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Ovidiu Stanciu, “The Experience of the Alien and the Inter-world: From Waldenfels to Merleau-Ponty”. In: Research in Phenomenology 53 (2023)

This paper aims to lay out the main tenets of Bernhard Waldenfels’s analyses of the experience of the alien and to confront the philosophical thesis underwriting them with a central insight stemming from Merleau-Ponty’s late philosophy. In the first section, I reconstruct the outlines of the experience of the alien, as described by Waldenfels, and show that, on his account, this experience can function as a powerful impetus enabling us to call into question some of the most deeply held commitments of Western philosophical tradition: the sovereignty of the ego, the supremacy of order, the priority of the whole. In the second section, I show how a patient analysis of this experience compels us to undertake an inquiry concerning the “inter-world,” understood as the place of the encounter and the threshold of separation between the own and the alien. Finally, drawing on Merleau-Ponty’s alternative description of the “inter-world,” I maintain that Waldenfels’s account is insufficiently radical and show that the in-between realm cannot be assimilated to an interstice lodged between two insulated spheres. Rather, the “inter-world” should be conceived of as a shared dimension, subtending the partition between the spheres of ownness and alienness, as the one inclusive world.

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