Phenomenality In The Middle
Marion, Romano and the Hermeneutics of the Event
“The Reason of the Gift”
is part of Jean-Luc Marion’s broader phenomenology of givenness, which arises from his critique of the traces of a constituting subject retained byHusserl and Heidegger. While Marion’s phenomenology eliminates these traces, it only doesso by reducing the subject to the passive recipient on whom phenomena impose themselves.In contrast, Claude Romano (another contemporary French phenomenologist) responds to thesame concerns about Dasein’s subjective character, without limiting the subject to purereceptivity.
By comparing these two responses to the issue of a constituting subject, I willdraw attention to some of the limitations in Marion’s account, and highlight the importance of hermeneutics in phenomenology.Marion believes that neither Husserl nor Heidegger ever succeed in breaking awayfrom a Cartesian-Kantian approach in which phenomena are constituted as objects by and for a sovereign subject: “Metaphysical (in fact, Cartesian) egology is a paradigm that alwayshaunts the I, even reduced, even phenomenological” (BG
; cf., RG
Jean-Luc Marion, “The Reason of the Gift” (published in this volume).
Romano’s major work is published in two complementary volumes:
L’événement et le monde,
Épiméthée: essais philosophiques (Paris: PUF, 1998); and
L’événement et le temps,
Épiméthée: essais philosophiques (Paris: PUF, 1999). Some of the key features of these volumes are sketched in an earlier essay,in the context of an analysis of aspects of Heidegger’s thought: “Le possible et l’événement,” 2 parts,
40 (Dec. 1993): 68-95 (part 1), and 41 (March 1994): 60-86 (part 2). A revised version of this essayappears in a collection of Romano’s essays:
Il y a
, Épiméthée: essais philosophiques (Paris: PUF, 2003), 55-111.The text of Romano’s that I will draw on most often is
L’événement et le monde
Being Given: Toward a Phenomenology of Givenness,
trans. Jeffrey L. Kosky,Cultural Memory in the Present (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002); translation of
Étant donné:Essai d’une phénoménologie de la donation
, 2nd ed., corrected, Épiméthée: essais philosophiques (Paris: PUF,1998 [1
ed., 1997]). Hereinafter: BG.
Where an English translation of a text exists, the English page reference is given first, followedimmediately by the original page reference.
Reduction and Givenness: Investigations of Husserl, Heidegger, and Phenomenology,
trans. Thomas A. Carlson, North Western University Studies in Phenomenology and ExistentialPhilosophy (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1998); translation of
Réduction et donation: Recherches sur Husserl, Heidegger et la phénoménologie,
Épiméthée: essais philosophiques (Paris: PUF, 1989).Hereinafter: RG.