Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Denis Savage

Second Advisor

Francis C. Wade


The posthumously published writings of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible, have mainly gone unresearched by commentators of his philosophy. The reasons for this neglect reside in the writings themselves: they are incomplete; half the book is composed of working notes, which the author jotted down for himself, and not for a reading audience; and a new terminology emerges, which makes the writings more difficult to interprete. It was within the stubborn opacity and ambiguity of The Visible and the Invisible that I discovered a new meaning of subjectivity and a solution to the difficulties, which constantly arose when studying subjectivity from the viewpoint of Merleau-Ponty's early works. Once I found Merleau-Ponty's own self-criticism of his early works, and his declaration that subjectivity can be understood only in the light of his philosophy of vision and the visible 9which emerges in his later thought), I realized the new framework within which Merleau-Ponty was writing. The philosophy of vision and the visible is a monistic doctrine, in which realty is explained in terms of the notion of "flesh" and its ultimate principle, "reversibility." At this point, it was necessary to reconstruct this new philosophical doctrine, and in this way expose Merleau-Ponty's meaning of subjectivity.



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