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The Internal Structure and the Problem of its Phenomenological Determination: The Invisible

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Abstract

Immanence has been defined by reference to transcendence and through the exclusion of the latter from its internal structure. The positive meaning of such a definition was shown with the making evident of the essential structural determinations that it comprises. Before pursuing further the analysis of these structures and the understanding of their character decisive for an adequate philosophical interpretation of the ultimate nature of the essence, it is important to note what has already been achieved, in a purely negative way, from this exclusion.

Keywords

Internal Structure Ontological Structure Ontological Foundation Ontological Element Original Essence 
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    These confusions and, on the other hand, their origin which resides in the phenomenological status of the original body as immanent body are obvious in the following text, for example: “The body by itself, the body at rest is merely an obscure mass, and we perceive it as a precise and identifiable being when it moves towards a thing, and in so far as it is intentionally projected outwards, and even then this perception is never more than incidental and marginal to consciousness, the centre of which is occupied with things and the world.” M. Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, 322.—In the same fashion, it is a marginal body, a first transcendent level of sensibility constituted by sensations which accompany the accomplishment of movement and not the original Being of this movement, viz. the immanent body, of which Sartre actually speaks in the previously-cited propositions which present the body as “inapprehensible,” “neglected,” “passed by in silence,” and so forth. Cf. supra, notes 34 and 35.Google Scholar
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    “The knower,” says Sartre, “…is not apprehensible.” Being and Nothingness, 177.Google Scholar
  255. 40.
    What is outside, according to Schelling, is that which is unconsciously produced by the ego. The world, in a general way, appears objective to consciousness only insofar as it exists without its participation, i.e. produced by an unconscious transcendental act. Thus knowledge is explained; it is the agreement which takes place, according to traditional thought, between the notion and the object, an agreement which “is unexplainable without a primitive identity whose principle necessarily lies beyond consciousness.” Friedrich von Schelling, System des Transcendentalen Idealismus, in Sammtliche Werke, III (Stuttgart-Augsburg: Cottascher, 1858), 506. In the same way, there takes place the union between freedom and necessity which creates history. “History” is possible only through “the union of freedom and necessity…through my freedom and, in the measure that I believe myself to be acting freely, there must be produced, without my being aware of it i.e. without my participation, something which I do not foresee…” Whence “the need for remaining entirely tranquil concerning the results of my action.” F. Schelling, System des Transcendentalen Idealismus, 593Google Scholar
  256. 40a.
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    595; whence destiny, providence, and finally congeniality which is the union of genius and the inconscious activity which creates the worldGoogle Scholar
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    cf. Ibid. 616.Google Scholar
  259. 41.
    These theses, because they are ultimately based in the universal ontological structure of reality, are obviously not peculiar to Schelling. We find them everywhere, more or less clearly formulated, together with their positive meaning, e.g. in this proposition of Lachelier: “To maintain that this perception (for example, of a movement) intervenes… between consciousness and its object is to claim that this object remains in itself foreign to consciousness and to deny the very fact, which one claims to explain.” Psychologie et Métaphysique, (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1949) 21, which is echoed in this text of Merleau-Ponty from his Phenomenology of Perception: “…children look, not at their hand, but at the object…” 149. On the other hand, we find the simply negative meaning of these theses in the otherwise absurd conceptions of the American Neo-realists, who posit unconsciousness of the knowledge of the object, the posteriority of consciousness with respect to knowledge, conceptions which were taken up again, at least partially, by certain commentators of Freud in support of their doctrine of the unconscious. Cf. Dalbiez, La méthode psychanalytique et la doctrine freudienne, II. (Paris: Desclée de Brouwer, 1949) 10.Google Scholar
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    Ibid. 403.Google Scholar
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    “Of itself, intuition,” said Schelling, “loses itself in the object.” Ibid. 345.Google Scholar
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    Friedrich von Schelling, System des Transcendentalen Idealismus, III, 345Google Scholar
  265. 45a.
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    As G. Berger correctly points out in Le cogito dans la philosophie de Husserl, (Paris: Aubier, 1941) 123: “Even with Kant, the transcendental…does not characterize a certain region of being, for example, that of the a priori.” This is why this ‘pure’ region which should define the domain of ontology is not something real, in the sense that Kant could not make a phenomenon of it, viz. an object of “direct apprehension,” it is posited only by “critical reflection.” “It is not the revelation of an absolute reality, such as that of an act, it is the bringing to evidence of the a priori conditions without which no knowledge would be possible.” “This philosophical elaboration” takes place “in the world.” G. Berger, Le cogito, 124. Ultimately this is how we explain that the Kantian subject is not “proven” but “admitted.”Google Scholar
  267. 46a.
    Ibid. 127.Google Scholar
  268. 47.
    We find a remarkable example of this mythology in Bénézé, L’allure du transcendental, (Paris: Vrin, 1936). Frequently, it is when a type of thought becomes weak and no longer offers anything of itself in the movement of history that an external formulation of what constituted its original intentions and that the insufficiencies and lacunae in these intentions come to light. This is what is of interest in the book here alluded to and in which we see developping to the point of the most obvious absurdity the consequences which result in the philosophy of the spirit from the original dissimulation of this spirit and at the same time from the incapacity of the problematic to recognize in it a foundation in the essence. “We cannot grasp transcendental consciousness itself,” affirms Bénézé, L’allure du transcendental, 18, which leads him to declare with regard to that which nevertheless constitutes the foundation of all knowledge, viz. the absolute, that it is this “absolute,” that it is “indubitable,” and this even though it is not known, that it is not a “consciousness” (“Transcendental consciousness alone is absolute, not insofar as it is conscious, but insofar as it is indubitable,”Google Scholar
