., 64f., 7Itf., 76, 83, 90, 93f., 96f., 101f., 104f., 110, 115, 120f., 124., 127f., 135, 148, 150, 159, 171, 184, 186, 190f., 193, 195, 21Of., 204, 214ff., 218ff.

- external 39,75, 106, 151, 172 - human 20f., 33, 40 - of ego 32f., 106 - of experience 30, 47, 83, 117 - real 26, 30, 40, 73, 82f., 87,92 - sensible 35,79, 82ff., 87, 92, 104, 204f. - unity of 84, 92, 99, 118 - visual 78, 83, III 'x' - as undetermined thing 26, 38, 44,

47f., 84, 88, 101, 145 - as transcendent terminus 25, 27, 43,

45, 47f., 50f., 149 zones, affective 130 Zuhanden 94

Page 242: Michel Henry Philosophy and Phenomenology of Body (1965)



-Under the guise of

Biran, Michel Henry has ophy of the person nence, of life and of Philosophy Jlnd of his major work The interpreted in dose

- -

de philos-

After centuries of narcissism and the whining COfl-

fiteors of uIl.Iversal relativism, it is encouraging to learn again that "the is after all possessed of absolute truth and certitude regarding his personal experiences which are predicated on the immanence and unity of the self. By careful analyses, Henry shows that transcendence is 'within', not within some pure Platonic ()r Car­tesian soul, but within fhe body as well Consequenily, the tmnscendent 'outside' is not the pnvileged locus of troth. By this Ifenry does not. intend to denigrate- l bjectivity or the findings of science, he merely wishes to remind scientists and philosophers that the human subject is. absolutely indispensible to meaning and trmh. .

The student of troth will find no ma~.£: methodology in the philos­ophy ()f Michel Heury. Language is-the tool of man Vlha is .:onslantly blifdened with making it meaningful by l'elating it to his experience while striving to rid it of ambiguities where this is germaioe to hIS pUQ2oses. Michel Henry is his own man and hcnce his phenomenol()gy is not one of a clisembodied, dispassionate and disinterested spectator who is content to inventory the world -of exferniil facts. Life m the world, its events and experiences do not hqpen to some 'it' and the unobserved universe will have to Temain the postulate of sciencC" or the6logy:, By the sam~ token, Henry is no mystic Who is" unable or unwilling to accoun t for his experiellces, be is rather a philosopher who is dedicated to giVjh!! au essantiaJ analysis of funda­mental phHosopbical problems.

- -


-Girard Etzl::om bas his Ph.D. in pl1ihlSOl'hy from the University of LOllvain. -

He has contnouted a numher of articles to. the Encyclopedia of Pfrilosop!ry anet the New Cmholfc Encyclopedia. He has likewise translated Michel H omy's Essence of Manifestalion. (MartitIUs Nijhoff, 191'3). In tlie field of mediaeval texts, Professor Etzk&rn bas _ made a critical _ edition of Ro.ger Marston:s, Qllodlibeta Qna/uor. 'He. is presently a rcs",arcn associate at the Franciscan Institute, St. Bonaventure Ubj'/ersily, where ne is comp!eting critical e<liUons of John PechamOs, Quodlibeta Quctuor and WiUh m=Qf Ockham'" Commentary on Lombard's Selue.lJCes.

ISBN 90 247 1735 3