|Born||10 January 1922
Haiphong, French Indochina (present-day Vietnam)
|Died||3 July 2002
|Phenomenology of life,
phenomenological life, phenomenological definition of God
Michel Henry (French: [ɑ̃ʁi]; 10 January 1922 – 3 July 2002) was a French philosopher and novelist. He wrote five novels and numerous philosophical works. He also lectured at universities in France, Belgium, the United States of America, and Japan.
- 1 Life and work
- 2 Consequences of Henry's philosophy
- 3 Some quotations from Michel Henry
- 4 Descriptions of selected works
- 5 Bibliography
- 6 Books on Michel Henry
- 7 Notes and references
- 8 Primary references
- 9 Secondary references
- 10 External links
Life and work
Michel Henry was born in Haiphong, French Indochina (now Vietnam), and he lived in French Indochina until he was seven years old. Following the death of his father, who was an officer in the French Navy, he and his mother settled in metropolitan France. While studying in Paris, he discovered a true passion for philosophy, which he decided to make his profession. From June 1943 he was fully engaged with the French Resistance, joining the maquis of the Haut Jura under the code name of Kant. He often had to come down from the mountains in order to accomplish missions in Nazi-occupied Lyon, an experience of clandestinity that deeply marked his philosophy.
At the end of the war he took the final part of the philosophy examination at the university, following which he wrote a thesis under the direction of Jean Hyppolite, Jean Wahl, Paul Ricœur, Ferdinand Alquié, and Henri Gouhier. His first book, on the Philosophy and Phenomenology of the Body, was completed in 1950. His first significant published work was on The Essence of Manifestation, to which he devoted long years of necessary research in order to surmount the main deficiency of all intellectualist philosophy, the ignorance of life as experienced.
From 1960, Michel Henry was a professor of philosophy at the University of Montpellier, where he patiently perfected his work, keeping himself away from philosophical fashions and far from dominant ideologies. Le sujet unique de sa philosophie, c’est la subjectivité vivante, c’est-à-dire la vie réelle des individus vivants, cette vie qui traverse toute son œuvre et qui en assure la profonde unité en dépit de la diversité des thèmes abordés. He died in Albi, France, at the age of eighty.
The sole subject of his philosophy is living subjectivity, which is to say the real life of living individuals. This subject is found in all his work and ensures its deep unity in spite of the diversity of themes he tackled. It has been suggested that he proposed the most profound theory of subjectivity in the Twentieth Century.
A phenomenology of life
The work of Michel Henry is based on Phenomenology, which is the study of the phenomenon. The English/German/Latinate word "phenomenon" comes from the Greek "phainomenon" which means "that which shows itself by coming into the light". The everyday understanding of phenomenon as appearance is only possible as a negative derivation of this authentic sense of Greek self-showing. The object of phenomenology is not however something that appears, such as a particular thing or phenomena, but the act of appearing itself. Henry's thought led him to a reversal of Husserlian phenomenology, which acknowledges as phenomenon only that which appears in the world, or exteriority. Henry counterposed this conception of phenomenality with a radical phenomenology of life.
Henry defines life from a phenomenological point of view as what possesses the faculty and the power "to feel and to experience oneself in every point of its being". For Henry, life is essentially force and affect; it is essentially invisible; it consists in a pure experience of itself which perpetually oscillates between suffering and joy; it is an always begun again passage from suffering to joy. Thought is for him only a mode of life, because it is not thought which gives access to life, but life that allows thought to reach itself.
According to Henry, life can never be seen from the exterior, as it never appears in the exteriority of the world. Life feels itself and experiences itself in its invisible interiority and in its radical immanence. In the world we never see life itself, but only living beings or living organisms; we cannot see life in them. In the same way, it is impossible to see another person's soul with the eyes or to perceive it at the end of a scalpel.
Henry's philosophy goes on to aver that we undergo life in a radical passivity, we are reduced to bear it permanently as what we have not wanted, and that this radical passivity of life is the foundation and the cause of suffering. No-one has ever given himself life. At the same time, the simple fact of living, of being alive and of feeling oneself instead of being nothing and of not existing is already the highest joy and the greatest happiness. Suffering and joy belong to the essence of life, they are the two fundamental affective tonalities of its manifestation and of its "pathetic" self-revelation (from the French word pathétique which means capable of feeling something like suffering or joy).
For Henry, life is not a universal, blind, impersonal and abstract substance, it is necessarily the personal and concrete life of a living individual, it carries in it a consubstantial Ipseity which refers to the fact of being itself, to the fact of being a Self. This life is the personal and finite life of men, or the personal and infinite life of God.
Two modes of manifestation
Two modes of manifestation of phenomena exist, according to Henry, which are two ways of appearing: "exteriority", which is the mode of manifestation of the visible world, and phenomenological "interiority", which is the mode of manifestation of invisible life. Our bodies, for instance, are in life given to us from the inside, which allows us, for example, to move our hands, and it also appears to us from the outside like any other object that we can see in the world.
The "invisible", here, does not correspond to that which is too small to be seen with the naked eye, or to radiation to which the eye is not sensitive, but rather to life, which is forever invisible because it is radically immanent and never appears in the exteriority of the world. No-one has ever seen a force, a thought or a feeling appear in the world in their inner reality; no-one has ever found them by digging into the ground.
Some of his assertions seem paradoxical and difficult to understand at first glance, not only because they are taken out of context, but above all because our habits of thought make us reduce everything to its visible appearance in the world instead of trying to attain its invisible reality in life. It is this separation between visible appearance and invisible reality which allows the dissimulation of our real feelings and which grounds the possibility of sham and hypocrisy, which are forms of lies.
Originality of Henry's thought
Western philosophy as a whole since its Greek origins recognizes only the visible world and exteriority as the sole form of manifestation. It is trapped into what in The Essence of Manifestation Michel Henry calls "ontological monism"; it completely ignores the invisible interiority of life, its radical immanence and its original mode of revelation which is irreducible to any form of transcendence or to any exteriority. When subjectivity or life are in question, they are never grasped in their purity; they are systematically reduced to biological life, to their external relation with the world, or as in Husserl to an intentionality, i.e. an orientation of consciousness towards an object outside it.
