Protocol #5

Seminar – March 1, 2005

PHI 610: Philosophy and the Arts after Derrida

Prof. Silverman

Protocol prepared by A.C. Frabetti



Opening Notes

Michael Sanders’ thesis defense set for 8:30PM March 29(Tuesday).  His dissertation title is "Ethical Instant."

Gail Weiss will give a talk at the same time as our class on that day (on feminist aesthetics).  We will focus on the syllabus readings related to her lecture (from April 5: Lacanian Psychoanalysis, Feminism, and the Aesthetic: Lacan: “Of the Gaze as Objet Petit a” (1973)-  [CAR-32],  Kristeva: Approaching Abjection  (1980)-  [CAR-33], Irigaray: The Invisible of the Flesh (1984)-  [CAR-34].  The Gail Weiss lecture will be open to the public. 


First paper due two weeks from today(3/15/05).  Since we have not covered Derrida yet, the paper does not need to directly relate to his writings.


The Art and Philosophy certificate must be applied for in advance of graduation so that it appears on one's transcript.  Art History students need two other courses outside Art History plus a joint seminar.  In Philosophy it means taking two other Art History courses as well as the joint seminar.  In other departments one must take a total of five extra courses.


Early Aesthetics/additional notes: (for a large portion of the class we reviewed phenomenology, rejecting the phrase “perceived as perceived” as a vague definition for Noema)


Latin references: "Quid" meaning "this,what" referring to something (demonstrative).  "Quia" is the "how" and so "Quid/Quia" refers to the discourse on the “what” versus the “how/why.”  The Noetic corresponds roughly to the Quia and the Noema corresponds roughly to the Quid. 

The activity of directing consciousness (the act or process) is the noetic(in Husserl).  Hence there are two sides, the activity and the content (Noetic/Noema).  Noema, essence, and meaning are effectively the same (for our purposes, although Husserl further discriminates them).


The noematic and the noetic are included in the term "intentionality."  Sartre's repetition of consciousness as consciousness of something refers to this intentionality.


The noematic in Sartre is the thing.  It is here that he differs from Husserl.  It is always the object of consciousness for Sartre, and it is different then consciousness itself, i.e. you are not the object of your consciousness, and hence therein lies our freedom (we can always go beyond our representations, and the self - another representation - that is the object of our consciousness.  One's self-image has the same status as the image of some object.).

In Husserl the noema (essence, meaning) is a transcendental object.  Consciousness can reflect upon the contents of its consciousness (hence on the meaning) because it is within its own consciousness.


Phenomenological reduction: it has two types; the transcendental and eidetic. 

The eidetic reduction: takes an actual object and asks in what way it is an object of consciousness as an essence (i.e. what is in essence the Andy Warhol Banana).  For example, what is essential to the banana that makes it such?  The noema as an essence does not include anything that is an accident ('traces of the physical' still persist and these are referred to as 'hyletic data' [‘data’ trans. is 'material given']) to it.

Apodictic = true, necessary = it has to be.  As one thinks of the Warhol Banana it is both apodictic and necessary.  i.e. the Warhol Banana is not a rotten banana, but a vivid yellow banana.  It cannot be anything other than it was (is).  As a noema there is nothing accidental about it.  Once everything that is inessential has been removed, and one arrives to its essential features; this is the eidetic reduction. 

The transcendental reduction:  Husserl uses the term epoche1.  The transcendental reduction is 'transcendent' in that we can think about it (the object of our consciousness) without its actual external existence; it is hence still a noema and an object of consciousness. 


Sartre does not do a transcendental reduction.  Since everything for him is outside of consciousness, including meaning (being-in-itself) or noema, there is nothing to transcend.  By definition, we are doing an eidetic reduction but not transcendental. 


Any time there is a philosophy of existence, there can be no transcendental reduction; existence and the conditions of existence are declared as primary.  Heidegger, Sartre, Dufrenne, and Merleau-Ponty wrote existential phenomenologies; the transcendental reduction is not possible.  For them the existence or non-existence of transcendent (noema) does not make a difference (this is Prof. Silverman’s own viewpoint; not all phenomenologists agree with this).  Even thinking of such things is seen as the experience of thinking - such objects do not 'belong' to us.  The object or essence comes after the fact that I exist; my existence in the world is more 'basic.'  We cannot abstract ourselves from this; our existing cannot be separated from what we think about.  

"Back to the things themselves" was understood by the phenomenologists in a variety of fashions.  In Sartre: there are only the things themselves.  Husserl: go back to the meanings of the things since that is all we have with which to work.  We get back to the thing by standing back from the thing (an apparent contradiction, whereas in Sartre and others we are always engaged with the things themselves).  Merleau-Ponty stands as the best in the existential phenomenological tradition in that he draws on the previous material but brings in the importance of embodiment (without which one runs into problems and contradictions).


A brief note on temporality in phenomenology in response to the static appearance of the schematic representations drawn on the blackboard and previous lectures:  The ‘explosion of the noema,’2 for example, is a temporal phenomenon. Also there is the interpersonal element, and the large body of phenomenological research of such, that we have not discussed.   Another instance of temporality is the Sartrean Now.  In this case, the vision of oneself becomes a past image; one may project images of themselves in the future.  We have an image of having been, and another for the future.  The Now, for Sartre, is a hole in Being, a gap or absence in our temporal experience.  Consciousness is that Nothingness, and that Now (Derrida's metaphysics of Presence is inspired from this.  What is outside of presence that is not absence?).


