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Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal Volume 30, Number 1, 2009

Truth and Resistance

Ted Toadvine

If there is, for any one philosophy, a single dimension or focal point according to which it sheds the most light, the point of its greatest originality and provocation, that point will also be its weakest and most speculative, where it is most likely to fracture. Throughout MerleauPontys philosophy, the problem of truth is this point. Although he teaches us that philosophical problems are concentric rather than linear, and that consequently one can reach the fundamental insight of a philosophy from any starting point within it, in his own work the central conceptual tensions slide immediately toward the problem of truth and turn out to be variants of its formulation. In the end, how are we to understand the relation between perceptual and intellectual consciousness, that is, between life and thought, structure and signification, the pre-reflective and reflection, speaking words and spoken words, the Umwelt and the Welt, the tacit and the spoken cogito, the anonymous and the personal self, the flesh of the world and the flesh of the idea? These pairs name parallel tensions, parallel logics (if this word can be used) that haunt the center of Merleau-Pontys uvre, overturning our typical modes of thinking and resisting their reinstatement, but always leaving an aftertaste of ambiguity. That our classical approach to truth must be overturned is not a difficult case for Merleau-Ponty to make; he convinces us easily of this. But does he put something else in its place? Is he content to disclose the Urdoxa that founds our knowledge in the narrower sense, or is he offering a new conception of truth altogether? If he seems uncertain of his own choice between these options, if his position forces him to vacillate between them, what does this very vacillation teach us about his philosophy, and perhaps about the nature of truth as well? When Merleau-Ponty reflects on his own work after the publication of his first two theoretical texts, The Structure of Behavior and

1. The Problem of Truth


Phenomenology of Perception, he writes as though the problem of truth still remains on the horizon, as if he has yet to put forward a theory of truth that will account for the field of knowledge properly so called (I 405; UT 286) and its relation with the perceived world. Even if there is a continuity between the two, our knowledge and conception of the true world being founded on the perceived, it is nevertheless necessary to to establish . . . a difference between ideal truth and perceived truth (PrP 96; PrP 128) and to provide the philosophical account of this difference. These remarks encourage us to look to Merleau-Pontys later writings, to his studies of language and expression in The Prose of the World, his lecture courses, and his other unpublished writings and notes for clues to the definitive clarification of the problem of truth. Our ultimate evaluation of Merleau-Pontys legacy, then, seems to turn on how well these unfinished texts accomplish the task that he had set for himself, the task of thinking truth. But another interpretation is possible. If Merleau-Pontys inability to exorcize the specter of truth in his first two books is due to the nature of truth itself, if this very problem demands being taken up afresh with each new step in our thinking, then the fact that Merleau-Ponty confronts us with the problem of truth as a perennial and irresolvable tension may be his greatest success. In Merleau-Pontys first two works, the problem of truth is posed in terms of the relation between perceptual and intellectual consciousness. The Structure of Behavior fails to properly conceive this relation precisely because of the ambiguous status of consciousness within the ontology of Gestalts. On the one hand, human consciousness is one form in nature alongside matter and life, incorporating these into a more complex dialectic while remaining founded on their concrete structure. On the other hand, intellectual consciousness is an orientation toward the virtual, toward the structure of structures (SB 122; SC 133), which is what allows us ultimately to think their relation, to break with the environment of life, and to orient ourselves toward a universe of truth. But the fully integrated consciousness, in thinking its own structure, must also think its own history, which turns out to be its blind-spot. The Structure of Behavior succeeds only by leading Merleau-Ponty to the brink of a methodological reversal, according to which the philosopher who aims to think truth must be situated within its historical unfolding. Consequently, it is necessary to begin again from within, which is the task of Phenomenology of Perception.1 This second book approaches the role of intellectual consciousness more cautiously. On the one hand, perception carries within it the germ of objective thought; because of perceptions natural tendency to forget itself in favor of the object perceived, the unfolding of a fully explicit


