Jean-Luc Marion

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What if, to envisage God, we did not have to wait for him within the horizon of Being, but rather transgress ourselves in risking to love love.

Jean-Luc Marion (born 3 July 1946) is a French postmodern philosopher.



God Without Being (1982)


Dieu sans l'être (1982), as translated by Thomas A. Carlson (University of Chicago Press: 1991)

  • Theological writing always transgresses itself, just as theological speech feeds on the silence in which, at last, it speaks correctly.
    • p. 1
  • What if God did not have first to be, since he loved us first, when we were not? And what if, to envisage him, we did not have to wait for him within the horizon of Being, but rather transgress ourselves in risking to love love.
    • p. 3
  • The icon and the idol determine two manners of being for beings, not two classes of beings.
    • p. 8
  • The idol depends on the gaze that it satisfies, since if the gaze did not desire to satisfy itself in the idol, the idol would have no dignity for it.
    • p. 10
  • The gaze strains itself to see the divine, to see it by taking it up into the field of the gazeable. The more powerfully the aim is deployed, the longer it sustains itself, the richer, more extensive and more sumptuous will appear the idol on which it will stop its gaze. ... In this stop, the gaze ceases to overshoot and transpierce itself, hence it ceases to transpierce visible things, in order to pause in the splendor of one of them.
    • p. 11
  • Any access to something like "God," precisely because of the aim of Being as such, will have to determine him in advance as a being. The precomprehension of "God" as being is self-evident to the point of exhausting in advance "God" as a question.
    • p. 43
  • Theism and atheism bear equally upon an idol. They remain enemies, but fraternal enemies, in a common and impassable idolatry. Of such idolatry Nietzsche gives the best and final illustration, by demonstrating in exemplary fashion the ... functions held by the idol...
    • p. 57 3. The Crossing of Being; 1. The Silence of the Idol

Rigor of Things: Conversations with Dan Arbib (2017)


La rigueur des choses: entretiens avec Dan Arbib (2012), translated by Christina M. Gschwandtner (Fordham University Press: 2017)

  • While one must have a capacity for admiration, one shouldn’t be deceived about when to invest it. Providence must take you under her wing, and you must allow her to take you. The luck I had, together with some others, was to allow ourselves to be shaped at the right moment and with good minds. After a certain time, one is less deceived because once one has encountered true masters, one notices the small or false masters immediately; one is no longer easily trapped. Obviously one can speak of graduate studies—or even high school, for this can begin very early—as the moment when we are given the chance to encounter a master.
    • p. 18
  • A great philosopher is always right and gives us to think even in what he does not manage to think, while a philosopher is limited to responding, hence to dissolving questions. There are three kinds of philosophers: those who do not respond to questions and hide them through ideology; those who respond to questions that they did not themselves raise and hope thus to clear up; and those who raise questions that no one ever thought of raising, insoluble questions that open the future. Descartes is one of these latter ones. That is why philosophy remains a continually open game.
    • p. 70
  • What one gives actually coincides only rarely with the thing itself whose ownership one transfers to someone else. Quite the opposite: The majority of the time the given thing remains the possibly expensive but often negligible token and sign of what one is really giving and what is not a thing. When I give my time, my life, my affection, my word, my loyalty, in short, my love, that is, the only things that we really would like to receive from the other, they precisely do not concern mundane things one could possess, stockpile, or keep in a box. Thus to mark these “nonthings” in phenomenality (such as time, love, one’s word, loyalty, etc.), I really do give them, [but] I give a different thing, actually a first thing, which serves as the pure and simple symbol for the nonthing that is actually given (a ring, a jewel, a certificate, a signature, etc.).
    • p. 81

The Erotic Phenomenon (2006)


Le phénomène érotique"' (2003), as translated by Stephen E. Lewis (University of Chicago Press: 2006)

  • To love requires loving without being able or willing to wait any longer to love perfectly, definitively, and forever. Loving demands that the first time already coincide with the last time. The dawn and the evening make one single twilight—the time to love does not last and is played out in an instant, a fragment, a single beat—only one heartbeat, the smallest gap, the articulum, separates us from eternity…. Death frightens the lover no more than the finish line terrorizes the runner: rather, he fears not reaching it quickly enough. Thus we have only one single instant at our disposal, one single atom of an instant, and it is now. Nunc est amandum, we must love now, now or never, now and forever. The instant is only given for that.
    • p. 112
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