  269. 47a.
    Bénézé, 259–260, and again that “transcendental consciousness is not a consciousness,”Google Scholar
  270. 47b.
    Bénézé, 244) and, at the same time and doubtless for the same reason, that it is no more than a “didactic fiction,” and it is merely because of this that it should be keptGoogle Scholar
  271. 47c.
    Bénézé, 11, and that otherwise “it is not permissible for us to call consciousness that which escapes the cartesian doubt.”Google Scholar
  272. 47d.
    Bénézé, 94. Between these extreme as well as absurd and contradictory affirmations, there is situated a whole series of classical propositions according to which the transcendental is no more than a “form, an empty category,”Google Scholar
  273. 47e.
    Ibid. 261, an “impersonal transcendental form because it is empty,”Google Scholar
  274. 47f.
    Ibid. 268 etc. Because transcendental consciousness is unknown in itself, the problem of its analysis, of a “transcendental analysis of consciousness,”Google Scholar
  275. 47g.
    Ibid. 17, arises as the problem of a method. This method consists in “surprising consciousness with regard to the knower and the known.”Google Scholar
  276. 47h.
    Ibid. 93. “It will be…through the introspective examination of empirical consciousness associated with the observation of the world that we will grasp transcendental activity.”Google Scholar
  277. 47i.
    Ibid. 13. We will seek the reflection of constructive power in the world and in its organized structures and we will try to grasp in it ‘the allure of the transcendental’. The determination of the transcendental starting with empirical consciousness will be able to take place in the same way “on condition that we know how to transpose to the transcendental level what surprises us on the empirical level.”Google Scholar
  278. 47j.
    Ibid. 13. “Transcendental consciousness is empirical consciousness raised to the dignity of the absolute.”Google Scholar
  279. 47k.
    Ibid. 94. Bénézé further states and according to him, when all is said and done, it is a question of “hypostazing the insufficiency of the world in the transcendental,” so that “the transcendental is that which is not empirical, but through default and the insufficiency of the world,” even though we can “find nothing relative ‘legislated’ about the absolute.”Google Scholar
  280. 47l.
    Ibid. 21. Doubtless, all these difficulties explain why one of its creations is finally substituted for this strange transcendental consciousness, viz. the subject, a construct, though we do not know how (“we do not care to know how this notion is constructed, i.e. how we pass from transcendental consciousness to its creations,”Google Scholar
  281. 47m.
    Ibid. 237) even though the theory of this construction is partially given—“the subject appears as an ensemble of objects grouped around one of them, i.e. the body, which plays the role of substance,”Google Scholar
  282. 47n.
    Ibid. 257—which theory, however, is not itself exempt from contradictions, because the text just cited adds that we must get rid of the substance of the subject as we have gotten rid of the substance of the object. That the theses here defended by Bénézé are not isolated instances and consequently that the parallelism which arises between classical and so-called existential philosophy is not simply a matter of fact, we see by comparing, for example, what has been said with what a commentator of Jean-Paul Sartre writes when he speaks to us of “the nihilating bursting-forth of a transcendental consciousness outside of Being whose internal action is revealed only in the appearance of the world.”Google Scholar
  283. 47o.
    G. Varet, L’ontologie de Sartre, (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1948) 61. [Henry’s italics]. That it cannot be ‘revealed’, or as Bénézé says ‘surprised’ except in this indirect way stems from the fact that the essence does not show itself in itself, that “nothingness is…anti-phenomenological.”Google Scholar
  284. 47p.
    G. Varet, L’ontologie de Sartre, 171. This explains “the existential taboo of existence as meta-problematic.”Google Scholar
  285. 47q.
    Ibid. 135. Because ‘nihilation’ is the essence of existence which does not show itself, “the only thing to do is to describe the result of this ‘nihilation’.”Google Scholar
  286. 47r.
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  290. 4.
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    It is in this purely formal fashion that Heidegger pursues the ontological elaboration of the most original essence of truth; non-unveiling is the simple presupposition of unveiling; its phenomenological determination thought of under the category of obscurity or of dissimulation results from its dialectical opposition to unveiling and resides therein, “From the point of view of truth conceived as revelation, then, concealment is non-revelation and thus the untruth which is specific of and peculiar to the nature of truth.” M. Heidegger, The Essence of Truth, tr. R.F.C. Hull and Alan Crick, in Existence and Being, (London: Vision Press Ltd., 1949) 340. [Henry’s italics].Google Scholar
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    And again: “Concealment denies revelation to alethea,” Ibid, in such a way that it is in this refusal and through it that concealment is understood and determined for what it is. It is precisely because it is nothing other than the refusal to reveal itself that concealment can take place only at the heart of this revelation and as its refusal, its limit and the law of its effective phenomenological accomplishment, as the errancy whereby it essentially determines the reign of truth and with which it is ultimately identified.Google Scholar
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    This clarifies, in its ultimate foundation, the insurmountable character of the ascendency of errancy over ontology and the obligation incumbent upon the latter, in the sole issue which makes ontology equal to metaphysics and philosophy itself, of understanding itself and presenting itself as “gazing out of error into the mystery,” Ibid. 347 [Henry’s italics] as “the ‘open resolve’ for the mystery…well on the way to error as such.”Google Scholar
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    Ibid. Moreover, for this reason, viz. because the obscurity which determines non-truth and confers on it its peculiar ontological positivity is always and in all cases understood starting with the reign of truth and in its dialectical opposition to truth, and what is more, as the very law of its accomplishment and effectiveness, non-truth has nothing to do in principle with the essence thought of in these investigations as the essence of original revelation and grasped as the invisible.Google Scholar
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