Témoignages - Testimonies

Recueil de souvenirs, hommages et témoignages concernant la vie, l'oeuvre et les enseignements de Jacques Taminiaux (1928-2019), Professeur de philosophie à l'Université catholique de Louvain et au Boston College.

Amis, collègues, anciens étudiants et lecteurs sont aimablement invités à contribuer à ce recueil.  (Le formulaire se trouve au bas de la page. Les messages sont publiés dans les 48h)

Collection of memories, homages, and testimonies on the life, work, and teachings of Jacques Taminiaux (1928-2019), Professor of philosophy at the Université catholique de Louvain and Boston College.  

Friends, colleagues, former students, and readers are kindly invited to contribute to this collection. (Please enter your message at the bottom of the page. Messages are published within 48h)

 


Submitted on Thursday, juillet 18, 2019 - 18:20

Nom - Name: Mark Goodman
Témoignage - Testimony:

He was always seated at the front of the classroom in his blazer, the buttons
of his shirt cuffs undone, an ascot accentuating his distinctiveness.  He
would elucidate that day's text--its logic, influences and context--with a
clarity of expression that dispelled obscurities in the works of Arendt,
Merleau-Ponty, Levinas, Nietzsche, Heidegger and Husserl.   The meaning of
these texts became evident and urgent.   Jacques Taminiaux had mastered 20th
century phenomenology, and he was a significant participant in its history.

Professor Taminiaux directed my dissertation 20 years ago.  His attention to
my work felt like a privilege, and indeed it was.  A few years ago I visited
him at his home in the Belgian countryside.  We spoke about the hardships of
his youth when the Nazis invaded his country, his study of law, and his
recollections of Merleau-Ponty, Levinas and Arendt--the people, not the
texts.   I sent him a letter on his 90th birthday.  He replied with
characteristic graciousness and one final lesson: regarding our current
president, he noted, remember the banality of evil.

-Mark Goodman


Submitted on Thursday, juillet 18, 2019 - 19:58

Nom - Name: Etienne Pinat
Témoignage - Testimony:

En souvenir d'un grand lecteur de Heidegger.


Submitted on Thursday, juillet 18, 2019 - 18:24

Nom - Name: Françoise Dastur

(Texte d'un hommage rédigé par Françoise Dastur et lu au Symposium de Perugia pendant l'été 2019)

Jacques Taminiaux, né le 29 mai 1928, nous a quittés le 7 mai dernier, juste quelques jours avant son 91e anniversaire. Je ne rappellerai pas les nombreux travaux de ce grand professeur de l'Université de Louvain, qui enseigna également pendant de nombreuses années à Boston College, je voudrais juste souligner qu'ils furent dédiés non seulement à la phénoménologie, mais aussi à la philosophie de l'art et à la philosophie politique.

C'est plutôt aujourd'hui la figure de ce fidèle de la Casa del Sacro Cuore de Perugia que je voudrais évoquer. Il fut en effet, avec Sam IJsseling, de ceux qui participèrent au premier Collegium Phaenomenologicum organisé en 1976 par Werner Marx et Giuseppina Moneta qui eut d'abord lieu au monastère de Monteripido, puis puis à partir de 1980 à la Casa del Sacro Cuore, et il revient par la suite chaque année à Perugia. J'avais déjà eu l'occasion de le rencontrer à Louvain, mais c'est ici, où je vins pour la première fois en 1987, année où le Collegium était consacré à Derrida, que j'appris vraiment à la connaître. Sa haute silhouette, sa voix forte et surtout son rire, un rire proprement homérique, le distinguaient immédiatement à l'attention de tous.

J'avais lu tous les livres qu'il avait déjà publiés, mais c'est à sa thèse, La nostalgie de la Grèce à l'aube de l'idéalisme allemand, parue en 1967, qu'allait ma préférence, c'est son intérêt pour l'idéalisme allemand et la poésie de Hölderlin, autant que pour la pensée de Husserl et de Heidegger qui me décida à lui demander d'être le directeur de la thèse que je me proposais tardivement de soutenir.

Il accepta immédiatement et fut un grand soutien pour moi pendant les mois qui suivirent, car à cette époque soutenir une thèse dans un pays autre que celui où l'on avait été formé n'était pas évident. Il fallut en effet pas moins d'un an de démarches administratives pour que la soutenance puisse enfin être organisée à Louvain.

