Login | Register

Being Together with the World: On Metaphoric Expression as a Clue to Merleau-Ponty’s Ontology


Being Together with the World: On Metaphoric Expression as a Clue to Merleau-Ponty’s Ontology

Rollans, Kay ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9462-3019 (2017) Being Together with the World: On Metaphoric Expression as a Clue to Merleau-Ponty’s Ontology. [Graduate Projects (Non-thesis)] (Unpublished)

Text (application/pdf)
Rollans_MA_F2017.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.


The guiding question of this study is: What is Merleau-Ponty’s understanding of metaphor? It is widely appreciated that Merleau-Ponty himself never explicitly developed a theory of metaphor. He did, however, engage in a style of writing so tied up with literary style and thick with metaphor. Despite the absence of a distinct theory of metaphor on the part of Merleau-Ponty, the obvious importance of metaphor to his philosophy has motivated others to develop explicit and coherent theories of metaphor out of Merleau-Ponty’s work that offer themselves as responses to philosophical history of metaphor theory.
I look at two interpretations of Merleau-Ponty that take up the topic of metaphor. Donald Landes suggests metaphor’s importance stems from the its being paradigmatic of what he calls the “paradoxical logic of [human] expression.” Renaud Barbaras’s take, on the other hand, is deeply ontological: metaphor is embedded in reality as its structure. Ultimately, I believe that neither of these theories is sufficient to capture the significance of metaphor in Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy—specifically, metaphor as experienced. I argue that what is missed in both of these theories is a careful attention to how, in the experience of metaphor, we feel solicited to speak in certain ways, and that this experience suggests that the activity of metaphorical expression does not exist or operate only on one side of the expressive relation—on the side of being as Barbaras urges, or on the side of the one who speaks, as Landes urges. Rather, metaphor evinces a kind of expression that is not simply about, or even according to, the world—metaphor is a kind of expressing that works together with the world.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Philosophy
Item Type:Graduate Projects (Non-thesis)
Authors:Rollans, Kay
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Date:August 2017
Keywords:Merleau-Ponty, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology, Metaphor, Ontology, Silence, Perception, Expression
ID Code:983051
Deposited By: Katherine Rollans
Deposited On:19 Sep 2017 17:55
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:56
Additional Information:Further Reading: 32. Dastur, Françoise. 2016. Chair et langage : essais sur Merleau-Ponty. Paris: Éditions Les Belles Lettres. 33. Dillon, M. C. 1993. “The Unconscious: Language and World.” In Merleau-Ponty in Contemporary Perspective. Edited by P. Burke and J. Van der Venken, 69-83. Kluwer Academic Publishers. 34. Friskics, Scott. 2001. “Dialogical Relations with Nature.” Environmental Ethics 23, 4: 391-410. 35. Gill, Jerry. 1991. Merleau-Ponty and Metaphor. New Jersey; London: Humanities Press. 36. Johnson, Galen A. 2000. “The Problem of Origins: In the Timber Yard, Under the Sea.” Chiasmi International 2: 249-259. 37. Kaushik, Rajiv. 2013. Art, Language and Figure in Merleau-Ponty: Excursions in Hyper- Dialectic. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. 38. Perri, Trevor. 2013. “Image and Ontology in Merleau-Ponty.” In Continental Philosophy Review 46, 1: 75-97. 39. Schlagel, Richard H. 1962. “Language and Perception.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 23, 2: 192-204. 40. Sellheim, Berndt. 2010. “Metaphor and Flesh — Poetic Necessity in Merleau-Ponty.” Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 41, 3: 261-273. 41. Toadvine, Ted. 2005. “Limits of the Flesh: The Role of Reflection in David Abram’s Ecophenomenology.” Environmental Ethics 27, 2: 155-170 42. Vogel, Steven. 2006. “The Silence of Nature.” Environmental Values 15, 2: 145-171. 43. Wiskus, Jessica. 2013. The Rhythm of Thought: Art, Literature, and Music after Merleau- Ponty. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 44. Zwicky, Jan. 2012. “What is Ineffable?” International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 26, 2: 197-217. 45. ———. 2011 (1992). Lyric Philosophy. Kentville, Nova Scotia: Gaspereau Press. 46. ———. 2008. Wisdom and Metaphor. Kentville, Nova Scotia: Gaspereau Press.


1. Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. 1964. L’Oeil et l’Esprit (OE). Paris: Gallimard.
2. ———. 1964. “Indirect Language and the Voices of Silence” (IL). In Signs, translated by
Richard C. McCleary. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 39-83.
3. ———. 2008. “La Nature ou le monde du silence” (NMS). In Maurice Merleau-Ponty, edited by Emmanuel de Saint-Aubert. Paris: Hermann, 41-53.
4. ———. 2007. “New Working Notes from the Period of The Visible and the Invisible.” In The Merleau-Ponty Reader, edited by Ted Toadvine and Leonard Lawlor. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 415-446.
5. ———. 2012. Phenomenology of Perception (PhP), trans. Donald A. Landes (London; New York: Routledge.
6. ———. 1973. The Prose of the World (PW). Translated By John O’Neill. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.
7. ———. 1968. The Visible and the Invisible (VI). Edited by Claude Lefort. Translated by Alphonso Lingis. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.
8. Abram, David. 1997 The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and language in a more-than- human world. New York: Vintage Books.
9. ———. 2005. “Between the Body and the Breathing Earth: A Reply to Ted Toadvine.” Environmental Ethics 27, no. 2: 171-190.
10. Amundsen-Meyer, Lindsay. 2015. “Creating a spatial dialogue: A'kee Piskun and attachment to place on the Northwestern Plains.” Plains Anthropologist 60(234): 124- 149.
11. Barbaras, Renaud. 1991 [2004]. The Being of the Phenomenon: Merleau-Ponty’s Ontology. Translated by Ted Toadvine and Leonard Lawlor. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.
12. ———. 2009. “Métaphore et ontologie.” In Le tournant de l’expérience: recherches sur la philosophie de Merleau-Ponty. Paris: Librarie Philosophique J. Vrin.
13. Black, Max. 1979. “How Metaphors Work: A Reply to Donald Davidson.” Critical Inquiry 6(1): 131-143.
14. ———. 1977. “More About Metaphor.” Dialectica 31(3-4): 431-457.
15. Davidson, Donald. 1978. “What Metaphors Mean.” Critical Inquiry 5, 1: 31-47.
16. Dauenhauer, Bernard. 1973). “On Silence.” In Research in Phenomenology 3, 1: 9-27.
17. Edie, James M. 1976. Speaking and Meaning: The Phenomenology of Language.
Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press.
18. Godway, Eleanor M. 1993. “Wild being, the prepredicative and expression: How
Merleau-Ponty uses phenomenology to develop an ontology.” In Man and World 26:
19. Hass, Lawrence. 2008. Merleau-Ponty’s Philosophy. Bloomington and London: Indiana
University Press.
20. Kearney, Richard. 2013. “Écrire la chair : l’expression diacritique chez Merleau-Ponty.”
Chiasmi International 15: 183-198.
21. Lackoff, George and Mark Johnson. 1980. Metaphors we Live By. Chicago: Chicago
University Press.
22. Landes, Donald A. 2013. Merleau-Ponty and the Paradoxes of Expression. London; New
York: Bloomsbury Academic.
23. Mazis, Glen A. 2016. Merleau-Ponty and the Face of the World: Silence, Ethics,
Imagination, and Poetic Ontology. Albany, NY: SUNY.
24. Povinelli, Elizabeth. 1995. “Do Rocks Listen? The Cultural Politics of Apprehending Australian Aboriginal Labor.” American Anthropologist, New Series 97(3): 505-518.
25. Ricoeur, Paul. 1977. The Rule of Metaphor. University of Toronto Press.
26. Sellheim, Berndt. 2010. “Metaphor and Flesh — Poetic Necessity in Merleau-Ponty.”
Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 41(3): 261-273.
27. Singer, Linda. 1981. “Merleau-Ponty on the Concept of Style.” In Man and World 14:
28. Stawarska, Beata. 2013. “Uncanny Errors, Productive Contresens. Merleau-Ponty’s
Phenomenological Appropriation of Ferdinand de Saussure’s General Linguistics.” Chiasmi International 15: 151-165.
29. Toadvine, Ted. 2015. “Biodiversity and the Diacritics of Life.” In Carnal Hermeneutics, edited by Richard Kearney and Brian Treanor, 235-248. Fordham University Press.
30. Vanzago, Luca. 2005. “Presenting the Unpresentable: The Metaphor in Merleau-Ponty’s
Last Writings.” The Southern Journal of Philosophy 43: 463-474.
31. Waldenfels, Bernhard. 2000. “The Paradox of Expression.” In Chiasms: Merleau-Ponty’s
Notion of Flesh, edited by. F. Evans and L. Lawlor, 89-102. Albany: State University of New York Press.
All items in Spectrum are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved. The use of items is governed by Spectrum's terms of access.

Repository Staff Only: item control page

Downloads per month over past year

Back to top Back to top