Reversibility and intersubjectivity in Merleau-Ponty's ontology
MetadataShow full item record
In this essay I wish to examine critically Merleau-Ponty's treatment of relations with others in the light of his ontology of the flesh. I shall argue that the uniform character of the flesh and of its dynamic principle, reversibility leads to a reduction of the inter-subjective experience of the body manifest in an encounter with another embodied person, to a form of reflexivity operative within the body proper (le corps propre). The mechanics of the process by means of which the reduction is effectuated are the following: a specific, intra-subjective experience of the body is taken as a paradigm for relations to other embodied subjects. Simultaneously, its peculiar character is effaced for the sake of producing a single explanatory theory of the flesh. Deprived of its concrete specificity, the experience of one's own body comes to provide the standard norm for intersubjective or intercorporeal relations. These appear as a mere variant of the general schema, a "special case" contained in the universal dynamic of the flesh and subsumed under the heading of bodily reversibility. As a result, the peculiarities of intersubjective as well as intrasubjective lived experiences of the body are bracketed and a single category of reflexivity is applied to auto and hetero-relations alike.