The phenomenology of life: desire as the being of the subject

Renaud Barbaras

in The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Phenomenology

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199594900
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

The phenomenology of life: desire as the being of the subject


This chapter discusses the phenomenology of life. The a priori of correlation characterises the being as what presents itself in its appearances only by being absent from them, as offering itself up to an exploration, in the face of which it continuously steps back or withdraws. Transcendental life must contain something living in order to be able to characterise itself as life. Desire never meets its object except in the mode of the object's own absence, and this is why nothing stops it. The link between desire and the world is the truth of the relation between consciousness and object. The phenomenological dynamic that sees in desire the essence of the subject leads to a dynamic which has a truly ontological scope. In truth, ‘Life’ is the name given to the sense of Being: nothing that claims to be can stand outside life's embrace.

Keywords: phenomenology; life; desire; correlation; object; world; consciousness

Article.  10027 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Mind

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