Date of Award

Fall 2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Vandevelde, Pol

Second Advisor

Watson, Stephen

Third Advisor

Tallon, Andrew


This dissertation deals with Merleau-Ponty's critical transformation of Husserl's phenomenology through a rethinking of the concept of "nature," which Husserl, Merleau-Ponty argues, fails to integrate or explain successfully in his philosophical system. The first chapter reconstructs Husserl's "transcendental-phenomenological" project in Ideas I, while the second widens the investigation to cover the ontologically-centered Ideas II and III. In my third chapter, I chart what I call Merleau-Ponty's "organic appropriation" of Husserl and the unique hermeneutical challenges it poses. Here the ambiguity of Ideas II, which both grounds subjectivity in the lived body and separates nature from "spirit" (Geist), plays a crucial role. The fourth chapter concentrates on the Merleau-Ponty's later meditations on the ontology of nature and subjectivity, particularly in his recently translated Nature lectures of 1959-61. Finally, the fifth chapter compares and contrasts Husserl and Merleau-Ponty, in terms of both substance and method, through a detailed examination of their different notions of (and ways to address) "paradox." I show how Merleau-Ponty's "paradoxical" thinking stems not from chance or mere temperament but a fundamental, systematic commitment to the self-contradictory (or "dialectical," but in a modified sense) nature of being and truth themselves.

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