This manuscript contains six chapters on the question of self. More specifically, it seeks to contribute to what has come to be called the “theological turn” in phenomenology. In each, the central question is accordingly the same: how are we revealed to ourselves, how have certain philosophical assumptions misrepresented such self-revelation, and what do we come to discover about ourselves when the distortions concealing the essence of self-giveness are cleared away? Proposed chapters include (i) a methodological study of the relationship between phenomenology and theology (situated in terms of the concept of free will in the early patristics), (ii) an analysis of the problem of intersubjectivity in the phenomenological tradition (with particular emphasis on Michel Henry’s material phenomenology), (iii) a review of the phenomenon of vanity in Marion and its implications for the Heideggerian philosophy of authenticity, (iv) an appraisal of the history of metaphysics’ handling of the issue of immortality in Plato, Aquinas, and Descartes, (v) a critique of Nietzsche’s Dionysianism, and (vi) a reconstruction of the history of the concept of conscience (Kant, Fichte, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and the first chapter of the Gospel of John).
This book consists of ten essays. In it, I advance a critique of modern subjectivity through a phenomenological interpretation of biblical texts and works of art. The work takes its methodological cue from a thesis we owe most notably to Jean-Louis Chrétien’s recent treatment of the modern novel and subjectivity in Conscience et Roman, I: la conscience au grand jour and Conscience et Roman, II: la conscience à mi-voix: for us today, the most intimate mode of self-existence is thought to be epitomized by the interior monologue of the self with itself, a relationship which in principle veils nothing from the intruding gaze of the author or reader. Nothing is hidden, for all is laid bare. Against this view that removes any hidden dimension from the searching gaze of others, the book highlights an interiority whose intimacy is due to our always already being exposed, not to a human gaze that knows the secrets of the heart, but to a word prior to any human observation: the Word of God. In analyzing this dimension of vulnerability—a depths involving a “cardiognosie” only God fully possesses, as Chrétien says—I call upon the paintings of Bellini, Rembrandt, Osbert, Ossawa Tanner, Pissarro, Caravaggio, Kandinsky, Poussin, Rodin, and Hopper among others. A chapter prospectus is available upon request.