Volume 12, 2012
Possibilities of Embodiment
Corps animal et corps humain
l’« eff acement » de la propriété. À la naissance de l’institution chez Merleau-Ponty
The purpose of this article is to show that in Merleau-Ponty’s lesser known works, one can find a path leading toward a phenomenology of the body that would not risk the “ambiguity of the flesh,” as The Visible and the Invisible is often charged with, but instead would sustain the ontology of nature that one finds in the “Working Notes” added to Merleau-Ponty’s last writings. Analyzing first his concept of nature, as it was developed in his courses at the Collège de France, the proposed aim of this text is to question anthropological difference by focusing on Merleau-Ponty’s interpretation of the contemporary sciences, whereby the Ineinander between the physical, living, and human orders is re-founded by a new, negative concept of nature. By deconstructing classical ontology and its understanding of space, time, and objectivity, and by returning to the domain of perception, this new concept offers a novel way to reveal the advent of life in nature, its institution, and the emergence of a new corporeity in life itself. The model of Merleau-Ponty’s essential concept of institution becomes birth, and therefore the human body will no longer be interpreted as “one’s own body,” but rather will be understood, in a radically a-subjective way, as from, and based on, the participation of our perception with animality. Thereby, the concept of “ownness” becomes secondary; however, the notion of institution, established against the lexicon of consciousness and subjectivity, opens another sense of anthropological difference, one that is based only on the experiences of corporeity.