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The Yearbook on History and Interpretation of Phenomenology 2013

Person – Subject – Organism- An Overview of Interdisciplinary Insights


Edited By Anton Vydra

The main topic of the volume encompasses three areas of phenomenological research: person, subject, and organism. These three topics are interrelated in various ways. On the one hand, the question is Husserlian phenomenology of personhood and subjectivity, and on the other hand, it is a broader problem including epistemological, ontological and biological approaches. Those great traditional and contemporary themes of subjectivitiy and intersubjectivity, concepts of person, community and interpersonality, questions of humanity, value and biological status of human beings all became part of Edmund Husserl’s focus. The contributors intend to show that a number of inspiring and unexplored questions arose from these thematic areas, questions which are related to various specific and interconnected fields of study.
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Dissatisfied Life: Philosophy of the Living in Canguilhem and Merleau-Ponty


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Dissatisfied Life: Philosophy of the Living in Canguilhem and Merleau-Ponty

Anton Vydra


The paper concerns Georges Canguilhem’s philosophy of the living being in dialogue with the ideas contained in Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology on the background of discussions about two heterogeneous camps in French philosophy in the period from the 1930s to 1980s. The author considers the works of both French philosophers in relation to certain biological issues. At first, he analyzes their approaches to problem of normal behaviour and the normal subject, and he shows that their notions of normality, even if very similar, are not completely identical. Next, he reflects on the concepts of “privileged behaviour” and “catastrophic reactions,” which both philosophers borrowed from Kurt Goldstein. As a part of this reflection, the author addresses the problem of health and normality in a different way, one which leads to the concept of vitality elaborated by Canguilhem. The conclusions present an insight into the theme of dissatisfaction. The notion of dissatisfaction is present mostly in Canguilhem’s writings, and it represents the subjective need of a person to harmonize the disrupted equilibrium between the person and his milieu, for example by means of knowledge. However, as the author shows in conclusion, Merleau-Ponty developed similar reflections on the role of questioning as a root of every philosophy and of research, by which a person harmonizes their own internal disorder.

Keywords: Canguilhem, Merleau-Ponty, normality, subjectivity

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