“All things considered:” sensibility and ethics in the later Merleau-Ponty and Derrida

Continental Philosophy Review 42 (4):435-447 (2009)
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It is one of Jacques Derrida’s later texts, Le Toucher—Jean-Luc Nancy , wherein one finds his most sustained commentary on the philosophy of Maurice Merleau-Ponty. I argue that Derrida’s criticisms of Merleau-Ponty in this text conceal a significant proximity between his own elaboration of sensibility and that of Merleau-Ponty. Their respective accounts of sensibility are similar in two respects. Firstly, for them both, sensibility is born of a parsing of the self in a hiatus or interval that disrupts the movement of auto-affection. The self can only be known as such through this exposure to alterity. Secondly, this exposure and opening is in no way normative for either thinker, which is to say that their accounts of sensibility are similar not only in structure but also insofar as sensibility for them both is a non-normative opening to ethics; it is an elaboration of embodiment that provokes the question of response but no definitive or prescriptive answer. Hence the structure of sensibility begs the question of ethics, and the problem of response, but can provide little by way of a normative ethics.



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Ann V. Murphy
University of New Mexico

References found in this work

The Visible and the Invisible: Followed by Working Notes.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 1968 - Evanston [Ill.]: Northwestern University Press. Edited by Claude Lefort.
Signs.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 2018 - Chiasmi International 20:231-231.
Signs.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 1964 - Evanston, USA: Northwestern University Press.
Adieu to Emmanuel Levinas.Jacques Derrida - 1999 - Stanford University Press.

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