Everything Is Just Dandy!

Andreea Smaranda Aldea, David Carr, Sara Heinämaa (Eds.): Phenomenology as Critique: Why Method Matters

Phenomenological Reviews
Phenomenological Reviews
2022-09-05
http://reviews.ophen.org/2022/09/05/phenomenology-as-critique-why-method-matters-review/

Andreea Smaranda Aldea, David Carr, Sara Heinämaa (Eds.): Phenomenology as Critique: Why Method Matters

Phenomenology as Critique: Why Method Matters Book Cover



Phenomenology as Critique: Why Method Matters



Routledge Research in Phenomenology




Andreea Smaranda Aldea, David Carr, Sara Heinämaa (Eds.)




Routledge



2022



Ebook



292

Reviewed by: Matt Burch, Niclas Rautenberg, and Diego Martínez-Zarazúa

Routledge Research in Phenomenology promises cutting-edge, historically informed phenomenological research that enlivens contemporary debates. Phenomenology as Critique: Why Method Matters—edited by Andreea Smaranda Aldea, David Carr, and Sara Heinämaa—delivers on that promise. After a helpful introduction, its 15 original chapters showcase phenomenology’s critical potential across diverse domains, with special emphasis on the tradition’s rich methodological resources.

The volume is a timely contribution with treasures in store for everyone from the verdant novice to the veteran phenomenological researcher. Since we cannot capture its full content in the space available here, we try something else. Dividing the chapters evenly between us (Burch: 2–6; Rautenberg 7–11; and Martínez-Zarazúa 12–16), each of us briefly summarizes their respective section and then explores an important theme, problem, or debate engaged therein. While far from comprehensive, we hope the approach reflects the volume’s potential to enrich, recast, and transform contemporary debates both within and beyond the borders of phenomenological research.

Chapters 2–6: Classical Phenomenology and the Problem(s) of History

Although chapters 2–6 raise many important issues, I will focus on how they contribute to the longstanding debate about the problems history poses for phenomenological research. But first, a brief summary of their contents: David Carr kicks things off in chapter 2 with a characteristically clear and scholarly case that phenomenology is best understood as a critical method designed to answer not the question of metaphysics (What exists?), nor the question of epistemology (How can we know what exists?), but rather a distinctive question staked out by Husserl, namely, Of what exists, or may exist, how is it given, and what are the conditions of the possibility of its being so given? In chapter 3, Michela Summa explores the important and under-researched topic of the epistemic function of exemplarity in critical philosophy, highlighting important parallels between Kant and Husserl’s respective approaches. Julia Jansen follows this up in chapter 4 with a lucid account of Husserl’s phenomenological method, showing how it enables four fundamental types of critique, which, she argues, could enrich an array of critical and normative projects. In chapter 5, Andreea Smaranda Aldea makes the case that Husserl’s mature phenomenology is radically critical, and she endeavors to clarify the conditions for the possibility of its distinctive critical character, namely, a “self-reflexive thinking of a specific kind: imagining reflection” (62).  Finally, in chapter 6, Mirja Hartimo argues that, with the practice of Besinnung, Husserl furnishes us with a hermeneutic method that we can use in conjunction with transcendental phenomenology to critique contemporary practices.

So, what is the debate about history to which these chapters contribute? In truth, it’s a cluster of related debates. Critics have argued that history throws up a host of problems that classical phenomenological methods cannot handle or, in many cases, even detect. For a non-exhaustive but representative list of such problems, critics argue that classical phenomenology:

  • Is blind to the socio-historical preconditions of its own activity (Horkheimer 1972 [1937], 190).
  • Lacks resources to criticize historical practices and “world-disclosures” (Tugendhat 2011 [1970]).
  • Fails to appreciate how inquirers find themselves “in medias res,” caught in history’s sway, interpreting phenomena, rather than grasping them in complete evidential fulfillment (Ricoeur 1975, 91).
  • Tends to elide the material, empirical, and historical conditions of experience (Alcoff 2000, 39).
  • Often illegitimately assumes that “we can separate out what is empirical from what is transcendental in the mixture of experience” (Al-Saji 2017, 146).
  • Fails to tackle the “quasi-transcendental, historically-grounded study of particular lifeworlds” (Guenther 2021, 5).
  • Cannot reliably bring deep-seated historical biases into view (Cerbone 2022).

