Michel Henry: Radicalizing Phemenology? More Considerations

Continuing with my newfound interest in Michel Henry via Mullarkey’s Post-Continental Philosophy, I was able to dig up one of Henry’s translated books over the weekend, I am the Truth: Toward a Philosophy of Christianity. In fact, the text I was actually trying to find in translation, The Essence of Manifestation, retails for $307, an $88 savings on the cover price, the translation of Marx: un philosophie de l’economie is equally un-affordable (the French version published by Gallimard is a far more affordable falling in the $30 range), ack. Stanford University Press published a relatively affordable translation of Genealogie de la psychoanalyse: Le commencement perdu The Genealogy of Psychoanalysisin the 90s in which Henry argues (according to the blurb) “the Freudian unconscious, far from constituting a radical break with the philosophy of consciousness, is merely the latest exemplar in a heritage of philosophical misunderstanding of the Cartesian cogito that interprets “I think, therefore I am” as “I represent myself, therefore I am” (in the classic interpretation of Heidegger, one of the targets of the book).” To this end, I found an interesting conversation with Henry from 2001 in Psychomedia:

Following his phenomenological thinking, the author shows how Freudian theory of the unconscious is actually the point of arrival of a long process of European thinking that began with “Cartesian doubt” and with Descartes’ idea that one’s sense of the “I” is the only certainty. This process, which combines reflections on the subject and a philosophy of life, basically continues in Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and in phenomenology. Starting from an analysis of Freud’s Project for a Scientific Psychology-to be considered a theory of subjectivity-the Author examines the role Freud gave to life drives: the foundations of the subject lie not in representations but in affects. He also underlines the “Schopenhauerian” limits of Freudian theory: Freud appears to have put too much emphasis on psychic representations instead of putting it on affect as the ultimate truth of the subject. The Author then concludes by examining the common ground between Freud and Marx, insofar as both insist on individuality and on the subjectivity of human life.

Finally, to continue all of this somewhat annoying but hopefully informative front matter/qualifications, Henry–as Mullarkey discusses for a couple of pages in Post-Continental Philosophy–apparently also published a book about Kandinsky as well. Anyway. this all seems very interesting. Onto more considerations of the “radical phenomenology” of Michel Henry… Continue reading