This manuscript, a substantially revised version of my dissertation, contains six studies on the question of self. In each, the central question is accordingly the same: how are we revealed to ourselves, how have the presuppositions of historical phenomenology misrepresented such self-revelation, and what do we come to learn when the distortions concealing its essence are cleared away? Chapters include an appraisal of the history of philosophy’s handling of the question of immortality in Plato, Aquinas, and Descartes, a review of the phenomenon of vanity in Pascal and Marion and its implications for the Heideggerian philosophy of authenticity, an accounting of the issue of free will in the early patristics, an analysis of the problem of intersubjectivity in the phenomenological tradition (particularly Henry), and a critique of Nietzsche’s Dionysianism.
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 Chrétien has said requires a “cardiognosie” worthy of God—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.