Revisiting Husserl’s Concept of Leib Using Merleau‐Ponty’s Ontology

Southern Journal of Philosophy 59 (3):309-341 (2021)
  Copy   BIBTEX


This article reconsiders Husserl’s concept of Leib in light of Merleau‐Ponty’s interpretation of the human body as an ontologically significant phenomenon. I first analyze Husserl’s account of the body as a “two‐fold unity” and demonstrate the problematic nature of its four implications, namely, the ambiguous ontological status of the body as subject‐object, the view of “my body” as “my object,” the preconstitutive character of the unity of the body, and the restriction of the constitution of the body to touch alone. Building on this analysis, I explain how Merleau‐Ponty resolves the difficulties raised by Husserl’s account by reversing it. According to Merleau‐Ponty, “flesh” is not a two‐fold reality comprising subjective and objective aspects, but an ontological dimension from which these aspects can be abstracted through specific cognitive operations. Consequently, all subjective and objective aspects, even beyond the boundaries of one’s body, must be understood as founded in the indivisible unity of flesh. I argue that a thorough phenomenological description of the human body requires abandoning Husserl’s concept of Leib because it contributes to perpetuating subject‐object dualism. In contrast, Merleau‐Ponty’s notion of flesh reveals the circularity between subject and object and its general ontological significance.



External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Merleau-Ponty and the Order of the Earth.Frank Chouraqui - 2016 - Research in Phenomenology 46 (1):54-69.
Merleau-Ponty : Potenza Dell'istituzione.Enrica Lisciani-Petrini - 2019 - Discipline filosofiche. 29 (2):71-98.
Merleau-Ponty's Concept of Depth.Anthony J. Steinbock - 1987 - Philosophy Today 31 (4):336-351.
Visibility as the originating presence.Jan Halák - 2012 - Filosoficky Casopis 60 (5):667-684.
Image and Ontology in Merleau-Ponty.Trevor Perri - 2013 - Continental Philosophy Review 46 (1):75-97.


Added to PP

71 (#167,662)

6 months
23 (#45,256)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Jan Halák
Palacky University

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Phénoménologie de la Perception.M. Merleau-Ponty - 1949 - Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 5 (4):466-466.
Body Schema Dynamics in Merleau-Ponty.Jan Halák - 2021 - In Yochai Ataria, Shogo Tanaka & Shaun Gallagher (eds.), Body Schema and Body Image: New Directions. pp. 33-51.
The Body in Husserl and Merleau-Ponty.Taylor Carman - 1999 - Philosophical Topics 27 (2):205-226.

View all 20 references / Add more references