On the role of depersonalization in Merleau-Ponty

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 16 (2):275-289 (2017)
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This essay considers the role of depersonalization in the philosophy of Merleau-Ponty. While there has been a modest amount of interest in depersonalization from a phenomenological perspective, a critical exploration of the theme of depersonalization in Merleau-Ponty’s thinking itself remains overlooked ; Colombetti and Ratcliffe. This is an oddity, given that the theme of depersonalization proves instructive in Merleau-Ponty’s account of the constitution of the subject, and appears within Phenomenology of Perception at key points in his thinking. This paper serves as a critical exposition of the role of depersonalization in Merleau-Ponty’s thought. I proceed in three ways. In the first instance, I provide an overview of depersonalization, addressing its salient characteristics, which includes: a feeling of disturbed bodily subjectivity; a diminishment of affective feeling; and a corresponding and overarching sense of unreality, carrying with it a sense of estrangement. In the main part of the paper, I consider the articulation of depersonalization in Merleau-Ponty, especially as it figures in Phenomenology of Perception. My claim is that depersonalization can be best captured as an expression of Merleau-Ponty’s idea of ambiguity. I conclude by considering to what extent Merleau-Ponty’s account of depersonalization corresponds with the medical understanding of the condition.



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Dylan Trigg
University of Vienna

References found in this work

Phenomenology of perception.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 1945 - Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: The Humanities Press. Edited by Donald A. Landes.
How the Body Shapes the Mind.Shaun Gallagher - 2005 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK.
The Visible and the Invisible: Followed by Working Notes.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 1968 - Evanston [Ill.]: Northwestern University Press. Edited by Claude Lefort.
General Psychopathology.Karl Jaspers - 1913 - Johns Hopkins University Press.
How the Body Shapes the Mind.Shaun Gallagher - 2007 - Philosophy 82 (319):196-200.

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