Henry rejects materialism, which admits only matter as reality, because the manifestation of matter in the transcendence of the world always presupposes life's self-revelation, whether in order to accede to it, or to be able to see it or touch it. He equally rejects idealism, which reduces being to thought and is in principle incapable of grasping the reality of being which it reduces to an unreal image, to a simple representation. For Michel Henry, the revelation of the absolute resides in affectivity and is constituted by it.
The deep originality of Michel Henry's thought and its radical novelty in relation to all preceding philosophy explains its fairly limited reception. It is however a philosophy that is admired for its "rigor" and its "depth". But his thought is both "difficult" and "demanding", despite the simplicity and immediacy of its central and unique theme of phenomenological life, the experience of which it tries to communicate. It is the immediacy and absolute transparency of life which explains the difficulty of grasping it as a thought: it is much easier to speak of what we see than of this invisible life, which fundamentally avoids being seen from the outside · .
Reception of Henry's philosophy
His thesis on The Essence of Manifestation was warmly welcomed by the members of the jury, who recognized the intellectual value and the seriousness of its author, although this thesis did not have any influence on their later works. His book on Marx was rejected by Marxists, who were harshly criticized, as well as by those who refused to see in Marx a philosopher and who reduced him to an ideologue responsible from Marxism. His book on Barbarism was considered by some as a rather simplistic and overly trenchant anti-scientific discourse. Nevertheless it seems that science and technology too often pursue their blind and unrestrained development in defiance of life.
His works on Christianity seem rather to have disappointed certain professional theologians and catholic exegetes, who contented themselves with picking out and correcting what they considered as “dogmatic errors”. His phenomenology of Life was the subject of a pamphlet on Le tournant théologique de la phénoménologie française (The Theological Turn in French Phenomenology) by Dominique Janicaud, who sees in the immanence of life only the affirmation of a tautological interiority. On the other hand, Antoine Vidalin published a book entitled La parole de la Vie (The Word of Life) in which he shows that Michel Henry's phenomenology allows for a renewed approach to every area of theology.
As Alain David says in an article published in the French journal Revue philosophique de la France et de l'étranger (number 3, July – September 2001), the thought of Michel Henry seems so radical, it affects our habitual ways of thinking so deeply, that it has had a difficult reception, even if all his readers declare themselves impressed by its "power", by the "staggering effect" of a thought which "sweeps everything clean on its way through", which "prompts admiration", but nevertheless "doesn’t really convince", as we don’t know whether we are confronted by "the violence of a prophetic voice or by pure madness". In the same journal, Rolf Kühn also asserts, in order to explain the difficult reception of Michel Henry’s work, that "if we do not side with any power in this world, we inevitably submit to silence and to criticism from every possible power, because we remind each institution that its visible or apparent power is, in fact, only powerlessness, because nobody gives himself over to absolute phenomenological life".
His books have been translated into many languages, notably English, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Japanese. A substantial amount of work has been dedicated to him, mainly in French, but also in German, Spanish and Italian. A number of international seminars have also been dedicated to the thought of Michel Henry in Beirut, Cerisy, Namur, Prague, Montpellier, Paris and Louvain-la-Neuve in 2010. Michel Henry is considered by those who know his work and recognize its value as one of the most important contemporary philosophers, and his phenomenology of life has started to gain a following. A Michel Henry Study Center has been established at St Joseph's University in Beirut (Lebanon) under the direction of Professor Jad Hatem.
Since 2006, the archives of the philosopher have been deposited by his wife at the catholic University of Louvain (Belgium), where they form the Michel Henry archives Fund, placed under the direction of Jean Leclercq. An annual review, called Revue internationale Michel Henry, is also edited by this Fund in collaboration with the Presses universitaires de Louvain since 2010.
An information letter on Michel Henry in French, called La gazette d'Aliahova (in reference to the town of Aliahova described in the Michel Henry novel L'Amour les yeux fermés), is published every month by Roland Vaschalde since 2010. The goal of this publication is to keep informed of the articles, books, courses, seminars and meetings on the thought of Michel Henry.
Consequences of Henry's philosophy
On the problems of society
Michel Henry wrote an important work on Karl Marx, whom he considers, paradoxically, as one of the leading Christian thinkers and one of the most important western philosophers, due to the weight he gives in his thought to living work and to the living individual (praxis) in which he sees the foundation of economic reality. One reason why Marx's genuine thought has been so misunderstood is the complete ignorance of his fundamental philosophical writings during the development of the official doctrine of Marxism, due to their very late publication — for example, The German Ideology only appeared in 1932. But the real reason for ignorance of Marx's philosophical texts is Marxism's negation, from its earliest days, of subjectivity, because Marxism is nothing other than a repetition of Hegelianism, which is a philosophy of objectivity which reduces the individual to the effective becoming of the Absolute and its manifestation in the light of ek-static exteriority. This work on Marx was published in two volumes entitled respectively Marx I. Une philosophie de la réalité and Marx II. Une philosophie de l’économie, translated in English as Marx: A Philosophy of Human Reality.
In his essay Barbarism, Michel Henry examines science, which is founded on the idea of a universal and as such objective truth, and which therefore leads to the elimination of the sensible qualities of the world, sensibility and life. There is nothing wrong with science in itself as long as it is restricted to the study of nature, but it tends to exclude all traditional forms of culture, such as art, ethics and religion. Science left to its own devices leads to technology, whose blind processes develop themselves independently in a monstrous fashion with no reference to life.
Science is a form of culture in which life denies itself and refuses itself any value. It is a practical negation of life, which develops into a theoretical negation in the form of ideologies that reduces all possible knowledge to that of science, such as the human sciences whose very objectivity deprives them of their object: what value do statistics have faced with suicide, what do they say about the despair that produces it? These ideologies have invaded the university, and are precipitating it to its destruction by eliminating life from research and teaching. Television is the truth of technology; it is the practice par excellence of barbarism: it reduces every event to current affairs, to incoherent and insignificant facts.
