Free «Summary of Jean-Luc Marion's "The Erotic Phenomenon"» Essay Sample
Jean-Luc Marion’s The Erotic Phenomenon raises a topical issue about the concept of love and how it can be defined from the philosophical perspective taking into consideration the fact that it is rarely discussed and studied by contemporary philosophers. Hence, the main objective of the author is to reconceptualize the notion of love that has remained neglected by his colleagues for many years. He also provides the reasons of such neglect. Moreover, Marion (2007) supposes that it may be for the better that contemporary philosophers rarely attempt to say anything about love since their rare efforts show either mistreatment or betrayal of this essential concept. Therefore, philosophy currently faces a problem of the lack of proper concepts and explanations to discuss and explain love, which results in the inability to adequately comprehend what love is and how to know that certain feelings relate to love both among philosophers and ordinary people. Thus, it is necessary to discuss the concept from a new perspective with the reference to what is already known and what should have been said about love by the philosophers. The paper aims at providing a brief summary of several chapters taken from the Marion’s book, including in particular such parts as “The Silence of Love,” “What’s the Use?”, and “The Erotic Reduction.” The first mentioned part is an introduction to the entire book while the other two parts raise some essential questions pertaining to the discussion of the concept of love from the philosophical perspective. In fact, the reading under consideration serves as a useful and thought-provoking piece of philosophical writing that encourages other philosophers to study and to explain love as an extremely significant idea with profound implications for both philosophers and the public.
As mentioned above, the first part to be reviewed and summarized is entitled “The Silence of Love,” which is an introduction to Marion’s topical book about love. Marion (2007) emphasizes that “philosophy today no longer says anything about love, or at best very little” and adds that “this silence is for the better, because when philosophy does venture to speak of love it mistreats or betrays it” (Marion, 2007a, p. 1, para. 1). The author supposes that the current situation with the study of love by philosophers is strange, especially considering that the name of the science contains the word “love.” Thus, the author highlights that philosophy “takes its origin from ‘that great god’ love and from it alone” and means from Greek “love of wisdom” (Marion, 2007a, p. 2, para. 2). Therefore, it seems strange for the author that philosophers and philosophy, in general, have omitted the question of love. Furthermore, they can hardly provide any concept to denote this powerful force that has always played a pivotal role in the history and life of the humanity. At the same time, the question of love has always been complicated for philosophers. As a result, Marion (2007) partially understands how philosophers have abandoned their pursuit to define and explain this concept. However, such negligence of the fundamental force that once inspired philosophy as the science about wisdom has a detrimental impact on all its scientific endeavors and deprives people of comprehension of this essential concept.
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Thus, Marion (2007a) claims that “as for love, the forgetting of which has doubtless decided everything, philosophy has forgotten its forgetting to the point of denial; it has lost even the desire for love; indeed, sometimes one would almost believe that philosophy hates love” (Marion, 2007a, p. 3, para. 1). Nonetheless, the author does not believe that this hatred can truly be called hatred in the conventional meaning of this word and remain amorous by nature. Furthermore, it can serve as a starting point for reconstructing and restoring an inquiry into the question of love. The author also mentions that philosophers should pay more attention to the history of estrangement between the science and love since once they were tightly interrelated and even inseparable. Due to the estrangement, modern philosophers can merely say anything meaningful about love as they have not formed any concept of love, even though it is evident that they need it to encourage further scientific and philosophical inquiries. The matter is that love, including a passion for wisdom, is the most powerful driving force of all sciences, including philosophy, yet the contemporary world lacks it and needs to restore it. Besides, Marion (2007a) discusses the role of love in nature. He explores the definition of the ego defined by Descartes and then reinterpreted by the Duc de Luynes. Hence, the author finds it puzzling that Descartes’ definition of the ego given in the Meditationes does not mention love at all and focuses primarily on thinking capabilities. However, he agrees with the Duc de Luynes’ interpretation and translation of the Descartes’ work in which he added: “Loving ego” to the originally mentioned “ego cogito” (Marion, 2007a, p. 8, para. 1). Marion (2007a) is convinced that the “ego cogito” is virtually nothing without the capacity to love since such a human being can hardly be distinguished from a machine with the artificial intellect or an animal. The ability to love and hate is the core distinctive feature of the human being, which should not be overlooked by philosophers. Therefore, Marion’s book conveys the personal perspective as the author presents his own view on love, which may have a lot in common with any other person since love is a universal emotion, even though each person believes that he or she experiences it in a peculiar and unique way.
Ideas introduced in the first part are discussed in the second part which is entitled “What’s the Use?”. In fact, Marion (2007b) uses this question several times throughout the chapter to indicate uselessness of the metaphysical thought that explains the objects with certainty but fails to explain confidently the ego and the most important concepts such as love. Moreover, the author seems to be quite displeased with philosophy affected by the metaphysical thought since it has not managed to give anything meaningful for people. Thus, he does not think that certainty sought by metaphysics has any value as “what is good of my certainty, if it still depends on me, if I only am through myself?” (Marion, 2007b, p. 19, para. 2). Based on the evident shortcomings of the metaphysical thought, the discussion and inquiry should return to the concept of love. The third part, which is the last discussed in the present paper is entitled “The Erotic Reduction” raises the question of love related to certainty and the ego. Marion (2007b) emphasizes that love is an essential element of self-identification and self-assertion. According to this assertion, he claims that “in effect, it is not enough for me to be in order to remain the one that I am: it is also, first and foremost, necessary for me that someone love me – the erotic possibility” (Marion, 2007b, p. 20, para. 3). Therefore, any human being heavily relied on the other, in particular on being loved by the other one, negates the definition of the ego provided by Descartes. The author supposes that it is not enough for a person to have certainty about objects in the surrounding world and be able to think and engage in the scientific inquiries. In order to be a complete human being, a person needs to love and to be loved or, at least, to experience one of these two. Otherwise, the person could hardly be distinguished from a machine or an animal that can think as well yet lack the capacity to love. This essential distinction between people and other thinking creatures have been overlooked by philosophy. Obviously, this gap should be remedied and addressed for the humanity and philosophy to retain the concept of love and ultimately understand what it means.
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The reading of The Erotic Phenomenon is thought-provoking and even challenging as it emphasizes the current shortcoming of philosophy as a science and mentions an evident gap in the science. The author shows that love seems to be forgotten by philosophers, which has a detrimental impact on all scientific endeavors and the public. The key problem is in the absence of the concept of love resulting in the incapability to say anything meaningful about love. Therefore, people have to rely on literary words and poetry to discuss love. However, this is hardly an adequate measure as literature cannot develop a proper concept of love in contrary to philosophy. Thus, the book is extremely useful and informative as it seems to be the first comprehensive attempt to draw the attention of philosophers to love and restore the study and discussion of this essential issue.