Je continuai par la suite à rencontrer Jacques Taminiaux presque tous les à la Casa, et cela pendant quelques années encore après la scission qui eut lieu avec le Collegium phaenomenologicum et la création en 1997 du Symposium, à laquelle il prit une part décisive.

Mais Jacques Taminiaux cessa bientôt de voyager, une mauvaise opération de la hanche lui ayant ôté une partie de sa mobilité, et je n'eus plus avec lui ces dernières années que des rapports épistolaires et téléphoniques. Je ne l'ai pas toujours suivi dans la lecture très critique qu'il fit de l'oeuvre et de la personne de Heidegger dans ses derniers travaux, mais j'ai toujours pu avoir jusqu'à la fin les échanges les plus cordiaux.

Un très important volume d'hommages lui avait déjà été dédié en 1989, auquel les philosophes les plus connus, de Derrida à Ricoeur et Patocka, avaient participé, mais il y a quelques années certains de ses anciens élèves de Louvain et Boston ont eu le désir de rendre hommage au penseur politique qu'était Jacques Taminiaux, dont le livre sans doute le plus connu, La fille de Thrace et le penseur professionnel. Arendt et Heidegger, avait paru en 1992. Ce volume d'essais écrits en l'honneur de Jacques Taminiaux auquel j'ai pu participer, a paru en 2017 sous le titre Phenomenology and the Primacy of the Political. Ce fut là pour nous l'occasion de saluer une dernière fois le professeur toujours prêt au dialogue et la figure majeure de la phénoménologie du XXe siècle qu'il fut.

Françoise Dastur

7 juillet 2019


Submitted on Saturday juillet 20, 2019 -- 2:30

Nom - Name: Veronique Fóti

Témoignage - Testimony:

Jacques Taminiaux was incomparably inspiring both as a teacher and through his books and articles, due to the way he combined philosophical scholarship with insight, speculative reach, and engagement with contemporary issues. I owe my own turn from scholarship in Continental Rationalism to (post)phenomenology to his inspiration, beginning with a graduate course I took with him at Boston College  on the concept of phenomenology in Hegel, Husserl, and, I believe, Heidegger. It was followed by other equally inspiring courses. Nonetheless, when I later told him that I transcribed the initial course almost verbatim, he replied  that maybe he didn't believe what he said then anymore. Most starkly, his change of perspective concerned Heidegger; and it is a change that I share without, however (and in this I also agree with him) simply jettisoning Heidegger's power of thought. I honor Jacques not only as a philosopher but also for his humanity, his political consciousness, and his continuing engagement with his former students, such as myself. It is an honor to be able to contribute these few words to his memory

Véronique M. Fóti, Ph.D

Professor of Philosophy, Emerita

Pennsylvania State University


Submitted on Saturday juillet 20, 2019 -- 10:04

Nom - Name: Jerome Kohn

Témoignage - Testimony:

(First published in the blog of the Hannah Arendt Center on the Medium, May 22)

I met Jacques Taminiaux in 1978 in Monteripido, where the Collegium Phenomenologicum gathered for six weeks in June and July. Monteripido is a Franciscan monastery — a calm and beautiful place — eight hundred years old, built in stone high above the fortress city of Perugia, Umbria, italy. It is the oldest Franciscan monastery after Assisi in which St. Francis lived and died. When the sky is clear one can see from Monteripido to Assisi.

Jacques had come to lecture on Heidegger’s The Origin of the Work of Art, which since then has played a decisive role in my attempt to understand the work of art. Artworks also, but the work of art more so. Not to answer the question “What is art?” but to experience wonder at what is revealed when art is made, and what it is that happens when the domain of art is preserved. Aside from sharing his thinking with us, Jacques was the most convivial of companions. The monastery had a fine kitchen from which local produce and wines arrived in abundance. We dined in the great refectory twice a day with the monks, splendid individuals, a number of whom traveled and taught, others gardened, sang, and painted. What they had in common was the absence of any need of any money at all. There was a handball court for those of us collegians who wished to exercise their bodies as well as their minds, according to the ancient Roman dictum.

Jacques had been one of Heidegger’s last students, and had marvelous stories to tell of the mutual “need” that related Heidegger to the French poet and resistance fighter René Char. But as the years progressed, Jacques moved closer to the thinking of Hannah Arendt. He likened her relationship with Heidegger to the laughter of the Thracian maid when her master, the philosopher Thales, gazing at the stars, tripped over his own feet and fell into a well. This is rather like Arendt herself when she saw in Heidegger the image of a fox that builds his own trap with such precision that he himself cannot escape from it.

