Sketch of a Phenomenological Concept of Sacrifice

May 29, 2008
University of Chicago
5801 S Ellis Ave
Chicago, IL 60637
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Jean-Luc MarionUniversity of Chicago

In this lecture, Jean-Luc Marion advances a phenomenological notion of sacrifice that is distinct from the notion of sacrifice typically discussed in Sociology or even Religious Studies. He argues that sacrifice restores the gift from the side of the givee, much as he has argued previously that forgiveness restores the gift from the side of the giver. He develops both notions within the framework of a phenomenology of givenness, advancing the thesis that sacrifice requires neither destruction, nor restitution, nor even exchange, and still less contract. Sacrifice surpasses all this because sacrifice does not arise as an economic notion (one that would make an economy of the gift), but rather from the gift itself. The function of sacrifice is only to permit acknowledgment of the giver and thereby the entire process of givenness, by reducing the given. 

Jean-Luc Marion is the Thomas Greeley and Grace McNichols Greeley Professor of Catholic Studies and Professor of the Philosophy of Religions and Theology and professor in the Committee on Social Thought and the Department of Philosophy at the University of Chicago, and holds the Dominique Dubarle chair at the Institut Catholique de Paris. He is also Professor Emeritus of Modern Philosophy and Metaphysics at the University of Paris IV (Sorbonne) and is a member of the Académie Française. Among his books are In the Self’s Place: The Approach of Saint Augustine, God Without Being, and The Erotic Phenomenon. In 2014 he delivered the Gifford Lectures on Givenness and Revelation.