SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.10 issue1Becoming "Member Enough": The experience of feelings of competence and incompetence in the process of becoming a professorA phenomenological study of ginger compress therapy for people with osteoarthritis author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand



Related links

  • On index processCited by Google
  • On index processSimilars in Google


Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology

On-line version ISSN 1445-7377
Print version ISSN 2079-7222

Indo-Pac. j. phenomenol. (Online) vol.10 n.1 Grahamstown May. 2010 

doi: 10.2989/ipjp.2010.


Living and learning as responsive authoring: Reflections on the feminist critiques of Merleau-Ponty's anonymous body



Ruyu Hung




Merleau-Ponty's idea of lived body has played a significant role in understanding self-construction and has raised issues about the relationships between the private sense and the public world. Merleau-Ponty argues that the lived body and the world are constructed reciprocally. This notion is acknowledged to be a rich source for feminist thought. Yet there is as much criticism as support of Merleau-Ponty's philosophy from feminists such as Grosz (1994, 1995), Sullivan (1997, 2000, 2001, 2002) and Young (1989). Shannon Sullivan vigorously criticises Merleau-Ponty's lived body as an anonymous body which erases particularities and results in domination. This paper defends Merleau-Ponty's notion by clarifying the meaning of anonymity in terms of the understanding of Merleau-Ponty's lived body as an "author", and as such as incorporating the capacity to resist anonymity, and sustain particularity and difference, through an ongoing process of authoring his/her own lived experience. Ken Plummer's notion of sexual story-telling is used to elaborate the elucidation. In conclusion, the educational implications of resisting anonymity are considered and envisaged in terms of promoting tolerance of difference and assertion of particularity by encouraging and developing the capacity to construct the self through an ongoing process of both responsive and responsible self-authoring.



“Full text available only in PDF format”




Butler, J. (1988). Performative acts and gender constitution: An essay in phenomenology and feminist theory. Theatre Journal, 40(4), 519-531.         [ Links ]

Butt, T. W., & Langdridge, D. (2003). The construction of self: The public reach into the private sphere. Sociology, 37(3), 477-493.         [ Links ]

Grosz, E. (1994). Volatile bodies: Toward a corporeal feminism. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.         [ Links ]

Grosz, E. (1995). Space, time and perversion: Essays on the Politics of Bodies. New York: Routledge.         [ Links ]

Hung, R. (2009). An authoring view of education through the exploration of conceptions of nature. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Bath, UK.         [ Links ]

Merleau-Ponty, M. (2003). Phenomenology of perception (C. Smith, Trans.). London, UK: Routledge & Kegan Paul. (Original work published 1945)        [ Links ]

Natanson, M. A. (1973). Phenomenology and the social sciences. In M. A. Natanson (Ed.), Phenomenology and the social sciences, Vol. I (pp. 3-46). Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.         [ Links ]

Plummer, K. (1995). Telling sexual stories: Power, change and social worlds. London, UK: Routledge.         [ Links ]

Schütz, A. (1962). Collected papers, Vol. I: The problem of social reality (M. A. Natanson, Ed.). The Hague, Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff.         [ Links ]

Stoller, S. (2000). Reflections on feminist Merleau-Ponty skepticism. Hypatia, 15(1), 175-182.         [ Links ]

Sullivan, S. (1997). Domination and dialogue in Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of perception. Hypatia, 12(1), 1-19.         [ Links ]

Sullivan, S. (2000). Feminism and phenomenology: A reply to Silvia Stoller. Hypatia, 15(1), 183-188.         [ Links ]

Sullivan, S. (2001). Living across and through skins: Transactional bodies, pragmatism and feminism. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.         [ Links ]

Sullivan, S. (2002). Pragmatist feminism as ecological ontology: Reflections on Living across and through skins. Hypatia, 17(4), 201-217.         [ Links ]

Young, I. M. (1989). Throwing like a girl: A phenomenology of feminine body comportment, motility, and spatiality. In J. Allen & I. M. Young (Eds.), The thinking muse: Feminism and modern French philosophy (pp. 51-70). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.         [ Links ]

Weiss, G. (2002). The anonymous intentions of transactional bodies. Hypatia, 17(4), 187-200.         [ Links ]



Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License