Recovering the Ground

Critical Exercises in Recollection

By William H. Poteat

Subjects: Phenomenology
Paperback : 9780791421321, 235 pages, September 1994
Hardcover : 9780791421314, 235 pages, October 1994

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Table of contents



Critical Exercises in Recollection

Appendix: For Whom is the Real Existence of Values a Problem: Or, an Attempt to Show That the Obvious is Plausible

Index of Names

Index of Subjects


This book sets forth an ontological Copernican revolution. By means of a critical phenomenology, it shifts the axis of reflection from the putatively bedrock dualisms in which philosophy was conceived, to our lively, intentional mindbodies that are ontologically antecedent to, beyond the grasp of, yet implicated in, all reflection.

In these exercises, reflection's center of gravity is shifted to our mindbodies, whose meditated whatness can be known in all of its forms of appearance—as material objects, organisms, makers, keepers and breakers of promises, husbands and wives, et cetera—and whose unmediated thisness everywhere importunately "shows itself. " From this seamless, ontological bedrock, all of our dualisms have been brought forth by reflection. They never cease to be founded there; in action they disappear there. How, on this new foundation, do 'reflection', 'interpretation', 'thinking', 'speaking', 'time', 'hope', and 'memory' come differently to do their work?

William H. Poteat is Emeritus Professor of Religion and Comparative Studies at Duke University. He is the author of Philosophical Daybook and Polanyian Meditations.


"The uniqueness of Poteat's method lies in the fact that Recovering the Ground is not about recovering the ground, it is an exercise in recovering the ground. The format of the daily entries makes for engaging reading on a deeply personal level, more like having a conversation than reading. The diary format carries with it a palpable sense of personal struggle. I might even say that the text of Recovering the Ground bespeaks spirit.

"With an uncommon tenacity, Poteat drives our imaginations to a re-collection of our own mindbodies, a recollection that brings with it both a radical critique of gnosticism and its remedy. " — Ronald L. Hall, Francis Marion University