Jacques and I met several times over the years, in Rome and Paris, Berlin, and New York. Those were highly anticipated occasions, for Jacques always arrived with something new to talk about and to reflect upon.

Dr. Jerome Kohn


Submitted on Monday juillet 22, 2019 -- 12:04

Nom - Name: Sylvain Camilleri

Témoignage - Testimony:

J’ai suivi mon premier cours sur Heidegger à l’Université de Montpellier en 2004. Il était dispensé par Marlène Zarader et consistait en une lecture suivie de L’origine de l’oeuvre d’art. Il comportait aussi un long excursus sur la question de l’outil dans Être et temps. C’est à cette occasion que j’ai découvert le texte limpide et tranchant des Lectures de l’ontologie fondamentale (1995). Depuis lors, Jacques Taminiaux est resté pour moi, avec Marlène Zarader — qui n’hésitait pas à citer et discuter respectueusement ses travaux deux ans plus tard dans un cours consacré au magnum opus de 1927, cours qui allait devenir l’excellent Lire Être et temps de Heidegger (2012) — le modèle absolu, alliant comme personne érudition instructive, clarté de l’expression et acuité des questions. Il fut pour beaucoup dans mon souhait de rejoindre Louvain en 2009, et d’ailleurs pour le tout jeune heideggérien que j’étais, il était presque Louvain à lui tout seul. Je n’ai pas osé le lui dire la première fois que je l'ai rencontré en personne peu après mon arrivée, en décembre 2009. Il avait été invité par la Société philosophique de Louvain à prononcer ce qui, de mémoire, fut sa dernière conférence en les murs de son Université. Lumineux, son exposé portait sur les problématiques abordées dans Maillons herméneutiques (2009), où il reprenait ses thèmes de prédilection, balayant toute l’histoire de la philosophie, à la lumière d’une nouvelle interprétation, critique, de la conception heideggérienne du cercle herméneutique. A la fin de sa conférence, je prenais mon courage à deux mains et allais me présenter. Je puis à peine lui dire comment je m’appelais et lui apprendre que je venais d’être nommé assistant à l’Institut supérieur de philosophie où je comptais poursuivre ma thèse sur la phénoménologie de la religion du jeune Heidegger commencée trois ans auparavant sous la direction unique de Marlène Zarader. A l’évocation de cette dernière ses yeux s’éclairèrent : il me demanda aussitôt de ses nouvelles, me dit tout le bien qu’il pensait d’elle, me confia qu’il était en train de lire avec beaucoup d’intérêt La patience de Némésis et m’invita à lui transmettre ses amitiés — ce que je fis par courriel le soir même. Je ne pouvais pas le déranger plus longtemps, et ne me sentais d’ailleurs pas la force émotionnelle de soutenir une conversation plus longue. J’eus la chance de le rencontrer à nouveau, assez récemment, dans un tout autre cadre. Mais je ne fus ni moins impressionné, ni moins mutique — ce que je regrette un peu maintenant qu’il nous a quittés. Quoi qu’il en soit je ne peux masquer ma fierté à l’idée de travailler depuis plusieurs années dans le Centre d’études phénoménologiques qu’il a fondé, tentant de suivre la ligne qu’il a tracée, et de donner aujourd'hui des cours qui furent les siens jadis. Il n’a jamais été et ne sera jamais question d’être à sa hauteur. Mais il suffit qu’il reste l’horizon, l’idée régulatrice, pour que l’envie de progresser demeure et que l’idée de philosopher continue de s’imposer d’elle-même. 

Sylvain Camilleri


Subit on: Monday juillet 22, 2019 -- 15:02 

Nom - Name: Rudolf Bernet
Témoignage - Testimony:

In memoriam Jacques Taminiaux (1928-2019)