universe of objectsthat is, the world of objective truth merely follows out the forgetfulness that characterizes every perception. MerleauPontys re-vindication of perception is intended to reverse this natural course of things in favor of a more complete reflection, a radical reflection, that can hold on to the history of its own development as reflection, which means giving proper due to the pre-reflective moment in which it is grounded and that it can never fully recuperate. Thus, objectivity seems to offer us no more than a limited and historically nave version of truth, which awaits its own fulfillment in the larger truth of the historical unfolding of perception, that is, in the logic of radical reflection that remains conscious of its limits. Absolute truth is, in effect, the renewed contingency of truth, the affirmation of what lies essentially beyond disclosure. As Merleau-Ponty will write in the chapter on the cogito, certainty is doubt (PP 461; PP 454). And yet, this resolution of the problem of truth is fraught with complications, which arise from the effort to think the reflective taking-up of the unreflective. At the level of the lived body, this taking-up is played out in the relationship between the personal subjectthe reflective individual who says Iand the one (On) who perceives within me but independently of me, my anonymous and general body as a natural subject that remains immersed in the world.2 In other words, just as in The Structure of Behavior, the problem concerns the relation between perceptual and intellectual consciousness, or between life and thought. The difficulty is that this anonymous One that lives in me and sustains me is not directly accessible to me; it lives a different time than do I, makes its own spontaneous evaluations of the world prior to my thought about them, and engages me from the first in a project of living that I am offered no choice but to continue. What then can it mean for reflection to embrace its debt to the pre-reflective, other than to discover an abyss as its own foundation, to find a resistance and an alterity as the germ of its own operations? The consequences of this slippage of reflection reverberate throughout all of the analyses of Phenomenology of Perception in the form of the contradiction of transcendence and immanence,3 that is, the Janusfaced relation that the real maintains with my subjectivity. On the one hand, as the condition of its appearance on the stage of my experience, every object must turn its face toward me, must offer itself to the embrace of my body and share with it the secret vibration that we call sensing. Yet, on the other hand, to be something more than an illusion or a hallucination, the realwhether a thing or another living body must refuse my body, turning its other face away from me, and presenting itself precisely as transcendent to my overtures. To be true which, for Merleau-Ponty, is not a quality only of propositions, but


more fundamentally of experienceswhat I experience must simultaneously offer itself to me and refuse me, always holding in reserve the mystery of some unexplored depth.4 In this case, truth in the full sense is constituted by a double resistance: first, that of my body in relation to the reflection that emerges from it as a figure from a ground; and second, that of the world which, already in its dialogue with my body as a natural self, holds itself aloof. If truth in the full sense goes beyond objective thought to think its own constitutive history in an unreflective, if to grasp the truth of my own reflection I must account for its blind-spots and limits, then this full truth must incorporate within itself this double blind-spot, the resistance within resistance, that equals my givenness to myself and to the world. In retracing these themes as they develop, more or less explicitly, through Merleau-Pontys first two books,5 I suggest two points that go beyond an interpretation of his texts: First, that this expansive interpretation of truth as incorporating its own blind-spots is contested within Merleau-Pontys own thinking by his need to reserve a priority for a teleology of truth in the traditional, narrower sense, the sense in which perception must be overcome for truth to be achieved. It is for this reason that Merleau-Ponty insists on reserving truth exclusively for the human domain, even if this entails introducing a sharp discontinuity between life and thought, reflected in the sharp discontinuity that he maintains between the animals environment (Umwelt) and the humans world (Welt). The need to make sense of this discontinuity tempts him to think of human existence as a retreat of non-being or, in Valrys phrase, as a flaw in the diamond of the world (PP 241; PP 240).6 Merleau-Ponty tries to correct this difficulty in his later work, to overcome the thought of subjectivity as non-being, and this is reflected both in his effort to think a lateral kinship between the human and the animal and in his re-assessment of the tacit cogito. However, and this is the second point we wish to make, he does so at the expense of the resistance that his earlier thinking of truth had brought to light. In other words, the cart and self-differentiation that distinguish the thought of flesh in Merleau-Pontys later works give too little recognition to the aloofness, the alterity, of the double resistance encountered in Phenomenology of Perception. For this reason, I propose that we must return to Merleau-Pontys earlier work for his richest account of truth, even if, in so doing, we must be cautious of its tendency to mistake the resistance that nature presents to us for our ontological discontinuity from it.


