You are on page 1of 13

Hypatia, Inc.

Phenomenology of the Event: Waiting and Surprise


Author(s): Françoise Dastur
Source: Hypatia, Vol. 15, No. 4, Contemporary French Women Philosophers (Autumn, 2000),
pp. 178-189
Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of Hypatia, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3810684 .
Accessed: 26/08/2011 16:53

Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at .
http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp

JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of
content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms
of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

Hypatia, Inc. and Blackwell Publishing are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to
Hypatia.

http://www.jstor.org
Phenomenologyof the Event:
WaitingandSurprise1
FRANQOISE DASTUR

Translatedby FranqoiseDastur,translationrevisedby the editor

How, asksFran,oiseDastur,can philosophyaccountfor the suddenhappening


and thefactualityof the event?Dasturasks howphenomenology, in particularthe
workof Heidegger,Husserl,andMerleau-Ponty,maybeinterpreted as offeringsuch
an account.Shearguesthatthe "paradoxical capacityof expectingsurpriseis always
in questionin phenomenology," andfor thisreason,sheconcludes,"Weshouldnot
opposephenomenology andthethinkingof theevent.Weshouldconnectthem;open-
ness to phenomenamustbe identifiedwithopennessto unpredictability." Thearticle
offersreflectionsin thesetermson a phenomenology of birth.

Can philosophy account for the suddenhappeningand the factualityof the


event if it is still traditionallydefined, as it has been since Plato, as a thinking
of the invariability and generality of essences?This is the general question
fromwhich I will begin. The question of time and of the contingency of time
has always,as EdmundHusserlrecalls at the beginning of his On thePhenom-
enologyof theConsciousnessof InternalTime(1991), constituted the most cru-
cial problemfor philosophy.This problemmarksthe limits of its enterpriseof
intellectual possessionof the world.Fortime, which is, as Henri Bergsonsaid,
the stuffof which things aremade,2seems to escape conceptual understanding
in a radicalmanner.
As MauriceMerleau-Pontyshowsin his Phenomenology of Perception(1962),
philosophy can give neither a realist nor an idealist solution to the problem
of time. It does not succeed in locating it either in things themselves or in
consciousness. If, on the one hand, we consider time to be no more than a

Hypatia vol. 15, no. 4 (Fall 2000) © by Francoise Dastur


FrancoiseDastur 179

dimension of reality,we can no longer explain the relationshipbetween what


comes firstand what follows. The successionof events can only be established
by consciousness, a consciousness which requires,in orderto have a general
view of the succession of events, not to be completely immersedin time. But
what if, on the other hand, we considertime to be a mere constructionof con-
sciousness?Temporalityitself becomes incomprehensible, insofaras it is the
essence of time to be incompletelypresentto consciousness,to remainincom-
pletely constituted, as Husserlwould say.Fortime, precisely,is not identical to
being, it is a processwhich is alwaysin becoming. It is alwaysof the orderof
the process,the passage,and that which comes. Thereforerealism(which im-
mersesthe subject in time to the point of destroyingall possibility of a time-
consciousness)and idealism(which places consciousnessin a position of over-
viewing a time which no longerproceeds),areboth unableto clarifywhat they
pretend to explain, that is, the relation of consciousness to time. For in both
cases, what remainsout of rangefor a philosophical inquirywhich wants to see
in time either a realityor an idea is preciselyits transitionalcharacter,its non-
being or non-essence, which is not, but proceeds.
Philosophy cannot succeed in accounting for the passageof time when it
takes the form of a simple realismor idealism. In both cases it is led, inescap-
ably,to think of the connection of the differentpartsof time as alreadyrealized
either in the object or in the subject. But this "time-synthesis,"farfrombeing
given, must on the contrary be considered the most difficult philosophical
problem.Its solution shouldbe consideredthe most importanttask of philoso-
phy.This "true"philosophy,which wouldbe neither realistnor idealist,should
be able to account for the discontinuity of time and for the fact that there are,
for us, events.
Such a philosophy should be able to explain the discontinuity of time, or
what we could name the structuraleventuality of time.3The word eventual-
ity should not be taken here in its normal meaning of possibility.4Speaking
of the eventuality of time does not mean that time could "be"or "not be." It
should, in my view, mean that time is in itself what bringscontingency, un-
predictability,and chance into the world.I would like to demonstratethat this
"true"philosophy which could take into account the contingency of time is
nothing other than phenomenology itself.
What is phenomenology, in fact? For Husserl, it was nothing other than
the restitution of the most original idea of philosophy which found its first
coherent expressionwith Plato and Aristotle and which constitutes the basis
of Europeanphilosophy and science. Husserldoes not see in phenomenology,
as did Hegel, who was the firstto make an importantuse of this word, a mere
propaedeuticto philosophy as such. He considers phenomenology to be the
propername of a philosophy which no longer situates truth beyond phenom-
ena. And when Heidegger declares in one of his MarburgerVorlesungenthat
180 Hypatia

