Volume 12, 2012
Possibilities of Embodiment
Body and World in Merleau-Ponty and Deleuze
To compare Merleau-Ponty’s and Deleuze’s phenomenal bodies, I first examine how for Merleau-Ponty phenomena appear on the basis of three levels of integration: 1) between the parts of the world, 2) between the parts of the body, and 3) between the body and its world. I contest that Deleuze’s attacks on phenomenology can be seen as constructive critiques rather than as being expressions of an anti-phenomenological position. By building from Deleuze’s definition of the phenomenon and from his more phenomenologically relevant writings, we find that phenomena for him are given to the body under exactly the opposite conditions as for Merleau-Ponty, namely that 1) the world’s differences 2) appear to a disordered body that 3) comes into shocking affective contact with its surroundings. I argue that a Deleuzian theory of bodily-given phenomena is better suited than Merleau-Ponty’s model in the task of accounting for the intensity of phenomenal appearings.