233 – “Life Feels Itself” …

I do not remember exactly where I first read this, “Life feels itself,” but I do remember how those three words seemed to carry more meaning than an entire philosophy. So, I looked it up on Wikipedia. What I found was information about the French philosopher Michel Henry (1922 – 2002), whose Phenomenology had, to me, the soundest understanding of Life I have ever encountered. Michel Henry was not only able to see beyond the walls of pre-conceived notions but affirmed the capacity of the human mind to feel, to love, to experience itself as one of Life’s manifestations.

What follows are selected excerpts from Wikipedia (link to entire information below).

Phenomenology comes from the English/German/Latinate “phenomenon” which means “that which shows itself by coming into the light”.

“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 defines life from a phenomenological point of view as what possesses the faculty and the power “to feel and to experience oneself in each 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. 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.[1] 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.”

For Henry, “life refers to the fact of being itself, to the fact of being a Self.”

“Western philosophy as a whole since its Greek origins recognizes only the visible world and exteriority as the sole form of manifestation.

“Henry rejects materialism, which admits only matter as reality – “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.

“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.

“Life loves itself with an infinite love and never ceases to engender itself.

“Life is nothing but this absolute love that religion calls God.”

Yet science, enslaved by a methodology that demands a measurable proof to endorse a theory, fails to see that we are the immensurable proof of Henry’s phenomenology: We love, feel, and experience ourselves; we are Life trying to understand itself.



Revised February 2022

[1] The doctrine or theory of Immanence holds that the divine (the living Cosmos) encompasses or is manifested in the material world. (parenthesis is mine)

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[1] The doctrine or theory of Immanence holds that the divine (the living Cosmos) encompasses or is manifested in the material world. (parenthesis is mine)

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