Merleau-Ponty's Theory of Intentionality in the "Phenomenology of Perception" and its Logical Development From Husserl and Heidegger

Dissertation, University of Toronto (1992)

Abstract
The point of my dissertation is to arrive at a comprehensive understanding of Merleau-Ponty's theory of intentionality as it is presented in the Phenomenology of Perception. I will do this in two major ways. ;First, I will situate Merleau-Ponty's theory of intentionality within its philosophical context by showing that it is the end result of a logical development of intentionality from Husserl and Heidegger. I argue that the philosophical problem of immanence and transcendence is the primary catalyst in the development of intentionality from Husserl to Heidegger to Merleau-Ponty. Husserl claims that immanence and transcendence can be defined in intentional terms. Heidegger argues, on the other hand, that intentionality is ontologically grounded in Dasein's transcendence and that there is no immanent realm of consciousness, including a pure ego. Merleau-Ponty argues that Heidegger's transcendence is a form of intentionality, albeit a different form of intentionality from Husserl's classical conception of intentionality as expressed in the Ideas. Merleau-Ponty's ontological structure of pre-objective intentionality correlates the human body with the natural world, in which the human body is a synergic totality teleologically directed towards the world. ;Second, I will present a critical evaluation of Merleau-Ponty's theory of intentionality as it is presented in the Phenomenology of Perception as well as a detailed study of the secondary literature. While Merleau-Ponty's theory of intentionality as presented in the Phenomenology of Perception may be original and innovative, Merleau-Ponty fails to overcome traditional subject-object distinctions. His attempt in the Phenomenology of Perception to show that there is an underlying or implicit unity of subject and object falls short of demonstrating full reciprocity or reversibility between the two moments
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