Already in The Structure of Behavior, Merleau-Ponty struggles to understand the relation between life and thought in a way that will ground the intellect in perception without collapsing the distinction between the two. This involves, first, distinguishing between the characteristics of the mind as a distinct kind of structure, in contrast with the structures of life and matter. Secondly, it involves thinking through the way that matter and life are incorporated into the structure of mind in human existence. Human intelligence is characterized by symbolic form, according to Merleau-Ponty, which is self-reflexively orientated toward structures as such, toward the structure of structures, or, in Merleau-Pontys terms, toward the virtual. Only with the appearance of symbolic thought can we speak of truth: With symbolic forms, a conduct appears . . . which is open to truth and to the proper value of things (SB 122; SC 133). This orientation toward truth is precisely what distinguishes the structure of human consciousness from animal behavior:
The gestures of behavior, the intentions which it traces in the space around the animal, are not directed to the true world or pure being, but to being-for-the-animal, that is, to a certain environment characteristic of the species; they do not allow the showing through of a consciousness, that is, a being whose whole essence is to know, but rather a certain manner of treating the world, of being-in-theworld or of existing. . . . It is only at the level of symbolic conduct, and more exactly at the level of exchanged speech, that foreign existences (at the same time as our own, moreover) appear to us as oriented to the true world. (SB 1256; SC 135)

2. The Truth of Life

This passage encapsulates the ambiguity of Merleau-Pontys account, since the true world that is open to human consciousness and closed to the life of the animal is equated with pure being. But if we are led, through Merleau-Pontys own description, to reject any such conception of pure being, must we not also revise our account of truth? It is clear that Merleau-Pontys ontology of Gestalts contests any interpretation of reality in terms of pure being, since the fundamental structuresmatter, animal life, and human consciousnessare relational and meaningful wholes having the character of the perceived. That is, the being of a Gestalt is the being of sense. This is why Merleau-Ponty concludes that realism in general must be called into question (SB 182; SC 197). Furthermore, each new level in this tripartite progression integrates the former level into a configuration of greater complexity and individuality: animal life integrates while transforming matter, and human consciousness takes up and gives a


new significance to animal life. But this integration is a fragile operation; it is always vulnerable to interruptions from inside or out, and it is never achieved without remainder. Nevertheless, the ideal for human life, as Merleau-Ponty sets it out in this first book, is the complete integration of matter and life into the symbolic consciousness that is reserved for the human being. And this symbolic consciousness is defined as a self-reflexive structure, one that is capable of thematizing its own essence as a structure. Because each level of structure integrates while transforming the lower level, it follows that human consciousness is a transformation of life. Consequently, there is a division within the human being between the level of perceptual life and the level of conscious thought, with the consciousness of truth belonging to a higher dialectic (SB 166; SC 180). Furthermore, and for the same reasons, Merleau-Ponty will insist that life for the human being has nothing in common with life for the animal, since the latter lacks the more comprehensive integration of symbolic consciousness: the word life, he writes, does not have the same meaning in animality and humanity (SB 174; SC 188). Vital behavior as such disappears in the human being, so that Man can never be an animal: his life is always more or less integrated than that of an animal (SB 181; SC 196). It is for this reason that Merleau-Ponty often has recourse to the distinction Scheler draws between the environment of the animal and the true world or universe of the human (SB 176; SC 1901), a distinction to which Merleau-Ponty returns repeatedly in Phenomenology of Perception.7 But if we pay close attention to the way that Merleau-Ponty describes the integration of lower into higher dialectics, we see that the distinction between the perceived environment and the true world, along with the correlative distinction between perceptual and intellectual consciousness, is not so easily drawn. The first complication is that the integration of consciousnessthat is, the transition to the true world is never absolute and always fails, so that a duality, in principle, always reappears: This duality is not a simple fact; it is founded in principleall integration presupposing the normal functioning of subordinated formations, which always demand their own due (SB 210; SC 2267). In other words, human consciousness never manages to integrate without remainder its animal life into a higher dialectic, nor does it manage to affect a pure passage to a true world. But, in this case, the so-called true world does not capture the whole truth, which must somehow take this limitation into account. This brings us to the second problem, namely, that even when consciousness does achieve its integration, its self-awareness must include its own constitutive history. It is on this point that Merleau-Ponty distinguishes his approach


