The Lived Body as Pre-Reflective Consciousness: Merleau-Ponty on the Cogito

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In this paper, I sketch out Merleau-Ponty’s theory of subjectivity as it is presented in the Phenomenology of Perception. I will start by showing that Merleau-Ponty’s theory presupposes Sartre’s notion of consciousness as anonymous and pre-reflective. Merleau-Ponty takes up these features and embeds them in the lived body. The result is Merleau-Ponty’s notion of the "tacit cogito" as pre-reflective subjectivity, always presupposed in our everyday embodied engagement with the world and in every explicit reflexive grasp of ourselves as such. Further, I show that the outcome of reflection, the “spoken cogito”, presupposes linguistic ability and thus the expressive power of the body. In the end I argue that, contrary to Sartre, who viewed pre-reflective consciousness as a nothing, for Merleau-Ponty the lived body or tacit cogito is always something in and of the world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-20
Number of pages13
JournalStudia Universitatis Babeș-Bolyai Philosophia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2018


  • Merleau-Ponty, Subjectivity, Embodiment, Pre-Reflective Consciousness, Sartre


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