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"Phenomenology Is the Poetic Essence of Philosophy": Maurice Natanson on the Rule of Metaphor

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Taking Maurice Natanson's posthumously published book, The Erotic Bird: Phenomenology in Literature, as its point of departure, the essay argues that "fictive reality" is the specific content of transcendental-phenomenological reflection. Elaborating this concept allows us to see how phenomenological concepts such as constitution, horizon, and the "transcendental" have a tropological, rather than a psychological, meaning. Specifically, the article considers the metonymical structure of reality's "spatial horizon" and the metaphorical structure of reality's "temporal horizon." This latter is demonstrated on Natanson's analysis of Thomas Mann's concept of the "leitmotiv" in The Magic Mountain. The essay concludes by pointing toward the ontology of metaphor entailed by Natanson's analysis, while suggesting the difference between phenomenology, as the "poetic essence" of philosophy, and philosophy itself, as the categorial elaboration of what phenomenology uncovers.


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