From Phenomenology to Ethics: Intentionality and the Other in Marion’s Saturated Phenomenon

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The “saturated phenomenon” is Jean-Luc Marion’s principal hypothesis, by which he tries to ground the source of phenomenality. Against the transcendental phenomenology, Marion finds phenomena that go beyond the constitutional power of intention. The saturated phenomenon is never possessed because the saturated phenomenon withdraws itself and thus it endlessly escapes from us. A problem of intelligibility thus arises. The essential finitude of the subject requires that the subject passively receives what the saturated phenomenon gives. Marion, however, endows the gifted with more than the mere passivity. The subject is invited as a “witness” who actively responds to the call of the phenomenon. Marion posits the interpersonal relationship. The problem of the interpretability of intention is another problem inherent in the infinity of interpretation of the other. In our ordinary lives, we habitually search out the other’s intention, infinitely. Emmanuel Levinas clearly points out that the other is the transcendent source of ethics, a source which is not intelligible to us. The other, for Levinas, does not appear to the subject, but conditions it. Marion, by contrast, neutralizes the other and “the face” imposes “oneself” as the other who is neutrally visible to us. I assume Marion is more interested in the world of objects, rather than the world of persons, and thus misses the peculiarity resident in the personhood of persons. We become passive in the presence of the personality, not because we want to become passive, but because we realize our own power of illustration does not fill in the personality.
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