"thereis not an ontologybesidesphenomenologybut scientificontologyis


nothingelse thanphenomenology" (Heidegger1979,98), he situateshimself
in continuitywith Husserlwhilegivinga moreradicalformto his thinking.
Beyondall thatseparatesthem,whatunitesboththinkersis preciselythe idea
thatthereis nothingto lookforbehindphenomena,behindwhatshowsitself
to us.The objectof philosophyis nothingotherthanphenomenalityitself.It
is not the idealworldof a being-in-itselfwhichwouldbe completelyseparated
fromus. This is whyHeideggerappropriates the maximof the return"tothe
things themselves"(Heidegger 1962,50) with whichHusserlfirstdefinedthe
taskassignedto phenomenology(Husserl1970b,252). The questionis there-
foreto findan accessto the phenomenathemselves,because,as Goetheal-
readysaid,"theyarein themselvesthe doctrine"(Goethe 1968,432).5The
task is to abstainfromall speculation,such as metaphysicalconstruction,
whichcouldleadto the elaborationof an abstractontology.And one should
putasideall psychological deductionswhichendeavorto identifyphenomena
andsubjectiveexperience.
Butthisdoesnot meanthatphenomenology canbe identifiedbythe mere
descriptionof whatis given experience.When Heidegger,in section7 of
to
BeingandTime,declares"Andjust becausethe phenomenaare proximally
andforthe mostpartnotgiven,thereis needforphenomenology" (Heidegger
1962,60), he only appropriates one of Husserl'sideas.As earlyas in TheIdea
of Phenomenology, Husserlhaddeclaredthat the taskof phenomenology does
not consistonlyin lookingat thingsasif theyare"'simplythere'andjustneed
to be 'seen,"'butin showinghow theyconstitutethemselvesfora conscious-
ness which is no longerconsidered,as it had been in classicalphilosophy,
the merecontainerof theirimages(Husserl1964,9). To let the constitutive
operationappear,whichis at the originof the completelyconstitutedobject
whichcomesinto viewforus,requiresthat the existenceof this objectbe, as
Husserlsays,putinto bracketsorputto one side.Thisepoche,thissuspension
of the ontologicalvaliditythat thingshaveforus in dailylife is, accordingto
Husserl,whatindicatesin a decisivemannerthe accessto the philosophical
attitude.Butthis doesnot amountto the philosopherturningawayfromthe
realworldin orderto accessa celestialworldof eternalessences.On the con-
trary,one lets thingsappearas they aregiven as phenomenain the natural
attitudewhichis oursin dailylife.In thisway,one becomesattentiveto their
modesof appearingand givenness.What Husserlcalls "phenomenological
reduction"doesnot permitone to escapefromthe sensibleto an intelligible
world.It doesnot permita movementof becominginto the stabilityof ideal
essences.It lets appearthe temporalcharacterof whatis given to us. It lets
appeartheprocessofphenomenalization at the originof whatwecall"reality."
Husserlcalls"transcendental phenomenology" thiskindof philosophywhich
allowsus to attendto the apparitionof that whichtranscendsconsciousness,
FrancoiseDastur 181