Since most of these criticisms target Husserl’s phenomenology, a reader who took them at face value would be forgiven for believing that phenomenology’s inventor was borderline oblivious to the challenges posed by history.

Dispelling that belief is one of the major goals of Phenomenology as Critique. According to its editors, the belief that Husserl’s phenomenology is fundamentally ahistorical is one of several “widespread misconceptions” that “classical- and existential-phenomenological authors have already discussed in detail and patiently corrected” (7). Husserl was profoundly preoccupied with the problems history posed for phenomenological research. If meaning is historically transmitted, he worried, then reflecting on the pre-given world with the epoché and reduction would never deliver a complete account of meaning-constitution, because our reflective standpoint is saturated with sedimented historical meanings that rarely come to explicit awareness. Thus, as scholars have discussed for decades now (e.g., see Aguirre 1970; Carr 1974; Welton 1983), in his writings from 1917–1921, Husserl distinguished between “static” and “genetic” methods: static phenomenology consisted of synchronic constitutive analyses of how phenomena are given, while genetic phenomenology studied individual subjectivity’s concrete diachronic self-temporalization by analyzing developmental, associative phenomena like habit formation. What’s more, in the 1930s, Husserl pioneered another methodological approach that Anthony Steinbock (1995a; 1995b; 2017) has dubbed “generative phenomenology.” The method is “generative” in the sense that it studies the “constitution of normatively significant lifeworlds” over the course of generations, thereby uncovering “the dimension of sense-constitution which takes place historically, geologically and intersubjectively” (Steinbock 1995b, 59).

For the editors’ of Phenomenology as Critique, then, the apparent problems mentioned above stem not from Husserl’s failure to come to terms with history, but rather from his critics’ failure to appreciate the historical development of his thought in depth and detail. Of course, many of Husserl’s critics have studied this dimension of his work closely; they just think it lacks critical import in some important respect(s). Thus, the volume aims to challenge that belief too.

Carr’s contribution helps undercut the belief that Husserl’s phenomenology is fundamentally ahistorical. Towards the end of chapter 2, he notes a fundamental ambiguity in the Crisis’s portrayal of Galileo’s impact: on the one hand, Husserl maintains that, although Galileo changed the way we think about the world, we still live in the same world as our forebears; on the other hand, Husserl implies that Galileo’s thought in fact changed the pre-given world, and so we are not in the exact same world as our forebears. In other words, the “lifeworld varies historically” (Carr 23). “So,” Carr writes, “if phenomenology is a critique of everyday experience […] then it would seem appropriate to ask: whose ordinary experience, and when? That is, in what historical context?” (ibid.; Carr’s emphasis). From this perspective, the belief that Husserl was insensitive to the historical dimension of meaning-constitution loses credibility.

What about the second belief, namely, that the way Husserl handles history lacks critical bite? In the chapters I covered, Aldea and Hartimo do the most to challenge this belief. Building on some of their earlier work (Aldea 2016; Hartimo 2018), they argue that Husserl’s method of Besinnung makes classical phenomenology capable of radical historical critique. I cannot cover every aspect of their complex accounts here; nor can I trace the parallels between their work and the wider scholarly literature on Husserl’s genetic and generative methods; instead, I try to synthesize what I see as the compatible aspects of their accounts into a rough picture of Husserl’s method for historical critique.

In that picture, Besinnung is a method designed to reflect on, critically evaluate, and revise our practices. Hartimo recommends that we think of Besinnung as one of the various attitudes identified by Husserl. Just as the naturalistic and personalistic attitudes enable us to see the world from a determinate cognitive standpoint, Besinnung gives us access to “a teleological-historical world” (Hartimo 80). In this attitude, the inquirer begins with a target practice in its “present-day form,” and then looks “back at its development,” moving “forward and backward in a zigzag pattern” (Hua VI 59/58 cited by Aldea 57). The “zigzag” here refers to the method’s recursive character. Looking back to the beginnings of the practice, the inquirer attempts to discern its original goals and purposes, not just as a matter of intellectual history but also through an act of empathy with its original practitioners; then the inquirer considers their interpretations of the practice’s past against the reality of its present; and they repeat this process recursively across the practice’s historical development. In this way, the inquirer works through the “layers of sedimented meanings, values, norms, commitments, and goals […] that condition our experience of the lifeworld as well as our own theoretical work” (Aldea 57).

