Chiasmi International

Volume 24, 2022

Thinking the Anthropocene Debate with Merleau-Ponty

Tristana Martin Rubio
Pages 219-239

On Aging: a Critical Phenomenology of Transitions

This article advances a critical phenomenology of the meaning of aging embodiment. Its broad aim is to profoundly challenge an idealized view of aging as foremost and fundamentally a natural or normative procession of “ready-made” stages pre-set “in” time (i.e., infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and “old age”) or pre-given units of time that unfurl along a timeline (i.e., chronological age), from past to present to future. Combining, defending, and adapting resources from Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception with a reading of the concept of institution (Stiftung) via the phenomenon of puberty in Institution and Passivity: Course Notes from the Collège de France (1954-1955) as well as insights from critical gerontology, I argue that the phenomenon of aging embodiment demands to be understood in terms of transitions, that is, as an intensive reorientation in relationality, sociality, and the style in which one has a past rather than as changes along a timeline.