that is, to the birth of the object which consciousness constitutes as its op-
posite.
Husserlcannot remainon the level of a static phenomenologywhich could
only account for the alreadyconstituted object, for what is empiricallygiven.
Very early on he feels compelled to develop a genetic phenomenology whose
task is to elucidate the process at the origin of the opposition of subject and
object. The entire phenomenology of temporalitythat Husserldevelops in his
Lessonsin 1905 can be considered as a phenomenology of the advent of the
subject to itself. For what is at stake in these Lessonsis to bring to light what
Husserlcalls "whatis ultimately and trulyabsolute"(Husserl 1962, 216): this
enigmatic intimacy of consciousness and time at the origin of the double
constitution of worldand subject.Such a taskis paradoxical.It meansallowing
the appearanceof the conditions of all appearingand bringing to light the
processof "the segregationof the 'within' and the 'without"'(Merleau-Ponty
1968, 118) which Merleau-Pontysays is "never finished"(jamaischosefaite)
( 1968, 237), but, on the contrary,alwaysin becoming. Husserltries in his Les-
sons to reconstitute "afterthe event," with the help of such concepts as pro-
tention, retention, and original impression,the movement of the temporal-
ization which remains in itself invisible. In this regardhe remains in close
proximity to Kant, who had alwaysaffirmedthe invisibility of time and who
defined schematizm,the process by which consciousness constitutes the ob-
ject, as "an art concealed in the depths of human soul" (Kant 1933, 183).
The phenomenology of the becoming of subject and world can therefore
only be a phenomenology of the inapparent (Phanomenologie des Unschein-
baren),to quote one of Heidegger'sexpressionsfrom his last seminar in 1973
(Heidegger 1977, 137). But in his structureof eventuality this inappearance
or invisibility of time does not referto a level transcendingperception.On the
contrary,it refersto the genesis of perception itself. The limit that phenom-
enology encountershere is not external but internal. It can only be discovered
in and by the phenomenological attitude. For such an invisibility is not, as
Merleau-Pontyrightly underlines,an absolute invisibility,but the invisibility
of thisworld. It is the dimension of invisibility which is implied in the visible
itself and which can therefore only be discovered within the visible (1968,
225). This is the reason why, in his unfinished last book The Visibleand the
Invisible(1968), Merleau-Pontysketches the outlines of an "ontology from
within" (Merleau-Ponty1968, 225), of an "endo-ontology"(226) which con-
stitutes the true achievement of his Phenomenology of Perception(1962).
But is such a phenomenology of becoming, which identifies itself with an
ontology which remainsinternal to phenomenality,and which pretendsto let
the dynamic characterof phenomenality appear,alreadyin itself a phenom-
enology of the event? Forit is possibleto think the coming of time, its advenire,
its coming up to us, without properlythinking its suddenrise, its coming out of
182 Hypatia

