The Event of Finitude, by Renaud Barbaras

In this translated essay, Barbaras attempts to show how a phenomenological account of the subject in terms of its intentional relation to the world—in other words, an account of the correlation between subject and transcendent being—will and must, when adequately pursued, be “surpassed” by metaphysics. Beginning with the question of how the subject can simultaneously belong to the world and be a condition of its appearance (i.e., be both empirical and transcendental consciousness), Barbaras responds to this would-be paradox by outlining a dynamic phenomenology of movement that views the subject as both the movement of life and of desire. This answer, however, in turn is shown to begin to point beyond the phenomenological paradigm itself, and by further critique of the notion of movement, to invoke a metaphysical view according to which the subject is ultimately understood as the work of an event of finitude.

Article available through Philosophy Documentation Center, here.

Renaud Barbaras is a professor of contemporary philosophy at Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, and a member of L’Institut Universitaire de France. His Le Désir et la Distance: Introduction à une Phénoménologie de la Perception (Vrin, 1999) has been translated into English as Desire and Distance: Introduction to a Phenomenology of Perception (Stanford University Press, 2005). Also appearing in English is his The Being of Phenomenon: Merleau-Ponty’s Ontology (Indiana University Press, 2004). Other publications include Dynamique de la Manifestation (Vrin, 2013), La Vie Lacunaire (Vrin, 2011), and Introduction à une Phénoménologie de la Vie (Vrin, 2008).

Renaud Barbaras, “The Event of Finitude,” Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 37:1 (2016), pp. 3–13.

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