This negation of life results, according to Michel Henry, from the "disease of life", from its secret dissatisfaction with the self which leads it to deny itself, to flee itself in order to escape its anguish and its own suffering. In the modern world, we are almost all condemned from childhood to flee our anguish and our proper life in the mediocrity of the media universe — an escape from self and a dissatisfaction which lead to violence — rather than resorting to the most highly developed traditional forms of culture which enable the overcoming of this suffering and its transformation into joy. Culture subsists, despite everything, but in a kind of incognito; in our materialist society, which is sinking into barbarism, it must necessarily operate in a clandestine way.
From Communism to Capitalism
Communism and Capitalism are for Michel Henry two faces of the one death, which consists in the negation of life. Communism eliminates individual life in favour of universal abstractions like society, people, history or social classes. The dogmatism of Marxism is a form of fascism, i.e. a doctrine which originates in the degradation of the individual whose elimination is considered as legitimate, whereas capitalism substitutes economic entities such as money, profit or interest for the real needs of life. Capitalism however recognizes life as a source of value, wages being the objective representation of real subjective and living work. But capitalism progressively gives way to the exclusion of subjectivity by modern technology, which replaces living work by automated technological processes, eliminating at one stroke the power of creating value and ultimately value itself: possessions are produced in abundance, but unemployment increases and there is a continual shortage of money to buy them. These themes are developed in Du communisme au capitalisme, théorie d’une catastrophe (From Communism to Capitalism, Theory of a Catastrophe).
The Book of the Dead
Henry's planned last book was entitled Le Livre des Morts (The Book of the Dead) and would have dealt with what he called "clandestine subjectivity": a theme which evokes the condition of life in the modern world and which also alludes to his commitment to the Resistance and his personal experience of clandestinity.
On art and painting
Michel Henry was a student of ancient painting and of the great classical painting which preceded the scientistic figuration of the 18th and 19th Centuries, and also of abstract creations such as those of the painter Wassily Kandinsky. Henry dedicated a book entitled Voir l’invisible (Seeing the Invisible) to Kandinsky, in which he describes his work in laudatory terms. He analyses Kandinsky's theoretical writings on art and painting in their spiritual and cultural dimensions as a means of self-growth and refinement of one's sensibility. He explores painting's means of form and colour, and studies their effects on the inner life of one who looks at them filled with wonder, following the rigorous and almost phenomenological analysis proposed by Kandinsky. He explains that every form of painting capable of moving us is in reality abstract, i.e. it is not content to reproduce the world but seeks to express the invisible power and invisible life that we are. He evokes also the great thought of Kandinsky, the synthesis of arts, their unity in the monumental art as well as the cosmic dimension of art.
I am the Truth
In C’est moi la Vérité, pour une philosophie du christianisme (I am the Truth: Towards a Philosophy of Christianity), Michel Henry confronts his phenomenology of life with the foundational texts of Christianity. Life loves itself with an infinite love and never ceases to engender itself; it never ceases to engender each one of us as its beloved Son or Daughter in the eternal present of life. Life is nothing but this absolute love that religion calls God. That is why Life is sacred, and it is for this reason that no-one has the right to assault another or attack another's life. The problem of evil is that of death; that is, of degeneration from the original condition of Son of God, when life turns against itself in hatred or resentment. Because as John says in his first epistle, anyone who does not love remains in death, whereas everyone who loves has been born of God. The commandment of love is not an ethical law, but Life itself.
This work also proposes a phenomenology of Christ, who is understood as the First Living Being. A living being is simply that which succeeds in the pure revelation of self or self-revelation that is Life. It is in the form of an effective and singular Ipseity that Life never ceases to engender itself. It never ceases to occur in the form of a singular Self that embraces itself, experiences itself and finds joy in itself, and that Michel Henry calls the First Living Being. Or again the Arch-Son, as he himself inhabits the Origin and the Beginning, and is engendered in the very process whereby the Father engenders himself.
Michel Henry tells us in this book that the purpose of the coming of Christ into the world is to make the true Father manifest to people, and thus to save them from the forgetting of Life in which they stand. A forgetting which leads them falsely to believe themselves as being the source of their own powers, their own pleasures and their own feelings, and to live in the terrifying lack of that which however gives each ego to itself. The plenitude of life and the feeling of satisfaction it brings must yield to the great Rift, to the Desire that no object can fulfill, to the Hunger that nothing can satisfy.
Words of Christ
As Henry says in his last book Paroles du Christ (Words of Christ), it is in the heart that life speaks, in its immediate pathetic self-revelation; but the heart is blind to the Truth, it is deaf to the word of Life, it is hard and selfish, and it is from this that evil comes. It is in the violence of its silent and implacable self-revelation, which bears witness against this degenerate life and against the evil that comes from it, that Judgement stands — Judgement which is identical to the advent of each Self to itself and from which none can escape.
In Incarnation, une philosophie de la chair (Incarnation, a Philosophy of the Flesh), Henry starts by opposing the sensible and living flesh as we experience it perpetually from the inside to the inert and material body as we can see it from the outside, like other objects we find in the world. The flesh does not correspond at all, in his terminology, to the soft part of our material and objective body as opposed for example to the bones, but to what he called in his earlier books our subjective body. For Henry, an object possesses no interiority, it is not living, it does not feel itself and does not feel that it is touched, it does not subjectively experience being touched.
Having put the difficult problem of the incarnation in a historical perspective by going back to the thought of the Church Fathers, he undertakes a critical re-reading of the phenomenological tradition that leads to a reversal of phenomenology. He then proposes to elaborate a phenomenology of the flesh which leads to the notion of an originary flesh which is not constituted but is given in the arch-revelation of Life, as well as a phenomenology of Incarnation.
Although the flesh is traditionally understood as the seat of sin, in Christianity it is also the place of salvation, which consists in the deification of man, i.e. in the fact of becoming the Son of God, of returning to the eternal and absolute Life we had forgotten in losing ourselves in the world, in caring only about things and ourselves. In sin, we have the tragic experience of our powerlessness to do the good we would like to do and of our inability to avoid evil. Thus, faced with the magical body of the other, it is the anguished desire to rejoin the life in it that leads to error. In the night of lovers, the sexual act couples two impulsive movements, but erotic desire fails to attain the pleasure of the other just there where it is experienced, in a complete loving fusion. The erotic relation is however doubled by a pure affective relation, foreign to the carnal coupling, a relation made of mutual gratitude or love. It is this affective dimension that is denied in the form of violence that is pornography, which wrenches the erotic relation from the pathos of life in order to deliver it to the world, and which constitutes a genuine profanation of life.