itself, which refersto the Latin verb evenire,literallyex-venire,fromwhich the


word "event"comes.
But what is an event, in fact?At first,we can only define it as what was not
expected, what arrives unexpectedly and comes to us by surprise,what de-
scends upon us, the accident in the literal meaning of the Latin verb accido
from which the word accident derives. The event in the strong sense of the
word is therefore always a surprise,something which takes possession of us
in an unforeseen manner, without warning, and which brings us towardsan
unanticipatedfuture.The eventum,which arisesin the becoming, constitutes
something which is irremediablyexcessive in comparisonto the usual repre-
sentation of time as flow.It appearsas something that dislocatestime and gives
a new formto it, something that puts the flow of time out of joint and changes
its direction.
So the event appearsas that which intimately threatens the synchrony
of transcendentallife or existence, in other words,the mutual implication of
the differentpartsof times: retention and protention for Husserl;thrownness
and project (Geworfenheitund Entwurf)for Heidegger.The exteriorityof the
event introduces a split between past and future and so allows the appear-
ance of differentpartsof time as dis-located.The event pro-duces,in the literal
meaning of the word, the difference of past and future and exhibits this dif-
ference throughits suddenhappening.The event constitutes the "dehiscence"
of time, its coming out of itself in differentdirections, which Heideggercalls
"ekstasis,"the fact that it never coincides with itself, and which Levinasnames
dia-chrony(Levinas 1987, 32). Forthe event, as such, is upsetting. It does not
integrate itself as a specific moment in the flow of time. It changes drastically
the whole style of an existence (Husserl 1970a, 31). It does not happen in a
world-it is, on the contrary,as if a new worldopens up throughits happening.
The event constitutes the critical moment of temporality-a critical moment
which nevertheless allows the continuity of time.
This non-coincidence with oneself which allows the possibility of being
open to new events, of being transformedby them or even destroyedby them,
is also that which makesof the subject a temporalbeing, an ex-istant being, a
being which is able constantly to get out of itself. Openness to the accident is
thereforeconstitutive of the existence of the human being. Such an openness
gives human being a destiny and makes one's life an adventure and not the
anticipated development of a program.
It becomes clear that a phenomenology which obeyed its own injunction
to return to things themselves could not be content to remain an "eidetic"
phenomenology-the thinking of what remains invariable in experience. It
must become, accordingto the young Heidegger'sterminology,a "hermeneu-
tics of facticity"6:an interpretationof all that can be found in existence and is
not reducible to ideality, which is essentially variable and transitory.Such a
FrancoiseDastur 183

phenomenologycouldno longerbe a thinkingof beingandessenceonly.It


mustalsobe a thinkingof whatmaybe andof contingency.It shouldnot be
only a thinkingof the a prioriof phenomenality. It mustalsobe a thinkingof
the a posterioriandof the "afterevent."The questionis not to opposeradically
a thinkingof beingor essenceto a thinkingof the otheror of the accident.
Ratherit is a matterof showinghow a phenomenologyof the event consti-
tutesthe mostappropriate accomplishment of the phenomenological project.
It is not the destitutionorthe impossibilityof phenomenological discourse,as
somethinkersof the radicalexteriorityof the Other-I meanLevinas,butalso
Derridain his lastwritings-seemto believe.
What in HusserlianandHeideggerian phenomenology couldmakepossi-
ble a phenomenological thinkingof the event?Weshouldtryto answerthisin
a syntheticandorganizedmannerin orderto defendthe thesisof a possible
phenomenologyof the event. Forthe momentI mustbe contentwith some
reflectionson the possibilityof a phenomenological discourseon the phenom-
enon of expectationandsurprisewhichcouldbe derivedfromthe analysesof
HusserlandHeidegger.

Againstall expectation,even if it hasbeenpartiallyexpectedandantici-


pated,such is in fact the "essence"of the event. Basedon this we couldsay
withoutparadoxthat it is an "impossible possible."The event, in its internal
contradiction, is the impossible which happens,in spiteof everything,in a
terrifyingor marvelous manner. It alwayscomesto usbysurprise, orfromthat
sidewhence,precisely,it wasnot expected.The difficulttaskof phenomenol-
ogyis thereforeto thinkthisexcessto expectationthatis the event.The phe-
nomenologyof eventualityis in a similarpositionto the phenomenology of
mortality.Death,as an event, is also that which alwayshappensagainstall
expectation,alwaystoo early,somethingimpossiblethat neverthelesshap-
pens.It comesto uswithoutcomingfromus. It takesplacein the impersonal
mannerof this event thathappensalsoto othersandit is the mostuniversal
eventforlivingbeings.One couldsaythatdeathis the eventparexcellence,
exceptthatit is neverpresent,it neverpresentlyhappens.It doesnot openup
a world,butratherclosesit forever.It doesnot constitutea blankorgapinside
temporality or a diachronicmomentwhichcouldbe the originof a new con-
figurationof possibilities.It is the simple,simultaneousdestructionof syn-
chronyanddiachrony.That is whydeath,farfrombeingan event,hasbeen
legitimatelydefinedby Heideggeras the possibility parexcellence (Heidegger
1962,307). Deathremainsforus a possibilitythat we will neverrealize,not
even in suicide,whichis onlya wayof escapingthe essentialpassivityof death
whichdefineshumanexistencemostdeeply(see Heidegger1962,299-311).
But if death is for us the pre-eminentpossibility,as Heideggersays,this
184 Hypatia

