Michel Henry's phenomenology of aesthetic experience and Husserlian intentionality

International Journal of Philosophical Studies 14 (2):191-219 (2006)
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Abstract

In Voir l'invisible Michel Henry applies his philosophy of autoaffection (which is both inspired by, and critical of, Husserl) to the realm of aesthetics. Henry claims that autoaffection, as non-objective experience, is essential not only to self-experience, but also to the experience of objects and their qualities. Intentionality tempts us to experience objects merely from the 'outside', but aesthetic experience returns us to the inner life of objects as a lived experience. On the basis of an examination of Henry's aesthetic theory in the light of Husserl's analysis of our experience of visible objects, I conclude that revisions are required in both Husserl's and Henry's approaches: Husserl's noema must be considered to be a lived-through experience, and non-objective lived-through experience must be recognized as primordial evidence; Henry's claim that intentionality makes unreal all that it objectifies must be replaced by a recognition of the interdependence between autoaffection and heteroaffection.

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