Marie-Eve Morin: Merleau-Ponty and Nancy on Sense and Being

Vanessa Ossino

Merleau-Ponty and Nancy on Sense and Being: At the Limits of Phenomenology Book Cover Merleau-Ponty and Nancy on Sense and Being: At the Limits of Phenomenology
New Perspectives in Ontology
Marie-Eve Morin
Edinburgh University Press
Ebook (PDF) £85.00

Reviewed by: Vanessa Ossino

Marie-Eve Morin’s comparative study of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Jean-Luc Nancy focuses on two objectives: First, it compares Merleau-Ponty’s and Nancy’s stances on the nature of the relation between “sense” and “being” which includes a lengthy analysis of their methods as well as an elaborate inquiry of their respective ontological framework. Secondly, Morin responds to “the new realist critique of post-Kantian philosophy, according to which all post-Kantian thinkers in the phenomenological tradition would remain unable to think an outside worthy of the name.” (183)

Right from the beginning, it becomes apparent that the study is of relevance to the broader field of phenomenology, and promises nuanced insights into still pressing questions posed by new realists and post-phenomenologists. One of those questions being: To what extent is phenomenology able to speak of an »outside« which is not suspected of being a correlation of consciousness? Another challenge posed to phenomenology by the aforementioned philosophical strains is concerned with the claim that phenomenology narrows »sense« into »being« and vice versa. This is assumed in particular by ‘traditional phenomenologists’ with whom Morin mainly means Edmund Husserl and the early Martin Heidegger. Through her engagement with new realism and phenomenology, Morin frames her study in-between two antithetical stances:

(1) The premise that sense and being are divided along the lines of a »subjective inside« and an »objective outside« (new realism).

(2) The premise that being is a function of meaning, which reduces it to the limits of sense (Husserl and Heidegger of Sein und Zeit).

The risk to which phenomenology allegedly exposes itself is that “by reducing fact to sense, phenomenology abandons pure otherness or brute factuality, in order to arrogate to itself the right to speak” (12). By bringing Derrida’s critique of the phenomenological method into play, Morin places her focus in a still gaping wound of phenomenology, which is located at the border-crossings of phenomenology and ontology. In the words of Derrida:

“We pass from phenomenology to ontology (in the non-Husserlian sense) when we silently question the direction of the upsurge of naked factuality and cease to consider the fact in its phenomenological function. Then the latter can no longer be exhausted and reduced to its sense by the work of phenomenology, even were it pursued ad infinitum.” (Derrida 1989, Edmund Husserl’s ‘Origin of Geometry’: An Introduction, p. 151-2, trans. mod. by Morin)

The logic by which phenomenology gets challenged here is as follows: If, for those phenomenologists that remain in the Kantian tradition, the limits of consciousness are the limits of what can be given, then transcendental subjectivity must be seen as the universe of possible sense and thus as possible being in its givenness.

Through this perspective of questioning, Morin inscribes herself in the discourse on phenomenology’s correlationism. The latter can be described as the view that subjectivity and objectivity cannot be understood or analysed apart from one another because both are always already intertwined or internally related. It is the view that we only ever have access to the correlation between thinking (theory) and being (reality) and never to either in isolation from or independently of the other. (Zahavi 2016: The end of what? Phenomenology vs. speculative realism, in: International Journal of Philosophical Studies, p. 294).

In the words of Morin, the question that she confronts through her engagement with speculative realist states as follows: „How to speak of an outside that is inscribed in the inside as absolute outside without falling into too much modesty or too much presumption?” (3) Taking this question as guidance, Morin turns to Merleau-Ponty’s and Nancy’s respective philosophies, that in her view provide promising approaches responding to the posed questions.

As for Merleau-Ponty, Morin rightly hints at his radicalization of the paradoxical relation between being and sense, which does not allow being to be limited to sense, but much rather points to a Being within which sense is entailed. Nancy’s ontology of sense on the other hand is not situated within the theoretical realm of phenomenology, even though he is still concerned with a philosophy of experience. Both thinkers share an engaged interest in the torsion between inside and outside, which manifests in their “displacement of the metaphysics of presence toward a thinking of the ‘subject’ as non-presence-to-self, as a co-existence with the world and with others prior to the division between subject and object […].” (15) In other words, both philosophers share the effort to think sense and being beyond a rigid subjective consciousness, without losing the focus on experience altogether.

The well-structured introduction offers a plausible guide to the oftentimes in-transparent and enigmatic realms of Merleau-Ponty’s and Nancy’s ideas, promising a profound analysis of the different thought patterns as well as their respective ontologies, which touch on the same object and yet approach it from different angles.

The study is divided into three parts: Body (I), Thing (II) and Being (III), with each part being divided into three chapters. The first chapter always thematizes Merleau-Ponty’s stance on the notion in question, the second chapter respectively concerns Nancy’s stance and the third chapter brings the two philosophers into dialogue. This structure succeeds in guiding the reader carefully through the different thought realms of Merleau-Ponty and Nancy, leading to a two folded incline in Morin’s argumentative fashion, in that each part includes an interim conclusion, with all three interim conclusions building up to a final conclusion.

In what follows I will outline Morin’s inquiry in accordance with the mentioned structure. I will do this in a rather detailed fashion in order to engage thoroughly with Morin’s argumentation.

Part I – Body

The first part addresses Merleau-Ponty’s and Nancy’s respective conceptions of embodied existence and puts them into dialogue through distinguishing them in accordance with the conceptual pair of »unity« versus »dislocation«.

Chapter 1

In this chapter, Morin puts Merleau-Ponty’s well-known contention with René Descartes in relation to an underexposed perspective, which argues that Merleau-Ponty is driven by a “desire to find the premise of his own theory in Descartes” (see Morin 47 footnote 1, citing Isabel Thomas-Foigel 2011: ‘Merleau-Ponty: De la perspective au chiasme, la rigueur épistémique d’une analogie’, Chiasmi International 13, p. 387, Morin’s translation). In stating that Merleau-Ponty finds in Descartes the necessary tools to overcome the cartesian dualism, Morin’s begins her inquiry into Merleau-Ponty’s notion of the lived-body in an unusual but daring fashion.

Early on in the chapter Morin emphasizes that Merleau-Ponty’s main interest in Descartes lies at the heart of the imminent tension between Descartes’ »philosophy of the understanding« and his »philosophy of existence«, between »reflection« and the »unreflected« (31). Morin argues that Merleau-Ponty criticizes Descartes for excluding the lived experience of the unity of body and soul from his notion of nature as extension. Thereby, Descartes states that our lived experience cannot teach us anything more than what our understanding of it offers to us. It is in the periphery of Descartes’ philosophy of understanding and reflection that Merleau-Ponty thus finds his guidance into a field of truth that is concerned with the “obscure sphere of unreflected existence” (30, cited in a note from Merleau-Ponty autumn 1957, Morin’s translation). This »sphere of unreflected existence« is located at the – for Descartes – confused unified experience of two different substances: body and soul. And yet, this unified experience has a certain clarity in itself, one which ‘renders unintelligible’ once it is disentangled through analytical thought, as Merleau-Ponty points out. Therefore, he argues that the lived experience of the »unity of the body and the soul« offers us a certain intelligibility of the opaque realm of an unreflected existence, to which analytical thought can never account for sufficiently. Descartes’ sixth meditation, in which he states that “nature also teaches me […] that I am not merely present in my body […] but that I am very closely joined and […] intermingled with it, so that I and the body form a unit” (Descartes 1996: Meditations on First Philosophy, p. 56), reveals in the eyes of Merleau-Ponty that “there is something before and after the ‘series of reasons’, and this something is called ‘existence’.” (32)

Thus, Morin highlights that Merleau-Ponty’s own method develops through a circular reading of Descartes, in that he takes the sixth meditation with its emphasis on the unreflected unity of body and soul as remaining valid in the face of the second meditation, in which the cogito is elaborated. Followingly, the unreflected unity still holds accountable throughout a certain reflection, one that Merleau-Ponty calls »radical reflection« in contrast to the ‘intellectualist’ philosophies of reflection, including Husserl’s phenomenological-transcendental reduction. Morin emphasizes that a radical reflection, far off from being an ‘ultimate’ reflection, is grounded on factical experience and concerns an existential philosophy that questions the “ever-renewed experience of its own beginning in the unreflected and the description of that experience” (34, citing Merleau-Ponty 2012: Phenomenology of Perception, lxxviii, trans. mod.). The difficulty in such a radical reflection lies in the fact, that it still has to account for a mode of openness of a certain pre-reflective and pre-linguistic towards reflection and language. In order to not fall back into the argument of a constituting consciousness, Merleau-Ponty therefore posits a »tacit cogito« on the grounds of a sensing and self-sensing lived body, a body which opens itself towards itself as well as towards the world through active-passively sensing of an ‘outside’ and ‘inside’ at what seems to be the same time.

At the end of the chapter, Morin emphasizes, with regard to different objections that were raised after the publication of Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception, that the notion of »tacit cogito« still remains entangled with some kind of constituting consciousness, not being able to “develop the specific way of being of the body [as a mediator] itself in a positive way.” (42)

Chapter 2

In the second chapter Morin enriches the idea of a possible operative cogito beyond a constituting consciousness through Nancy’s reading of Descartes in Nancy’s book Ego Sum. Through this engagement, she emphasizes Nancy’s notion of the body not as mass but as differance (26). Similar to Merleau-Ponty, Nancy points to the special »kind of unit« in Descartes’ sixth meditation, with the focus on the unit being “neither-soul-nor-body” (56) but an opening that articulates itself, not in the structure of a substantial presence but in that of a »to-itself« (57). As Morin emphasizes, Nancy here argues that “the to-itself denotes […] the movement of existence as being-towards itself so that […] there is no self at the origin of this movement” (57, my emphasis). Again, similar to Merleau-Ponty, Nancy focusses on the moment in which ‘the subject’ comes to its first articulation, which for him necessarily implies an experience that is given through the body.

Beyond these similarities, the first grave difference between Merleau-Ponty and Nancy lies at the heart of their respective notions of »body«. Where for Merleau-Ponty the lived body can still be posited as a certain subjective operative consciousness (at least in the Phenomenology of Perception), which indeed implies a subject, Nancy aims at egressing subject-philosophy in stating the utterance of the »ego sum« as “a pure performative, […] without underlying substrate or subject (53, citing Nancy 2016: Ego Sum: Corpus, Anima, Fabula, p. 84-5). The performative utterance of the »ego sum« is stated as an action without subject (54) or in the words of Derrida: as a »teleopoetic utterance«. With regard to the relation of body and ego, the teleopoetic utterance, by uttering ‘ego’, produces something proper: “An I that can say ‘I’, and ob-jects the body, that is, throws it in front of itself. […] [B]ut only because it is effectively not its own body […] holds the body at a distance” (57). The limit of the self for Nancy is a limit that does not lead to a solid ground but to an »abyssal intimacy«, which Morin, in accordance with Nancy, names the “inside of the world” (57).

Reminding us of Merleau-Ponty’s »radical reflection« in which a certain pre-reflective sets the stage for an endless endeavor of reflection, so too – but in a different fashion – Nancy hints at Descartes’ sixth meditation in order to show that “what is most inside is not some me that would finally coincide with itself but always something more […] and opens me up to relation” (58). The union of body and soul for Nancy is not a relation between two things, but an ontological spacing or opening-to of the other (60). For him, not only bodies are radically plural and fragmented, but so is the world and with that sense making itself. Sense-making, which constitutes on the model of touch in Nancy’s thought, is always an experience of a limit (64). The world, far from being understood as a cosmos, follows the logic of a singularity that is always plural in its origin (80).

Thus, a major difference between Nancy and Merleau-Ponty can be found in their elaboration of Descartes’ unity of body and soul in the sixth meditation. Where Nancy follows the logic of divergence, Merleau-Ponty respectively focusses on a certain logic of entanglement (as can exemplary be seen in his notion of body-schema).

Chapter 3

In this chapter Morin puts Nancy and Merleau-Ponty in a more direct conversation and refers her inquiry back to the guiding question of how the nuanced differences in their respective ontologies lead to new insights on Merleau-Ponty’s path along the edge of phenomenology. Morin mainly focuses on the difference that “lies in their respective ways of conceiving of sense and making sense” (70). She casts this difference in terms of a »priority of unity« (Merleau-Ponty) over »dislocation« (Nancy), which for her includes a priority of interiority over exteriority or of the moment of reappropriation and integration over the moment of alienation and separation. Even though Morin repeatedly emphasizes that Merleau-Ponty’s philosophical endeavor aims at overcoming such dichotomies, and especially the dichotomy of interiority and exteriority, she oftentimes methodically draws back on such a dualistic thinking, which might leave the impression of a problematic tendency to undermine Merleau-Ponty’s original thought beyond such dualisms.

Yet, the reader gets a better sense of her usage of such conceptual pairs through her comparison of Merleau-Ponty’s »body-schema« and Nancy’s description of the body as »corpus«. Through engaging with the lived body as body-schema and Nancy’s corpus as “constituted by a fragmentation that is never mended” and which “difference spreads to the body’s relation to the world” (71) it becomes obvious that Morin uses such dichotomic pairs in an argumentative-methodological fashion, in order to highlight the nuanced differences of the two thinkers in a straightforward way. This leaves the impression that she somewhat simplifies the argument for readers who might not be too familiar with the respective philosophies. Nevertheless, such a simplification through a contrasting dichotomic argumentative fashion to me seems like a valid methodological approach, especially with regard to the sometimes very opaque subtleness of Merleau-Ponty’s and Nancy’s ontologies.

Without going into too much detail, it is sufficient to emphasize that in this third chapter Morin thoroughly shows how Merleau-Ponty’s »lived body« – which is distinguished by a body-schema that allows for the integration of my synesthetic perception, gestures and relation to the world as well as to others through a kind of pre-reflective synthesis -, differs in its way of sense-making from Nancy’s »corpus« – which is derived from Descartes’ partes extra partes and highlights the plurality of my senses and of my bodily being in general and that cannot be collected into a systematic whole (76). Whereas for Merleau-Ponty sense is related to a unified pre-reflective synthesis (at least) given through the body-schema, sense for Nancy finds its place in the differentiation of multiple singularities.

Interestingly, Morin concludes the chapter with a critical outlook on Nancy, arguing that: “What Nancy emphasizes then is resistance to synthesis or unification, even if one must in the end say that the subject or the world finds in this resistance its ‘stance’, that is, a certain kind of unity” (81).

Part 2 – Thing

As the title promises, the second part is concerned with the status of the object or thing in Merleau-Ponty’s and Nancy’s philosophies. Whereas the first part drew on Descartes as a dialogue partner, the second part starts a conversation with more recent thinkers of object-oriented ontology, new materialism and speculative realism. In order to better understand the ‘accusation’ of correlationism, Morin is concerned with the question of the strategic role of a supposed anthropomorphism in Merleau-Ponty’s description of inhuman things.

Chapter 4

In order to understand Merleau-Ponty’s alleged »strategic anthropomorphism« in his description of things, Morin engages with his phenomenology of perception which emphasizes the paradox that perception is always perspectival but nevertheless neither the perception of the thing for-itself nor of a sign of the thing. What Morin calls the »paradox of the in-itself-for-us« highlights the fact, that perception is not a mere step in the path of objective thought towards the objective relations behind an experience, but that perception itself, in its finite character, exposes the objective thing in its reality as it is given in its appearance. Speculative realists interpret this as a philosophy of immanence, predicating that phenomenology is stuck ‘within’, and thus, does not have the possibility of comparing reality as it would be ‘without’ consciousness (91).

In order to not fall back on the difficulties of a philosophy of immanence respectively a philosophy of transcendence, Morin reminds us that Merleau-Ponty thinks reality at the level of the phenomenon, an order in which we are neither solely a being nor a constituting consciousness, but first and foremost we are mixed up with the world and others in that we are united to being “through the thickness of the world” (Merleau-Ponty 2012: Phenomenology of Perception, p. 311, my emphasis). The notion of »thickness« that we encounter in Merleau-Ponty in different stages of his thought is not always easy to understand, since – similar to his notion of style – he doesn’t really offer an explicit definition of it. Nevertheless, Morin lucidly underlines that “this thickness is not a third thing that would stand between consciousness and being and hide the latter. It is rather the world not as thing but as promise of something more that sustains my explorations” (92).

We learn from this chapter, that in Merleau-Ponty’s thinking ‘the thing’ offers itself to us through a certain manner or style, which we encounter in its phenomenality and not its mere appearance. In its phenomenality, an object is an “intersensorial thing that speaks to all my senses” (93) without being absorbed into the sum of its parts. Ultimately Morin encounters a sort of »strategic anthropomorphism« in Merleau-Ponty’s correlative concept of the lived body and its being-towards-the-world. The important difference between a reductive anthropomorphism and Merleau-Ponty’s stance lies in the fact, that for Merleau-Ponty one encounters the world through a body that is never fully mine, “i.e. that is never constituted by and hence laid out in front of consciousness” (97). The thickness of the world is a modality of the inexhaustibility of my relation to the world as well as my relation to myself as a bodily being.

At the end of the chapter though, Morin rightly points to the fact that even though Merleau-Ponty was able to dialecticise the notion of subject and object into a system in which both are correlates, in the Phenomenology of Perception he is not yet able to account for the being of the dialectical relation itself.

Chapter 5

Here Morin continues to inquire of a »strategic anthropomorphism« in Merleau-Ponty.  She mainly addresses two questions in this chapter:

(1) Do objects refer us back to ourselves, since they are filled with our own possibilities projected in space?

(2) If so, are objects mere internal possibilities?

In order to answer these questions, Morin engages with a notion of »cautious anthropomorphism« introduced by Steven Shaviro and Jeffrey Cohen, to broaden the strategic anthropomorphism in Merleau-Ponty in order to show that his anthropomorphism is not about centering a thing around human abilities, feelings or categories, but much rather about how a thing appears to us in entering our existence and is thus always recognized in its own place, in which objects dialogically shape our experience of the world (115). Objects then might refer us back to ourselves but neither in a way that would lead us to acknowledge them directly or in their totality nor in a way that would amount to an alleged neutrality of intellectual contemplation. On the contrary, in accordance with a »cautious anthropomorphism« – that Morin sees reflected in Merleau-Ponty’s »strategic anthropomorphism« – objects are guaranteed an irreducibility to mere intellectual ideas, in that they are given »in the flesh« which arouses certain »desires« and amounts for the incompleteness of any exploration.

With regard to Morin’s own method, I here find it a bit irritating that, even though she underlines Merleau-Ponty’s refusal to commit to a notion of an active constituting consciousness, she sometimes underlines that we, as sentient-beings, take an active positioning, in that “we lend things our flesh in order to make them flesh” (113, my emphasis). Although this might be a rather fussy critique, I would argue that such phrasing can be misleading with regard to Merleau-Ponty’s argument, that the underlying structures of our engagement »in the flesh« are of a certain passivity. In fact, Merleau-Ponty prominently speaks of a passivity without passivism (Merleau-Ponty 2010: Institution and Passivity).

Chapter 6

Morin starts the chapter with a synopsis of Nancy’s “radical desubjectivisation of freedom” (119). For Nancy freedom does not resemble self-determination but it means “to be absolutely without ‘why’” (120). Morin underlines: “Freedom is the unfounded factuality of an existence that surprises itself in existing” (120). She then continues to connect Nancy’s notion of freedom with his understanding of »finitude« that lies in the fact “that any being must be exposed to an exteriority or an otherness in order to be what it is” (120). The finitude of singularities in their infinite exposition to an exteriority expresses an open-ended movement of coming to presence. In putting Nancy in dialogue with his Heideggerian roots, Morin underlines that »the freedom of the world« outreaches Heidegger’s concept of world that stands for a “coherent milieu of significance already laid out in advance” (122). In emphasizing Nancy’s depart from phenomenology through his detachment of sense-making from any form of intentional givenness, Morin uncovers Nancy’s concept of world as “the space of sense: the sharing of singularities exposed to one another: stone, ground, dog, grass, star, and me, and you” (122). The world is thus free in its infinite finitude in that it signifies a “groundlessness of the world, the ever-renewed coming-to-presence of the world […]” (120). To say that a thing exists then, is to affirm its structure of difference and spacing which is opposed to a pure in-itself as well as an essence for consciousness. In this way, sense is not reduced to its givenness and accessibility, be it to intentionality, a sentient lived body or a Dasein. In challenging phenomenology’s access as the a priori of being-in-the-world, Nancy emphasizes »sense« as that “what happens on the edge or threshold, in-between singularities, in the encounter with an […] alterity that resists assimilation […], to which there is access precisely only in the mode of non-access” (125). The exposition of a thing thus, is an exposition of an »it-self« to itself and others.

The question that hovers above this chapter followingly, is whether Nancy’s materialism resembles a kind of unifying relationalism after all, in that one still has a certain kind of access to a thing by means of a contact-separation of surfaces. This impression deepens when Morin stresses in Nancy that “I am able to encounter the stone only insofar as I am also already stone” (125). A sentence which Morin further contextualizes in view of Merleau-Ponty’s later ontology of flesh, an ontology that she argues to be too unifying in view of Nancy. She engages with this question through further elaborating on Nancy’s notion of sense as material, by which he means that sense-relation resembles precisely not a givenness but a “void – or space […] which relates without gathering, or gathers without uniting” (128). Followingly, Nancy’s ontology does advocate a certain relationalism, with the main difference that it is not unifying, in that it hints at a “materialism [which] is linked to the plurality of origins in their impenetrability” (135).

Part III – Being

The final part of the book confronts Merleau-Ponty’s “carnal ontology” more directly with Nancy’s “ontology of the singular plural” in order to elaborate on their respective quests for “a principle of non-dialectical difference that allows for the emergence of sense right at Being itself” (145).

Chapter 7

Morin starts the chapter with an extended dialogue of Merleau-Ponty, Nancy and Heidegger. She emphasizes that both, Merleau-Ponty and Nancy, “seek to undo the metaphysical difference between existentia and essentia in favour of thinking of existence or presence that is not pure positivity but includes a moment of negativity that is not the other of presence but its opening” (146). In terms of Merleau-Ponty, this chapter engages with his reappropriation of the notion of »Wesen« through his reading of Husserl and Heidegger, in order to “emphasize the intertwinement of fact and idea, or existence and essence” (152). In this way, facticity becomes the ground or ‘fabric’ that gives essences their solidity.

In order to further analyze the tools with which Merleau-Ponty and Nancy ponder Being beyond the dichotomy of presence and absence, negativism and positivism, Morin engages with Merleau-Ponty’s ontology as a “third genre d’être between Being and Nothing” (153) and continues with Nancy’s annulment of the ontological difference through his emphasis that “there are only beings, nothing behind, beneath or beyond them” (164).

Morin concludes the chapter with the lucid observation that for both philosophers the »il y a« or »es gibt« does not mean that Being gives the given. Through making a detour of a deconstructive reading of Heidegger she reasons that: “Rather, we must hear the Heideggerian es gibt through Derrida’s deconstruction of the gift in Given Time. […] The gift must not only be thought as without giver and without given (beyond subject and object) but also as without property or propriety” (163).

Chapter 8

The last chapter is dedicated to the question, to what degree Merleau-Ponty’s notion of flesh “introduce[s] difference – differance, spacing – at the heart of sense, which would bring Merleau-Ponty’s later thought in closer proximity to Nancy’s ontology” (169). She engages with this question through a reevaluation of the notion of »écart«, which both thinkers use extensively. »Écart« in its broader sense is understood as divergence and hints at a self that is never truly identical but only given through divergence, which thus becomes a constituent for sense. Following this thought, Morin asks how radical Merleau-Ponty’s account of »divergence« is. She points to his notion of »chiasm« and asks if its underlying assumption of reversibility succeeds in giving “spacing, exteriority and alterity its due” or if it ends up “reinstating a massive unity at a higher level” (178).

Morin finds her answer in a final juxtaposition of Nancy and Merleau-Ponty. Because Merleau-Ponty repeatedly underlines that »écart« is rooted in the notion of flesh, as the “primordiality of écart” (180) and the “formative medium of the object and the subject” (Merleau-Ponty 1968: The Visible and The Invisible, p. 147), promiscuity and encroachment lie at the heart of »écart«.

This latter conclusion remains foreign to Nancy. Morin argues: “Speaking of what happens between singularities, Nancy also uses the image of the intertwining or the knot, but insists on the absolute separation of the different strands being knotted” (180). Followingly, Nancy in opposition to Merleau-Ponty, highlights an »ontological void« at the limit that exposes bodies to themselves and each other (180), so that the in-between of singularities remain an “absolute separation” (180). For Merleau-Ponty on the other hand, the in-between already belongs to one flesh, which does not resemble a simple unity, but nevertheless does not include an ontological void.


To get to the point: Morin succeeds in her proclaimed aim, in that she effectively casts the differences in emphasis of the two respective philosophers, so that each is an important corrective to a tendency in the other’s work (182). In approaching her study from the angle of speculative realism and its criticism of phenomenology’s correlationism, she fruitfully offers an alternative reading of post-Kantian thinkers in the phenomenological tradition, that, in light of the criticism, “would reduce all being to sense-making to a subjective process” (183).

Through her engagement with Nancy and Merleau-Ponty, Morin offers a coherent and pertinent proposition, which underlines that at least two positions in the broader post-Kantian phenomenological realm neither collapse being into sense nor reinstate a strong division between them. She concludes: “[B]oth Merleau-Ponty and Nancy displace and reassess the role of the limit in sense-making as the place of separation and exposure” (183) and thus of a place at the limit of subjective processes.

Morin’s study offers a highly relevant perspective in a time that “demands a decentering of the human and an attentiveness to the human outside” (184). In light of this, her book can also be read, not least (!), as a fruitful addition to the very lively discourse of a phenomenological geography, which engages with challenges that the climate-crisis impose on us as human beings.

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