“The ardent desire of many highly desired”


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“The ardent desire of many highly desired”

  • “The ardent desire of many highly desired”

    • Maurice Scève (16th century French poet)
  • “No one is who doesn’t love.”



Philosophy has—philosophers have—betrayed love… “One would almost doubt whether philosophers experience love….”

  • Philosophy has—philosophers have—betrayed love… “One would almost doubt whether philosophers experience love….”

  • We lack words, concepts, and strength.

  • Other disciplines—poetry, literature, theology, and psychoanalysis—all fail to help me truly understand the meaning of love.

  • Thus we are “condemned to feed on scraps” of the media, entertainment industry, and pop psychologists.



That philosophy has deserted “the question of love” is shocking and scandalous, for love belongs to its very name φιλοσοφία.

  • That philosophy has deserted “the question of love” is shocking and scandalous, for love belongs to its very name φιλοσοφία.

  • What does this name mean?

  • But instead of being “the love of wisdom” philosophy has become metaphysics, opening the way to science.



Marion’s hypothesis: “Out of philosophy’s amorous disaster we can reconstruct an inquiry on love.” (3)

  • Marion’s hypothesis: “Out of philosophy’s amorous disaster we can reconstruct an inquiry on love.” (3)

  • The current situation: the powerlessness of philosophy

  • Our point of departure: A trace of a path: See where philosophy went wrong



Our point of departure: The three inversions

  • Our point of departure: The three inversions

  • Philosophy refused love’s unity…

    • “A serious concept of love distinguishes itsef by its unity…” (5)
  • …Love’s rationality…

  • …and Love’s primacy

    • Focus on the erotic phenomenon itself—without being


Our point of departure: The three prohibitions are all rooted in a single decision:

  • Our point of departure: The three prohibitions are all rooted in a single decision:

    • that love is a derivative modality
  • Contra the Cartesian paradigm of the ego cogito and Descartes’ shocking error

    • We are lovers (ego amans) before we are thinkers (ego cogitans)
  • So we now need erotic meditations rather than metaphysical ones



Destroying the tradition

  • Destroying the tradition

  • Avoiding citations

  • No presupposed lexicon or theories

  • “To the things themselves” (phenomenology)

  • Readers can test this all themselves

  • “One must speak of love…in first person” and yet he will “say I in your name.” (9-10)

  • Humility



Etymological definition: phainomenon + logos: “the study of that which appears” (to consciousness as it appears), the study of experience as such.

  • Etymological definition: phainomenon + logos: “the study of that which appears” (to consciousness as it appears), the study of experience as such.

  • A method of doing philosophy:

    • a descriptive clarification of “the things themselves.”
    • not a set of doctrines; “There is no the one phenomenology” (Heidegger).
  • For Husserl consciousness has an inherent a prior structure that can be systematically analyzed and described, thus phenomenology can be understood as “a methodological description of the structures of experience.”

  • Phenomenology also denotes the complex philosophical movement developed in the 20th century in Continental Europe following Husserl (Heidegger, Sartre, Levinas, Derrida).



The natural attitude, epoché , and phenomenological reduction

  • The natural attitude, epoché , and phenomenological reduction

  • The natural attitude is our ordinary, everyday outlook on life, which includes an awareness of a world of objects spread out in time and space and a practical world of values.

  • For Husserl this involves a certain dogmatic (metaphysical) attitude towards reality, so he came up with the epoché to suspend this attitude and its theoretical presuppositions in order to be lead back (re-ducere) to the specific way that experience manifests itself to us.

  • The purpose of this is “to liberate us from a natural(istic) dogmatism and to make us aware of our own constitutive (i.e. cognitive, meaning-disclosing) contribution to what we experience.” (PM, 24-25)



§1. Doubting Certainty

  • §1. Doubting Certainty

  • Knowing: “Every man desires to know....” Why?

  • For pleasure, self-enjoyment, which points to the primacy of desire over knowing

  • Certainty concern objects; objects certified by the ego… “but we must doubt that the certainty can flow back upon the ego.” (13)

  • Let us grant Descartes’ argument that there is a certainty, but what follows from this?



What is Descartes’ certainty?

  • What is Descartes’ certainty?

  • That I exist as long as I think myself as the object of thought.

  • “I am only certain of myself in the same way that I am certain of an object.” (13)

  • But in no way has this certainty stopped me from doubting myself—my future, my possibilities, my talents, the strengths of my desires. (15)



The certainty of objects is derivative and doesn’t address what matters to me most: the certainty of me.

  • The certainty of objects is derivative and doesn’t address what matters to me most: the certainty of me.

  • This simple question undermines the significance of certainty of objects.

  • “what is the good of my certainty, if it still depends on me, if I am only through myself?” (19)



Beyond the paradigm of certainty: “Vanity disqualifies every certainty…”

  • Beyond the paradigm of certainty: “Vanity disqualifies every certainty…”

  • My assurance demands more than certainty.

  • It demands a response to the question:

    • “Does anybody love me?” (20)
  • In order for it to be possible for me to be, it is “necessary for me that someone love me.” (20)



So beyond the epistemic reduction (to knowing objects), and the ontological reduction (to being being), we have the erotic reduction (Does anybody love me?”).

  • So beyond the epistemic reduction (to knowing objects), and the ontological reduction (to being being), we have the erotic reduction (Does anybody love me?”).

  • “I must discover myself as a given (and gifted) phenomenon, assured as a given that is free from vanity.” (22)

  • This assurance comes from an other; it comes from elsewhere.



Thus it is the elsewhere that “determines originarily that which I am by that for whom I am…I am insofar as someone wills me good or ill…” (24-25).

  • Thus it is the elsewhere that “determines originarily that which I am by that for whom I am…I am insofar as someone wills me good or ill…” (24-25).

  • “Who can hold seriously that the possibility of finding oneself loved or hated does not concern him at all?” (26)



A weighty objection: replacing the thinking ego with the loved or hated ego could weaken it for two reasons:

  • A weighty objection: replacing the thinking ego with the loved or hated ego could weaken it for two reasons:

    • 1. I must give up perfect autonomy.
    • 2. I could lose myself in a definitive uncertainty.
  • Response: With the erotic reduction “I enter into an absolutely new terrain” (27) … “the reign of love” (28).



“The erotic reduction renders destitute the homogeneity of space (that every here can become an over there).” (29)

  • “The erotic reduction renders destitute the homogeneity of space (that every here can become an over there).” (29)

  • Where am I in the erotic reduction?

  • Consider an exemplary situation: travelling to a foreign country

  • I am over there in relation to the elsewhere, which radically defines where I am.

  • Under the erotic reduction space is essentially heterogeneous.



“The erotic reduction renders destitute the succession of time.” (32)

  • “The erotic reduction renders destitute the succession of time.” (32)

  • The natural attitude: constant succession in which nothing stays put, no center

  • The erotic reduction: the event from elsewhere provides the center

  • Before the unforeseeable event arrives, there is an expectation and a waiting, in which no time passes, in which nothing happens.



It is our expectations that define who we are.

  • It is our expectations that define who we are.

  • Through the arrival from elsewhere the present is given (the advent), which defines the temporal modes of past, present, and future.



“The erotic reduction renders destitute all identity of self to self.” (37)

  • “The erotic reduction renders destitute all identity of self to self.” (37)

  • “The question ‘Does anyone love me?” designates the point at which I discover myself affected as such, as unsubstitutable.” (38)

  • Although I don’t know who I am, in the erotic reduction I know where I am: i.e., where the question finds me.

  • In the flesh… (not the body)




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