implies a redefinitionof the traditionalconcept of possibility.For in the phil-


osophical tradition,possibilityis opposedto reality.It is consideredsomething
less than reality.But here, in the light of death, possibility is defined as some-
thing morepre-eminentthan realityand cannot be comparedto it. In the phe-
nomenological perspective, possibility is the locus of excess with regardsto
reality.This allows us to consider possibility as a higher categorythan reality.
Possibilityis something other than a categorywhich is a structureof things. It
is a structureof existence, an existential, as Heideggercalls it, since the mode
of being of human existence is not the mode of being of the res (that is,
realitas),but the mode of being as having to be (in other words,as possibility).
Because the human being is a mortal being and, in existing, has a constant
relation to its own death, it constantly remains in the mode of possibility.It
remainsin the mode of a structuralanticipation towardsits own being, which
remainsunrealizedfor as long as it exists.
In fact, this determination of possibility as existential in Heidegger had
alreadybeen preparedin Husserl'sintentional analysis. Husserl himself un-
derlines in his CartesianMeditations(1960) the originality of this kind of in-
tentional analysis in comparisonwith the ordinary,unbracketedanalysis of
human life. This originalitycomes from the specificityof intentional life that
can never be understood as a totality of data, but rather as an ensemble of
significations.What does it mean for consciousness to be in the mode not of
something "alreadygiven," but of signification?According to Husserl it im-
plies "asurpassingof the intention in the intention itself,"7in other words,the
fact that the intentional act alwaysexceeds what is given in itself.
Phenomenological explanation deals not only with given data, but with
potentialities. This means that phenomenology is not merelythe theoryof the
correlation of noesisand noema, or of the cogitoand of its cogitatum,but es-
tablishesthe principleof the necessarysurpassingof the intentumin the intentio
itself. This implies that the cogitatum,the "object"of consciousness, is never
given once and for all. It can alwaysbe explicated in a more complete manner
in regardto the context in which it appears,or, as Husserl says, in regardto
its internal and external horizon. The original operation of the intentional
analysisconsists in unveiling the potentialities implied in the actual state of
consciousness.The intentional analysiscan thereforebe consideredas the ba-
sis of a phenomenology of expectation. This is a phenomenology of the ten-
sion of consciousnesstowardsan object which remainsopen to the validation
or invalidation of its anticipations according to the development of forever
new horizons.
We could even say that excess is the rule here, because there is alwaysan
addition in what is experienced which can never be completely correlated
with the intention. It can even be consideredas at the originof the intentional
movement itself, in the sense that a total fulfillment of intentionality, or a
Fran9oiseDastur 185

