On the Surface of Things: Transient Life and Beauty in Passing Philosophy on the Surface

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William Desmond


Different conceptions of life seem to fall between two extremes. On one extreme, we find more objectifying, indeed reductive conceptions where life itself seems to disappear in the very claim to account for it. On the other extreme, we find more subjectifying conceptions in which the sense of immanent self-relation and its dynamic enjoyment is held to make intimate contact with life as lived. A purely objective account seems difficult to endorse finally, if life disappears in its being accounted for. An entirely immanent orientation raises for us questions about the passing of life beyond self-relating enjoyment. Life as transient (trans-ire: to go across) communicates more in the passage between these extremes. How relate this transience, neither objective nor subjective, to the passing of life, to passing as passing?

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Special Section on Life