Advent of Auto-Affection

Possibility, Givenness & Reception in Jean-Luc Marion

  • Virgil W. Brower
Keywords: Affect theory, Nicholas of Cusa, Onto-theology, Phenomenology, Revelation


Jean-Luc Marion obliquely suggests that we return to religion when we think through and struggle with those topics that philosophy excludes or subjugates. This paper investigates a selection of such subjugated motifs. Marion’s recent claim (perhaps even ‘principle’): “auto-affection alone makes possible hetero-affection,” will be examined through piecemeal influences made upon its development through Marion’s return to religious thinking beyond the delimited jurisdiction of philosophy. Although still proper to the philosophies of Descartes, Kant, and Husserl, Marion finds new insights by tracing their legacy back further to the Christian gospels, Augustine, Aquinas, and, importantly, Nicholas of Cusa. Philosophy, proper, (if there is such a thing) may well adumbrate human understanding of data, phenomena, and possibility by discouraging any further thinking of them in terms of love, givenness, or revelation. It is by preferentially opting for these themes that philosophy excludes or subjugates that makes possible the entanglement of truth with love, suggested by Marion: “truths that one knows only if one loves them first.”