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Posts tagged "Jean-Luc Marion"

God as a Magnifying Mirror of Me: On American Folk Religion

At the end of August, I shared a quote from sociologist Zygmunt Bauman in which he described social media networks and various communities in our day as reflections of the individual. That is, we contemporary Americans tend to seek out communities and people that help express our inner selves more visibly to the wider world. Like […]

Another Week Ends: Blinded with Science, Stumped by Meaning After God, Paralyzed by the Law of Ice and Fire, Outmaneuvered by a Cheeseburger and Oversimplified by Gallup

1. Aquinas followed Aristotle in claiming the end (telos, purpose) of biology is medicine. Science has long been a technical discipline designed primarily to promote human flourishing / well-being. Of course, it was always contemplative to a degree, satisfying curiosity or even, as Aquinas also notes, teaching us about God. The study of creation reflects upon the Creator. One […]

Ruts, Expectation, and the Word from Beyond: Thoughts on Christian Time

We all know the feeling of being in a rut: repetition temporarily dominates variation, and we’re going in circles, with routine and mundanity showing no signs of breaking. Most recently, Rust Cohle on True Detective comes to mind. His quote that “time is a flat circle” emphasizes repetitiveness, lack of progress, everything repeating and repeating – “tomorrow […]

Jean-Luc Marion Needs Assurance

In the wonderful French philosopher’s reflections on The Erotic Phenomenon, he points out the poverty of a Cartesian ego which operates by certainty – certitude of objects and of itself. Why does Descartes undertake his project of doubt and demonstration in the first place? We desire to know, and this word – “desire” – indicates an intention toward something far greater than knowledge or certainty: an assurance beyond the self. This happens in his “erotic reduction”, in which we are “led back” to the human as lover:


(via XKCD)

Thus in the erotic reduction, nothing and no one assures me – the lover that I have become under the erotic reduction – except myself, who by definition cannot do so. By agreeing to hear the question “Does anyone love me?” it is as if I have opened beneath my feet an abyss that I can neither fill, nor cross, nor perhaps even sound – an abyss that I risk enlarging even more by developing the logic of the question “Does anyone out there love me?” For the question “Does anyone love me?” will in effect only be able to receive a response (if it ever could) by coming upon me from elsewhere than myself; it thus assigns me an irreversible dependency upon that which I can neither master, nor provoke, nor even envisage – an other than myself, eventually someone other for me (alter ego), in any case a foreign instance, coming from I know not where – in any case, not from me. So, while the search for certainty (“Of what am I certain?”) may still hope to lead me back to myself, by certifying to me that at the least I am, even if I am still deceived, the request for an assurance (“Does anyone out there love me?”) exiles me definitively outside of myself: even if it eventually winds up reassuring me against the threat of vanity (“What’s the use?”) by assuring me that someone loves me, it would assign me all the more to this “someone” (whosoever he or she may be) that I will never be, and whose foreignness nevertheless will always remain more inward to me than my most inward part. The very one who could assure me must estrange me. In short, certainty can lead me back to myself, because I acquire it by subtraction, like a poor phenomenon, while assurance separates me from myself, because it opens within me the separation of an elsewhere. Whether it remains an empty request or, instead, fills me with its excess, it always marks me with a lack that is my own. By opening the very question of assurance, I become a lack to myself.

Hidden Holiness: Marion’s Invisible Saint

From a recently published essay collection on Saints, a zinger of a quote from French Catholic theologian Jean-Luc Marion’s “Invisibility of the Saint” explores the contradictions inherent in claiming to possess or even recognize holiness: Yet it is plain to see that, unlike in the matters of heroism or intelligence, [the conditions for recognizing these traits] cannot […]