Daniel Neumann (Bio)

‘Being tied to experience’: towards a subjective account of the phenomenology of the event

In phenomenology, specifically inspired by Heidegger, an event concerns the ontology of experience. It is not merely an occurrence in my world, but the point from which my world is constituted. Thus, I am not surprised by an event as some unexpected facet appearing in an otherwise familiar world. Instead, the fact of its emergence is what reorders and centers my world anew. The event does not concern any ontic reality, but the coming about of reality, the presence and ‘presencing’ of being itself. The problem here is that one cannot describe the coming about of this event as experience. Since the event plays an originary role in my experience, I cannot address the event as an aspect of it, which is why Heidegger’s event has been linked to a ‘phenomenology of the inapparent’. To be able to describe the event as the experience of the ontological coming about of reality, I propose considering the idea of a receptivity to the event. This way, the event is neither simply conditioned by subjectivity, nor is it some kind of exterior force. Rather, I want to argue that the event basically presents me with an involuntary aspect of my experience. While the appearance of things is grasped by me as a subject, consciously experiencing them and being able to reflect on them, at the same time the appearing of that appearance confronts me with the fact of having experiences. The event ‘ties me to my experiencing’, showcasing how my receptivity is activity and passivity at the same time. While I am receptive to having experiences and to freely considering them, on a more basic level, receptivity does not put me in a position where I ‘possess’ the contents of my experience, but where I experience them necessarily, resulting in their event-like character.