Michel Henry undertook a study of the historical and philosophical genesis of psychoanalysis in the light of phenomenology of life in Généalogie de la psychanalyse, le commencement perdu (Genealogy of Psychoanalysis, the Lost Beginning), in which he shows that the Freudian notion of the unconscious results from the inability of Freud, its founder, to think the essence of life in its purity. The repressed representation does not come from the unconscious, it is simply unformed: the unconscious is only an empty representation, it does not exist—or rather, the real unconscious is life itself in its pathetic reality. And it is not repression that provokes anguish, whose existence depends on the mere fact of power, but unused psychic energy or libido. As for the notion of consciousness, it simply means the power of seeing, it is nothing but a consciousness of the object which leads to an empty subjectivity.
Some quotations from Michel Henry
- "That which is felt without the intermediary of any sense whatsoever is in its essence affectivity." (The Essence of Manifestation, § 52)
- "Affectivity has always accomplished its work when the world rises." (The Essence of Manifestation, § 54)
- "Suffering constitutes the tissue of existence, it is the place where life becomes living, the reality and the phenomenological effectivity of this gradual change." (The Essence of Manifestation, § 70)
- "The power of feeling is the gathering which edifies; being, seized by the self, its blazing up, its fulguration, is the becoming of being, the triumphant sudden appearance of revelation. What occurs in the triumph of this sudden appearance, in the fulguration of presence, in the Parousia and, ultimately, when there is something instead of nothing, is joy." (The Essence of Manifestation, § 70)
- "But joy is not something about which one may be joyful. For joy, coming after the advent of being and marvelling before it, is consubstantial with being, joy founds it and forms it." (The Essence of Manifestation, § 70)
- "Community is a subterranean affective water table and each one drinks the same water at this source and at this well that he is." (Material Phenomenology)
On the problems of society
- "Marxism is the totality of the misinterpretations of Marx." (Marx, a Philosophy of Human Being)
- "Culture is the totality of the enterprises and practices in which the abundance of life expresses itself, they all have as motivation the « load », the « over » which disposes inwardly the living subjectivity as a force ready to give unstintingly itself and constraint, under the load, to do it." (Barbarism)
- "Barbarism is unused energy." (Barbarism)
- "So it is not self-realisation that media existence proposes for life, but escape, the opportunity for all those whose laziness, repressing their energy, makes them forever so dissatisfied with themselves as to forget this dissatisfaction." (Barbarism)
- "No abstraction, no ideality has ever been in a position to produce a real action or, as a result, what only represents it." (From Communism to Capitalism)
- "When that which feels nothing, not even itself, and has no desire and no love, is made the principle of organisation of the world, the time of madness has arrived, because madness has lost everything except reason." (From Communism to Capitalism)
On art and painting
- "The sight of beauty which embodies itself in a living being is infinitely more touching than that of more grandiose work." (Love with Closed Eyes)
- "He who wishes to represent this force will represent a column, the heavy blocks of stone of the pediment and of the roof – he will represent the temple, represent the world. Briesen draws the force of the music, the original force of Suffering and of Life : he draws nothing." (Article « Drawing music, theory for the art of Briesen », in Phénoménologie de la vie, tome III)
- "Painting does not use language. Abstract painting teaches us this, and this is what gives it its power of expression. If colour does not relate to the feelings of our soul through an external relation but finds its true being in them – as a pure sensation and a pure experience – then it does not even need to translate, through a means, the abstract content of our invisible life. It coincides with our invisible life and is its pathos: its suffering, its boredom, its neglect or its joy." (Seeing the invisible, on Kandinsky, p. 72)
- "If communication takes place between the artwork and the public, it is on the level of sensibility, through the emotions and their immanent modifications. It does not have anything to do with words, with collective, ideological or scientific representations, or with their critical, intellectual or literary formulations, in short, anything that is called culture. It is totally independent from that type of culture. This is why it is addressed to the group of people who ‘lack culture’. It is popular in the sense that it leads to what is most essential in each human being: one’s capacity to feel, to suffer and to love." (Seeing the invisible, on Kandinsky, p. 73)
- "We gaze petrified at the hieroglyphs of the invisible, as they too stand motionless or only slowly change against the background of a nocturnal sky. We watch forces that slumbered within us, waiting stubbornly and patiently for millennia, even from the beginning of time. These forces explode into the violence and gleam of colours; they open spaces and engender the forms of the worlds. The forces of the cosmos are awakened within us. They lead us outside of time to join in their celebration dance and they do not let go of us. They do not stop – because not even they believed that it was possible to attain 'such happiness'. Art is the resurrection of eternal life." (Seeing the invisible, on Kandinsky, p. 142)
- "I hear for ever the noise of my birth." (I Am the Truth. Toward a philosophy of Christianity)
- "To be born is not to come into the world. To be born is to come into life." (I Am the Truth. Toward a Philosophy of Christianity)
- "But then, when and why is this emotional upheaval produced, which opens a person to his own essence ? Nobody knows. The emotional opening of the person to his own essence can only be born of the will of life itself, as a rebirth that lets him suddenly experience his eternal birth. The Spirit blows where it wills." (I Am the Truth. Toward a Philosophy of Christianity)
- "No object has ever had the experience of being touched." (Incarnation. A Philosophy of the Flesh)
- "So my flesh is not only the principle of the constitution of my objective body, it hides in it its invisible substance. Such is the strange condition of this object that we call a body : it doesn’t consist at all in the visible appearance to which we have always reduced it ; precisely in its reality it is invisible. Nobody has ever seen a man, but nobody has ever seen his body either, if by « body » we understand his real body." (Incarnation. A Philosophy of the Flesh)
- "Our flesh carries in it the principle of its manifestation, and this manifestation is not the appearing of the world. In its pathetic self-impressionality, in its very flesh, given to itself in the Arch-passibility of absolute Life, it reveals the one which reveals itself to itself, it is in its pathos the Arch-revelation of Life, the Parousia of the absolute. In the depths of its Night, our flesh is God." (Incarnation. A Philosophy of the Flesh)
- "Life is uncreated. Foreign to creation, foreign to the world, every process conferring Life is a process of generation." (Words of Christ)
Descriptions of selected works
On the problems of society
- La barbarie (Barbarism): Culture, which is the self-development of life, is threatened in our society by the barbarism of the monstrous objectivity of technoscience, whose ideologies reject all form of subjectivity, while life is condemned to escape its anguish in the media universe.
