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Phenomenology and difference: the body, architecture and race

By Jeremy Weate


The aim of the thesis is to consider the position of phenomenology in contemporary thought in order to argue that only on its terms can a political ontology of difference be thought. To inaugurate this project I being by questioning Heidegger's relation to phenomenology. I take issue with the way that Heidegger privileges time over space in "Being and Time". In this way, the task of the thesis is clarified as the need to elaborate a spatio-temporal phenomenology. After re-situating Heidegger's failure in this respect within a Kantian background, I suggest that the phenomenological grounding of difference must work through the body. I contend that the body is the ontological site of both the subject and the object. I use Whitehead and Merleau-Ponty to explore the ramifications of this thesis. I suggest first of all that architecture should be grounded ontologically in the body, and as such avoids being a 'master discourse'. Secondly, by theorising the body and world as reciprocally transformative, my reading of Merleau-Ponty emphasises the ways in which his thinking opens up a phenomenology of embodied difference.\ud \ud It is on the basis of these themes that I develop this thinking in the direction of race, exploring the dialectics of visibility and invisibility in the work of Frantz Fanon and James Baldwin. I argue that embodied difference attests to variations in the agent's freedom to act in the world. If freedom is understood through Merleau-Ponty as being the embodied ground of historicity, we must ask after unfreedom. I suggest that the "flesh" ontology of a pre-thetic community should be rethought as a regulative ideal, the ideal of a justice that can never be given. In this light, phenomenology becomes as much as poetics. Beyond being though of as conservative, phenomenology henceforth unleashes the possibility of thinking a transformative embodied agency

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