This teleological-historical inquiry becomes radically critical in conjunction with transcendental phenomenology. Besinnung reveals the goals and purposes of a practice that typically remain sedimented in consciousness as habitual beliefs; and transcendental phenomenology allows us to evaluate the “genuineness” of “the normative commitments, goals, and values […] inherited from the previous generations” (Hartimo 91). Thus, the approach puts the phenomenologist in position to recommend revisions to contemporary practice.

Although it paints a promising picture of classical phenomenology’s resources for historical critique, it would be premature, I think, to say that this line of research can defuse the diverse criticisms highlighted above. What’s more, in addition to disagreements with classical phenomenology’s critics, I think Aldea and Hartimo should expect pushback from phenomenologists who find Husserl’s historical methods unappealing. Specifically, although Aldea assures us that the “self-reflective reflection [of Besinnung] […] remains transcendental-eidetic through and through” (62), and Hartimo concurs (81), others might demur.

Is Besinnung consistent with Husserl’s claim that the epoché rules out speculation, construction, and guesswork? Can it satisfy his demand that every phenomenological claim rest on evidence that the inquirer and their interlocutors can redeem for themselves from the first person-perspective? Can the phenomenologist first-personally grasp the sub-psychic genesis of sedimented meanings and the cultural-historical transmission of generational meaning, or do such analyses invariably rely on conjecture?

Perhaps more importantly, is Besinnung consistent with what contemporary practitioners think phenomenology ought to be? Some phenomenologists might think Besinnung sounds too much like armchair social science. And rather than speculating about the historical development of social practices and sedimented generational meaning, they might prefer to collaborate with researchers in the human sciences, or at least to draw heavily on their work. In other words, they might prefer to tackle the tasks identified by Aldea and Hartimo with a division of labor more like the one Jansen describes in her contribution. Building on a distinction I draw between core phenomenology and applied phenomenology (Burch 2021), Jansen describes critical phenomenological work as “a mode of applied phenomenology that focuses on problems that require interdisciplinary research (mostly, but not exclusively, in the human sciences)” (54). Why prefer Besinnung to this kind of interdisciplinary approach?

Although Steinbock’s contribution does not occur in my section, he offers a powerful answer to this question that should be mentioned here. Phenomenologists should prefer Besinnung, because “phenomenology—as Selbstbesinnung (first-person singular or plural) and as generative—takes subjective and intersubjective experience as the touchstone for clarifying the meaning of social praxis and the norms generated within that human activity”; thus, it “describe[s] human crises critically in terms of political, cultural, psychic, sub-psychic, emotional, and aesthetic relations, etc., as they are lived through and not only as externally generated in a particular domain” (157, Steinbock’s emphasis). If true, this is indeed an excellent reason to prefer a thoroughgoingly phenomenological approach.

But is it true? Some will argue that Husserl’s historical methods target phenomena that lie beyond the reach of first-person reflection, and so they run afoul of his own demand for first-person evidence, morphing instead into a kind of a quasi-Hegelian project of rational reconstruction.

I will not pretend to settle such complicated matters here; instead, I will simply conclude by saying that this volume offers rich resources to help us think them through. It will no doubt enliven and enrich the ongoing debates about these issues for years to come.

Chapters 7–11: Critical Phenomenology vs. Classical Phenomenology: Between Redundancy and Revolution

The second section—as drawn by us in this review—follows naturally from the first. The authors pick up the discussion on phenomenology’s capacity to critically address the socio-historical and political dimension of the lifeworld. Connected to this matter, though chapters 7–11 also discuss topics that merit their own discussion, we find a common thread uniting all of them: i.e., an exciting—and fruitful—dialogue on the merits and distinct features of “critical phenomenology” (CrP hereafter) compared to “classical phenomenology” (ClP).

While a consensus definition of CrP is still missing (see discussion below), we can identify some core commitments of the project: (1) it signals dissatisfaction with ClP’s transcendental techniques of inquiry and (2) champions a move to a quasi-transcendental analysis of particular lifeworlds situated in malleable, but relatively stable socio-historical structures; (3) its target are structures of power and oppression (e.g., white supremacy, heteronormativity, capitalism); and (4) it has the political impetus to dismantle these structures (e.g., Guenther 2021; Weiss, Murphy & Salamon 2020). In a recent paper, Lisa Guenther argues that these features, among others, render CrP a distinct enterprise (Guenther 2021, 5–6). In chapters 7–11, we see this claim of CrP’s status critically addressed in various ways. In the following, I will reiterate them not in the order they appear in the book, but along a spectrum that leads from a more reserved attitude towards CrP to a more assertive one.