The Belgian philosopher Jacques Taminiaux was born on May 29, 1928 in Seneffe and died on May 7, 2019 in his private home in Saint-Sauveur. He taught both at the Université Catholique de Louvain and at Boston College and was a member of the Académie Royale de Belgique. He also served as a visiting professor in numerous other universities and was awarded many honorary
distinctions, among which the prestigious Francqui price deserves to be especially mentioned. Jacques Taminiaux was also, almost from the beginning, intimately associated with the Husserl Archives in Leuven. First, as the editorial secretary of the collection Phaenomenologica, a task that he assumed with great dedication for almost his entire academic life. He reviewed an innumerable number of manuscripts and it belongs to his many merits to have overcome Van Breda’s hesitation to accept Levinas’ Totality and Infinity in the collection. Together with his friend Rudolf Boehm he made of the Husserl Archives what they are nowadays: an international centre of open and intensive phenomenological research with no claims to orthodoxy. It is no exaggeration to say that Taminiaux belongs to the very few philosophers who kept phenomenology alive up to this very day by opening new areas of research that the founding fathers had neglected or ignored. More even than phenomenological aesthetics, a phenomenology of politics, mainly inspired by the work of Hannah Arendt and Jan Patocka, would not be what it is today without Taminiaux. Second, when the old unitary university of Louvain split in two independent parts, he was quick to seize the chance to establish a sister Archive in Louvain-la-Neuve under the name of Centre d’études phénoménologiques (CEP). He remained its director until his retirement and was also the founding director of the journal Etudes phénoménologiques. It is mainly due to his open and friendly personality that the collaboration between our Husserl Archives and his CEP was, and still is carried out in such friendly and mutually profitable terms. 

Taminiaux was special and great both as a philosopher and as a man. As a philosopher who had studied in Paris and had written his doctoral dissertation on Bergson, his central and continuing interest in German philosophy made of him a unique figure in the landscape of French philosophy. With Husserl and especially Heidegger in his mind he turned to the study of German idealism. In a time when almost all French philosophers had their eyes fixed on the early philosophy of Hegel and its influence on Marx, Taminiaux investigated Kant’s Third Critique and what thinkers as Schiller and Hölderlin made of it. This research lead to the publication of what can still be considered as his opus magnum: La nostalgie de la Grèce à l’aube de l’idéalisme allemand. Kant et les Grecs dans l’itinéraire de Schiller, de Hölderlin et de Hegel (1967). Formerly Heideggerian to the bone, Taminiaux surprised many of his readers, students and friends when he made an unexpected conversion to Hannah Arendt in his La fille de Thrace et le penseur professionnel. Arendt et Heidegger (1992). But as his many other books show, even Taminiaux was unable to entirely overcome his fascination by Heidegger. Much of his later work, inspired by Hannah Arendt and his growing interest in political philosophy, can be seen as an attempt to beat Heidegger on his own grounds by proposing an alternative reading of Greek philosophy. Heidegger’s shadow also overcasts the many books Taminiaux kept writing on art, as can easily be noticed in his Le théâtre des philosophes. La tragédie, l’être, l’action (1995). This book deserves to be especially mentioned because it shows how Taminiaux attempted to bring his lifelong interest in both esthetics and politics to an unprecedented unity. Those who knew him personally were not surprised to see that such an improbable synthesis appealed more to irony than to a Hegelian Aufhebung. 

Is irony then the best way to characterize the man Jacques Taminiaux? I think humor is more suiting. Even more than Taminiaux himself laughing full heartedly, it is how he made diverse audiences endlessly laugh that I remember with the greatest delight. His manner of telling jokes and his brilliant imitations of preposterous people remain unforgettable. In good company and with the help of a glass of wine, the prestigious professor, adorned with the highest academic awards, turned to a simple and jovial man. A very seducing and handsome man, indeed, but even more a man gifted with a unique sense of cordial humanity that touched your heart. A man who all those who had the chance of meeting him and of listening to him will never forget. A great man and a great philosopher.

May Jacques Taminiaux rest in peace, fondly remembered by his many students in Belgium and in the US who, with strange necessity, sooner or later, all became his friends! A man and a teacher who has lastingly shaped their intellectual life and whom they remember in joy and gratitude.

Rudolf Bernet


Submitted on: Wednesday juillet 24, 2019 -- 15:42

Nom -- Name: Babette Babich

Témoignage - Testimony:

 

Hommage à Jacques Taminiaux

(Seneffe, Belgique, 29 mai 1928 – Saint-Sauveur, Belgique, 7 mai 2019)

Unquestionably one of the most genial, profound and rich, thinkers of the last century and not less to this day, Jacques Taminiaux took on the most challenging thinkers (Heidegger but also Kant and Schiller, Hegel, but also Plato, and not less Nietzsche, as well as Hölderlin and Arendt as well as Merleau-Ponty), writing on themes that ranged from metaphysics and the inception of German Idealism to phenomenology, where he always remained insightful, to art, where, perhaps, he had his heart.