- Du communisme au capitalisme, théorie d'une catastrophe (From Communism to Capitalism, Theory of a Catastrophe): The collapse of the eastern communist systems corresponds to the bankruptcy of a system that claimed to deny the reality of life in favour of falsely universal abstractions. But death is also at the meeting-point in the empire of capitalism and of modern technology.
On art and painting
- Voir l'invisible, sur Kandinsky (Seeing the Invisible, about Kandinsky): Art can save man, abandoned by our technological civilization, from his confusion. This is this spiritual quest that led Kandinsky to the creation of abstract painting. It is no longer a matter of representing the world but our inner life, by means of lines and colors that correspond to inner forces and sonorities.
- C'est moi la Vérité, pour une philosophie du christianisme (I am the Truth: Toward a Philosophy of Christianity): This book explains the kind of truth that Christianity tries to transmit to Man. Christianity opposes to the truth of the world the Truth of Life, according to which man is the Son of God. The self-revelation of Life which experiences itself in its invisible interiority is the essence of God in which each individual is grounded. In the world, Jesus has the appearance of a man, but it is in the Truth of Life that he is the Christ, the First Living Being.
- Incarnation, une philosophie de la chair (Incarnation, a Philosophy of the Flesh): The living flesh is radically opposed to the material body, because it is the flesh which, experiencing itself, enjoying itself in accordance with ever-renewed impressions, is able to feel the body which is exterior to it, to touch it and to be touched by it. It is the flesh which allows us to know the body. The fundamental teaching of the prologue to the Gospel according to St. John, who says that the Word became flesh, asserts the improbable thesis that God incarnated himself in a mortal flesh like ours — it asserts the unity of the Word and the flesh in Christ. What is it for flesh to be the place of God’s revelation, and in what does this revelation consist?
- Paroles du Christ (Words of Christ): Can man understand in his own language the word of God, a word that speaks in another language? The words of the Christ seem to many to be an immoderate claim because they claim not only to transmit the truth or a divine revelation, but to be this Revelation and this Truth, the Word of God himself, of this God that Christ himself claims to be.
- Le jeune officier (The Young Officer): This first novel evokes the struggle of a young officer against evil, embodied by rats on a ship.
- L'amour les yeux fermés (Love With Closed Eyes): This novel, which won the Renaudot Prize, is the account of the destruction of a city which has reached the peak of its development and refinement and which is suffering from an insidious evil.
- Le fils du roi (The Son of the King): A story of life locked up in a psychiatric hospital and confronted by the rationality of psychiatrists.
- Le cadavre indiscret (The Indiscreet Corpse): In this novel, Henry tells us of the anxiety of the assassins of the secret and too honest treasurer of a political party, who finance an investigation to discover what is really known about them and to reassure themselves.
- L’Essence de la manifestation (1963)
- Philosophie et Phénoménologie du corps (1965)
- I. Une philosophie de la réalité (1976)
- II. Une philosophie de l’économie (1976)
- Généalogie de la psychanalyse. Le commencement perdu (1985)
- La Barbarie (1987)
- Voir l’invisible, sur Kandinsky (1988)
- Phénoménologie matérielle (1990)
- Du communisme au capitalisme. Théorie d'une catastrophe (1990)
- C'est moi la Vérité. Pour une philosophie du christianisme (1996)
- Incarnation. Une philosophie de la chair (2000)
- Paroles du Christ (2002)
- Auto-donation. Entretiens et conférences (2002)
- Le bonheur de Spinoza (2003)
- Phénoménologie de la vie:
- Tome I. De la phénoménologie (2003)
- Tome II. De la subjectivité (2003)
- Tome III. De l’art et du politique (2003)
- Tome IV. Sur l’éthique et la religion (2004)
- Entretiens (2005)
- Le jeune officier (1954)
- L’Amour les yeux fermés (1976)
- Le Fils du roi (1981)
- Le cadavre indiscret (1996)
Books on Michel Henry
Books in English
- Dominique Janicaud, et al.: Phenomenology and the Theological Turn: The French Debate, Fordham University Press, 2001
- Michael O'Sullivan: Michel Henry: Incarnation, Barbarism and Belief – An Introduction to the work of Michel Henry, Peter Lang, 2006
- Michelle Rebidoux: The Philosophy of Michel Henry: A French Christian Phenomenology of Life, Edwin Mellen Press, 2012
Monographs in French
- Gabrielle Dufour-Kowalska : Michel Henry, un philosophe de la vie et de la praxis, Vrin, 1980, réédition 2000
- Dominique Janicaud : Le tournant théologique de la phénoménologie française, Éditions de l'éclat, 1991
- Gabrielle Dufour-Kowalska : L’Art et la sensibilité. De Kant à Michel Henry, Vrin, 1996
- Jad Hatem : Critique et affectivité. Rencontre de Michel Henry et de l’orient, Université Saint Joseph, Beyrouth, 2001
- Gabrielle Dufour-Kowalska : Michel Henry, passion et magnificence de la vie, Beauchesne, 2003
- Jad Hatem : Michel Henry, la parole de vie, L’Harmattan, 2003
- Rolf Kühn : Radicalité et passibilité. Pour une phénoménologie pratique, L’Harmattan, 2004
- Jad Hatem : Le sauveur et les viscères de l’être. Sur le gnosticisme et Michel Henry, L’Harmattan, 2004
- Jad Hatem : Christ et intersubjectivité chez Marcel, Stein, Wojtyla et Henry, L’Harmattan, 2004
- Sébastien Laoureux : L'immanence à la limite. Recherches sur la phénoménologie de Michel Henry, Éditions du Cerf, 2005
- Jad Hatem : Théologie de l'œuvre d'art mystique et messianique. Thérèse d'Avila, Andreï Roublev, Michel Henry, Bruxelles, Lessius, 2006.