In chapter 7, Lanei M. Rodemeyer argues that CrP is distinct neither in method nor in content from ClP. On the former, albeit targeting the quasi-transcendental instead of the transcendental, CrP still applies a method starting out from experience and revealing the structures that enable that experience (Rodemeyer 103). Regarding its subject matter, Rodemeyer holds that classical phenomenologists such as Husserl, Heidegger, or Merleau-Ponty were already invested in revealing the ego’s socio-historical embeddedness and employed these inquiries to effect social change (103–5). Rodemeyer closes her chapter with a historical analysis of Husserl reception, which she deems to fall prey to misconceptions thwarting a clearer view on the critical potential of Husserlian phenomenology (106ff.).

In a similar vein, Steinbock’s chapter 10 highlights the transformative aspects already operative in ClP. In understanding the ego as a sense-maker that takes part in the constitution of meaning, ClP reveals the inherent responsibility of the self in this social process (Steinbock 155–6). Following this insight, Steinbock sketches the motivation to move beyond the natural attitude and towards phenomenological critique, locating it in a (qualified) free thinking founded in a “mindful discernment of the heart” (162–6). Phenomenological investigation is here not understood as concerned with static objects, but as generative, engaged in an “attentive reflexion within experiencing, while this experience is ongoing” (165).

Alice Pugliese’s chapter 11 marks a transition from “pure” phenomenological debate towards dialogue with other schools of thought and methodologies. Debunking the common prejudice that Husserl’s oeuvre lacks the resources to tackle ethical and socio-political issues (Pugliese 170–1), she provides an interesting reading of phenomenology that could serve as a complementary position in ethics and political theory alongside the likes of deontology, utilitarianism, and critical theory. Introducing a “critical phenomenological public ethics,” she demonstrates how noetic and genetic analysis can contribute to the understanding of trust in the public sphere.

Chapter 8 presents a noticeable shift; instead of arguing for the superfluousness of CrP, Sara Heinämaa defends the tools of ClP—the epoché, eidetic and phenomenological-transcendental reduction, and the first-person approach—from critique by CrP and post-phenomenology. Heinämaa identifies two interpretations of this criticism (Heinämaa 115–6): either they mean to say that we need to move beyond (some of) ClP’s techniques in individual investigations; or these techniques are dispensable tout court. Leaving aside—and somewhat accepting—the first reading (116), Heinämaa provides a brief but informative recap on the debate on (particularly Husserlian and Merleau-Pontian) theories of embodiment, in which she convincingly argues for the value and necessity of “traditional” forms of phenomenological inquiry.

Finally, in chapter 9, Depraz sketches a view that is arguably furthest away from Rodemeyer’s, claiming that phenomenology should be subject to constant transformation. She distinguishes a conservative, “archivistic” self-understanding of phenomenology that merely maintains secured knowledge, from a “creative-constructive” attitude that moves towards the new and risky, at the cost of the researcher’s vulnerability and the provisionality of findings (Depraz 148). Claiming that phenomenology could only be neutral, unsituated, and apolitical in the “mythical mind of a child” (ibid.), she urges phenomenologists to embrace this circumstance and consider new avenues of thought. Two of these are CrP and micro-phenomenology, i.e., the analysis of the experience of specific subjects in a given moment in time and space (141), with Depraz arguing that both in conjunction provide a fruitful progression from ClP.

If there is one conclusion we can draw from this discussion, it is this: CrP’s project is yet to be determined.[1] Chapters 7–11 provide nuanced and varied positions on a debate that is at the time of this review still riddled with mutual misconceptions and, at times, staunchly extreme positions. One such misconception seems to rest on the role of transcendental phenomenology in CrP: while many critical phenomenologists do not deny its value (e.g., Guenther 2018, 49; 2021, 10, 20; Salamon 2018), much of the current debate seems to suggest that the quasi-transcendental is the only or true center of its methodology. I already noted that Heinämaa’s contribution to this volume presents a powerful antidote to this misconstrual. Similarly, Rodemeyer shows that the work of ClP can provide a valuable methodological foundation for critical investigations (Rodemeyer 105–6). Yet, when it comes to the target of CrP, i.e., the quasi-transcendental, socio-historical structures forming and formed by praxes of power, we might want to ask, pace Rodemeyer, if these nonetheless constitute a feature rendering CrP methodologically distinct from ClP?