from critical thought: consciousness experiences its inherence in an organism at each moment, which is the presence to it of its proper history and of the dialectical stages which it has traversed (SB 208; SC 2245). In other words, if consciousness is defined by its grasp of the structure of structures, the truth of reality, then it must also take into account its own genesis as such a structure. But the effort of consciousness to think its own genesis will always come up short; the truth about consciousness, that it remains rooted in lower dialectics, can never become a pure truth for consciousness, since it is known by consciousness only as its own limit. Consequently, The Structure of Behavior concludes with a series of unanswered questions, such as the following:
Consciousness is not only and not always consciousness of truth; how are we to understand the inertia and the resistance of the inferior dialectics which stand in the way of the advent of the pure relations of impersonal subject and true object and which affect my knowledge with a coefficient of subjectivity? (SB 220; SC 237).

Within the context of The Structure of Behavior, such a question cannot be answered, and so Merleau-Ponty sets aside the problem of perceptionthe problem of the relation between our perceptual life and intellectual consciousnessto be taken up again in his sequel (SB 176, 224; SC 191, 2401). But it is clear that any suitable answer must understand truth in an entirely new way, treating the resistance of matter and life not as hindrances to the achievement of truth but precisely as the condition of truth in a richer sense. We will need a notion of truth that is suitable to being-in-the-world, rather than only to consciousness. In other words, truth cannot be divorced from life. That Merleau-Ponty already realizes this by the close of The Structure of Behavior is made clear by the exemplars he puts forward of the integrated individual: not scientists or philosophers, whom we might expect to have the clearest idea of a true world in the narrow sense, but instead artists and writers. Although integration always fails, it does so at a higher level in the writer, and presumably also the artist, since Merleau-Pontys examples include Beethoven and El Greco as well as Proust (SB 210, 205, 2034, 24849n49; SC 226, 221, 21920, 226n). Furthermore, the shift from a limited human environment to a universe of truth is effected especially by means of art (SB 176; SC 190). But if it is through art that we arrive at the true world, then this cannot be the world of pure being, the world of verified and intersubjective properties. Art opens us to a richer conception of truth than does science, as Merleau-Ponty will later say, because it achieves an expression of the concrete human which science does not attempt


(P 112; P 145). Thus, there is a concrete truth, a truth of life, distinct from and more encompassing than the true world of intellectual consciousness. The ambivalence that characterizes Merleau-Pontys treatment of the problem of truth does not evaporate after his first book. Phenomenology of Perception sets for itself the task of describing not only the vital inherence of perception but also its rational intention, so as not to overlook what Merleau-Ponty identifies as perceptions decisive moment, namely, the upsurge of a true and exact world. Perception is quasi-teleologically directed towards a truth in itself, and the prejudice of the objective world that haunts both realism and idealism is simply the trajectory of this teleology when it loses its moorings in experience (PP 62; PP 65). Since the act of perception has the habit of covering its own tracks, thereby forgetting its function in favor of the perceived that is disclosed through it, Merleau-Pontys method aims to reverse its natural direction and expose the crypto-mechanism of its self-forgetfulness (PP 67; PP 71). But the goal of this process is not simply to lay a firmer foundation for the true and exact world aimed at by the sciences; it is rather to reveal that any true sense of the world is to be gained only through the process of perception, relying on the norms of the body and its prereflective dialogue with the world. The body is from the first oriented toward a truth of things, establishing through its norms the constancy of an objects properties, distinguishing true from illusory perceptions, and engaging in spontaneous evaluations of the world, so that my personal selfthe reflective dimension of my being that says Ialways arrives late on the scene, finding itself already in a world polarized by the bodys truth-making functions.8 The true world is reached, then, not by an analytical attitude that demotes perception to the status of appearance, but only by a continued reliance on perceptions internal processes of verification. It is the self-forgetfulness of perception, along with the illusion of a pure language, that misleads us into thinking otherwise.9 The bodys meaning-making activity is evidence of the establishment of a truth that does not await the emergence of reflection, or what we have called above the truth of life. It is in this sense of a truth in life that I understand Merleau-Pontys phrase tre--la-vrit, which he tells us is not distinct from ltre au monde (PP 459; PP 452). But if there is such a truth already operative in life, why would human existence have a monopoly on it? Indeed, if for animal lifewhich Merleau8

3. Truths Double Resistance


Ponty has already described in terms of being-in-the-world (PP 90; PP 923)there are no tendencies to carry the quasi-teleology of truth too far and to posit an objective world beyond the limits of all possible experience, would that not grant to them a being-at-the-truth somehow purer and less menaced than our own? But before we leap to this conclusion, there is an element of our being toward truth that has yet to be taken into account, namely the element of resistance. In describing above the bodys orientation toward truth, we have neglected the position from which we are describing this pre-reflective engagement, which is, of course, retrospectively from the position of the I who reflects. As a reflective being, I become aware of myself already geared into the world by the spontaneous evaluations of my body; I recognize the operation within me of someone who is not myself as an autonomous subject (PP 279; PP 277). My perceptions concern not my own being, the one for which I am responsible and for which I make decisions, but another self which has already sided with the world (PP 251; PP 250). This other self is none other than my anonymous and general body, which lives within me, yet somehow apart from me. This recognition of the alterity of the pre-reflective body marks a significant shift from the ideal of complete integration presented in The Structure of Behavior. My body and my personal self do not even live time in the same fashion, since I live through and carry forward the events of my personal history, while each perception ratifies and renews in us a prehistory, the absolute past of nature, which Merleau-Ponty famously describes as an original past, a past which has never been a present (PP 279, 158, 282; PP 277, 160, 280).10 But now we have a difficulty in understanding what it will mean to become reflectively aware of this autonomous one that precedes and makes possible my place in the world. Merleau-Pontys response to this difficulty is to propose a second-order or radical reflection that acknowledges its origin in an unreflective and originary past. Every reflection remains liable to an unreflective experience which it does not absorb either in fact or in theory (PP 49; PP 53), and a radical reflection must take this debt into account:
We must not only adopt a reflective attitude . . . but furthermore reflect on this reflection, understand the natural situation which it is conscious of succeeding and which is therefore part of its definition. . . . Reflection is truly reflection . . . only if it knows itself as reflection-on-an-unreflective-experience, and consequently as a change in structure of our experience. (PP 72; PP 756).

Consequently, a genuine reflection must include, as part of its definition, its own unreflective history; it must always carry its own secret and opaque past like a hidden pearl. This unreflective history of reflec9


tion is precisely the anonymous body as co-natural with the world. Therefore, the first level of resistance that confronts the truth of reflectionor, rather, that is constitutive of this truthis its irrecuperable debt to the prehistory of the body. But there is also a second and more primordial level of resistance that we must consider, a resistance that already appears in the relation between the body and the world. As we have seen, the body is co-natural with the world, and it already disengages a truth and value from the world prior to reflections appearance on the scene. Throughout Phenomenology of Perception, Merleau-Ponty refers to the bodys engagement with the world as a communion, a coition, or an exchange of question and response: it can literally be said that our senses question things and that things reply to them, so that the whole of nature is . . . our interlocutor in a sort of dialogue (PP 3723; PP 36970). To this extent, the objects that we sense are correlative with our body, which is why we find them overlaid with anthropological predicates (PP 373; PP 369). In other words, as ones interlocutor, the thing opens itself to the body and enters the circuit of human existence. But, if we stop here, we will miss precisely that aspect of our perceptual experience that distinguishes reality from illusion or hallucination, namely, the things transcendence of my body. We experience this transcendence concretely as the non-human aspect of the thing by which it resists the dialogue with the body. As Merleau-Ponty writes,
the thing holds itself aloof from us and remains in-itself. This will become clear if we suspend our ordinary preoccupations and pay a metaphysical and disinterested attention to it. It is then hostile and alien, no longer an interlocutor, but a resolutely silent Other, a Self which evades us no less than does intimacy with an outside consciousness. (PP 376; PP 372)