- Antoine Vidalin : La parole de la vie. La phénoménologie de Michel Henry et l’intelligence chrétienne des Écritures, Parole et silence, 2006
- Paul Audi : Michel Henry : Une trajectoire philosophique, Les Belles Lettres, 2006
- Raphaël Gély : Rôles, action sociale et vie subjective. Recherches à partir de la phénoménologie de Michel Henry, Peter Lang, 2007
- Jad Hatem : L’Art comme autobiographie de la subjectivité absolue. Schelling, Balzac, Henry, Orizons, 2009
- Jean Reaidy : Michel Henry, la passion de naître : méditations phénoménologiques sur la naissance, Paris, L’Harmattan, 2009
- Frédéric Seyler, Barbarie ou Culture : L’éthique de l’affectivité dans la phénoménologie de Michel Henry, Paris, éditions Kimé, Collection "Philosophie en cours", 2010
- Antoine Vidalin, Acte du Christ et actes de l'homme. La théologie morale à l’épreuve de la phénoménologie de la vie, Parole et silence, 2012
- Rolf Kühn, Individuation et vie culturelle. Pour une phénoménologie radicale dans la perspective de Michel Henry, Leuven, Peeters, 2012.
- Rolf Kühn, L'abîme de l'épreuve. Phénoménologie matérielle en son archi-intelligibilité, Bruxelles, Peter Lang, 2012.
- Raphaël Gély, Imaginaire, perception, incarnation. Exercice phénoménologique à partir de Merleau-Ponty, Henry, et Sartre, Bruxelles, Peter Lang, 2012.
- Roland Vaschalde : À l'Orient de Michel Henry, Paris, éd. Orizons, 2014.
Collective Books in French
- Jean-Michel Longneaux (éd.): Retrouver la vie oubliée. Critiques et perspectives de la philosophie de Michel Henry, Presses Universitaires de Namur, 2000
- Alain David et Jean Greisch (éd.) (Actes du Colloque de Cerisy 1996): Michel Henry, l’épreuve de la vie, Editions du Cerf, 2001
- Philippe Capelle (éd.): Phénoménologie et Christianisme chez Michel Henry, Editions du Cerf, 2004
- Collectif (Colloque international de Montpellier 2003): Michel Henry. Pensée de la vie et culture contemporaine, Beauchesne, 2006
- Jean-Marie Brohm et Jean Leclercq (conception et direction du dossier): Michel Henry, Les Dossiers H, Editions l'Age d'Homme, 2009
- Olivier Salazar-Ferrer, Michel Henry - Pour une phénoménologie de la vie - Entretien avec Olivier Salazar-Ferrer, Editions de Corlevour, 2010
- A. Jdey, R. Kühn (dir.), Michel Henry et l’affect de l’art. Recherches sur l’esthétique de la phénoménologie matérielle, Leiden, Brill Academic Publishers, 2011
- Grégori Jean, Jean Leclercq, Nicolas Monseu (éd.) (Actes du colloque de Louvain-la-Neuve 2010), La vie et les vivants. (Re-)lire Michel Henry, collection Empreintes philosophiques, Presses Universitaires de Louvain, 2013
- Grégori Jean, Jean Leclercq (éd.), Lectures de Michel Henry. Enjeux et perspectives, collection Empreintes philosophiques, Presses Universitaires de Louvain, 2014
Books in other languages
- (de) Rolf Kühn : Leiblichkeit als Lebendigkeit. Michel Henrys Lebensphänomenologie absoluter Subjektivität als Affektivität, Alber, 1992
- (de) Rolf Kühn et Stefan Nowotny : Michel Henry. Zur Selbstentfaltung des Lebens und der Kultur, Alber, 2002
- (es) Mario Lipsitz : Eros y Nacimiento fuera de la ontología griega : Emmanuel Levinas y Michel Henry, Prometeo, 2004
- (it) Gioacchino Molteni : Introduzione a Michel Henry. La svolta della fenomenologia, Mimesis, 2005
- (it) Emanuele Marini : Vita, corpo e affettività nella fenomenologia di Michel Henry, Citadella, 2005
- (it) Ivano Liberati : Dalla barbarie alla vita come auto-manifestazione. La proposta fenomenologica di Michel Henry, Aracne, 2010
Notes and references
- See the 'Biographie' of the official site on Michel Henry
- Jean-Marie Brohm et Jean Leclercq, Michel Henry, éd. l’Age d’Homme, Les dossiers H, 2009 (pp. 12-15)
- Jean-Marie Brohm et Jean Leclercq, Michel Henry, éd. l’Age d’Homme, Les dossiers H, 2009 (pp. 21-26)
- Jean-Marie Brohm et Jean Leclercq, Michel Henry, éd. l’Age d’Homme, Les dossiers H, 2009 (pp. 27–50)
- Paul Audi, Michel Henry, Les belles lettres, 2006, p. 22 : « Michel Henry fait partie de ces très rares philosophes qui, dans la seconde moitié du siècle dernier, se sont frayé leurs voies propres à l'écart des modes contemporaines. »
- Jean-Marie Brohm et Jean Leclercq, Michel Henry, éd. l’Age d’Homme, Les dossiers H, 2009 (pp. 5-6)
- Jean-Marie Brohm et Jean Leclercq, Michel Henry, éd. l’Age d’Homme, Les dossiers H, 2009 (pp. 5-6)
- I am the Truth. Toward a Philosophy of Christianity (§ 1, p. 14)
- Incarnation. Une philosophie de la chair (§ 1, p. 35)
- Incarnation. Une philosophie de la chair (§ 1-15, pp. 35-132)
- See for example La barbarie (§ 1, p. 15)
- See for example The Essence of Manifestation (§ 52-70)
- Incarnation. Une philosophie de la chair (§ 15, p. 129)
- I am the Truth. Toward a Philosophy of Christianity (§ 3, pp. 33-47)
- The Essence of Manifestation (§ 53)
- La barbarie (§ 4, pp. 126-128)
- The Essence of Manifestation (§ 70)
- Incarnation. Une philosophie de la chair (Introduction, p. 29)
- See for example the conclusion of L'Essence de la manifestation, PUF, 1963 (§ 70, p. 860)
- Michel Henry, Voir l’invisible, éd. François Bourin, 1988 (pp. 14-18)
- Michel Henry, Incarnation, éd. du Seuil, 2000 (Introduction, p. 27)
- Michel Henry, C'est moi la Vérité, éd. du Seuil, 1996 (p. 16, pp. 218-222 et p. 301)
- See Michel Henry, L'essence de la manifestation, PUF, 1963 (§ 11, p. 91)
- Michel Henry, C'est moi la Vérité, éd. du Seuil, 1996 (§ 3, pp. 46-70)
- See Michel Henry, L'essence de la manifestation, PUF, 1963 (§ 70, p. 858)
- See for example the article from Xavier Tillette in Manifestation et révélation, éd. Beauchesne, 1976, pp. 207-236 : « Accueilli dès sa parution comme un grand livre, admiré de ses juges, l'ouvrage de Michel Henry, L'Essence de la Manifestation reste, dix ans après, le chef-d’œuvre inconnu. On ne s'explique que trop bien, hélas, cette désaffection. Sa rigueur et son abstraction, comme un rempart protecteur, écartent le lecteur insuffisamment armé, décourageant le simple curieux ou l'amateur pressé. En outre il est indifférent au succès et aux modes, il ne se rattache à aucune école patentée, il n'appartient à aucun mouvement en vogue. » (p. 207) and « Si toutefois l'impression de solitude persiste et le tourmente, surtout la solitude qui provient de l'indifférence environnante, puisse-t-il se consoler avec sa fière maxime retournée : "Plus une pensée est profonde et rétablit l'ordre vrai des choses, plus étroite l'audience dont elle est assurée" ! » (p.236).
- Pierre Gire, review Esprit et Vie n°138, 2005, article entitled "L'excès de la vie sur sa représentation scientifique : la perspective philosophique de Michel Henry. Pour une philosophie du sujet vivant" : "[Michel Henry] est mort le 3 juillet 2002 à Albi, laissant une œuvre d'une grande profondeur intellectuelle, très originale, d'un accès difficile, mais dont l'influence sur les générations suivantes n'est pas près de se tarir."
- Paul Audi, Michel Henry, Les belles lettres (2006) : "Comprendre le "Moi" et les phénomènes du monde à partir du "vivre" et de son auto-affection, tel est le vrai ressort de cette œuvre dense et rigoureuse." (cover page)
- Gabrielle Dufour-Kowalska, Michel Henry. Passion et magnificence de la vie, Beauchesne (2003) : "L'élucidation de ces différentes régions phénoménologiques n'a d'autre but, en effet, que l'approfondissement de la sphère originaire et invisible de la Vie qui les détermine toutes, déterminant aussi la téléologie générale d'une pensée qui se distingue, parmi toutes les philosophies de la seconde moitié du XXe siècle, par sa radicalité et par la profondeur de sa visée métaphysique." (p. 2)
- Michel Henry, Auto-donation. Entretiens et conférences, éd. Beauchesne, 2004, article de Magali Uhl et Jean-Marie Brohm, pp. 269-281 : « Conscients de la chance qui nous était offerte d’être en proximité avec cette pensée exigeante qui refusait toute concession aux modes, aux coteries, aux crédulités obligatoires, nous avons surtout mesuré à quel point Michel Henry possédait ce souffle spirituel qui est la grâce du don. Parce qu’à chacun d’entre nous, il a apporté quelque chose d’inestimable : la liberté de l’esprit, l’émerveillement continu devant les plus hautes valeurs de la culture, le refus du nihilisme. » (p. 269) and « La pensée de Michel Henry, exigeante, radicalement libre, tout entière irradiée par sa passion de la vie, est de celles qui permettent de comprendre la barbarie en ses fondements et de la combattre. » (p.281)
- Michel Henry, L’Essence de la manifestation, PUF, 1963 (§ 53, p. 590)
- Michel Henry, Philosophie et phénoménologie du corps, PUF, 1965, p. 306
- Revue philosophique de la France et de l’Etranger (numéro 3 de juillet - septembre 2001, p. 361)
- Revue philosophique de la France et de l’Etranger (numéro 3 de juillet - septembre 2001, pp. 361-362)
- Revue philosophique de la France et de l’Etranger (numéro 3 de juillet - septembre 2001, p. 362)
- Revue philosophique de la France et de l’Etranger (numéro 3 de juillet - septembre 2001, pp. 362-363)
- Dominique Janicaud, Le tournant théologique de la phénoménologie française, Editions de l’éclat, 1991, pp. 57-70.
- Antoine Vidalin, La Parole de la Vie, éd. Parole et silence, 2006 (pp. 11-12)
- Article available online at http://www.cairn.info/revue-philosophique-2001-3-page-359.htm
- Revue philosophique de la France et de l’Etranger (numéro 3 de juillet - septembre 2001, p. 363)
- Revue philosophique de la France et de l’Etranger (numéro 3 de juillet - septembre 2001, p. 303)
- Gabrielle Dufour-Kowalska : Michel Henry, passion et magnificence de la vie (cover)
- Jad Hatem : Michel Henry, la parole de Vie (p. 13)
- Collectif (Colloque international de Montpellier 2003) : Michel Henry. Pensée de la vie et culture contemporaine (p. 10)
- Michel Henry, Marx II. Une philosophie de l'économie, éd. Gallimard, 1976, p. 445
- Michel Henry, Du communisme au capitalisme, éd. Odile Jacob, 1990, p. 25
- Michel Henry, Marx I. Une philosophie de la réalité, éd. Gallimard, 1976, pp. 193 et 207 par exemple
- Michel Henry, Marx I. Une philosophie de la réalité, éd. Gallimard, 1976, pp. 9-33
- Michel Henry, Marx I. Une philosophie de la réalité, éd. Gallimard, 1976, pp. 333-337
- Michel Henry, La barbarie, éd. Grasset, 1987, pp. 49 et 111
- Michel Henry, La barbarie, éd. Grasset, 1987, p. 49
- Michel Henry, La barbarie, éd. Grasset, 1987, p. 70
- Michel Henry, La barbarie, éd. Grasset, 1987, p. 113
- Michel Henry, La barbarie, éd. Grasset, 1987, pp. 131-164
- Michel Henry, La barbarie, éd. Grasset, 1987, pp. 201-239
- Michel Henry, La barbarie, éd. Grasset, 1987, pp. 190-199
- Michel Henry, La barbarie, éd. Grasset, 1987, p. 49
- Michel Henry, La barbarie, éd. Grasset, 1987, p. 174-183
- Michel Henry, La barbarie, éd. Grasset, 1987, pp. 241-247
- Michel Henry, Du communisme au capitalisme, éd. Odile Jacob, 1990, p. 176
- Michel Henry, Du communisme au capitalisme, éd. Odile Jacob, 1990, p. 52
- Michel Henry, Du communisme au capitalisme, éd. Odile Jacob, 1990, p. 87
- Michel Henry, Du communisme au capitalisme, éd. Odile Jacob, 1990, pp. 142 et 148
- Michel Henry, Du communisme au capitalisme, éd. Odile Jacob, 1990, p. 114
- Michel Henry, Du communisme au capitalisme, éd. Odile Jacob, 1990, p. 161 et 174
- See the 'Biographie' page of the official site of Michel Henry and Auto-donation. Entretiens et conférences, p. 250
- Michel Henry, Auto-donation. Entretiens et conférences, éd. Beauschene, 2004, pp. 263-265.
