Another Review of Russon’s Infinite Phenomenology

As the Symposium open site: John Russon, Infinite Phenomenology – CSCP / SCPC. The reviewer, Timothy Brownlee, touches on what I took to be the most important part of the book:

Russon’s account of freedom presents one instance of this dynamic, and it is an appropriate one to consider with more care given the centrality of political questions to his book. On the one hand, Russon stresses that freedom involves the infinity of the subject, a sort of indeterminacy, a negative capacity not to be determined by anything external. On the other hand, this freedom is “a reality” only insofar as it comes to be “a fixed identity,” or to become a determinacy through engagement with the concrete institutions of what Hegel calls “ethicality.” (181–2) But the realization of freedom in a finite determinacy does not eliminate its infinitude, so that the experience of freedom is always one of the inadequacy of any fixed identity or institution. Russon argues that no theoretical “reconciliation” of this opposition is possible, and that we rather experience the demand for reconciliation as “a lived imperative.” (23) In the political case, the experience of freedom entails a demand for “multicultural dialogue,” for “a stance of infinite openness to the other,” in particular to the institutions that structure the social life of other peoples. (188) Russon’s Hegel, then, is ultimately a thinker of openness, not closure, and he contends that the practical and philosophical stances with which the text resolves, conscience and absolute knowing, both involve a practical commitment to reconcile the ineliminable but one-sided knowledge of the subject with “an infinity that exceeds us and claims us.” (21)