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Poetics of the Flesh

Mayra Rivera
Mayra Rivera

Mayra Rivera is Associate Professor of Theology and Latina/o Studies at Harvard University and the author of The Touch of Transcendence: A Postcolonial Theology of God.

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Duke University Press
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Book Chapter

The Ends of Flesh

September 2015

This chapter attends to the reception of Merleau-Ponty’s “flesh” in continental philosophy. It begins by explicating Michel Foucault’s treatment of flesh, which Merleau-Ponty understands to be a product of Christian discourses about sin. It then turns to philosophers who are explicitly troubled by “flesh” in the writings of Merleau-Ponty. Nancy worries that Merleau-Ponty’s “flesh” is a metaphysical concept that subordinates differentiated bodies to a universalizing explanatory principle; for Luce Irigaray, the appearance of flesh in Merleau-Ponty evidences the suppression of the maternal feminine and overemphasizes the masculine world of visibility.

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