complete adequacyof the signification to the object, would entirely destroy


them. It becomes clear that, accordingto Husserl,there is a parallelbetween
the perception of an object and the perception of the other human being. In
both cases, there arepartswhich arenot perceived,but areonly "appresented,"
as Husserl says. This means that their existence is co-implicated in what is
actually perceived:for example, the hidden faces of a cube, or the actual ex-
periences (die Erlebnisse)of others. That there is a part of experience not ac-
tually present is the rule of intentional phenomenology,since the mere idea of
a complete fulfillmentof the intention would destroythe basisof intentional-
ity. The intentional relation to the other human being cannot be understood
as a special case of the generalintentional relation to objects. On the contrary,
it must be understood as the very matrix of intentionality. It unfolds itself
where expectation will never be completely fulfilledand where the menace of
non-fulfillment can never be completely avoided.
If there is the foundation for a phenomenology of expectation in Husser-
lian intentional analysisas well as in Heideggerianexistential analysis,could
one find the basis for a phenomenology of surprisein these philosophies?Is
not the very idea of a phenomenology of surprisean absurdity?We know that
it is possible and even necessaryto hope beyond all hopes and to "expect the
unexpected"as Heraclitus says in fragment 18 (Heraclitus 1987, 19). To my
mind there is no doubt that Husserland Heideggerwere able to thematizethis
openness to the indetermination of the future, but what is happening when
this excess implied in the event fracturesthe horizon of possibilities in such a
mannerthat the mereencounter with the event becomes impossible?How can
we account for these moments of crisis, of living death, of trauma,when the
whole rangeof possibilitiesof a human being becomes unable to integratethe
discordanceof the event and collapses completely?
Two examples could be mentioned here: the mourningof a loved one and
religious conversion. In both cases a transition is made not with regardsto a
loss of a particularpossibilitybut with regardsto the radicalloss of the totality
of possibilitieswhich we call a world.In such criticalperiods,we experienceour
incapacity to experience the traumatizingevent. In spite of having expected
the death of somebody seriously ill, it remains a surprise.It feels beyond all
anticipation. What happens is "not included in the program."It is the un-
foreseen, in the true sense of the word. It is what contradictsand ruinsexpec-
tation in its very structure.
Such experiences are very rare, and Husserl and Merleau-Pontyexplain
that ordinaryexperience presupposesan originaryfaith in the stability of the
world and the presumptionthat experience will alwayshave the same "style"
(Merleau-Ponty1968, 3-4; Husserl1970a, 31). But we find a strikingimageof
such "existential"crises in psychosis.The schizophrenic,for example, experi-
ences the loss of what seems evident to other human beings. S/he experiences
186 Hypatia

the lossof worldandthe breakingof the ordinarycoherenceof experience.8


S/he is thereforecondemnedto terrorandto the impossibility of communicat-
ingwiththingsandotherhumanbeings.Sucha subjecthaslostthe abilityof
openingoneselfto eventualityandof experiencingthe reconfiguration of pos-
sibilitiesthata newandunexpectedeventrequiresfromus.Forit is the event
itselfwhichrequiresintegrationin a new configuration of possibilities.One
doesnot decidefreelyto changeone'sworld,orto becomeconverted.Wecan
speakof the eventneitherin the activenorin the passivevoice.It canchange
us andeven "happen" to usonly if we arein the rightdisposition.This is pre-
ciselythe "disposition" whichis missingin the psychoticperson.
We can speakaboutthe event only in the thirdvoice and in a pasttime,
in the modeof "ithappenedto me."We neverexperiencethe greateventsof
ourlife ascontemporaneous. Thisis quiteclearasfarasthe firstgreateventof
ourlife is concerned.Wedidnot askforourbirth,andthis is testimonyto the
factthatwe arenot at the originof ourownexistence.Tobe bor meansthat
we areconditionedby a pastthat wasneverpresentto us. It can only be ap-
propriated byus later,by assumingthesedeterminations of ourexistencethat
we havenot chosen.Thereis thereforea surprisein us in relationto ourbirth.
It is the permanentsurpriseof beingbornwhichis constitutiveof ourbeing.
It is testimonyto the uncontrollablecharacterof this proto-event.In each
new event thereis a repetitionof the proto-eventof birth.It is as if we re-
experience,in a newevent,thisradicalnoveltyof whathappensforthe "first
time,"aswellasthe impossibility of coincidingwiththe event itself,whichin
its suddenapparition disconnects the pastfromthe future.
The existingbeinghasno controloversucha surprise andit is in a waythe
eventwhichgivesthe orderhere,butto be orderedrequiresthe collaboration
of the one who obeys. One is not completely passive in relation to the event,
even if its meaning still remainsobscure.We keep tryingto give a meaning to
it. It is only in relationto this attemptedinterpretation of everythingthat
happens(andthis interpretative behavioris nothingotherthanthe beingin
theworldof the human)thataneventcanbe experiencedasa trauma.Husserl
andHeideggerbothsawa passivitywithinourintentionalactivityitselfanda
facticityof existencewhichcan onlybe assumedandnot chosen.Husserldid
so with his theoryof passivegenesisor synthesis.Heideggerdid so by tightly
connectingfacticityasthe beingthrownto the worldof the humanbeingand
existentialityas the incorporation of the
of facticityinto the configuration
projectof thisprospectivebeingthat Heideggercallsman.
We shouldnot opposephenomenology andthe thinkingof the event.We
shouldconnectthem;opennessto phenomenamustbe identifiedwith open-
ness to unpredictability. This paradoxicalcapacityof expectingsurpriseis
alwaysin questionin phenomenology. Merleau-Ponty declaresin TheVisible
andtheInvisible that "philosophy hasneverspoken... of the passivityof our
Fran,oise Dastur 187