You can, you should, google him. These are only personal reflections of a former student who admired him and who was, over many years — and at a great distance — his friend.

I asked him to supervise my thesis (I wrote on Nietzsche’s perspectival aesthetics of truth) although I knew full well that he would do no such thing. Taminiaux directed almost everyone’s thesis during my time at Boston College, so universally so, that there was a joke that Jacques would leave a page of yellow legal paper tacked to his office door over the summer, doctoral students: sign here. In turn, this meant that he was not present for the defense which led to terrible catastrophes as the reader in question was not exactly competent on the topic — Nietzsche, perspectivalism, aesthetics — and I have been traumatized ever since. None of that mattered: as Jacques asked his friend and colleague Richard Cobb-Stevens (with whom he lived in the charming woods of Carlisle when Jacques was in Boston), how it was that I managed such insights into, of all thinkers, Nietzsche? Now Nietzsche was not taught to students at the grad level at BC and American Nietzsches, adumbrated by Arthur Danto and John Wilcox et al., were not exactly the envy of the philosophical world. This practical detail did not mean I never took a Nietzsche seminar with Jacques, simply that one was never officially scheduled (one cannot trust records for this reason). Thus, my closest intellectual colleague early in grad school, Jim Chansky, who was then and still is ahead of me as well as being an enthusiastic fan of Schopenhauer (The Fourfold Root, which says a good deal about how serious Jim was) and whose own thesis, of course, Jacques directed, was able to persuade Jacques to offer us an independent reading seminar. We met every week (or every other week) and the experience was brilliant. I still have Jim’s copy of Nietzsche’s Ecce Homo, a detail I only realized when the cover fell off after many years of use: there was Jim’s name in Jim’s handwriting on the fly-leaf. I still have it and I still treasure Jacques’ surprise: it would be the only feedback he gave me on the thesis other than approving it.

Jacques’ sense of humour and urbanity stayed with one. He never stood on ceremony, he never needed to, the subtle move was his trademark. No bluster — he was not a theological superstar like Bernard Lonergan or Mary Daly for that matter and Hans-Georg Gadamer and William J. Richardson were both on the philosophical faculty along with Jacques — no appeal to the peanut gallery, a gesture that would not have been beneath the pedagogic and comradely gifts of his friend Richard Cobb-Stevens.

Many years later I saw a kind of tour-de-force presentation, a round-table assemblage of faculty members squaring off, one after another, to show their talents in the process. Jacques came last and quietly mopped the floor with everyone who had gone before, he was that good: there was no contest.

He wrote a letter for me when I thought that, following an ‘84 Fulbright in Tübingen (though I spent the Summer Semester, 1985 at the Freie Universität in Berlin), I should look at Nietzsche through a French lens and perhaps given my ongoing interest in science, work with Jean Ladrière (who had been a teacher of my undergrad teacher, the Belgian-Irish, Patrick Aidan Heelan, S.J.) and of course with Jacques himself in Louvain-la-Neuve, maybe there Jacques would be different or maybe one would never know because one wouldn’t get a grant to go, but, as I learned, a letter from Jacques was a slam dunk in Belgium and there I was. I never pressed him for anything more, silly as that seems now that I think about it. Before I went off to Germany for the first time, I had told him that I would take a small tour through France, Switzerland, and Italy, to see a bit of Europe before arriving in Göttingen to learn German, a project to which I dedicated eight weeks. Jacques nodded, never letting on what he thought of the idea of dedicating a whole two months to learning German, he mentioned the names of two wines when I said that I would first fly to Paris, and then travel south, I should see ‘Chateaux’ he said, and told me not to forget to get to know the white, important for a fan of the red, Sancerre and Vouvray. Wines of excellence, like Jacques, himself.

I dedicated precisely as much time to learning French. This was ill-advised: today, I read it easily and speak it too, to be sure, taking care with my articulation, but monstrously slowly. (French speakers can go out to shop and be back again before I am finished with a sentence.) My Belgian landlady, after I fled to Brussels because I could not stand living in Louvain-la-Neuve in university housing above La Crêperie Bretonne — no amount of Calva could change my views — used to talk in French in my presence, sure that I could not understand her, which, because I did, helped enormously in negotiating the rent and avoiding random charges.

