Studia Phaenomenologica, Volume 22/ 2022: Gestures
Christian Ferencz-Flatz, Delia Popa, Editors’ Introduction: Concepts for a Phenomenology of Gestures [OPEN ACCESS]
Thomas Byrne, Husserl’s Semiotics of Gestures: Logical Investigations and Its Revisions
Abstract: By examining the evolution of Husserl’s philosophy from 1901 to 1914, this essay reveals that he possessed a more robust philosophy of gestures than has been accounted for. This study is executed in two stages. First, I explore how Husserl analyzed gestures through the lens of his semiotics in the 1901 Logical Investigations. Although he there presents a simple account of gestures as kinds of indicative signs, he does uncover rich insights about the role that gestures play in communication. Second, I examine how Husserl augmented his theory of gestures in his 1914 Revisions to the Sixth Logical Investigation. Husserl describes some gestures as signals, which are experienced as intersubjective communication, as having a temporally diachronic structure, and as possessing an obliging tendency. Husserl also contrasts gestures to language by showing how language habitually leaves traces on us.
Ainhoa Suárez-Gómez, Merleau-Ponty’s Gestural Theory: Tracing Perceptual, Reflex, Habitual and Verbal Movements
Abstract: This paper analyses Merleau-Ponty’s gestural theory focusing on the ontological and epistemological role attributed to the expressive movements of the lived body. The first section argues that Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology recognises movement as a primordial phenomenon from which language and thought emerge. This theorisation allows us to identify a type of logos that grants a specific content, sense and value to bodily movements, here conceptualised as a “kin(aesth)etic logos”. The second section of the paper offers a categorisation of different gestures—perceptive, reflexive, habitual and verbal gestures—which show how the kin(aesth)etic logos is actualised in a myriad of daily activities.
Rajiv Kaushik, The Primal Scenes of Language and the Gesture: Some Hermeneutical Musings on Merleau-Ponty’s Last Ontology
Abstract: This paper seeks to develop the connection in Merleau-Ponty’s later ontology between the gesture and language. There is a concerted effort in Merleau-Ponty’s “middle period” to illustrate that a linguistic system of signs is internally constellated by the body and its movement. This effort seems to give way to an ontology of flesh in the later period. On closer consideration, however, this ontology and the linguistic system of signs—both “diacritical”— are mutually imbricated. This highlights the crucial importance of separation, deviation, and difference in Merleau-Ponty’s ontology. A question remains, however: how can the body, and in particular the gesture, be the very site of separation rather than of an initiation or identification? I argue that, for Merleau-Ponty, every gesture contains something internally antagonistic to it, something that cannot be grasped or moved. In this sense, the gesture is an “implex,” both internally resistant to and productive of signification. It is, in short, the site of a symbolization. In light of this, in the conclusion I reconsider the final passages from “Cézanne’s Doubt” where Merleau-Ponty discusses Freud’s “hermeneutical musings” on Leonardo, and the passages from “Indirect Language and the Voices of Silence” and the nature lectures where he discusses the painter’s brushwork.
Paola Pazienti, Structure, Institution and Operative Essence: The Role of Gesture in Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenological Ontology
Abstract: What is the role of gestures within the wider problem of corporeity in Maurice Merleau-Ponty? How do gestures exemplify and complicate the bodily experience? The aim of this article is to investigate the thematic of gesture in Merleau-Ponty’s production, with particular attention to the Phenomenology of Perception (1945) and the lessons held at the Collège de France about institution, passivity and nature (1954–60), down to the final indirect ontology in The Visible and the Invisible. Gestures could be understood as forms (Gestalten), i.e. dynamic structures which express individual and collective behaviours, as well as institutions (Stiftungen), underlying the process of sedimentation and reactivation of meanings. In both cases, gestures have a heuristic or generative function: they shape the individual style in the encounter with the world through “typics” or recurring “motifs”. As a conclusion, the paper argues for the key-role of gesture, in order to re-think eidetic intuition as the grasping of operative and emotional essences.
Jagna Brudzińska, Bodily Expression and Transbodily Intentionality. On the Sources of Personal Life
Abstract: In this paper, relying on both phenomenology and psychoanalysis, I introduce the concept of transbodily intentionality with the aim of exploring the significance of bodily expression for subjective constitution. The role of the body for the constitution of subjective experience becomes increasingly important in phenomenological analysis. This faces us with the challenge of understanding the intersubjective relevance of bodily processes together with the genetic turn of phenomenology. On this background, the revaluation of the concept of gesture comes into light. The meaning of the gesture cannot be framed in an exclusively subjective context, but rather requires a communicative and intersubjective horizon.