activity, as Valeryspoke of a bodyof thespirit"(1968, 221). This passivityof our


activity is nothing other than the processof temporalizationwhich happensin
us as thinking beingswithout being the productof ourthought. Foras Merleau-
Ponty underlines,"Iam not even the authorof that hollow that formswithin
me by the passagefrom the present to the retention, it is not I who makes
myself think any more than it is I who makes my heart beat" (1968, 221).
New as our initiatives may be, they come to be born in this field of being that
is human spirit, in which something, or the absence of something, can be
inscribed.A great, contemporaryFrench phenomenologist, Henri Maldiney,
createda new word,"transpassibilite," to expressourcapacityto undergoevents,
insofaras this implies for us an active opening to a field of receptivity (Mal-
diney 1991, 114). To lack the capacity to open oneself to what happens, no
longer to welcome the unexpected, is in fact a markof psychosis.
Phenomenology privileges neither the interiority of expectation nor the
exteriority of surprise.It establishes as preliminaryto experience neither the
receptivity of the subject nor the activity of the object. It tries to think the
strangecoincidence of both. One could demonstratethat Heideggertried to
think this almost unthinkablecoincidence of Being and "man."He attempted
this by means of the word Ereignis.Ereignismeans not only "happening"(the
ordinarymeaning of the word in German) but also, following its double ety-
mology in both popularand scientific use, "appropriation" and "appearingto
view."In takingthis position I am arguingagainstthose contemporarythinkers
who have declaredthat the thinking of the event and the thinking of the other
requiresa mode of thinking other than the phenomenological one. There can
be no thinking of the event which is not at the same time a thinking of phe-
nomenality.

NOTES

We verywarmlythankthe editorof EtudesPhinomenologiques forpermissionto re-


producethis versionof the article.Ed.
1. Lecturegiven in Prague,September1998, in the seminarorganizedby the
Instituteof Philosophy.SimplifiedEnglishversionof "Pourune phenomenologie de
l'evenement:l'attenteet la surprise," EtudesPMnomenologiques 25, 1997:59-75.
2. See, forexample,Bergson(1963, 71-72) andBergson(1944,371-72).
3. See, in this regard,the remarkable articleby ClaudeRomano,"LePossibleet
l'evnement"(Romano1993),fromwhichI havedrawnmuchinspiration.
4. Here,the readershouldbe awareof differencesbetweenthe connotationsof
eventualitein the sensegivento thiswordby FrancoiseDasturhereandeventuality in
English.Eventualite, in this context,refersmoregenerallyto possibility,chance,un-
certainty,contingency,and the hypothetical,whereasthe Englisheventuality refers
eitherto thatwhichultimatelyresults,or to a possible,fixedevent.Ed.
188 Hypatia

