oa Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology - Living and learning as responsive authoring : reflections on the feminist critiques of Merleau-Ponty's anonymous body

Volume 10, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1445-7377



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.

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