Language mattered to Jacques, but he had both a beautiful sense of irony and no less pride in this. The point of irony concerned his Belgian French and he liked to tell the story of having been trapped in an airport in Canada, snowed in, and playing chess for hours with a French Canadian stranger who, as flights finally began to be called, while saying goodbye, asked him where he was from, Jacques told him where he was born, only to hear his erstwhile partner exclaim, with triumph: ‘I knew French was not your native language!’ The point of pride also concerned Belgium, famously, contestedly bilingual. I called Jacques in 1984 and spoke to him in the confused way one does at times on the telephone, from country to country, in German rather than English. I kept talking, fascinated: his German was brilliant. Later we joked about that but he told me that he was proud of knowing all the languages of Belgium, recounting his experience of the student ‘68 protests, when Flemish activists barred Francophone students and faculty, allowing only Flemish students and faculty access to the university, Jacques was stopped at the doors (this was Leuven), answered in Flemish and passed the barricade.

While I was learning French (one cannot count passing one’s grad exams in any language) in Tours, I came up to Brussels in the summer of 1985 (when I was not arguing with Jacob Taubes on his own trips between Berlin and Paris to see Derrida), having arranged, I forget if by letter or phone, an ‘official’ meeting with Jacques. Our first Belgian encounter was in the Grand-Place where I was overwhelmed both by the resplendence of the architecture: every tiny corner of every guild house roof was a miniature glory — and the heat. The summer was a sweltering one and I was, after a year in Germany, an old hand at dealing with the European lack of ice. No ice or at best a miniature ice-cube, homeopathic, a vanishing treasure. Were one to ask, avec des glaçons, s’il vous plaît? in general, such items, one would be informed, did not “exist.” The ontological challenge fascinated me as much as it fascinated most Anglophones, but a bit less because I rarely take ice. In this case, I skipped the effort and ordered a Chimay Bleue. In the middle of the day. Of course: Jacques was late. Of course: I had another.

I had never had a Chimay Bleue and it remains a favourite but it is also one of the strongest of the Chimay ales — two is too many. Jacques, being Belgian, took this without mentioning or seeming to notice it. Same diff when I invited him for dinner and made what is usually a wonderful combination of chicken and lemon and garlic and wine, but we talked too long, ruining the dish. I was beyond inconsolable: Jacques rescued the meal so brilliantly I could barely tell anything had gone wrong. Jacques could cook, as Richard who was also a good friend of mine, would always tell me, regaling me with stories of their dinners together, shopping together, and if Jacques liked a Boston or Concord restaurant, this would be a kind of culinary imprimatur.

There were also amusing details and crossed convictions. I arranged to have Jacques speak at the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Phenomenology one year, on which lecture (on Nietzsche and Heidegger and art) I happily volunteered to offer a commentary. The times allotted for papers were then still a respectable 45 minutes, commentaries were one third that, and so, meaning to be discrete, I wrote a short commentary, which I thought, counting time for his response, would leave abundant time for questions from the audience. Jacques, being European, and old school and correcting the translation of his text as he read, and adding glosses between the lines as he did, spoke for an hour and 45 minutes: these were the glory days of Derrida and his 3-hour lectures. After the first hour, I began to cut my commentary, first by two pages (shaving five minutes, a page is two and a half minutes) then another two, another, another five minutes, and just little remained. When he finished, I found myself saying that I would skip the commentary, noting that we had fifteen minutes for questions for the speaker. There should always be questions.

As journal editor, I could also publish Jacques’ lecture in New Nietzsche Studies: “On Heidegger’s Interpretation of Nietzsche’s Will to Power as Art,” [nota bene, open access!] and the essay remains as timely as ever for Heidegger and for Nietzsche scholarship — I cite it routinely and often recommend it to students. In fact, and this is part of the legacy of a teacher, recommending Jacques’ work has been a constant in my own graduate teaching, as Jacques’s work is consistently valuable. For a recent and timely example, see “The Platonic Roots of Heidegger’s Political Thought” in the course of which Taminiaux also recalls his own experience with Heidegger in Zähringen.

More recently still I began a course I taught the Presocratics/Preplatonics, as Jacques did, albeit with a contemporary juxtaposition, via Hannah Arendt, via Thales. Among recommended secondary readings, on a blog for the course, I posted Jacques’ chapter: “The History of an Irony.” This is the introduction to Jacques’ 1998 book, The Thracian Maid and the Professional Thinker, originally published as La fille de Thrace et la penseur professionnel. Arendt et Heidegger (Paris: Payot, 1992).

