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Repression and operative unconsciousness in phenomenology of perception

Timothy Mooney

pp. 61-74

The notion of repression as active forgetfulness already found in Nietzsche and systematised by Freud and his successors is employed in a distinctive manner by Merleau-Ponty in Phenomenology of Perception. By showing how we appropriate our environment towards outcomes and respond to other people, he contends, we can unearth hidden modes of operative intentionality. Two such modes are the motor intentional projection of action and the anonymous intercorporeality that includes touching and being touched. Each of these is an aspect of a past that was never a present. Merleau-Ponty does have something to say about pasts that were once present and that linger on in human life. Yet he shows little interest in the unconsciousness of psychoanalysis for its own sake. Psychoanalytic accounts of repression are assimilated into his theory of the body itself, serving merely as means for illustrating the latter. I suggest that this move follows on a conception of an integrated existent whose past acquisitions are remarkably enabling and untroubling.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-55518-8_4

Full citation:

Mooney, T. (2017)., Repression and operative unconsciousness in phenomenology of perception, in D. Legrand & D. Trigg (eds.), Unconsciousness between phenomenology and psychoanalysis, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 61-74.

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