This recalcitrance on the part of the thing does not shatter our access to truth, according to Merleau-Ponty; rather, it is a constitutive component of the contradiction of immanence and transcendence (P 89; P 119)11 that defines our contact with the real as such. To be experienced as something truly there, the thing must simultaneously be a correlate of my body and reject that body (PP 379; PP 375). This rejection is simply the obverse of the things plenitude, of the reserve that it withholds and that guarantees always more to be perceived. The true thing is therefore Janus-faced, lending its particular rhythms to my body while also holding itself aloof. It is just this bi-polarity of the thing that will later, in the opening pages of The Visible and the Invisible, lead Merleau-Ponty to describe perceptual experience in terms of the paradox of perceptual faith.12



In Phenomenology of Perception, therefore, we find two levels of resistance that are constitutive of truth: at the most originary level, the resistance that the world presents to my body in establishing itself as the real world; and, at the reflective level, the resistance that this bodily engagement with the world offers insofar as it remains a prehistory for the reflective self. In each case, we must consider the resistance internal to truth, taken in its radical sense, that is, in parallel with radical reflection. This stretches truth by requiring that it incorporate its own historical dimension, including the obscure path it followed in order to come to clarity. This is Merleau-Pontys meaning when he writes that there is not one truth of reason that does not retain its coefficient of facticity (PP 458; PP 451). Furthermore, with this stretching, truth is no longer opposed to primordial faith but becomes its culminating form: there is an opinion which is not a provisional form of knowledge destined to give way later to an absolute form, but on the contrary, both the oldest and the most rudimentary, and the most conscious or mature form of knowledgean opinion which is originary in the double sense of original and fundamental (PP 461; PP 454). Yet in certain respects Phenomenology of Perception does not fully embrace the implications of this stretching by which truth incorporates what precedes and exceeds it. The first indication of this is the sharp divide that Merleau-Ponty continues to draw between the Umwelt, as the environment of vital behavior, and the Welt, as the domain of verifiable, intersubjective truth. In The Structure of Behavior, this distinction was justified by understanding the Welt as a higher degree of integration that integrates and transforms the Umwelt, just as consciousness transcends while encompassing life. But the implication of the stretching of truth in Phenomenology of Perception is that the Welt must include the Umwelt precisely as its own constitutive, but resistant, prehistory. Or, from the other direction, the true and exact world is merely one variant of our originary environment. If reflection must stretch to include the prereflective and therefore cannot be decisively discontinuous with it, then neither can the human world be discontinuous from that of the animal. Merleau-Ponty increasingly recognizes this implication in his later writings. Already in his 1948 radio addresses, Causeries, he notes the role that animals play in the secret reveries of our inner life,13 and later on, in the lectures on nature, he describes our strange kinship and Ineinander with animals as irreducible to a simple hierarchy (N 214, 208; N 2767, 269). If the relation between