Later we would meet again, most recently in Brussels, but because of his friendship with Richard Cobb-Stevens (Richard and I were very good friends), I always felt closely connected to Jacques, closer than our actual encounters justified, even if Richard never hosted us together — Richard liked to keep his friends as separate as red and white wines. Thus, despite Bill Richardson’s sorrow at never getting a chance to socialize with Jacques, Richard kept his friends in distinct circles, this may have been a leftover of his clerical origins, it is not clear. I am sure that Jacques missed this as well, and I recommend the positively illuminating interview which Niall Keane conducted with Jacques [“Interview with Jacques Taminiaux,” The Leuven Philosophy Newsletter, 12 (2003): 18-24 ], brilliant and wonderful and in which Jacques regrets, what else? not having had the chance to socialize with Bill. There are hits and there are misses in a life, simple chances. For me, when I was asked to write for Jacques’ Festschrift, (well-deserved and certainly long over-due) organized by Véronique Fóti and Pavlos Kontos, [Phenomenology and the Primacy of the Political: Essays in Honor of Jacques Taminiaux (Frankfurt am Main: Springer, 2017)]. I sent not an essay on some personal focus of my own (I admired Jacques too much for that) but an essay composed on questions that interested him, taking up his work and some of his themes with respect to a philosopher he often wrote on in the constellation that matched the breadth of Jacques’ mind: “On Merleau-Ponty’s Crystal Lamellae: Aesthetic Feeling, Anger, and Politics.”

I got a last email (as it would turn out), from Jacques who wrote to me to say, I am quite sure he said this to everyone, he was very well-brought up, that he found my essay one of the best in the collection, that he was grateful for what I wrote about his work, etc. So as not to break the spell, I never wrote back, but read the email again from time to time. This was silly, but I had, after all, already told Richard, who, best as he could, told me that he told Jacques.

The rest is gratitude.

— Babette Babich


Submitted on: Sunday 27 juillet 2019 -- 06:08 

Nom - Name: Gilbert Gérard

Témoignage - Testimony:

Jacques Taminiaux a enseigné à des générations d'étudiants -- dont la mienne -- ce que signifie lire un texte philosophique, exercice en apparence simple et banal, mais dont il montrait toute la complexité et la subtilité. Je pense que l'on peut dire que son approche était en la matière proprement phénoménologique par son attention portée à la chose même et son souci d'en manifester toute la profondeur. Il ne pratiquait que les grands textes et s'employait à en révéler la richesse en combinant dans la lecture qu'il en faisait la plus grande rigueur - la plus stricte fidélité à sa lettre - et la plus noble inventivité. Sa conviction, telle du moins que je l'ai comprise, était que c'est en allant jusqu'au bout de la lettre d'un texte qu'on en découvre l'esprit et que celui-ci, si encore une fois il s'agit d'un grand texte, nous force à son tour à être créatifs, c'est-à-dire à prendre le risque de l'interprétation,  mais une interprétation qui n'a dès lors rien d'arbitraire, qui ne survole la matérialité de la lettre, mais qui s'enracine dans son épaisseur. En d'autres mots, ce que Jacques Taminiaux nous apprenait, c'est que la véritable vertu d'un texte n'est pas celle, contraignante, qui nous enjoint à le répéter servilement, mais bien celle libératrice qui nous pousse  à ouvrir, à partir de lui et dans la mesure de nos capacités, un avenir. Par là, il restituait à la lecture des textes toute son importance, cruciale dans la pratique philosophique, montrant en particulier que ce n'est pas en tournant le dos au passé et à la tradition qu'on innove, mais en y puisant, par un véritable effort de pensée, les ressources de voies nouvelles et fécondes. De cela, nous ne pouvons que lui être profondément reconnaissants en espérant avoir pu nous montrer dignes de la haute exigence à laquelle il nous convoquait.