In this vein, we can also ask what the status of CrP is or will be in the philosophical and wider academic landscape; will it be an updated and modified phenomenology (reparative reading); a decided break from phenomenology (abolitionist reading);[2] will it prove to be superfluous (conservative reading); or will it in fact be recognized as an inter­-disciplinary project (collaborative reading)?[3] The latter seems particularly enticing, as it offers venues for mutual critique and stimulation, without thereby questioning the raison d’être of either side. Hence, phenomenology would not only support other disciplines, as Steinbock suggests (Steinbock 157); it would remain open to be interrogated by them, challenged, as Depraz notes in her chapter (Depraz 142). For instance, other disciplines can put phenomenology to the test whether its formulation of a structure really is universal, or only a situated and incomplete description.[4] This image does away with phenomenology’s old aspiration, as we can find it in Husserl’s Crisis, of grounding all other sciences. Rather, it champions a pluralist view that regards phenomenology as part of a horizontal academic fabric geared towards understanding the human condition.[5]

Another question surrounds the meaning of critique that CrP envisions.[6] Is ClP really critical enough? We might ask, for instance, if Husserl’s goal to change the sciences, Heidegger’s remarks on historicity, or Merleau-Ponty’s interventions in psychology and psychiatry, as listed by Rodemeyer (104), reach the ramifications of social critique that is integral to CrP—expressed in an activist and emancipatory impetus to wholesale dismantle systemic injustice? (In a way, Rodemeyer answers this question herself when she, for instance, talks of Husserl’s quite patriarchal discussion of the family [106].) Or does this way of thinking rest on a conflation of the political and the methodological—despite critical theory’s insistence on the impossibility of such a separation?

Finally, what about the works of authors such as Simone de Beauvoir? Are these really exemplary of ClP, as Rodemeyer writes (104), or rather testimony to a CrP avant la lettre? Depraz’s discussion of Beauvoir’s work on gender (145)—one would also have to mention Fanon’s work on racism and colonialism—suggests the latter.

While these questions can be settled neither by this review nor by the volume it discusses, the chapters I had the pleasure to read provide valuable impulses to this debate and beyond.

Chapters 12–16: Phenomenology in Dialogue with Social Philosophy

In this last set of chapters, all but one (that of Timo Miettinen, who concentrates exclusively on Husserl) attempt to open a dialogue between the Husserlian figure of phenomenology and two authors not often associated with it, but prevalent in the critical discourse of social philosophies: Marx (or Marxian-inspired thinkers) and Foucault.

In chapter 12, Nicolas de Warren directs our attention to how much—or rather how little—criticism actually assumes worldliness and thus “a common horizon with that which it seeks to critique” (de Warren 189), all the more so when the current situation is defined by what might be referred to as a loss of worldliness (Weltverlust), which results from what, following Guy Debord, he calls the society of the spectacle. De Warren thus expounds the societal conditions upon which critique would have to be developed in the first place (or, rather, where it might have just become impossible), drawing from a wide range of sources and examples, from Edgar Madison Welch’s notorious case of paranoia and Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men to the Marxian dialectics of the commodity-form. Then comes Christian Lotz in chapter 13 with an inquiry into the best hermeneutical strategy to approach Marx’s oeuvre, especially Capital. Lotz claims to find such a strategy in the phenomenological approach, rather than in the Hegelian interpretations of Marx, which he in turn subjects to a thorough critical assessment. He concludes that “critique,” in Marx’s project of a Critique of Political Economy, must be understood in the Kantian or phenomenological—and thus non-Hegelian—sense of defining the inner limits of its object, in this case the capitalist society.

Next, we have Timo Miettinen’s chapter; as I mentioned, the only one in this set of chapters that discusses Husserlian thought exclusively. In his piece Miettinen describes the later Husserl’s dealings with tradition, and how phenomenological reflection must grasp its historical belonging if it is to become radical, rather than trying to overcome or eliminate it. Miettinen thus describes the “transition from the critique of the present moment to a teleological understanding of philosophy” (Miettinen 225), a shift that doubtlessly influenced generations of phenomenologists and post-phenomenological thinkers alike.