- Michel Henry, Voir l'invisible, éd. François Bourin, 1988, par exemple pp. 240-244.
- Michel Henry, Voir l'invisible, éd. François Bourin, 1988, pp. 10-11, pp. 26-43.
- Michel Henry, Voir l'invisible, éd. François Bourin, 1988, pp. 81-99 for point and line, et pp. 122-139 for colors.
- Michel Henry, Voir l'invisible, éd. François Bourin, 1988, pp. 216-227.
- Michel Henry, Voir l'invisible, éd. François Bourin, 1988, pp. 176-190 on monumental art, et pp. 228-244 on art and the Cosmos.
- Michel Henry, C'est moi la Vérité, éd. du Seuil, 1996 (§ 2, p. 44)
- See for example C'est moi la Vérité, éd. du Seuil, 1996 (§ 10) and La barbarie, éd. Grasset, 1987 (chapitre 7, p. 221)
- Michel Henry, C'est moi la Vérité, éd. du Seuil, 1996 (§ 9, p. 203 et § 10, p. 236), quotations of 1 John 3, 14 and 1 John 4, 7
- Michel Henry, C'est moi la Vérité, éd. du Seuil, 1996 (§ 10, p. 235)
- Michel Henry, C'est moi la Vérité, éd. du Seuil, 1996 (§ 4, pp. 73-77)
- Michel Henry, C'est moi la Vérité, éd. du Seuil, 1996 (§ 8, pp. 166-191)
- Michel Henry, C'est moi la Vérité, éd. du Seuil, 1996 (§ 11, pp. 255-260)
- Michel Henry, Paroles du Christ, éd. du Seuil, 2002 (pp. 122, 134)
- Michel Henry, Paroles du Christ, éd. du Seuil, 2002 (pp. 123-124)
- Michel Henry, Incarnation, éd. du Seuil, 2000 (Introduction, pp. 8-9)
- Michel Henry, Philosophie et phénoménologie du corps, PUF, 1987 (pp. 71-105)
- Michel Henry, Incarnation, éd. du Seuil, 2000, pp. 35-132
- Michel Henry, Incarnation, éd. du Seuil, 2000 (Introduction, p. 23)
- Michel Henry, C'est moi la Vérité, éd. du Seuil, 1996 (§ 9, pp. 207)
- Michel Henry, Incarnation, éd. du Seuil, 2000 (§ 34, p. 254)
- Michel Henry, Incarnation, éd. du Seuil, 2000 (§ 39, p. 291)
- Michel Henry, Incarnation, éd. du Seuil, 2000 (§ 41, pp. 301-302)
- Michel Henry, Incarnation, éd. du Seuil, 2000 (§ 41, p. 304)
- Michel Henry, Incarnation, éd. du Seuil, 2000 (§ 43, p. 315)
- Michel Henry, Généalogie de la psychanalyse, PUF, 1985 (pp. 5-15 et 386)
- Michel Henry, Généalogie de la psychanalyse, PUF, 1985 (p. 234)
- Michel Henry, Généalogie de la psychanalyse, PUF, 1985 (pp. 348 et 384)
- Michel Henry, Généalogie de la psychanalyse, PUF, 1985 (p. 380)
- Michel Henry, Généalogie de la psychanalyse, PUF, 1985 (pp. 125-158)
- Note: This article has been translated from its French version. For complete detailed references in French, see the original version at http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Henry.
- Michel Henry: The Essence of Manifestation (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1973)
- Michel Henry: Philosophy and Phenomenology of the Body (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1975)
- Michel Henry: Marx: A Philosophy of Human Reality (Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1983)
- Michel Henry: The Genealogy of Psychoanalysis (Stanford University Press, 1998)
- Michel Henry: I am the Truth: Toward a philosophy of Christianity (Stanford University Press, 2002)
- Michel Henry: Material Phenomenology (Fordham University Press, 2008)
- Michel Henry: Seeing the Invisible: On Kandinsky (Continuum, 2009)
- Michel Henry: Words of Christ (Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2012)
- Michel Henry: Barbarism (Continuum, 2012)
- Michel Henry: From Communism to Capitalism (Bloomsbury Academic, 2014)
- "Michel Henry's Radical Phenomenology." Studia Phaenomenologica vol. IX (2009), Romanian Society for Phenomenology & Humanitas.
- John Mullarkey, Post-Continental Philosophy: An Outline (Continuum, 2006).
- John Mullarkey, "The Future of Continental Philosophy," in: John Mullarkey, Beth Lord (eds.), The Continuum Companion to Continental Philosophy (Continuum, 2009).
- Archives Michel Henry (and Rights of publication) at Université Catholique de Louvain (in French)
- An exhaustive biography as well as a complete summary of most of his books can be found on the French web site (Author: Jean Leclercq and Anne Henry)
- International Michel Henry Society web site (in French)
- A website of a German research group (Author: Rolf Kühn and Sebastian Knöpker)