The Intercorporeal Self

Merleau-Ponty on Subjectivity

By Scott L. Marratto

Subjects: Phenomenology, Continental Philosophy, Cognitive Science, Philosophy, Analytical Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary French Thought
Paperback : 9781438442327, 254 pages, January 2013
Hardcover : 9781438442310, 254 pages, June 2012

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Table of contents

List of Abbreviations
1. Situation and the Embodied Mind
I. Mind, Self, World
Situated Cognition
II. Perception
III. Situated Subjectivity
2. Making Space
I. Subjectivity, Sensation, and Depth
Affordance Depth
Spectral Depth
Spatial ‘Levels’
Time, Space, and Sensation
The Depth of the Past
II. Learning
3. Subjectivity and the ‘Style’ of the World
I. The ‘Subject’ and the ‘World’ of Situated Cognition
Sensorimotor Laws
Sensorimotor Subjectivity
Ecological Laws
Ecological Subjectivity
II. Perception and Subjectivity beyond Metaphysics
4. Auto-affection and Alterity
I. Presence
The ‘Privilege’ of the Present
II. The Deconstruction of Presence
Derrida’s Appraisal of Husserl’s Phenomenology
Derrida on the Lived Body (‘Leib’; ‘le corps propre’)
Derrida’s Deconstruction of ‘Intercorporeity’
III. Auto-hetero-affection in Merleau-Ponty
Intercorporeity and Intersubjectivity
Body Schema
Auto-hetero-affection as the Advent of the Intercorporeal Body
5. Ipseity and Language
I. Language and Gesture
The Tacit Cogito
Perceptual Meaning and Natural Expression
The Paradox of Expression
II. Diacritical Intercorporeity
III. Expression and Subjectivity

An original interpretation of Merleau-Ponty on subjectivity, drawing from and challenging both the continental and analytic traditions.


Challenging a prevalent Western idea of the self as a discrete, interior consciousness, Scott L. Marratto argues instead that subjectivity is a characteristic of the living, expressive movement establishing a dynamic intertwining between a sentient body and its environment. He draws on the work of the French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty, contemporary European philosophy, and research in cognitive science and development to offer a compelling investigation into what it means to be a self.

Scott L. Marratto is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Michigan Technological University and the coauthor (with Lawrence E. Schmidt) of The End of Ethics in a Technological Society.


"…[an] excellent book … The Intercorporeal Self is a technically sophisticated and enriching work that engages with many interpretive strands and approaches in Merleau-Ponty scholarship, clarifying what is distinct and powerful about Merleau-Ponty's philosophy of subjectivity … [it] is a substantial contribution to Merleau-Ponty scholarship, and should inspire future research on Merleau-Ponty's rich corpus, as well as into the nature of sensibility and subjectivity themselves." — Symposium

"…a bold and brave attempt to provide a unified interpretation of the central themes of Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology, and as such it deserves to be welcomed and studied carefully by all those who value Merleau-Ponty's writings." — Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"The Intercorporeal Self amounts to a kind of dialectic between Merleau-Ponty's thought and naturalism as it functions within contemporary analytic thought and deconstruction as it appears in Derrida's thought. Marratto constructs argumentation that shows that Merleau-Ponty's thought cannot be reduced to naturalism and that it does not fall prey to the deconstructive critique. Consequently, Marratto, better than anyone else, shows the contribution that Merleau-Ponty makes to contemporary philosophy. This is an important book. I would even venture to say that it is a genuine work of philosophy." — Leonard Lawlor, Sparks Professor of Philosophy, Penn State University

"Marratto brings Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology into a mutually transformative dialogue with the latest trends in the embodied sciences of the mind. His book puts side by side notions of intercorporeality, habit, style, and auto-affection with Gestalt, ecological, sensorimotor, and enactive perspectives on perception and subjectivity. Marratto weaves together the threads of conceptual traditions that saw themselves as incompatible not so long ago. A significant contribution to current efforts toward reconceptualizing the lived body as the matrix of significance and expressive being-in-the-world, and subjectivity as self-affecting, self-initiated movement and intercorporeal attunement to the demands of other bodies." — Ezequiel A. Di Paolo, coeditor of Enaction: Toward a New Paradigm for Cognitive Science