Finally, the book closes with two chapters that deal in their own way with questions concerning Foucault’s relation to phenomenology and its critical potential. Chapter 15, by Sophie Loidolt, outlines different forms of critique and shows how these are prevalent in both Foucault and a handful of representatives of phenomenology, especially Husserl, but also Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Levinas, and Arendt. She does this by taking as a point of departure three paradigmatic forms of critique: the “presupposition/justification” model (traditionally exemplified by Plato or Kant, as well as by Husserl), the “immanent tensions” model (Hegel-type, but later also present in French existentialism), and the “genealogical” model (as developed by Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Foucault). The closing chapter of the book, by Maren Wehler, consists of a comparative reading of Husserl and Foucault that seeks to underscore their shared goal: “to strengthen the human capacity for reason as a critical means of theoretical and practical reflection” (Wehler 252). Wehler convincingly presents some interesting parallels between the two philosophers, who are often seen to pursue conflicting goals. But Husserl and Foucault, Wehler argues, fundamentally target the same issue, albeit from opposite but complementary perspectives: “the problem of subjectivity, which is both constituting,” as Husserl stresses, “and constituted,” as Foucault does for his part (Wehler 259).

It is to some of the issues touched upon in the chapters of Miettinen, de Warren, and Lotz that I would like to devote the remaining lines of our book review.

As I mentioned, Miettinen’s chapter sets out to understand Husserl’s relation to history and tradition. In the later stages of his thinking, Husserl subscribed to the idea that radical phenomenological reflection, rather than attempting to do away with historical embeddedness—as though it were a burden one would do well to leave behind in favor of an absolute beginning, as it appears to have been for the early Husserl—must instead, if it is to be truly radical, gain its ground by “taking possession of the whole of the tradition” through a “critical ‘questioning back’ (rückfragen) of the present moment” (Miettinen 228–229). Miettinen thus shows us the itinerary through which Husserl passes, if I may use philosophical clichés, from being a philosopher of Cartesian inspiration to being one of Diltheyan inspiration. The author does so by pointing to a shift in Husserl’s own intentions, namely, from establishing a starting point free of presuppositions (Voraussetzungslosigkeit) to assuming presuppositions (i.e., tradition and history) as the inescapable task for a radical philosophy. It would be the itinerary, I am inclined to think, through which Husserl blazed the trail for the philosophical generation to come—the names of Heidegger and Gadamer come forcibly to mind—very much in keeping with his idea of philosophy as a generational undertaking. Miettinen’s chapter thus contributes to the understanding of the more general relationship between phenomenology (certainly not only in its Husserlian figure) with history and tradition.

Now, if Miettinen’s suggestion is that philosophical thought must take root in the historical lifeworld, Nicolas de Warren’s piece would show why such an effort is bound to fail given the current societal condition of spectacle. The spectacle is defined as “the commodity form of the image” (de Warren 192). And nothing is real, de Warren writes, “until it has become commodified into an image, which, as the original form of objectivity, not only structures the interaction between objects and subjects but also subjects in relation to each other” (de Warren 193). However, submitting to the conditions of “the spectacle” comes at a cost. I would say it is precisely the cost that Marx had already described as the contradiction in the commodity-form, that is, the fact that the real is denied because (abstract) exchange value always comes at the expense of a (concrete) use value. Likewise, the spectacle would consist in a farce and is therefore something unreal (much like the value-form, “a phantom-like objectivity”). However, in a society of the spectacle, all that is is precisely as spectacle, which means that it attains its being insofar as it falsifies itself. Thus, the social dynamics described by de Warren work in such a way that—similarly to the dialectical negation of use value by exchange value—real and phenomenological experience “becomes displaced by the anti-phenomenology of the spectacle” (de Warren 192). Hence the “loss of worldliness” that de Warren mentions, which elsewhere I have referred to as “the impoverishment of the lifeworld” (Martínez-Zarazúa 2022).

It seems to me that some of the issues addressed in Miettinen’s and de Warren’s chapters illustrate well why a phenomenological interpretation of Capital is called for. And that is precisely what Christian Lotz, here as elsewhere (2022, 2013), has set out to do, indeed, as have several scholars in recent years (to name just a few: Angus 2022, 2021; Martínez-Zarazúa 2022; Westerman 2019; Martínez-Marzoa 2018; Martínez-Matías 2014. It would appear that we Martínez are prone to this line of questioning). Lotz intends to show that, according to his own words, “a renewed, thorough, and sober phenomenological reading of Marx’s philosophy […] can be done best through 1) moving Marx away from a Hegelian framework, 2) understanding the concept of critique as an attempt to de-naturalize social phenomena and as disclosure, and 3) showing that Marx’s concept of philosophy, his method, as well as his understanding of technology, are forms of ‘disclosure’” (Lotz 208). I believe that Lotz makes a convincing case for all three points—moreover, the idea of Marx’s philosophy as a form of disclosure is a key finding that goes rather unnoticed in English-speaking scholarship—but I disagree somewhat with the first point.

Lotz seeks to disengage his reading of Marx from Hegel because of what he takes to be Hegel’s attempt to transcend finitude. In turn, he appears to find Kantian sobriety more promising when interpreting Marx’s work, as Marx himself pursued his scientific endeavors with such an attitude. And so Lotz seems to believe that associating Marx with Hegel would make Marxian thought as unrestrained as Hegel’s, something that would certainly contravene the very limits Marx imposed on his analyses in Capital as well as the phenomenological tenets by which Lotz wants to interpret that work. However, dismissing Hegel outright strikes me as a bit excessive. To approach Marx from a Hegelian standpoint does not necessarily mean raising Marxian thought to an absolute standpoint. One may recognize, for example, the influence of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right in the theory of value presented in Capital, and even resort to the former to offer new perspectives on the latter—especially with regard to the type of sociality involved by the presence of the commodity-thing (cfr. Martínez-Marzoa 2018)—, without having to take on the task of transcending finitude, as Hegel does, for example, in the Phenomenology of Spirit or the Science of Logic. That would be my only reservation about Lotz’s otherwise sound text and his contribution to the project of a phenomenological Marxism.

Conclusion

As we said at the outset, this volume has more to offer than we could cover in a review of this length. We sketched its rich contributions to debates about 1) the problems history poses for phenomenology, 2) the contested status and prospects of critical phenomenology, and 3) the relationship between phenomenology and Foucauldian and Marxist social philosophy; but this really only scratches the surface of its contents. For anyone interested in classical phenomenology’s critical resources, Phenomenology as Critique is required reading.

Bibliography

Aguirre, A. F. 1970. Genetische Phänomenologie Und Reduktion: Zur Letztbegründung Der Wissenschaft Aus Der Radikalen Skepsis Im Denken E. Husserls. The Hague: Nijhoff.

Alcoff, L. M. 2000. “Phenomenology, Post-Structuralism, and Feminist Theory on the Concept of Experience.” In Feminist Phenomenology, ed. by L. Fisher and L. Embree, 39–56. Contributions to Phenomenology. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.

Aldea, A. S. 2016. “Phenomenology as Critique: Teleological-Historical Reflection and Husserl’s Transcendental Eidetics”. Husserl Studies 32 (1): 21–46.

Aldea, A. S., D. Carr & S. Heinämaa. 2022. Phenomenology as Critique. Why Method Matters. Milton: Routledge.

Al-Saji, A. 2017. “Feminist Phenomenology.” In The Routledge Companion to Feminist Philosophy, ed. by S. Khader, A. Garry, and A. Stone, 143–54. New York: Routledge.

Angus, I. 2021. Groundwork of Phenomenological Marxism. Lanham: Lexington Books.

———. 2022. “The Problem of the Form: Recovery of the Concrete in Contemporary Phenomenological Marxism.” In Marxism and Phenomenology, ed. by B. Smyth and R. Westerman. Lanham: Lexington Books: 31–52.

Burch, M. 2021. “Make Applied Phenomenology What It Needs to Be: An Interdisciplinary Research Program”. Continental Philosophy Review 54: 275–93.

Carr, D. 1974. Phenomenology and the Problem of History: A Study of Husserl’s Transcendental Philosophy. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.

