Phenomenological Reviews

Book | Chapter



phenomenological, psychological and neuroscientific intersections

Anya Daly

pp. 173-221


In the previous four chapters, we have examined Merleau-Ponty's account of alterity in all its manifestations so as to lay the necessary philosophical groundwork for moving beyond epistemological considerations with regard to "the problem of the Other' towards ethical ones. The core claim defended was that despite differences across the various domains of alterity—alterity internal to the subject, alterity between the subject and the external world and alterity between subjects—there obtained a relation of reversibility which guaranteed both real connection and real difference, thereby overcoming sceptical objections and avoiding solipsism. I have demonstrated that objections to Merleau-Ponty's thesis of reversibility, as presented in the previous chapter, do not hit the mark in that these objections are based on misapprehensions of Merleau-Ponty's non-dualist ontology. Recent discoveries in psychology and neuroscience lend significant empirical support to this thesis of reversibility, revealing that we do in fact live in an interworld; rather than there being absolute disjunctions of interiorities and exteriorities, of self and Other, there are mirrorings, continuities and intertwinings and these are most clearly demonstrated in phenomena of mirror neurons. As Gallese writes: "The discovery of mirror neurons and of other mirroring mechanisms in the human brain shows that the very same neural substrates are activated when […] expressive acts are both executed and perceived. Thus, we have a neurally instantiated we-centric space' (Gallese 2010).

Publication details

Published in:

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

Pages: 173-221

DOI: 10.1057/978-1-137-52744-8_6

Full citation:

Daly Anya (2016) Intersubjectivity: phenomenological, psychological and neuroscientific intersections, In: Merleau-Ponty and the ethics of intersubjectivity, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 173–221.