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Does the reversibility thesis deliver all that Merleau-Ponty claims it can?


Daly, A, Does the reversibility thesis deliver all that Merleau-Ponty claims it can?, European Journal of Philosophy, 24, (1) pp. 159-186. ISSN 0966-8373 (2014) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

© 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

DOI: doi:10.1111/ejop.12086


Merleau-Ponty's reversibility thesis argues that self, other and world are inherently relational, interdependent at the level of ontology. What is at stake in the reversibility thesis is whether it overcomes skeptical objections in both assuring real communication and avoiding solipsism in assuring real difference; the Other must be a genuine, irreducible Other. It is objected that across the domains of reversibility, symmetry and reciprocity are not guaranteed. I argue that this is a non-problem; rather the potentialities for asymmetry and non reciprocity in fact guarantee the irreducibility of the Other; reversibility needs to be appreciated as dialectical or aesthetic, not as a literal or ‘mechanistic’ reversal. A further criticism targets the viability of ontology itself, whether alterity is ever compatible with ontology. This paper considers these objections from two of Merleau-Ponty's contemporaries—Claude Lefort and Emmanuel Levinas. Levinas developed a philosophy which while intersecting with Merleau-Ponty's at important junctures, nonetheless arrived at an entirely different destination. I argue alongside Martin Dillon against the objections of Lefort, and alongside Dan Zahavi against the objections of Levinas. Both of these interpreters, I propose remain faithful to the core directions and spirit of Merleau-Ponty's endeavours without becoming diverted by the less significant inconsistencies.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:phenomenology, perception, ontology, metaphysics, epistemology, interdependence
Research Division:Philosophy and Religious Studies
Research Group:Philosophy
Research Field:Phenomenology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in philosophy and religious studies
UTAS Author:Daly, A (Dr Anya Daly)
ID Code:148476
Year Published:2014
Web of Science® Times Cited:6
Deposited By:Philosophy and Gender Studies
Deposited On:2022-01-13
Last Modified:2022-03-09

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