Phenomenological Reviews

Book | Chapter



the reversibility thesis and the invisible

Anya Daly

pp. 87-137


What is at stake in the "invisible' is the imperative not only to explain how it is possible to relate interiority to exteriority beyond dualisms and monisms but also to ascertain the nature of interiority itself. What is it to be an interior being, an inner being, to be the interior of being? What is inner life?—thought, emotion, imagination, creativity, dreams and memory? Clearly, these capacities cannot exist independently of outer life, and equally outer life is always filtered through the lens of interiority; there is mutual determination. Given this mutual determination, we must ask at what point does freedom and, correlatively, responsibility become possible? Exteriority (in the guise of things, world and others) weighs heavily on the subject and conversely the subject, who is already burdened with a personal history, spins narratives and overlays each experience with memories, images, desires, hopes, fears and expectations. The self does not appear ex nihilo; rather it is a geographically, historically and culturally situated locus; an embodied, expressive, linguistic subject. "What is lived is lived-spoken' (VI:126, VI:167–168). And it is through expression, artistic and linguistic, that Merleau-Ponty seeks to further secure his non-dual ontology of interdependence. The final task inherited from the earlier work was to explain the relationship between the originary world and the cultural world and this he achieves in the reversibility which obtains between the Visible and the Invisible, which is, according to Merleau-Ponty, "the ultimate truth' (VI:155, VI:204).

Publication details

Published in:

Daly Anya (2016) Merleau-Ponty and the ethics of intersubjectivity. New York, Palgrave Macmillan.

Pages: 87-137

DOI: 10.1057/978-1-137-52744-8_4

Full citation:

Daly Anya (2016) Alterity: the reversibility thesis and the invisible, In: Merleau-Ponty and the ethics of intersubjectivity, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 87–137.