Michel Henry was one of the leading French philosophers of the twentieth century. His numerous works of philosophy are all organized around the theme of life. In contrast to the scientific understanding of life as a biological process, Henry’s philosophy develops a conception of life as an immediate feeling of one’s own living.
Seeing the Invisible marks Henry’s most sustained engagement in the field of aesthetics. Through an analysis of the life and works of Wassily Kandinsky, Henry uncovers the philosophical significance of Kandinsky’s revolution in painting: that abstract art reveals the invisible essence of life. Henry shows that Kandinsky separates color and line from the constraints of visible form and, in so doing, conveys the invisible intensity of life. More than just a study of art history, this book presents Kandinsky as an artist who is engaged in the project of painting the invisible and thus offers invaluable methodological clues for Henry’s own phenomenology of the invisible.
More information here.
- Imprint: Continuum
- Pub. date: 15 Jun 2009
- ISBN: 9781847064479
- 160 Pages, paperback $21.95
Our friend over at However Fallible has translated a good deal of an interview with Michel Henry that touches on a range of issues about art, experience and phenomenology. Read it from the beginning here. I found this exchange particularly interesting, especially Henry’s use of and discussion of Kandindky.
Q: In Material Phenomenology you analyze the “invisible phenomenological substance” that is “the pathetic immediacy in which life experiences itself.” If, as you claim, life is “the principle of everything,” how can one envisage a phenomenology of the invisible or more exactly of the relation between the visible and invisible from the point of view of art? Related question, is the work of art visible or invisible, immanent or transcendant, objective or subjective, internal or external? Here we are referring to the phenomenological reflections of Roman Ingarden.
MH: The questions that you have posed are my questions… Marx says somewhere that Humanity only asks questions that it can answer. I would say, in all modesty, that insofar as being a philosopher working outside of the paths followed by modern thought, I have been in a precarious position in relation to what I have wanted to say, namely it has been very difficult for me to find the conceptual means to express a wholly other phenomenology. A phenomenology sure, but wholly other since my understanding of appearing is not only the appearing of the world, but pathetic givenness, pathetic revelation. Continue reading