University of Sussex
Levy, Patrick Simon Moffett.pdf (1.48 MB)
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Phenomenology and sleep

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posted on 2023-06-09, 04:11 authored by Patrick Simon Moffett Levy
This thesis identifies, in Nancy’s The Fall of Sleep, a crucial critique of phenomenology. A criticism that demarcates, or limits, phenomenology in declaring: “There is no phenomenology of sleep”. Taking-up this challenge, we consider a number of ways that phenomenologists have, and could, approach sleep. Our thesis, however, does not simply offer possible responses to the problem but also finds, in these answers, important insights into the essence of the charge itself. Sleep and phenomenology are found to be mutually de-limiting – each binds the other, whilst offering foundational insights into its counterpart. Fundamentally, we bring phenomenologies of sleep, as opposed to simply phenomenology, into dialogue with this, Nancean, critique of phenomenology and with Nancy’s account of sleep itself. We describe the distinctly different slumbering interpretations of sleep present, and conspicuously absent, in the work of: Husserl, Heidegger, and Levinas. Part I, after initially elaborating the challenge, presents a direct Husserlian counter, via a recent reconstituting of Husserl’s late notes on sleep. The strengths and weaknesses of this phenomenological investigation sharpens the problem of sleep and leads us to pull back from consciousness-centred accounts. Part II, in contrast, develops our own hypothetical Heideggerian answer. This Part, the longest, uses Heidegger’s existential and comparative analytics to ask ‘Does Dasein sleep?’ This question reveals internal ambiguities of sleep – positioned between existence, life, and death. Part III withdraws from Heideggerian thinking through Levinas’s incisive, and early, interpretation of sleep. This Levinasian retracting opens the possibility of returning to Nancy’s challenge and corresponding description of sleep. Now this radical account is located in relation to, and in communication with, the somnological-phenomenological findings we have awakened in our thesis. The thesis ends by indicating a possible, future, return back from sleep to phenomenology – a dream, still hazy from sleep, of a somnolent phenomenology.


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