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Chiasmi International

Volume 22, 2020

Mirrors and Other Technologies

Juho Hotanen
Pages 87-100

“Self-Affection” and “Temporal Thickness” in Phenomenology of Perception

In the “Temporality” chapter of Phenomenology of Perception, Merleau-Ponty refers to the Kantian notion of “self-affection.” The subject has an affective self-relation through time because the subject is of time. Merleau-Ponty shows that it is crucial that self-affection is not understood as an immediate self-coincidence. According to him, the idea of an immediate self-possession renders self-relation impossible. Instead, temporal self-relation should be understood as a paradox of connection and difference: the contact of the self to itself always also implies distance. The temporal subject is not transparent to itself but has a connection to its past and its future through the temporal thickness of the present.