Volume 19, 2019
On Conflict and Violence
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.