Gilbert Gérard


Submitted on: Thursday août 8, 2019 -- 10:12

Nom -- Name: Bernard Stevens

Témoignage - Testimony:

Dans le souvenir de Jacques Taminiaux

        Avant l’œuvre écrite, c’est le succès professoral de Jacques Taminiaux qui a marqué des générations d’étudiants. La tentation est forte de dire de lui ce qu’affirmait en 1969 Hannah Arendt à propos de Martin Heidegger à l’occasion de ses quatre-vingt ans : qu’il était « le roi secret » dans le royaume du penser, transmettant ce dernier  au fil de séminaires et de cours qui « traitaient de textes universellement connus, (…) ne contenaient aucune doctrine qu’on aurait pu rendre et transmettre ». La nouvelle de cet enseignement se répandait à travers le pays, disant tout simplement : par-delà toute érudition universitaire, par-delà tout commentaire historisant sur des auteurs, « la pensée est redevenue vivante, il fait parler des trésors culturels du passé qu’on croyait morts et voici qu’ils proposent des choses tout autres que cela que l’on pensait inchoativement. Il y a un maître ; on peut peut-être apprendre à penser ».
        Mais l’enseignement de Jacques Taminiaux était à la fois plus restreint que celui de Heidegger, ne couvrant que l’époque moderne et contemporaine, et plus large : la pensée politique y tenait une place importante, alors qu’elle était totalement absente de l’enseignement heideggérien (malgré des opinions politiques, parfois douteuses, comme chacun sait). Taminiaux nous apprenait à comprendre l’essence du politique en nous en montrant la généalogie, au point de nous aider à penser plus clairement des opinions politiques qui pouvaient aller à l’encontre des siennes. Penseur autonome, il avait l’audace de ne pas se laisser restreindre par le politiquement correct, et nous encourageait à nous forger des opinions fondées et argumentées qu’il écoutait alors dans un mixte d’indulgence et d’esprit critique sans concession.
        Ce qui caractérisait encore l’enseignement de Jacques Taminiaux, c’était la séduction du personnage, voire son caractère envoûtant : bel homme, avec un regard pénétrant qu’il posait régulièrement sur son public, dans un parler légèrement hautain et la tonalité si particulière de la voix — au point que certains cherchaient à reproduire celle-ci dans leur propres exposés, espérant sans doute que le fond suive la forme. Sa personnalité était en effet si forte et attachante, littéralement, qu’elle poussa beaucoup davantage à l’imitation ou à la poursuite du même qu’à l’autonomie et l’application de son mode de pensée à d’autres régions ou registres de la réflexion. Mais il y eut des exceptions, comme si une part de son audace et de son indépendance d’esprit avait été néanmoins transmise.
        Familier de son enseignement, on ne pouvait pas ne pas également lire ses ouvrages. Et là on avançait d’un pas encore dans la réflexion, devenue cette fois plus personnelle. J’aurais tendance à répéter ce que j’écrivais à son propos en 1989 : « le leitmotiv qui traverse avec une insistance lancinante les principaux ouvrages de Jacques Taminiaux — La Nostalgie, Le regard et l’excédent, Recoupements — porte sur l’antithèse ou la tension, faite d’une relation ambiguë d’opposition irréductible et de quasi-coïncidence, entre l’ambition totalisante de la
dialectique spéculative et la méditation prudente de la présence finie ». Ses travaux interrogeaient toujours à nouveau l’idéalisme allemand, dans son rapport à Kant et aux Grecs, au fil de sa structuration entre une visée de la convergence absolue de la nature et de la liberté et un consentement à la finitude. Cette interrogation se produisait à la lumière de la phénoménologie herméneutique heideggérienne ainsi que du jugement prudentiel au sein de l’indétermination des affaires humaines: la phronésis aristotélicienne, si bien remise en lumière par Hannah Arendt. Dans des écrits agréables à lire, rendant accessibles les textes les plus obscurs de la tradition moderne, avec une clarté  ricœurienne et une subtilité derridienne, Taminiaux proposait des perspectives variées sur ce paradoxe de l’idéalisme allemand jusqu’à Heidegger compris et  ainsi que de toute la modernité jusqu’au néo-libéralisme : « qu’il est propre à la finitude de pouvoir se recouvrir là où s’en trouve l’aveu le plus ferme, et inversement de s’annoncer là où  semble régner son désaveu le plus insouciant ».
        Un dernier mot. Sur l’homme. Il était distant avec ses étudiant, et avare en compliments ou encouragements, mais néanmoins capable de paroles et de gestes forts lorsque, précisément, le découragement ou le doute guettaient. Et lorsqu’il vous disait de « tenir bon », c’était presqu’un ordre et l’hésitation se dissipait. C’était finalement une forme d’amitié que l’on ressentait de sa part, une philia, discrète, mais forte et loyale, suscitant la réciprocité.

Bernard STEVENS
Eté 2019        


 

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