Phenomenological Reviews

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The allure of passivity

Randall Johnson

pp. 201-211


Any effort to think passivity to some extent undoes itself by its own intentional activity. This inevitable and ambiguous paradox is explored by a reading of the allure of passivity in Husserl's passive synthesis lectures and is paired with a reading of Merleau-Ponty's course notes on passivity and his late course on Husserl. The uncanny fragmentation of passivity, and indeed of the efforts of any genetic phenomenology to think its own origins, brings to the forefront for thought the problematic space between noema and noesis. Borrowing Merleau-Ponty's characterization, we will suggest calling this a diaphragmatic relation of a center of egoic activity that cannot hold, that fragments. The essay concludes with a brief fragment on love that shatters in its passivity.

Publication details

Published in:

Apostolescu Iulian (2020) The subject(s) of phenomenology: rereading Husserl. Dordrecht, Springer.

Pages: 201-211

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-29357-4_11

Full citation:

Johnson Randall (2020) „The allure of passivity“, In: I. Apostolescu (ed.), The subject(s) of phenomenology, Dordrecht, Springer, 201–211.