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Studia Phaenomenologica

Volume 9, 2009

Michel Henry's Radical Phenomenology

Niall Keane
Pages 193-212

Why Henry’s Critique of Heidegger Remains Problematic
Appearing and Speaking in Heidegger and Henry

This paper addresses a hitherto unexamined issue in the work of Michel Henry, namely, his critical interpretation of Martin Heidegger’s analysis of “appearing” and “speaking.” Throughout his distinguished career, Henry went to great philosophical lengths to distance himself from traditional phenomenology and from the work of Heidegger. However, for the most part, Henry’s critical reading of Heidegger has received little attention from phenomenologists and even that has been cursory. Hence, the central aim of this paper is twofold: (1) to show that Henry’s critique of the “appearing” and “speaking” of the world remains unanswered; and (2) to show that a proper reading of Heidegger throws light on the shortcomings of Henry’s own project. Hence, because the second objective follows necessarily from having achieved the first, this paper submits that what is first needed is a re-assessment of Henry’s critique in light of a more accurate understanding of the depth-dimension of “appearing” and “speaking,” which is, I argue, evinced in the analysis of the voice of conscience in Being and Time. The paper subsequently offers what I see as a more appropriate interpretation of the call of conscience in terms of a radicalised “transcendence in immanence” which is not reducible to the mere exteriority of inner-worldly beings. The paper concludes by arguing that the voice of conscience underscores the shortfalls of Henry’s critique of the “appearing” and “speaking” of the world in Heidegger.