White Rose University Consortium logo
University of Leeds logo University of Sheffield logo York University logo

The Operative World: Meaning and Understanding in Merleau-Ponty

Shaw, Dominic Michael (2014) The Operative World: Meaning and Understanding in Merleau-Ponty. PhD thesis, University of York.

The Operative World - Meaning and Understanding in Merleau-Ponty.pdf
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales.

Download (1606Kb) | Preview


This thesis seeks an elucidation of Merleau-Ponty’s conception of 'operative' intentionality (l’intentionnalité opérante). This concept is central to Merleau-Ponty’s discussions of meaning and understanding throughout his career. I argue that Merleau-Ponty’s early work, in which he articulates the nature and place of operative intentionality in agency and perception, makes available a general thesis concerning meaning and understanding. Merleau-Ponty’s central claim here is that meaning should not be conceived of as the outcome of acts of interpretation or judgement. I argue that this general thesis is unsatisfactorily represented in some of the most prominent secondary literature on Merleau-Ponty’s work. Nonetheless, there is a tension at the heart of Phenomenology of Perception that compromises the clarity and coherence of Merleau-Ponty’s conception of operative intentionality. The difficulty lies in the way Merleau-Ponty conceives the relationship between perception and language in the early work. It is this problematic that provides the key to appreciating the developments that Merleau-Ponty instigates through his attempts to formulate a phenomenology of language and expression in the 1950s. Tracing the developments of the middle period work on language in this way allows us to see how Merleau-Ponty’s introduction of a new philosophical lexicon of ‘the flesh’ (la chair) in his final writings is motivated by the attempt to accommodate the general thesis concerning meaning and understanding that originally emerged with Phenomenology of Perception’s conception of operative intentionality.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Merleau-Ponty; Phenomenology; Perception; Language; Philosophy of Mind; History of Philosophy
Academic Units: The University of York > Philosophy (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.638991
Depositing User: Mr DMS Shaw
Date Deposited: 03 Mar 2015 11:20
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2016 13:32
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/7790

You do not need to contact us to get a copy of this thesis. Please use the 'Download' link(s) above to get a copy.
You can contact us about this thesis. If you need to make a general enquiry, please see the Contact us page.

Actions (repository staff only: login required)