5. Cited in Heidegger (1976, 12).


6. "Ontologie(Hermeneutikder Faktizitat)"was the title of Heidegger'ssummer
semestercourse of 1923. See Heidegger (1923).
7. See Husserl (1960, 48): "Phenomenological explication makes clear what is
included and only non-intuitively co-intended in the sense of the cogitatum (for ex-
ample 'the other side') by making present in phantasy the potential perceptions that
would make the invisible visible."
8. See, for example, the discussionin Blankenburg(1991), cited in Dastur(1997).
Ed.

REFERENCES

Bergson,Henri. 1944. Creativeevolution.Trans.Arthur Mitchell. New York:Random


House.
.1963. Essaisur les donnees immediatesde la conscience. In Oeuvres(Edition
du Centenaire). Paris:PUE
Blankenburg,W. 1991. La pertede l'evidencenaturelle:Une contributiona la psycho-
pathologiedes schizophreniespauci-symptomatiques. Paris:PUF
Dastur, Francoise. 1997. Pour une phenomenologie de l'evenement: L'attente et la
surprise.EtudesPhenom6nologiques 25: 59-75.
Goethe, Johann W. 1968. Maximenund reflexionen.Vol. 12. Miinchen: Hamburger
Ausgabe.
Heidegger, Martin. 1923. Ontologie(Hermeneutikder Faktizitit). In Gesamtausgabe,
Band 63. Frankfurtam Main: Klostermann.
.1962. Beingand time.Trans.John Macquarrieand EdwardRobinson. Oxford:
Basil Blackwell.
.1977. VierSeminare.Klostermann:Frankfurtam Main.
.1976. La fin de la philosophie et la tache de pensee. In QuestionsIV. Paris:
Gallimard.
. 1979. Prolegomenazur Geschichtedes Zeitbegriffs.In Gesamtausgabe,Band 20.
Frankfurtam Main: Klostermann.
Heraclitus. 1987. Fragments:A text and translation.Toronto: University of Toronto
Press.
Husserl,Edmund.1960. Cartesianmeditations:An introductiontophenomenology. Trans.
Dorion Caims. The Hague: M. Nijhoff.
. 1962. Ideas:Generalintroductionto purephenomenology. Trans.W. R. Boyce
Gibson. London: Collier Macmillan.
. 1964. The idea of phenomenology.Trans. William P. Alston and George
Nakhnikian. The Hague: MartinusNijhoff.
. 1970a. The crisisof Europeansciencesand transcendental phenomenology:An
introductionto phenomenological philosophy.Trans. David Carr.Evanston:North-
western University.
. 1970b. Logicalinvestigations.Vol 1. Trans.J. N. Findlay.London: Routledge
and Kegan Paul.
Fran9oiseDastur 189

.1991. On thephenomenologyof theconsciousness of internaltime.Trans.John


Barett Brough.Dordrecht: Kluwer.
Kant,Immanuel.1933.Critique ofpurereason.Trans.NormanKempSmith.London:
Macmillan.
Levinas,Emmanuel.1987.Timeandtheother.Trans.RichardA. Cohen.Pittsburgh:
DuquesneUniversityPress.
Maldiney,Henri.1991.Penserl'homme et lafolie.Grenoble:J. Millon.
Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. 1962. Phenomenology of perception.Trans.Colin Smith.
London:RoutledgeandKeganPaul.
. 1968.Thevisibleandtheinvisible.
Trans.AlphonsoLingis.Evanston:North-
westernUniversityPress.
Romano,Claude.1993.Le possibleet l'evenement.Philosophie 40 (decembre1993):
68-95 andPhilosophie41 (mars1994): 60-86.