This study is a commentary on the chapter of Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception that deals with the question of sexuality. In opposition to the traditional causal conception of sexual behaviour as a series of reflexes, Merleau-Ponty conceives sexuality as a specific type of intentionality and a relation between the individual and the world. Figuring in his complex argumentation is clinical casuistry, as well as references to Freudian and Binswangerian psychoanalysis. Special attention is given to Merleau-Ponty’s comment on Babinsky’s conception of hysteria which provides the impetus for a new treatment of the ambivalence of consciousness and embodiment. The aim of this text is, however, also to show that Merleau-Ponty’s analysis is in no way intended just as a particular analysis of one type of behaviour. Rather, sexuality becomes, in Merleau-Ponty’s work, a truly emblematic structure which exemplifies human existence itself in its significative and expressive dimension. As such, sexuality resonates with, for example, Merleau-Ponty’s conception of language, the radicalisation of which led him to his final analyses in The Visible and the Invisible.
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