Interpreting Excess: Jean-Luc Marion, Saturated Phenomena, and Hermeneutics

Interpreting Excess: Jean-Luc Marion, Saturated Phenomena, and Hermeneutics

John D. Caputo series editor
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Interpreting Excess: Jean-Luc Marion, Saturated Phenomena, and Hermeneutics
    Book Description:

    JJean-Luc Marion's theory of saturated phenomena is one of the most exciting developments in phenomenology in recent decades. It opens up new possibilities for understanding phenomena by beginning from rich and complex examples such as revelation and works of art. Rather than being curiosities or exceptions, these excessiveor saturatedphenomena are, in Marion's view, paradigms. He understands more straightforward phenomena, such as the objects of the natural sciences, as reduced and impoverished versions of the excess given in saturated phenomena.Interpreting Excess is a systematic and comprehensive study of Marion's texts on saturated phenomena and their place in his wider phenomenology of givenness, tracing both his theory and his examples across a wide range of texts spanning three decades.The author argues that a rich hermeneutics is implicit in Marion's examples of saturated phenomena but is not set out in his theory. This hermeneutics makes clear that attempts to overthrow the much-criticized sovereignty of the Cartesian ego will remain unsuccessful if they simply reverse the subject-object relation by speaking of phenomena imposing themselves with an overwhelming givenness on a recipient. Instead, phenomena should be understood as appearing in a hermeneutic space already opened by a subject's active reception. Thus, a phenomenon's appearing depends not only on its givenness but also on the way it is interpreted by the receiving subject. All phenomenology is, therefore, necessarily hermeneutic.Interpreting Excess provides an indispensable guide for any study of Marion's saturated phenomena. It is also a significant contribution to ongoing debates about philosophical ways of thinking about God, the relation between hermeneutics and phenomenology, and philosophy after the subject.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-4799-8
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    Jean-Luc Marion first came to the attention of English-speaking readers with the appearance ofGod without Beingin 1991, almost ten years after its French publication. In this work, Marion tries to develop a way of thinking about God that is not subject to the accusations of onto-theology leveled by Heidegger at metaphysical conceptions of God. It is not surprising, then, that it was read most closely by those with a theological interest. By the time that the English translation ofGod without Beingappeared, though, Marion had moved on to explicitly phenomenological research, culminating in his theory of saturated...

  6. 1 Marion’s Claims
    (pp. 15-34)

    InReduction and Givenness, Marion argues that both Husserl and Heidegger retain limits and conditions for phenomena by conceiving of them as constituted objects (Husserl) or in terms of being (Heidegger). According to Marion, these limits exclude or distort phenomena, especially those that are “not objectified” or “do not have to be” (RG 205*/305).¹ Marion concludesReduction and Givennessby proposing a reduction to givenness as a solution to these sorts of distortions and exclusions. He asserts that a reduction to givenness allowsallphenomena to be given in themselves and as themselves because it has an “original absence of...

  7. 2 The Hermeneutic Structure of Phenomenality
    (pp. 35-56)

    One of the recurring questions addressed to Marion concerns the role of hermeneutics in his phenomenology of givenness. Most recently, Richard Kearney has joined philosophers such as Jean Greisch and Jean Grondin in arguing “that appearing—no matter how iconic or saturated it may be—always already involves an interpretation of some kind,” and that Marion’s insistence on phenomena aspuregivens excludes this.¹ When confronted by questions such as Kearney’s, Marion consistently responds by protesting that his “interpretation of the phenomenon … as given, not only does not forbid hermeneutics but demands it” (IE 33n/39n). In support of this...

  8. 3 The Theory of Saturated Phenomena
    (pp. 57-74)

    Marion’s claims about givenness and the self of the phenomenon culminate in his new category of “saturated” phenomena. According to Marion, some phenomena give more intuition than is needed to fill a subject’s intention. Such phenomena are “saturated” with intention, and exceed any concepts or limiting horizons that a constituting subject could impose upon them. Marion describes five possible types of saturated phenomenon (four corresponding to the divisions of Kant’s table of categories; and one that encompasses all four, and is thus “saturated to the second degree”), and then presents a “figure” as an example of each type (events, paintings,...