Hubert Knoblauch, Silke Steets, “Here Is Looking at You”: Relational Phenomenology and the Problem of Mutual Gaze
Abstract: In this article, we propose to reconceptualize phenomenology in a relational way. Instead of taking subjective consciousness as the starting point for the constitution of meaning, we consider meaning (as well as subjects and subjectivities) as something that is produced in social relations, or more precisely, in communicative actions. In order to explore how this works we empirically study mutual gaze as a critical case. At first sight, the reciprocity that arises when two subjects look into each other’s eyes and perceive how they look and are being looked at reciprocally seems to be “pure,” i.e. free of any mediation by language, gestures or other objectivations. It turns out, however, that mutual gaze unfolds, albeit highly ambivalently and fluidly, as an “object in time”. In contrast to non‑subjectivist approaches, we argue that we need some sort of subjectivity to understand phenomena such as mutual gaze. However, we also need to understand its embeddedness in cultures as well as in social relations. This is what Relational Phenomenology means.
Maxine Sheets-Johnstone, Animate Realities of Gesture
Abstract: Section I details Husserl’s insight into style and how a person’s individual style is played out in affect and action and in the two-fold articulation of perception and “the kinestheses,” both of which are integral to gestural communication. Section II details how the evolutionary perspectives of Darwin and linguistic scholars complement Husserl’s insights into the animate realities of gesture and bring to light further dimensions of human and nonhuman gestural practices and possibilities through extensive experiential accounts that document the essential role of movement and thinking in movement in animate lives. Section III focuses on critical oversights by prominent phenomenologists who, rather than basing their studies in the rigors of phenomenological methodology, write of “what it is like” with respect to experience or give preferred opinions as in “consciousness of my gesture […] can tell us nothing about movement.”
Rodolphe Olcèse, Vertige du moindre geste : Jean-Louis Chrétien, Emmanuel Lévinas, Simone Weil
Abstract: In this article, I consider the gesture confronted with its own impossibility, in situations that open the gesture to a dimension of transcendence. Focusing first on the event of beauty, as it is discussed by Jean-Louis Chrétien, and on the encountering of the face, as it is considered by Emmanuel Lévinas, this paper envisions a “below” and a “beyond” of the gesture, in exceptional situations where the gesture is faced with an excess, acquiring a dimension of a theopathy. Subsequently, I emphasize that the transcendence that takes gesture beyond itself can inhabit and nourish the daily gestures, and this can be an occasion of pain and difficulties. In this perspective, Simone Weil shows how the repeated gestures of manual labour can become the mirror of supernatural beauty.
Vladimir Safatle, How to Explode an Expressive Body. Romantic Strategies in Chopin’s Etudes pour piano
Abstract: This article aims to discuss the gestural character of Chopin’s pianistic writing. We will focus on the set of Etudes pour piano. We expect to show how the notion of musical expression in Romanticism is dependent of a notion of expressive body always in the limit of decomposition. This could show us how musical expression is a privileged space for a better understanding of the dialectical relationship between form and formless.
Honghe Wang, Theodor Lipps’ vier Arten der Nachahmung und Revision einiger prominenter Kritiken
Abstract: Theodor Lipps’ doctrine of empathy (Einfühlung) is enjoying renewed relevance today for two reasons. On the one hand, it offers heuristic potential in researching the functionality of mirror neurons. On the other hand, as many of the early phenomenologists gained their conceptions of empathy by examining Lipps’ related works, the presently widespread interest in empathy necessitates a re‑reading of Lipps in phenomenological circles. The critiques that phenomenology launches against Lipps, however, often remain bound to the established cliché interpretations of Lipps. This article counters such shortsighted readings by differentiating four kinds of imitation in Lipps. The supposed persuasiveness of such critiques, as will be shown, is lost in light of this differentiation.
Hongjian Wang, Nihilismus zwischen traditioneller Metaphysik und Post-Metaphysik. Kritische Untersuchung von Heideggers Nietzsche-Interpretation
Abstract: In his interpretation of Nietzsche, Heidegger on the one hand acknowledges the anti-metaphysical orientation of Nietzsche’s nihilism, but on the other hand considers Nietzsche to be the ultimate metaphysician. This assessment is based firstly on Heidegger’s reflections on the relationship between metaphysics and nihilism. By revealing the origin and end of metaphysics, it is to be shown that nihilism and metaphysics are two aspects of the same thing. Moreover, Heidegger expands the meaning of metaphysics by ascribing to it the distinction between the sensuous and supersensuous worlds, between beings and beingness. Based on the critique of Nietzsche, he is able to develop a post-metaphysical philosophical conception. Nietzsche himself, however, has not fallen into metaphysics, and in his overcoming of metaphysics and his vision of post-metaphysical thinking he is rather a precursor of Heidegger.
