The Philosophical Subject in the Max Frisch’s Trilogy: No Country for The Self

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: PhD student of the Faculty of Humanities, School of Philosophy
Affiliation: National Research University Higher School of Economics
Address: 20 Myasnitskaya St., Moscow 101000, Russian Federation
Journal nameChelovek
EditionVolume 31 Issue №1

This paper deals with the problem of the subject — the crucial task here consists in making compatible the idea of an ineffable, transcendental I with the fact of the empirical subject (in its embodiment, character, etc.). In order to retain the transcendental I, it always had to sacrifice its inseparable connection with the empirical I. Another strategy would be to sacrifice the I — but in that case, the philosophical subject ends up a combination of psychophysical mechanisms. An attempt to overcome these extremes by way of revising the methodological assumptions was undertaken in the 20th century within the framework of narrative ontologies. Swiss writer Max Frisch is close to this tradition. Remarkably, his novels (“Homo Faber”, “A Wilderness of Mirrors” and “I'm Not Stiller”) may offer a key to resolving this central philosophical mystery. It would not, however, be a properly philosophical reading or philosophical interpretation if one were simply to re-read the trilogy. I will approach it through the concept of the “Mask,” grasped as the way of being of the philosophical subject. The mask hides the ineffable I underneath it — but its form also allows to account for the empirical subject, without thereby falling into contradiction: the internal I shapes the external relief of the mask, whereas this external side, in its immediate contact with the world, in turn affects the I. In other words, the mask retains the transcendental I, but also leaves intact the “living” subject, with all the intricacies of its internal, spiritual life.

Keywordssubject, the problem of the Self, Max Frisch, Mask, reflection
Publication date30.03.2020
Number of characters42728
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