  9. 4 Events
    (pp. 75-116)

    In Kant’s table of categories, the categories of quantity form the first division. Correspondingly, saturation according to quantity is the first type of saturation studied by Marion. The phenomena that he proposes as paradigm-forming for this type of saturation are events. However, Marion’s discussion of events is not limited to their saturation. I begin this chapter by outlining his analysis of events inBeing GivenandIn Excess, as well as the significance that he ascribes to events as disclosing features of phenomenality in general. I then consider the main characteristics of eventness, by means of which Marion attempts to...

  10. 5 Dazzling Idols and Paintings
    (pp. 117-129)

    The second division in Kant’s table of categories is quality, or intensive magnitude. Marion describes phenomena which are saturated according to quality as dazzling (éblouissant). The intensity of the intuition given by them exceeds our capacity to see and prevents us from perceiving them as objects. He discusses these phenomena exclusively in terms of visual perception, and proposes the idol as the paradigm of a phenomenon saturated according to quality, describing the way in which paintings can function as idols. I begin this chapter by outlining Marion’s various descriptions of paintings and idols, and then argue that there is a...

  11. 6 Flesh as Absolute
    (pp. 130-158)

    The third division in Kant’s table of categories is relation. According to Kant, there are three possible types of relation between phenomena: inherence (between substance and accident), causality (between cause and effect), and community (between several substances). Marion adds to Kant’s possible types of relation by claiming that a phenomenon can appear without having any relation to other phenomena. He argues that a phenomenon can be saturated with intuition in such a way that it fills the whole horizon, and thus prevents any other phenomena from appearing. Such a phenomenon is saturated according to relation. Because it appears without relation...

  12. 7 The Face as Irregardable Icon
    (pp. 159-177)

    The fourth kind of saturated phenomenon proposed by Marion is the phenomenon that is saturated according to modality. These phenomena are “irregardable”¹—they have an irreducible invisibility which prevents them from being looked at as objects. He proposes three figures of this type of saturated phenomenon: anamorphosis, icons, and the face.²

    There are fundamental difficulties with Marion’s general concept of saturation according to modality, and with his characterization of these phenomena’s irregardability. In the first section of this chapter, I argue that saturation according to modality is not necessarily a distinct kind of saturation, and that Marion’s accounts of particular...

  13. 8 Revelation: The Phenomenon of God’s Appearing
    (pp. 178-215)

    Having considered each mode of saturation individually, Marion concludes his taxonomy of saturated phenomena by introducing a phenomenon that is saturated in all four divisions of Kant’s table of categories. This final instance of saturation is the phenomenon of ‎“revelation,”¹ which he proposes as “the last possible variation of the phenomenality of the phenomenon inasmuch as given … the paradox to the second degree and par excellence, which encompasses all types of paradox” (BG 235/327). The account of Revelation is the most frequently criticized section ofBeing Given, with Dominique Janicaud and others suggesting that by introducing a theological domain,...

  14. Conclusion: Revising the Phenomenology of Givenness
    (pp. 216-220)

    Marion’s phenomenology of givenness emphatically focuses phenomenology on phenomena themselves—as they give themselves. He carefully exposes how various phenomenological approaches entail limits and conditions on phenomena, and demonstrates the failings of theories that presume or imply such limits. By introducing the concept of saturated phenomena, he places at the center of his theory a group of phenomena that are often classified as exceptional or marginal, and thus disregarded. His accounts of these various saturated phenomena are a persuasive argument that their richness and complexity offer a far better paradigm for understanding phenomenality than do everyday phenomena such as objects....

  15. Notes
    (pp. 221-262)
  16. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 263-278)
  17. Index
    (pp. 279-284)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 285-288)