4. Non-Being and cart


life and thought cannot be simply juxtaposed, neither can the vital environment and the true world, or the animal and the human.14 Yet Phenomenology of Perception is not ready to relinquish an exceptional ontological status for the human being. Although Merleau-Ponty famously differentiates his account from Sartres by describing human existence as a hollow or a fold rather than a hole in being (PP 24950; PP 249), he nevertheless attributes our openness to truth to our ontological capacity to introduce non-being into the plenum of nature. If there must be consciousness, he writes, if something must appear to someone, it is necessary that behind all our particular thoughts there should lie a retreat of non-being, a Self (PP 465; PP 458). Similarly, there would be no time without a subjectivity there to disrupt the plenitude of being in itself . . . and introduce non-being into it (PP 489; PP 481). It is in this sense that Merleau-Ponty borrows Valrys phrase to describe the human being as a flaw in the great diamond (PP 241; PP 240). This is a telling phrase, since MerleauPonty uses it elsewhere to describe Sartres own position. In A Scandalous Author, he writes that Matter, sky, harvest, animals are beautiful. Mans attitudes, his very clothes, bear witness to the fact that he is of a different order. He is a flaw in the diamond of the world (SNS 45; SNS 57). Yet how can Merleau-Ponty maintain that human existence represents a break with nature while elsewhere describing the body as conatural with the world, and even as a natural self (PP 252, 239, 404, 511; PP 251, 239, 399, 502)? Indeed, have we not seen that nature is the unreflective and resistant kernel at the very heart of reflection? I take it that Merleau-Pontys effort, in his later work, to replace this human retreat of non-being with an cart at the heart of being itself responds to just such concerns. Thus, the philosophy of flesh no longer needs subjectivity as the source for time or truth. By redefining truth as good error, as divergence, rather than as coincidence (VI 166; VI 125), and by situating the ontological motor of this divergence within being rather than human subjectivity, Merleau-Ponty solves the problem of how to make sense of nature on its own terms rather than against a background of nothingness. But while Merleau-Pontys later thought marks a progress over Phenomenology of Perception in thinking the ontological roots of truth, it nevertheless falls short in appreciating its constitutive resistance. Within the reversibility of the flesh, its identity of leaving oneself and retiring into oneself, there is no moment of radical resistance; the circulation between inside and outside never meets up with an irrecuperable past, and the body never encounters a refusal in its intertwining with the world. But are these not constitutive of the very experience of real12


ity, of that paradox of immanence and transcendence that our natural lives continue to affirm? Merleau-Pontys final work leaves us, then, with a task: to think the constitutive resistance to truth while affirming our ontological continuity with nature.15

1. See I 403; UT 45; and Titres et travauxProjet denseignement, in Parcours deux 19511961 (Lagrasse: Verdier, 2000), pp. 13, 17. 3. Merleau-Ponty uses this phrase to describe the argument of Phenomenology of Perception in P 89, 923; P 119, 123. 5. I develop this account in more detail in my Merleau-Pontys Philosophy of Nature (Evanston, IL.: Northwestern University Press, forthcoming). 7. See PP 100, 381; PP 1023, 377; P 116; P 150. 6. See also S 45; S 57. 4. See PP 3759; PP 3725. 2. See, e.g., PP 279, 4046; PP 277, 399401.

8. On the role of bodily norms in establishing constant properties, see PP 34870; PP 34566. On the internal distinction between true and illusory perceptions, see PP 389402; PP 38597. On the bodys spontaneous evaluations of the world, see PP 5102; PP 5013.

10. See also PP 296, 327, 408, 410; PP 294, 324, 403, 404.

9. [S]peech implants the idea of truth in us as the presumptive limits of its effort (PP 221; PP 221), yet no privileged position can be accorded to any [of the various modes of expression] on the alleged ground that it expresses a truth in itself (PP 455; PP 448). See also PP 4667; PP 45960.

13. Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Causeries 1948 (Paris: Seuil, 2002), p. 40; Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The World of Perception, trans. Oliver Davis (London: Routledge, 2004), p. 76.

12. Cf. VI 234; VI 8: The world is what I perceive, but as soon as we examine and express its absolute proximity, it also becomes, inexplicably, irremediable distance. The natural man holds on to both ends of the chain, thinks at the same time that his perception enters into the things and that it is formed this side of his body.

11. See also the discussion of the "paradox of immanence and transcendence in perception" (P 93; P 123).


GRADUATE FACULTY PHILOSOPHY JOURNAL 14. See also my essay, How Not to be a Jellyfish: Human Exceptionalism and the Ontology of Reflection, in Phenomenology and the Non-Human Animal, ed. Corinne Painter and Christian Lotz (Dordrecht: Springer, 2007).

15. Earlier versions of this essay were presented at tre la vrit Maurice Merleau-Ponty 1908-2008 (Basel University, March 2008), Merleau-Ponty Viviente en el centenario de su nacimiento, 1908-2008 (Morelia, Mexico, September 2008), and The Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy (Pittsburgh, October 2008). A Spanish translation has been published as La resistencia de la verdad en MerleauPonty, Investigaciones Fenomenolgicas, Special Issue: Merleau-Ponty Desde la Fenomenologa en su Primer Centenario, 19082008 (2008), pp. 23753.