This summer I’ll be writing a brief book that will probably be called Against Phenomenology. The title is meant to be provocative, but it is not a wholesale rejection of phenomenology by any means. Instead, by looking at representative passages regarding phenomenological method in Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Levinas, Henry, and Marion, I will argue that phenomenologists are incapable, qua phenomenologists, of defending metaphysical realism. The paper I gave recently at Villanova, which focused on the realist rhetoric scattered throughout the corpus of phenomenology, was a precis of this book.
This will not simply be a rehashing of Janicaud’s complaints, as I will not be focused on the so-called theological turn. I want to take phenomenological method seriously in order to figure out what kinds of statements it permits and prohibits. It seems that a prohibition of metaphysical statements is germane of phenomenology. I will also take seriously Meillassoux’s claim that phenomenology represents the strong version of correlationism. If he’s right, this poses a problem for the theological turn. As indicated in the title of my Villanova paper, I’m especially keen to adduce the realist rhetoric, or what I’m calling the ‘rhetoric of concreteness’, at play in phenomenology. This rhetoric is best understood as a species of what Tim Morton calls ‘ambient poetics’. It is often employed by phenomenologists sympathetic to realism as a way around the enunciative prohibitions demanded by phen. method.
With any luck, the book will only be 100 pages or so. Barring any obstacles, it might be written by summer’s end.