Eun-Hye Choo, L’autrui dans la sphère la plus originaire : Merleau-Ponty et la théorie husserlienne de l’instinct
Abstract: This paper examines the influence that Husserl’s drive/instinct theory has on Merleau-Ponty’s late philosophy. Husserl’s interest in the passive realm of life develops into a study of a more profound level which even precedes the emergence of subjectivity. We analyze how it leads Merleau-Ponty, in his philosophy of flesh, to furnish an ontological explanation regarding the problem of the relationship with others. In this regard, we investigate firstly Husserl’s theory of originary affection and its limits, before scrutinizing the notion of empathy; thereby we show how Merleau-Ponty develops the Husserlian intentional relation into a carnal relation based on the idea that others and I belong to the same world. This will reveal that the relationship with the others always lies in the most profound level of our experience, because we share the ontological affinity, namely, the flesh.
Giulia Lelli, L’être des morts selon Jan Patočka
Abstract: In this article, I aim to analyse the way in which Jan Patočka explores the being of the dead in his text “Phenomenology of life after death.” I wish to show that this seminal text offers the solution to three main difficulties regarding the being of the dead: these difficulties concern their form of being, their possibility to transform themselves and their ability to act. Following this analysis, I propose a three‑folded thesis: firstly, the being of the dead can be grasped not only through privation but also through more positive forms; secondly, the dead persons can continue to transform themselves when being construed by the living; and thirdly, their action can be prolonged even though they cannot act.
Dominic Nnaemeka Ekweariri, Leiblichkeit comme ouverture au monde chez Marc Richir [OPEN ACCESS]
Abstract: In phenomenology, Leiblichkeit articulates the idea of subjectivity and the relationship to the world; Leib attests the phenomenological experience of subjects otherwise captured by the term Leiber. Husserl and Merleau-Ponty have sought to understand this relationship to the world and to characterize this phenomenological experience. Thus, they thematized a form of relationship to the world which is not only intentional but also, and each in his own way, passive and based on image (bildlich). On his part, Marc Richir sought to overcome this idea by bringing an “active, non-specular mimesis from within” into play. Proposing an examination of these approaches, I defend the idea that in order to be able to think of the openness to the world—which is made possible by corporeality—it is of great necessity here to articulate the dimension of sense.
Mauro Senatore, Gaps in Differance: Marc Richir’s Reading of Heidegger’s Analyses of Animality
Abstract: This article casts light on Marc Richir’s remarkable and yet poorly known interpretation of the analyses of animality that Martin Heidegger develops in The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics: World, Finitude and Solitude. It shows that this interpretation unfolds as a two-step critical revision of Heidegger’s analyses within the framework of Richir’s neo-phenomenological project. On the one hand, Richir aims to offer the “right” interpretation of the cybernetic and grammatological history of life told by Jacques Derrida, by measuring it against Heidegger’s theory of the organism. On the other hand, Richir rewrites the limits of Heidegger’s conception of animality in light of the overview of contemporary ethological research provided by Konrad Lorenz.
Emanuele Caminada, Doubling the World: A Phenomenological Thought Experiment
Abstract: In this paper, I offer an analysis of the thought experiment “Two worlds for one ego” in which Husserl imagines an ego that lives two alternated lives. The thought experiment is designed to question the apodicticity of the world’s singularity. If the ego of the thought experiment is a fully concrete social subject, then the world’s singularity proves to be apodictic. If we were to, conversely, conduct the same experiment with an abstract ego, then the counter‑scenario of a doubling of the world would be tenable if and only if this subject was the sole subject of both worlds. This means, in turn, that a more concrete phenomenological conduction of the experiment demonstrates the limits of methodological solipsism. The paper is tripartite. Firstly, I set out the experiment’s terminological terrain and discuss the systematic questions addressed as well as the phenomenological methods involved. In a second step, I analyse Husserl’s conduction of the thought experiment. Finally, I discuss some of the experiment’s possible applications to anthropology.
Zixuan Liu, Why and How Transcendental Phenomenology Should Interact with Neuroscience
Abstract: Current dialogues in neuroscience are limited to phenomenological psychology plus neuroscience, or neurophenomenology. Within these dialogues, transcendental phenomenology is largely expelled. This article proposes a transcendental phenomenology of and through neuroscience. The “phenomenology-of ” neuroscience is a philosophy that refuses to view the Experience-Body Relation and Life-Non-Life Ambiguity as if they were predetermined, unintelligible, metaphysical gaps. Instead, it attempts to understand them through a correlative intentional experience involving activities of neuroscientific investigation and their pre-theoretical prerequisites. This establishes the indispensability of self-report and highlights the failings of two naturalistic interpretations of intentionality (representationalism and enactivism). A “phenomenology-through” neuroscience is thus justifiable and necessary, as illustrated by the example of memory consolidation during sleep. The article finds that as phenomenology-plus, neurophenomenology can solve its problems only through a mutually constraining “phenomenology-of” and “-through.”
Alina Noveanu, Hörenkönnen. Zum Verhältnis von Geschichtlichkeit und Leiblichkeit bei Martin Heidegger (Morphé-Verlag, 2021)
ISSN: 1582-5647 (print)
ISSN: 2069-0061 (online)