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

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

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.

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Jan Halák
Palacky University

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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.

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