Cerbone, D. R. 2022. “Feckless Prisoners of Their Times: Historicism and Moral Reflection.” In Contemporary Phenomenologies of Normativity, ed, by S. Heinämaa, M. Hartimo, and I. Hirvonen, 183–98. London: Routledge.

Guenther, L. 2018. “Critical Phenomenology of Solidarity and Resistance in the 2013 California Prison Hunger Strikes.” In BODY/SELF/OTHER: The Phenomenology of Social Encounters., ed. by L. Dolezal and D. Petherbridge, 47–73. New York: SUNY Press.

———. 2021. “Six Senses of Critique for Critical Phenomenology.” Puncta 4 (2): 5–23.

———. 2022. ‘Abolish the World as We Know It: Notes for a Praxis of Phenomenology Beyond Critique’. Puncta 5 (2): 28–44.

Hartimo, M. 2018. “Radical Besinnung in Formale Und Transzendentale Logik (1929)”. Husserl Studies 34 (3): 247–66.

Horkheimer, M. 1972. Critical Theory: Selected Essays. Trans. by M.J. O’Connell. New York: Herder and Herder.

Husserl, E. Hua VI. 1954. Die Krisis de Europäischen Wissenschaften und die Transzendentale Phänomenologie, edited by Walter Biemel. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology, translated by David Carr. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1970.

Lotz, C. 2013. “Reification through Commodity Form or Technology? From Honneth Back to Heidegger and Marx.” Rethinking Marxism 25 (2): 184–200.

———. 2022. “Capital as Enframing: On Marx and Heidegger.” In Marxism and Phenomenology, ed. by B. Smyth and R. Westerman. Lanham: Lexington Books: 151–170.

Martínez-Marzoa, F. (1983) 2018. La filosofía de “El capital”. Madrid: Abada.

Martínez-Matías, P. 2014. “Producto y mercancía: sobre la constitución ontológica de la modernidad a partir de Heidegger y Marx.” Logos. Anales Del Seminario De Metafísica 47: 199–225.

Martínez-Zarazúa, D. 2022. “When Things Impoverish: An Approach to Marx’s Analysis of Capitalism in Conjunction with Heidegger’s Concern over Technology.” Rethinking Marxism 34 (1): 6–24.

Ricoeur, P. 1975. “Phenomenology and Hermeneutics.” Noûs 9 (1): 85–102.

Salamon, G. 2018. “What’s Critical about Critical Phenomenology?” Journal of Critical Phenomenology 1 (1): 8–17.

Steinbock, A. J. 1995a. Home and Beyond: Generative Phenomenology After Husserl. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.

———. 1995b. “Generativity and Generative Phenomenology.” Husserl Studies 12 (1): 55–79.

———. 2017. Limit-Phenomena and Phenomenology in Husserl. USA: Rowman & Littlefield.

Tugendhat, E. 2011. Der Wahrheitsbegriff bei Husserl und Heidegger. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

Waldenfels, B. 1985. In den Netzen der Lebenswelt. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Weiss, G., A. V. Murphy, and G. Salamon. 2020. “Introduction: Transformative Descriptions.” In 50 Concepts for a Critical Phenomenology, ed. by G. Weiss, A. V. Murphy, and G. Salamon, xiii–xiv. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.

Welton, D. 1983. The Origins of Meaning: A Critical Study of the Thresholds of Husserlian Phenomenology. The Hague: Nijhoff.

Westerman, R. 2019. Lukács’s Phenomenology of Capitalism: Reification Revalued. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.


[1] CrP agrees; e.g., see Weiss, Murphy, and Salamon 2020, xiv.

[2] Both interpretations are discussed in Guenther (2022).

[3] It is in the latter sense—i.e., in the interdisciplinary wedding of phenomenology and critical theory—that Gayle Salamon’s claim that “what is critical about critical phenomenology turns out to have been there all along,” should be understood. In other words, she does not argue that ClP already harnesses all that CrP purports to add to the debate. See Salamon 2018, 12; see also 13.

[4] As already mentioned in Matt Burch’s section above, Jansen argues in this volume that this would render CrP a variant of applied phenomenology (54).

[5] E.g., see Waldenfels 1985.

[6] For a detailed discussion, see Guenther 2021.

Сообщение Andreea Smaranda Aldea, David Carr, Sara Heinämaa (Eds.): Phenomenology as Critique: Why Method Matters появились сначала на Phenomenological Reviews.