The Life-Idealism of Michel Henry

Steven Nemes


The purpose of the present essay is to exposit and interpret the principal contours of the phenomenology of Christianity proposed by Michel Henry in dialog with his theological critics. Against the claims commonly made about him, Henry is not a Gnostic of any sort: neither a monist, nor a dualist, nor a pantheist, nor a denier of faith, nor a world- or creation-denier or anything of the sort. He rather proposes a form of “life-idealism” according to which (i) life is the foundation of the possibility of the world, (ii) life assumes a visible, external representation (viz., the empirical body) in its activities in the world, and (iii) the meaning of the world is that it is the arena in which life pursues the goal of its own perfection and growth. Interpreted in this light, his thought is not Gnostic.


Michel Henry; Gnosticism; Christianity; Life-idealism; Phenomenology of Life;

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