The aesthetic object cannot be completely transcendental as the transcendental does not comprise the sensuous.  The existential in Sartre and other philosophers is the sensuous for Dufrenne.  Dufrenne's expression corresponds to the subject side; the expressing is the noetic, the expressed world is the noematic.  Expression is hence a feature of intentionality.



Review of Merleau-Ponty:

Indirect Language - invoked by MP in 1952 when he published The Prose of the World.  It is MP's account of the aesthetic (esp. literary) in his own terms.  He states that when we experience ideas, concerns, topics, etc.  there is, first, what we refer to as direct knowledge and direct language.3  Direct knowledge is what we may grasp through an algorithm (i.e. an identity card, numbering, etc.).  But such knowledge is not sufficient; much of our experience of the world also involves indirect knowledge. The gestural, the expressive, the experiential, the embodied, etc.  are all examples of indirect knowledge that cannot be quantitatively measured.  They comprise, according to MP, the synasthetic, defined as the union of the multiplicity of the senses in coordination together.   For example, the relaxation arising from a massage is not a mechanical thing.   Indirect knowledge is especially important for the arts.


In the essay Indirect Language and the Voices of Silence (from Signs, 1964) he responds to Andre Malraux.  Malraux was a novelist who wrote, for example, Man's Fate and Man's Hope.  The latter work is about the 1936 Spanish Civil War in which he fought and lost. The former reflected his condition and experience in Indochina where the French were also defeated. During WWII Malreaux befriended Charles de Gaulle; later Malraux became, as a result, the cultural minister.  He later wrote Museum without Walls, a work that referred to Paris itself, the city as museum.  His idea is that the city speaks without using words, and is a space, a voice of silence.

MP objects to this account in that the city does not have a voice of silence but a language.  Nothing specific is stated in such a language but a complex of meanings is experienced.  One notices this not only with cities but also with paintings, museums etc.


MP then became the professor of philosophy of the College de France;  the various themes on which he lectured have been recently published.   He was working on a large project (unfinished) called the Visible and the Invisible. It appeared three years after his death, although Eye and Mind was his last published work before he died. 


Notes on Eye and Mind

Mind refers to the French word for ‘spirit’ (L’esprit).  In its opening, he objects to the sciences' manipulation of things (science delimits through the creation of test environments and the inevitably resulting particularization of its data), and their 'objectivity'  that keeps distance from its objects.   This particularization and distancing prevent the scientist from encountering the 'real world,’ for the real world necessitates involvement.  ‘Mind’ in the title refers to this mental disengagement.  The testing of the hypothesis reflects the work of the mind.  The French word for experience and experiment is the same word ('experience'), unlike in English.   The painter, opposed to the scientist, is like the ‘eye,’ involved in an embodied way with what is in question.  He must also not only see but experience. The eye is a synecdoche for embodiment.  The painter experiences the World of his subject matter (e.g. the mountain) and transforms this onto his canvas, as a new visible thing.  The visible is what the painter sees; the blank canvas is also what he sees(hence the famous doubt as one beholds this double play). Only when a scientist has doubt as to the success of his work does he become similar to the painter.

The painting is not merely ‘out there’ in the same way that the mountain is out there.  From Valerie: the painter ‘carries his body’('apporter son corps') or ‘brings his body’ to the place/scene.  His relationship to the mountain that appears on the canvas is a part of being a painter.  His embodiment is essential to this relationship with the object. 

Anytime there is a visible, there is an invisible that goes along with it.  The act of seeing itself is this invisible.4  In all acts of perception there is hence the invisible (i.e. the seeing that sees).  The painter can catch the relationship between the seer and the seen.  In fact this relationship is invoked by the painter.  It involves flesh, chiasm, vision, event, dehiscence and may be summed by with the term visibility.  Between the visible and the invisible, the seer and the seen,  is visibility.  It is what the other thinkers were calling intentionality.  Embodiment is then referred to as  'flesh.'

A simple modern example of visibility is the  meteorological account of it, for it relates to this relationship of seer and the seen.

In Cézanne, we have the painter that sees the mountain;  the visibility of this relationship is the painting.  There is also a visibility between him and the canvas.  This is a new visibility born from the first invisibility between him and the mountain.  One may compare the two (as well as with one's own experience of the mountain), e.g. One may ask whether he has captured the seeing of the mountain.  This new visibility is more valuable then having done just a scientific graph.   


In Dufrenne, it is the aesthetic experience.  For Sartre, we cannot 'get' visibility because of his treating of things as objects.  We may also note as per the two phenomenological reductions that visibility cannot possibly be transcendental. 


1The ancient Greek philosophers argued for the achievement of what they called ataraxia, meaning ‘peace of mind, tranquility,’ through the suspension of judgment.  Husserl and the phenomenologists appropriated the term epoche for such activity although they did not retain its moral implications.


2Explosion of the Noema: in the case of a misinterpretation of an object’s truth that then suddenly reveals itself, i.e. through one’s getting closer to something and the first recognition or meaning ascribed undergoes a change to its true meaning. 


3as per Bertrand Russell, 'Knowing that' versus 'knowing how' that x is true


4Sartre: consciousness cannot apprehend itself