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Philosophy Today

Volume 62, Issue 1, Winter 2018

Special Symposium: Rebecca Tuvel and Her Interlocutors

Ian Leask
Pages 149-162
DOI: 10.5840/philtoday201837205

Was There a Theological Turn in Phenomenology?

This article examines the possibility that phenomenology was “always already” a theological enterprise, by outlining some of the foundational criticisms levelled by Michel Foucault and Louis Althusser. For both thinkers, the phenomenological stress on “lived experience” grants an undue primacy to the realm of “interiority”; as a result, subjectivity is left, not just reified, but also deified. By contrast, both Foucault and Althusser will argue for understanding the subject as constituted rather than constitutive; philosophy’s task, accordingly, is to delineate the broader structures (economic, ideological, discursive, linguistic, etc.) that create “lived experience,” rather than to hypostatize the subject as the privileged bearer of logos. As well as outlining the contours of this critique, however, the article indicates some of the shortcomings entailed in a total disavowal of “lived experience.”

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