Reinan Ramos dos Santos

Master in Contemporary Philosophy at Panthéon-Sorbonne University under the supervision of Renaud Barbaras

Between literature and phenomenology in Saramago’s Blindness: on the possibility of an acoustic intersubjectivity

The main purpose of this lecture is to phenomenologically approach Saramago’s Essay on Blindness (1994) by following two aspects of this novel. The first one concerns its critique of light as a positive metaphor: in the Essay, Saramago draws the scenario in which a fictional epidemic of blindness by excess of light causes the collapse of modern social life’s reality. It is an opportunity for Saramago to criticize the western civilizational project conceived during the Enlightenment age and, at the same time, to develop a new interpretation of the concepts of “state of nature” and “social contract”, which lead us to the second aspect, that concerns Saramago’s conception of an acoustic intersubjectivity, certainly implicit, but present in the Essay. In our opinion, Saramago offers an original approach to the intersubjective phenomenon, which until then had always been understood through a subjectivist interpretation implicating a primacy of the visible. In the Essay, it is possible to think the manifestation of a common and anonymous reality, primarily constituted as audible and therefore spatial, which subsequently conditions subjective individuation and socialization. From a phenomenological and philosophical point of view, our goal is to measure the implications of this literary essay for the thought of intersubjectivity, taking seriously the reality that would result from it.