An Examination of the Relationships between the Body Proper, Physical Reality,
and the Phenomenal World Starting from Plessner and Merleau-Ponty
What is our ultimate reality: the physical universe or the world of everyday-life experience? Only a philosophy of the body can answer this question.
Is materialism right to claim that the world of everyday-life experience – the phenomenal world – is nothing but an illusion produced in physical reality, notably in the brain? Or is Merleau-Ponty right when he defends the fundamental character of the phenomenal world while rejecting physical realism? I address these questions by exploring the nature of the body proper in Merleau-Ponty and Plessner, arguing that physical and phenomenal realism are not mutually exclusive but complementary. The argument includes a close examination of the relationships between scientific and pre-scientific perspectives, between living and non-living things, and between humans and animals.