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Studia Phaenomenologica

Volume 19, 2019

On Conflict and Violence

Max Schaefer
Pages 289-309

Bonds of Trust
Thinking the Limits of Reciprocity with Heidegger and Michel Henry

This paper seeks to address whether human life harbours the possibility of a gratuitous or non-reciprocal form of trust. To address this issue, I take up Descartes’ account of the cogito as the essence of all appearing. With his interpretation of Descartes’ account of the cogito as an immanent and affective mode of appearing, I maintain that Henry provides the transcendental foundation for a non-reciprocal form of trust, which the history of Western philosophy has largely covered over by forgetting this aspect of Descartes’ thought. I demonstrate that Heidegger’s reading of Descartes serves as a pre-eminent example of this. Because Heidegger overlooks Descartes’ insight into the essence of appearing, and reduces this essence to the finite transcendence of the world, I maintain that Heidegger reduces trust to reciprocal relations of understanding between beings of shared contexts of significance.

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