Reflections on feminist Merleau-ponty skepticism

Hypatia 15 (1):175-182 (2000)
Abstract
: Shannon Sullivan's critique of Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception is based on the argument that, due to his concept of the "anonymous body," his theory of intersubjectivity omits the particularities of bodies, such as gender. I argue that Merleau-Ponty's "anonymous body" (le corps phénoménal) is not in fact "neutral" as Sullivan suggests, and moreover that he does not ignore differences but rather provides us with the idea of difference as a process of differentiation. Additionally, I argue that Sullivan's concept of "hypothetical construction," which is introduced as an alternative to Merleau-Ponty, turns out to be a conscious construction, not reflecting upon its very conditions. Thus, Sullivan's account fails by presupposing what in fact needs to be explained: the particularities
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