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JJean-Luc Marion's theory of saturated phemena is one of the most exciting developments in phemelogy in recent decades. It opens up new possibilities for understanding phemena by beginning from rich and complex examples such as revelation and works of art. Rather than being curiosities or exceptions, these excessive or saturated phemena are, in Marion's view, paradigms. He understands more straightforward phemena, such as the objects of the natural sciences, as reduced and impoverished versions of the excess given in saturated phemena. Interpreting Excess is a systematic and comprehensive study of Marion's texts on saturated phemena and their place in his wider phemelogy of givenness, tracing both his theory and his examples across a wide range of texts spanning three decades. The author argues that a rich hermeneutics is implicit in Marion's examples of saturated phemena but is t set out in his theory. This hermeneutics makes clear that attempts to overthrow the much-criticized sovereignty of the Cartesian ego will remain unsuccessful if they simply reverse the subject-object relation by speaking of phemena imposing themselves with an overwhelming givenness on a recipient. Instead, phemena should be understood as appearing in a hermeneutic space already opened by a subject's active reception. Thus, a phemen's appearing depends t only on its givenness but also on the way it is interpreted by the receiving subject. All phemelogy is, therefore, necessarily hermeneutic. Interpreting Excess provides an indispensable guide for any study of Marion's saturated phemena. It is also a significant contribution to ongoing debates about philosophical ways of thinking about God, the relation between hermeneutics and phemelogy, and philosophy after the subject.
SHANE MACKINLAY is a Lecturer in Philosophy at Catholic Theological College (Melbourne College of Divinity).