Being Reconfigured presents some of the most brilliant and audacious theses in recent phenomenological research. Challenging so much post-Heideggerian doxa, it argues against contemporary phenomenology’s denegation of Being, but suggests, as well, that phenomenology itself can provide a viable and fruitful alternative to this impasse. Specifically, Being Reconfigured delineates the source of phenomenology’s ‘refusal’ of Being, in Husserl; the main strands it demonstrates, in Marion and Levinas; and the fundamental problems its entails—in Marion, the necessary retention of a ‘metaphysical’ subject, and in Levinas, the necessary revival of Kantian dualisms and diremptions. Beyond this critical survey, however, Leask also provides an alternative perspective, through a reassessment of Edith Stein’s ‘generous ontology.’ This reassessment involves: delineating Stein’s Patristic and Scholastic sources; amplifying her suggestions, through the work of Michel Henry, Merleau-Ponty and Levinas himself; and demonstrating the contemporary significance of Stein’s phenomenology of Being-sustained and Being-safe(ty). By considering Being in these Steinian terms of support, safety and charity, Leask concludes, we might begin to overcome the difficulties described in the book’s earlier chapters—and to do so by radically reassessing the ‘nature’ of the Being that we take for granted.
Ian Leask is Lecturer in Philosophy at the Mater Dei Institute, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland.