Inheritance and legacy: a phenomenological exploration
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The aim of this dissertation is to analyze and discuss the individual experience of cultural legacy and inheritance, intended as the transmission of an immaterial product, from the perspective of continental philosophy, and especially through the lens of phenomenology. In particular, I discuss why the conventional way of approaching the matter in terms of tradition is unsatisfying when faced with the deeply personal nature of the Inheritance/Legacy phenomenon. I analyze the concept of `content' as the intellectual object to be transmitted and received in the process, and define it in terms of fragmentability and inclusiveness: what is the minimal notion that we can still inherit? What is the largest conglomerate of ideas that we can approach as one content? I introduce the fundamental notion of cultural density, as an alternative to culture in the discussion of the individual approach to contents. In particular, I define cultural density as the sum of all possible contents potentially available to an individual at any given time. Then, I move to the analysis of the moment of attention, as the locus of actualization of the contents, which are available in one's cultural density and, through attention, move into the interpretative space of inheritance. I also distinguish between attention and attentiveness. The core of my dissertation focuses in turn on Inheritance (the process of receiving a content from a previous author and making it ours) and Legacy (the creation of cultural contents in the perspective of a future receiver). I analyze their temporal relation and their complex interaction with our perception of time. I show how they are interconnected and how they both rely on narration (and specifically on self narration as a form of re-presentation) to be brought into actuality. Finally, I deal with their co-dependence and show how the reliance of Inheritance and Legacy on each other (with each needing the other to come first) gives rise to an apparent paradox. I suggest the notion of a saturated phenomenon (elaborated by Marion) to solve it, with an invitation to conceive the inconceivable (following Derrida and Levinas).